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Master the Possibilities With Appetizer

June 28, 1987

Olive-Red Pepper Cream Cheese is a herb-sprinkled appetizer spread with endless possibilities for flavor and presentation combinations.

The nutty, mellow flavor of black olives joins cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, crushed red pepper, basil, tarragon and thyme. Spicy food lovers may want to increase the amount of crushed red pepper flakes for a little more heat.

This spread is best when made in advance, at least two hours before serving, to allow the flavors to mingle. Then, spread generously on fresh vegetables such as carrot or zucchini slices, endive leaves, red or green pepper strips, artichoke leaves. Scoop into big pasta shells that have been cooked and chilled, wrap marinated grape leaves around this creamy concoction or serve with sesame bread sticks for dipping. The possibilities are endless.

OLIVE-RED PEPPER CREAM CHEESE

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup chopped black olives

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 small clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

Choice of accompaniments

Combine cream cheese, olives, mayonnaise, garlic, red pepper, basil, tarragon and thyme in bowl. Mix well. Chill 2 hours to allow flavors to develop. Makes 1 cup.

Spoon onto strips of sweet red or green pepper, small hollowed-out boiled potato halves, steamed artichoke leaves or jumbo cooked pasta shells, on carrot or zucchini slices or hollowed-out cherry tomatoes.

For filled grape leaves, drop bottled leaves into boiling water 1 minute, drain and spread out. Fill with 2 tablespoons cheese and roll leaf around. Slice rolls in half. Also may serve with sesame bread sticks for dipping.

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