Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The Edible Flightless Bird

Penguins are adorable and classy (all tuxedo all the time), and these little appetizers provided me two of my favorite things: praise for making something adorable and cream cheese. I encourage you to make them, too, because they're ridiculously easy, and because they'll get you lots of points at your next social gathering. My ex and I made these to take to a friend’s going-away party (the friend was leaving for Antarctica, so they were particularly fitting), and to be honest they were probably the cutest things there. I don’t know who originally came up with the idea, and I can't remember where we originally saw them, but I do know they should be replicated. Often. Also they're tasty!

What you need: black olives, cream cheese, a large carrot, a sharp knife, toothpicks.

How long this will take you: 15 minutes

Annnd we’re off.

First, open a can of olives and pour them on to a paper towel so you can sort out the larger ones from the smaller ones. The large olives are better for the bodies, the smaller ones for the heads. (Unless you want disproportionate penguins, which probably you don’t because that sort of disproportion is not cute in the same way that little puppies with huge paws are disproportionately cute.) Take the larger ones and cut a thin strip out from top to bottom:

(Don’t discard the strips you cut out, because you might choose to use them later.) Once you have as many hollow olive bodies as you want, take a knife and pack them with cream cheese. (This part's easier if the cream cheese has been out of the fridge for a little while, so it's softer and more malleable.) Take a toothpick and poke it through a smaller olive and then through the back of one of the bodies you just made. Peel the large carrot and thinly cut rounds from it, then slice a little V out of each one:

Don’t discard the V-shaped cutouts, because you’re going to use them as beaks in a moment. Stand each penguin up on a carrot round, and poke the toothpick through it to keep them in place. There will be some extra toothpick poking through the top of each penguin’s head, which is handy for when you take them to parties and people use the top portion of the toothpick to pick them up off the party tray and hold them in the air while praising your creativity. I mean, to pick them up and eat them.

To make your penguin's face, poke two holes for eyes, and then smear cream cheese in them. Cut a little cross below the eyes, and push one of the V-shaped cutouts into them to serve as a beak.

Ta-da, you’re done, hooray, all that! You can take those slices of the olives that you cut out in the first step, and press them into place to serve as flippers (wings?) on some of the penguins. One penguin should probably get a top hat, which you can carve out of excess carrot if you’re feeling super fancy (you are). The top hat could be even more snazzed up if accompanied by … a monocle? I don’t know. Go have a cocktail!

Laura Rodriguez lives in Northern California, and usually only eats animals that are made out of things other than ... animal.

36 Comments / Post A Comment


I really want to leave work early and make these RIGHT NOW!

Melissa Rodriguez@twitter

These are adorable and look pretty easy! My 3 yr old godson loves black olives and I can't wait to make these with him!

Hyperbolic Heather

I have never been prouder to know Laura and I hope she makes some of these for me immediately, perhaps for the party I will throw her when she becomes an overnight Internet sensation (so, tomorrow).

Jolie Kerr

The Hairpin: Where Delightfully Weird Women Go To Play With Their Food


@Jolie Kerr : Well said!!!

Setec Astrology

@Jolie Kerr: And some guys, too. (Will be doing this at some point; it looks like too much fun not to.)

Lily Rowan


Hors d'oeuvres, olives, and cream cheese are several of my favorite food groups.


You'll be hearing from my solicitor about this!
Eee! Ow! Mind how you go!
You can't go taking liberties like this. I'm a respectable citizen!
It's definitely not legal, this.

Good grief! It's you!
Now, get me out of these trousers this minute!
Steady on, will you?
This wardrobe's nearly new.
Let me out!
I'll give you what for, you tyke!


@atipofthehat : The Wrong Trousers??? Did you just quote that?



Yes! More wine, penguin?


@atipofthehat : marry me, we'll watch W&G together forever.


I only wish I like olives. And cream cheese.


AHH. I feel you. I like cream cheese when it's on bagels, but rarely do I dabble in olives (sometimes in martinis, but that's special)


Heh. That pasty chef friend of mine is going to have to share the limelight (for once!) at next week's party. Now I've just got to figure out how to make penguins fit into the Good Friday Zombie Jesus party theme....oooo, got it! Sun-dried tomato cream cheese = zombie penguins! They'll even have red eyes!


@SuperGogo : Couldn't you just use green olives and the sun-dried tomato cream cheese?


@SuperGogo Crap. She's neither pale nor bakes exclusively Cornish foodstuffs...she's a *pastry* chef.


@MoonBat Even. better. Thanks!


@SuperGogo : I covet your invitation to the Zombie party! Please post photos after?

Gabrielle Cushman Holly@facebook

Brilliant! Also, I require classy penguin yummies NOW!


This is probably the most depressed I've ever been about my incorrigible hatred of olives.


@amity Ditto times a thousand. Maybe this needs to be incorporated into the How To Like Foods article: make food into cute shapes. THEN eat!


No!!! Cream cheese is one of my mortal enemies. Mozzarella balls would be delicious though.


Also you can make tasty little bunnies (that sit down) with just black olives. I love olives and will eat them in any form but eating bunnies is fun.


Hmm, I think I'd just switch out the cream cheese for goat cheese of some sort?

Laura Rodriguez@facebook



Made these last night, tasted great!


@FlyingSquirrels you're not from Richmond are you?


I'll be making these for my office Royal Wedding high tea!

Alison @twitter

I saw these on foodgawker a couple of years ago and was dying to make them, but kept forgetting. I finally made them last December, just for the hell of it. Mine were a bit messy, but that's because I was just making them for my boyfriend and me. They're adorable, but a bit bland. I'd add some spices to the cream cheese next time, but that's just how I waddle. ;) Picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abnetsel/5271322938/in/photostream/


These are so awesome! I particularly love the Devo penguin, with his little swagger, in the centre!


@kiamaria Devo penguin!


@atipofthehat: Devo penguin and his evil henchmen, don't you think? The more I look at the fella to his left, the more I realise he has the mean, beady eyed expression of a ruthless knave


These are so cute I feel like crying a little.

Greta Oto

to my fellow olive haters; grapes! delicious grapes! maybe you could make a centre-piece complete with igloo and seals! I'm sure no one's done that before. http://www.flickr.com/photos/48798915@N06/5432632387/in/photostream/


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