If you’ve followed me for a while you probably already know that a) I love nibbles, and b) I don’t like to waste food.
So when I emptied my London cupboards before going to the countryside in lockdown, I encountered a packet of breadsticks (probably from a Christmas party more than a year earlier, but if sealed these things don’t really go off) that I thought would be good for a little nibble.
About six week later I still hadn’t figured out what to do with it. Usually I have it with taramasalata but I didn’t think the others would be too happy with this suggestion, so I consulted the internet. (Honestly, a lockdown without the internet would have been so scary!). And I found a recipe so easy and yummy I made it twice in two weeks.
It’s just an assembly job really, but it looks impressive and is utterly delicious with a pre-dinner glass of white wine.
Prosciuttowrapped grissini with pesto cream cheese dip, serves 8
Adapted from BBC Good Food’s recipe.
1 large tub of Philadelphia (full fat)
2-3 tbsp basil or wild garlic pesto (if using store-bought I recommend a fresh one from the deli section)
1 pack grissini
1 packet prosciutto (you want the soft kind)
If the grissini are really long then break them in half. Cut each prosciutto slice into four stripes (cut in half lengthways and then halve them) and wrap each around the end of a grissini.
Spoon out the cream cheese into a bowl. Add the pesto and stir it into a swirl (i.e. don’t mix it all that well). Place everything on a platter and serve.
Mexican cheese dip. With chorizo and peppers. Melting, bubbly and comforting. I simply cannot think of a better way to start a mid-week cold January supper with some of my closest friends. It was like a warming cheesy hug, telling us if we persevered we would get through the month. Et voila!, it’s February!
We also had prosecco, tacos and lots of fun, which helped.
But back to the dip. It’s very easy to make and so satisfying to eat. But have plenty of napkins to hand as it is a little messy. Also, be patient and wait for the dip to be completely melted when you serve it. I would suggest putting it in the oven 30 minutes or so before the guests are due to arrive. You can always cover it with tin foil and lower the temperature to keep it hot and bubbling.
The chorizo and peppers add a lot of flavour to the otherwise unexciting grated mozzarella (I was a little worried it wouldn’t be cheesy enough but it was). But I can’t help but thinking it could be made even better with the addition of jalapenos next time. Stay tuned…
Queso fundido, serves 4
75 g cooking chorizo, finely chopped
1/2 pepper, finely chopped
500 g grated mozzarella
oil for frying
a pinch of cayenne or other chilli powder
To serve: tortilla chips
Fry the chorizo in oil until crispy. Set aside and fry the pepper in the chorizo oil. Drain on kitchen roll.
In an oven-proof dish, put a layer of cheese, then scatter chorizo and peppers on top and repeat the process until all ingredients are used up. Sprinkle with cayenne and put in a 200C oven until melted and bubbly (approx 40 mins). Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
Dill works really well in hummus, I discovered this summer when I thought of trying it for a dinner party. It went down really well with my friends and especially with my best friend Emma who liked it so much she urged me to make it again a few days later when cooking at her house.
Dill-y hummus, serves 4-6
1 can (400 g) good quality chickpeas
100-150 ml nice olive oil
1 1/2 – 2 tbsp tahini
1/2 -1 lemon, the juice only
1 medium garlic clove
1 pot or a large bunch dill
plenty of salt and black pepper
Rinse the chickpeas and pour into a food processor bowl. Add 100 ml olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp tahini, the garlic and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Mix for a good while until you have a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper and taste. Add more oil, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper – whatever you think is needed. Add the dill and mix again. Season to taste and adjust the flavours once more if needed. Place in fridge until serving. Keeps for 5 days in the fridge.
Pitta chips, serves 4
5 pitta bread
salt, black pepper
Cut the pitta breads into smaller pieces using a pair of scissors. Place on a parchment lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper (and any other seasoning you might like) and place in 200C oven for approx 10 minutes (until golden and crispy). Serve immediately.
My go-to guacamole recipe has always been my own concoction from when I was younger and tacos became the staple Friday dinner for all Swedish families. It’s very nice (my best friend can testify to that), but as it contains creme fraiche it’s far from a proper guacamole. So a few weeks ago when I found the best tortilla chips ever in my local Whole Foods (oh, how I love saying that!) I thought it was about time to try a slightly more authentic version of guacamole.
And the result was amazing! It’s so easy to make, and quite healthy (if you don’t count the tortilla chips) and it has become my new obsession.
Proper guacamole, serves 4
2 perfectly ripe medium Hass avocados,
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
1 bunch coriander
Tabasco (the red one)
salt, black pepper
Spoon the avocados into a bowl and mush up with a fork. Add the chopped tomatoes and onions. Add lime juice (start with the juice from half a lime, add more to taste), a few drops of Tabasco and Worchestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper and mix well. Chop the coriander and add to the guacemole. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Serve with tortilla chips or with any Mexican or Tex Mex dish.
This creamy and amazingly delicious (I dare you to step away from the dip before it’s finished!) is so incredibly easy to make you have your pre-dinner party snack sorted in minutes. But obviously it’s just as nice in front of a film or a football game on the television.
I first encountered this lovely dip at Laura and Tim’s house warming when my friend Amy and I did our best to finish the dip between the two of us. It’s just SO good!
Creamy spinach dip, serves 4-6 as a snack (or maybe just 2)
Adapted from The Food Network’s recipe.
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
225 g full-fat cream cheese
280 g frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
salt and white pepper
Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and soften without browning, for approx 5-8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and stir to melt and combine. Add the spinach and reduce any water. Season to taste with grated nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Serve warm with salted tortilla chips.
Sometimes, especially when the weather changes more or less daily between Indian summer and autumn, I find myself in the mood for something fresh and light but something more substantial than a salad. These little lettuce parcels with turkey mince, cucumber, spring onions and Thai flavours with a sweet chilli dip really hit the brief!
You don’t need to follow the recipe religiously, the most important thing is to taste the mince and find a good balance of flavours.I used turkey mince in these, since it is readily available in any supermarket but chicken mince or pork would work just as well.
I had some leftovers that made a great tortilla wrap for lunch the next day, I just put the dipping sauce in the wrap instead of dipping it and it’s just as delicious!
Thai lettuce parcels with mince, cucumber and chilli, serves 4
500 g turkey mince
oil for frying
salt, white pepper
1 lime, juice only
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 pinch of sugar
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
a handful coriander, chopped
2-3 little gems
Fry the mince in oil. Season. Mix lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the mince with spring onions, chilli and cucumber and add the lime mixture. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Add chopped coriander and fill the lettuce leaves with the mince mixture. Roll into wraps and dip in the sauce below.
Sweet chilli dip, serves 4
300 ml creme fraiche
1-2 tbsp sweet chili sås
a pinch of salt
Mix creme fraiche and sweet chilli sauce after taste. Season with salt.
Surprisingly I have actually managed to cook a little this summer, but only little and nothing too advanced. One thing I threw together was this easy feta and pistachio dip that went down a treat. The recipe is from the fabulous cookbook Persiana.
I also made some homemade flatbreads to scoop up the lovely dip with. Super easy and tasty – summer food at its best.
Feta and pistachio dip, serves 8
Recipe from Persiana.
100 g shelled pistachios
75 ml olive oil
300 g feta cheese
1 handful dill, chopped
2 handfuls coriander, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 röd chilli, chopped
3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
zest from 1 lemon, juice from 1/2 lemon
sea salt to taste
Mix nuts and oil in a food processor for 30 seconds. Add feta, herbs, garlic, chilli, yoghurt and lemon zest and juice and mix for another minute. Season to taste with sea salt and serve.