Friday, 3 June 2011
Stuzzichini or Little Bite-Size Snacks
It's always the same when you have guests coming for dinner. You think up a great dish to make and maybe you might even think up a dessert. Unless of course, your friends Ben and Jerry decide to take care of that for you again.
You feel pretty pleased with yourself and think you have everything sorted.
Now- which chips or crackers are you going to nibble on whilst you have drinks?
And what kind of incredible dip are you going to fix to go with them?
Doesn't that get just a little tired?
Are you going to cop-out and do that again?
Or are you going to raid your fridge and come up with some refreshing little flavor bombs to tickle their taste buds instead? Yeah... that's what I think I would do too!
It's not like I am a man with a mission when I set out to do this. I am just a man with some odds and ends to get rid of in my fridge. So my mission, if any, is to put together some little bite-size adventures on a spoon. Yep, I bought these funky little ceramic spoons and have had them lying around at the back of my china cupboard for months, waiting to be used. A sad fate when you come to think of it. I have to admit, they were an impulse buy, brought on by a Scandinavian trend, which they call "Snapas". These are basically single- bite tapas which get washed down with a single shot of schnapps each time. Clever folks those Scando's! By the time it comes around to eating, everyone is so drunk that anything is going to taste fine anyway!
So with that as my inspiration, and the intention of leaving out the booze, I set about inventing some groovy little treats to teach my taste buds new tricks with. But I decide to have a drink or two anyway to get my creative juices flowing more freely...
Obviously, you can plan what you are going to do for your dinner in advance. That I want you to do though, is to EXPERIMENT. Do something crazy, knock yourself out! It's just going to be one bite, not a whole meal- so don't be afraid! Think of cool, contrasting flavors and put them together in one bite... it's a challenge and it is also fun!
The first one I tried was a simple one- spicy sausage, finely chopped cucumber, black olive and red pepper corns. The cool flavor of the cucumber counter-balances the spice of the sausage and the olive rounds it all off by adding seasoning. The pepper corns give an added bit of crunch and texture. My gin and tonic never tasted so good!
Number two was a more simple affair. A combination of brie, cherry tomatoes and honey on a leaf of basil. A sprinkle of dried thyme gives it a little kick and a little sea salt the seasoning. give it a tiny squeeze of lemon before biting into it and you will see how it brings all of those flavors together. I think this is much more tasty than the same old caprese all the time...
Number three is brie again, only this time I cut it into little strips which I dressed with lemon marmalade and seasoned with some finely chopped fresh rosemary and red chili flakes... yum! That's all I can say! A couple of tiny celery leaves give it a bit of savory bitterness which makes it all just that little bit better still!
Number four and we are back to the sausage, only this time I put it into a dry pan at a high heat to crisp it up. I combined this with some thin slices of young celery, some cumin seeds and capers for an added bit of tanginess! I put this onto a thin slice of cucumber and season with salt and pepper, a drop of olive oil... and away we go!
Number five was sausage with slices of young celery, a little fresh peach and some shredded basil. This one was nice with a little sea salt, a drop of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Very, very simple and very nice indeed.
The last one I made was cucumber slices, with plum preserves, orange and lemon zests and some sweet chili sauce- yow! This is just SO refreshing! A great one to eat "in between" and a nice way to cleanse your palate.
Now, obviously, none of these are supposed to fill you up! They are just suppose to accompany a nice drink and to encourage your appetite for a great meal. Once you have a feel for combining flavors and textures, I am sure you will be able to dream up any number of little tasty bites. And of course, you can put these onto crackers too- this was just my way of presenting them to you all. Because quite frankly... if they taste this good... you are going to need a LOT of these little spoons!