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What is the best Christmas party food? | Kitchen aide


What makes the best party snacks?
Rachel, Hove

“Anything that can be eaten cleanly in a mouthful is ideal,” says Guardian food columnist Ravinder Bhogal. “Anything too big, messy or that requires lots of chewing should be avoided – there’s nothing worse than those awkward, mouth-full moments when someone suddenly strikes up a conversation.”

Rachel doesn’t want to be spending all her time in the kitchen, either, which is why Itamar Srulovich, chef and co-owner of Honey & Co, Honey & Smoke and Honey & Spice in London, recommends following the path of least resistance: “Our rule of thumb is to make one thing and buy the rest.”

One such thing could be hot cheesy buns. “They’re so easy,” Srulovich says. “Put them in the oven when everyone arrives and the whole place will smell like melted cheese.” He has a few variations on the cheesy bun theme, but harissa and goat’s cheese is a particular favourite (and in his cookbook Honey & Co At Home). Combine 175g self-raising flour and 100g diced butter in a bowl, then mix in half a whisked egg, 30g grated pecorino/parmesan, 125g ricotta, 125g soft goat’s cheese, 30g rose harissa and a teaspoon of salt and bring together into a dough. Divide in two, roll each piece into a 20cm-long log and brush all over with the other half of the egg. Mix another 30g grated cheese with a tablespoon of cumin seeds, roll the logs in this mix and chill for an hour. Slice each log into 10 and bake at 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 for 13-15 minutes. “If you don’t have harissa, use tomato paste or omit it altogether. No goat’s cheese? Use cheddar.” Serve with radishes, pickles and olives, and don’t forget the sparkling wine or beer: “Cheesy buns go especially well with anything bubbly.”

Bhogal is also all about the cheese, but in croquette form. You could, of course, knock up her beetroot number, or plump for an aloo gobi cheddar nibble: “Make a cauliflower curry with cumin, coriander and green chillies, roughly mash, then fold into a bechamel rich with the tang of Montgomery cheddar. Roll into balls, breadcrumb and deep-fry.” These little beauties are “moreish and nostalgic – like deep-fried cauliflower cheese on speed.”

For a cheesy hat-trick, Marie Mitchell, chef and co-founder of Island Social Club, suggests goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tartlets: “Sweet, tangy, maybe a little spicy or salty, and always deeply delicious.” She caramelises onions, in olive oil and butter, if you want to be extra-indulgent, adding sugar or honey, balsamic or red-wine vinegar, and salt and pepper, until sticky – “for 40 minutes minimum”. “And a little chilli oil, if you’d like additional depth and warmth [and you should].” She puts soft goat’s cheese in mini, shop-bought pastry cases (or stamps out rounds from ready-rolled shortcrust), tops with the sweet onions and pops in the oven just to melt the cheese.

Every party needs a happy ending, Bhogal adds, “And few things beat the sensory pleasure of a warm madeleine – just ask Proust!” Flavour with honey, orange blossom or saffron, or “add peanut butter, cut through the middle and fill with raspberry jam”. Srulovich, meanwhile, goes for “something very easy”, eg chocolate truffles. “I love hard liquor in them – rum, whisky, grappa.” Now, they’re sure to entertain you.





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