Tag Archives: Starter

Dips and Tapenades for Drinks, a Picnic or just for Snackin’

The 54th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, these dips sit at the heart of one of my ‘fridge-raid’ suppers where the table overflows with cheese, paté, cold cuts, pies….and dips!

Having friends around for drinks or a picnicky lunch? Dips are always welcome. Here we have a selection of tapenades and dips to tempt the taste buds. Hummus is my favourite , I eat loads of the stuff and the authentic recipe here is bang on! This hummus is rich and creamy but also fresh-tasting because of the lemon juice and the combined flavours of the garlic, dark tahini and chick peas really come through beautifully – the recipe is also really cheap, quick and easy to do. If you like hummus, give this a go.

And then there’s the others – also gorgeous (but hummus has a special place in my heart and stomach, hence the big intro).

The juicy, sweet but piquant sun-dried tomato and basil tapenade and the more earthy, intense olive version both shout with flavours of the Mediterranean. Then, there’s this recipe for guacamole, which combines the luscious creaminess of avocado with a fresh coriander edge and a real kick of chilli. All four dips can be made in advance and in less than half an hour, using a mini food processor for each one and a quick wipe out in between – simple!   In essence, dip into a quick, easy and vast array of flavours – yummy!

What you need…

for the Middle Eastern Hummus

400g can chickpeas in salted water, drained

100ml ice-cold water

4 tablespoons dark tahini

2 cloves garlic, chopped

125g plain yogurt

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sea salt

Splash olive oil

for the Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Tapenade

200g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

A large handful of fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove, peeled

2 tablespoons olive oil (from the jar of sun dried tomatoes if possible)

50g pine nuts

for the Olive Tapenade

100g pitted black olives, drained

100g pitted green olives, drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 anchovies in oil, drained

½ garlic clove, peeled

Black pepper, to taste

for the Guacamole with Coriander

1medium tomato, quartered

1 just-ripe avocado, peeled and roughly chopped

½ fresh green chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped

½ garlic clove, peeled and chopped

A large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Zest of half a lime, finely grated

A good squeeze lime juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

What to do…

Hummus: into your food processor, chuck all of the hummus ingredients except the salt and olive oil. Whizz until smooth. Taste. Season with salt. Whizz. Taste again and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Pour into shallow serving bowls and pop in the fridge (where it will thicken) until you are ready to serve.

To serve, use a spoon to make a slight hollow in the centre of the hummus and pour in a little olive oil.

Sun-dried tomato tapenade: rinse out your food processor and blade. Dry with kitchen paper.  Stick all the ingredients into your food processor. Whizz until smooth. Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Olive tapenade: rinse out your food processor and blade. Dry with kitchen paper.  Chuck all the ingredients for the olive tapenade into your processor and whizz until smooth. Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Guac: rinse out your food processor and blade.  Dry with kitchen paper. Tip all the ingredients for the guacamole into your processor, marvel at how lovely it is to have such a great gadget and then whizz the ingredients until the consistency is as you would like – rustically chunky, elegantly smooth or something in between! Decant into a serving bowl. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge until needed.

Serve your wonderful dips with and an assortment of breads, crackers and crudités; some cold, crisp dry white wine and most importantly, a good collection of family and friends. Enjoy!

Inspired by…

Suzanne Husseini, When Suzanne Cooks (thanks Denise) for the hummus and Mary Berry for the others

How easy…

An absolute whizz!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oozingly Gorgeous Baked Camembert in Bread

The 28th of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this is just luscious and always goes down a storm at informal suppers, encouraging primal behaviour of greedily digging in….again  and again…!

Unbelievably yummy, this makes for a fabulous starter or part of a picnic supper of patés and cheeses. Ridiculously simple, it also has the added benefit of bringing a bit of theatre to the table as the knife is inserted and melted Camembert oozes out. The addition of the herbs adds a lovely dimension to a cheese that is already a favourite.

What you need…

1 x baking tray

250g round Camembert

1 round loaf (e.g. boule)

2 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked

3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked

Sea salt

Olive oil, to drizzle

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / gas 4.

Sit the Camembert in its packaging on top of the bread in the centre, using it as a template to cut around. Set the cheese aside and continue to cut the circle so that it is about 4cms deep. Pull the circle of bread out of the middle to leave a snug hole in which to place your Camembert (packaging removed).

Cut the removed bread into chunks and set all but 2-3 of them aside. Pop the 2-3 chunks of bread into your food processor with the rosemary and thyme and whizz to make crumbs. Stir in some salt (I use rock salt as I enjoy the crunchy chunks).

Put the bread onto your baking tray and sprinkle over the crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil and pop into your oven for 20 minutes.  Then, add the reserved chunks of bread to the baking tray, cooking for a further 10 minutes.

Serve the cheese with a ceremonious deep cut into the middle and then use the baked chunks of bread to dip into the oozing yumminess! Delicious!

Tip…

This dish also works spectacularly with Vacherin cheese, but it is only easily available a few weeks each year and is a bit pricey.

Inspired by…

Waitrose Weekend

How easy…

Cut hole in bread. Insert cheese. Sprinkle with bits. Bake. Dead easy!

Crab and Prawn Coconut Soup

The 23rd of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cookbook, this soup makes for an absolute delicious starter. Since finding the recipe, I have returned to it again and again – it’s always received with much delight!

I love this crab and prawn coconut soup: it’s delightfully light, tasty and fragranced but also has enough about it to pass as a substantial starter or light lunch. The seafood flavours are beautifully emphasised by the influences of the lemon grass, fish sauce and coriander – it’s absolutely lovely and you can knock it up in a flash – definitely going on my ‘supper party starters’ list, so if you’re coming around, expect it – you’ll enjoy!

Serves 2

What you need…

Splash rapeseed oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and then grated

1 lemon grass stem, trimmed and sliced

Pinch hot chilli powder

200g cooked crab meat

500ml boiling water from the kettle

1 fish stockpot (I use Knorr)

200g coconut milk

1 tablespoon fish sauce

225g raw, peeled prawns

2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

Juice of ½ lemon

Good handful chopped fresh coriander

What to do…

In a jug, pop in your stockpot and then pour in 500ml boiling water from the kettle. Whisk with either a fork or small balloon whisk to dissolve and then set your stock aside.

In a large saucepan over a moderate heat, splash in the oil and add the garlic, ginger, lemon grass and chilli powder.  Cook until golden. Tip in the crab meat, stock, coconut milk and fish sauce. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the crab meat and the prawns and cook until the prawns are just pink. Then add the spring onions, lemon juice and coriander. Enjoy this lovely, light fragrant soup – quite delicious!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy….

Very easy, quick and simply delightful!

Gambas Pil Pil

 

The 3rd of 100 recipes chosen from the blog to go into my cook book: this one is an absolute favourite of the kids – if they’re involved in the menu planning for a dinner party, this always comes up as the number 1 starter option!

This always feels like a little taste of the Mediterranean as I remember the first time we had this dish was on holiday. So for me, Gambas Pil Pil brings with it warm nights and gentle breezes, long relaxed suppers watching the sun go down before meandering back to our villa. A fabulous starter, it arrives sizzling with the aroma of garlic filling the air.  The plump, garlicky prawns are fabulous and the residual oil is just as enjoyable, mopped up with good, chunky bread (Focaccia in this case). Lovely, simple: enjoy!

Serves 4-6 as a starter or light lunch (We like rather large portions, so maybe bear that in mind when looking at my prawn quantities!)

What you need…

4 – 6  x ovenproof bowls to cook and serve

900g giant prawns, peeled

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 hot chillis, deseeded and sliced

Sea salt to season

Olive oil

What to do…

Divide the prawns between your dishes. Likewise, divide up the garlic and chilli evenly. Season with salt and then pour over olive oil so that it just covers the top of the prawns. Give them a good mix, cover with cling film and then pop in the fridge until ready to cook. (If possible, I try to do this preparation 24 hours in advance so that the flavours really gather, but equally, we have had them after just a couple of hours ‘marinating’.

Preheat the oven to 240°c / 475° / gas 9.

Remove the cling film and put your bowls on a baking tray and then into the oven for 5 – 10 minutes, until they are pink and sizzling.

Carefully remove from the oven and serve. The most simple of starters or lunches and really, quite delectable. Dunking bread is an absolute must!

Inspired by…

Not sure – the recipe is pretty generic but this particular version, which we have been enjoying for years, was pulled from a magazine…a very long time ago!

How easy…

Very, very easy!

Light and fluffy Individual Cheese Soufflés

I have skirted around making soufflés until recently but had achieved success making sweet ones. For savoury ones though, this was a first and made with extra tips from James (Martin), they are absolutely heavenly! Unbelievably light and fluffy, gorgeously tangy and flavoursome, these lovely little soufflés are an absolute delight to make and to indulge in – so light and tasty, they’re gone in a flash. An ideal dinner starter or light lunch, served with a fresh green salad.

Serves 4 – 6, depending on the size of your ramekin dishes

What you need…

4 – 6 ramekin dishes, liberally and thoroughly buttered (this is key to helping the soufflés rise)

1 x deep-sided roasting dish

25g fresh Parmesan, finely grated

25g unsalted butter

25g plain flour

300ml semi-skimmed milk

75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

75g Gruyère cheese, grated

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Sea salt and black pepper

4 happy eggs, separated

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180˚c / 350˚f / Gas 4.

Divide the Parmesan between the ramekins and roll around the insides to coat the sides then tip out any excess and set aside to add to the sauce later.

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over a moderate heat. Tip in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring the whole time, until a light golden brown. Gradually add the milk, again stirring the whole time until you have a thick, smooth sauce (I start off with a wooden spoon and then, when the sauce becomes looser, switch to a balloon whisk). Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a clean bowl use an electric handheld whisk to beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Set aside.

Back to your saucepan: stir in the Cheddar, Gruyère and remaining Parmesan together with the Dijon; then remove from the heat and season to taste. Use your balloon whisk to beat in the egg yolks.

Fill your kettle up with water and switch on to boil.

Back to the soufflé mixture: add half the egg whites to the cheese mixture and use the balloon whisk again to beat thoroughly to combine. Then, continue to use the whisk, but gently, to fold in the remaining egg whites, keeping in as much air as possible.

Pour the mixture into your prepared ramekin dishes, then smooth the top of the mixture with a palette knife, flattening it all the way across (I forgot to do this bit which is why they look the way they do!)

Put the ramekins into your roasting dish and half fill the dish up with just-boiled kettle water. Place in your oven for 8 – 10 minutes until risen, golden and wonderfully wobbly.

Serve immediately, diving your spoon into this delicious, tangy cloud of a dish – yummy!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Really easy, quite quick and pretty foolproof, I’d say! The trickiest bit is photographing them before they start to deflate!!!!

 

 

 

Fast, Fresh and Fabulous Smoked Salmon Paté

Stuck for a lovely starter that is simply no hassle at all? Looking for a quick, delicious lunch or perhaps part of a picnic or fridge raid-type of snack? Whichever, this paté is made in about 3 minutes flat and is simply delightful – light, fresh and quite delicious – dress it up or serve it as it comes, this is another one on the favourites list for so many reasons – give it a go – blink and it’ll be done!

Serves 4

What you need…

175g smoked salmon, roughly chopped

75ml double cream

50g crème fraiche

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

What to do…

Chuck the lot in the food processor. Whizz until smooth. Pop into a serving dish, cover with cling film and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to indulge. That’s it! Seriously! Never buying ready-prepared again!

Inspired by…

James Martin…

How easy…

You can almost do this asleep it’s that simple!

Stilton Soup

OK, so the final bit of Stilton remained in the fridge from Christmas. It wasn’t actually opened until a good way through January but, if it wasn’t to be wasted, I needed to do something with it and we’d got to the end of the delightful ‘Stilton and crackers, perhaps with a glass of port’ thing. So, I thought I’d give this a bash, even though I wasn’t overly certain whether it would even be pleasant. It’s absolutely lovely: smooth, rich and really, really flavoursome. Delia reckoned that this recipe would serve 4 – 6 people as a starter but I decided to serve it as an ‘amuse bouche’ (defined as ‘a little bit of food which is served before the meal to stimulate the appetite) in tiny cups, simply because it is sooooo rich. It’s a lovely little taster to kick off a dinner! And there’s no problem with the leftovers – having served four, the rest was divided into two polythene bags and frozen, available for a couple of other dinners!

Serves 12 as an Amuse Bouche

What you need…

Splash rapeseed oil

3 shallots, chopped

1 leek, cleaned and sliced

1 large potato, peeled and chopped into chunks

1 heaped tablespoon plain flour

570ml water, boiled from the kettle

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

150 ml dry still cider

110g Stilton cheese, cut into small chunks

275ml milk

1 tablespoon double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, then add the vegetables and a pinch of salt. Pop the lid on and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a small balloon whisk, stir the stockpot into the water until it has dissolved. Set aside your stock.

Stir the flour into the vegetables and, when evenly mixed in, gradually add the cider, stirring the whole time. Add the chicken stock, pop the lid back on the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Add the milk and Stilton and increase the heat to high. Stir until the cheese has melted and the soup is just below boiling point. Taste. Season. Taste. When you’re happy with the seasoning, stir in the cream.

Tip the whole lot into your blender and whizz until your Stilton soup is smooth and creamy. Serve – it really is rather delightful and has a definite indulgent feel to it – enjoy!

Stilton Soup 2 w

Inspired by…

Delia Smith,

How easy…

Really, really easy – no effort at all and I love the fact that you can freeze it, ready for future dinners!

Panfried Scallops with Black Pudding and Ginger Palm Sugar Chutney

Ooooooooh, what a treat! The scallops and the black pudding are a marriage made in heaven; a little of each together with a forkful of streaky bacon and then just a tad of ginger chutney – just sublime! This would make an incredible starter. For us, I used enough ingredients for just two and then four of us grabbed forks and just dived in. A great way of experimenting and this one is a dish that will definitely be repeated……a proper portion each next time! The ginger chutney, by the way, is divine – fresh and piquant – and there is enough here to keep the left over in the fridge to serve as a foil for other really savoury dishes.

Serves 2

What you need…

1 x baking tray, lined with Bake O Glide or greaseproof paper

Splash olive/rapeseed oil

6 scallops

6 slices black pudding

2 rashers good quality streaky bacon

100g baby spinach

for the ginger and palm sugar chutney

100g fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

100ml water

2 cloves

100ml palm sugar

What to do…

Starting with the chutney, pop the ginger into a small saucepan with the water and cloves. Bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove the cloves and add the sugar and dissolve. Set aside until cool. Tip into your blender and whizz until the ginger is reduced to small chunks. Job done – put into a screw-top jar – you’ll have loads left over after you’ve assembled your dish – which can be stored in the fridge for an accompaniment to other dishes

Put your slices of black pudding onto the baking tray and pop under a hot grill, cooking for 4 minutes. Flip them and cook for a further four minutes.

Whilst that’s going on, in a medium-sized frying pan, heat the oil over a moderate heat and add the scallops, cooking for 2 minutes on one side before turning over for another 2 minutes. When you turn over the scallops, add your rashers of bacon to the pan, keeping your scallops to one side of the pan and your bacon to the other. Using a fork, keep flipping the bacon until its cooked and crispy on both sides – about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, tip in a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt as well as the spinach. Pop on the lid, whack up the heat to high and wilt the spinach – it should take no longer than 5 minutes to come to temperature and wilt (maybe quicker if you have a gas hob). Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to assemble the dish.

For each person, arrange on the plate a line of spinach leaves. Top with a row of black pudding slices and scallops, alternating them as you go. On the very top, lay a rasher of streaky bacon. In front, or around your scallops and black pudding drizzle the fabulous ginger and palm sugar chutney. Serve your panfried scallops with black pudding and ginger palm sugar chutney and watch the faces of delight! Gorgeous!

Inspired by…

James Martin, Home Comforts

How Easy…

Really easy, especially as the dish looks and tastes so spectacular!

 

 

Tomato and Ricotta Tart

Colourful, light and really tasty, you can throw this tart together in minutes for a really lovely light lunch, starter or tasty snack when you’ve had enough indulging in really rich food. Very lovely. Enjoy!

Serves 4

 What you need…

 15g butter

2 red onions, halved and sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

500g puff pastry

100g ricotta

250g cherry tomatoes, halved

Olive oil for drizzling

A few fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked

What to do…

Preheat oven to 200°c / 400° / gas 7.

Melt the butter in a pan, add the onions, season and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the puff pastry to about 5mm thick. Transfer to a baking tray that has been slightly warmed in the oven but isn’t too hot to handle! Spread over the onion and garlic mix, leaving a 1cm border uncovered. Dollop on the ricotta, scatter over the tomatoes, season well and then drizzle over olive oil, sprinkle with thyme and then pop in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden and the tomatoes are soft and juicy.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes. Serve your tomato and ricotta tart as a ‘rough cut and share’ snack or starter.

Tip…

Instead of peeling and crushing garlic cloves, use Cooks’ Ingredients frozen, chopped garlic from Waitrose – a quick shake directly into the pan is so much easier!

Goats cheese and olives are a nice alternative to the ricotta.

Inspired by…

Delicious magazine (from a long time ago)

How easy…

Dead easy providing you assemble on the baking tray – the original instructions suggested assembling on your work surface and then transferring to an oven hot baking tray – this required me, my cousin and her husband-to-be to achieved. It’s much easier my way and tastes great!

Toasted Walnut and Roquefort Salad

Salads are not just for summer! They are also not boring, well not in this house, anyway. I love this salad and particularly at this time of the year – it is fresh, tasty and feels healthy in comparison to all the heavy meals and naughty desserts. The warmth of the toasted walnuts together with the piquancy of the Roquefort makes for an unexpected and quite delicious pairing – a gorgeous salad that never fails to delight, this is a lovely starter or light lunch.

Serves 4

What you need…

120g walnut halves

120g Roquefort cheese

1 tablespoon walnut oil

Sea salt and black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil

100g mixed salad leaves, washed and dried

2 big handfuls of basil leaves, torn

for the dressing

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons walnut oil

3 tablespoons olive oil

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 180°c / 350° f / gas 4.

Make the dressing by chucking all the ingredients in a screw-top jar, pop the lid on and shake vigorously.

Pop the walnuts into a small baking tin and pour over 1 tablespoon walnut oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and pop in the oven for 10 minutes until toasted.

Just before you are ready to serve, chuck your salad leaves into a pretty salad bowl, crumble in the Roquefort, tip in the dressing and finally, the walnuts. Toss your toasted walnut and Roquefort salad so that all the ingredients are evenly mixed and serve immediately. The warmth of the toasted walnuts will soften the Roquefort and taking a forkful of the cheese, nuts and a couple of leaves is quite heavenly! Absolutely delish!

Serving suggestions…

A little garlic bread on the side and a really crisp dry white wine are perfect accompaniments

Inspired by…

No idea – another one ripped out of a magazine years ago – it’s a firm favourite in our house though!

How Easy…

Couldn’t be easier!