At this time of year when you have people popping by for a festive drink it’s always good to have a few fast nibbles that you can have ready to go or that you can whip up in a hurry. The following recipes are ideal for that and also make lovely gifts when packaged nicely.
The perfect nibble for making ahead of time as the olives can just marinate in the jar kept in the fridge. I normally use a 500ml mason jar so the quantities below fit into that – you can vary the quantity of olives and oil though as needed. Once you have eaten the olives you can use the flavoured oil to drizzle over pasta, pizza or for a salad dressing – delicious!
265g/ 9oz approx. Mixed black and green olives
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
Zest of ½ orange or 1 satsuma
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
½ tsp thyme
Good pinch of dried chilli flakes
225ml approx. olive oil
Put all of the ingredients into a jar and top with the oil. Put a tight-fitting lid on the jar and shake a few times so everything is evenly mixed (alternatively put everything into a small bowl and mix well with a spoon). The olives can be kept covered in the fridge but take them out early and serve at room temperature.
Hot Spiced Nuts
Crunchy, hot nuts turned amber with a chilli and paprika infused oil – perfect party food.
500g mixed nuts (Almonds, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts and unsalted peanuts all work well)
1 tbsp mild olive oil
Good pinch of maldon sea salt
½ tsp red chilli flakes
½ tsp smoked paprika (use sweet or hot paprika depending on how spicy you want them to be)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the nuts and stir or shake the pan so that all of the nuts are coated in the oil. Add the salt, chilli and paprika and cook for a couple of minutes to warm through. Serve immediately.
Chocolate & caramel popcorn
And for something sweet, who can resist some chocolate and caramel popcorn?!
85g/ 3oz/ ½ cup popcorn kernels
125ml/ ½ cup sugar
125ml/ ½ cup water
55g/ 2oz milk or dark chocolate
55g/ 2oz white chocolate
Using a popcorn maker pop the corn according to the manufactures instructions (alternatively put the corn in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with a lid or plate and cook on high for 2 ½ - 3 minutes until the sound of popping has slowed right down). Put the popcorn onto a large baking tray in a single layer and set aside.
Add the sugar and water to a small pan and gently dissolve the sugar without stirring (you can swirl it around if need be but do not stir it as it will crystallize). Once the sugar has completely dissolved continue to simmer it until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the heat and drizzle over the popcorn. (Be very careful as caramelized sugar is very hot). Leave to set while you melt the chocolate. In a small bowls melt the chocolate in the microwave with 20 second bursts until it is evenly melted and is silky smooth. Drizzle the milk chocolate over the popcorn then repeat with the white chocolate. Leave to set then put into a large serving bowl or individual bags and dive in – you won’t be able to resist it.