Yes we canape

Read­ers’ nib­bles for party drinks

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Dale Bern­ing Sawa is a com­mis­sion­ing editor and writer at Cook; @dlaebe Dale Bern­ing Sawa

The rules for a good drinks nib­ble are sim­ple and fi­nite: no plates, no crumbs, and a combo of fat, salt and spice so ad­dic­tive that you can’t stop eat­ing them un­til they’re all gone. And you want a dip in there too. Your recipes were right on the money. I just wish you’d been there to taste them with me: they did my bot­tle of bub­bly proud.

Cheese and olive rolls

I made Fadime Tiskaya’s ad­dic­tive bites three times. First with filo, as she’d orig­i­nally sug­gested. Then with puff and (be­cause I was, um, dis­tracted by a bear in my kitchen) the but­ter in­tended for the filo pas­try in the fill­ing – a truly ex­cel­lent mis­take. And lastly, with puff and the right fill­ing, just to check. My con­clu­sion: the bites are per­fect ev­ery which way, but I pre­fer puff. And, but­ter be­ing but­ter, the er­ro­neous ad­di­tion to the fill­ing only made them bet­ter.

Makes 30-45

300g ready-made puff pas­try

For the fill­ing

100g feta cheese, crum­bled finely

75g green olives, stoned and very finely chopped

40g salted but­ter, chopped (op­tional)

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp dried thyme ½ tsp chilli pep­per

½ tsp sumac

¼ nut­meg, grated Sesame seeds, to gar­nish

1 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas mark 4. Cover a bak­ing tray with bak­ing pa­per.

2 In a bowl, mix to­gether the fill­ing in­gre­di­ents with a fork.

3 Roll out the pas­try on a lightly floured sur­face and cut into 3 equal pieces. Along the long edge of one of the pieces, pile a third of the fill­ing in a strip about 1cm wide, then roll the pas­try and fill­ing over to the op­po­site side, cre­at­ing a long log. Re­peat with the other two pieces of pas­try and the re­main­der of the fill­ing. Cut each log into 10-15 equal pieces.

4 Trans­fer them on to the bak­ing tray, sprin­kle with sesame seeds and bake for 15-25 min­utes or un­til golden.

Fen­nel seed and chilli short­bread

Twin­nyDip, such el­e­gance in a bis­cuit. I loved the fra­grant sweet and spicy bite, and the crumbly tex­ture. If I were mak­ing them for a party, though, I’d shape the dough into two logs, to make the cook­ies that bit smaller.

Makes 10-15

2 tsp fen­nel seeds

200g flour

30g caster sugar

A gen­er­ous pinch of salt

115g un­salted but­ter, cut into chunks

A gen­er­ous pinch of chilli flakes

1 In a fry­ing pan, toast the fen­nel seeds over a medium heat un­til fra­grant and just start­ing to colour. Toss the pan ev­ery now and then to pre­vent burning. Re­move from the heat and set aside.

2 Sift the flour into a large mix­ing bowl. Add the sugar and salt and mix well. Rub the but­ter into the flour mix­ture un­til you ob­tain a bread­crumb-like tex­ture. Add 1½ tsp of the fen­nel seeds and the chilli flakes and mix well.

3 Line a large bak­ing tray with bak­ing pa­per. Bring the dough to­gether and shape into a soft log, about 4-5cm in di­am­e­ter. Wrap in cling­film and chill for at least 30 min­utes.

4 Pre­heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Re­move the dough from the fridge and, us­ing a sharp knife, slice into discs about ½-1cm thick. Place the cook­ies on the lined bak­ing tray. Sprin­kle over the re­served ½ tsp of fen­nel seeds and some more chilli flakes (op­tional) and bake for 15–20 min­utes un­til the edges just turn golden brown. Re­move the cook­ies from the oven and leave on the bak­ing tray for 5–10 min­utes be­fore trans­fer­ring to a wire rack to cool.

Ar­ti­choke and cumin dip

Anna Thom­son serves this pale green beauty with grilled hal­loumi dip­pers – an un­beat­able combo while the cheese is still hot – but it would work just as well with chips, veg sticks, grilled pitta or sour­dough toast. So many op­tions.

Makes a big bowl­ful

2 x 400g tins ar­ti­choke hearts, drained

2 tbsp olive oil, plus ex­tra to gar­nish

Juice of ½ lemon

1 gar­lic clove, minced

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp salt plus ex­tra to taste

Black pep­per

A hand­ful of pars­ley, finely chopped, re­serv­ing a few leaves to gar­nish

Chilli flakes, to gar­nish (op­tional)

1 Blitz all the in­gre­di­ents in a blender/ pro­ces­sor. Sea­son with salt and pep­per.

2 Driz­zle over some olive oil. Gar­nish with pars­ley leaves and chilli flakes.

Christ­mas but­ter­nut crisps

Left to her own de­vices, my three-yearold would have fin­ished the lot here in one sit­ting, LeftoverLiz.

Makes a medium bowl­ful

½ tsp each of pow­dered gin­ger, cin­na­mon, pa­prika and coarse sea salt or fleur de sel

A few black pep­per­corns

300g but­ter­nut squash, peeled

Sun­flower oil, for fry­ing

1 Grind the spices to­gether quickly, us­ing a pes­tle and mortar to crush the pep­per­corns.

2 Slice the but­ter­nut squash thinly us­ing a man­do­line or food pro­ces­sor.

3 Heat a 5cm depth of sun­flower oil in a wok or fryer. Add the squash crisps a hand­ful at a time, fry­ing un­til golden (about 4 min­utes). Drain well on scrunched kitchen pa­per.

4 Toss with the spice and salt mix.


Bobby Ananta’s child­hood treat, us­ing left­over rice, is so much fun – ac­tual rice crispies you make from scratch. The salt is a keeper too. I can see it work­ing on roast veg or a poached egg on toast.

Serves 4

350g jas­mine rice, cooked

500ml veg­etable oil

1½ tbsp golden syrup

For the salt

4 tbsp sea salt

5 dried makrut lime leaves, de­veined

½ tsp chilli flakes

½ tsp black pep­per­corns

1 Finely grind the salt, makrut lime leaves, chilli flakes and black pep­per­corns with a mortar and pes­tle.

2 Shape the cooked rice into small lumps the size of a pound coin. Place evenly spaced on a bak­ing tray lined with bak­ing parch­ment and bake in the oven at 100C/210F/gas mark ¼ for 1 hour or un­til com­pletely dried out.

3 In a deep fry­ing pan, heat 5cm of oil to 170C/335F, then deep-fry the rice in small batches – they will dou­ble in size. Drain well on kitchen pa­per.

4 Driz­zle the rice crack­ers from a great height with golden syrup un­til lightly cov­ered, then sprin­kle with the salt.

Mush­room and cheese cake

More din­ner than drinks party to my mind, but de­li­cious nonethe­less. I love how Detout­coeur Li­mousin makes mush­room in a cake a good thing.

Makes 1 loaf

1 tbsp cook­ing oil

250g mush­rooms, finely chopped

1 large gar­lic clove, crushed

Salt and black pep­per

200g baby spinach, fresh or frozen

115g but­ter, melted

3 eggs

180g nat­u­ral yo­ghurt

225g plain flour 1½ tsp bak­ing pow­der

120g grated cheese (any favourite strong-flavoured cheese; I used a mix­ture of ched­dar and gor­gonzola)

90g raisins

1 tbsp dill, chopped

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a 1½ litre loaf tin with bak­ing pa­per. Heat the cook­ing oil in a large fry­ing pan. Add the mush­rooms with the crushed gar­lic, salt and pep­per and fry over a high heat for a few min­utes. Spoon the mush­rooms into a dish and set aside to cool.

2 Add the spinach to the pan and cook un­til wilted/fully de­frosted and cooked through. Drain any liq­uid, leave to cool for a few min­utes, then roughly chop.

3 Melt the but­ter in a saucepan or mi­crowave, cool for a few min­utes, then add to a bowl with the eggs and yo­ghurt and lightly whisk to­gether.

4 Sieve the flour and bak­ing pow­der into a large mix­ing bowl, make a well in the mid­dle and pour in the wet in­gre­di­ents, fol­lowed by the spinach, mush­rooms, cheese, raisins, dill. Sea­son. Mix, then pour into the loaf tin.

5 Bake for 50-55 min­utes, or un­til risen and golden brown on top and an in­serted skewer comes out clean.

6 Leave to cool for 10-15 min­utes in the tin be­fore re­mov­ing. Serve in slices warm or cold.

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