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Beer-Battered Fish N’ Chips

Now that I’m living in the States, I have had the opportunity to sample dishes that I’d never heard of before, and I have to say it – American cuisine is fab! But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about my fave fish and chips.I have to listen with envy as my family describe how they still have fish suppers every Friday. Yes, of course we can get fish and chips out here but no disrespect to our American cousins, this is a dish that us Brits definitely do best. I’ve tried fish and chips in many different countries, and even though all of them were very pleasant, no one does our national dish quite like we do.

 

 

Admittedly, fish and chips from a proper British chippie is impossible to beat and always to recreate at home. Almost everyone I know has said that there’s something about fish and chips from your local chip shop, with lashings of onion vinegar and wrapped in paper that is hugely satisfying and hits the spot every time. To me a proper fish and chip shop, is one where the fish is battered (never breaded) and the chips are chunky (never fries!) After my last day at the school where I worked, my colleagues and  I could have gone anywhere for my leaving meal. But what did we choose to do? Grab fish and chips and eat them on the steps of the town hall, which incidentally also gave me flashbacks to grabbing munchies after a hard night’s clubbing! Yep, I clearly knew I was really going to miss good ol’ English fish and chip shops that much!

 

 

But as much as I love chips from the chippie, that doesn’t mean that the home-made version isn’t delicious. Which is a good thing as that’s now how I’m going to be able to get my fish and chip fix regularly! Here’s a recipe below for scrumptious beer-battered fish and chips. For those of you who don’t like the idea of frying everything, the chips can also be roasted in the oven at 200°c/Gas 6 for thirty minutes, turning over occasionally.

 

 

BEER-BATTERED FISH AND CHIPS

Serves 2

Prep time 15 mins

Rest time 30 mins resting

Cooking time 40 mins

Courtesy @pixabay.com

INGREDIENTS:

50g plain flour

50g cornflour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp turmeric

75 ml beer

75ml sparkling water

Vegetable or sunflower oil for deep frying

400g cod, hake or haddock, halved

Lemon Pepper

Salt and Pepper

For the chips:

750g potatoes, peeled and sliced into thick chips

2 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp sunflower oil

Salt and pepper

METHOD:

1. Combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder, salt, pepper and turmeric in a large bowl, reserving about one and a half tbsps of the mixture and set aside.

2. Pour beer and water into the bowl and whisk until you have a smooth, lump-free batter. Leave to rest for 30 mins.

3. Meanwhile prepare the chips. Boil a large pan of water, add the cut potatoes and boil for 2-3 mins until the outsides are tender but not soft.

4. Drain potatoes then tip on to a large baking tray with flour, 2tbsp oil and salt and pepper. Toss until all the potatoes are evenly coated. Set aside.

5.  Pat the fish dry with kitchen paper, then season with salt, pepper and lemon pepper for extra flavour.  Then coat evenly in the remaining turmeric flour mix. Shake off excess then dip into the batter.

6.  Heat 1 ltr oil in a deep saucepan. When hot enough, lower each fillet into the hot oil and fry until golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the fish and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt.

7. Fry the potatoes until crisp and lightly golden. Remove from oil and drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with salt and vinegar. Serve with fish and enjoy!

 

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My Top Ten Last Meals!

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Mr. D. told me today that if he could live on three meals for the rest of his life, he’d choose steak, pizza and pasta. That’s it – he’d never need any other type of food for the rest of his days on earth. However when he asked me for my top three meals, it was impossible to choose (and no, I wasn’t allowed to choose desserts!) And this is coupled with a colleague asking me what I’d have for my last meal if I was on death row (we do have some strange conversations in the staff room!) and once again I couldn’t decide. I clearly have a more varied palate than Mr. D. and I couldn’t possibly live on just three dishes and neither could I have just one ‘last meal’. For me, you’d have to make it ten!

So if I could only eat ten dishes for the rest of my life, these are the ten I’d choose:

1. ROAST DINNER

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A roast dinner is a family favourite. It doesn’t matter what kind of roasted meat it is – though when I was growing up it was usually chicken or lamb – but it has to be served with stuffing, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding, or if I’m in the States, biscuits. I always add either red or white wine to the pan while the meat is roasting, and I usually tend to vary the types of vegetables that accompany the dish.

Seriously, who couldn’t love a good roast dinner?

2. CURRIES

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I’ve never understood people who say that they don’t like curries, usually because they insist it’s too spicy. I don’t like overly spicy food either. I don’t see the point in not being able to taste what you’re eating because you’re mouth is engulfed in flames! But that’s the beauty of curries – you can make them as mild or as spicy as you like. I’m lucky that because of my cultural background, curry was almost always on the menu when we were growing up, and not just curries from the Indian subcontinent either, but also from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Africa and the Caribbean.  There are so many ways of making this very versatile dish, and I can honestly say that I enjoy them all – providing they’re not too spicy of course!

3. NASI LEMAK

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Nasi Lemak is Malaysia’s national dish, and even though I believe it is traditionally served for breakfast, I could quite happy eat this dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whenever I go to a Malaysian restaurant, I don’t really need to look at the menu, as I know I’m going to choose my favourite Nasi Lemak. This classic dish contains a serving of coconut rice and various other components which can vary but typically include a curry of some kind, fried chicken, an egg, sliced cucumbers, and crispy fried anchovies and peanuts, all served up on a banana leaf.

Delicious!

4. SALMON

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Mr. D. is a real sweetheart. He knows how much I love salmon so whenever we go out to dinner, he’ll be checking out the menu for my favourite salmon dishes before he’s even decided what he wants!

At home, I’ll usually pan-fry or oven bake the salmon with some lemon, coriander, and maybe a little crushed chilli (if Mr. D.’s OK with that!) But I really don’t mind how it’s cooked, as I know it’ll be delicious. I’ve eaten salmon curried; in a salad; poached; with teriyaki sauce; in a red Thai curry; grilled with a mango salsa, and this weekend I’ll be trying Jamaican jerk salmon for the first time. Bring it on!

But strange as this may sound, I can’t actually stand smoked salmon at all! How bizarre!

5. FISH AND CHIPS

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This one can hardly be a surprise – I’m from England after all! I didn’t like it very much when I was a child though. I suppose it was because I was a very picky eater and I found fish and chips to be way too greasy. But as I got older I grew to love it. I still don’t like fish and chips if it’s overly greasy, and furthermore the chips have to be thick and chunky; I don’t care much for mushy peas, and the fish should preferably be cod and should always be battered NEVER breaded! Oh and you can hold the ketchup: I prefer to have a squeeze of lemon with chilli and garlic sauces. Not very British, I know, but it hits the spot!

I’ve tried fish and chips in other countries, and even though they’re not bad attempts, they’re obviously no match for the fish and chips at home. However I have to say the fish and chips in Zurich were pretty good!

6. SHEPHERD’S PIE

mince-bean-and-mash-pie

Another British classic that I absolutely love and it takes me right back to my childhood. As fussy as I was during childhood when it came to food, I loved shepherd’s pie and I’d surprise everyone by asking for thirds! Some people – Mr. D. included – might just write off shepherd’s pie as bland slop on a plate but as far as I’m concerned, it means they’re not ‘doing it right.’ Minced lamb in a thick, brown gravy topped with mashed potatoes looks, sounds and tastes boring. Whenever anyone in our family makes it, we always try to jazz it up a bit. You can do that by adding herbs, garlic, cheese, spring greens or mashed root vegetables to the potato topping, and a tin of chopped tomatoes, a dash of Worcestshire sauce  and a load of veggies taste great in the minced lamb and helps to improve the appearance.

Though try as I might, I can never get Mr.D. to have more than a couple of forkfuls.

7. SEAFOOD

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Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of seafood: crab, lobster, prawns, squid, scallops, clams… I seriously can’t get enough of them. Mr. D. and I went to an American restaurant in London last year where I ordered a kind a stew that had virtually every kind of seafood in a delicious white wine sauce. Bliss!

I’ve tried seafood cooked in many different ways but I believe that the best way of cooking seafood includes a fair bit of spice and zing to bring out the flavour.

8. MINTED LAMB CHOPS

bbc.co.uk

bbc.co.uk

 

Oh my goodness – heaven on a plate! This is something else that takes me back to my childhood as this was something I’d happily guzzle without complaining. It also happens to be my little brother’s favourite dish too. However, as the minted lamb is the star of the show, I like the accompaniments to be quite simple, so it’s just boiled potatoes, savoy cabbage and lashings of gravy for me – just like Mum used to make!

9. TRICOLORE SALAD

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I love this salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and avocado with a bit of basil. What’s so strange is that I was never a huge fan of cheese or avocado when I was younger but I absolutely love it now, and try to make a tricolore salad whenever I can – and it tastes divine in a wrap!

10. TROPICAL FRUIT SALAD

taste.com.au

taste.com.au

 

OK, so Mr. D. said no desserts but I had to sneak one in here! I’ve never really been an apples, oranges, grapes kind of girl. So if you’re going to serve me any kind of fruit or prepare a fruit salad, tropical’s the only way to go. I could eat mangoes, pineapples, passion fruit, papayas, jack fruit, soursop and kiwi fruit all day long. And it’s better than gorging on cakes and pies (though I adore those too!)

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Things That Make Me Go Ewwww!

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I never thought of myself as a fussy person when it comes to food, especially when compared to Mr.D, who has a list of food dislikes that’s almost as tall as he is! I considered myself to be the kind of person who’ll eat anything – or at least give it a try. But a conversation about food the other day made me realise that I had an awful lot of food hates myself. In fact after sharing them with you, I doubt I’ll ever be invited to dinner again!

1. Glacé cherries

This might seem a little ironic considering I love cherries, but they have to be either fresh or dried – I can even live with the tinned variety. But glacé cherries for me are a huge non-no. Their bright, tomato-red colour just puts me off as I know that real cherries aren’t supposed to be that colour. In fact for years I thought that they’re weren’t ‘real’ cherries as they didn’t look or taste like the cherries that I love but they are – they’re maraschino cherries that have been stoned and candied in a sugar syrup.

Even as a child I’ve never liked them, and my dislike for glacé cherries still continues. As much as I adore cherry bakewells, fruit cake and Christmas pudding, I always pick out the offending glacé cherries.

Image from glacecherries.com

Image from glacecherries.com

 

2. Smoked salmon

I love, love, love salmon. It’s one of my fave foods. So you’d think I’d be a huge fan of smoked salmon, right? Wrong! Smoked salmon and I never really hit it off. I never liked the taste or the texture. I know it’s considered a luxury delicacy, but I could never acquire a taste for it. In fact, give me a tin of salmon over the smoked stuff any day!

 

Image from wikihow.com

Image from wikihow.com

3. Quiche

Oh my goodness – if there’s a food I really cannot stomach, it’s quiche. I’ve never liked it and they used to serve the horrid stuff  for school dinners on a regular basis. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a whole slice of quiche. I’ve given it a good go but that taste, that smell… no, just not happening!

image from bbcfood.com

image from bbcfood.com

 

4. Green banana

Green bananas are usually served in savoury dishes and feature in Caribbean, South American, African and South Asian cuisines – cuisines I enjoy a great deal.   I don’t come across green bananas very often, thankfully. But when I have, I’ve never really enjoyed them so tend to pick them out. I don’t like the texture – and the fact that I believe bananas should be yellow and sweet probably has something to do with my dislike of them!

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5. Cooked peppers

Now I can eat raw peppers without any problem at all, and I don’t believe that a salad is a salad without them. But for some reason, I don’t enjoy peppers when they’ve been cooked. Unlike many of the foods on this list, I can actually eat cooked peppers but then again I’ve had to – you won’t believe how many dishes contain cooked peppers. It’s just that I’d prefer not to! I don’t really like the flavour or texture of peppers when they’ve been cooked.

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6. Non- peeling oranges

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with oranges. One of those things in life that just can’t be explained. But even though I’m happy to OD on oranges when I have a really bad cold, they have to be of the peeling variety. I can’t be doing with all that cutting malarkey. And since childhood, I’ve never been able to stand the sight of those navel oranges – definitely not for me!

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7. Soft jelly sweets

Now I’ve always had a sweet tooth so naturally I love sweets. But I don’t like those ultra soft, sugar-coated jelly sweets. I’m not totally sure why – I vaguely remember being sick after eating too many of these as a child so I’m sure that’s got a lot to do with it – but they’ve always made me feel a bit queasy after tucking into a few, so I tend to give them a miss. I prefer the jelly sweets with a harder texture.

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8. Curried/stewed fish

OK, so I love fish, I love curries, and I love stews. I even like fish stews and curries. But I’m very fussy about how the fish is cooked. It has to be in chunks rather than steaks, and there shouldn’t be any huge bones and certainly no skin, as  I hate the texture – all slimy and nasty. Not good!

Image from bbcfood.com

Image from bbcfood.com

 

 

9. Duck

Duck is very popular with many people but I personally have never understood the appeal. It has a rather strong flavour that I really don’t like but if I did have to eat it, I’d prefer to have my duck cooked a bit longer than most people would prefer. I’ve tried to get into it but I’ve accepted that my tastebuds are different to everyone else’s and duck just isn’t for me.

bbcfood.co.uk

bbcfood.co.uk

 

10. Offal

I reckon it’s a small minority of people who can stomach offal – but I’m not one of them. The smell alone is horribly off-putting, and although I’ve tried classics such as steak and kidney pie, and  liver and onions,  it’s not something that I’m in a hurry to sample again.

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If any of you have any ‘food nasties,’ I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

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The ‘No Straighteners’ Challenge: An Update

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Back in April, I told you that I was planning to ditch my hair straighteners, having used them constantly for almost a decade. As I have unruly, ultra-wavy hair, my straighteners were most definitely my best friend, and I always felt my most glamorous with super-sleek, straight hair.

Unfortunately the battle with my hair really began early last year. Years of straightening had left my hair frazzled, parched and a little on the static side. There were days I looked like Mr. Majeika and no amount of hair product would help. I was beginning to lose hope of ever having hair I could be proud of again.

I cannot live without my Tresemme hair straighteners.

I cannot live without my Tresemme hair straighteners.

I  made a great egg and olive oil conditioner – but was too lazy to prepare it every time I washed my hair. Naughty! I also tried a variety of shampoos and conditioners which I thought might help improve the condition of my hair. Everything helped to some degree but nothing eradicated the problem completely.

That’s when I decided that the only thing left was to ditch the hair straighteners. I knew it would be hard because without straightening my hair, I look like a small shrub! Would I be happy for Mr.D. to see me looking like this every day? Could I walk down the street and not mind the horrified stares? Would  I be able to ignore the smirks from my students?

But I knew that if I continued to straighten my hair, it would just become an even bigger mess. My hair was so straw-like I felt as though I had a haystack on my head. No, the straighteners had to go.

So they did. Well – almost…

I set myself a challenge that I would go a month – possibly longer – without straightening my hair and see if it made any difference. For the most part, I was actually very good and kept to my word BUT…  I couldn’t stand the kinked sections of hair that framed my face, so I cheated a little and straightened those sections. But that’s all I did. The rest of my hair was completely untouched by my straightening irons. Thankfully my Tresemme Keratin Smooth shampoo and conditioner left my hair adequately sleek so that I could get away with not straightening my hair.

Image from en.wikipedia.org

Image from en.wikipedia.org

In fact it’s only been in the last couple of weeks that I’ve taken to straightening my hair again but not in the same capacity as before. The straighteners only come out when necessary and even then it’s only to smooth down the sections that really need it.

And what’s the condition of my hair like now? A million times better! All the effort was so worth it. Yes, I still have a little frizz going on but my hair is definitely more soft, shinier and a lot smoother. It’s less dry and looks and feels much, much healthier. It’s definitely been given a new lease of life, and I intend to keep it this way.

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I’ve also been paying more attention to my diet and been eating more fruit, vegetables and oily fish as well as taking vitamin supplements, as I know that what you put into your body is just as important as what you put onto your hair. I’ve also felt that having super hot showers might also have been drying out my hair, so I’ve been washing my hair in much cooler water.

So I didn’t adhere to the challenge one hundred per cent – but I still think I did quite well. And now I no longer depend on hair straighteners to have great looking hair.

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So for you ladies out there who are reaching the end of your tether with dry, straw-like hair, there is hope. The best advice I could give you is a healthier diet and using your heated hair appliances a lot less.  It could well be the making of your hair!

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Good luck!

Hassle-Free Cocktails and Canapes Chez Mrs. D

Entertaining must be my middle name – I LOVE it. I love nothing better than having a crowd of people over, and  dare I say it, I’m well known for my cocktails and canapés. If it were possible, I’d be having cocktail and canapé nights every night. It’s simple but impressive if you’re having a lot of people over although it can require a lot of effort. I tend to make very fruity cocktails so there’s a lot of chopping, crushing and pureeing going on. And canapés, unless you keep them really simple, can be quite fiddly to prepare. Furthermore, when ever I invite people over, it usually tends to be a very last minute thing so I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been running around like a crazy woman trying to get everything ready in time before the doorbell starts ringing. Goodness knows what I’d do if I regularly put on four-course dinner parties!

That’s not to say that the hard work isn’t worth it because when I hear the raucous laughter and non-stop chatter above the already very loud music, see the empty dishes and knocked-over cocktail glasses (accidentally of course) and know that everyone’s having a damn good time, then it’s most definitely worth it.

But there are ways of hosting a great cocktails and canapés night without feeling as though you are in danger of committing murder beforehand. Here are some great tips to hosting the perfect C&C evenings Mrs. D style:

BECOME THE COCKTAIL QUEEN

If like me you are very last minute dot com or you simply dread having unexpected guests, it’s a good idea to make sure you have some stand-by items ready in the fridge or cupboard. There isn’t really much need to stock up on ultra expensive ingredients that you’re probably never going to use again. We all remember the fairy tale about the magic stone soup and it’s true – with limited ingredients and a lot of imagination you can come up with something quite impressive:

  1. I always have at least one bottle of wine, rum or vodka ready to act as the base for a good cocktail so always make sure you have a bottle of something tucked away for ’emergencies’.
  2. Always make sure you’re never out of ice.
  3. You can cheat by using a cocktail mixer pack where all you have to do is add alcohol and serve.
  4. I can’t think of any fruits that can’t be used in a cocktail, either sliced, pureed or muddled and strained so let your fruit bowl be your best friend!
  5. Herbs and spices such as basil, mint, lemongrass and ginger and even chilli can really give your cocktails a much needed kick – just remember not to overdo it!
  6. Cola, lemonade, sparkling water and various types of juices make great mixers.
  7. Never underestimate the importance of the humble lemon (or lime.) The zest and juice can be added to the alcohol; the fruit can be sliced, and the peel can be used for decoration.
  8. When all else fails, cooled sugar syrup + lemon juice + alcohol + ice + soda + lemon slice = inexpensive yet impressive cocktail!
  9. Don’t forget to frost the rims of the glasses with sugar.
  10. If you do have time to prepare, freeze either fruit juice, coffee, cola, tea lemonade etc. to avoid watery cocktails.

Also remember that it’s not all about the alcohol (strange coming from me, I know!) as you may have guests who don’t drink. Where possible simply omit the alcohol in their drinks, substitute it with a flavoured syrup if necessary or top up with more ginger ale, lemonade, soda etc.

THE EASIEST CANAPES EVER

Canapés and antipasti platters are traditionally nibbles served to guests as they arrive and as they are a precursor to a main meal, they tend to be light. However, it’s not uncommon now for people to forgo a sit-down meal in order to serve an array of canapés, especially if they are having a lot of guests or want to keep things informal.

  • So unless you’re planning a party with lots of guests, keep the antipasto fairly simple so you don’t override the the main meal. You could perhaps serve two or three dishes from the list below along with some fruit, nuts and bread.
  • If you’re planning on serving a main meal, then the  antipasto should complement the meal you’re planning.
  • Think about the appearance and fragrance of the food; blending flavors, aromas and colours will create interesting antipasto plates.

We’d all love to do a Delia when it comes to entertaining but let’s face it – we don’t all have time to stuff quail eggs or make pastry from scratch. Neither do we have the patience or finances to track down obscure, expensive  ingredients which can probably only be ordered online. So if you’re pushed for time – or money – cheat! Make the most of your local, supermarket, grocer or deli. And if you’re fortunate enough to live near a farmer’s market, so much the better!

Here’s a list of simple nibbles you could include as part of your canapés:

  • Jarred marinated artichoke hearts
  • Water crackers
  • Various types of cheese
  • Sliced or cherry tomatoes marinated in dressing
  • Olives
  • Cold meat slices
  • Different types of bread
  • Slices or chunks of fresh fruit
  • Jarred roasted peppers
  • Garlic hummus and pita bread
  • Sardines and sweet onions
  • Capers
  • Sweet pickles, chutneys and relishes
  • Cold shrimp
  • Roasted nuts
  • Homemade garlic bread
  • Grilled deli vegetables
  • Marinated fresh mozzarella
  • Anchovies

You could also decide what you’d like to be the key component in your antipasti platter ie. – meat, vegetables, fish etc. and then base other nibbles around them:

Meat:  a selection of natural deli meats – pepperoni, salami and prosciutto etc. — then add mixed olives, brie, deviled eggs, roasted vegetables and crackers.

Vegan: vegetable crudités, marinated olives or olive tapenade, pitta bread, roasted peppers, vegetarian stuffed dolmas and roasted garlic hummus.

 

Seafood:  fish roe, sardines, anchovies, seared fresh tuna and smoked salmon, crackers served with cream cheese, sliced marinated onions and capers.

Fresh Fruit and Nuts: Serve chunks of melon, figs and pomegranate alongside  deli meats, and then add toasted walnuts and roasted, salted pistachios.

Roasted Vegetables with Cheese: roasted veggies e.g. – baby aubergines, beets, bell peppers,courgettes, carrots, tomatoes, asparagus, onions and garlic. (Look for roasted vegetables in the prepared foods section of the store, or simply toss raw veggies with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in a 450°F oven until tender.) Served with tangy cheeses like feta, Gruyère or aged Manchego.

Cheese and More Cheese: Look for out-of-the-ordinary cheeses like Rustica cheese with red peppers or black peppercorns, rosemary coated Manchego, Caciotta cheese with green olives, Gouda with mustard seeds or cumin, drunken goat cheese made with red wine and Sotocenere cheese with truffles and a hint of cinnamon. Then combine them with a few traditional ones like provolone or fresh mozzarella. Serve with crusty bread, olives, deli meats, fruit, crackers, pickles and chutneys.

 

I’ve included an example of a super simple antipasti platter and a quick and easy cocktail. Hardly any fuss at all with easily found ingredients.

ANTIPASTI PLATTER

 

INGREDIENTS:

125g grissini

240g sunblush tomatoes

225g queen green olives

70g Napoli salami

70g Milano salami

70g sliced chorizo

80g Parma ham

METHOD:

Arrange the selection of canapés on a breadboard or platter.

APPLE AND CINNAMON SPARKLE

 

INGREDIENTS:

200ml vodka

300ml sparkling apple drink

1 green apple, sliced

6 cinnamon sticks

METHOD:

  1. Mix vodka and sparkling apple drink.
  2. Pour into martini glasses.
  3. Garnish with a slice of apple and a cinnamon stick.

What could be simpler! Enjoy!

 

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