Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Three kinds of bites

Guests are coming to eat with you. Or, perhaps, a crowd are coming for celebratory drinks. You must give them some "bites" to accompany the wine, beer or whatever.

Supermarkets supply such as you might need, but they will have supplied others. So should you have bought some, your guests will know that, as a host, you have not bothered too much. So do the job yourself at a fraction of the price - and in the process gain masses of kudos.

Here are three easy and economical ways of pleasing your friends.

The first is a garlic pancake cut into bite-size pieces.

There may be children coming, and children like pancakes. As for the garlic, you will be surprised how much they will enjoy these bites - even by those who claim not to like garlic.

You will need self-raising white flour, salt, pepper, oil or oil and butter, grated cheese (Cheddar is as good as any), milk, beaten egg, Dijon mustard and pressed garlic.

In a large bowl put the flour, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and beaten egg. Adding milk, whisk this into a batter to form the consistency of thick cream. Stir in the grated cheese.

As you are preparing the batter, in a frying pan cook the pressed garlic in oil or oil/butter mix, until it becomes brown. On it pour the batter. Cover the pan. Turn the heat down low.

In a while you will see that the sides of the pancake are browning and drying and that the batter surface is bubbling.

Lift an edge of the pancake with a spatula. If the bottom is golden brown, toss the pancake or turn it over with the spatula.

Pierce the brown upper surface of the pancake to allow trapped internal moisture to escape.

When the underside is brown, slide the pancake on to a wooden serving board and cut it into bite-size pieces. Serve hot - or cold.

The proportions used are up to you, but too much cheese will make the pancake greasy.
If the party is a large one, make plenty of pancake mix so that as you are serving one, you can start another.


The next lot of bites involve the use of goat's cheese (but I am sure any other cheese will do).

You will need sliced bread (white or brown), olive oil, goat's cheese (in a small log-shape), salt, pepper, and paprika.

Cut the sliced bread into bite-size pieces. If the goat's cheese is old, cut off the rind. Slice it into discs.

In olive oil fry one side of the bread pieces. Lay them, browned side upwards, on a board. On each place a slice of goat's cheese. Return them to the olive oiled pan and fry the undersides until brown and crisp. You will notice that the cheese is starting to melt.

Place the bites on kitchen paper so that excess oil can be absorbed. Over them all sprinkle salt, and on each put a little paprika for decorative purposes.

Serve on a nice platter, hot or cold.


The last kind of bite is probably the easiest to contrive.

You will need sliced bread (brown or white), grated Cheddar cheese, Dijon mustard, onion or shallot, salt and pepper.

Make a sandwich of grated cheese, smearing Dijon mustard over the inner surfaces of the bread slices, adding salt and pepper, and finely grated or chopped onion or shallot. (A hint of chilli powder will add zest.)

Fry the sandwiches on both sides in olive oil until browned. Allow them to cool on kitchen paper.

When quite cold, cut them into bite-size pieces, discarding the crusts if you will.