We really like to entertain and see friends during the week in town. Most week-ends we are out on the island, plus we like the relaxed vibe of having guests over during the week. We keep it really easy. Last week we had guests and had Cafe Presse chicken & frites & salad for dinner. It is a few blocks from our home so it is so convenient to go and pick it up on the way home from work and have it rest in a warm oven. A little entertaining tip for week-day entertaining–all for a later post. We really like to have a good variety of things set out for a nosh with cocktails when guests first arrive. Often I just set it out on the bar, and move it into the living room once everyone has arrived and we are sitting before dinner and chatting. Having things on trays make for easy transport. I can’t really fully express how much I love hotel silver as it is food safe and just elevates how pretty really normal food can look. It is our newest collection. Back to the food. Always a nut or two. This was really good cashews and spicy almonds. A fab piece of cheese almost always. A few bites of cheese really is filling. Crackers or baguette for the cheese. This was the great English toast crackers we just started selling that are laced with fruit. We also like putting out a sweet to add to the cheese. Huge fans of the Boat Street pickled French plums. Could really eat it straight out of the jar. Is sublime with cheese. Love the simplicity of olives. Lastly, this amazing hummus we found awhile ago that is made with white beans. They also do an edamame hummus which is pretty over the top too. The hummus is nice with simple white crackers. There you have it. A visual week-night variety of things to enjoy with a cocktail with friends before dinner. Hardly any work at all, nothing overly fancy. The point really is to enjoy the time with our friends and not be stuck in the kitchen cooking. Things that mostly can be bought ahead and have stored in the pantry, at the ready for a week night meal with friends.
I prefer to use the term ‘nibbles’ over the word ‘hors d’oeuvre’ for a host of reasons. The first is the spelling. I think I am a reasonably good speller, but the H word always has me searching on Google for the proper spelling. Secondly, I do think the H word has a place, but I think of it more formally like when food is passed at a cocktail party. Nibbles fit the bill when you are just putting out a quick & easy assortment of things to have with cocktails before dinner.
Here is what I found after a quick web search.
1 : an act of nibbling 2 : a very small quantity or portion (as of food) ; also : snack 3 : a tentative expression of interest
Which leads me to, what do you put out for a nibble or a snack? I think as much that can be done to make entertaining easier and more doable is my answer.
This was a quick assortment of things I pulled together for guests last evening. Most to all were things we had in the cupboard or fridge. It was a week-night dinner after a long work day, so ease was key. Truffle popcorn, cashews & peanuts, a piece of cheese with crackers, tortilla chips with really good salsa. Done. I put most everything in a pretty hotel silver bowl and off it went. It does not have to be a huge assortment. A nibble. Make guests a drink, and watch the conversations start to flow.
Putting a twist on a classic is a fun way to put your personal stamp on a gift or a recipe. My grandmother and my mom both made Chex mix during the Holidays when I was growing up. I then went quite a span without it in my adult years until our friend Peg made it and had a bowl out before our traditional Christmas Day dinner we share with her and her husband Brian, along with a few other couples. I was like a kid again–it was somewhat comical how much of it I ate. Since then, she makes a big batch for me on my birthday each year, as well as serves it with Champagne before Christmas dinner. I love the stuff! I love the high/low of it, having a small bowl of it with a glass of Veuve. This season, I asked her if she would whip up a batch of her extra special mix, using only my favorite things–rice Chex cereal, macadamia nuts & cashews, along with her secret spices. A ‘TKW’ blend if you will, and I could hand it out as little gifts. She was so kind and within days, I was packaging up cello bags of the special blend. A twist on a classic, filled with only my favorites.