Banish the Summer Food Bores

by Ali on June 18, 2008

Hurrah! Lorna, artist and self-described foodaholic is back with another guest post. I’m hoping she’ll be serving some of the below goodies when I see her this weekend… (hint hint!)

It’s that time of year when we can celebrate having friends over for a lovely summer day or night and we would like to offer them something nice instead of the usual fare that often turns up at BBQ’s, gatherings or what not. Now I know for a fact that Ali has got this down pat (seriously, her Waldorf salad is to DIE for!), but some of us are simply uninspired and feel a limp lettuce is hardly a decent offering.

Here are a few tips that I can offer you, and what makes them great is that you can take any leftovers into the office and sit smugly as you nibble away whilst others wilt over limp sandwiches.

Nutty Nibbles

Now nibbly things can be fun AND inspiring, especially if we yoink some of the trendiest ideas that the Americans are using as bar snacks. Well seasoned and flavoured nuts have become a fad, and there is no reason to go out and spend all that money on a small packed of chilli flavoured cashews when you can do it yourself in about 10 minutes flat.

Simply toast the nuts (unsalted) in a dry hot frying pan until they begin to brown (watch them carefully as they will burn the moment you take your eyes off them), sprinkle with your favourite herbs (dried) or spices (they need a light dusting) whilst they are hot and serve in bowls.

The most popular nuts to use at the moment seem to be cashews, but you can use peanuts, macadamia nuts, almond. Any nut that is unsalted would work, or how about a mix of them! Some of my favourite flavour combinations are chilli and salt, Sage and black pepper, Garam Masala spice mix, Chinese five spice mix. Often you can use left-over herb and spices to create wonderful tastes.

Nacho Nibbles

Nachos are often a different change from just offering crisps and I have found a delicious way to spice them up and give them extra jazz. Just sprinkle a few tablespoons of tomato salsa over a layer of nachos on a baking tray, top with a light dose of grated cheese and pop under the grill till the cheese has melted. Slid it all onto a plate and serve. Warm yumminess.

Dull Dips?

Most gatherings seem to have the same solutions to dip needs: some blue cheese or dubious pink stuff in a plastic pot that turns a darker pink during the night as no one touches it. Banish those for good and have a good hunt around your local stores, the oddest things can make the most amazing dips.

The one I use the most consists of mayonnaise and an Indian garlic pickle that has whole cloves of garlic in. Its not as strong as you think :-D I simply mix four tablespoons of mayonnaise with a tablespoon of the pickle and spoon into a bowl. People go crazy for it!

Try adding a can of drained tuna to four tablespoons of mayonnaise, some capers, salt and pepper and mix until smooth. Sprinkle with some chilli flakes or paprika once in a bowl, or even some diced onion. This one goes especially nice with those nachos.

The thing is to give it a try. You can make your own salsa, simply dice a red onion, tomatoes, add salt and pepper and a sprinkling of coriander and a squeeze of lemon and lime over the top and voila! Instant salsa that YOU made yourself!

Add curry powder or Garam Masala to mayonnaise to dip mini popadoms in, or even make a zesty lime mayonnaise with fresh lime juice. The choices are endless, and remember if mayonnaise is too fattening or strong for you, try crème fresh!

Let me know if you have had any party triumphs or offer tips or tricks, and we might be able to share them with The Office Diet community!

(Image above by tom likes clarks)

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