Starter for Ten (Minutes)

I am impatient. I love to entertain, but never seem to have the motivation to give up a lot of time for the starter or dessert. It’s a flaw that one day I hope to rectify.
I tend to try and attain a degree of “special effects” in the vain hope that I will overshadow any short cut effort on my part so the guests won’t perceive any apathy over their long awaited invite to eat chez nous (I have a reputation to maintain at the end of the day). I am often forced to set fire to some nervous bananas as a last ditch attempt at impressing………..the lengths one must go to.
I am cleaning up my act. I am a staunch believer in a bit of forward planning these days, and this does now avert the odd charred tablecloth and hastily purchased cold cuts and the like to masquerade as a “rustic” starter.
Take last Saturday as an example.
Dips seem to exude a charm all of their own – the odd furtive excuse to lick your fingers and wipe your plate clean with a slice of bread. Communal eating at its best.
I prepared three dips.
YOGHURT AND CUCUMBER – Two small pots of yoghurt, thinly sliced and peeled cucumber and a generous dollop of mint sauce from a jar. Stir and serve.
HUMMUS – Take one tin of rinsed chick peas, add chopped garlic, tahini, olive oil, some water to thin and the juice of at least one lemon. Blitz in the proccessor and pour into a dish. Toast some pine nuts and scatter on top. Drizzle with your best olive oil and sprinkle with some paprika ( I like the Spanish pimenton picante).
SWEET TOMATO PUREE. -This is where a bit of advance cooking comes into its own. I use Claudia Roden’s recipe (Arabesque) and seal it in preserving jars for later use – If that sounds a bit daunting, it can be frozen or made two days in advance and kept in the fridge.
OLIVES – Open jar or packet and put into bowls (no instructions for this stage I feel)
BREAD (need I say slice it??)
This really is a ten minute starter and quite fool proof.
Try it, its so easy.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Holly says:

    I completely agree that home-made dips make the scrummiest and easiest starters and will definitely try out this combo after hearing the praise that Grandma gave it!

  2. Carol Norwell says:

    sounds yummy and looks very special….like a lot of thought and effort gone into it…my idea of a perfect starter…

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