Category Archives: APPETIZERS AND SNACKS

Green beans with pine nuts

Green beans with pine nuts

Green beans should have a bright, strong colour, with crisp pods with a satin-like sheen. They should not look wilted, discoloured or brown. They are best eaten when young and tender. To tell how fresh they are, snap one in half. The ‘snap’ should be clean and clear. Don’t buy them if the ‘snap’ is lacking, and if the insides do not seem juicy when you break them open. Home-grown green beans are in season from June to September. Thin green finger-length beans that are also called French beans or haricots verts. They also include the fatter snap or bobby bean, and the yellow wax bean. Confusingly, green beans are not always green; some varieties you might find at farmers’ markets and farm shops are yellow or purple – but all are delicious.

Lamb koftas in yogurt with cinnamon and chilli

Lamb koftas in yogurt with cinnamon and chilli

Lamb koftas are one of the classics of Indian cuisine, well adopted by Westerners around the world. In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls of minced or ground meat—usually beef, chicken, lamb, or pork—mixed with spices and/or onions. In India, vegetarian varieties include koftas made from potato, calabash, paneer, or banana. In Europe, kofta is served as fast food as a type of kebab. Koftas in India are usually served cooked in a spicy curry/gravy and are eaten with boiled rice or a variety of Indian breads. In Bengal, a region of eastern India, koftas are made from prawns, fish, green bananas, cabbage or meat, such as minced goat meat. In Kashmir, mutton is often used in the preparation of koftas, as opposed to beef or lamb. These koftas make a very good first course or snack.

Deep-fried zucchini flowers

Deep-fried zucchini flowers

Deep-fried zucchini flowers are Italian speciality and it becoming recently much wider popular. The flowers have a subtle flavour, reminiscent of young zucchinis, and can be eaten even raw. The flowers can be battered and fried or they are also frequently stuffed (very often with soft cheeses such as ricotta) and cooked. Everyone who grow zuccini (courgettes) at home can make use of the yellow flowers that appear in steady supply throughout the summer. If flowers aren’t available, you can use the same batter and method to deep-fry slices of zucchini and aubergine. These days you can find zuccini flowers at farmers’ markets, though they are not nearly as prevalent as the taut green and yellow fruit. If you see them next time you are buying the vegetables, don’t miss the chance to try this recipe.

Croque senor

Croque senor

Croque senor is actually sandwich of Cheddar cheese and ham given a Mexican flavour with salsa of tomatoes, chilli and red pepper. It is a version of the croque-monsieur, that originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. Typically, Emmental or Gruyère cheese is used. The name is based on the verb croquer (“to crunch”) and the word monsieur (“mister”). The sandwich’s first recorded appearance on a Parisian café menu was in 1910. A ham and cheese sandwich snack, very similar to the croque-monsieur though not containing any béchamel, is called a tosti in the Netherlands, and toast (pronounced “tost”) in Italy and Greece. Similarly, in England a ham and cheese hot snack is called a ‘toastie’, and toastie makers are available to buy. In the United States, the Monte Cristo, a ham-and-cheese sandwich often dipped in egg and fried, is popular diner fare. A version of this sandwich in Spain replaces the ham with sobrassada, a soft sausage from the Balearic Islands that can be easily spread. In Catalonia it is known as a bikini.

Courgettes on garlic bread

Courgettes on garlic bread

Courgettes on garlic bread are delicious choice for quick lunch or light dinner, or even a party bite. Easy to make and with ingredients that may be found in any shop, this recipe will be your next favourite. Cheap, tasty, quick-growing and endlessly versatile, courgettes make a decent meal of any storecupboard ingredient. They can be dressed up in a creamy lemon sauce and served with pasta, grated and added to a quiche, or served as crisp fritters. In fact, recipes for courgettes come in as many shapes and sizes as the squash itself: varieties of this summer vegetable can range from small and flying-saucer shaped, to dark-green and tennis ball-sized, to long and yellow. Give courgettes a go: remember, the smaller they are, the more flavour – if you don’t pick them early enough they grow into marrows.