Tag Archives: appetizers and snacks

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.

Garlic prawns

Garlic prawns

Garlic prawns are a diamond coming from Catalan cuisine. As an appetiser for a dinner party, or one of the many tapas you tuck in to over a glass of wine and some good conversation, garlic prawns are sure to be a hit. Serve in cazuelas de barro (earthenware ramekins) for a particularly authentic approach. Cold-water prawns are sold ready-cooked, either peeled or with the shell still on. Warm-water prawns are rarely peeled, but are sold raw and cooked in the shell. Both types of prawns, when sold raw, are likely to have been frozen at some point, even if you buy them chilled: check the label before purchasing if you want to freeze them. If you’re not intending to use the prawns immediately, it’s best to buy them already frozen.

Cheese fondue

Cheese fondue

Cheese fondue is a traditional Swiss dish. Gruyère and Emmental cheeses melted in a fondue pot with wine, garlic, and kirsch. Served with bread and apple for dipping. Contrary to popular view outside of Switzerland, cheese fondue did not originate as an après-ski snack. It’s a hearty peasant dish, using ingredients that were available in the winter: cheese, wine, coarse peasant bread. And since it a traditional dish, it never went ‘out of fashion’ or ‘died out’, as you might think it did if you live in the UK or the US or any place that had the Great Fondue Craze of the ’70s, when a fondue set was a ubiquitous wedding present. In Switzerland, ‘la fondue’ means a cheese fondue and nothing else. Other types of dip-bits-of-food-in-a-communal-pot dishes are specifically called fondue-something, e.g. fondue bourgignonne (bits of beef filet fried in a pot of oil), fondue chinoise (thin slices of beef or other things cooked in a pot of broth), and so on.