Sunday, December 12, 2010

Countdown Starts Here

If there is still room in the freezer, time perhaps to think about making a few 'nibbles' rather than buy them. Nothing like have a selection to dip into whilst watching all those Christmas repeats on TV. Ideally, make these when you have oddments left-over (such as scraps of pastry, crusts of bread etc), but - even if not - still not expensive to make compared to those sold over-the-counter.

The first two are cheese-based. In both instances oddments of hard cheese can be grated together and used . and this is about the time we will be finding these in our fridge when clearing space for the Christmas cheeses.
With recipes such as these, just make the amount to suit what needs using up. Small amounts of a wider variety are often more interesting than a large platter of just a few.

Cheese Balls: makes about 40
8 oz (225g) grated hard cheese (Cheddar etc)
4 oz (100g) soft margarine
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour
salt and pepper
quarter teaspoon dry mustard (or half tsp made mustard)
gherkins, olives, button mushrooms, prawns
Mix the cheese, margarine together (with made mustard if using). Stir in flour, seasoning and dry mustard (if using). Mix to a soft dough and divide into 40 tiny balls.
Flatten each ball with the hand, then top with chosen filling - that itself has been finely chopped' then form back into a ball. These can be cooked and served immediately, or frozen, thawed and then cooked.
To freeze: open freeze until solid, then pack into a bag, seal and label. Use within a month.
To serve from freezer: thaw balls for 1 hour at room temperature then cook as follows:
To cook from freshly made, or after thawing:
Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Cheese Straws: makes 4 dozen
12 oz ( 350g) shortcrust pastry
3 oz (75g) grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
Roll out pastry to an oblong approx 12" x 9". Sprinkle over one third (1 oz/25g) of the cheese. Fold pastry over one third at the top, and then the bottom third up and over this. Press edges to seal. Repeat twice more,then roll out pastry to 1/8th inch thick (3mm). Trim edges and cut into 4" x 1/2" strips and twist.
Open-freeze until solid, then pack in rigid containers. Use within 3 months. Bake from frozen at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 15 minutes until golden.
Freshly made these take 10 - 12 minutes to bake at above temperature.

Marmite Twigs:
bread crusts
Use the crusts saved from sandwiches or the ends of loaves. Cut into strips.
Gauge the amount of margarine needed (you can always add more) and melt this in a pan. Dip the crusts in just long enough to coat with the marg (but not long enough for the crusts to soak in too much fat) and then spread with the Marmite. Serve immediately or freeze.
To Freeze: pack in solid containers, use within 6 months.
To serve from Freezer: thaw 2 hours at room temperature.
tip: either fresh or thawed, these are even nicer when rolled in finely chopped parsley before serving.

Peanut Balls: makes 2 dozen
4 oz (100g) butter
1 oz (25g) grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz (100g) plain flour
2 oz (50g) cornflour
1 egg yolk
1 oz (25g) salted peanuts, roughly chopped
paprika pepper
Sift the flour and cornflour together. Cream the butter, then work in the Parmesan, the flours and the egg yolk. Finally mix in the chopped peanuts. Using clean hands, knead the mixture together in the bowl to make a firm dough.
Roll into small balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Chill for half an hour then bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 25 - 30 minutes, then cool slightly before removing from tray to a cake airer. When cold sprinkle with paprika pepper.
Either serve freshly made, or - after baking and cooling (and without adding paprika)- open freeze until solid, then pack in a rigid container. Use within 2 months.
Thaw at room temperature for one hour, then sprinkle with paprika and serve.