Snacks + sides

Snacks + sides

By
Rosie Birkett
Contains
10 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742709147
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

I had to have a chapter in this book dedicated to snacks and sides.

For me, that’s where it all begins; when you first start to charm your palate with a little something to – as an old pal of mine from Yorkshire used to say – ‘put you on’.

When my friends and I get together, there are always snacks involved. Actually, who am I kidding? When I am alone in the flat working, having a night in with Jamie, or catching up with family, there are snacks involved. There are snacks involved when I have a bath. You get the picture...

While store-bought crisps and dips can be a great time saver, I think it’s nice to have some more interesting, accessible home-made nibbles in your recipe arsenal. There’s just something a bit more special about kicking off a meal with something you’ve put together yourself, be it juicy radishes and a salty dip, home-made bread and butter, or something refined like a perfectly crisp, cheesy gougère. In this chapter you’ll find some ideas for pre-meal munchies using fresh, fridge and store-cupboard ingredients you’re likely to have to hand, many of which can be whipped up in no time at all.

One of the best tongue teasers I can remember eating was during my first trip to Mexico. It was our first day in the scorching heat of the beautiful Yucatán coast, where crumbling Mayan ruins overlook warm crystal waters and iguanas lounge lazily on every available surface. We were hot, and boy, were we hungry. So we stopped at the side of the road for some fish tacos and cold Cokes from a street food van. As soon as we sat down on the high stools by the service hatch, the chef handed us little plastic cups filled with a bright coral-coloured, pungent smelling broth. He then passed out a little plate with chunks of lime, chopped white onion, chilli and coriander.

I looked at the other customers and copied what they were doing: squeezing in the lime, chucking in some onion and coriander. I took a sip and – I am salivating even thinking about this – my mouth was filled with the most beautifully intense, heady seafood broth, deeply spicy with Mexican chillies and nutty with roasted prawn shells. The raw onions added a gorgeous juicy crunch and the coriander an aromatic freshness.

Sensing my delight, the Mexican man next to me explained what I was eating, ‘It’s caldo de camarón,’ he purred, smiling, ‘Betterrr than Viagra’. I got the feeling he knew what he was talking about. As soon as I’d tasted it I was hooked. We returned to that same van about four times before we left Playa Del Carmen, just for this soup – though the tacos were good too.

That chef had it sussed, balancing spice, salt, sweet and sour along with a winning confluence of textures and temperatures in his opening dish. And that’s just what a good snack should do – pique your palate and immediately seduce you. There needs to be a party in your mouth, but it doesn’t need to be something too heavy, complicated or expensive. Because you eat these pre-meal nibbles in small, bite-sized quantities, they’re a great way to play with bold, intense flavours, so you can really have some fun with them and get creative.

Recipes in this Chapter

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