Hosting drinks and nibbles at home is one of my favourite things to do, whether it be having a few drinks before a night on the town, or friends over for the evening, like most people I just love eating finger food and drinking fancy drinks.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’d never be anywhere for drinks and canapés without a glass of something pink and fizzy in my hand, so I asked myself the question "just because I’m being clean do I really have to put down my glass of fizz, or do I just need to change what’s in it?"
Taking that question as the theme this week for Friday's recipe, or should I say 'recipes' because once I got thinking about it I literally came up with dozens of ideas, I came up with drinks and canapés. I hope you enjoy it!
Being the resourceful cook that I am I looked in my fridge and worked with what I had and created Clean Drinks and Nibbles. Shall we start with the important stuff first?
Nojito (as in a No-heto Mojito minus the bad stuff)
Take a lime and cut it in 4, squeeze the juice of 3 parts into the glass and throw the lime parts in. Then take a few torn mint leaves and throw them in. You want to bruise the leaves to get the flavour out, so you could use the back of a spoon to press the lime and mint together. Then add lots of ice and sparkling water! (For some reason my limes look yellow but they are most definitely lime; this won’t work with lemons.)
I love a daiquiri, so for my next drink I put some strawberries, pineapple and a squeeze of lime in the blender. added some crushed ice, blended again and poured it into a Martini glass.
Take a raspberry, or 2 if they’re small, squash it between your finger and thumb and pop it in the end of a champagne flute, top with cold sparkling water and there you have it - pink fizz. Who said living clean is not glamorous?
Chicken on Cocktail Sticks
While we have come a long way from the cheese and pineapple on a stick, toothpicks are still great for serving food at parties. You can stick them into almost anything; I chose chicken and used a marinade passed on to me by my sister, who just happens to be the queen of BBQ marinades.
I had about 400g of chicken so if you have more just adapt the marinade.
For the marinade:
- 1.5 tbl spoon lemon juice
- ½ tbl spoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin (you could use cinnamon)
- a grind of black pepper
- Mix the marinade together in a bowl and add the chicken, cut into strips leave for 2 – 24 hrs.
- When ready to cook, lightly coat a griddle pan in oil (I used spray oil) and place the chicken on a med/high heat. They will only take a few minutes each side, careful not to over cook as they could become dry.
- When cooked, cut into bite size chunks, stick a cocktail stick in and they’re ready to serve.
Quails eggs are about about half the size of a hens egg. They are just so cute and look so elegant when plated up.
Put the quail’s eggs into simmering water and leave for 5 mins. Take out and run under cold water to stop the eggs from cooking. Peel under a running tap to get the bits off and cut in half. I just dressed them with a cross of chives, but you could take the yokes out, mix with finely shredded spring onion, a tiny bit of natural yoghurt, salt and pepper and put back in, also very nice.
For another idea try placing a bit of smoked salmon and fresh dill.
Salmon & Guacamole Oatcakes
Oatcakes aren’t on the food list for MC&L detox plans, but you can eat them when maintaining.
Mini oatcakes with something spooned on to them look a picture and always feature when I’m making canapés. They’re just the perfect size. This week I put a guacamole variation on with salmon and dill.
To make the Guacamole
- 2 rice avocados
- 1 ripe tomato deseeded
- ¼ red onion
- Fresh, or dried, dill
- (You can add, a whole load of stuff if you want, chilli, coriander etc)
- Place the tomato & onion in the food processor, or blender and chop small. Then add the avocado and repeat. I like to use a hand food processor because I find it cuts rather than mashes the avocado which gives better texture.
- Spoon the mix on a mini oatcake and place a bit of salmon on with a bit of dill to finish.
King Prawns with Guacamole
Simple, take a cooked king prawn, spoon a bit of guacamole, or just mashed avocado with salt and a squeeze of lemon, and that’s it.
Everyone loves chips and dips, so that’s our final addition to this week’s recipe.
Sweet Potato Dip
- 2 med sweet potatoes
- 1 can chickpeas
- Juice 1 lemon ½ clove garlic,
- 1 tbl spoon olive oil
- ½ a cup of water (or as much as you need)
- Cut the potato into 1-2cm cubes and place in a bowl with the olive oil salt and pepper. Mix to coat. Then add on a baking tray to the over at 180 for about 35 mins
- When soft take them out and add to a bowl with the drained chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice and blend, adding the water bit by bit until you get the texture you want.
- I served mine with a bit of chopped coriander for a splash of colour.
Steamed tenderstem broccoli & griddled asparagus, for both: steam for 5 mins, then take out and immediately put in cold water under a cold running tap, this stops them from cooking and keeps them green.
For the asparagus I did this in advance as I used the griddle just before I cooked the chicken which I served hot. Just pop it on the griddle and watch as the asparagus gets beautiful griddle marks on.
Sweet Potato Crisps
Peel a sweet potato then using a potato peeler, slice it into crisps, you might need to cut the potato in half or even quarters. Place on a baking try with a bit of spray oil and seasoning of your choice pop in the oven at 180 for about 10 mins, or longer if you like them even crisper.
You might like to try using other healthy options as a base and spooning things on, perhaps a slice of tomato with hummus topped with an olive?
Here are a few things I have in my store cupboard which I’d use to make canapés or as a base for a pretty looking snack:
Typical household blenders are not made for ice and using it will blunt your blades. I bought an inexpensive ice crusher off the net which I use; the smaller pieces of ice are kinder to your blades and will ensure you get a smoother texture to your drink. (Failing that buying crushed ice or bashing ice cubes in a plastic bag with something heavy will help)
You can experiment with whatever you have in. I always have a frozen fruit for smoothies in the freezer which is a good ‘Store Cupboard’ staple.
No need to make a guacamole just use plain avocado, its almost as good and something I do all the time.
Guaranteed to impress your guests, Evie's beautiful Quail Eggs topped with chives: