More martini snacks and canapes

I’m just going to leave this here…

  

What could be easier than olives and cheese-stuffed peppers that you picked up at the shops on the way home? I particularly like the colour contrast of these two. Oh and the taste.

You can’t go wrong with the lemony-buttery taste of Nocellara olive flesh, while the soft creamy cheese paired very indulgently with the sweet piccante crunch of the pepper.

  
This one was also a little bit last minute. I threw together some Bombay mix, prosciutto and olives when a friend popped round unexpectedly. The Bombay mix didn’t really go with the other two, but it’s definitely very nice on its own.

  

Here are some nuts, arranged mindlessly while I stared into space sipping my first drink of the night. Salted pistachio nuts are my favourite, although some nice big fat macadamia nuts would go well with a martini too.

  
Simple, easy, light, savoury, Twiglets are an underrated canapé snack. They are the flavour and texture opposite of the martini. Where a martini is cold, smooth, heady, citrusy and ever so slightly sweet, these are light, crunchy, salty and savoury. They don’t look particularly elegant but the flavour contrast really works. They’re a guaranteed winner for marmite fans.

  
This one is a bit more fancy. Asparagus skewers, blini with taramasalata, maki rolls, sigeumchi-namul, crisps, a martini and candles…

  
A simple but slightly more edgy snack, here are some wasabi peas with a simple classic.

  
Extremely simple, but very tasty, here is some lightly pickled baby beetroot. I’m sure we could create some kind of pink-coloured beetroot Gibson Martini, perhaps similar to the Beet Up Vesper Martini at the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town bar in central London. 


Sea Aster is a seasonal coastal plant that flowers in the summer but is edible in the spring. Wash and eat raw or lightly boil for a minute or two. I got mine at a fish monger’s in Borough Market.


Mum bought these langoustines from Tobermory Main Street while I picked up the samphire on Oban pier on a trip back from London.


There’s a whole world of tapas-style ingredients and food types you could use. Above you can see chorizo, cold roast pork slices, feta cheese, olives, bread, houmous, oil  and duqqah.


You can turn the nibbles into your whole meal and really take your time with the martini. Above you can see crab open sandwiches, nuts, wood ear mushrooms, Korean-style spinach, roasted vegetables, seaweed, manchego cheese, Bombay mix, olives, bread, oil and houmous all to be slowly munched while you sip your cold gin.


Houmous is a relaxed martini accompaniment to have at home with informal company over a drink.


Here it is served with sliced pitta bread and a variety of mostly Mediterranean snacks.


My kind neighbour made me some lovely Middle Eastern sweets which I included in the meal.

The Arabic element of the food was especially good at soaking up some of the alcohol!


Dim sum was a surprisingly good – if slightly unconventional accompaniment.


Oysters are my favourite.


I also love creamy manchego cheese.


Finally though, the most classical martini snack will always remain the pitted green olive. If it’s all you have, you’ll be fine. And you won’t spoil your appetite for dinner.

Bamboo Charcoal Peanuts

  

I think I’ve previously mentioned my interest in black-coloured food, prompted by the 1989 Peter Greenaway film “The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover” in which the chef declares that he charges double the price for black-coloured items on the menu because they resemble death. To eat death is therefore to cheat death, thus giving the diner an additional sense of pleasure and defiance than when eating any other colour of food.  

So naturally, when I saw black-coloured peanuts for sale in a shop in China Town I instantly bought them as a possible martini accompaniment. A recipe attributed to Taiwan, they are made with the ash of bamboo burnt at high temperatures.

 

An unusual combination of savoury and slightly sweet, with a peculiar outer texture I definitely like them. The ash coating wasn’t at all distasteful as some people might expect. I would definitely recommend trying them.

They make an unusual nibble to accompany a martini, as well as a conversational piece. They go nicely with tea as well.

The Lemon Iced Tea Martini with Foam

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While I first made this during the winter, I think it will make a better summer cocktail. It involves a similar preparation technique to the Lemon Drop Martini with Foam but uses Earl Grey infused gin as an additional ingredient.

Leave out the egg white and the frothing process in this recipe if you want a simpler drink. For two martinis you will need:

* The juice of 1 lemon
* The white of 1 egg
* Sugar
* Sweet Vermouth
* Earl Grey infused gin
* Standard gin or vodka
* Chilled martini glasses

– Pour the lemon juice and 2 measures of vermouth into a large cup
– Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir until dissolved
– Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the egg white
– Beat well until the mixture is thoroughly blended and a thick, velvety foam has formed on top of the liquid
– Rim the martini glasses with sugar
– Using a spoon or fork to hold back the foam, pour the liquid into the martini glasses, about half way up.
– Fill up the rest of the glasses with a half-and-half mixture of Earl Grey infused gin and standard gin or vodka, leaving a space of around 3-5mm at the top of the glass. Lightly stir the mixture.
– Pour over the foam until it has covered the top of the drink and reached the rim of the glass

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– If you like, you can sprinkle some grated lemon rind over the top of the foam to add even more zest, although I preferred it without.

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Earl Grey infused gin

I’ve been wanting to do this one for a while, but I have to admit it’s been a bit of a challenge. But I take heart that even Heston Blumenthal has been having difficulties with the concoction, so I have persevered.

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In theory, the delicate citrus tones of this tea should go perfectly with a gin martini, garnished with a freshly peeled strip of lemon, but it has taken several attempts and there’s a real risk of over-brewing the gin, which will make it taste bitter.

Use 1 teabag for every 100ml of gin you intend to produce.

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I used 2 teabags and added them to a jar, then filled it with gin.

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Give it a shake then leave it to stand for around 40 minutes.

Don’t leave it too long or the gin will impart a taste of tannin.

Remove the tea bags (squeeze the last of the gin out) and discard. Transfer the gin to the freezer and chill until it’s time to serve.

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As I said, this one was quite a difficult one to put together and took quite a bit of experimenting.

When completed, serve as a normal martini, with one measure of sweet vermouth and 4-6 measures of earl grey gin (or to taste).

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The finished product was zesty and smoky, with a touch of bitterness counteracted by the sweetness of the vermouth.