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.

Beef yakitori snacks

  
I had a couple of people round for a catch up (over drinks of course).

I was trying to think of something quick and I easy I could feed them between martini drinking when I came across some beef mince on special offer at the supermarket.

I bought a kilogram and decided to make yakitori, a type of Japanese skewer kebab, inspired by izakaya/yakitori-bar type food.

I made the following recipe:

  

  • Soak several bamboo skewers in water overnight.
  • Peel and finely chop a thumb-sized piece of ginger and add it to a large bowl.
  • Finely chop 8 spring onions and add them to the bowl.
  • I added a splodge of garlic paste.
  • I then added 4 eggs and stirred them lightly with a fork to break them up.
  • I then added a tablespoon of plain flour and a teaspoon of cornflour.
  • Next, I tipped in the mince and mixed it all up with my hands.  This is both a hugely satisfying task but also horrifically messy.  Thoroughly wash your hands both before and after.

  

  • I made the mince mixture into little balls, around 3.5cm in diameter.

  

  • I then threaded them onto the bamboo skewers. I put three on each but this will depend on the size of your skewers.

  

I then mixed a glaze:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp mirin
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp vinegar from the pickled ginger jar (balsamic or even ordinary vinegar would be fine as well I’m sure)
  • A dash or Worcestershire sauce
  • Stir in the ingredients in a bowl then microwave for 20 seconds.
  • I then put the grill on 200 degrees C and threw in the yakitori for about 8 minutes.

  

  • Remove the yakitori from the grill.
  • Use a pastry brush to coat the top layer with the glaze.
  • Gently turn the yakitori over so that the less-cooked side is facing upwards.
  • Coat the newly exposed sides and put back into the oven for about 8 more minutes or until thoroughly cooked.

I served them immediately with a simple dipping sauce (2 parts soy sauce 1 part rice vinegar).

You can sprinkle over some more chopped spring onions if you can be bothered. It adds a nice contrasting colour.

Otherwise best consumed when tipsy. It would go particularly nicely with a Pickled Ginger Martini.

    South African biltong

    I love most foods that are raw, pickled or cured (with the exception of tinned tuna). A lot of them lend themselves very well to being a good martini accompaniment.

     
    Enter the biltong. Usually (but not exclusively) made from beef, seasoned and dried in blocks, this South African delicacy was born out of hardy necessity to preserve meat, often ahead of long journeys into the interior of the country during early colonial days. The meat is normally cured with vinegar, herbs and spices before being dried to preserve it. It is similar to beef jerky but thicker and with a slightly more complex flavour.

     
    I have cousins from South Africa who recently held a birthday barbecue (a braai). Served up on a magnificent, specialised chopping device was a block of biltong. You chop off a slice, which in itself adds a little bit of grandiose ceremony to the process, unlike jerky which you would simply pull out of a packet.

     
    Slowly chew the meat with an accompanying drink, savouring the flavour and texture. Remind yourself that you are living a far cry lifestyle away from the hardships endured by biltong’s initial creators as they helped found a new nation.

    More snacks and nibbles to accompany martinis

    Here is another selection of savoury snacks I’ve recently served and eaten with martinis.

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    Roasted and salted soy beans.

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    Prawns on lettuce with Peking duck sauce and fried spicy broad beans.

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    You can get a lot of good stuff in IKEA.

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    Fish roe goes well in Swedish croustades.

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    Here are some of the filled croustades, as well as some Japanese nuts and seaweed snacks.

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    Here are some more croustades with a smidgen of Sås senap and dill (a type of sweet Swedish mustard) topped up with Tångkorn (a salty seaweed extract) with a fleck of lemon peel to garnish.

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    I like to keep a selection of things like peanuts, pistachio nuts, Bombay mix etc just in case you need an emergency martini (it happens).

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    A simple favourite: Bombay mix and olives stuffed with anchovies.

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    MUM’S ROAST BEEF!

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    Sushi.

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    Sage leaves fried in butter with garlic and walnuts (see here for the recipe).

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    Steak. After you cook it, let it rest for about 5 minutes then slice it thinly.

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    Scrumptious pieces of grilled Parma ham.

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    Olives and squid.

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    Elk and pork sausage.


    Fried salmon skin.

    Fried sage leaves again, but this time with no additions of garlic or nuts.

    Ceviche.

    Pistachio nuts.

     And finally, happiness is finding an olive (or three) at the bottom of your martini when you’re hungry, said a very wise man.

    Special Beef Delivery

    A very generous friend of mine heard that I was sick and told me he was sending a rescue package. He didn’t tell me what was in it but told me to wait in my flat between certain hours of the day for it to arrive. Given that I was in bed with some sort of virus, this was fairly straight forward.

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    When it arrived I was bowled over. A box full of juicy, select cuts of beef, as well as some rub-in seasoning and some gourmet gravy. Om Nom Nom!

    The delivery came from Turner and George, a butchers near Angel tube station.

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    Beautifully packaged, I unwrapped one and put the rest in the freezer. I will defrost and cook some when my generous friend next comes round for a martini.

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    With the sirloin steak I left out, I massaged in some of the seasoning rub and left it to marinade for a few hours in a sealed tub at room temperature.

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    When it was time to cook I heated some sesame oil on a griddle (the hob was set to high) then added the steak, cooking it for just over a minute on each side. I then left it to rest for a few minutes while I arranged the plate.

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    It’s not the most artistic dinner I’ve ever served, but I’m both ill and hungry. I served the steak with a fried egg on top, with broccoli, cherry tomatoes and a yoghurt and mustard sauce, with sesame seeds and a little hot sauce sprinkled over the top.

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    It was such a good cut and tasted lovely. I felt like it definitely contributed to my recovery. However, during healthier times, something so exquisite might also make a good martini accompaniment (yes, I’m obsessed). Cook the steak as above, just before you pour your drink, then cut it into thin slices to serve on a plate alongside the martini. Exquisite.