Sunday, 13 June 2010

finger food and more

Yesterday's match between England and USA was intense I thought. There were moments when I couldn't watch the telly and I felt like my heart stopped for a split second. At the end it was a draw, 1-1 for both teams.

In case if you're wondering which team I support, it's... ok, here's the deal. I am torn. I used to live in the States and I have families and friends there; and for the office World Cup sweepstakes, I have USA. But now I live in England and I have always been an England football fan. And so yesterday, I wore my England top and I sang both national anthems, God Save the Queen and Star Spangled Banner. But if I have to choose only one team, it'll be England.

Anyway, let's talk about food. For times like this, dinner in front of the TV, I like crowd-pleasers that are manageable to eat in the living room and can be made well ahead of time so that when my friends arrive, there's hardly any work to be done. It's always handy to have crisps, pretzels, penuts and microwave popcorns which I love and there's nothing wrong with them. But, of course, I cannot just have them. I have to make something. As much thought and preparation, if not more, can go into finger foods as into a sit-down meal.

A finger food dinner can wind up being more work, especially when serving many selections. My strategy for this is to get as much preparation done as possible in advance. Gather the elements and have them sitting either in the fridge or on the counter, ready to be assembled. This makes my life much easier and gives me a chance to actually enjoy my get-together, maybe even have a couple of drinks myself!

Everybody loves to nibble whilst watching TV and one of the most requested nibble foods is chicken wings. I probably have about twenty-something recipes for chicken wings, and the one that I made yesterday was chicken wings with herbes de Provence and lemon zest. The wings can be prepared in the afternoon and just keep them in the fridge. About half an hour before everybody arrives, simply roast in a moderate oven.

I also made spicy sweet potato wedges that's flavoured with rosemary, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Again, these wedges can be prepared ahead of time and they can go in the oven at the same time with the wings. I served the wedges with a cool sour cream and chives dip. Yum.

And that's not it. I also made my curried risotto. Yes, risotto isn't exactly a quick dish to make but this is my strategy. I prepared all the elements ahead of time; the onions, celery, garlic, chicken and pancetta. And I also kept the stock simmering on low. At half time, I started cooking. I sautéed the finely chopped onions, celery, chicken and pancetta. And then I added the garlic and some spices, cumin, coriander and curry powder. I added the rice and some white wine. When the wine was reduced slightly, I added the stock a ladle at a time until the rice is perfectly cooked. I also stirred in a little mascarpone cheese towards the end of the cooking to give a lovely creaminess. All done in fifteen minutes, ready to be eaten during the second half of the match.

I didn't take any pictures of the risotto as the match was starting.

For something sweet at the end, we had Nigella's Chocolate and Pear Pudding. Again, I prepared the pudding ahead of time, keeping them in the fridge ready to be baked in the oven for 15 minutes which gave me plenty of time to whipped some cream.

Again, I managed to stuffed my friends, Adam and Kelly almost to death. It's been a great weekend with more matches and plenty of food to come.

Have a great one friends.

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