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Oi! Hello… Long time, right?

Remember that lazy post this time last year about cookies? Well, this is a bit less lazy – though not far off, I have standards you know. It’s about nibblies of the savoury biscuit variety, plus a few spready things to slather the biscuity things with, should you so wish.

This is all highly technical… Try to keep up.

So the basic theme here is a kind of stuff-your-face-before-dinner-and-ruin-your-appetite theme, unless you’re having a liquid dinner comprised of port and Prosecco and something that’s been mulled, in which case you’ll be munching on these goodies to stop your dinner from landing you in A&E. (Win/win, I know.)

The demi-theme of this post is simplicity: All of these are quick, easy, minimal on the ingredients and maximal on the flavour. Demi-themes are great.

A word about the linkage: Click on the name of the nibbly for a PDF’d recipe and click on the name in parentheses to go to the source of the recipe wot I adapt’d and PDF’d.

Let’s do this thing.

Oatcakes (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

Okay, yes, it’s more than possible to buy totally acceptable oatcakes from just about any shop for barely any money and zero expended effort, but let us briefly meditate upon the smell of warm, buttery oats toasting in a skillet, filling your kitchen with the scents of carbtastic cosiness… Exactly. Your mantra for these nibblies is ‘Out of the box is out of the question’.

How basic is this? Simmering buttery water plus salted oat meal(s).

That’s it – you have your mix! It’s a crumbly beast, but if you work quickly it can be rolled into submission.

These biscuits require a light touch when stamping out and toasting, but let me tell you: They are so worth the care and patience.

Cute, right? And so tasty-toasty. The bonus: the jam in that jar came out of my kitchen too – as it can yours! Read on, we’ll get there.

Parmesan Shortbreads (Nigella Lawson)

The second I came across these while thumbing through a friend’s stash of cookbooks, I knew I would have to give them a go. I’m a fiend for crumbly, buttery shortbread, and don’t even get me started on the salad-to-Parmesan ratio of my Caesar salads…

You’ll be using your hands for the mixing on this one. You may try a handheld mixer or a spoon, but you will end up using your hands – and doing a lot of squeezing.

It’s a short dough thing.

Fun fact: ‘Short’ is the pastry-based word for ‘crumbly’. This mixture is a case in point.

Feel free to do a better job with your dough rolling – I just did mine like this to make folks who struggle with aesthetics feel better about themselves.

And that sentence was to make terrible liars feel better about themselves.

This dough cuts really beautifully after setting up in the fridge for about an hour.

For this project, I decided to multitask by not only making biscuits but inventing a new shape as well. I call it the squircle.

Hashtag rustic.

Hashtag team Nigella.

Hashtag no excuse for how good these taste.

Pink Grapefruit Curd (Twigg Studios)

Lemon curd is a bit magic, isn’t it? Sweet and sharp, smooth and creamy… I’ve no idea why it never occurred to me to look for curd recipes involving other citrus fruits, apart from perhaps being put off by marmalade (to my shame, I am not into chunks of orange peel in my food) and seeing jars of sickly green lemon-lime jelly lurking ominously on shop shelves. This recipe has converted me, completely.

I used ruby red grapefruit on this occasion, though the colour of the juice wasn’t as dramatic as I’d anticipated (next time, blood orange…). The colour really isn’t the point here though; the point is flavour, and on that front this curd very much delivers.

So few ingredients! So little effort! Okay, so there was a lot of whisking, but I suppose we have to draw the laziness line somewhere, even during the hols.

Strawberry, Raspberry & Vanilla Quick Jam (Joy the Baker)

For a while, preserving and canning and making jammy-type things was all the rage, but it sounded exhausting to me and involved loads of sterilizing, sometimes fiddling with wet sheets of gelatin, fretting over pectin content, dropping hot jam thermometers on your foot… And a lot of waiting.

This isn’t that. The clue’s in the name: quick jam.

If you have a strawberry hulling implement, use it. Hulling all these tiny berries by hand was… Put it this way: if your kids are giving you sass or fighting over the Wii, make them hand-hull a few punnets of strawberries. Really.

These are your other ingredients: more fruit, more sugar, and the sweetest seed pod you ever did smell.

The lemon juice you see there offsets the crazy sweetness of the jam and also brings an important hit of pectin to to the party.

Pectin is what makes jam jammy rather than liquidy.

Science. (I’m teaching you so much today! You love it.)

This jam is delicious. It’s tangy and sweet with a note of comforting vanilla running through it. Yum.

Pairs beautifully with those oatcakes we discussed earlier. (Dolloped onto porridge or yogurt would work too.)

Parmesan Cheese Spread (101 Cookbooks)

Four words: Five minutes prep time.

That’s right, you heard me. This spread involves no cooking, no baking – heck, you don’t even have to chill this thing before serving it!

Cheese + Wine + Olive Oil = Spread

Heidi (of 101 Cookbooks) points out that this is the definition of a hackable recipe and not only are add-ins totally viable (zest, herbs, dried fruits etc.) but the booze contingent is swappable (she mentions using an IPA, or some white wine vinegar for a non-alcoholic take) as is the choice of cheese (preferably of the hard variety – she mentions Gouda).

I added some fresh thyme to my version, and played with the texture by using part freshly-grated and part shop-bought powdered Parmesan. I did good, and won’t mind at all if you nick either of those hacks.

Hit me in the comments if you come up with any amazing adds – we could geek out over cheese spread together and it could be beautiful!

I’m sure I’ll check back in with you lot before Christmas – probably with another suggestion for ridiculous things to do with alcohol – but just in case, have a happy That Holiday and a brilliant NYE…

And try not to drink anything blue.

Wisdom and nibblies: they’re what we’re here for.

 

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