Here in Britain, I don't think we make enough out of the nibbles that go with our pre-dinner drinks. We may open a bottle of wine or mix ourselves a gin and tonic, but the accompaniment is a packet of crisps, if we're lucky, or indeed nothing at all. I'm more used to the French way of doing things, where it would be unusual not to have something a little bit special and a little bit savoury to pick at while you're enjoying a pre-dinner drink. However, I think the surprising amount of traffic my recipe for Classic Cheese Straws outside of Christmas (they're the 7th most popular recipe on my blog of all time) shows that perhaps us Brits are hankering for something a bit more special before dinner like our European counterparts.
Leaving Europe behind for a moment (sort of), this not really a recipe recipe I've chosen to showcase the fourth and final product from the new Baxters Deli Toppers Range is inspired by something I ate in California. (You can check out the rest of my Baxters Deli Toppers recipes here: Shredded Barbecue Duck Rolls with Red Slaw, Indian Spiced Potato Wraps with Easy Raita & Spicy Slaw, and Vegan Loaded Nachos.
Last Spring when I rented an apartment near the canals in Venice for a month of writing, eating and exploring in my favourite American city, most evenings after a day of typing I got to know some of the great happy hours dotted up and down Abbey Kinney Boulevard, where a small list of great value wines and cocktails were listed along with a few slightly more substantial than canapé nibbles. In case you were wondering, FEED Body and Soul does a good cocktail/ taco happy hour, but my absolute favourite which I went back to again and again was at Zinque. A French, California style wine bar, I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting up at the bar with a good book or the days newspaper on my iPad, drinking some of their fantastically curated wines, and nibbling on some of their fantastic small bar plates. Their devilled eggs are good, and I ate many, many plates of their imported French bread, topped off with local tomatoes and avocado, but actually more me the stand out dish was more of their fantastic (actual Parisian, important in America where bad quality bread is frankly inedible) served with a hunk of locally made, French style pâté and a couple of pickles. It sounds simple, but such a basic combination, with a good glass of wine, is just what I want before supper.
So, after a busy day at work this week, or towards the end of a lazy Saturday this weekend, toast some thick slices of fresh, farmhouse style bread, some good pâté (at the moment I'm all about Waitrose's smooth duck liver pâté spiked with Grand Marnier, but you can find my recipe to make your own chicken liver pâté here), a jar of Baxters Deli Toppers Red Onion, and open a good bottle of red. Bring everything to the table, and sit down to enjoy with friends or family, or even just a good book for company. If you're the sort who likes a detailed shopping list, for two pieces each for three people, you'll need 3 slices of toast, roughly 75g (3 tbsp) pâté (I prefer smooth pâté, but chunky pâté is equally delicious here, too) and about 6 forkfuls of onions.
Be sure to check out the Deli Toppers micro site to find out a bit more about the range, and for some delicious recipes using the new products from me, my fellow food bloggers, and the Baxters team. You can enter their prize draw to win a jar of the new Delip Toppers here, and if you fancy some tickets to Taste of London in November, you can be in with a chance of winning a couple if you create a recipe using Deli Toppers, post a picture of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and use the hashtag #GetTopping. Also, don't forget to include me in your post so I can see your creations!
If you're looking for a few more, bit more substantial than bite sized nibbles to make before dinner, why not give my Easy Asian Devilled Eggs, cure a piece of your own salmon to make some of my Easy DIY Gin & Dill Cured Salmon Bilinis (which again, should not just be relegated to Christmas and New Year), or my Breaded Prawns with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce (which come in as the 3rd most popular recipe on this blog of all time, in case you were curious. You can tell I'm a little obsessed with my new league table, can't you!)
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