Archive for the 'starters' Category




While we were gallivanting in the Greek islands in September we became quite fond of tzatziki, which is a staple Greek starter/mezze dish made with Greek yoghurt, cucumber and LOADS of garlic. Please don’t go kissing anyone afterwards, that’s my advice!! Unless they have also eaten it, of course!  The ingredients are simple and straightforward and so is making it. The only problem was that  the first time I made it I failed to strain the cucumber  so it was a bit on the liquidy side. Still, very edible and refreshing. It’s ideal to have with some pitta bread or crudités. There are various versions out there. I noticed, for example, that in some restaurants in Greece they were also adding some grated carrots. So I followed suit. I got my basic recipe from good old Jamie Oliver, and slightly adapted it.  Continue reading ‘Tzatziki’

Herby hummus

herby hummus

herby hummus

I promise you that the next thing I am going to blog will be of the sweet variety and calories laden but for now allow me to share yet another healthy recipe, namely this gorgeous herby hummus which I have already made twice in the near past. And this is a good sign, trust me. Once again it comes from the Cookie and Kate blog. In her latest newsletter she sent a link which contained 12 of her favourite salad recipes and this was one of them, albeit technically not a salad. Still: let’s not quibble and get hung up on semantics. I used to buy a lot of hummus until I saw the light and realised it was soooooo easy to make. Honestly. All you need is a food processor and the correct ingredients. Voilà! Delicious with raw vegetables, pitta bread, tortilla chips, etc. Continue reading ‘Herby hummus’

Spicy sweet potato hummus

spicy sweet potato hummus

spicy sweet potato hummus

This is a fresh, zingy variation on the traditional hummus. I have made it a couple of times and it has gone down a treat. It’s dead simple to make (you basiclly whizz everything in a food processor). What is particularly nice about it is the lovely orange colour from the sweet potatoes. Ideal to have as part of a buffet or as a starter with some nice pitta bread or raw vegetables. I found the recipe on line from a blog called Cookie and Kate, which looks really interesting. I will have to explore it. There are lots of appealing vegetarian recipes. By the way, don’t worry if you only see me blogging at the moment. The reason Candi has disappeared is that she is having some family problems. But she will be back, I am sure!! Continue reading ‘Spicy sweet potato hummus’

Baked mushrooms with ricotta and pesto

baked mushrooms with ricotta and pesto

baked mushrooms with ricotta and pesto

Here’s a nice, easy starter  or indeed a light lunch, for you to try. And very simple too. I used 4 large field mushrooms but it works really well with small chestnut mushrooms.  I really like mushrooms and this is an incredibly easy recipe to do. The reason why I decided to try it was that I had a bit of home made pesto left over. All you have to do is mix it with ricotta a bit of extra garlic, if you wish, some grated parmesan and presto! It’s done! The recipe comes, once again, from the BBC good food magazine. Don’t be put off by the not so very appealing picture. The taste is what you have to focus on, which is lovely. Ok, I know you can’t taste the photo but you have to trust me on this one. :-) Continue reading ‘Baked mushrooms with ricotta and pesto’

Caponata siciliana

caponata siciliana

caponata siciliana

This is a famous sweet and sour Sicilian dish which I had been meaning to make for a very long time and somehow never got round to do until recently. There are several versions available out there, depending on what part of Sicily they are from (please Carmelita don’t shoot me down if this recipe is not how you make it :-)) . The basic ingredients are aubergines, celery, onions, tomatoes, sultanas, capers and olives. But I have also seen it with peppers and pine kernels and a few other things besides. The version I have made was a bit of a compilation of  the recipes I saw on line. In some of them you have to salt the aubergines beforehand in order to make them expel some of their liquid. I didn’t bother doing that. Life is too short. Caponata is better eaten the day after you have made it so that the flavours get a chance to develop. Also it shouldn’t be served hot but at room temperature. I served it as a starter with some homemade bread but it could accompany a variety of other dishes and dips. Ideal for a buffet. It’s really delicious!  Continue reading ‘Caponata siciliana’

Uova ripiene al tonno

uova ripiene

These eggs take me back to when I was a little girl and was visiting my grandparents. My grandma  always made these stuffed eggs with tuna as an antipasto when we visited- amongst other things (I still salivate thinking about them. She was such a good cook!). I didn’t mind the fact that she didn’t vary the repertoire as I used to love them. As I was taking a trip to memory lane I decided to recreate them. I’m not sure I have got the quantities right but I think I am roughly on the right track. They are ideal as a snack/starter and really easy to make. The only problem is shelling the hardboiled eggs , which can be a bit of a bugger sometimes!

Continue reading ‘Uova ripiene al tonno’

Mousse de thon à la Pomme Verte

tuna and green apple mousse

Come on admit it!!!  Aren’t your taste buds tickled by the name of this recipe alone? The English translation would be: tuna and green apple mousse but I think the French version is MUCH more va va voom, don’t you think?  Plus it is the original name as it comes from the Parisienne food writer Clotilde Dusoulier. She runs this excellent blog called Chocolate and Zucchini, which has become a book. And this is where I have found this recipe. The name of her blog alone sounds very outlandish: chocolate and zucchini….. Not exactly an obvious combination, I trust you agree, albeit, ironically, the very first recipe I blogged was a courgette tea bread.  Anyway, I was duly intrigued by her blog and proceeded to buy the book second hand on Amazon paying the princely sum of 1 p! Yes! 1 p. (ok,plus P&P. But still: a bargain)! How good is that, eh? I was dead chuffed considering it looked brand new.  Good, old Amazon market place! Anyway, the book  is full of very interesting and unusual recipes with a French twist.  The author clearly belongs to the no nonsense school of cooking, which I also subscribe to. All her recipes  seem appealing without being complicated or particularly difficult to follow. A major plus here!  Continue reading ‘Mousse de thon à la Pomme Verte’

Blinis with cream cheese and smoked salmon

blinis with cream cheese and smoked salmon

I don’t know about you but sometimes I get stuck when I have to produce starters or canapés. Heaven knows why as  there is all sorts of things one can do! Still the imagination sometimes lets me down. And that’s where these little babies can come in handy! Blinis are small pancakes made with buckwheat flour. They are traditionally made in Eastern countries. Candi must know about these as they are popular in Russia. They have become widely known here in the UK too ( I am not sure about Italy) and are sold even in supermarkets. However, it is much more satisfying to produce your own, don’t you think? I had never tried to make them before but I tell you now: I shall do them again. They are really very straightforward and can be made in advance and garnished at a later stage making them ideal as finger food at buffets and parties. Obviously you could top them with lots of other things. Caviar would be very nice, I reckon, if a bit expensive! For this recipe you could use crème fraiche as an alternative to cream cheese. There are many recipes out there to make blinis. I simply used the one written on the packet of the buckwheat flour I bought, which tasted perfectly nice. So here I am sharing it with you. Continue reading ‘Blinis with cream cheese and smoked salmon’

Greek stuffed peppers

stuffed gree peppers

These stuffed peppers are ideal either as a starter or as a light lunch with a nice  salad (which is what I had). I don’t know about you but I sometimes struggle with starters. I really have to rack my brain to think of something a bit unsual. These are great as they can be made well in advance and then served at room temperature. One each would do very nicely as a starter. The recipe is once again from Rachel Allen. Obviously it would be best to make these peppers  in the summer when they are in season but let’s face it:  the truth is that now you can find peppers , as well as any other vegetable you can think of, at any time of the year. Not sure about the taste but that’s a different story.  I don’t think people really know what should be in season and what not anymore. Really quite sad. I still remember now those mini essays I wrote when I was at primary school about autumn fuits, like chestnuts, etc. Oh happy days! Continue reading ‘Greek stuffed peppers’

Butter beans and avocado hummus

butter beans and avocado hummus

Don’t be put off by the pale, snot green colour of this hummus, reader! It is actually a lot greener and not as anemic as the picture suggests. I should have used a white bowl and taken the photo during daytime. Ah well! Not to worry. You have to trust me that this hummus is really easy to make and has a lovely, delicate flavour. I invented it myself as I wanted to use a nice avocado which was languishing in my fruit bowl and was JUST at the right stage of ripeness (and we all know how difficult this is to achieve! I have thrown away many an avocado before! Not ripe enough…bat your eyelids…..too ripe! GRRRR!). Anyway, recently, don’t ask me why, I have been suffering from hummusitis, meaning I have tried my hand at different types of hummus. I used to buy it regularly, in its many varieties, until I realised it’s a cinch to make. Basically you bang all the ingredients in the food processor and voilà! Why waste money buying ready made when making it is as quick and a lot healthier? Plus more satisfying? Candi has already blogged a hummus recipe in Italian. Since I’m on the subject I shall also write the bog standard recipe I use for the traditional hummus at the bottom of this page. AND show you a much prettier picture I took on that occasion. Continue reading ‘Butter beans and avocado hummus’