Next time you have people over, forget the boring crisps and candy. You can dazzle your guests with your master-chef skills by whipping up one of these tasty snacks. They don’t take too long to prepare, and they’re so delicious that your friends won’t believe that they were so easy to make!
Cheesy garlic pull-apart bread
This is easy, awesome and fairly swift. You can prep it beforehand, and have it sitting in the fridge until the game starts, because you want to time it so that you pull it out of the oven and serve it within 10 minutes.
Here’s what you’ll need:
a roundish loaf of good white bread
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp parsley, washed and chopped finely
3/4 cup of cheese that will melt well, such as cheddar or mozzarella, grated
about 1/2 tsp salt, which will vary according to other ingredients
1 If you’re making this right before serving, switch on the oven to 180 degrees C.
2 Cut the bread into diagonal slices, but don’t cut it all the way through. If you’re not sure how deeply to cut the bread, lay down two chopsticks on either side of it and stop when the knife gets to the chopsticks. These slices should be roughly about 3cm wide. Then turn the bread and cut on the opposite diagonal, making a criss-cross pattern. It’s easier if you hold the bread together with your hand, only releasing it as you need to cut it.
3 Put the butter in a heat-proof bowl and melt it in the microwave. In another bowl combine the garlic, parsley and salt. Add 2/3 of the melted butter to this mixture.
4 Gently open up the bread so that you can use a teaspoon to drizzle the garlic butter between slices. Add a pinch of cheese as you go.
5 Put the loaf on a piece of foil big enough to wrap around the whole loaf. Drizzle the rest of the butter over the crust of the bread. Wrap the foil around the bread, and if using later, store it in the fridge. Otherwise, place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. (Cook it for 18 minutes if you’ve put it in the fridge.)
6 Open the foil and bake for a further 5 minutes to crisp the crust. Serve and repeat.
You can add all sorts of things to the cheese stuffing to kick this up a notch. My favourites are cooked bacon, salami or other cold meats, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, or pesto. Or, if you and your friends have been playing sports and need a sugar hit, you can also do a sweet version by using caster sugar and cinnamon, or banana and chocolate chips.
Here’s a quick get-out-of-jail-free card for your next games night. At the supermarket grab a roll of frozen puff pastry. You can keep it in the freezer until the next ice-age, so it’s a good thing to have in stock. Sausage rolls are super easy to make, and they can be served hot or cold with your favourite ketchup or any other dipping sauce.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 packet sausages (not hot dogs, but real sausages with minced meat inside a skin). Pork are usually very tasty.
1 packet puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper
1 tbsp ketchup (optional)
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp milk in a small bowl
flour for rolling
You also need some special equipment:
Rolling pin or a smooth glass bottle that has been washed and dried beforehand
1 Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2 Put the onion and ketchup, if you’re using it, in a bowl. Take the sausages one by one and squeeze them to get the meat out. Add it to the onion and mix well (by hand is best).
3 Take out 1 pastry sheet from the packet and put the rest back in the freezer. Lay the pastry sheet on a clean counter (or cookie sheet if you have one). Sprinkle with flour and roll out the pastry to a rectangle about 48cm by 30cm. Cut it into two long strips.
4 Squeeze the sausage mixture back into a long sausage shape. Lay it on the edge of a strip of pastry so it takes up the whole length. Pull the remaining pastry over the sausage mixture as if it’s a blanket. Dip your fingers into the milk and use it to wet the open edges. Pinch together firmly. Do the same with the rest of the cut pastry.
5 Using a knife, cut the roll into 8 equal pieces. Then cut 3 diagonal slashes on top of each sausage roll, or you can simply poke them deeply with a fork. These holes allow steam to escape during baking, so the pastry does not end up soggy.
6 Brush the top and sides with the egg. Pop the pastries on to a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes so your guests don’t get burned!
If you’re more adventurous you can try making pastry-pockets with imaginative fillings like figs, feta and honey; Brie or Camembert cheese with a teeny bit of cranberry sauce for sweetness; or some fried mushrooms.