There are too many shows on television telling you how to throw a good party. Most of them involve the Martha Stewart-ization of house and home in order to impress your guests.
Let’s face it – Newfoundlanders as a people are the party sort. We love a good time surrounded by friends and family. We’re also uncomplicated folk. Not simple, but humble and honest. A party for us is the pleasure of each other’s company and a good time.
Over the weekend my wife and I experienced just that – a good time with friends. We went out Saturday night to a concert and afterwards friends asked “Hey, how about drinks at our place?” Who can say no to an invitation like that?
The trick to a good party is sometimes in the planning and other times it is in the spontaneous invitation of a few friends in for a drink and light snacks.
There is no need to make it complicated. If you are the sort of person who likes a good bowl of nacho chips and salsa – then that is all good. But if you want to make a quick couple of things to really impress without all the work – have I got the solution for you.
There are many great things to make which are uncomplicated and are tasty as well as good for you. One of these is hummus.
It is a simple dip made from chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and sesame tahini. Here’s how you make it.
14 oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) drained and rinsed
½ cup of tahini (sesame seed paste) found in grocery store in the international foods section
1-3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Water – as needed
Place ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Use the water to thin out the paste only slightly. You are looking for a thick consistency.
Variation – add 1-2 roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the mixer when you start. Get the ones packed in oil – they are soft and easy to chop.
To go with this dip try pita chips. You could get some in the grocery store – or make your own. Get the thick Greek pitas and cut one of the rounds into 6. Place in a 350 degree pre heated oven on a cookie sheet for 5-7 minutes or until warmed.
Another good food for the fingers is bruschetta. Although there are many variations of this type of antipasto – which is basically an Italian hors d’œuvre – I make a simple one which can easily be made as a dip and will suit the pita chips as well.
½ English cucumber, deseeded and diced
½ red onion, finely diced
½ red pepper, finely diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1tbs balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle in olive oil slowly and mix until it looks luxurious and glossy. Season generously with salt and pepper and taste again. If the balsamic vinegar is to acidic for you, add a small pinch of white sugar to balance the flavours.
The next ingredient is a tipple or two to make conversation flow. To go along with the food, pick up a crisp Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc like Lindemans Bin 95 which is reasonable at under $11. My favourite right now is the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. It has all the right notes – floral, sweet and interesting and it is sturdy enough to handle the acidity of the food.
However, there are considerations – some people don’t like wine. So why not try a cocktail or two. Classic gin martinis are perfect for this type of setting and it also lends that layer of sophistication some of us crave. But hey, we don’t have to get all fancy. If you like beer, then serve that too. Just stay away from bitters or stout – they’re too heavy. Try Stella Artois. It is light and acidic, with light floral and almost no hoppy aftertaste and clean to the finish.
To get this all together could take as little as half an hour – perfect for that spontaneous party after a concert, after a night out, or….just because.