Sunday, April 3, 2011

Games night nibbles

On Saturday I drove down to Rakaia to have dinner at Bex and Richard's, followed by board games and nibbles. Bex had asked me to contribute to the nibbles, so I once again turned to the 'party finger food' chapter.

I often bring sweet stuff to this sort of occasion, but this time I thought I'd do something different. There was a corn and tomato salsa (p197), which would go nicely with some corn chips, and a cheese ball (p191) for crackers.

I made the cheese ball first, as it has to have time to firm up. The main ingredients are cream cheese, grated tasty cheese, a chopped pickled onion, a chopped gherkin, and some parsley. To this you add tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and paprika. Then, just beat everything together, form it into a ball, roll it in chopped walnuts, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate.

Making the cheese ball gave me a chance to try out my home-pickled gherkins and onions. I was quite proud of this, really - the others probably got sick of me going on about it. I did try one of each when I first got the jars down, and while the onions taste pretty much how pickled onions always do, the gherkins are a bit weird. I suppose it's the malt vinegar: I'm used to ordinary dill pickles.

Next I made a start on the salsa. An chopped onion went into a saucepan with a can of chopped tomatoes, some corn and chopped green pepper (there was supposed to be garlic as well, but I remembered just in time that Bex is allergic). Also into the pot went cumin, dried basil, dried rosemary, paprika, chilli powder, chives and salt.

As this mixture simmered on the stovetop for the requisite five minutes, I started to have doubts. How was the onion supposed to cook in such a short time? Or was it supposed to be pretty much raw? A little tasting found that if the onion was supposed to be raw, it was certainly going to dominate the flavour of the salsa. I decided to cook the salsa a little longer and see if it improved.

In the end, I left it simmering for around ten minutes. The onion wasn't completely cooked, but it was a lot less sharp-tasting than previously. I packed up the salsa, the cheese ball and accompanying crackers etc, and headed off to Rakaia.

Bex cooked us a lovely roast dinner, though (in the mildly disturbing way of country people), they did tell us the lamb's name before we ate it. Well, Dora was delicious anyway. After we'd finished eating, we cleared off the table, set up the board game and brought out the nibbles... so we could begin eating again.

The cheese ball was very tasty, and very popular. The only reason it didn't get entirely eaten is that we ran out of crackers on the plate and (considering how much we'd already eaten) it was not deemed a good idea to replenish them. If you have to take some nibbles somewhere, a cheese ball may sound a bit retro, but it's easy to make, and everyone seems to like it.

The salsa, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. I set it on the table with a warning about the onion, which probably put the others off a bit, but when I had some, it wasn't really oniony: you mostly just tasted the chilli powder.  It wasn't terrible, but not particularly tasty either. It may have been better with the garlic in it, and a bit more salt perhaps, but as it was, not much of it got eaten. I've brought it home again - I'll definitely find some use for it.


  1. Cheese balls eh that brings back memories. There was a time when everywhere evening function you went to featured a cheese ball or balls of some sort. Good to see they are back, I've heard the odd mention of them lately. They are great in whatever guise.

  2. I don't know if they are back, but they should be! Yum!


Popular posts this week