An artist’s gotta eat: tiny little small things!

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ARTbop believes the definition of creativity includes the creation of food.

One of the ARTbop contributors asked me to organise a “Christmas Party” for ARTbop. Christmas, it’s not even Summer. But the mind has turned to the canape, the hors d’oeuvre, the finger food, the paper napkin, the number of drinks per bottle (one startling normal soul just told me “there are only three glasses of wine in a bottle” – I hope his bottles are significantly smaller than mine or that he isn’t drinking out of a glass the size of a bucket). I’ve been cruising the enormous “food” section of the Tauranga City Library for ideas for contemporary little bits and pieces. Cubes of cheddar cheese and pineapple on toothpicks stuck into half an up-turned grapefruit off the tree in the backgarden aren’t going to cut it – although they might as retro delights. Enough of this!

CANAPES Over 200 recipes crostini tartlets skewers wraps VICTORIA BASHFORD-SNELL and ERIC TREULLE Dorling Kindersley Limited Great Britain 2012

And laugh out loud, open this book and there’s a beautiful image of cheese on a stick – this time it looks like marinated seed feta, a wedge of cucumber, topped with a black olive and herb leaf …… I could do that! Beautiful images throughout the book and step by step instructions to make really yummy stuff like Parmesan shortbread … I could do that! Same with the oatcakes. I’ll be avoiding the clams with ginger and lime butter and the gratinated mussels with parsley and Parmesan crumbs only because I’m not keen on shellfish – sorry team. If you’ve got Christmas drinks at your place, take a look at the image and instruction rich book – it’s a good one!

FENNEL-MARINATED FETA AND OLIVE SKEWERS As this recipe tastes so fresh and clean, it will work well with richer dishes. It makes a delicious vegetarian option. Makes 20.

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 200grams (7oz) feta cheese, 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper, 15 grams (½ oz) mint, finely chopped, ½ cucumber, peeled and seeded, 20 mint leaves, 10 pitted black olives, halved. Essential equipment 20 wooden skewers (5cm/2in – the bamboo ones with the little knot at the end).

Method:

Toast the seeds in a dry pan over low heat until nutty and golden, 3 minutes. Cool

Gently rinse the feta in cold water. Drain on paper towels.

Cut feta into 2cm (¾ in) cubs. Toss feta together with the fennel, toasted seeds, lemon zest and juice, oil, and pepper to coat each cube well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours to allow the flavours to combine.

Sprinkle the feta with chopped mint and toss to coat each cube well.

Cut the cucumber into 20 cubes (1cm/ ½ in).

Thread 1 mint leaf, 1 olive half, 1 cucumber cube, and 1 feta cube onto each skewer. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

GET AHEAD Marinate the feta up to 3 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Skewer feta up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate.

 

FREAKIN’ FABULOUS on a BUDGET: How to dress, entertain, and decorate in the style you so richly deserve. CLINTON KELLY Gallery Books New York 2013
Wouldn’t you know Clinton Kelly (reviewed in Words, From the Tauranga City Library, October 2015) includes a selection of affordable and amazing nibbles. Presented with the same irreverent text quips as the rest of his book –

“Everybody likes cheese, unless you’re lactose intolerant. And if you are, then my heart goes out to you. I wake up every morning and I thank the baby Jesus that I’m not lactose intolerant. Because I lo-o-ove cheese…”

He’s got a “recipe” for cheese platters, the perfect antipasto platter and a ” freaking fabulous fondue”. Reading the recipe for cheese twists takes me straight back to Sage Road and Imelda the culinary queen of a large family of my acquaintance. Here’s Clinton Kelly’s take introductory comments included.

HOT AND SPICY CHEESE TWISTS Makes 36 Twists

Like dark-wash denim, cheese twists are incredibly versatile. Not a fan of cheddar? I think you’re a loon, but use Parmesan cheese instead. Just about any savory or sweet (I think: cinnamon, sugar and butter) combination will fancy up this frozen puff pastry. Serve them piping hot right out of the oven and people will go ape shit. Twists can be made one day ahead, covered tightly in foil, and left at room temperature.

Ingredients (measurements are American)

2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheeseburger, 1 teaspoon chopped, dried rosemary, ¼ teaspoon dried, crushed red pepper flakes, Salt and Pepper to taste, 1 sheet (or half a 17.3 ounce packaged) frozen puff pastry thawed, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of water.

Method

Preheat oven to 425degreesF. Place one rack in top third of oven, other in lower third. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine cheese, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Set aside.

Working on a floured surface, cut one piece of the pastry dough in half crosswise. Brush both rectangles with the egg wash. Distribute the cheese mixture evenly onto the pastry, pressing down lightly so it adheres to the dough. Cut each half of the dough lengthwise in ½ inch strips. Take two strips at a time and twist. Repeat with remaining strips. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and serve.

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood

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