A meal without cooking
Bloke in the Kitchen believes in making things from scratch rather than buying jars of this and packets of that, but there is also a case for giving yourself a day off now and then.
If you cooked the Christmas meal, and maybe Boxing Day too, you could probably do with a break from the kitchen. Even if you didn’t do any of the work, the festive season takes it out of you, so if you’ve got people coming round again, making a meal without really cooking is a perfectly legitimate thing to do.
It’s a bit like the sort of buffet you might find at an official do. It’s either good stuff or it’s not – you don’t think “they didn’t make this themselves”.
The line-up is entirely up to you, but here is an example.
French bread (for garlic bread)
Silverskin pickled onions (the little pearly white ones)
Peppadews (small red quite spicy peppers in a jar)
Salady bits (lettuce, tomato, celery etc. Nobody’s really going to eat it, but it looks good)
SHOPPING TIME: 30 mins. in a supermarket.
PREPARATION TIME: Three minutes (one for the avocados, two for the bread).
Smash up a clove or two of garlic using a mortar and pestle, if you’re so sophisticated as to have such a thing. Or just bludgeon them as best you can on a chopping board. A rolling pin would do. If you use a hammer, wash it before and afterwards. Mash the garlic with a fork, mix with butter and spread it on slices of French bread. Stick them under a hot grill and do them until the edges are about to burn.
Do plenty of this, because it’s the only stodge you’re giving them.
Garnish! That means make it look pretty. A few slices of cucumber or tomato here, a ring of red pepper there. A sprig of parsley. It just makes it look like you’ve gone to some trouble.
Cut the avocados in half, mash them with a fork and sprinkle some Worcestershire sauce on them. That is it. Serve in their skin with a teaspoon and a paper napkin.
Put all the other bits and pieces on a huge plate, chopping board or tray. Make it look neat and even arty if you can. Put the peppadews and olives in scallop shells, lettuce leaves, souvenir plates with pictures of Disney World, Corfu etc. Supply forks and spoons.
Give everyone a plate and tell them to dive in.
Make sure you’ve got some music on that they’re all likely to at least tolerate.
Keep the drinks topped up.
If a guest doesn’t drink alcohol, that doesn’t make them a bad person. Give them some Coke, lemonade, or even water in a nice glass with plenty of ice and a slice of lemon.