Every so often I like to just gather bits and pieces from the refrigerator and make a meal. So long as there are cracker biscuits of some sort in the pantry you can generally fill the table with sufficient to satisfy: gherkins, olives, cheese, grapes or sliced apples, perhaps firm pears. But I always can't resist making something to add to it all.
Tomato and Nut Balls
I sauteed a chopped onion and garlic clove in olive oil until soft. While it was cooking I peeled and chopped two tomatoes. These went into the pan for about 5 minutes. In a bowl I now mixed this with about 100g nuts ground roughly in a pestle and mortar. The nuts I used were mainly hazel nuts but as there was insufficient I added some macadamias. It was now time to add breadcrumbs until the mixture firmed up sufficiently to roll it into ball shapes. I didn't have a lot of breadcrumbs so added some finely ground oats. I added a little salt, though not enough it proved later as we ate them.
The balls were now to be rolled in chopped parsley. Unfortunately what I thought was parsley was coriander. This was fine to use, but it wasn't sufficient so I picked some basil from the garden and made up the quantity with this.
I felt that these balls looked unattractive but they were crunchy (and quite filling) bites. The tomato flavour seemed to vanish in the nut mixture but added a touch of umami. I wish I had seasoned them a bit more.
Some were left the next day so I flattened them into rissole shapes, gave them a sprinkle of salt and fried them for lunch. I preferred them this way.
I crushed with salt 1/2 clove garlic and mixed it in a bowl with 1/4 cup tahini, 2 tablespoons olive oil, a tablespoon water. I now stirred in the juice of 1/2 lemon. The mixture immediately thickened so I now beat in water little by little until I had the texture that I wanted. I added salt and pepper to taste and a little chopped parsley and the dip was ready.
Spread on cracker biscuits this was a wonderful base to add any other elements: olives, cheese, sun dried tomatoes. I only made a small amount so it all went.
Chile Con Queso
There was 115g fontina cheese left from a block so I thought this was a good opportunity to use it. It was grated and went into a small saucepan with a tablespoon chopped jalapeno chilli from the jar, a finely sliced spring onion and 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds. The mixture was stirred until it had melted and was then quickly brought to the table to be eaten straightaway before it went cold—I didn't want to set up a fondu set for this small amount of cheese.
Of these three items I made for the bitzer meal this was the one I think I enjoyed the most. Something with chillies will always appeal to me.