Get ready to party this new year with quick and easy snacks

Party time on New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to mean hours of work, suggests Roz Crowley.

THERE are terrific readymade patés and terrines in On the Pig’s Back (English Market and Douglas, Cork) for meaty options. Superb Irish cheeses need nothing but delicious Irish crackers, sourdough, baguette or wholemeal bread. Freeze good bread now for December 31.

I tend to buy a big chunk of Hegarty’s cheddar and leave on a breadboard to allow people to slice off whatever they want. It keeps well for weeks after. If cheese lovers like something softer there are plenty of options. Small balls of mozzarella can be put in a bowl with herbs, peppers and olive oil for slipping onto crackers or bread. Appeteasers (€2 in Dunnes) are oval shaped cream cheese bites topped with seeds, herbs and vegetables made in France — in a flat pack — cute and instant.

I looked at economical options and it was easy to find many. Roasted chickpeas are delicious, nourishing, satisfying and excellent value for offering with nuts and crisps.

Make dips with cooked frozen peas or beans with fresh kale or beetroot, fresh garlic, lemon or lime juice, cream cheese, feta with olive oil or yoghurt. Have fun experimenting and taste as you add each ingredient to the blender. There are no rules.

Be adventurous in 2019. Happy new year.

Find me on Twitter @RozCrowley1.

White Mausu Peanut Rãyu €6.50

This jar has a mix of peanuts, sesame, honey, crisp garlic, chilli flakes, salt, tamari, sunflower oil — a fusion of Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine. Use as a condiment to top turkey leftovers, as a simple spread on bread, eggs or avocado to serve with drinks. Pure umami and moreish. A rescue remedy to add to stir fries too. Made in Dublin, I bought in Ballymaloe shop. See whitemausu.com for more stockists.

Mulino Bianco Sgranocchi, €2.90

There are plenty of bread sticks in supermarkets to eat on their own or with a dip. I chose these as they are short, crunchy and flavoured with sesame and are particularly good on their own. Satisfying with 22% protein, add even more with slivers or Parma/prosciutto wound around them, or thinly cut Irish ham with a smear of mustard to help it to stick. From Delitaly, Marlboro Street, Cork.

Marks & Spencer Black truffle & olive oil crisps, €3.10

While there are plenty of good Irish crisps available, we fancied the luxurious aroma and gentle, warm flavour of truffle in deliciously crunchy, large crisps which also have a hint of garlic and some salt. No additives either, but watch the quantity if you don’t want to start 2019 with excess weight. The temptation will be difficult to resist.

Manhattan popcorn kernels, €1.29

Popping corn ourselves is much cheaper than buying it ready made, and kids can have fun making it. Another advantage is sprinkling it with various flavours while still warm so they cling nicely and lessen the mess. Try parmesan or a hard cheddar, ideally finely grated on a microplane. Or go spicy with smoked paprika and salt, curry spices, finely grated fresh turmeric. There are 63.9% carbs, but 9.5% protein and 10.5% fibre.

Lago olives €3.50

Olives make the easiest nibble and we are spoilt for choice in supermarkets and speciality stalls and shops. For something different we can de-stone large olives such as these wonderfully bright green ones which look like Ascolana, a type of olive that can be filled with meat. In central Italy’s Marche region, which is prized for its food, they are stuffed with pork, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Irresistible.

From Iago Princes Street, Cork

Wasabi peanuts, €3.50

These delicious peanuts are crunchily coated in wasabi, a form Japanese horseradish, mixed with wheat, tapioca, rice and corn flours and sugar. The first hit is quite pungent, then comes the peanut savouriness, then a sweetness that softens the heat. Delicious with off dry (towards sweet) German or Austrian Rieslings, and with sweet, non-alcoholic drinks. From The Real Olive Company, English market Cork and their other outlets.

Bunalun Chickpeas, €1.19

A versatile and handy store cupboard snack, drain and pat dry the contents before sprinkling with olive oil, salt and dried herbs or spices (including warming turmeric). Bake in a single layer 20 minutes 200C /400F/Gas 6 and serve in a bowl. Healthy, tasty, sustaining. Dried chickpeas, cooked until tender are even more economical.

Tesco Finest venison and blackberry paté, 125g, €4

A ready-made paté is a handy standby, and there are plenty by the slice in speciality food shops. This cute pot had a month’s shelf life when I bought it. Made from venison and smooth pork liver and red wine, it’s topped with a slightly sweet, nicely fruity blackberry glaze. A tasty option for meat eaters.

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