Help us build our Holiday iPad app. It's not ideal, but we all know how it can be around the holidays. What do you keep on hand for unexpected quests?
I always keep a couple jars of artichoke hearts, some sour cream (or Greek yogurt), parmesan, parsley and preserved lemon on hand for making a quick spread in the blender; then, I keep a box or two of water biscuits, always, as well as some par-baked homemade baguettes (in my freezer), to use with the spread. And I cut up some carrots too, for people who prefer that. Other items include: Crispy spice-brined nuts of various kinds (recipe is here on FOOD52); good cheeses; nice olives and homemade relishes; smoked trout, for making a spread similar to the artichoke one; and, of course, boozy fruit. I'll be posting recipes in the next week for several other items. ;o)
I want to drop in on AntoniaJames! I keep many of her same items in the fridge/pantry most of the time, as well. Good crackers - I love Panzanella - are always around. Heck a lot of this is my favorite snack food too. A couple of good wines, a sparkling one, a good microbrew, and something sparklingly non-alcoholic should make almost anyone happy.
frozen cookie dough in pre-shaped, ready-to-bake portions is an easy way to keep sweets on hand.
Wafer thin slices of parmesan cheese with good crackers, tapenade, provencal olives, prosciutto. Chef June has a recipe for spinach balls that I make and freeze in advance, very easy to warm up. I can peppers and cauliflower every year and can make a quick anti-pasto plate. Also keep on hand aged gouda and cheddar cheeses and simply slice apples.
Drinks are what Boulangere said.
For drinks, I now keep frozen, in one cup plastic freezer jelly containers, "rosemary lemonade" syrup, which I often spike with the sweetened booze from dried fruits I've soaked in brandy/rum/gin, etc. for other purposes; and always, always, always i keep on hand frozen syrup for Mint Limeade. Both are wonderful FOOD52 recipes. People love them! Even in the winter, it's lovely to have to have a light fruit drink. ;o)
I make chili in the winter in large quantities and freeze it. I keep cheddar cheese, salsa, greek yogurt, tortilla chips and beer in the house so I always have the makings of an impromptu chili supper. Also always have wine and different kinds of nuts and good chocolate in the house. And I make biscotti and keep them in the freezer. If someone pops by after dinner we make espresso or cappuccino and biscotti.
Always sparkling wine. Chunks of homemade pate in the freezer, lots of homemade pickles & relishes in the cellar. A roll of unbaked cheese straws/crackers in the freezer, just slice and bake. Some excellent nuts & olives. A few beautiful candles, and you're all set!
Savory: I keep a bag of pre-made "potsticker/dimsum" in the freezer. Easy to steam and nice with good dipping sauce. (some soy, ginger,garlic (powder is okay for quick, powdered mustard, and a light touch of veggie oil--whisk it all)..a touch of sherry to thin it out). Pickled ginger on the side. Maybe some shredded carrots with a lime olive oil dressing.
Sweet: Sliced banana..slice them on the bias in thick scallop sized slices. Dip the top in sugar---and now you need a blow torch---caramelize the sugar, melt it brown it let it bubble (use a sheet pan or foil). Let it rest a bit so it makes a hard creme brulee type crust and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream..and Irish coffee.
I love the carrot idea and the banana idea. Actually, the kids would love the banana idea as a snack. Minus the Irish coffee :) How would a sprinkle of brown sugar be? Under the broiler? I do have an unused blow torch somewhere. I'll have to dig it out.
When I'm making bites to have with drinks for planned guests, I usually intentionally make a lot more than I need and freeze the surplus (obviously only things that freeze well.) I find that once I get an 'assembly line' going, it's not that much more work to make, say four dozen pieces, instead of two - things like chinese dumplings, mini phyllo pastries, savory puff pastry palmiers and so on. Avoids last minute scrambling.
Roasted nuts or spiced nuts, good olives, one or two good cheeses and interesting crackers, preserves, dried fruit, especially figs and dates because I love them and they go well with aged cheese. As far as drinks, it's akways great to have good quality vodka, rum, club soda, and some type of fruit juice so you can make cocktails-- both alcoholic and non.
Definitely nice cheeses, crackers, olives, and some dried salami. Lots of eggs so you can always whip up a breakfast. I like to have some frozen homemade soup (especially chicken wild rice) and (maybe this is cheesy, but whatever) one of those 'take 'n bake' breads frozen that you can whip out and finish baking to serve warm. And a frozen batch of Mrslarkin's scones to take out and bake up, for sure!
Boy, I'm coming to your house - dry roasted almonds and/or olives at about it, but nobody stops in unannounced these days - which I miss.
I always have toasted nuts around, and wine.. (i really long for those days of spontaneity ). My mom always used to have limes around, this way, she'd whip up some refreshing Limeade at a moments notice.
Due to the nature of our business, people are always stopping by, sometimes with little notice. I always have a hunk of Vella aged Monterey Jack cheese, which keeps well and doesn't sweat on a hot day, with croutons made from left over sour dough baguettes that I freeze and thaw in the oven. My freezer is also stocked with frozen mini spinach pancakes and also mini zucchini pancakes. My morning plain Greek yogurt is on standby to also make a great simple dip. Almond are a staple; they are healthy and tasty. I have jars of my home cured olives ready , too. And, of course, there is always wine! We make Cabernet and a few other varietals. (we pressed a little syrah rose' yesterday)
Food: I always have good cashews and almonds, pitted olives (which I also use in my weekly cooking), high-quality canned artichokes in water only, roasted peppers (freshly made or jarred), a fig jam, pepper jelly, etc., and frozen baguettes and water crackers. I also make samosas in big batches.They freeze well, everyone loves them, and I serve them with a sweet/sour Indian tomato chutney that keeps in the fridge for months.
Booze: always have chilled white wine and champagne in fridge, red wine, port, Campari, and first-rate gin, bourbon, and rum.
A creamy cheddar cheese spread with a bit of garlic, Worcestershire, beer and cayenne, thick apple chutney and good water crackers. The lemonade concentrate (Joy of Cooking) and sparkling water.
Wine, beer and take out menus. We also always have a few slices of good bread in the freezer to make into crostini, good-quality nuts (Marcona, etc.), and an assortment of olives. I generally always have salad greens and such on hand because I bring my lunch to work, and we have an abundance of dried pasta and garlic....spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper and always a hit. We also always have a couple of bars of really good chocolate on hand. I'll just break it into chunks for dessert.
My mom is the consummate hostess and is always prepared for drop-in guests. Her stand-bys: gougeres, stocked in the freezer and ready to be warmed in the oven at a moment's notice.
I generally make pate for the holidays, so I have that on hand, as well as Tapenade, and the Lyonnaise cheese spread called Cervelle de Canut. With plenty of rusks and crackers, that's a good start. I also like to have Marcona Almonds and a selection of cheeses in the fridge. You can't go wrong with a hunk of good cheese!
If you ever make cookies, it is a good idea to multiply the recipe by at least double and keep the extra dough rolled in parchment in the freezer to make slice and bake cookies. You will use it within a month, guaranteed.
Just the other night a family member showed up to talk about a distressing situation. I baked cookies and I think it helped him cope a little. (But it probably helped me more!)