Detour: easy party food

Happy holidays to you!

In honour of the season, here is a slight detour from my usual focus on typical cultural foods: some ideas for easy party dishes to make for a group. This is simple and delicious party food with minimal effort. You might find this useful for your new year’s celebrations.

The original version of this first recipe for spinach dip shockingly uses pumpernickel. I’ve been eating this every holiday season with sourdough for decades now and would be so disappointed to eat it with any other bread type. Every Christmas Eve it’s a hunt for sourdough in all the local stores, and so far, every year I’ve found it.

This dish is excellent for vegetarians and also a great way to sneak a bit of spinach into a carnivore’s diet.

Spinach dip

Spinach dip in sourdough bread

1 packet Knorr’s vegetable soup powder (any kind without pasta)

2 cups sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 loaf sourdough bread (preferably round)

1 bag fresh spinach (if you have access to a packet of frozen chopped spinach, just defrost, squeeze out the moisture and don’t bother chopping any further)

Wilt the spinach in a pan with a lid, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat when it is done, pour off the liquid and allow to cool.

Mix the soup powder with sour cream and mayonnaise.

Once the spinach has cooled, chop, squeeze out moisture and add to the rest. Refrigerate until shortly before serving.

Hollow out the bread loaf – the easiest way to do this is by slicing off the top and hollowing out with one’s hands, though I tend to cut down at an angle and pull out the gem-shaped wedge before hollowing the rest with my hands. Keep the bits you pull out on the side for dipping and slice up the top of the bread for dipping too. The secret is once you’ve run out of dipping pieces of bread, you can dismantle the bread bowl for more dipping.

The second recipe is so incredibly easy and tasty. It’s also seasonal because shellfish are in season all winter.

Make sure you have as many strips of bacon as you do scallops – or if you’re short on bacon, you can cut the bacon strips in half and use half strips instead.

The scallops can keep the roe (orange bit) on if it is still there; I think it adds flavour and a nice variation in texture.

Scallops prebaked


Bacon-wrapped scallops

Streaky American-style bacon

Fresh scallops (defrost in advance if frozen)

1 lemon Cocktail sticks (toothpicks)

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.

Lay down a slice of bacon, place a scallop on its side on the bacon, and roll along the side until the bacon ends, then stick a cocktail stick into it through the bacon and place in a baking dish. Do this with all the scallops.

Juice the lemon and pour 1 teaspoon lemon juice per scallop over the scallops.

Bake for 20 minutes and enjoy!

Baked scallops

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