Updated: Jun 7
Are you one of those domestic goddess types who, upon having a houseful of people suddenly descend, effortlessly produce the most amazing platters and cheeseboards at the drop of a hat? If you're not one of those people - I'm not! - here are a couple of wee tricks that will create the illusion of your Nigella-ness without any stress to you at all.
I've put together The Platter Heaven box for people like you and me.
It comes with a selection of fresh veggies for you to cut up for dipping, and you could maybe do a salsa or a guacamole with the tomatoes and avocado.
However, the hazelnut oil, dukkah, horseradish, mustard and the smoked cheese means all you really need are some cute little dishes to serve things in, a wooden board to lay it all out on, a loaf of crusty bread and a pile of crackers and you're all set!
The other answer to your prayers is hummus. Yes, the humble chickpea is transformed into dreamy, creamy dip that is perfect with a bunch of cut up carrot, celery, capsicum or cucumber.
Here's how I make it...
2 tins chickpeas
Lemon juice to taste
1-2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
Fresh garlic, peeled, 1-3 cloves
Half teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
I have found that heating the chickpeas in their liquid (aquafaba) in the microwave for a couple of minutes makes them smoother when you process them. I don't bother with taking the skins off - life's too short!
Pop the garlic (more if you love it, less if you're not such a fan) and some lemon juice into your processor and whizz to chop the garlic up.
Drain the heated chickpeas and keep the liquid in a separate bowl.
Add the heated chickpeas, tahini, salt and cumin with some of the chickpea liquid and start your processor. Add more liquid if it seems too "stiff", but don't make it too runny. I tend not to use olive oil in my hummus, but you can add some for flavour if you like. Whizz for longer than you think! I leave mine going for a good five minutes. Stop and scrape the sides down a few times. Taste, and add more salt/lemon if you think it needs it.
Serve in a bowl with a sprinkle of cumin and chopped parsley and enjoy with a massive hunk of fresh bread! It keeps in an airtight bowl in the fridge for about a week.
The other great thing about hummus is you can add things to jazz it up. So, that bit of roasted beetroot you never got around to using? Chuck that in - it goes a great colour! Just don't wear a white top when you are eating it. Don't ask me how I know that.
Get creative, use roasted veggies of any kind as they tend to add a good flavour. Carrots are awesome too! Have fun :)