What To Keep In Your Kitchen For Last-Minute Entertaining

Photo: Rod Long, Unsplash

I have always enjoyed guests, even unexpected ones. I also really enjoy feeding people, but there's not always time to cook. As such, I have an arsenal of tasty snacks and drinks I like to keep in the kitchen, just in case someone hungry (or thirsty) pops over.

Alcohol (duh)

Some cheap beer, along with a bottle of red and a bottle of white should cover most of your unexpected guests. If a mere litre and a half of wine isn't enough, consider stretching the red further by mixing it with Coke to make kalitmotxos. I also like to keep a bottle of amaro on hand at any given time to serve quick "something and sodas" or stomach-settling digestifs.

Tinned fish

Fish in cans is having a moment, which is fantastic, because it's super flavorful, requires very little prep and can live in your cabinet — ready to go at moment's notice — practically forever. Salty, marinaded fish swimming in good oil needs little more than crusty bread and pickles to feel special and the tins are just so pretty.

If you want to go even cheaper, keep cans of salmon around. Not only can they be mixed with creme fraiche for a delicious spread, they only need to be mixed with an egg, onion and a little flour to be transformed into delicious little croquettes.

The good crackers

I love Saladas and always have them on-hand, but I also keep a box of water crackers and plain potato chips around — water crackers pair with even the most assertive cheeses, while chips provide some salty structure for creamier fare. Chips also work surprisingly well with brie.

Sour cream (or, better yet, labneh)

Speaking of creamy things, it never hurts to have a dip base in the fridge. Labneh — a creamy yoghurt spread that lives somewhere between cream cheese and sour cream — needs only a drizzle of good olive oil and some flaky salt to shine and sour cream quickly becomes a dip when blended with every bit of a green onion.

This Dip Uses Every Part Of The Green Onion, Even The Roots

I have seen recipes that call for the green part of the green onion and I have seen recipes that call for the white part of the green onion, but I have never seen recipes that call for the stringy little roots of the green onion.

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Olives and gherkins

Keep a jar of each in the cabinet. For olives, I like a mix that I can dress up with some red pepper flakes and citrus zest, but my absolute favourite "entertaining pickles" are gherkins, which pack a most acidic punch.

Olive oil and a good seasoning blend

Pour extra virgin olive oil into a ramekin. Grind in some Italian seasonings and serve with roughly torn pieces of good bread. Done.

Popcorn

Everyone likes popcorn and this popcorn is the crunchiest. I like to make a big batch, then set out little bowls or bags and let people season their own. (Inspiration for toppings can be found here.)

What easy-to-whip-up snacks do you like to keep in the cupboard and/or fridge for unexpected entertaining moments? It doesn't have to be fancy. I once ate saltines dipped in sour cream on a friends porch — with boxed wine — and it was one of the most pleasant evenings I've ever had.


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