The starter is chilling in the fridge, the mains are bubbling away on the hob and the dessert is prepared and ready to be popped in the oven. The wine is chilled, the table is laid and the guests are about to arrive.
All is perfect… except for the fact that you forgot to buy the olives and marinated artichokes that you had planned to serve with pre-lunch drinks.
Say bad words.
Take deep breaths, a swig of whisky and stop panicking. Open fridge door, spot large chunk of cheddar. Glance across at spice rack and see chile flakes and caraway seeds.
Remember something seen on the lovely Pille’s blog last year.
Spirits lift (and I don’t mean the whisky). Slow smile spreads across face. Springs into action like well-oiled machine (pun fully intended!).
CHILE-CHEESE AND CARAWAY-CHEESE BITES (makes about 30)
about two cups of grated full-flavoured semi-hard cheese (I used mature cheddar but would like to try pecorino!)
chile flakes and/or caraway seeds
Cover a large baking sheet with baking paper. Make small heaps of about a tablespoon each of grated cheese, spaced evenly across the sheet. Make sure to leave about 5cm space betwen the heaps (and from the edge of the sheet!) as these babies spread like crazy.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on them and try to take them out only when the cheese is fully melted and is going a dark gold colour along the edges. Leave them in for too short and they won’t harden; leave them in for too long and they will have the unpleasant bitter taste of overbaked cheese. It’s a fine line.
While they are still hot and melty, sprinkle a pinch of caraway seeds or chile flakes in the centre of each bite – I did half with chile and half with caraway.
Allow to cool and when cool enough to handle (and slightly hardened), peel carefully off the baking paper. Serve with drinks – ours paired very nicely thank you with hot mulled wine!