This time of year, guest are in and out, and not always for a meal. I love hosting friends and family to come by, snack, have tea or coffee, and chat, so I always have a few things in my pantry that I can whip up in a few minutes to make my guests feel special.
For mid-meal snacks to be served alongside tea and coffee, I love Italian Amaretti cookies because they are usually gluten free (most options) and have a long shelf life. They are slightly sweet, but won't overpower full on flavors like chai tea or flavored coffee. Amaretti cookies also usually come in a tin, wrapped like candies in paper, and it makes for a playful little treat to unwrap and share with guests.
In addition to these little cookies, I also keep a few types of good quality chocolate, a bit of coconut cream, raspberry jam, a sleeve of thin ginger cookies, mini pannettone, and dried apricots and cherries in my pantry as well, so I can arrange small plates with little effort. Think: coconut cream with fresh berries (if you have them), jam on toast sprinkled with cinnamon, and dried fruits with nuts or whipped into a go-to muffin recipe.
Savory snacks work well with everything from San Pellegrino to a local IPA or bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Truffled cocktail nuts, pretzels, sweet potato chips, and crackers are perfect compliments to a cold beverage, and we especially love pistachios because of their salty flavor and snappy shells.
Remember also that olives, crackers, and a simple artichoke dip can go a long way! I mixed a can of artichoke hearts, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, pinch of salt, and handful of fresh parsley into my food processor, and after a few minutes had super fresh, tangy artichoke dip.
Pair the artichoke dip with Peruvian oil-cured olives, seed crackers, a jar of harissa (I like the Mina brand), some charcuterie (my go-to brand lately is LaQuercia), and chopped fresh veggies for a full spread.
And as you know, if you've watched as much Food Network as I have, the presentation is just as enticing as the snacks; make use of smaller plates, layer tea towels or cloth napkins over a tray, and put tiny cocktail spoons and forks around for serving. Have a wonderful time!