Plan ahead for New Year’s Eve with these easy snacks and appetisers – toasted cumin-spiced grilled lamb party skewers and golden breaded mozzarella, each with their own dip.
It always pays off to think ahead a little, particularly when it comes to entertaining guests at home. Nobody wants a last minute dash to the shops on New Year’s Eve, when the shelves are looking a bit sorry for themselves and you’d rather be at home keeping warm, pouring yourself a cocktail and preparing to party.
This year, I’ve come up with two really simple dishes to serve as party snacks. You can prepare much of it ahead; finely slice and marinate the lamb, soak your wooden skewers, slice the mozzarella and make the dips. Then it’s simply a case of setting up your serving plates and a little assembly line of ingredients so that your canapés can be served hot to your guests.
Grilled lamb party skewers with toasted cumin mayonnaise
Makes 12 skewers
- 12 short bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- 600g lamb loin fillet
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil for grilling
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the dip
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 200g Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
Finely slice the lamb loin fillet and place into a large bowl. Add the ground cumin, pomegranate molasses, olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Using your hands, mix it all together so that the lamb is well coated. Cover with clingfilm and pop the bowl in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.
When you are almost ready to serve the skewers, take the meat out. Thread the small strips of lamb onto the skewers so they are ready to cook.
Make the dip by adding the cumin seeds to a dry frying pan. Toast them for one minute then transfer them to a small bowl. Add the ground cumin and mayonnaise and mix together. Scoop the dip in to a clean bowl and place on a serving platter or board.
Now put the pan onto a medium heat and add a little drizzle of vegetable oil. Place the lamb skewers into the pan (you may need to do this in two batches) and cook until brown on all sides. Take the lamb skewers out and leave them to rest.
Serve the grilled lamb skewers alongside the toasted cumin mayonnaise.
Golden breaded mozzarella with fresh chilli mayonnaise
Breaded and fried mozzarella is a real treat. It’s a little indulgent, so New Year’s Eve is the perfect occasion to serve bite-sized chunks along with a fresh chilli-infused mayonnaise dip.
- 2 balls mozzarella, well drained
- 100g plain flour
- 2 free-range eggs
- 100g fresh white breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil
For the fresh chilli mayonnaise
- 2 large red chillies, de-seeded
- 100g Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
- Fresh lime zest
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
First, make the fresh chilli mayonnaise. Top the chillies and place them into a food processor. Blitz to a paste, then add the mayonnaise and blitz again until combined. Transfer to a smaller serving bowl and grate over some fresh lemon zest.
Slice the mozzarella into 1cm thick slices. Then slice again lengthways. Place onto a clean paper towel to absorb any excess liquid. Sprinkle the flour onto a plate. Crack the eggs onto a second plate and beat gently with a fork. Next, sprinkle the breadcrumbs onto a third plate.
Heat a good glug of mild oil in large, flat frying pan. Working quickly, dip one slice of mozzarella into the flour, then dip into the beaten egg, and then coat the mozzarella in breadcrumbs so that all sides are coated. Quickly place the breaded mozzarella into the pan. Repeat with three more slices. Cook on one side until golden brown, and then flip over onto the other side and cook for a minute or two more.
Repeat with the remaining slices of mozzarella, adding a little more oil to the pan each time and making sure it is sizzling hot before you start. Grate a little more lime zest over the breaded mozzarella and serve immediately with the fresh chilli dipping sauce.
I hope your guests enjoy these ideas – wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year!
Words and photos by Ren Behan