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the party-ready pantry 
by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 2

raiding the cupboards… (cont.)

  • Onion soup mix: It may not be the most high-brow eat in the world, but mixed up with a tub of sour cream, it makes the classic quick-n-easy dip and always gets scarfed down. Dress it up a little by stirring in some chopped scallions or parsley for color.
  • Olives: Good, unpitted (they're generally more flavorful) olives are one of those things I almost always make certain to have in the cupboards (or in the fridge, once the jar is opened). To serve, just transfer olives to a bowl and garnish with a simple wedge of lemon or a bay leaf. For a little more effort, throw pitted olives in a food processor along with a clove of garlic, some capers (if you have them) and a little olive oil. The result is tapenade, a traditional French spread (actually, the classic recipe also includes anchovies, but I generally omit those to keep the dip vegetarian-friendly). Tapenade is delish slathered onto bread and crackers, or scooped up with raw veggies. If you have sundried tomatoes handy, you can also throw those into the mix to make a sundried tomato version of the dip.
  • Nuts: For nibbling plain, or with just a little extra effort, spicing and toasting. Try the Best Nuts Ever for a savory treat,  or Cinnamon Roasted Almonds for something sweet.
  • Popping corn: Popcorn is terrifically addictive, cheap, and the perfect munchie to whip up for a last-minute movie, TV or game night. Butter and salt may be the classic seasonings, but for a fun change from the same old same old, try throwing a little spice into the mix -- a good dash of cayenne pepper, a sprinkle of Cajun spice mix, Chinese five-spice powder or chili powder perhaps.
  • Canned beans: Chickpeas, white beans and black beans can all be turned into tasty dips with the aid of a food processor or blender. Chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic and olive oil are the classic combination for hummus; make a Mediterranean variation by using white beans, leaving out the tahini and adding a little rosemary and thyme. Black beans, meanwhile, can be zizzed up with some lime juice, garlic, oil and hot sauce (cilantro is a nice extra touch if you have it) for a Southwest-inspired spread, or turned into refried beans and used as a topping/filling for nachos, quesadillas, or tortilla rollups.

o o o

Keep the pantry reasonably stocked and you'll find that the next time you find yourself with a bevy of buddies dropping by for an impromptu hang-out session at your digs, there'll be no need to panic about the food. There are all sorts of yummy edibles that can be concocted at last-minute's notice without running out to the market at all.


check out these related articles: 
easy party foods | impromptu dinner party tips | easy breezy bruschetta | vegetarian dips | easy munchables | film fare 

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