Aperitif nibbles are always fun; bite sized titbits that are a colourful extravaganza of flavour though it is stress-saving to have a tried and tested list that are inexpensive and easily prepared ahead of time. Remember to balance colour, texture, flavour and ‘weight’ of each dish but also, be elegant in preparation and serving. Carefully chop the various components into miniscule pieces that will combine to make one delicate mouthful that removes any necessity for teeth tearing or dribbles.

I like to prepare a selection of more substantial, filling morsels that are then accompanied by healthier, less stodgy options too. Mixed crudities with aioli sauce is reminiscent of summer days in Province and though fiddly, I love tender mange tout that are stuffed with a tasty cream cheese and olive concoction ...


Crostini are tiny toasts that are made from discs of 1cm thick plain white baguette (not the sour dough variety) and would traditionally have been garlic infused and prepared from stale bread. Toppings are limited purely by imagination and these treats can be served either hot from the oven or at room temperature. A newly found favourite is a recipe devised by Mary Berry though actually, everything from this lady is an amazing success: Boursin, Red Pepper and Onion Crostini that appears in her book, ‘One Step Ahead’.


Mary’s recipe suggests that this quantity makes 24 but, I easily managed 30 pieces – my onion and red pepper were large and the garlicky Boursin cheese spreads a long way.
Sauté a finely chopped onion in olive oil and once it begins to soften add the diced flesh of a red pepper and carry on cooking until both are tender and just beginning to colour. Leave aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220C and line a baking tray with kitchen parchment. Slice a baguette into 1cm thick discs and butter one side of each. Place buttered side down on the parchment then spread with Boursin and top with the pepper mixture before baking for 8 minutes until crisp.
Remove the crostini from the oven, garnish with tiny sprigs of parsley then either serve immediately or cool on a wire rack for a later time. I recently took a platter of these to a drinks party and they were given definite thumbs up.