There's no better time to settle into some creative cooking than in the run up to the party season. It's no secret that I adore this time of year and one of my favourite culinary hobbies is dreaming up little morsels of heaven to delight guests with. By now I have a few signature recipes which many of my family and friends look forward to when they come for drinks. Canapés don’t have to be difficult but they do give you an opportunity to showcase your culinary talents and impress your friends. Best of all, tasty bites are a great way to set any occasion off on a fabulous note!
Try these 3 signature canapés that are true crowd pleasers. Remember, preparation is the key, but there is still lots of scope for creativity. You can store canape bases and fillings in an airtight container until ready to use. Always buy plenty of extra fresh herbs for freshness. Contrast and colourful garnishes make finger food look so appetising. Once you realise how easy they are to prepare, you might even reengineer them into a simple starter!
BLINIS WITH LEMON CREAM, SMOKED SALMON (makes 20)
300g Smoked Salmon, sliced
1 Jar Goatsbridge trout caviar
For the Blinis
60g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
Lemon crème fraiche
75g crème fraiche
half lemon, zest and juice of
1 sprig dill, chopped
½ tsp sugar (optional)
½ tsp mustard seed
1 garlic clove
1 ripe avocado
1 orange, zest and juice
1 tsp sugar
sea salt and white pepper
Garnish: dill sprigs
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center. Add egg and milk into well. Gradually draw in flour and mix to a smooth batter. Brush a pancake pan with oil and preheat over a medium heat. Working in batches, drop heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture into the hot pan. Cook until bubbles appear and the underside is golden, 2-3 mins. Turn and cook the other side, 2 mins. Brush pan with oil between each batch of pancakes. Cool blini pancakes on a wire rack.
- Lemon crème fraiche: mix all ingredients together.
- Avocado Purée: Blitz avocado flesh, orange, sugar. Season and taste. Add a dash of water to achieve a smooth consistency.
- To assemble, use a tsp to drop a ball of crème fraiche, followed by a dollop of avocado purée, onto the centre of each blini. Cut smoked salmon into 2 inch long strips (cut away any waxy edges). Wrap a rosette of smoked trout around the dollop of crème fraiche. Garnish with goatsbridge trout caviar and dill.
CROSTINI WITH HONEYED FIGS, GOATS CHEESE MOUSSE (makes 20)
1 small baguette (or ciabatta)
4 tbsp olive oil
6 Fresh Figs, reserve for topping (plus extra for jam)
4 fresh figs
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Goats Cheese Mousse
250g Goats Cheese, room temperature
zest of 1 lemon and half tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp tarragon, leaves chopped
sea salt and pinch pepper
Garnish: fresh herbs (tarragon, chives, thyme)
- Preheat oven to 180°C. Cut into 3mm round slices. Brush baguette slices with olive oil. Lay them on a baking sheet and bake until crisp and lightly golden, 10 minutes.
- To make the fig jam: Chop 4 of the figs into small pieces and place in a saucepan with honey and balsamic vinegar. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring and allow to simmer for 10 mins. The jam will thicken slightly once it is removed from the heat and left to cool.
- Using a hand whisk (or a handheld stick blender), whisk together the goats cheese, cream, lemon zest and juice. Loosen consistency with more cream, if you want it creamier. Season to your taste. Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, refrigerate for 1 hour before piping.
- To assemble: Spread fig jam onto crostini. Pipe goats cheese mousse on top. Place quartered or sliced fresh fig on top. Garnish.
CHARRED BEEF SKEWERS WITH HORSERADISH (serves 15)
2 sirloin steaks (200g each)
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch sea salt
1 tbsp cracked black peppercorns
Horseradish Crème Fraiche Dip
200g crème fraiche
3-4 tbsp horseradish sauce
gherkins, scallions, sunblush tomato, pepper, chives
- Make sure that the beef is trimmed and free of sinew and fat. Season with olive oil, salt and peppercorns. Heat a cast-iron frying saucepan over a very a high heat until very hot. Add the beef and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side for rare. When cooked, transfer the beef to a plate, and allow to cool.
- Horseradish dip: Add horseradish sauce to crème fraiche. Taste, season and place in a dipping bowl.
- Slice beef very thinly into long strips. Weave onto skewers. Garnish and Serve with horseradish dip.