Adventures in Canapés

Events, Recipes

I think a good canapé should look and taste delicious but equally your guests need to know they will be able to actually pick the thing up!

You shouldn’t need to use your hand like a claw from a fairground toy-grabbing machine just to avoid the very real danger of the base of the canapé sliding to the floor whilst the topping collides with your eveningwear! Many a lapel has fallen foul of a blob of rogue hollandaise! (true story!)

Canapés are ace when done well (and structurally sound), and I love them because they are a great way to feed people who are going to be moving around a lot! Together with my business partner Bradley Taylor; we are going to be hosting themed pop-up cabaret nights in London. We are very keen to have our events centred around food to help bring together the theme and make everyone feel welcome.

Because canapés are small you can have real fun with the flavours and reinvent classics to fit your theme. Pastry or mini pancakes make great bases so why not try adding additional flavours to the mix. Add fresh dill to blini batter before frying and top with sour cream and salmon or Bradley’s creation of cooked prawns mixed with chilli jam and fresh rocket – delicious!

Canapés don’t just need to be reserved for parties or events; a plate of three of four would make an elegant starter for a special meal and many can be prepared in advance.

Mini Sweet potato & cardamom patties

We’re making sweet potato patties for our first big event so we’ve put mild curry powder into the pastry to give it a subtle spicy flavour and a lovely yellow colour (Makes around 25)

For the Pastry

200g plain flour

100g of butter

2 tablespoons of mild/medium curry powder

1 teaspoon of turmeric

cold water

1 egg beaten

For the filling

1 small sweet potato (around 150-200g)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

1 teaspoon of hot chilli powder

1 small red onion finely diced

1 red pepper finely diced

100g of sweetcorn

50g of peas

1 teaspoon of honey

Start by making the filling:

1) Peel and chop the sweet potato into large chunks and boil for around 10 minutes or until soft. Drain, mash and set aside.

2) Next, heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the cardamom and the chilli powder

3) When the mixture starts to sizzle add the onion and red pepper. Reduce the heat and allow to soften slowly until the onion starts to be come translucent but not brown.

4) Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, peas and honey. Keep stirring until everything is thoroughly combined and the honey has melted into the mix.

5) Take the filling off the heat and set aside whilst you make the pastry.

6) Rub the butter, flour and spices together in a bowl until the mixture resembles fresh breadcrumbs

7) Add a pinch of salt then gradually add the water – only add just enough to bring it together to form a firm and smooth dough (so just add it a dessertspoonful at a time and knead gently as you go).

8) Wrap it in cling film and rest the pastry in the fridge for around 30 minutes

9) Once rested roll out to around 1 or 2mm thick and cut into circles with a straight or fluted round pastry cutter.

10) Brush one side of each circle with beaten egg

11) Place ½ teaspoonfuls of the filling mixture onto one half of each pastry circle and then fold the opposite side over to cover it and enclose the filling into half circle shaped patties.

12) Press to seal and then use a fork to make small indentations along one side (this helps secure the seal and looks good too)

13) Repeat until all the pastry is used and brush all the patties with the rest of the egg wash.

14) Bake at 200°C for around 10 minutes.

15) Serve cold on their own or warm with a red pepper sauce or a yoghurt dip.

(If you have any of the filling mixture left – it makes a great side dish with grilled or barbecued chicken)

Grilled pineapple with lime and coriander

Canapés don’t have to be tricky either – this grilled pineapple number is a cinch but has wonderful flavour – if you can grab some of those fancy bamboo skewers they’ll look extra special. (Makes around 50)

1) Mix the juice of 1 lime with a small bunch of fresh coriander which has been finely chopped. Add half a teaspoon of ground black pepper and set aside.

2) Peel, core and cut 1 fresh pineapple into chunks. Place on a baking tray and the pineapple pieces until they start to caramelise at the edges.

3) Take the tray out from under the grill and immediately pour over the lime and coriander mixture and toss the pineapple gently so it gets well coated in the dressing.

Serve warm or cold on sticks or bamboo skewers.

The recipes in this post are taken from the menu at our “A Tropical Storm” event taking place on the 4th of October at Caipirinha Bar in Highgate – a night of Music, Drama, Comedy and Canapés. Caipirinha is known for it’s great cocktails but we’ll be adding one or two of our own to their menu on the night too, like this Lychee Bellini:

Lychee Bellini

1) Place a whole sprig of fresh mint into a champagne flute.

2) Fill up halfway with Rubicon lychee juice drink

3) Top with prosecco and serve.

It would be wonderful to see you all next Thursday at A Tropical Storm

For more details on our pop-up events venture Taylor & Nice visit our website, come see us on facebook or join in on twitter

xxx

Crab cakes and updates

Cooking, Events, Recipes

I think I may have finally found a way to survive the dreaded “so what do you do?” question and the inspiration came from the depths of my childhood; the TV show Blue Peter.

I always find it difficult to say “I’m doing an assortment of food-related and profile-boosting activities with the sole purpose of one day opening a restaurant” it’s a mouthful, and generally sounds a bit odd. Then I remembered that when the Blue Peter team wanted to reach a goal they used a totalizer. On the show, every time they reached a milestone in their charity campaign the totalizer would light up a new level. I can’t build anything quite so impressive (and I probably shouldn’t as it might be disrespectful to their charity work) but I can draw a career plan with a picture of my restaurant at the end and post it on my about page. I’ll update it with each step along the way until I get there, by that time the internet will have advanced and there’ll no doubt be a widget to make it light up and fling out confetti.
Now when people ask me what I do I can say, “Hi, I’m a food blogger please read my about page”…

… and then I can leg it 🙂

The rehearsals for my TV pilot are going well too; am coping ok now with the whole talking into the camera thing by pretending the lens is that Johnny five robot from the 1980s film Short Circuit, I’m not sure why this helps but I’m gonna go with it.
As soon as we get a location confirmed we’ll start filming so watch this space for updates!

The second big collaborative project is the events company, Taylor & Nice which my new business partner Bradley and I are starting up. We had loads of fun launching our website at the weekend. We hit the shops early on Saturday and spent the rest of the day (and evening) churning out countless canapés and cocktails to liven up the PowerPoint presentations. I would definitely recommend giving your focus group booze and nice food they are bound to love you idea!

One of the best things about hosting a launch party/focus group for a catering venture is that the fridge is full of leftovers for quite a few days afterwards. This has led to a string of easy dinners and last nights Crab Cakes were no exception. In fact the tinned crab and curry paste were surplus items from filming rehearsals and the chilli jam and salad were from the bash. It was lovely to pull together ingredients from these two projects, an edible reminder that I have actually started making good use of my time by working and watching a little less of our Fraiser box set!

Crab cakes

  1. Take 4 medium sized potatoes and boil for 12-15 minutes or until soft.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling chop a handful of flat leaf parsley and put it in a mixing bowl with a tin of crab meat chunks, a tin of dressed crab and a little lime zest. I also added a tiny bit (about 1/4 teaspoonful) of Thai green curry paste but that’s optional.
  3. When the potatoes are ready mash them till smooth and then fold them into the other ingredients.
  4. Shape into 4 fishcakes and coat in breadcrumbs before shallow frying until golden brown
  5. Serve with chilli jam, green salad and mashed avocado.

As Taylor and Nice is just starting out we would be really grateful for your ideas and feedback, if you have a few moments please do fill out our short survey on what makes a good night out in London. xx