We like a canapé or six here at Appetite HQ, so, in the spirit of sharing the joy of bite-sized hors d’oeuvres, Jane Pikett whips up some easy recipes to help you through every festive social situation
Right, it’s Christmas, so none of this tearing open a bag of crisps and throwing them at your guests with their pre-dinner can of Special Brew. At this time of year, the very least you can do is rustle up a few Ritz crackers topped with cream cheese and an olive, okay?
Actually, the humble Ritz makes for a very acceptable canapé base, as does a mini oatcake or a lump of Gruyère. The trick is to keep the number of ingredients per canapé down to 5 or less, use only things you can get out of a packet, and make everything look professional with the liberal application of fresh herbs or a sprinkle of edible glitter. Put a little thought into flavour and texture and remember, a tub of cream cheese and a packet of smoked salmon goes a very long way!
Cheesy does it
Wrap proscuitto slices around a chunk of smoked Gouda or Gruyère. Thread a canapé skewer with a slim chunk of cheese and an olive or dwarf cherry tomato and stick elegantly in your cheese/proscuitto base. Delicious!
Cut a sourdough baguette into 1cm discs, brush with olive oil and bake at 180C/Gas 4 for 8 mins. Cool and top with cream cheese, avocado slices, defrosted frozen peas and Greek (little leaf) basil, brush with lemon juice and season generously with sea salt and black pepper.
Spread discs of rye bread with a little English or Dijon mustard and top with a fine disc of white onion, a thin slice of tomato, a piece of salted herring fillet or well-drained roll mop herring, and chopped chives. Secure with a canapé stick.
Slice uniform 1cm discs from a fresh French baguette. Spread each with Swedish dill sauce and top with a disc of cooked waxy potato, cucumber, well-drained roll mop herring, and a cherry tomato. Secure with a canapé stick.
Free the brie
Top chunks of creamy brie with a grape or a rolled slice of salami and a gherkin slice. Secure with a canapé skewer.
Top discs of black bread with avocado crushed with Tabasco, lemon juice, finely diced spring onion and salt. Top with smoked salmon and dill and season with freshly ground black pepper.
Strawberry cheese stakes
Mild blue cheese, strawberries and fizz go beautifully together. So, serve Champagne, cava or prosecco with canapé skewers threaded with a couple of strawberries and a chunk of Danish blue or aged Gorgonzola.
From Russia with love
Fill bought buffet pastry cases with Russian salad (finely diced cooked potato, carrot and bacon lardons with red onion, thawed frozen peas, hard-boiled egg, cucumber, gherkins and mayo) and top with an olive and fresh dill.
Easy canape bases
Storecupboard canapé bases: Chicory leaves, bought mini tart cases, mini oatcakes, Ritz crackers, silver spoons, shot glasses with egg spoons.
Black bread: Cut rye bread or pumpernickel into bite-size squares and use as a base for big flavours. Scrummy with salt beef and mustard or a dollop of proper prawn cocktail.
Baguette: Cut a sourdough baguette into slices about 1cm thick. Place on a baking sheet, brush with oil and bake for 7-8 mins at 180C/Gas 4. Top with cream cheese, a fig slice and a little balsamic vinegar, or stack with a disc of cooked potato, salami and an olive held together with a canapé skewer
Hard cheese: A flavoursome smoked hard cheese, Gruyère, Parmesan or brie make a good base when skewered with a canapé stick threaded with a couple of other treats such as olives, grapes, meat or fish.
Blinis: Put 100g flour in a bowl, make a well in the centre, add 1 egg yolk and 75ml milk, whisk until smooth. Gradually add another 75ml milk, 25g melted butter and a bunch of fresh chives, chopped. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg white until starting to stiffen and fold into the batter. Lightly grease a frying pan, drop in spoonfuls of batter and cook for 2-3 mins each side until golden, flipping when bubbling. Set aside until needed. Or just buy some!
Festive fridge canape essentials
It sounds impossibly Margot from BBC TV’s The Good Life, but we recommend keeping a stash of canapé essentials in the fridge throughout the festive season. These should include:
• Shop-bought blinis, Ritz crackers, sourdough baguette
• Smoked salmon, salt or roll mop herrings, prawns
• Parma ham, prosciutto, salami
• Cream cheese, brie, gruyère
• Avocado, frozen peas, olives, dwarf cherry tomatoes
• Fresh basil, dill, chives