Party Canapés

The party season is well and truly here folks!  Although for me this ‘party season’ seems to have run all year!  I’ve had 4 birthday parties, 1 christening, 1 housewarming/royal wedding celebration and my latest party this week was a ‘Jamie at Home’ party! Our local Christmas party is being held at the neighbours house, (phew) but I’m really looking forward to it!!  What I love about having a party is that it is an excuse to make mini food!  Or in other words canapés.  My little bit of research on canapés resulted in me concluding that the only canapés you can buy from the shops are items such as sausage rolls, stilton puffs or something similar.  Once you have seen these items a few times at various different events, the sight of any more puff pastry, (no matter what form) can make one feel, well somewhat queasy! This is of course just one of the reasons to make your own canapés.  Another reason is because they are lots of fun to do. The more adventurous you are the better.  They are like little pieces of artwork and require you to be as creative as you can, thinking outside the box.  It’s all about presentation and finishing touches.  You might find like I did that once you start thinking about these little wonders, new ideas pop into your head at random times.  My spin class is a popular time for me, when I’m trying to ignore the fact that gear 18 on a hill climb is actually about to make my legs drop off!

So this post is a collection of my favorite savory and sweet canapé recipes which I hope will help make your party a roaring success!  Your guests will certainly be appreciative that there is not a cocktail sausage in sight!  They will require a few hours of your time, but in my opinion homemade canapés are well worth the investment.  Some of them can be made in advance, or frozen and I have highlighted which ones as for me this is a must.  I like to do as much as possible before hand so I can enjoy the party too.  All these recipes include my own ideas, making them just a bit more unique 🙂

Lime, mango and prawn thai spiced mini skewer

What you will need

  • Medium pack of cooked tiger prawns
  • 1 mango peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 limes
  • 1 chopped chilli
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 25g grated ginger
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp teriaki sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • cocktail sticks
  1. Put one prawn and one cube of mango on the cocktail sticks and put to one side on a baking tray
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to a bowl and mix together with a mini whisk or fork.  This will make your marinade
  3. Drizzle the marinade over the prawn and mango sticks, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to soak up the flavour
  4. Remove from the fridge when ready to serve and place on your choice of bowl or serving platter

Sticky butternut squash

I did these the day before, put the cooked squash in the fridge and then popped them back in the over for 10-15 mins before I needed them to heat and serve.

What you will need

  • 1 butternut squash peeled and cut into squares
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Cocktail sticks
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c, and place the cubes of butternut squash on a baking tray
  2. Mix the honey, soy sauce and sesame oil together and drizzle over the butternut squash
  3. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds, giving the squash a good shake half way through so all sides are covered
  4. cook for 30 mins or so until tender
  5. Once cooled put 2 cubes of squash onto each cocktail stick and serve.

Onion, cheese and olive mini scones

These can also be baked before hand, frozen and then defrosted on the day you need them and heated up in the oven for 10 mins to serve warm.

What you will need

  • 1 med onion chopped finely
  • 40g (1 1/2 oz) strong chedder grated
  • 6 pitted black olives – chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 75g (60z) self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 25g (1oz) butter cubed
  • 1 large free  range egg
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • Grinding of black pepper
  • Small round scone cutter
  • Pastry brush
  • Rolling pin
  • Lightly greased baking tray
  1. Pre heat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6
  2. Fry the onion in the olive oil until soft and golden, set to one side
  3. Add flour salt, mustard, cayenne pepper and black pepper to a mixing bowl, and gently mix with hands
  4. Add the butter and rub in with fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  5. Add the cooked onions, olives and 2/3 of grated cheese, using hands again to mix together
  6. Add the egg and mix together with hands, adding some milk if too dry (you might not need all the milk) until a soft dough is formed
  7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until 2 cm thick.  The trick here is not to roll out too thinly
  8. Use your cutter to stamp out the scones and place on baking tray with even distance between them
  9. Lightly knead together and re roll any trimming and cut out more scones
  10. Brush the top of the scones with milk and top each one with a bit of the reserved cheese
  11. Bake near the top of the oven for 10-12 mins

Goats cheese on toast with chilli jam

With these I made on the day but placed in the fridge until I needed them.  They don’t need to be served warm, despite their title.

What you will need

  • 1 thin baguette, I used a long, thin sour dough loaf.  You could also use ciabatta bread and once toasted stamp out rounds of bread with a small round pastry cutter
  • 125g soft goats cheese
  • 3tbsp chilli jam
  • fresh chives
  • Slice your bread and toast both sides for a few mins each under the grill
  • Spread some of the goats cheese over one side of the bread
  • Place a small dollop of chilli jam in the middle of the bread on top of the cheese (the chilli jam I used was quite hot so you don’t need too much)
  • Place two short chive strands on top of the jam to finish

Mini sponge cakes with marmalade and orange butter cream

To make these little bite sized beauties, I baked a victoria sponge cake as normal and then used my trusted small scone cutter to stamp out circles of cake.  I did not put two little stamped out circles of cake together like a normal sponge cake but just cut one circle across to make the two halves as it was thick enough for me to do this.  You will end up with some trimming of cake, I just put these in a bowl and served with custard as a quick and easy pudding for my children.

I baked these cakes the day before, and kept them in an airtight box over night.  I then filled them on the day I needed them.

What you will need

Cake

  • 225g (8oz) unsalted butter
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g (8oz) self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 20.5 cm sandwich tins greased and lined
  • Small round pastry cutter

Filling

  • 3-4 tbsp marmalade
  • 1 orange peeling
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 125g  (4oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 400g (14oz) icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • Dust with icing sugar and grated orange chocolate
  1. Put your milk in a bowl and place the orange peeling in the bowl, cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour
  2. When you are ready to bake the cake pre heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.  Put butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.  Add sugar and beat until fully incorporated.  Mixture should have a light and fluffy texture
  3. Gradually add eggs beating after each addition.  Sift in flour and add milk then fold in with a large metal spoon
  4. Once the flour is almost folded in put even amounts of the batter into the sandwich tine, gently smooth over and bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until golden brown and a knife comes out clean
  5. Meanwhile, mix the butter, icing sugar and orange zest together with an electronic mixer adding the orange flavoured milk (with orange peeling removed) bit by bit until it is a smooth and creamy consistency.  Then mix in full power for 4-5 mins until light and fluffy
  6. Cut out your little cakes, cut in half and fill with marmalade and orange buttercream.  Place on a cake stand and sprinkle with icing sugar

Individual blackberry meringues

For this you can bake the meringues a few days before and keep in an airtight container.  Top with the cream and fruit maximum of an hour before they are needed and keep in the fridge until served.

You will need

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 250 ml of whipping cream
  • 150g (5oz) blackberries (I used blackberries I have frozen from my garden and just defrosted before I used them)
  • 4-5 tbsp Creme De Cassis
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • Fresh mint to garnish
  • Large piping bag an star nozzle
  • 2 baking trays lined with parchment paper
  1. Preheat the oven to 140c/275f/gas 1
  2. Whisk egg whites together until white and frothy.  Add the sugar bit by bit, mixing well after each addition until a stiff meringue is formed.  This should pass the test of staying put if the bowl is tipped upside down.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the piping bag and pipe out small meringue nests onto the baking tray leaving an even space between them.  Bake for 1 hour and then turn off the oven and leave in there overnight or until the oven has cooled down
  4. When you are ready to decorate, whip up your cream, and mix the Cassis with the icing sugar in a cup.
  5. Place a teaspoon of cream on each meringue, add two blackberries, a drizzle of the Cassis mixture and a small mint leaf to garnish
  6. Dust with icing sugar just before serving
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28/11/2011. Christmas baking, Party. 4 comments.

Apple and Red Onion Chutney

For Christmas this year I have decided to make some homemade food hampers for a few unsuspecting special family members.  I’ve not attempted anything like this before, but it makes perfect sense for me.  First and foremost it is a great opportunity for me to be creative not only by making the items but also packaging them all up to look really special.   Our garage is currently full with lots of different sized boxes that I have been collecting,  but it feels good to be able to reuse them!  This little project is also a way for me to give gifts that will hopefully mean something to the people receiving them.  I just could not bring myself to buy another pair of socks!  However, if the thought of creating a hamper fills you with terror along with all the other Christmas preparations, maybe consider just giving one homemade item along with another gift. I’m sure this would be thankfully received, especially if you make them something scrummy!

Red onion and apple chutney

I will be putting this red onion and apple chutney in my hampers.  There are two main reasons why I have been inspired to include it and I hope some of you may identify with these.  They are:

  • My love of cheese at Christmas time – I’m thinking now of roquefort and chutney on a nice crisp cracker and trying eat it in one piece without dropping crumbs down the sofa whilst watching the Christmas day evening film!

And

  • The pot of similar shop brought chutney in my fridge which I just knew I could make a better version of and for much less cost.

Alternatively, you could just make it to have at Christmas time with your family and friends.  How wonderful to be able to offer homemade chutney with your after dinner cheeseboard!  Then after Christmas you can try using this chutney on pizza.  Spread it on top of your tomato base, sprinkle mozzerella and goats cheese over it, cook and serve with fresh rocket.

The ingredients list looks long, but most of it should be things that you have already got.  They may be hidden at the back of the cupboard but I bet some of them will be there. So make sure you have a good hunt before you write your shopping list.  I actually found my apples when I parked next to an apple tree at my local gym.  Freshly fallen but perfectly ripe and otherwise going to waste I’m sure.  However, the best bit about this recipe is that once you have chopped and measured everything you just leave your saucepan full of ingredients to work its magic over the hour and a half it takes to cook.  It just needs a stir every time you walk past.

What you will need

  • 1 kg apples – peeled, cored and chopped
  • 250g white onions – peeled and chopped
  • 250g red onions – peeled and chopped
  • 25g fresh grated ginger
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 200g seedless raisins
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tsp ground cloves
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 250ml balsamic vinegar
  • 50ml cider vinegar
  • 300g cane sugar
  • 100g preserving sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Good grinding of pepper
  • A large saucepan
  • 6 250ml jars with lids
  1. Put all the ingredients into the saucepan, and mix together.  Cook over a low heat for 1 hour with the lid on and half an hour with the lid off
  2. Whilst cooking stir regularly to stop the chutney from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan
  3. Sterilize your jars by either putting them through a hot cycle in the dishwasher or washing them in hot soapy water by hand and then putting them in a low oven for 30 mins or so until hot and dry
  4. Once cooked fill the jars with the chutney.  Use a long thin implement like a chop stick to push the chutney down and push away any gaps of air
  5. Place somewhere cool and leave for at least a month to mature and improve.  Just in time for Christmas!

22/11/2011. Christmas baking, Homemade gifts, Savory Baking. 2 comments.

Festive Cranberry, Pistachio and Toblerone Traybake with a Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

When it comes to cake, I can rarely say no.  In fact the same can be said for desserts, biscuits and anything involving chocolate!  I blame my dad for my sweet tooth and for also passing it onto my eldest daughter, who can’t say no either.  I’m convinced it is passed on through the genes!  Well it makes me feel better to think that!  I remember my dad always having a bit of dark chocolate hidden somewhere in the house…just for emergencies!  On his yearly Christmas ‘booze crusie’ to France he would never disappoint, and on his return he would rummage though all the bags and boxes whilst my brother and I eagerly waited and then present us with an enormous golden bar of Toblerone each.  We used to eat a triangle a night and lick it for hours until we were left with sticky hands, dried out tongues, and chocolate just about everywhere!  It’s funny how those large bars of Toblerone don’t seem so big anymore, and they certainly don’t last as long!  I wonder if it because I have grown up or they have shrunk?!

This traybake recipe is inspired by my Christmas Toblerone memories and also because I wanted to bake something that would be suitably festive but which I can freeze ahead of the day.   I have found the most fabulous disposable traybake moulds from Lakeland, (http://www.lakeland.co.uk/15782/12-Traybake-Moulds)  which mean that as soon as your traybake has cooled you can pop it in the freezer without a second thought and tick it off your list in a very satisfactory fashion.  What I mean by that is, super quick and easy but highly impressive!  The red and green from the pistachio and cranberry along with the warm sweet cinnamon spiced frosting bring a wonderful Christmas colour and flavour to this cake.  The Toblerone is a little touch of magic making it some what luxurious.  Perfect to serve on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day with a lovely cup of tea on the side.  Be warned though…your guests might not want to leave when planned if they think there is more of this to come!

Ingredients

Cake

125g unsalted butter softened

125g caster sugar

2 large free range eggs, beaten

150g self raising flour

1 tbsp milk

50g dried cranberries,chopped

50g pistachios, chopped

50g milk or dark Toblerone, chopped

Frosting

50g unsalted butter at room temp

125g cream cheese

300g icing sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Lakeland disposable traybake moulds or a traybake tin approx 25.5.cm x 20.5cm x 5cm (tin greased with the bottom lined. No need to grease and line the Lakeland moulds)

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.  Put butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.  Add sugar and beat until fully incorporated.  Mixture should have a light and fluffy texture
  2. Gradually add eggs beating after each addition.  Sift in flour and add milk then fold in with a large metal spoon
  3. Once the flour is almost folded in add the cranberries, pistachio and Toblerone, leaving a little bit of each on the side to scatter on the top once baked and iced
  4. Pour mixture into either one traybake tin, or two Lakeland moulds and gently smooth down.  Pop in the oven for about 20 mins until the top is golden brown and a knife comes out clean
  5. Let the cakes cool in the moulds or remove from the tin and cool on a rack
  6. If you are freezing do so without the frosting on
  7. To make the frosting, mix the icing sugar and butter together then add the cream cheese and cinnamon.  Beat together for about 5 mins, until it is light and fluffy
  8. Spread frosting on top of the cake and sprinkle with the saved cranberries, pistachios and Toblerone

14/11/2011. Christmas baking. 10 comments.

Cinnamon and orange Christmas wreath

I’ll let you into a little secret.  I probably started thinking about Christmas this year in September.  It did feel a bit strange planning menus whilst the weather was still sunny and warm, but I like to be organised and when I have made a list, I’m a happy girl!  In my defence I am hosting Christmas for my family for the first time, and it is also the first Christmas in our new house.  Never one to plan a party by halves, I want to make Christmas this year really special.  I have my work cut out baking-wise every weekend from now until the big day, well that is what my list tells me, but I love an excuse to bake so this is just perfect. I’ll be posting about my pre Christmas baking in the next few weeks.  This post however, is my first craft project for you all.  It does actually involve baking believe it or not, so it is not a complete week off, but I would only advise admiring the finished product, not consuming it.

Cinnamon and orange Christmas wreath

Wreaths are possibly my favorite Christmas decoration. I think they make a house look amazing.  So welcoming and homely.  There are many different wreaths available to buy these days, but the ones I like normally cost an arm and a leg!  When I look at them closely though I always think that it would only cost a fraction to make.  So this year, I have bitten the bullet and made my own.  This wreath is rustic and fragrant with a vintage feel about it.  It looks like something you might have bought from a posh florist in London, but even better because you will have made it.  The extra nice thing about this wreath is that it will look nice hanging on your wall or by the fireplace all year round.   Mine is up already.  A long lasting reminder of how clever you are….perfect!

What you will need

  • 2.5kg of oranges (cheap juicing pack will do)
  • Jar of allspice
  • 16 short cinnamon sticks or 8 long (to be cut in half)
  • Old wire coat hanger
  • Rafia
  • Ribbon
  • Brown garden string
  • pliers
  • kitchen roll
  • 3 or 4 lined baking trays
  • 1-2 thin lengths of wire about 30cms each.
  1. The first thing you need to do is prepare your oranges.  Cut each orange into thinnish slices.  You should probably be able to 6-7 slices including 2 enders from each orange.  Dab each slice with kitchen paper to try and absorb as much juice as possible.  This is a good task to get your children to help you with, although be prepare for sticky bits of kitchen roll to be all over your kitchen at the end of this process!
  2. Turn on your oven to 150c/300f/gas 2.  Pour some allspice into a bowl and use your fingers to rub the spice powder on the front and back of each orange slice.  Place the orange slices on the trays.  They can overlap slightly if need to by one layer.
  3. Place oranges in the oven.  They will take between 4-5 hours so you need to pick an afternoon when you are going to be at home.  Once they have been in the oven for about 3.5 hours, start to check on them every half hour or so until they are done.  You will know when they are done because they are darker in colour and looked dried out and a bit crispy.  You may find that you take some out before others.  It is fine to do this.  If they are left in too long they will burn, so try not to forget about them completely.  Your house will smell divine whilst they are baking, and will definitely put you in a Christmassy mood!
  4. Whilst your oranges are the oven you will have plenty of time to prepare and shape the wire.  Unwind the coat hanger and cut off the twisted end bits.  You can usually cut wire with pliers.  Then use the pliers to work the wire into a heart like shape.
  5. Once all the oranges are out of the oven, let them cool completely and the start threading them onto the wire.  You should find this fairly easy to do.  Every so often get a couple of cinnamon sticks and place one either side of the wire.  Secure them by using a long piece of rafia.  You will need to wrap the rafia around both sticks, up and under until it is secure, then tie a knot to finish and cut off any excess rafia.
  6. Keep going until you have filled up all the of the wire with orange slices and cinnamon.  It needs to be quite tightly packed as the oranges will continue to dry a bit and shrink once it is finished and hanging up.  Once filled, you will need to join up the end bit of wire.  To do this I used a thin length of wire, which I just wrapped around, (in and out, up and down) the two end bits of the wire on the wreath.  Trim off any further excess of coat hanger. I then covered this join by wrapping with rafia.
  7. Final touch is to tie on some brown garden string to the top of the wreath to use to hang it up, and then a red Christmassy ribbon bow to finish it off.

07/11/2011. Christmas crafts. 8 comments.