Recipes: Canapes for Christmas

PUBLISHED: 16:10 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:18 20 February 2013

Recipes: Canapes for Christmas

Recipes: Canapes for Christmas

Whether for a party, pre-dinner drinks or a sophisticated snack canapés are the ideal choice. Amber Locke suggests some fun fillings for the festivities

Pre-dinner canaps often set the tone for dinner and while it isnt worth getting hung up on competitive canap-making (especially at this time of year!), its often nice to ring the changes with a few new ideas to mix in with time-honoured favourites. These recipes are quick and easy to make and most can be assembled at the last minute.

The cranberry and apple mince pies are great to serve with after dinner coffee and also make tasty pudding canaps. I love dessert being served canap-style with platefuls of different bite-sized delicacies handed round the dinner table for guests to pick, nibble and choose and I much prefer it to being faced with a bowl full of a single pudding.

Whatever youre cooking over the Christmas period I wish you very happy Festive entertaining!

Pear, Stilton and Walnut Bites

Thin slices of Conference pears make a good neutral base for a bite-size canap. Here crumbled stilton is simply bound with a walnut pesto and decorated with slivers of red grape and a drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar.

Ingredients: 2 large Conference pears 1 lemon 125g blue Stilton 100g walnut pieces 25g parmesan cheese 3 tbsp mascarpone or double cream 1 small clove garlic 2 tbsp olive oil Small handful red grapes 2 tsps thick balsamic vinegar

1. Juice the lemon and cut the pears into very thin slices.

2. Lightly coat each pear slice in the lemon juice to prevent discolouration and set aside.

3. Crumble the stilton, grate the parmesan, peel the clove of garlic, slice the grapes into thin slivers and reserve half of the walnut pieces.

4. Blitz the remaining walnut pieces in a food processor with the parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil then stir in the crme fraiche.

5. Gently mix the crumbled stilton and reserved walnut pieces with the walnut pesto and top each pear slice with a spoonful of this mixture.

6. Decorate with the slivers of red grape and drizzle over the balsamic vinegar.

Smoked Trout and Little Gem Spoons

This is a refreshing, light and lower calorie canap and can also be made with smoked salmon or prawns. The lettuce leaves act as spoons making them easy to eat and hold. It would also make a good starter if served in larger portions.

Ingredients: 120g smoked trout 2 Little Gem heart lettuces of small cucumber 200g low fat crme fraiche Dash of Tabasco sauce 1 lemon Small bunch dill or mint 2 spring onions

1. Wash and or submerge the lettuce leaves in iced water for 5-10 minutes to make them really crisp, then dry.

2. For the filling chop the smoked trout into small pieces, zest and juice the lemon and finely chop the spring onions, cucumber and dill or mint.

3. Mix together the smoked trout, crme fraiche, cucumber, dill or mint, Tabasco sauce 1 tbsp of lemon juice and season to taste.

4. Fill each lettuce leaf with a spoonful of the mixture and garnish with a sprig of dill or mint before serving.

Mushroom, Marsala and Mascarpone Tartlets

These tartlet cases are made in a really quick and easy way with thinly sliced brown bread, rather than pastry. They can be cooked ahead and stored (unfilled) in an airtight container for two to three days although they do soften once filled so its best to do this just before serving.

Ingredients: 12 thin slices brown bread 250g Chestnut or mixed mushrooms 2 shallots 2 sprigs thyme 2 tbsp Marsala or Madeira wine 40g butter 120g Mascarpone

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190ËšC/gas mark 5.

2. To make the tartlet cases melt 20g of the butter and cut out circles of bread which are large enough to line the indents of a tartlet tin or shallow muffin tin.

3. Brush each circle of bread on both sides lightly with the melted butter and press into the tartlet tin.

4. Cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the bread is crisp and starting to brown.

5. Cool on a wire rack and un-mould when cool.

6. To make the filling strip the leaves from the sprigs of thyme, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and finely slice the shallots and mushroom.

7. Gently saut the mushrooms, thyme leaves and chopped shallots until softened then add the Marsala and let it to simmer for 2-3 minutes.

8. Fill the tartlet cases with a teaspoon of Mascarpone and top with the mushroom mixture.

Mini Salmon Fish Cakes with a Creamy Herb Dip

These crispy salmon croquettes can be cooked ahead of time, chilled and then re-heated quickly in a hot oven so theres no last-minute fiddling about. Theyre also nice made with crab and served with a spicy sweet chilli dip.

Ingredients: 250g salmon fillet 250g potatoes Small red chilli 1 lemon 2 tbsp mayonnaise 2tbsp olive oil 1 large egg 2-3 tbsp plain flour Small handful of fine breadcrumbs 1tsp anchovy essence Small bunch of mixed soft leaf herbs (mint, dill, parsley, chives etc)

1. De-seed and finely chop the chilli, juice and zest the lemon, and finely chop the herbs.

2. Poach the salmon in a little stock or if youre in a hurry cook quickly in the microwave and flake when cool enough to handle.

3. Peel the potatoes, boil until tender and then drain and mash.

4. Add the chilli, lemon zest, anchovy essence and half the chopped herbs to the potatoes and mix well.

5. Add the salmon, combine well and season to taste.

6. Shape the mixture into small fish cakes or croquettes, dust with flour on all sides then place on a plate, cover in cling film and chill for at least half an hour.

7. To make the dip combine the crme fraiche, lemon juice and mayonnaise, stir in the remaining chopped herbs and season to taste. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until needed.

8. Beat the egg and place the flour and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls and when youre ready to cook the fish cakes gently heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, dip each fish cake in the beaten egg then the breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown and cooked right through.

9. Drain on kitchen paper and serve while warm with the herb dip and wedges of lemon and lime.

Cranberry and Apple Mince Pies

If youre not a fan of mincemeat the filling of these tartlets is a lighter fruity alternative to the traditional suet and candied peel-laden variety. This recipe calls for cranberry sauce and you can of course make your own, but for the sake of a quick and easy dessert a jar of a good supermarket brand is fine here. It also makes a good large tart, rather than small tartlets.

Ingredients: 200g chunky cranberry sauce 2 large Coxs orange pippin apples 100g whole hazelnuts 1 orange 75g demerara sugar Pinch ground cinnamon 1tbsp calvados or brandy 125g plain flour 90g unsalted butter 35g icing sugar 1 medium egg yolk tsp vanilla extract

1. To make the pastry dice the butter and briefly blitz in a food processor with the flour and icing sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and process until the mixture starts to come together to form a ball.

3. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a ball, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

4. Roll out thinly on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tartlet tins. Gently prick the base with a fork and cover with cling film and chill for a further half hour.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 190ËšC/gas mark 5.

6. To make the filling roast the hazelnuts in the oven on a non-stick baking tray until lightly golden then allow to cool slightly before chopping into small pieces.

7. Core and grate the apple and zest the orange.

8. Mix together the grated apple, chopped hazelnuts, demerara sugar, cranberry sauce, orange zest, cinnamon and calvados and use to fill the tartlet cases.

9. Cook the tartlets for 15-20 or until the pastry is lightly golden and the filling starting to bubble.

10. Remove from the oven, cool on a wire rack then un-mould and decorate with strips of orange zest or pastry stars. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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