Canape Secrets

As I’m writing this we’re living in a world where parties are illegal (what a strange dystopian-sounding sentence), and the days of milling around in high heels with a glass of champagne seem a long way off.  We might only be able to meet up with five friends at most, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try and treat ourselves.  There are still reasons to celebrate- from birthdays, promotions, to just getting through the week – so here’s my guide to doing it in style.

In the normal world, parties are my bread and (black) butter – so I’ve spent many an hour assembling fiddly party bites and coming up with new ideas for that perfect cocktail-hour mouthful.  The ideal canape is just one or two bites, so you need to make sure that every one packs a punch.  When I was building BB’s canape menu, I wanted to make sure it was full of unique options and flavour combinations – after all, there are only so many smoked salmon blinis you can have in your life!

I thought I’d share a few of my simpler canapes – with easy to find ingredients – so that you can whip up a selection at home as a Friday treat.  Pop open some fizz and make the most of being stuck in the house!

The Italian

Roast grape and tomato crostini with butterbean puree

Sweet and crunchy, the butterbean puree brings the other elements together for a softer finish.

 

Makes 8 

2 slices of good quality focaccia (about 1.5cm thick)

½ can butterbeans

1 garlic clove

8 grapes

8 cherry tomatoes

A squeeze of lemon

Dash balsamic vinegar

Glug of good quality olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C.
  2. Dress the grapes and tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper and balsamic vinegar. Roast off until they blister, it should take about 15 minutes.
  3. Slice your bread into eight equal squares of about 2cm. Drizzle in olive oil and set aside.
  4. For the puree, drain the butterbeans and put them in your blender with the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Whizz up until smooth, you may need to add a tablespoon or so of water to loosen it up if it’s starting to clog.  Load into a pastry bag.
  5. Put a griddle pan (an ordinary frying pan will work too) on your hob and get it nice and hot. Fry off your focaccia squares until golden and crispy, and then turn over to ensure an even cooking.  It should take about a minute or two each side.  Assemble on your plate and leave to cool a little – they should still be warm, but not too hot as it will cause the puree to run.
  6. Take the grapes and tomatoes out of the oven and leave to cool a little – again you want them warm but not too hot.
  7. Pipe a dollop of the puree onto each crostini, not too thick, but so that the bread is evenly covered.
  8. Finish off with one grape and one tomato on each.

The Seafood

Paprika crab tartlet

A pastry case makes an excellent vehicle for a yummy filling, and filo works particularly well with the crab.  Light and crispy, it contrasts nicely with the creamy filling.

 

Makes 8

2 sheets filo pastry

50g butter

100g crab meat

2 tbsp aioli (mayo will work here if you don’t have aioli)

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp ground cumin

A squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper

 

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C fan.
  2. Slice both sheets of filo pastry into 16 squares. If you’re using a standard size cupcake tin then you they each need to be about 4cm.  (I’ve based my 2 sheets on the JusRoll filo packet, but another brand may have different sized sheets).
  3. Gently melt the butter. Using a pastry brush, brush each cupcake hole generously in butter.  Layer one square into each hole and brush again with melted butter.  Repeat until each hole has 4 squares of pastry layered up.  Bake for 12 minutes until golden and crispy.
  4. While the pastry is in the oven, put the crab meat into a bowl along with the aioli, paprika, cumin, lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly together.
  5. Take the pastry shells out of the oven and leave to cool completely.
  6. Fill each shell with the crab mix and finish off with a dusting of smoked paprika.

The Earthy

Beetroot butter and horseradish crostini

Beetroot and horseradish are best friends in my opinion, the spicy horseradish cutting through the sweet, earthy tones of the beetroot.  Add them both onto a crunchy sourdough crostini and you’ve got a winner.

 

Makes 8

2 slices of good quality sourdough (about 1cm thick)

1 beetroot (peeled and boiled until al dente – or for these purposes the pre-cooked beetroot packets work well)

½ can butterbeans

1 clove garlic

A squeeze of lemon

Horseradish cream

Good glug of quality olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Method

  1. In your blender add the beetroot, butterbeans, garlic clove, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Whizz until smooth (again, you may need to add a drop or two of water here to loosen it up).
  2. Slice the sourdough into squares of about 2cm and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Heat your griddle pan (again, an ordinary frying pan will do) and toast the bread until evenly cooked and crispy, turning half-way through. It should take about 2 minutes.
  4. Leave the crostinis to cool slightly, but you want them to still be warm.
  5. Load a piping bag with the beetroot butter and pipe evenly across the crostinis, so it’s not too thick.
  6. Finish off with a dab of horseradish cream – a dollop about half the size of a 5p piece.