For my sins, I’m cooking, as part of an auctioned prize in support of United Way. My sister always suckers me into doing such events promising that it will be good for my career and I just nod my head greedily eagerly and then go home and get completely strung-out about the possible consequences of my acceptance. It’s not that I’m not charitable- it’s that I can’t say no, even when I’m swimming a little out of my depth.
The event concept is based on the show Iron Chef and there will be canapes and cocktails, which are taught respectively by myself and a mixologist. Teams will then compete to come up with the best canapes/cocktails of the evening. The prize auctioned for $4,000 and will involve an evening of highly-paid and important business executives, which is hence the reason why I feel like I’m drowning off the side of my own boat. Flattered, sure but sensing the need to perform- hell yes.
And so I have been testing out canapes with the following guidelines- they have to be simple so that people can actually do them at home (and so that I’m not up making them all night the night before) but they have to be worth the $4,000 price tag. Now that’s a concept. I’ve come up with one idea (you have to start somewhere), which utilises all of my favourite ingredients without being overly fatty or rich. Wonton wrappers are similar to Phyllo pastry but being precut and a tad thicker they are much easier (and that’s a word we all love) to use. Now for anyone who actually wants to pay me $4,000.00 to teach them three canape, you already know I won’t say no.
Squash Chorizo & Feta Tartlets
So simple, so elegant- what more can one ask for when deciding what to serve at a party? So, pack in those peanuts, chips and dip and make something truly impressive for a change. Feel free to alter the fillings- see below for other ideas.
Vegetarian Option: replace the chorizo with diced beets
Difficulty: Gentle fingers necessary
Prep Time: 20-30
Cooking Time: 30 minutes, plus reheating
Equipment: a 12 cup mini muffin tin
12 wonton wrappers
1 small onion (red, yellow or white) sliced 1/2 cm thick
140g/5 oz butternut squash, cut into 1 cm cubes
50g/2 oz cured chorizo, outer rind removed and diced
50g/2 oz feta cheese, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 tbsp chopped mint and/or parsley, plus extra small leaves to garnish
1/ Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5. Place the onion slices on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice. Once the onions are caramalised, remove them from the oven and chop.
2/Meanwhile, make the tartlet cups. Spray a 12 cup mini muffin tin with cooking spray and use one piece of wonton pastry to line each cup, pressing in firmly round the bottom and sides. Spray again with cooking spray and place in the oven with the onions and bake for 5-10 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy (These can be made the day ahead and stored in an airtight container).
3/ Heat a frying pan with 1 tbsp oil and add your squash cubes to the pan, season with salt and pepper and saute´ until golden. Add 100ml of water or stock to the pan and stirring occasionally cook the squash until tender (if the water dries up and the squash isn’t tender then add another splash of water.) This will take 5-10 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
4 /Place the diced chorizo into the pan and fry until crispy. Remove onto kitchen towel with a slotted spoon. When you are ready to assemble, in a medium sized bowl, mix together the chopped caramalised onion, butternut squash, crispy chorizo, feta and mint and check the seasoning. Fill the tartlets with the mixture and place back in the oven for 5 minutes to heat through. Garnish with herbs and optional chilli-lime sauce and serve immediately.
Chilli lime dipping sauce
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp finely chopped coriander
finely chopped green part of 1 spring onion
1/ Mix together all of the ingredients (makes 125ml).
Other ideas for fillings:
Goats cheese, olives and pine nuts
Sauteed zucchini with mint and feta
Fresh Crab meat with lemon, mango and celery