Posts Tagged 'Canapes'

Bouchons au thon

Buchons au thon

I hate those mini quiches you get served at parties- the kind where there’s more pastry than filling and if that weren’t bad enough, the pastry is loaded with a multitude of ingredients none of which sound much like butter. But as much as I think it’s important to get the right pastry, I know all too well that eating quiches everyday is not good for the waistline or rearline for that matter. These are little pastry-less quiches, which you can by all means make bigger but I’m a big fan of the perfect bite. Make them bigger and you can serve them with a light salad for lunch or serve little bites warm at a party.

Now, don’t start getting all cross with me that I’ve omitted a rich butter crust and you can stop being snooty about the fact that I’ve used canned tuna. These little bites are full of flavour- and plenty of creamy fats like crème fraîche and gruyère cheese, so you won’t feel shortchanged that there’s no butter.

buchons au thon

The recipe is adapted, but I kept the name because it sounds, and I think you’ll agree, so much more intriguing than pastry-less quiche or tuna quiche without the pastry. Buchons do make them sound a little hardwork but I can assure you that you will have these mixed in one bowl and in the oven in 10 minutes. Which is more than can be said for any quiche that demands a homemade crust. But I’ll let you be the judge.

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A RECIPE: Avocado & tarragon bites

I’m a officially a canapé snob. I’ve always had an inkling it was in me but my true colours finally came out in all their elitist light at my wedding tasting. It has become a point of contention between my mother and I in the planning process. If I can’t serve amazing canapés then I would rather not serve any at all- which raises the question: is it worse to serve your guests bad food or make them go hungry? I’m not sure there’s a right answer to that question although I believe both scenarios will lead to a disappointing night.

The following are the types of canapés that make my toes curl- the food equivalents of nails on a blackboard. In some cases, perhaps even worse.

1/ Prepackaged canapés that have been in the freezer too long and have taken on that old freezer smell- a cross between freezer burn and salmon.

2/ Canapés that are deep-fried to disguise the cheap and/or flavourless interior.

3/ Canapés that require a description longer than is possible to individually taste in a single bite, just to make them sound fancy.

4/ Canapés that have been made too far in advance and taste a/ soggy b/ stale or c/ old.

5/ Fussy canapés that most commonly involve an generic pastry base on which a small tower of indecipherable ingredients are mounded.

6/ Awkward to eat canapés that require either a/ tipping your head back to eat b/ putting your glass down to eat or c/ crumbs down your dress.

7/ Anything on a skewer. What are you supposed to do with the skewer afterwards- pick you teeth?!

8/ Canapés that involve dipping. If everyone stuck to the one dunk rule then this would be marginally more acceptable but inevitably they do not and besides which, dips don’t look so pretty after they’ve been dunked in to.

My mother and I haven’t quite come to an agreement about whether or not our guests will be forced to starve at my wedding but if I had it my way- these avocado & tarragon bites would be on the list. I was given this idea by a visiting chef at my culinary school who for the life of me I cannot remember or I would be crediting. Who knew that tarragon and avocado on a salty cheese biscuit would make for such a winning team? Simple, pleasantly surprising to eat and with all the right textures- this kind of canapés makes me very happy.

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A RECIPE: Marinated tuna with avocado & black sesame seeds

Usually I verge away from writing lengthy recipe titles under the premise that lengthy titles = lengthy recipes; within recipes. Last week in the New York Times Dining In section there was an article about recipe deal breakers- and for me long recipes within recipes within recipes = turn the page and find another recipe. It’s not that I don’t like eating complex food or spending time over a recipe it’s that I don’t have the patience time to cook complex food. Having said that, there are so many great elements in these bite-sized beauties that it was a painstaking decision to not just go ahead and list everything involved in their making. But rest-assure these do not involve time-staking labour nor multiple bowls to wash-up in the sink- oh ye of little faith.

I made these at the charity cocktail party that I catered for United Way back in April (or was it March?) where they were gobbled up with such ferocity that I simply couldn’t keep up to speed in assembling them. The rapid flow of cocktail samples from the mixologist certainly did not aid my dexterity- and could arguably be the reason why the guests sought out the food so voraciously. And neither did it help that the party was supposed to take place across two apartments- one of which was a five minute cross-building, through the laundry room, elevator hop away from the other. Details that in hindsight I should have inquired about prior to the party. In any case, I soon rectified the problem- but only after the guests had become decidedly quite tiddled.

This was, however, a relatively simple situation to fix compared to other parties that I’ve catered for. Take, say the party where I forgot to load the car with all of my serving plates, and had to scramble in the clients cupboards to find platters. Or the party where I arrived at the clients house only to be told that her oven was broken and that I would have to use the neighbour’s- through the garden, two doors down. Or even worse the one where the client assumed that I was providing a wine waiter and I was bellowed at for having not provided one when the guests where twenty minutes away. This was also the day when I came to appreciate that Don really was my knight in shining armour- dashing out of a meeting, darting into Next to purchase black shoes and a white shirt he leapt into a cab and to my distraught rescue. He was the most hospitable management conultant wine waiter there ever was. There is never a dull moment when I cater- or rather should I say: there are enough stressful possibilities that await catering a party so the food shouldn’t be one of them. Plan accordingly.

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A RECIPE: Smoked salmon & cream cheese spirals

What I adore about smoked salmon is that you can buy it and eat it the whole year round. There’s no need to fret about its availability or that it’s not the right time of year to serve it because it’s always the right time to eat it; hot summers day, Christmas Eve or other wise- it just works. Which is more than can be said for the average tomato. It’s reliable- easy to buy, easy to freeze and easy to serve and nothing gives me more pleasure in life than the use of the words reliability and easy. And as if these two delightful words weren’t reasons enough for you to rush out and buy some- there really are more ways to serve it than on buttered brown bread with lemon wedges (no offense, mum).

The recipe below is of course just one way (which still involves a bread-substitute and lemon) but there are multitudes of variations you can play around with. Try using mascarpone, change the herbs up, swap the tortillas for nori rolls or bake them as spring rolls (mmm- now there’s an idea I might have to try!). Perhaps the best part of this variation on the traditional is that they look far more beautiful than scraps of smoked pink fish on brown bread (again, no offense, mum).

I have given quantities for the recipe below- but it’s likely that you will want to make more or less so the best rule of thumb is that for every tortilla wrap (which makes roughly 5 spirals) you will need 50g/2 oz of salmon and 50g/2 oz cream cheese and in terms of amount of herbs, lemon and seasoning to add to the cheese- i’m leaving that part up to your taste buds.
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A RECIPE: Squash, chorizo & feta tartlets

wontontarts7.jpg

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.

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