Wednesday, 10 December 2014

December's Take Five...

  Easy Christmas Canapes  

This selection of Christmas canapés can be prepared in advance, giving you one less thing to worry about on the day. They are designed to be simple, yet delicious, with a homemade touch...

1. Brie and Cranberry Bites

Recipe: Jo Arnell ● Image: David Merewether

Prep time: Cooking time: ● Total time: ● Serves: 4

You will need:

● 1 pack ready rolled puff pastry (don't make your own - it's Christmas)  150g Brie dash of milk for brushing onto pastry  sprinkle of thyme or oregano to garnish (optional)

1. Cut the pastry into small rectangles, approx. 3x4cm (bite sized). Lay on a greased baking sheet and brush with milk.
2. Bake for 10 minutes in a pre-heated oven (gas 6/200°C). These can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container.
3. Thinly slice the Brie into pieces just smaller than the pastry rectangles
4. Remove pastry from the oven and cool.
5. Top with Brie slices and place under a hot grill for 30-60 seconds until just melted - watch closely!
6. Top with half a teaspoon of cranberry sauce and serve warm.

For the Cranberry Sauce...
● 200g fresh cranberries ● grated zest and juice of an orange ● 100g muscovado sugar (or to taste, depending on how tart you like it) ● ½ tsp ginger ● ½ tsp cinnamon

1. Put all the ingredients into a pan and cook over a low heat, stirring gently until the berries begin to break up a little and the sugar is dissolved.
2. Let the sauce bubble for 5 minutes or so, then cool and use. This will keep in the fridge for a week, or longer in the freezer.

2. Butternut Squash and Chilli Chestnut Rolls

  • Recipe: Tony Boyle ● Image: David Merewether

  • Makes approximately 12 canapés

  • You will need:

  • ● Small Butternut Squash ● 500g Saxby's Puff Pastry ● ½ Red Chilli ● ½ tsp Five Spice ● 1 tsp Ground Ginger ● 50g Soft Brown Sugar ● 150g Chestnuts (roasted)● 1 Egg whisked for egg wash


1. Peel and cut butternut squash into cubes, then roast in a little oil together with the sugar and five spice mix, allow to cool.

2. Finely chop the chilli and the chestnuts, and mash together with the butternut squash and ginger.

3. Roll out the puff pastry into long thin strips and place a little of the mixture in the centre of the puff pastry, brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash and fold over to form a roll.

4. Brush lightly with egg wash before placing in the oven to cook, until golden brown.

3. Pheasant and Prune in Parma Ham

Recipe: Tony Boyle ● Image: David Merewether

  • ● Make approximately 12 canapés 

  • You will need:

  • ● 
     Pheasant Breast 
    1 tsp Redcurrant Jelly 
    2 Rashers Streaky Bacon diced 
    25g Chopped Prunes 
    ¼ Onion finely chopped 
    1 tsp Chopped Tarragon 
    1 Clove of Garlic crushed 
    6 Slices Parma Ham 
    150ml Red Wine


1. Using a little oil, cook onion and bacon in a saucepan until onion is soft.

2. Add red wine, redcurrant jelly, prunes, garlic, tarragon and pheasant breast, cover and poach gently for 20 minutes.

3. Remove pheasant and chop into small pieces while reducing the liquid until thick and sticky.

4. Return the pheasant to the saucepan, add seasoning to taste and leave to cool.

5. Slice the Parma ham in half lengthways, place a small amount of the cooled pheasant mixture onto each piece of Parma ham, then roll up to form a bite-sized canapé. 

6. Warm in the oven before serving.

4. Mini Meringues

Recipe: Caroline Cowan ● Image: David Merewether

● serves 20 ● preparation time 30 mins ● cooking time approx 25 mins

You will need:
  • ● 2 egg whites ● 125g caster sugar ● 1/2 tsp vanilla extract ● fruit of your choice


1. Preheat oven to 120C.

2. Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until the meringue holds soft peaks

3. Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until the whites are stiff and glossy. Fold in vanilla extract.

4. Using the tip of 2 teaspoons place small teaspoon-sized amounts of meringue on to a baking sheet about 2.5cm apart.

5. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Cool in the oven.

6. Decorate with whipped double cream and fruit of your choice. We opted for fresh figs and clementines.

5. Almond Nut Brittle with Orange Zest

Words: Nicki Trench ● Image: David Merewether

You will need:

  • ● 200 g (7 oz) whole almonds, blanched ● 450 g (14 oz) granulated sugar ● 2 tbsp golden syrup ● 100 g (3½ oz) flaked almonds ● finely grated zest of 1 orange

Method:1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.

2. Spread the whole almonds in a 23 cm (9 in) square baking tin, lined with baking parchment. Gently roast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until they are light golden. Set aside.

3. Put the sugar and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan and heat over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved and reaches the soft-crack stage, 132°C (270°F) on a sugar thermometer, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and stir in the flaked almonds and orange zest.

4. Pour the sugar syrup into the baking tin and flatten slightly with a metal spoon. Leave to cool.

5. When the brittle is completely solid, turn it out onto a work surface or chopping board and break it up into shards using a small hammer or rolling pin. Store in an airtight container.

For more recipes and festive cooking inspiration, have a look here!

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