Thursday, September 27, 2012

A plate of Canapés

This is the season to have friends over for a lovely dinner - what is better than to sit around a table with great food to catch up with your friends. I am always cooking several courses (keep the portions small so that your guests can make it to dessert) and like to start the evening off with some canapés - first it helps to cover the time until everyone arrived (you will always have late arrivals) and it gives the host time to get the final preparations done. Below are some canapés I serve on a regular basis - they are favourites amongst my friends and they also make great party food. When preparing canapés keep in mind that you don't want to 'stuff' your guests before the starter. One of the canapés below is plenty for 6 - 8 people. All of the canapés below can be prepared in advance and just assembled before serving.

nicely arranged on a slate board from Slated
The eye eats as well - so try to arrange them nicely on a plate. Here I have used a white rectangular plate I bought in Meadows & Byrne in the sales for €2.50 but if you want to be really stylish these days - you might like to use a slate from Slated - an Irish company who just won a great award for their products (you should see them on TV soon). You can contact Slated via their website 

Pea shots

·         2 tbsp butter
·         1 small leek, thinly sliced
From left-to-right: Onion tart, mushrooms, pea shot, bruschetta
·         1 small potato, cubed
·         1 garlic clove, crushed
·         60g frozen peas
·         250ml stock
·         180 ml water,
·         Fresh mint leaves
·         60ml water, extra
·         Greek yogurt
·         Ground cumin
·         Small mint leaves to garnish

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, cook the leek and garlic until the leek softens. But not browned. Add the potato, stock, water and cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat anklet simmer until the potato softens. Add the peas and mint and cook uncovered until peas are tender.

Blend or process until smooth. Spoon the soup into shot glasses .

Combine the yogurt with the cumin and top each shot glass with a teaspoon of yogurt and a small leaf of mint.

Stuffed mushrooms with garlic

·         1 onion, finely chopped
·         Unsalted butter
·         20 medium mushrooms
·         20g dried porcinis (soaked in warm water)
·         1-2 crushed garlic cloves
·         3/4 cup fresh breadcrumb
·         1 egg
·         Chopped fresh parsley & thyme
·         Salt & pepper
·         Strips of Parma ham

Pre-heat oven to 160c

Heat 3 tbsp butter in a frying pan. Add the chopped onions and fry until translucent but. It browned. Meanwhile, remove the stems from the mushrooms and with a small spoon, scrape out the gills (careful not to damage the mushrooms). Chop finely.

Add the chopped garlic to the onions and continue to fry for a minute.

Drain soaked mushrooms and chop finely. Add the chopped stems, porcinis to the onions.  Cook until cooked through and no liquid is left. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, herbs, egg and season well.

Melt 3 tbsp butter and brush the mushrooms very well with the butter. Arrange the mushrooms on a baking sheet and spoon in the filling. Bake for about 15-20 mins until they are nicely browned.

Top each with a strip of Parma ham and maybe some parsley and serve.


·         250g tomatoes
·         1 garlic clove
·         extra virgin olive oil
·         sea salt and black pepper
·         basil leaves
·         ciabatta or baguette

Chop your tomatoes, season, add your basil and drizzle with olive oil.

Heat a grill and toast your bread on both sides until nicely toasted.

Rub one side of your bread with the garlic clove.

Spoon the tomato mixture on top and sprinkle a couple of torn basil leaves, drizzle a little olive oil and serve.

Caramelised Onion Tart with Goats Cheese

  • Shortcrust pastry (shop bought or homemade)
  • 4 large red onions
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Red Wine Vinegar (Balsamic might be too strong)
  • Brown Sugar (soft brown sugar)
  • Log of goats cheese (crottins work very well)

Preheat oven to 160C

Slice the onions finely (or shop if you prefer). Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan on a low heat and add the onions. Slow cook until translucent (this can take up to 10 mins). Add the vinegar and brown sugar and keep on a low heat – stirring occasionally – until the onions are well done and syrupy (this takes time).

In the meanwhile, roll out the pastry and cut circles big enough to fit in a 12 hole bun tin. Prick the pastry cases with a fork and blind bake for 6-10 mins. Remove the baking beans and continue to bake until slightly browned (be careful not to have it too browned as it will go back in the oven later) and set aside.

If using a log of goats cheese, slice the cheese to be slightly smaller than the pastry cases.

When the onions are done, fill the pastry cases with the onion filling and top with the goats cheese. Return to the oven for a few minutes and serve.

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