From time to time, Pudding Club extends and there are six of us rather than four (adults) and so we have a three course meal instead of a two course meal. This time I was on starters as our hosts – brave souls – were making Baked Alaska for pudding. And, for entirely understandable reasons, not practising beforehand. Doubly brave!
So for my starters, having plenty of time, I made small amounts of four different canapés.
Firstly, Delia’s Bloody Mary Tomatoes – made pretty much as per the recipe. These were interesting, but didn’t really live up to the description on the front page. Perhaps I am just inured to vodka?
Secondly, there were some pâté-stuffed dates. That is a pretty simple concept really: a pack of sticky sweet Deglet Nour dates and a little tub of Brussels pâté. Slice open the dates, remove the stone and pack the void with a teaspoon of pâté. If there’s a way of making it pretty, I didn’t find it – they ended up looking pretty odd, but tasting pretty good.
The idea came from our recent trip to visit friends in France – they had been very impressed with dried apricots stuffed with foie gras. I don’t like apricots much, and don’t know where you can buy foie gras as an ingredient (and it’s getting harder to find it in restaurants, too) so I improvised.
Finally, two types of tartelet. The idea for this – the bases in particular – came from a recipe on the internet that I forgot to bookmark and so I can’t link to it, but I read and remembered the technique and improvised the oven temperatures and other finer details. You use a small tartlet tin – mine has 15 hollows – and you match a round biscuit cutter slightly bigger. Take a standard sliced loaf of bread – actually, thinner slices might be better – and cut off the crusts and roll the slices thin with a rolling pin. Cut out circles of bread. In a pan, melt a big knob of butter with a crushed garlic clove in it and maybe some spices for interest. I used a few cloves. Use a pastry brush to paint the melted butter thickly on both sides of the circles, place into the pan and weigh down with baking beads to bake blind. After a bit of experimentation, try a 180 deg C oven for about 15 mins – although keep an eye on them as they can burn quite quickly. If your canapé filling does not need cooking, keep them in to a deep golden colour; if you are cooking the canapés take them out before they get that far.
I made 18 canapés in two varieties, although two testers never actually left my kitchen. I made goats cheese, apple chutney and walnut for half; and pesto mozzarella for the others.
All turned out rather well, but the highlight of the evening was definitely the Baked Alaska which turned out sensationally!
PS I have written about canapés before when I made up a recipe for individual canapé Beef Wellingtons, which were rather nice.