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How to be a canapé queen

Does your usual party snack planning involve opening a bag of Kettle Chips? Here's how to raise your game with three easy recipes.

Back in the olden days, when I used to attend the opening of every envelope in London, canapés were basically my dinner most nights of the week. I found if I could scoff around 20 (if you stand by the kitchen at an event you get first dibs) that would be the equivalent to a full plate of food. Cunning, eh? I didn’t have to go to the supermarket for years.

Fast forward a couple of decades and, to my horror, I’m now expected to make the darn things when I host a party or dinner. Yikes! And it transpires that cheese and pineapple cubes on cocktail sticks just won’t cut it. So thank goodness for Canapease. Chesham-based chef Karen runs workshops where you can learn how to make six easy but delicious party snacks. Forthcoming workshop dates are below but if you fancy going canapé crazy at home in the meantime, we’ve got three of Karen’s recipes for you to try. Croute with herbed ricotta, followed by crab cakes and then mini almond and orange cakes, anyone? All round to mine for a party!


Croute with herbed ricotta (makes 12)


1 ficelle (mini baguette) or 3 slices of bread

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp ricotta

1 tsp finely chopped sage

1 tsp finely chopped thyme

1 tsp finely chopped parsley

0.5 tsp finely chopped chives

1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon (I used Belazu)


Tiny thyme sprigs or tiny sage leaves (to decorate)


Mix the ricotta, herbs and lemon and check seasoning.  This can be done several hours ahead.

Heat oven to 190°c.

Cut squares or circles of bread (or, if available, use one ficelle, cut into slices).

Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil, season and place on a baking sheet.  Cover with baking parchment and press another baking sheet on top.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cool on a cooling rack.  Can be stored in an airtight container for several of days.

If the croute are very crispy (the ficelle crisp very well) they can be topped and kept in a cool place for a few of hours.  If not, store little spoonfuls of the herb mix topped with the thyme sprigs on parchment paper in the fridge and put it all together an hour or so before serving.


Crab cakes (makes 16)


100g white crab meat

Half small red chilli, finely chopped

1 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp Thai fish sauce

2 tsp finely chopped ginger

2 tbs finely chopped coriander

Zest of half a lime

25g fresh breadcrumbs

1 egg


Flour for dusting

50g Panko crumbs (pulse in a food processor)

Sweet chilli sauce (to serve)


Add a couple of pinches of salt to the egg and beat lightly (the salt helps to make the beaten egg more fluid and easier to work with).

Blot the crab with kitchen towel and then mix the eight crab cake ingredients together.

Form 16 crab cakes.

Sprinkle with flour and then dip into the egg and then completely cover with the panko crumbs.

Chill or freeze at this stage.

Preheat the oven to 220°c.

Heat a baking sheet, smear with 2tbs olive oil.

Place the crab cakes on the baking sheet in the oil and then carefully flip over, so both sides are oiled.

Cook from chilled for 10 minutes or from frozen for 15 minutes.

Make sure they are golden brown and piping hot before serving.


Mini orange and almond cakes


1 large orange

3 eggs

225g caster sugar

250g ground almonds

1/2 tsp baking powder

To decorate:

Creme fraiche

Fresh orange segments

Icing sugar

23cm springform cake tin

Plain-sided cutter (mine is 2.5cm)


Preheat oven to 180°c. Grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin

Cook the whole orange until soft – either microwave or boil.  Cool, remove any pips and then puree.

Beat the sugar and eggs until thick and pale.

Fold in the ground almonds, baking powder and puréed orange.

Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 30 mins. Cool in tin.

Cut individual cakes out with the cutter.  Roll gently if the sides look too rough.  Decorate with a blob of creme fraiche and a small fresh orange segment.  Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

The individual cakes can be decorated several hours ahead,  loosely covered and chilled.

Canapease workshops: Weds 15 May, 7pm – 9.30pm; Fri 31 May, 12pm – 2.30pm; Fri 11 Oct, 12pm – 2.30pm; Fri 8 Nov, 12pm – 2.30pm; Weds 27 Nov, 7pm- 9.30pm. Cost is £45 pp. 

Find more ideas here

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