Christmas canapés by chef Paul Collins
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I’m not quite sure how I had the good fortune to snaffle chef Paul Collins for Muddy Stilettos, but frankly the man’s a genius. The ex head chef at Daylesford Farm now cooks bespoke dinners in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and beyond and in his spare time devises all sorts of delicious meals for gluttons like me. I can personally vouch for these canapés as Paul made them at a dinner party I hosted last year and I almost woofed the lot.
These canapé recipes are regulars on my private dining menus and, with a glass of champagne at the ready, they’re a great way to start the evening. I make all my canapés at the very last minute to ensure they’re as fresh as possible and vary the presentation on a mixture of olive wood boards, slate, glass and even mirrors.
I like to serve a variety of 6 or 7 canapés at each dinner, with a mixture of textures, colours and temperatures. Follow my recipes below and impress your party guests without getting stressed this Christmas!
Tartlets of soft boiled quail eggs with creamed baby spinach and celery salt
12 Quail Eggs
24 Miniature Individual Precooked Tartlet Cases
1 tbsp Double Cream
1. Soft boil the quail eggs for 2 minutes 45 seconds (yes, it’s that exact!) and then plunge into very cold water. This will ensure that the yolk remains runny.
2. Peel the eggs and reserve to one side.
3. Cook the baby spinach in a knob of butter and season with salt and pepper, drain and chop. Return to the pan and add a generous tablespoon of double cream and a little nutmeg, then bring back to the boil.
4. Place a little spinach into the base of each precooked tart shells and cut the quail eggs in half and place on top of the creamed spinach. Season with the celery salt and serve.
Steak tartare with homemade ketchup
Steak tartare is one of my favourite canapés. As it’s basically raw meat, use only the best fillet steak. For this canapé to truly stand out everything needs to be done at the very last minute to avoid discolouration. I only use Worcestershire sauce, but you could also add a splash of tabasco should the urge take you.
1 small fillet steak
1 banana shallot
Gherkins or capers
1. Cut the steak into a very small dice, dice the shallot very finely, and chop the parsley and also the gherkins.
2. Mix all of the main ingredients together, season with salt and pepper and now season with the Worcester sauce and parsley.
3. Place the mixture onto croutons previously cooked in a hot oven until golden brown on both sides and crunchy. Serve.
Smoked salmon blini with horseradish and pea shoots
I make these blini very thin and use the best smoked salmon I can find – for me, that’s Forman & Sons of London or the Severn and Wye smokery. I do have a recipe for these blini and do normally make them for special occasions, however as this is a very time consuming recipe I’d urge you to take the short cut and buy the blini from a good deli. Just don’t compromise on the smoked salmon.
1. Place the blini onto a baking tray and bake them for 2-3 minutes at 180c.
2. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.
3. Once they are cool place a small amount of the creamed horseradish in the middle of the blini.
4. Cut small pieces of the smoked salmon and place on top of the horseradish.
5. Season with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.
6. Place a tiny tip of fresh pea shoots on top of the salmon to garnish and serve immediately.
Anchovy Whispers are probably the most popular canapés I make – I’m always being asked for the recipe! The secret to these is the length which gives them real impact visually. You can make anchovy whispers well in advance and keep in the freezer until required.
Good all butter puff pastry
1. Roll out the puff pastry to A4 size. Drain the anchovies from the oil and place across the pastry so that they form about 5/6 lines that reach halfway across.
2. Eggs wash inbetween the anchovies and then fold the pastry over to cover the lines of anchovies.
3. Egg wash the top of the piece of pastry and place back in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden slightly.
4. Remove from the freezer and cut along the length of the pastry to reveal the anchovies at equal spacing.
5. Turn these strips on to the anchovy side on a non-stick baking tray, and cook for 3/4 minutes at 180c.
6. Remove from the oven and turn the strips of pastry over to the opposite side and cook for a further 3 / 4 minutes
Cocktail sausages cooked in honey and mustard
A delicious hot canapé that takes very little time or effort, with the added interest of a splash of runny honey and some grain mustard. You could add chilli if you like and finish with a handful of freshly chopped herbs just to liven them a little further.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can use it for so many things, seafood, fish, meat or even vegetables. If you are serving tempura it is always a plus to have a dipping sauce or something like a wasabi-flavoured mayonnaise.
You can make a larger batch of the flour mixture in advance (up to two months) and keep in an air tight jar until required; this just saves a few precious minutes on the day of your canapé or dinner party. You could also use this as a batter for your children’s fish as a tea time treat.
3 oz Plain flour
2 oz Corn flour
1 oz Baking powder
Sift all the ingredients together and place in a bowl. Add cold water and allow to stand for one minute. Dip the pre-cut fish or whatever you choose to use into the batter and then drop into hot cooking oil. When the batter hardens, colours slightly and rises to the top of the oil remove and drain on kitchen paper. Serve.
www.chefpaulcollins.co.uk. Tel: 07774866902/01844 279461.
Photo courtesy of Tory McTernan www.torymcternan.co.uk