Canapes – tiny mouthfuls of wonder
(This post contains some affilate links, not all of them though, some times I just link to places and things that I like so that you can enjoy them too.)
I’ve always loved making canapes, because I like things in miniature. When I was young I spent a disproportionate amount of time making miniature food out of Fimo clay for my dolls house. (just a few months ago I found a miniature cheeseburger, less than 1cm wide, with cheese and salad, when I was clearing out some toys at my parents’ house. Yes really.) I’m known among my circle of friends as the person that just makes canapes appear, on boat trips, days out, an ‘all inclusive’ holidays (Its supposed to be a break from cooking, but for me it never is… I can’t help myself), and on our group all-inclusive holidays (where sometimes I have to raid and hack the buffet to make them, which is a bit like how you’d cater a party in prison. Utterly shameless.) I can’t imagine starting an evening without cocktails and Canapes, I mean why wouldn’t you?
Fish Finger Bruschetta – A gift from the freezer
As luck would have it, the previous guests at Darling Buds Farm left some fish fingers and peas in the freezer. Canapes are meant to be fun, so this was a play on a childhood favourite.
Sourdough bread (toasted or soft depending on how fresh your bread is)
8 fish fingers
250g Frozen peas (cooked)
100ml Double cream
Salt & pepper
Chopped fresh dill
If you are toasting the bread, do this ahead of time in the oven. Brush the sliced bread lightly with olive oil and bake at 150 degrees for 7 minutes, turn over and bake for 7 minutes on the other side, then leave to cool and crisp up. If your bread is really fresh, you can choose not to toast it and leave it lovely soft so your canape is more like an open sandwich.
Season your cooked peas with salt and pepper (if you have any lemon zest to spare you can throw that in too) and add the cream. Make them into a rough puree with either a hand blander or in a food processor, I didn’t have a food processor in the holiday rental house, but I do have a travel one like this, that doesn’t need electricity, and is really compact if you travel with some of your own kitchen equipment. Put about a dessert spoon of the pea puree in top of each of the prices of sour dough.
Cook the fish fingers either under the grill or in the oven, and please one on top of each of the prices of bread (I did one fish finger per piece here but if you’re making more, make them go further by breaking the fish fingers into chunks and dividing them equally between the bread pieces).
Dollop some tartare sauce on top of each one, and sprinkle with some fresh chopped dill (though dried will do just as well).
Serve to your guests and behold the childhood joy on their faces!
There’s a reason that vol-au-vents have never really gone away, it’s because they are a stone cold classic! A gift from the 70s to the modern world for ever and ever. Yeah, they’re a bit beige, yeah, you’ll get some smirks and sniggers when you serve them, but there will be no argument as to how awesome they are, and they’ll be hoovered up in seconds. You can cut your own vol-au-vent cases from puff pastry if you want to, but there’s no shame in buying them ready made to save time and space. You’ll notice that the one in the picture didn’t rise equally and essentially became more caterpillar like, that’s because the own wasn’t great and had hot spots. You can call it failure, or you can call it character. I go with the latter. When they taste this good, who cares?!
18 vol-au-vent cases, baked and cooled
250g (1 pack) chestnut mushrooms, finely diced
1tbsp olive oil
Large garlic clove (crushed)
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
300ml double cream
Bake the vol-au-vent cases as per the pack instructions and leave to cool on a wire rack. When they are cool enough to handle, cut out the centre piece to leave them hollow for filling. You can keep the cut-out pieces of you want to place back on top, or eat them, it’s up to you.
Heat a pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until they have released their moisture and it has then evaporated again leaving them almost dry.
Stir in the fresh thyme and the black pepper.
Add the cream and combine it all really well, then leave to cool.
Using a teaspoon, fill the empty vol-au-vent shells with the creamy mushroom mixture, sprinkle with some more thyme and serve.
Smoked Mackerel Pate
This another one of those recipes dishes that refuses to go away because it is so dearly loved and so, so easy to make. When it comes to something that is just ‘mashed fish with other stuff’, I chose to go a bit special on the presentation. These mini jars that I bought on eBay are just the cutest, and just enough for a small bite for one person. I served these with sour dough bread because that’s what I had to hand, but its also great with bread sticks (mini ones obvs!) for dipping.
3 smoked mackerel fillets (peppered or not doesn’t matter, but if there is skin, remove it)
2 tbsp crème fraiche or sour cream
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp horseradish
5 small cornichons or ½ a large gherkin
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 tbsp chopped, fresh dill
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper (if the mackerel isn’t peppered already)
Fresh dill for garnishing, sourdough bread or breadsticks
Break up the mackerel fillets and put into a food processor with all the other ingredients and pulse until fairly smooth, but not quite a paste.
Transfer the pate to little jars, or whatever you want to use to serve it, garnish with fresh chopped dill. Keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.