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Finger-licking good start to year

WHETHER it’s a small family gathering or a big New Year’s Eve bash, chances are you’ll have some entertaining to do over the festive period.

WHETHER it’s a small family gathering or a big New Year’s Eve bash, chances are you’ll have some entertaining to do over the festive period.

And what better way to delight your guests than by serving up platters of canapes that look pretty, tickle the taste buds and, crucially, are a practical way to feed a crowd?

In the new edition of her book Canapes, Victoria Blashford-Snell writes: “Serving canapes to your guests is a fun way of showing off not only your organisational skills, but your knowledge of cooking and of pairing up assorted flavours, including different influences from other cuisines.”

She points out: “All your guests require is a drink, a cocktail napkin and a warm welcome and you have the recipe for a smooth festive bash.”

These canape recipes from the book will go down a treat at any winter party.

ASIAN PORK BALLS WITH CHILLI-LIME DIPPING SAUCE

(Makes 20)

FOR THE SAUCE:

Juice of 1 lime

1tbsp caster sugar

2tbsp fish sauce

1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1tbsp grated fresh root ginger

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

200g minced pork

30g shallots, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

1tsp soft brown sugar

½tsp freshly ground black pepper

10g coriander leaves, finely chopped

10g mint leaves, finely chopped

1tbsp grated fresh ginger

2tbsp Thai fish sauce

Vegetable or sunflower oil to fry

1tbsp chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

For the sauce, mix all the ingredients together with 2 tablespoons of water and taste for seasoning.

Place the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix well together. Then mould a ball, about the size of a walnut, for testing. Heat a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the ball on both sides for 2 minutes or until cooked through.

Taste to check the flavour ... you may wish to add more fish sauce or salt to your mixture. Roll the remainder of the mixture into small balls.

Fry briskly but gently on both sides to cook through. At this stage you can keep them warm in a medium oven until ready to serve. Serve with the chilli-lime dipping sauce scattered with torn coriander.

CLASSIC CHEESE QUESADILLA WITH GREEN CHILLI, CORIANDER, AND AVOCADO SALSA

Makes 24

FOR THE SALSA:

2 ripe avocados

Half a red onion, very finely chopped

Half a red chilli, seeded and chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1tbsp olive oil

Dash of Tabasco sauce, or to taste

FOR THE QUESADILLA:

4 flour tortillas (18cm)

175g grated Swiss Gruyere cheese

30g coriander, finely chopped

1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped

1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

For the salsa, skin and stone the avocado, then finely chop or mash with the rest of the salsa ingredients and season to taste.

Place 2 tortillas on the work surface. Divide the cheese, coriander, spring onions, chilli, and salt and pepper evenly between them. Press the 2 remaining tortillas on top to make a sandwich.

Heat a large frying pan with a drizzle of oil.

When heated, sear the tortilla sandwiches over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until crisp and light golden in colour, flipping with a fish slice or a palette knife halfway through.

Cut each quesadilla into 12 wedges and serve with the avocado salsa.

PARMESAN SHORTBREADS

(Makes 25-30)

60g plain flour

Pinch of salt

2-3 pinches of cayenne pepper

45g chilled butter, diced

60g Parmesan, grated

Place the flour, pinch of salt, cayenne pepper, diced butter and grated Parmesan into a large mixing bowl.

Using your fingertips, gently crumble all the ingredients together until they are well combined and resemble breadcrumbs.

Next, push the ingredients together firmly to form a smooth dough. Pushing them around will help to bring the moisture out of the butter and cheese.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the shortbread dough on a lightly floured cool work surface until the dough is 4mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to stamp out 25-30 shapes.

Place the pastry shapes on a baking sheet, lined with greaseproof paper and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Bake pastry shapes in the oven until slightly golden and crisp, 8-10 minutes.

Canapes by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Eric Treuille is published by DK, priced £14.99. Available now. Visit www.dk.com

EGGS BENEDICT

(Makes 24)

6 slices of medium white bread

125g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

24 quail eggs

4 slices of Parma ham

175ml plain hollandaise

10g chives, finely chopped to garnish

Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.

Brush the bread with melted butter and use a cookie cutter to stamp out 4 rounds per bread slice (to make your croutes).

Place the croutes on a baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes, until crisp, then set aside to cool.

To bake the quail eggs, generously butter a mini muffin tin and crack eggs into each hole. Bake in the oven for 4 minutes (the yolks should still be runny). Using a teaspoon, carefully scoop the eggs out of the tins and on to a tray or plate to cool.

Increase oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Place the croutes (not touching) on a flat oven tray, tear the ham into 24 equal pieces, and place a piece folded on top of each croute. Next, place the baked egg on top and cover with 1 teaspoon of hollandaise. Bake for 4-5 minutes then garnish with finely chopped chives.

 

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