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Slaley Hall chef picks his best Christmas canapes

FORGET expensive shop-bought nibbles – instead get the party started with these easy-peasy home-made canapés perfect for festive gatherings or even as a starter to the main event on Christmas Day.

Slaley Hall canapes

FORGET expensive shop-bought nibbles – instead get the party started with these easy-peasy home-made canapés perfect for festive gatherings or even as a starter to the main event on Christmas Day.

Nick Clough, executive head chef at Slaley Hall near Hexham in Northumberland has pulled together his pick of tasty finger foods for readers to recreate themselves at home.

Nick has been at De Vere’s Slaley Hall for just over three years and prior to that he was head chef at critically acclaimed Bouchon Bistrot in Hexham in its opening year.

Before that, the 37-year-old who lives in Gosforth, worked in London, Manchester, Scotland and the South West.

He says: “I chose those particular canapés because they incorporate a lot of things people have in their kitchens at Christmas time and aren’t overly complicated or time-consuming.

“For the recipes all the meat and fish come from local suppliers which I try to do as much as possible. I like simple, clean flavours which balance each other. I like to keep to classic recipes with a slight twist rather than trying to be too way out.

“I feel it is important to try to utilise local suppliers whenever possible and De Vere, despite being a large national company fully support and encourage this philosophy.”

Nick’s food philosophy at Slaley, an elegant Edwardian mansion which is a blend of old world grandeur with modern touches, is classic British with a local, contemporary twist.

Nick is a big supporter of local produce and incorporates it into his dishes wherever he can, be that fine dining in Duke’s Grill, the more relaxed setting of Hadrian’s Brasserie or the Claret Jug, popular with the golfers.

The wine list is extensive and the well-stocked whisky snug with its extensive array of malts is a sight for sore eyes.

Goat’s Cheese, Red Onion, Rosemary and Sea Salt Muffin


Basic muffin recipe – makes approx 24

200g plain flour

1tbsp baking powder

2 small eggs

165ml milk

Sea salt


1. Sift flour and baking powder through a fine sieve

2. Sift again from high up to get air into mixture

3. Beat one egg into milk and fold gently into flour. Do not overmix

4. Fold in remaining egg and seasoning

For goat’s cheese muffins


125g goat’s cheese cut into 1cm squares

1 red onion – finely sliced

15g rosemary – picked and chopped

Maldon sea salt


1. Sweat onions and half of the rosemary in a little butter without colour until soft

2. Fold onions and goat’s cheese into muffin mixture at stage 4. Do not over mix.

3. Line muffin trays with butter

4. Place mixture into muffin trays nearly to the top

5. Sprinkle some chopped rosemary and Maldon salt on the top

6. Bake in oven on 180C until golden brown on top (about 15-18 mins)

Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Parcels


Smoked salmon

Double cream

Horseradish – either fresh or bought in

Chives – blanched for 20 seconds then chilled


1. Whip cream to soft peaks then fold in either fresh horseradish or horseradish sauce, add to your own taste.

2. Cut a 2½ by 2½ inch square of smoked salmon

3. Place a teaspoon of the horseradish cream in the centre of the smoked salmon square, and wrap up into a square shape and tie with 2 pieces of chive.

4.Place a little cream on the top and garnish with dill

Maple, Hazelnut and Bacon Crisps


Good quality cured streaky bacon

Maple syrup

Crushed hazelnuts


1. Cut the bacon rashers in half and place on to a baking tray with parchment paper on, place another piece of parchment on top and another baking tray. This will ensure the bacon stays flat. Cook on 180C for about 15 minutes, until the bacon is crispy.

2. Drain off any excess fat

3. Allow to cool for 10 minutes

4. Brush with maple syrup and sprinkle with hazelnuts and grill until hazelnuts are lightly browned.

Stilton Shortbread


(Makes 30-40 small pieces)

75g flour

Pinch of salt

50g butter

50g Stilton

1 egg yolk


1. Mix flour, butter and salt until it looks like breadcrumbs

2. Add Stilton and egg yolk and mix well

3. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest for 1 hour

4. Roll out until about ½ cm thick and cut into required shapes and sizes

5. Cook on 180C for about 15 minutes

Tiger Prawn, Dill and Garlic Beignet


(Makes 20-30 pieces)

35ml water

35ml milk

25g butter

½ tsp salt

38g flour

1 egg

100g peeled, headless tiger prawns

5g diced shallot

1 garlic clove – chopped

5g diced dill


Choux Pastry

1. Put milk, water, butter and salt into a pan, bring to boil and cook for one minute

2. Remove from heat and stir in flour

3. Put back on to stove and cook out for 5-6 minutes

4. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 2-3 minutes then fold in egg.

Prawn Mix

1. Sweat off shallots and garlic in a little oil until soft

2. Chop tiger prawns into small pieces then add to shallots

3. Cook out until prawns are pink

4. Fold into choux pastry

5. Finely chop dill and fold into choux pastry, check seasoning

6. Make quenelles with mixture and deep fry until golden brown.

Salt & Pepper Squid


Salt & Pepper Mix

5 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns

5 tbsp black peppercorns

5 tbsp Chinese Five Spice

10 tbsp Maldon sea salt


1. Place salt into dry frying pan and heat for 4-5 minutes until greyish in colour

2. Place both peppercorns into grinder until fine powder

3. Mix all ingredients together

Tempura Batter


80g cornflour

80g plain flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp vegetable oil

3-4 ice cubes

Sparkling water

To make the dish

Thinly sliced onion

Thinly sliced green pepper

Light soya sauce

Salt and pepper mix

Lemon mayo

Lemon wedge

Tempura batter


Squid cut Into 1” by 3” oblongs, and scored

Bok choi

Cucumber ribbons

Sesame dressing


1. Quickly fry off onion and pepper in very hot wok, then add tbsp soya sauce and pinch of salt and pepper mix

2. Flour the squid, dip in tempura batter and deep fry for 30-40 seconds

3. Toss the squid in a couple of pinches of salt and pepper mix

4. Place on plate, then put tbsp of onion/peppers on top

5. Put lemon mayo in ramekin next to squid, with some bok choi and cucumber tossed in sesame dressing next to it with lemon wedge.


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