Here are a few ideas for party nibbles, canapes and buffet dishes
BLUE CHEESE AND CRANBERRY SCONES
500g self raising flour
2 tsp mixed herbs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 medium eggs
90g blue cheese broken into small pieces
60g dried cranberries
If you are not a blue cheese fan replace it with Wensleydale or Cheddar which work just as well
Pre-heat oven to 160c / GM4 / 300f
Mix the first four ingredients together, rub in the butter and then lightly beat the eggs and milk together and mix in. Add the cranberries and the cheese and lightly need the mixture together.
Flatten out in a lightly floured work surface and roll out to about 2cm thick for a canapé or 3cm thick for a cheese board or starter.
Cut them with a round cutter (3cm for a canapé or 5cm for cheese board). As you place them on the baking sheet turn them onto their back, brush with milk and place in a pre-heated oven, cook until lightly golden and cooked through. Serve warm or cold.
These scones can be topped with blue cheese and picked pear as a canapé or served warm as a cheese board accompaniment or on a boxing day buffet.
500g soft light brown sugar
10fl oz white wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon sliced
10 all spice berries
10 cloves, heads in tact
A little water to top up if required
Place all the ingredients except the pears in a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Whilst bringing to the boil, peel the pears keeping the stalks on.
Rinse the peeled pears in cold water and then pop into the syrup and simmer for 15 minutes and when they start to soften and look slightly transparent remove from the heat and cool in the liquid. These make a great accompaniment to cold meats such as gammon and turkey and are also good for tossing through a winter salad with walnuts and any strong cheese.
They can be bottled and keep for up to three months.
BLUE CHEESE PATE
100g blue cheese (stilton, roquefort)
200g cream cheese
50ml double cream
20 leaves of tarragon
1 tsp chopped chives
Tsp runny honey
Few turns of black pepper
Remove the rind from the cheese and place in a food processor and blend until smooth. Keep the motor running and add the cream cheese and enough double cream to make a smooth paste – you don’t want it too runny. Add the black pepper and honey, stir in the herbs, place into a serving dish, smooth the surface and serve.
SAVOURY SCONES WITH TURKEY AND CRANBERRY TOPPING
500g self raising flour
2tsp of mixed herbs
2tsp of baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 medium eggs
90g blue cheese, broken into pieces
(If you are not a blue cheese fan, Wensleydale works equally as well)
60g dried cranberries
Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl, rub in the butter and then lightly beat the eggs and milk together and mix in.
Add the cheese and the cranberries and lightly need the mixture together
Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to a 2cm thickness for a canapé size or 3cm thick for a cheeseboard or starter.
Cut them to the required shape; 3cm cutter for a canapé size or 5cm for a cheeseboard / starter. As you place them on a baking sheet turn them over on their back and brush with milk and place in a pre-heated oven (160c / GM4 / 300f).
Cook for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden, remove from the oven and cool.
TURKEY AND CRANBERRY TOPPING
200g turkey breast / fillet
2 slices of streaky bacon
5 sage leaves
50g cranberry sauce
Season the turkey and pan fry or char grill along with the bacon. Make sure the turkey is cooked through and sprinkle with chopped sage just as it finishes cooking. Allow to cool and slice the turkey into small pieces, snip the bacon and halve your scones.
Place a teaspoon of cranberry sauce on each scone and then top with the turkey and bacon.
HAM AND CHEESE PUFF PASTRY PALMIERS
200g puff pastry
30g parmesan cheese, grated
30g cheddar cheese, grated
4 slices Parma Ham
4 sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
12 black olives, stoned and chopped
Roll out the pastry into a 12” x 8” rectangle. Sprinkle the cheese over two thirds of the pastry. Now fold the pastry without any cheese on it to the middle and push down firmly. Fold over again and seal the edges with a rolling pin.
Now roll out the folded pastry to a 8” by 8” square and then cut in half. Lay two slices of ham on each piece of pastry and split the olives and tomatoes between each piece.
Bring the ends into the middle and gently push down and repeat the process.
Cut into thin ¼ inch slices place onto a greased baking sheet and pop in the oven
(200c / GM 6) for 10 minutes until golden brown.
CRISP BREAD CUPS FILLED WITH SALMON, LEMON AND HERBS
For the bread baskets
6 slices of white bread or light rye bread
1 tartlet tray with 5cm grooves and a 7cm ring cutter
Remove the crusts from the bread and place on a flat surface. Roll the bread as thinly as possible with a rolling pin.
Cut out discs using the ring cutter and then brush one side with melted butter. (You can flavour up your butter with herbs and garlic if you like!)
Place each buttered piece of bread into the grooves on the tray as if they were paper cups for fairy cakes – this will form the tartlet shell.
Bake in a an oven for approximately 10 minutes until golden brown (170c / GM5)
Remove and allow to cool – these will keep in an airtight container for a week
For the salmon filling:
200g salmon fillet or smoked salmon
6tbsp crème fraiche
2 spring onions sliced
Zest of 1 lemon, juice of ½
1tbsp chopped tarragon
1tbsp chopped parsley
1tbsp chopped coriander
Poach the salmon in a light vegetable stock until cooked but slightly pink.
Remove from the stock when cooked and allow to cool
Break up the salmon into nice flakes and add the herbs, lemon and onion and then gently mix in the crème fraiche and season to taste.
Spoon into the cups and sprinkle with cayenne pepper and serve
CONFIT DUCK RILLETTE ON BRIOCHE TOAST
4 duck legs
3 tbsp rock salt
10 black pepper corns
340g duck fat
Sprig of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, bashed
½ orange, take off ½ the rind with a peeler
5 tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
160g duck fat
First of all, confit the duck legs. Scatter a handful of salt with the bay leaves and thyme into a wide dish. Lay the duck legs on top, skin side up and sprinkle with more salt and leave in the fridge overnight.
Next day, scrape off the excess salt, keep the thyme and bay leaves. Pre-heat the oven to 150c and place the duck in a casserole with black pepper, thyme, bay, garlic and orange and the duck fat.
Cover and place in an oven for 2 ½ hours or until the meat falls away from the bone easily, remove from the fat.
Remove all the meat from the legs, discarding the skin, bone and tendons.
Place the meat into a bowl and pull apart with two forks so you get long strands.
Gradually add 160g of the duck fat that you cooked with to help bind together
Add the chopped parsley, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spoon the mixture into ramekins and place in the fridge to set.
You can either serve this with toasted brioche and mixed leaves as a starter or spoon onto small pieces of toasted brioche as a canapé. Remember to remove from the fridge ten minutes before serving.
ROOT VEGETABLE CRISPS
The best vegetables for this are carrots, parsnips, beetroot and celeriac
Peel the vegetables and slice very thinly on a mandolin. Its a good idea to do some length ways and some in rounds but try and keep them the same thickness to they cook evenly.
Don’t mix them up and keep the varieties separate as when they cook the different levels of sugar and starch found in the vegetables will cook at different speeds.
Once sliced lay them out on a tray in a very low oven about 50c to dry out, but don’t dry them out completely.
Heat a fryer to 145c and fry the vegetables in small batches and once crisp place on a cloth or kitchen paper to drain. Season with salt and allow to cool.
Try not to overcook them, a good rule of thumb is as soon as they stop sizzling they should be ready but if they are getting to dark then the oil may be too hot.
Perfect to serve with dips or as a garnish to that left over Turkey sandwich!