Seasonal canapés for the arrival of summer
Summer is finally here. At least… we think it is, knowing our luck up north it might have been and gone. However, even with our reality check firmly in place, the romantic dream of late summer cocktail parties, complete with delicious seasonal nibbles no doubt, fills us with excitement. Just imagine it, ice cold bubbles in a flourishing green garden with tiny morsels of sumptuous cuisine, just enough to whet the appetite (and line the stomach). All we need now is a glorious garden in which to host this spectacular midsummer night dream. One step at a time of course; world domination comes first.
We know that we’ve shown you Canapés before, but with any luck those recipes have been tried, tested and happily eaten. It is time for some more, don’t you think? In addition to that, G&T wants to promote the importance and practicality of eating seasonally. Seasonal eating is kinder on the body (and the wallet), better for the environment and that’s not even to mention the splendid quality and diversity of the produce itself when it is bought at the right time. So, hurrah! The warmer months have arrived, and so have a fresh crop of ingredients we are ready to get our faces stuck into.
Now, we may be a little bold to make such a brash claim, but we think we have the fool proof equation for canapés, we’re just a little bit cocky like that…
One meat based + one fish based + one vegetarian + dip = GUARENTEED happy guests
(and everyone catered for)
The dishes we have chosen to follow this method are in keeping with the freshness of summer flavours. Bloody Mary prawn cocktails for that little taste of the 70’s was a no brainer for the fish choice. Marie Rose sauce, with fresh prawns and a boozy tomato treat hidden at the bottom. We served these in little liquor glasses, but shot glasses work just as well.
Steak tartare is a bit of a controversial choice, but such a scrumptious one. A delicacy in France, the meat is diced very small and served raw, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, so be prepared for that. If that is the case then not to worry, more for you and your carnivorous tendencies.
For the veggie option, we have watermelon and feta, which isn’t a common pairing. However, the sweet watermelon cuts through the saltiness of the cheese as does the acidity of the balsamic against the sweeter notes of the melon. It’s sort of the most grown up version of the cheese and pineapple sticks you ate at oh so many birthday parties when you were young – nothing like a little nostalgia.
Muhammara is a middle eastern dip made from grilled peppers and walnuts. It is one of T’s top choices at her favourite restaurant and it couldn’t be easier to make. Simply whack everything in a processor or blender and blitz. Something as straightforward as this will be welcome amongst the chaos, trust us.
All in all, it is good to have a well curated and diverse mix of food, as well as providing ample opportunity to really show off your kitchen skills. Of course, if you want a little something to snack on before the main event at a supper party with close friends, then you don’t have to cover all your bases. But, if you are hosting a grand cocktail party for work, perhaps then you need to be prepared for dicks like Malcom from HR “forgetting” to tell you his partner is vegetarian. First World problems, right?
Better get your game faces on, garden party season is almost upon us and we hope the weather follows suit.
See you next Thursday,
Bloody Mary Prawn Cocktails
200g cooked, peeled cold-water prawns
1 heaped tbsp. of mayonnaise
1 tsp. tomato puree
Splash of tabasco
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and fresh black pepper
200ml tomato juice or pasata
2 shots of vodka
½ tsp. smoked (or unsmoked) paprika
50g Alafa sprouts or finely shredded lettuce
In a bowl, combine the tomato puree, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and combine well. It should be a lovely soft pink, and if it is too pale add a little more tomato puree until it becomes the desired colour. Add the prawns and season to taste.
In a jug, combine the tomato juice with the vodka, a little black pepper and as much tabasco as you dare. Mix well and then pour into the bottom of small glasses about quarter of the way. Take a handful of the sprouts and layer on top of the Bloody Mary. Top it off with the prawn cocktail and sprinkle with paprika.
Caramelised Watermelon with Feta Cheese, Mint and Balsamic Glaze
(Makes about 16-20)
½ a medium watermelon, deseeded
1 tsp. salt
300g feta cheese
Pinch of sugar
300ml balsamic vinegar
A few sprigs of fresh mint
To make the balsamic glaze, place the vinegar in a saucepan with 100ml warm water and bring to the boil. Once, boiling, turn down to a simmer and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes until it becomes thick and sticky.
For the watermelon, chop into large chunks and place in a bowl with the salt. Rub it into the watermelon and leave in the fridge for 2-6 hours. This will draw out as much water as possible. After that time rinse the melon and let it dry on kitchen paper. Heat up a pan and fry the watermelon with a little sprinkle of sugar to aid the caramelisation. Once lovely and sticky and brown, take it off the heat and stack with squares of the feta on cocktail sticks. Drizzle with the cooled glaze and sprinkle with sprigs of mint.
1 good quality fillet steak (approx. 200g)
2 banana shallots, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
70g gherkins, finely diced
2 heaped tbsp. capers
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Splash of tabasco (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
*DISCLAIMER* This recipe contains raw beef, which is not for everyone. If you are making this for guests, be sure to get your meat from a good quality butcher. It should be fresh as possible and chilled beforehand. DO NOT eat these if they have been left out of the fridge for a while. Trust your instincts when it comes to smell, fresh beef fillet should hardly smell at all.
Dice the beef fillet as fine as possible. Combine in a bowl with all the other ingredients and mix. Season to taste and serve chilled on serving spoons or in ramekins.
4 jarred red peppers, drained of oil
3 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 large garlic clove
1 tsp. hot chilli flakes (or less)
1 tsp. ground cumin
A good glug of extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tbsp.)
Handful of breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Whack all this (bar the bread crumbs and seasoning) in a food processor and blitz into a paste. Taste it, season and add the breadcrumbs to thicken. Serve with warm pita or flatbread. It’s as simple as that.