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Thursday 6 December 2012

Clever Canapés for Christmas

Canapés, either you love them, or you hate 'em - I'm still making up my mind. On one hand, the idea of small, perfectly formed food is rather exciting; one mouthful of something delicious, how could you go wrong? On the other hand, just one mouthful? How disappointing!

The season for cocktail parties and invitations to "pop round for drinks and nibbles" is looming and love or hate them, we're eat more than our fair share of the things. If you stand in the wrong part of the room, the trays can completely pass you by, leaving you with two options - go hungry or desperately chase the server around until you get to eat. In my case, since canapés are usually bread or pastry based, (damn you, gluten!) I end up eating the fruit out of everybody's mulled wine instead. Add that to the fact that there's never enough canapés to soak up the booze at a drinks party, leading to shamefaced rememberings the following day, and they just don't seem worth the effort.

In spite of all of that, I still really like canapés...with one caveat. No spoons or soup shots; don't leave people holding unnecessary empties after they've eaten the food, it's just annoying. Despite the fiddly nature of canapes, I actually enjoy making them, too. An afternoon in the kitchen making mini chicken tikka pasties and Vietnamese summer rolls is a great way to spend your spare time. If you need convincing, then stick Die Hard on the telly, make sure you get to eat all the not-quite-perfect ones, and you'll soon find that you love the process as much as I do!

We've got loads of ideas for you to try, a short wander through the Sluttery archives is all it takes to feel very inspired. Whether you pop some cocktail sticks into a tray of pigs in blankets or some coins of wine-braised chorizo, make mini versions of (button) mushrooms stuffed with camembert and yorkshire puddings or go old-school with cheese on sticks, choose food you like to eat and you can't go wrong.

Still not convinced? I like to bake baby salad potatoes then slice them open and serve them with sour cream and chives, or hollow out cherry tomatoes and fill them with chopped prawns mixed with seafood sauce (use smoky chilli sauce instead of ketchup for a deliciously spicy twist). Don't underestimate those pre-made canapé cups that you find in most supermarkets and delis, they're brilliant bases for sweet and savoury bites. Try piping brandy cream into a mini vol-au-vent and topping with fruit for a sweet canape that nobody would wave away. If you really don't have time (well, it is a busy time of year) then leave to hard work to someone else and order your nibbles from Waitrose Entertaining or M&S Food to Order then pour yourself a festive glass of something fizzy.

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