Be Prepared

30th November 2012

It’s the motto not only of the Scouts, but of every crafty cook as the seasonal celebrations approach. Don’t do something new on the day: try it out ahead of time, so that you know it works and tastes good.

Here's a selection of canape and party food recipes ideal for any occasion, or adaptable for light lunches and quick snacks

Tenderstem Chilli & Chickpea Bites

Pictured above, these delicious Tenderstem Chilli & Chickpea Bites in neat, small rounds are the perfect canapé. Make them medium and that’s lunch sorted or a meal for the children (with or without the chilli). Go larger again and you have a meat free alternative to a burger.

Makes about 16 small patties • Prep: 15 minutes • Cooking: 10-15 minutes

200g Tenderstem broccoli • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying • 1 onion, finely chopped • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled & crushed • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional) • 1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained • 1 egg • 75g finely grated parmesan • finely grated zest of ½ lemon • handful of basil leaves

1. Steam the Tenderstem for a few minutes until just tender. Remove from heat and keep to one side.

2. Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan and gently cook the onion, garlic and chilli, if using, until the onion has softened but not coloured. Remove from the heat and spoon into a food processor.

3. Chop the flowery top section off each piece of the Tenderstem, cut into smaller pieces and set aside. Roughly chop the main part of the stalk and place in the food processor, along with the chickpeas, egg, parmesan, lemon zest and basil. Blitz until you have a rough paste and then transfer to a bowl. Mix in the reserved Tenderstem tops and season with salt and pepper.

4. Using your hands, shape the mixture into patty shapes – as small or large as you like. They can be stored in the fridge at this stage ready to cook when needed (up to 1 day before).

5. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the patties for a minute or so each side until golden. You will need to do this in a few batches, depending on the size of your pan.

6. Remove from the pan, and serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Toasted Sourdough with Avocado, Radish & Watercress

Makes 20 • Prep: 10 mins • Cooking: 20 mins

1 small ripe avocado • 1 lemon, juiced • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil • Salt & pepper • 5 thin medium sized slices of sourdough bread • 2 tbls olive oil • 50g mixed radishes, thinly sliced • ½ red onion, thinly sliced • 1 bunch watercress picked

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C

2. While waiting for the oven to warm up, cut the avocado in half, remove the stone, scoop out the flesh and place in a small bowl. Lightly mash with a fork, then add the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, season then set aside.

3. Place the sourdough slices on a large baking tray, drizzle over the olive oil, then put in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until crispy and toasted, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

4. Once cooled break each piece of toast into 4 pieces, then spread with the avocado and top with radish, red onion and watercress. Serve at once.

Shallot & Potato Rosti with Gressingham Duck & Crispy Shallots

Makes 25-30 • Prep: 15 mins • Cooking: 10-15 mins

For the potato rosti:
500g potato, shredded & squeezed •
4 shallots, peeled & grated • 2 tsp flour • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper •
2 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the crispy fried shallots:
Rapeseed oil, enough for a depth of 3 inches • 10-15 shallots, peeled & sliced very thinly • 1 tbsp flour • 1 tsp salt

For the Gressingham duck:
2 breasts Gressingham duck • Sea salt & ground black pepper • Red currant jelly to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6

For the potato rosti:
Mix the potato, shallots, flour, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Add the oil to a heated pan. Using a teaspoon, spoon out heaped teaspoons of the mixture into the hot pan, lower the heat and flatten down, creating separate small discs of rosti. Fry until both sides are crisp, remove from the pan and remove any excess oil on paper towels. Place to one side.

Note: If you don’t have time to make the rosti, readymade canapé blinis could be used.

For the crispy fried shallots:
Heat the oil, test it’s hot enough by dropping a piece of shallot in and checking it bubbles and crisps. Separate shallot slices into rings and place in a medium bowl. Make certain they’re not moist, otherwise they may splatter when they go into the oil. Sprinkle flour over the shallots and toss lightly to coat evenly.
Working with a small quantity, sprinkle the shallots into the oil and stir gently to keep them separated. Fry until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, then put on paper towels to drain off the oil. Sprinkle with sea salt while still warm. Fry the remainder, salting each batch whilst it is still warm.

For the Gressingham duck:
Trim any excess fat from around the breasts and score in a diagonal motion several times. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place skin side down into a hot pan. After about two minutes turn over, then place into the pre-heated oven for 8 minutes. Put the rosti in with the duck breast for the last minute to warm. Remove from the oven, allow to rest for 5 minutes.

To serve, remove the skin (it can be left on if desired.) Slice the breast and place pieces on
top of each rosti, place a spoonful of the crispy shallots on top of the duck. Top with a little bit of redcurrant.

Shallot Relish with Spicy Wedges

Relish makes 3 small jars • Wedges serve 4

Prep: 15 minutes • Cooking: 1 hour

For the relish:
500g tomatoes, skinned and chopped • 250g cooking apples, peeled cored and chopped • 150g muscovado sugar • 10 shallots, peeled and quartered • 1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped • 2 tsp salt • 1 cm root ginger, finely grated • 200ml cider vinegar

For the wedges:
4 baking potatoes, chopped into wedges • 2 tsps smoked paprika • 2 tsps ground coriander • 4 tsp olive oil

1. Place all of the relish ingredients into a large pan and bring to the boil then simmer for 1 hour until the juices have reduced and are syrupy.

2. To make the wedges, heat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7. In a bowl mix together the wedges, paprika, coriander and oil along with a pinch of salt until the potatoes are well coated. Tip into a baking tray and cook for 40 minutes until crisp and cooked through.

3. Serve the wedges with a good dollop of relish.

NB. To store the relish sterilise jars by running them through a hot wash in your dish washer or boiling in a pan of water for 10 mins. Also great with cheese, cold meats or with sausages. The flavour will improve if kept for a few weeks. Once open keep in the fridge.

Griddled Halloumi and Pink Lady Apple Wedges with Caper, Anchovy and Herb Dressing

For the dressing:
juice of half a lemon • ½ tsp Dijon mustard • pinch of salt • freshly ground black pepper • pinch of sugar • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 50g anchovy fillets finely chopped plus the oil from the can • 3 tbsp small capers drained • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint • 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley plus some small whole leaves

3x 250g blocks of Halloumi drained on kitchen paper • freshly ground black pepper • 1 1/2 Pink Lady® Apples • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1. Put the lemon juice in a bowl and mix in the mustard, salt, pepper and sugar. Whisk in the oil a little at a time followed by 1 teaspoon of water, mix in the anchovies and the oil from the can, capers and herbs and put to one side.

2. Cut each Halloumi into 8 cross ways slices and lay on an oiled tray, scatter both sides with freshly ground black pepper.

3. Cut each apple quarter into 4 wedges put in an oven proof dish and toss with the oi

4. Preheat oven to Gas mark 3/160C/fan oven 150. Heat a ridged grill pan over a high heat (or on a BBQ rack over hot coals) and when you lay on the apple wedges lower the heat a little. Flip them over after about 1 minute (when golden ridge lines appear) to cook the other side. Put them back into the oil and put in the oven to keep them warm.

5. Rinse the pan and heat again. Cook the halloumi slices in batches in the same way on both sides. As each batch is cooked put back on the tray and put in the oven to keep warm.

6. To serve put two pieces of apple on top of each Halloumi slice and arrange on 2 large plates, spoon over the dressing and serve while hot. Scatter over the extra herb leaves.

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