These canapes were met with huge appreciation first in a rather smart gallery on Dover Street in London, and then at my father in law’s 76th birthday party a couple of days later. Even I, who spends too many hours creating in the kitchen would not normally do this again two days later but guess who forgot to take the photos for the blog!

Sun-blushed tomato on Parmesan Shortbread with marscapone, Gravalax, brandied mushrooms on crostini

Sun-Blushed tomato on Parmesan Shortbreads with Marscapone

The recipe for the parmesan shortbread comes from Victoria Blashford-Snell, the additions are mine I think, though not sure if maybe I got the idea from someone else a few years ago! This recipe makes 40, though this is not precise as it depends on how thin you roll them so perhaps make double.  They do freeze well.

60g plain flour Pinch of salt and cayenne pepper
45g cold butter diced
60g parmesan cheese grated
3.5cm pastry cutter is essential.  You could try a sharp bottle top but may have trouble releasing the pastry.
Heat the oven to 180 degrees C

– I whizz the ingredients all at once in the whizzer.
– Stamp out the rounds and put on a non stick baking tray or baking paper in the fridge for half an hour.
– Bake for about 7-10 minutes until golden brown.
– Cool on a wire rack.

Sun-blushed tomatoes
– either buy them ready made or take the cheapest (because the process of blushing them allows strength of flavour, no matter how good a quality the tomatoes are) cherry tomatoes you can find, slice them in half, place them on a non stick baking tray or baking paper, flesh side up, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and dust with oregano or mixed herbs if you like.
– Place in the oven at 110 degrees C.  If you have an aga, place in the bottom right of a two door and the top left of a 4 door, for about 4 hours.  Check now and then.  When you remove them, if not using immediately, keep them in a jar covered with plain olive oil.

Marscapone – speaks for itself!

500g fillet of salmon skin on
150g sugar
150g salt
Large bunch of dill

– Lay a large piece of cling film in a dish which fits the salmon piece Lay the salmon, skin side down, on the cling film.
– Cover the salmon with dill so that you are barely able to see the flesh.
– Mix the sugar and salt together.
– Cover the dill with the sugar and salt mixture (If you are making a larger amount, add more dill on top of the sugar and salt mixture and lay a piece of salmon, the same size as the one below, on top, skin side down against the dill, making a sandwich. You do not need more salt and sugar, just more dill)
– Wrap the cling film around the salmon. You will need extra to ensure it is tightly sealed.
– Put the dish in the fridge and put something heavy on top, such as a brick, cans of food or wine bottles on their side.
– After 24 hours, turn the salmon. Do the same after another 24, and then after another 12 or so until the salmon feels supple but a little firm to the touch. This should take about 3 days.
– Brush off the dill and the salt/sugar mixture. Then rinse it under the tap and pat it dry with a tea towel. Do not worry if there is some dill left on the flesh as this will only add to the flavour.

A choice of two sauces:

Traditional Gravalax Sauce
2 tbsp mustard
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp chopped dill
240 mls plain oil such as sunflower oil

– Put the mustard in a heavy bowl and gradually add the oil, whisking all the time.  Then whisk in the sugar and the dill to taste.

Mayonnaise Gravalax sauce
2 egg yolks
juice of half a lemon
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp chopped dill
400mls plain oil (you can use 300mls of plain oil and 100mls of olive oil if you like, but do not use only olive oil as it will taste too rich)

For the sake of speed, I find it easier to use a magimix or a blender for this. You can though use a bowl and do it by hand.

You can add the vinegar at the beginning if you like. However, to ensure that you do not overdo the strength of the vinegar, I find adding it afterwards can be safer. Last time I made this, my husband thought it needed more vinegar, so another half tbsp at least may be needed.  Add sugar according to taste, too.

– Put the egg and the egg yolk in the bowl/magimix/blender
– Add the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt
– Whisk together until the mixture is pale
– Gradually add the oil until a mayonnaise is made (if this splits, do not fear. Pour the split mixture into a jug, put a whole egg in the container (no need to rinse it out) and start again as if the split mayonnaise is the oil)
– When you have a mayonnaise you are happy with, add the vinegar, sugar, mustard and dill. Whisk and add more sugar, mustard or vinegar to taste.

To serve, lay the salmon, flesh side up, on a chopping board. Slice the salmon as thinly as possible, pushing away from the skin as you cut, lay on a plate and drizzle the chosen sauce alongside or on top. If you are serving as canapes, look at the picture.  If you  have a more original idea, go for it, and tell me please!

Bread olive oil
1 clove garlic finely chopped
handful of mushrooms
handful of dried porcini mushrooms
slug of brandy

– Soak half a cup of porcini mushrooms or dried field mushrooms, in boiling water.
– Over a medium to low heat in a frying pan with a two tablespoons of olive oil place finely chopped onions.
– Add the garlic and fry for a minute or two.
– Add the chopped mushrooms and toss around the pan until browned.
– Add the drained porcini or field mushroom.
– Add the liquid they were soaking in a stir over a medium heat until soaked in, like a risotto and add a slug of brandy or wine if you like!
– Continue to add hot water once the soaking liquor is used up and keep bubbling until the liquid has been absorbed dried and fresh mushrooms are soft. This can take quite a long time, perhaps up to an hour but the good thing is that you can prepare all of this well in advance. While you do not need to stand over it, be careful that it does not stick to the base of the pan before you add more liquid, like a risotto.
– Put the mixture in a whizzer and pulse until finely chopped.
– Return to the pan and season to taste.
– Preheat the oven to about 200 degrees C.
– Take either fresh bread of bread that is a few days old and cut bite-sized rounds from it with a pastry cutter.
– Place these on a baking sheet and drizzle very lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Put them in the oven until they are almost gold and crisp.  If you are using fresh bread, when you turn the oven off, leave the bread in it while it cools down to help them crisp up.  If they are still a little chewy, they will still be delicious so don’t worry too much I think. If they are crisped through, they will keep for a few days in an airtight container and they can be refreshed in a hot oven before serving.
– Before serving, warm the mushroom mixture and place a little heaped teaspoonful of it on top of the crostini. Yum           

I don’t think I need to say anything here except perhaps not to take a bowl full of mini meringues, double cream and berries whilst watching Downton Abbey on Sunday evening just because they were there ….

Makes 24-30
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
Double cream

– Whisk the whites and add the sugar when they are frothy, gradually, a tablespoonful at a time and just keep whisking until you can hold the bowl upside down and it will not fall – great trick for getting children involved!
– Add the cornflour and vinegar shortly before you finish whisking.
– Set the oven to 110degrees C and put spoonfuls of the meringue onto baking sheets.
– Boil the kettle and pour the boiling water into a mug.  Take a spoon and dip it in the water before shaping the little meringue mounds so that they have a dip in them in which you will place the whipped cream and fruit.
– Bake the meringues for an hour and then turn the oven off and leave them for another at least two hours to dry out (except by adding the cornflour and vinegar they will be a little chewy).

If you like sweet canapes, look at the salt caramel tort under the puddings heading for another idea.

As of now (1) people have had something to say...

  • Peter Straker - Reply

    October 4, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    At the Dover Street reception for supporters of White Coat Wonders the canapés took my breath away. The sweet canapés that followed perfectly balanced the evenings food. Thank you Vicky, these were the best canapés I’ve ever had!

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