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Finer Elements
canape
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Canapés for Christmas

By Kayley Loveridge

Canapés are a type of hors d’oeuvre that typically consists of a firm bread base and a savoury topping. They usually have a spread of mayonnaise or cream cheese that is topped with meat or fish and are garnished with herbs, minced spring onions or finely chopped vegetables. 2017 saw a new wave of trends in the amuse-bouche arena from small titbits served on spoons to tiny, bite-size versions of main meals like beef wellington with mashed potato toppings. The very point of these aperitifs is so that guests can eat them in a single bite with one hand, whilst holding a glass of Champagne or something similarly sumptuous in the other—priorities, naturally. 

One of life’s greatest deceits is that this posh party food is reserved exclusively for the sophisticated consumer, but they are actually very simple to replicate. Also a decorative statement, canapés should be uniform in size and bold in colour. Use interesting trays or platters with reflective surfaces for displaying and include some sweet, fruity options, too.

Preparation 

Ready-made pastry cases, crostinis and blinis straight from the packet are excellent time-savers and provide consistency in appearance and taste. For something a little healthier, opt for lettuce leaves to cradle your chosen topping. Use these bases to prepare both meat-based and vegetarian aperitifs a few hours prior to the party. Whether the canapés will simply be a starter to the meal or the focal point to the evening will determine how many you should prepare. For the former, anticipate an average serving of six appetisers per guest.

Back to basics

Simplicity is the name of the game, and many chefs would agree that good, high quality ingredients for classic flavour combinations trump a complex recipe. Top a savoury pastry case with a generous dollop of cream cheese, a curl of wild salmon and garnish with chopped chives for a retro appetiser. Stuck for ideas? Bring this summer favourite to the festive table and spread smashed avocado onto crostinis and garnish with prawns and shaved red chilli. For something adventurous and colourful, top blinis with a whisked beetroot and crème fraîche mixture and slices of fried button mushrooms. Finish with tiny sprigs of thyme for an extra decorative flair. τ

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