This week I have been working. Actually earning money, something that is really beneficial at this time of year! So I thought I would write a bit about what it is like to prepare food for 25 people and also tell you what I made.
Canapés are very popular during this party season and very sensibly, my client decided it would be better if she could hire someone in to do the catering, namely me. The reason I use the word sensibly is that canapés are a huge amount of work and can be very time consuming. Such dainty, delectable little morsels can look so simple and are mostly devoured in one bite, giving no hint of the toils taken to make them!
My client was having a Christmas drinks party and wanted a good amount of food to feed 25 guests. So we decided on 3 quiches and 6 different canapés along with 25 cupcakes. She has a very petite kitchen and there would be no opportunity to use her small oven so all the food would be served cold.
The problem was simply a matter of timing as so many elements of the food had to be prepared on the day of the party and I only have two hands. I must admit, I did suffer a little stress! But thanks to the help of my Mum and Dad who kindly looked after my two children all day, I somehow got everything assembled and delivered on time!
Firstly, I started off with Honey & Mustard Chicken Drumettes. These are mind boggling delicious and I always offer them on a canapé menu. A chicken drumette is called a Manchon here in France and is actually the chicken wing with the wing tip removed. They are cute and definitely more refined than great honking chicken drumsticks would be at a party! Marinated for 24 hours in a mixture of honey, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, garlic and lemon juice; when cooked they are sweet, sticky and aromatic. They really are lip smackingly good!
Then I made some Crostini with Herby Goats Cheese & Sticky Balsamic Figs. For me, figs are festive. We always had some dried fruit to nibble on at Christmas, along with a bowl of nuts when I was growing up. So these little crunchy, creamy and sweet toasts are a nod to that tradition. The goats cheese is mixed with handfuls of herbs; chives, mint and parsley. Then spread generously on the toasted bread and adorned with a glossy fig that has been warmed in a mixture of balsamic vinegar and cranberry jelly. Yummy.
Next, I made some clever little Chicory Cups with Blue Cheese & Walnuts. These really are so tasty and they are the simplest canapé to make. Just fill your chicory leaves with crumbled Roquefort cheese and some chopped walnuts and drizzle with a little honey. Again, I think these little bites are very festive and fun and easy to handle and eat. A perfect party nibble.
I also made Garlic and Chive Madeleines which I was a little disappointed with although my client said that everyone enjoyed them and they were all eaten. I am definitely my harshest critic and I thought they came out a little dry and so I will not be passing on the recipe to you until I am happier with it. However, I was satisfied that they tasted good and they were a little like garlicky bread rolls so I included them in the party menu.
The three quiches that I made were all favourites of mine and I am confident that they are a cut above the average Quiche Lorraine! Firstly, I made Chicken, Leek & Mustard Quiche. This has a really exceptional taste with the zing that the wholegrain mustard gives it. Honestly, its delicious.
I also made Smoked Salmon, Potato and Dill Quiche, a recipe from the BBC Good Food website by Mary Cadogan. This looks as beautiful as it tastes and is quite hearty with the sliced potatoes hiding amongst the strips of salmon. Unusual and very pleasing, a great addition to any buffets or lunch menus.
And lastly, a wonderful Caramelised Red Onion and Gruyere Cheese Quiche that most certainly packs a tasty punch. The long slow cooking of the onions provides such a wonderful deep sweetness that is matched perfectly with the rich Gruyere cheese. I found this recipe on the Simply Recipes website, posted by someone called Elise. Hats off to you Elise, this recipe is truly fabulous and I follow it to the letter every time!
And just to add a little something sweet to round off the evenings edibles, I gave her a mixture of Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes. Perfect for finger food parties, these little cakes are easy to eat and delightfully different. The Vanilla Cupcakes are light with rich all butter icing whilst the Chocolate Cupcakes are dense with chocolate, with an almost brownie like consistency. And they look ever so pretty arranged on their little stand!
All in all, the food was a success and my client assured me that it was enjoyed by all her guests. It did take me two days to prepare and prep everything though which seems an awfully long time for a few tiny treats that are gobbled up in seconds!
Will you be serving canapés this Christmas and if so, which ones would you recommend?