Hosting at Christmas can be really stressful, but it doesn’t need to be! Instead of a sit-down meal this year we imagine lots of you will be outdoors or trying to keep your distance so we’ve done a canapé party for you to follow and it provides plenty for 6 people with enough left over to pop some over the fence to the neighbours!
This is a great Christmas eve spread with plenty done in advance leaving you time to concentrate on the big day. It’s indulgent, festive and a little different but still traditional. Get some festive music on and pour a glass of rosé whilst you work… it is Christmas after all.
MENU (Canapés for 8-10 people)
Beetroot and gin cured salmon
- 1 side fresh Scottish salmon (around 1kg)
- 3 large fresh beetroots (peeled and quartered)
- Zest of two lemons
- 2 juniper berries (bashed)
- 50g fresh horseradish (if not fresh don’t use cream!!)
- 50g rock salt
- 50g demerara sugar
- 1 small bunch each of fresh dill and tarragon (picked and finely chopped)
- 1 extra small bunch of dill for garnish
- 10g pink peppercorns
- 100ml Mirabeau Dry Gin
Blitz all ingredients together except the salmon and dill for garnish. There are plenty of ways to store the salmon whilst curing but it must be airtight. We used a large commercial container with sealed lid but at home we suggest the following: on a baking tray lay out some cling film end to end and leave it to overlap by at least the length and width of the salmon. Spread a layer roughly the size of the salmon on the cling film and lay the salmon on top skin side down. Next continue to add the cure mixture evenly covering the salmon then the cling film over inwards like a parcel.
Leave in the fridge and cure for a day then remove, flip the salmon, re apply the cure, re wrap and return to the fridge for another day. After 2 days rinse the salmon, pat dry and return to the fridge for another day to allow the salt to settle. The colour will intensify during this period.
To serve, sprinkle a little olive oil over the top and sprinkle the remaining herbs and pink peppercorns over it. Slice and serve with lemon. This is great with goats cheese and a bit of bread!
Lobster Roll Sliders
- 500g cooked lobster meat (if cooking at home allow about 1.5kg of live lobster. We used two at around 750g). You can buy cooked meat or sub this out for crayfish, crab, prawns or all of the above
- 50g good quality, ideally homemade mayonnaise
- 10ml fresh lemon juice
- 1 small bunch each parsley and tarragon, finely chopped
- Salt & pepper
- 20ml melted butter
- 8-10 brioche buns (I use a bun recipe from @richardbertinet book CRUMB)
In a bowl mix all the ingredients together except the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice the buns in two, lightly toast and brush with some melted butter. Fill the buns as you wish and garnish some. If you’re feeling fancy, you could use some spice if you want.
Scallops with lemon and caper butter (in shell)
- 10 scallops cleaned and prepped but with shells (ask your fishmonger to do this)
- 30g butter in small chunks
- 20g capers
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 small bunch of parsley, half finely chopped, half picked
- Fine sea salt
- Wash your scallop shells with antibacterial washing up liquid, rinse well, dry and set aside.
- Heat a frying pan over a high heat and add a glug of olive oil. Pat the scallops dry and season generously with fine sea salt. There are two sides to a scallop, one large flat side and the other side is smaller in circumference. Cook large side down without moving too much for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Turn onto the smaller flat side, add the capers and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Add the butter and baste the scallops for a couple of minutes off the heat. Add half the lemon juice and the chopped parsley.
- To serve place each scallop in the middle of a shell and spoon on a little lemon butter. Garnish with the picked parsley and watch people’s faces as they devour them… you might want to double up and get two per person… it is Christmas after all!
Confit duck, redcurrant jelly and thyme
For the jelly (makes two jars which should do you for the winter!):
- 900g redcurrants (on the stalk is fine)
- 600g sugar
- 120ml water
For the confit duck:
- 2 duck legs
- 1kg duck fat (or enough to cover entirely)
- 5 juniper berries
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 carrot in large chunks
- 1 onion in large chunks
- 2 sprigs each of thyme and rosemary
- Peel of one clementine roughly torn
- Salt & pepper
Prepare the jelly:
In a thick based pan cook the redcurrants with the water for 15-20 minutes until completely broken down using a potato masher to help you along. Once broken-down strain your mixture. Line a sieve with a muslin cloth, place over a large bowl and leave overnight or at least a few hours. If you don’t have a muslin a brand-new J cloth or a thin old, but clean tea towel will do. Try to resist squeezing or forcing the liquid through. You want the clear bright colour of the redcurrant juice, not the cloudy residue. By the morning you should have about 550-600 ml of bright red redcurrant juice.
Don’t worry if it’s less but weigh it then add to a pad with an equal measure of sugar. Bring your mixture to a boil and stir constantly. When it starts to foam and go a little white, you’re almost there. You’re waiting for the gel point. This is when the mixture will noticeably thicken. Keep stirring and cooking for another minute then pour into sterilised jars and allow to cool. Your jelly will set when cool.
Prepare the confit duck:
Preheat your oven to 140°C. Melt the duck fat in a pan, meanwhile toss together all the other ingredients in a small roasting tray and generously season the duck with salt and pepper. Pour the fat over the duck so it covers them completely and cook in the oven for 2 ½ hours. Remove and allow the duck to cool in the fat. Whilst still slightly warm remove the duck, pick off the bone and shred. Place in a bowl and set aside. Reserve the duck fat for roast potatoes!
Prepare the canapés:
To serve toast some small slices of baguette, warm the duck through with a spoonful of fat and redcurrant jam then arrange on the slices of baguette. Garnish with redcurrant jam and a couple of thyme leaves. I used the leftover duck for a salad the following day. This is a very classic combination, but they say the old ones are the best!
Stilton pickled pear and candied pecans tartlets
For the pickled pears:
- 3 pears, as firm as you can get, peeled and thinly sliced
- 200ml cider vinegar
- 100ml red wine vinegar
- 100g soft brown sugar
- 100ml honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 5 juniper berries
For the caramelised pecans:
- 50g pecans
- 15g butter
- 20g sugar
- Large pinch of salt
For the tartlets:
- 1 roll of short crust pastry (you can cheat even further if you wish and buy tart cases)
- 200g Stilton cheese
Prepare the pear:
Bring the vinegars, sugar, honey and spices to the boil. Add the pears and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is sticky and the pears have changed colour and softened. They want to be soft but not falling apart. You can make this in advance and refrigerate.
Prepare the pecans:
Melt the butter in a pan, add the sugar and stir until melted. Add the pecans and coat well. Stir in the salt, and then pour the mixture onto a baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes on 160°C or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool. Also great to do well in advance.
Prepare the tartlets:
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Roll out the pastry and using cutter, cut the shape you need and place in mini tart moulds. Blind bake for 10-15 minutes or until hardened but not coloured. Remove and turn up the oven to 180°C. Add stilton to the tart cases, as much as they can hold! Return to the oven until the cheese is bubbling and the tart cases are golden brown.
On removing the tarts from the oven, add the pears and pecans and serve whilst warm, with a lovely glass of rosé. Etoile would do nicely with this canapé!
Gin, Rose and White Chocolate Truffles
- 3 tbsp Mirabeau Dry Gin
- 150g good quality baking white chocolate
- 50g double cream
- 1 tbsp rose water
- Grated white chocolate
Melt the white chocolate and double cream gently in a bain-marie. Once homogeneous, incorporate the gin and rose water.
Pour into a container, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
The next day, use a teaspoon to scoop the mixture and shape into balls (you should have enough for 25-30). Then roll them in the grated white chocolate and place on a plate. If the mixture melts too fast or is too runny, pop the container in the freezer for a couple of hours.
The truffles can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.