Easy Canapés for a special day
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art” – Francois de la Rochefoucauld
A while ago my cousin asked me to make her lunch snacks for her wedding day. With lockdown extended and 2020 being the most unreliable year we’ve ever experienced, it was hard to decide what exactly to make. Was the weather going to be hot or cold? How many people were going to be allowed at the wedding? When will the wedding happen? With all these questions in mind, I thought I would try to make a mixture of classy, easy, classic, and fresh treats, unlike the groom and his men… they had decided that they wanted boerewors rolls. My cousin and I agreed that the ladies would need something prettier, less messy, and something that would not make you feel bloated and stuffed as you walk down the aisle. There is also no chance that I would not make them a colorful and memorable lunch (or platters)!
My cousin’s motto for the wedding was that everybody needs to be relaxed and things should run smoothly. Now the best way to maintain this is to keep the snacks simple, use easy recipes, and use as few utensils as possible. Of course, variety is also important… and I will admit that my variety could have been better thought out than it was. Regardless, my cousin approved and everyone else seemed to have enjoyed it. The only time you can let variety slip is when your clients are happy.
Salmon cucumber rolls
1 container Cream Cheese
Salt & Pepper
My first thought for a summer wedding was that a nice light treat would be perfect. These rolls are light in color, light in taste, and very easy on the eye. Now, of course, the more effort you put into rolling them the more professional they will look. Mine weren’t rolled all that amazingly, I only got the hang of rolling them smoothly later on (the first pancake always looks the worst).
If you prefer Smoked Salmon I’d suggest that you use 150g. It has a lot more flavor than Salmon that you cook yourself. If you have raw Salmon you can do 1 of two methods
1. Heat butter and oil in a pan, until very hot, then place the Salmon skin side in the pan. When the bottom of the Salmon starts to go light pink you can turn it around and switch off the stove. If the Salmon is too raw when you break it apart you can just toss it back in the pan and heat it a little bit. Overcooked Salmon is a waste of taste and money.
2. The slightly safer option is to bake the Salmon with butter, salt, pepper, and lemon juice (and non of that bottled stuff! If you bought Salmon you can buy a lemon). Bake the Salmon in a closed container at 180°C and start checking it from about 30 min to see when it is ready. Remember that proteins continue to cook after you take it off the heat so rather a bit raw than overcooked. (I sound like a preachy mother, I know)
Once your Salmon is at the optimal cooking point you should make the salmon as fine as possible, this also helps to ensure that there are no bones in the salmon. Once fine you can mix all the ingredients, taste it often, and don’t add too much flavor to the salmon because this canapé is not supposed to have too much flavor.
Take a vegetable peeler (the Y shaped ones) and try to peel the cucumber as long and in one piece as possible. If it breaks or only shaves halfway you can always attach two pieces of cucumber and roll it like that. It might just add a bit more color to it as well. You should also try to get the peel on every slice if possible for optimal beauty.
Normally I would make these with a Duxelles (a preparation of mushrooms sautéed with onions, shallots, garlic, and parsley and used to make stuffing or sauce) but I thought about it, as I was chopping away, that I do not think that the mushrooms should be ll that tiny. Instead, after I had chopped half the mushrooms super fine, I chopped the second container very rough. I also used all the leftover mushroom to make the wheels to make it a bit interesting. I would just inform you that the wheels are a bit difficult to cut when you use the whole roll of pastry. I feel like it would be easier to cut the dough while it is still rolled up then slightly separate it and place the mushroom and feta in the dough before you bake it. Also, try and cut them to similar sizes because otherwise, you will have a few that are crispier than others.
500g Brown Mushroom
Butter (to fry in and to brush the pastry)
250ml Red Wine
Salt & Black Pepper
3 packets Puff Pastry
Chop the onions as fine as you can, and crush garlic and fry them in butter until the onions are soft. Chop the mushrooms fine (or maybe just the one pack) and add to the onions with the fresh thyme and fry until all the liquid seems to be gone. Once that has happened you can add the red wine, salt, and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Usually, you would cook it dry again but because you are making tartlets I don’t think it is necessary to cook it dry. When this is cooled off, roll out your puff pastry and brush it with melted butter, dock it (press holes in the dough with a fork) and place the mushrooms on the blocks you cut out. You can cut the blocks after you have baked the whole puff pastry sheet but if you cut it before the time then the individual tartlets will look a lot nicer. Bake it at 200°C for 15-20 min. Every oven is different and of course, the sizes you make are also different so just check on them. My tartlet sizes were about 5x5cm squares. I only placed the feta on the tartlets right before serving them.
Chicken, Feta, and Spinach Meatballs
Now, a thing that I do not find too attractive is chicken mince. The inspiration for this meal was due to my aunt. She loves chicken, spinach, and feta. I thought of making a chicken roulade or something in that line but I did not see one Google Image of a beautiful roulade. I then thought that a meatball is always an easy way to add things together and in a worst-case scenario you could always just throw the meatballs in a pan to give them some colour and you can always add any type of sauce to dip them in… who doesn’t love sauce! However, the sauce I made was Tzatziki, I made this because it is a light sauce and refreshing. It also goes well with the salmon if you can manage to dip it in there.
500g Chicken Mince (or chicken breasts that you chop to mince texture)
Chopped fresh Parsley (for color and flavor)
Onion (red or white, red just adds more color and tastes a bit better)
1/2 cup Spinach (if you are lazy you can use Baby Spinach as well)
1/2 cup crumbled Feta (Herb/pepper feta works well)
Salt and Pepper (if you don’t use pepper feta)
Next time I will add green chilies but I wasn’t sure that the guests would want something spicy.
Mix everything together. It is a slightly soft mixture so don’t be too stressed about struggling to shape it, thus baking it is a better idea than to try and fry it, and just fry it afterward if you want extra color. I didn’t fry mine. You should only bake the meatballs for about 10 minutes at 180°C, this also depends on the size of the meatballs.
500g Plain Yoghurt
Finely chopped Cucumber
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil (optional)
Tzatziki is more of a preferential sauce, you can add what you feel like adding. The olive oil I would add lastly so that the oil makes a pool on top of the tzatziki to make it look good, and of course, olive oil tastes good!
Cold Meat & Fruit Platter
So, I felt a bit bad that all my dishes had dairy or repetitive ingredients in them so I was glad that my cousin said she would love to have berries somewhere and I thought that grapes, blueberries, and strawberries would go great with salami, prosciutto, and coppa cold meats.
As most berries do, they tend to get a bit ripe. On the day of the wedding, I had thought that having a colorful drink (non-alcoholic) would be refreshing. When I saw that some of my strawberries were not presentable on the col meats platter I threw them into the watermelon and mint drinks. You can also substitute the mint with basil and maybe even add a bit of black pepper if you want. If you are not driving anywhere a good white rum would be complimentary.
Vegan Chocolate Truffles
I am sure that I have shared this recipe before but if you missed it here goes!
125g Dark Chocolate
95g Coconut Cream (maybe first try 50g)
1t Vanilla Essence
Pinch of Salt
Brandy/Whiskey (your preference)
Warm the Coconut Cream, not more than 85°C, and pour it over the Dark Chocolate. Leave for a little while so that the Coconut Cream can melt the Chocolate and then stir while adding the rest of the ingredients. Let the mixture cool, at room temperature, enough so that you can start rolling little balls. Once the balls are rolled you can roll them in cacao powder, or finely chopped hazelnut pieces, whatever will stick and you prefer.
If you make truffles do not put them in the fridge after you rolled them in the cocoa, as you can see in the picture, the humidity makes the cocoa go wet and that’s exactly what could happen if you put them in the fridge. The other idea with truffles is that they should be able to keep their shape at room temperature, so your chocolate and coconut cream ratio should be thick enough to roll the truffles but still soft when you eat them. To make rolling easier you can also put cocoa on your hands before you roll the truffles.
With the festivities happening soon I thought that I would share these treats because I know my cousin always asks me what she can make at her and her friends’ yearly Christmas dinner parties.
Until you read again, treat yourself and others to some good food and great treats!
Blogpost by Anel du Preez (https://farcidupreez.wordpress.com/)