Saturday, 27 November 2010

A canape for the mayor

Cucumber, egg and mint
Phew, the last couple of weeks have been busy and a steep learning curve for me. I've decided to make a canape buffet for the Open Day at my charity so I've had days of try outs and preparation and then a whole weekend of fiddly fun before the day.
Goats cheese and roast asparagus puffs

Canapes are lovely to make and you can be really creative which is great but they are a bit time critical and really you need to put them together last minute and there is only so much preparing you can do beforehand. Our fridge was bursting with tupperware full of chopped bits and bobs, marinating away.

I made over 200 canapes - 7 different varieties: Pork, sage and caramalised apple skewers, basil and roast tomato mini quiche, roast asparagus and parmesan squares and the ones posted to the right.

It was incredibly enjoyable and exciting to make them and very satisfying to see the mayor of Brighton and all the other guests bite with delight into them at the Open Day....

Smoked salmon and soured cream crostinis
Mango, chillie and prawn croustades
My personal favorite were the cucumber, egg and mint canapes with a little bit of hot sauce because they were so unexpected and all the different elements came together so well while snaking them away (recipe: It seemed other people were a little hesitant though, guess they are for the more adventurous. I received most praise though for the goats cheese puffs (my own invention) and the mango, prawn cups (inspired by Good Food December magazine). You can buy those little cups called 'croustades' in the biscuit section of Waitrose or at Ikea. They supposedly come from Sweden even though my personal Swedish informant denies ever having heard of them. Staff at Waitrose agrees and also denies ever having heard of them so you need to find them yourself.

I definitely got enough praise to last me until my next cooking challenge - and already wonder when that might be. Maybe I can squeeze in some canapes for Christmas this year... or throw a little pre Christmas dinner party?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Jamie's not quite 30-minute meal - chicken pie!

picture taken from Channel 4 website
I might very well be the world's slowest cook. And if not the slowest at least the runner up....
I don't think there's anything wrong with being slow, I don't see any virtue in doing things just miss loads on the way concentrating on speed. I like taking my works better like that for me.
I take a long time to think about what I want to cook and can wonder around supermarkets for hours looking at produce and imagining flavour chopping skills are in dreamy slow motion and in the end I am often still eating when everyone else is ready to move on....

When I saw Jamie Oliver's new 30 minute meals programme, I was really impressed how cleverly he organises the different steps so that according to him, it is possible for any cook to create a main plus side dishes and dessert in 30min. Wow!

I didn't really expect that I'd be able to do it in the same time frame but thought there'd be hope I spend less than hours preparing one of these meals. I chose the chicken pie with French-style peas, substituted the sweet carrot mash with swede mash and left the dessert took me a little over an hour which just proves my point but
a. I was slightly lacking the discipline to follow his step by step guide and did the unthinkable and improvised a little and
b. he is cheekily cheating as all the veg is cut in a food processor according to the recipe but we don't have a food processor so had to chop all by hand as usual....I am considering getting a mandolin now!

It was my first ever chicken pie and I thought it was incredibly satisfying to make and tasted very comforting. It is very easy to make and no matter how rough the puff pastry looks when you put it in the oven it all fluffs up golden and beautiful and has that great homemade rough edge to it. The french peas with gem lettuce and mint were amazing - so tasty and creamy...totally want to do them again.

Unfortunately I've just realised that the recipe has been taken off the web...guess Jamie would like to sell some of his books as well....I think this might be one to add to the Christmas Wishlist!
Some of the 30minute meals are still on the Channel 4 website so go check them out before they disappear xx