Party food can be fantastic but there’s always a risk that you’ll be served some dreadful lump of pastry or bread with a mystery synthetic topping or a few limp slices of carrot or cucumber and a bland ready-made dip. There’s absolutely no excuse to buy those awful supermarket canape spreads. Try these suggestions instead – they’re perfect for a small gathering over Christmas or New Year and there’s something for veggies too.
Asian-inspired beef lettuce wraps
1 steak (fillet is good) large supermarket size
half a red onion
small red chilli
quarter of a cucumber
handful of fresh coriander
juice of one lime
little gem lettuce
Add the onion (thinly sliced), the cucumber (chopped into cubes), the chilli and coriander (chopped finely) and the lime juice into a bowl, leave this to marinate together.
Next bash the steak until thin and cut into about 24 tiny strips. Throw them into a frying pan and cook for a minute. Make sure they’re moist and juicy. Remove to cool.
Wash the lettuce and pull the leaves apart. Put 12 curvy ones onto a platter. Divide the steak among the 12 leaves (you don’t need much in each one). Just before serving spoon over the sauce and fold the lettuce. Don’t put too much liquid in each as they can drip when your guests eat them.
Halloumi, cherry tomato, pesto and olive skewers
1 small tin black olives in brine (drained)
12 small cherry tomatoes
half a block of halloumi
Cube your halloumi depending upon the size of your tomatoes. They should be similar.
Fry the halloumi until all sides are brown (although you serve these cold, this still adds flavour and gives colour).
Assemble the skewers by threading one of each of these items on (I add the tomato, the halloumi and then an olive) and then place on a dish, making sure to leave one end of the skewer a little longer where there will be no pesto .
Mix 1 dessert spoon of pesto with a little olive oil to make a drizzle and pour this all over the skewers.
creme fraiche potatoes and caviar
24 small new potatoes
glug of olive oil
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
2 teaspoons horseradish sauce
2-3 drops of lemon juice
small jar of caviar
chives to garnish
Wash the spuds and place into an oven-proof tray. Drizzle a glug of olive oil and pinch of sea salt over them. Set the oven to gas 5 and roast until cooked and browned. This should take about 40 mins.
Leave them to cool (you could even do this the day before).
Mix together the creme fraiche, horseradish and lemon juice.
When the spuds are cool enough, slice of a bit off the bottom of each potato so that they can stand up.
Then take out a circular section from the top (I used an old fashioned potato peeler to do this) and fill with the creme fraiche mixture.
Top each a quarter of a teaspoon of caviar and sprinkle some finely chopped chives on top.
Warning: these are so moreish you might need to make loads!
If you don’t like caviar and you’re happy to go for the full-fat option substitute the creme friache with sour cream. You can also top them with smoked salmon. The choice is yours!
By Alison Christie