Okay, I know some of you out there don’t want to hear the C word in November. Sorry. Not sorry. Bookmark this page, read it on the 1st December, then be sad you missed out on creating these tasty morsels sooner. Because canapes are for life, not just for Christmas. This year, being the fantastic adults we are, hosting a festive gathering of friends is most definitely on the cards. Even if we do all end up guzzling cans of Carling and watching N Dubz vids on YouTube by the end of the evening. It’s all about the effort though, right?
And what vaguely-adult shindig doesn’t feature canapes? Maybe even some fancy-ass cocktails to impress everyone with. Even if you’re not hosting a party, taking homemade edible goodness into the office or round your parents’ house will definitely put you firmly on the nice list. A couple of weeks ago I went along with some of my fave blogger ladies to a John Lewis Christmas event at Waitrose Cookery School to whip up some easy Christmas canape-style treats that are definitely perfect for all your festive occasion needs.
Before doing some cooking and cocktail making of our own, I caught up with the girls over pre-made delights, which included tasty crab bites that I might have eaten a few more than my fair share of. Whoops. And when it came to cocktails, Katy, Charlie and I made the decision of choosing a different one each – perfect for getting a photo of all three. We’re such smart bloggers.
Once we’d filled ourselves with snacks and drinks, we made our way to the quite frankly AMAZING kitchen area of the Waitrose Cookery School. We’re talking the loveliest worktops, a whole host of amazing gadgets and tons of space to whip up our creations. Can my kitchen look like this please?
To talk us through the canapes we’d be making, chefs Gerry and Shauna were on hand and gave us demonstrations. As you can see, I even helped out with the mayo by slowly adding the oil as Gerry mixed. Turns out I’m quite good at a ‘steady stream’. Apart from when I’m laughing hysterically at the phrase ‘steady stream’.
First up were the Confit Duck Canapes – basically little samosas of confit duck leg and raisins in a sherry and hoi sin sauce. Mixing up the filling was pretty simple, as all the ingredients had been prepared for us by the Waitrose Cookery School team. The more challenging part was folding the samosas up – but after a couple of attempts, we were totally pro at it.
To top our canapes, we also whizzed up a Spiced Pear Puree. I’d never really thought that duck samosas and pear would ever be a thing – but it worked so well, giving a nip of sweetness to the duck and pastry. The resulting samosas were a combination of awesome flavours encased in crisp pastry, and definitely incredibly moreish. Definitely more impressive to serve up to your guests than a box of Iceland party snacks.
Want to make them yourself? Head over to my Facebook page now for the full recipe!
After a sneaky glass of prosecco (because that’s totally the best way to accompany a festive cooking sesh), we cracked on with the next recipe of the evening – Parmesan Risotto Balls. Yes, we had a childish giggle over the word balls. Would you expect anything less, really?
Making these tasty lil things was pretty easy and they were really, really good. And here’s the recipe…
1 shallot, peeled and finely diced // 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely crushed // 1 sprig thyme // 20g unsalted butter // 1/4tbsp sunflower oil // 1 tbsp white wine // 100g arborio rice // 450ml warm vegetable stock // 80g parmesan, finely grated // 2-3tbsp plain white flour // 1 egg, cracked and beaten // 100g dried breadcrumbs
1. Place saucepan on a medium heat, add oil and butter. Add in shallot, garlic and thyme and cook for 1-2mins.
2. Add white wine, bring to the boil and let it bubble until almost fully reduced.
3. Tip in the rice and coat with the wine and shallot mix.
4. Add the stock a ladle at a time, until absorbed by the rice.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan, adding a pinch of salt and black pepper. Spread out on a flat tray and place in the fridge to cool.
6. Once cool, scoop into small balls. Dust each with flour, then coat with the beaten egg and roll them in the breadcrumbs.
7. Heat a fryer to 180 degrees (if you don’t have a fryer, use a small pan with enough heated oil to cover the balls). Place in fryer and cook until golden in colour
8. Serve with lemon mayonnaise (preferably homemade for the real authentic deal!)
For dessert, we cooked up biscotti, which I’ll be sharing the recipe for very soon – so keep an eye out! Finally, we made our way into the school’s theatre area, where the staff give in-depth demonstrations of their recipes. Here, we were presented with small sable biscuits (basically, little round ones) to decorate with chocolate mousse and freeze-dried strawberry pieces. Heaven.
Making canapes for a dinner party can definitely seem a bit daunting. Especially if you’re not the best in the kitchen. But my evening at Waitrose Cookery School definitely showed me that it’s way easier than you’d think. And believe me. They taste awesome. There are two schools in London, and one in Salisbury, so if you fancy a go yourself, check ’em out!
What are you planning on serving up guests this Christmas?