Smoked salmon rosti canapes

Do you know what I remember most about university? The jobs I did in between lectures. I cleaned houses, made coffee, waited tables, worked at functions, handed out flyers, recorded weather forecasts, washed dishes and occasionally looked after children. I’d like to think all of these things stood me in good stead for life after university, even if they aren’t quite as useful when it comes to playing Trivial Pursuit.

The best gig of all was working at functions. All you had to do was turn up looking presentable, carry food and drink around for a few hours, then with any luck you’d get to eat and drink the leftovers with your fellow waitstaff – and still go home with a wad of cash in your pocket. Sure, there were pitfalls but for the most part it was a great insight into corporate life. It also taught me that if you’re at any kind of function where canapes are on offer, you need to a) be especially charming to the waitstaff and b) to stand by the kitchen door if you’re really hungry, because then you’ve got first pickings.

Easy Smoked Salmon Canapes Photo And Recipe: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

I don’t go in for canapes much when we’re entertaining at home, but when Regal Salmon asked me to create a recipe using their new Artisan Smoked Salmon, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. A really good canape needs to have bold flavours, eye appeal and interesting textures (the culinary equivalents of wit, good looks and charm) if you’re going to remember it the next day. These little morsels fit the bill nicely – and they won’t crumble down your front.

Salmon Rosti Canapes Gluten Free

Smoked salmon rosti canapes
Essentially, this is posh fish and chips in canape form. The crispy, crunchy potato strands are the chips, the silky salmon is the fish, and the lemon-spiked creme fraiche dressing is like a fancy tartare sauce. The great thing about these canapes is that you can do all the prep in advance, leaving you plenty of time to apply your face and have a pre-cocktail party cocktail before your guests arrive. Cheers!

600g (4-5 medium) floury potatoes, peeled
4 Tbsp olive oil
flaky salt and freshly ground pepper
180g (3/4 cup) creme fraiche
finely grated zest of two lemons and the juice of one of them
3 Tbsp capers, finely chopped
a handful of fresh fennel fronds or dill
250g best quality smoked salmon

Heat the oven to 200C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Grate the potatoes – use the fine grating disc in a food processor, if you have one – then tip them into a sieve set over the sink to drain. Press as much liquid out of the potatoes as possible, then wrap them in a clean teatowel and wring to extract as much moisture as you can. Tip the potatoes into a bowl and stir through the olive oil and salt and pepper until well mixed.
Using your fingers, take small amounts of the shredded potato mixture and place on the prepared trays, as if you were forming little nests. Season again with salt and pepper, then put in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and crisp. Remove to a rack to cool.
In the meantime, mix the creme fraiche with the lemon zest, capers and a few finely chopped fennel fronds or dill leaves. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice to taste.
To assemble the canapes, top each potato rosti with a piece of smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of fennel. This makes about 40 canapes, which are great washed down with a glass of well-chilled bubbles. With any luck, you’ll even have some left for your guests…

If you love smoked salmon but canapes sound a bit formal, this smoked salmon and wasabi pate is a more interactive (but no less delicious) way to eat it.

* This post was created with the assistance of Regal Artisan Salmon, but all opinions (and the recipes) are my own.*

Treat me: Boozy figs

If you were beamed to earth from another planet at the moment you’d think all humans did was eat, drink and be merry. While the period between mid-November and early January is fairly intense on that scale, it’s pretty much always the season of entertaining at our house. And I love it, I really do, except for perhaps that tense 15 minutes just before the entertainees arrive and I feel in a state of complete chaos.

This year, with two fairly major entertaining events scheduled chez nous in the next fortnight, I’ve decided to take control. Firstly, I’m going to delegate a lot more (sorry, invitees, I understand if you want to pull out now) and secondly, I’m going to have something up my sleeve that I prepared earlier.

These boozy figs are an excellent do-ahead option at this time of year, whether you’re holding a soiree or you’ve been invited to one by someone like me who wants you to cross town with dessert in your handbag. The recipe is of unknown provenance – it’s out of one of my mum’s notebooks – and it is very simple. I’ve a hunch it is just the thing for this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, hosted by the ever-lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage (with able support from Kate at What Kate Baked) – in which dried fruit is the theme.

Boozy figs
You can whip these mulled figs together in five minutes before you go to work, then when you come home they’ll be all plump and juicy. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, serve them warm over a slab of posh vanilla ice cream., if you’re in the southern, add strawberries. If you’re really, really organised, put them in a lidded jar in the fridge and they’ll be good for several weeks.

400g dried figs, cut in half (use scissors)
500ml fruity red wine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 small orange, washed and halved
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 punnet of strawberries, washed and hulled (optional)

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and let bubble away for five minutes. Take off the heat and let cool. Then, either transfer to a bowl or jar, cover and put in the fridge. Or, if you’re planning to eat them in a few hours, add the strawberries before putting in the fridge. Serves six.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tea Time Treats

Spring berry smoothie

Something a bit embarrassing happens when we have people round. It’s not a problem when the sun is over the yardarm, so to speak, but when they look meaningfully at the kettle and the cupboard where the mugs are, I feel a bit uncomfortable.
It’s not that I am ashamed of the tin of instant coffee (it’s for my mother-in-law – she doesn’t drink the other stuff) or our ugly mug selection, but that I’m never sure when to break it to them that we don’t have any milk.
Apart from my great milk-drinking, bechamel-sauce guzzling period (September 2008 until about May 2009), we don’t drink it. I buy some occasionally if a cooking project warrants it, of course, but it does seem rather wasteful to buy milk, keep it in the fridge on the off-chance that we might have a milky tea-drinker crossing the threshold, then end up throwing it away. Perhaps I should invest in those little sachets of milk that you get in hotels. But I think I’d rather look like a bad hostess than one with no taste. What do you think?

Vegan Berry Smoothie

Spring berry smoothie
One of the best things about living a milk-free existence is that you get to make virtuous and vibrant smoothies like this one. One of the best things about coming back to New Zealand after our holiday was drinking water from the tap without gagging – if you live somewhere with disgusting tap water then I’d suggest making these with the bottle sort. Or I suppose you could go all out and use milk, but rest assured, it’s nicer without. If you’re not a fan of berries, try fresh pineapple.

For two large smoothies:

1 1/2 cups frozen berries
1 large banana, cut into chunks (this is a good way to use up frozen bananas, if you have a freezer full)
3 Tbsp ground almonds
1 Tbsp chia seeds
250ml cold water

Put everything in a blender, or in a large glass jar in which you can fit a stick blender, and whizz until smooth. Add a little more water if it seems very thick. Pour into two glasses and serve.

Treat me: Ginger cider cake

Two of my favourite redheads have birthdays this weekend – so in their honour I have devised a ginger-y cake. You don’t have to have redhead or suffered years of school yard torment to enjoy it, but it helps if you like light, lovely cake studded with nuggets of crystallised ginger and walnuts. Who’s in?

Ginger cider cake
This is an adapted version of a cake in Margaret Fulton’s ‘My Very Special Cookbook’, a book worth hunting for in your next charity shop raids. I used a bottle of Rekorderlig Orange-Ginger cider (which is actually very drinkable, for once you can believe the hype), but you could use any cider or beer and change the fruit/spices accordingly. It makes a very big cake suitable for baking in a bundt tin – but make sure you grease and flour it really well or you’ll suffer the consequences. I can confirm the cake is still edible when it comes out of the tin in two pieces, but it’s less suitable to present to someone as a birthday treat.

250g soft butter
400g brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
100g crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
500ml beer or cider, at room temperature
450g plain flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and/or line a large bundt tin.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – easiest done with a stand mixer or food processor – then beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the ginger and walnuts.
Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and spices together then add about a quarter of it to the butter mixture. Fold in, then add a quarter of the beer or cider. Repeat until all the ingredients are combined.
Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake is well risen and a skewer plunged into the centre comes out clean.
Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool, then carefully turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Have a great weekend, everyone x

Apple crumble smoothies

A few months ago I was complaining to a friend that the rambling nature of our garden meant that if you suddenly realised you needed herbs or greens while cooking, you needed to go out the back door, down the path, around the corner, down the steps, onto a deck, down some more steps, down a vertiginous path, past marauding hedgehogs, to the vegetable patch. Then come all the way up again (if indeed you’d remembered what you’d gone down there for – I tend to go down, pull a few weeds out, sigh heavily and start back up the track). She looked at me wryly and said, ‘but Lucy, it’s a lot closer than going to the shops’.

I realised then that perspective has a lot to do with things. Take, for example, the hassle involved in making smoothies at home – or at least the hassle in washing the assorted bits of the blender or food processor afterwards. Once I realised that washing the bowl, the lid, the blade and the pusher-down thing wasn’t going to kill me, we started having smoothies for breakfast a lot. After all, it’s much faster than going to the shops.

Apple crumble smoothies
If you live in New Zealand or England you are probably familiar with The Collective Dairy Co.’s apple crumble yoghurt, which somehow magically transports all those comforting apple-y, cinnamon-y flavours into  yoghurt. These smoothies do the same thing – without having to go and buy the yoghurt. Realising I could freeze sliced bananas has changed my life – not only are they great snacks but they are perfect for smoothies.
If you don’t have any stewed apple lying around, try a couple of very juicy, ripe pears or even (gasp!) a tin of  unsweetened apple sauce.

1 frozen banana, sliced
1 cup (about two apples’ worth) of cooked apple
1 Tbsp date syrup
2 Tbsp ground almonds, optional
1/2 tsp cinnamon
250-300ml milk
sprinkle of toasted muesli, to serve

Put the banana, apple, date syrup, almonds and cinnamon in a food processor or blender and whiz until pureed. Keep the motor running and pour in the milk until it’s the right thickness. Pour into glasses and sprinkle some toasted muesli on top. Serves two to three.

Have a great week, everyone!