The season of Christmas and the cat call of drinks parties is now fully upon us. It is one of my favourite times of the year, when it is acceptable to watch elf on repeat, eat mince pies for breakfast and drink brandy-laced coffee from midday.
To celebrate this festive time I have come up with a selection of wonderful, yet simple canapés, in association with Grey Goose, (the dons of vodka) to encourage you all to get cooking this Christmas.
The inspiration for these recipes come from my trip earlier this year to Cognac, where time was spent in the sun drenched vineyards, and learning about the creation of Grey Goose’s array of different vodkas from the Maitre de Chai, Francois Thibault. All the recipes are a homage to their wonderful produce and homage to my training in French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu.
There is certainly no perfect formula for entertaining, but good food and top quality booze is a must. At Christmas I always prefer a more casual approach. A table of nibbles, canapes and antipasti, paired with a spiced-mulled cocktail, or a champagne laced bellini is always welcome. Anything that can be made ahead and assembled easily, or whipped up in minutes is the perfect answer, to keep the evening enjoyable for the host and as stress free as possible.
To help make my night easier, I got my ingredients delivered via my favourite online farm show, Farmdrop to ensure great quality produce and avoid the mad rush of shoppers.
These two canapés are both regulars in my home at Christmas. A take on classic devilled eggs and a twist on mushroom pate. They are vegetarian, but still packed full of flavour. Also, both the pâté and the beetroot caviar can be made ahead, to speed up the process when it comes to serving.
The canapés have both been created to be paired with two of Grey Goose’s most delicious festive cocktails.
Mushroom Pâté Canapes
The pâté is a great option, for those pushed for time, as it can all be prepared ahead. The combination of mixed mushrooms in this recipe makes for a really rich, delicious pâté. Best served on little french sable biscuits or thin rounds of toasted baguette.
- 15g dried cep or porcini mushrooms
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 350g mixed french mushrooms, girls and chanterelles etc
- 1 heaped teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra to serve
- 2 tbs parsley
- a dash of port
- 1/4 lemon, juice
- creme fraiche, to top (optional)
- 12 mini sablé biscuits, or toasted baguette
Combine the dried mushrooms and boiling water in a small bowl and let soak for 30 minutes.
Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until they become soft and translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a further two minutes
Raise heat to high and add the fresh mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper.
Cook until mushrooms brown further and release their liquid. Continue to move the mushrooms in the pan until all of the liquid has evaporated, then add soaked mushrooms and their soaking liquid. Cook the liquid almost completely off. You want to be able to drag a spoon through the mushrooms and leave a path.
Add a dash of port and continue to cook for a couple of minutes, until the alcohol evaporates. Season the mixture to taste. Stir through the last tbs of butter and turn in to a bowl.
Let mixture cool for 15 minutes, then blend in a food processor, or blender, until the mushrooms reach the texture of a fine smooth pate. Chill in fridge for a few hours before serving, giving the flavours a chance to settle.
The pâté will keep in fridge for 5 days, in an airtight container.
When ready to serve, place a heaped teaspoon of the pâté on each sable/ french biscuit. Finish with a grinding of black pepper, a few fresh thyme leaves and a little dollop of creme fraiche, if using.
Grey Goose Punch aux Pommes
The apple and pear add a great freshness to this gently spiced punch, the ginger ale adding an additional celebratory sparkle.
- 80ml Grey Goose La Poire
- 100ml apple juice
- 20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 10ml gomme syrup
- 40ml ginger ale
- a sprig of fresh mint
- grated nutmeg
Build the Grey Goose, gomme syrup, apple and lemon juice in a rocks glass over cubed ice, then top with ginger ale. Stir and garnish with mint and nutmeg.
Tuna Tartare with Rye bread Crisps
This elegant canapé is perfect for the less confident cook. The most important part is using the best, freshest, sushi-grade tuna, since it will be eaten raw. The zesty mix of lemon, capers and olives packs it with flavour, making it the perfect accompaniment for the homemade rye crisps, not to mention the delicious fruits de fete. My favourite christmas cocktail made with pineapple, champagne and Grey Goose Le Citron.
- 150 g sushi-grade tuna fillet
- 1 tbs capers, chopped
- 2 tbs de-stoned black olives, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest, plus more to garnish
- 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbs finely chopped fresh chives, plus extra to garnish
- sea salt and black pepper
- 1/2 loaf of rye bread
- 2 tbs creme fraiche, to serve
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark
With a really sharp knife, slice the loaf into 1-2mm slices and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
Season the bread slices with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and bake in the oven for 5-6 minutes until crisp.
Meanwhile, using a very sharp knife, trim away any sinew or skin from the tuna fillet. Cut the tuna into 3/4-cm cubes and place in a bowl.
Add the add the remaining ingredients, accept the creme fraiche. Mix well.
To serve, divide the tuna among the rye crisps. Top with the creme fraiche, a pinch of chives and a final squeeze of lemon juice.
Top tip : only squeeze over the lemon right before serving, otherwise the citrus will begin to cook the fish and turn it opaque.
Grey Goose Fruits de Fête
This is my favourite versions of bucks fizz. It is made with Grey Goose Le Citron, pineapple, clementine and the all important fizz of Champagne.
- 60ml Grey Goose Le Citron
- 30ml pineapple juice
- 30ml clementine juice (or orange juice)
- 150ml Champagne
Chill all the ingredients, then build them straight into a champagne glass, finishing with the bubbles. Stir and serve.