Hosting your own dinner party this festive season? Impress your guests with some delicious seasonal canapés.
Created by The Merchant Hotel’s team of experienced chefs, these canapés will give great festive flavour without too much fuss. Perfect for last-minute gatherings, these can be pre-prepared weeks in advance, and assembled and cooked within 10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to socialise rather than being stuck in the kitchen.
Chestnut Arancini, cranberry and pine nut
· 100g Arborio rice
· 400ml vegetable stock
· 1 onion, finely chopped
· 4 garlic cloves
· 5 thyme sprigs
· 150g parmesan grated
· 100g freshly roasted shelled chestnuts
· 100g fresh cranberry
· 40g sugar
· 60g pine nuts, toasted
· 50g sunflower seeds
· 50g pumpkin seeds
· 75g fine breadcrumbs, dried
· 1 egg
· Pinch of salt
· 100g plain flour
1. Begin by cooking the onion in a little oil on the lowest heat setting for 15 minutes. Once translucent, add the garlic and thyme and allow to infuse for around 3 minutes
2. Add the Arborio rice and half of the vegetable stock, and increase the heat a little until simmering. Stir every few minutes with a spatula to ensure that the rice is binding well with the stock.
3. Once the initial stock has been absorbed, start to add the remainder in two stages. Before adding the last measure of stock, taste a grain of rice to ensure that the rice is getting soft enough but not stodgy.
4. When the consistency is creamy but firm remove from the heat, add the chestnuts and parmesan and season with salt.
5. Cool the risotto to fridge temperature and shape it into balls of around 3cm in diameter.
6. Place the pumpkin seed and sunflower seeds in a roasting tray and cook at 100°C for 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then place them in a pestle and mortar, crushing them into smaller pieces.
7. Add the cranberries to a small pan with the sugar and 1-2 tbsp of water. Heat the pan until the cranberries are punctured and staring to reduce to a consistency similar to chutney. Toast the pine nuts, grind them into smaller pieces in a pestle and mortar, and mix with the cranberry. This can be stored in a jar and preserved for 1 month
8. Place the flour in one bowl, the bread and seed mix in a separate bowl, and whisk an egg in a final bowl. Place each risotto ball into the flour, then the egg and finally in the bread and seed mix. It is important to completely cover the surface in bread and seed. Once coated, these can be fried in a non-stick pan, or frozen to use as required. If cooking from frozen, colour in a pan before placing in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes.
Turkey, pancetta and sage pithivier
· 2 turkey legs
· 100g smoked pancetta
· 1 bunch of sage
· 1 litre duck fat
· 100g sea salt
· 1 garlic clove, peeled
· Zest of 1 orange
· 1 sprig of rosemary
· 4 sheets puff pastry- approximately 30cm x30cm
· 4 egg yolks, whisked
1. Firstly create the marinade for the turkey legs by combining sea salt, rosemary, roughly chopped garlic and orange zest. Pack the marinade tightly around the meat on each leg.
2. Cover and place in the fridge for 6 hours. Remove and rinse the marinade off the meat
3. Place in a deep roasting tray or casserole dish and cover with duck fat. This can be topped up with vegetable oil if necessary. Cook at 100°C for 4-5 hours until the meat falls from the bone.
4. Allow the meat to cool at room temperature until the meat can be removed by hand.
5. Place all of the meat in a bowl. Chop the smoked pancetta into a small dice- approximately 0.5cm. Shred 12 sage leaves very finely with a knife. Add 2-3 spoonfuls of duck fat to the mixture to moisten it.
6. Lay the puff pastry on a flat surface and start to shape the turkey mixture into spheres that are 3-3.5cm in diameter. Place the balls onto the puff pastry, allowing a 3cm gap between them or the edge of the pastry.
7. Brush the visible parts of the pastry with the egg yolk and place another sheet of pastry on top, allowing the meat to be sandwiched between the two sheets.
8. Using a round cutter that is 0.5cm wider than the turkey balls, cut each one out and press the pastry together firmly, sealing the meat inside a pastry parcel.
9. Brush the pastry parcels with egg yolk to create a dark glaze when cooked.
10. At this stage, these parcels can either be cooked in the oven or frozen to use at a later date.
From fresh, cooking in the oven at 190°C until golden. From frozen, drop the temperature to 180°C.
Top tip: To garnish, pick the smallest of the sage leaves and fry them on a low heat in oil until crispy. The cooking process removes the intense flavour and adds a brilliant freshness to the canapé.
Clove and nutmeg pinwheels, goats cheese, pine needle and balsamic
· 1 sheet puff pastry (approx 30cmx30cm)
· 1 egg yolk, whisked
· 10g sea salt
· 6 cloves
· 1 whole nutmeg
· Small handful of pine needles from your Christmas tree
· 100ml balsamic vinegar
· 20g sugar
· 200g goat’s cheese with the rind removed
1. Place the puff pastry on a flat surface and brush with egg yolk
2. Grate the cloves over the puff pastry, and repeat the process with half of the nutmeg. Flake sea salt over the pastry.
3. Roll the pastry into a tight cylinder and place in the fridge until firm.
4. Once firm, cut the pastry into 1cm discs. Each disc will have a pinwheel effect, created from the spices and salt.
5. Place the discs flat on a flour-covered surface and roll with a rolling pin until as thing and flat as possible.
6. Place on a non-stick tray and cook at 180°C until golden and crispy.
7. Remove from the oven, cool and store in an airtight tin.
8. In a small pan, gently heat the balsamic, sugar and pine needles. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat and place in a jar with a lid. Refrigerate for a few days to infuse the flavours.
9. To assemble, place a piece of goat’s cheese on top of the pastry and make a dimple in the middle of it. Using a blowtorch, apply the flame to the top of the cheese until it smoulders, place a drop of the pine needle balsamic into the dimple and serve.
Top tip: If you don't already own a blow torch, invest in one! It has countless uses in an accomplished kitchen!