Eating in: Go like the tapas

It's much more fun to whip up dozens of dazzling little treats than to sweat over a formal dinner, says Michael Bateman

THE FRENCH have their hors d'oeuvres, the Scandinavians their smorgasbord (open sandwiches), the Brazilians their salgadinhos (savoury bites), the Spanish their tapas and the Italians their antipasto (which means before the meal, and not before the pasta, as many people assume).

And in Britain what do we have? The heart sinks when you consider the fare which has been served up at so many British drinks parties over the years, though we have come some way from the worst - those sausage rolls and stuffed eggs and cheese cubes skewered with pineapple. And at least the ubiquitous bowls of crisps and salted peanuts have been replaced with tortilla chips and tasty dips.

But there is every sign of a sea-change in our habits. Jane Suthering, who teamed up with Savoy chef Anton Edelmann to produce the first classic guide to such appetisers (Canapes and Frivolities, republished in paperback this month, Pavilion pounds 9.99), says this is because people are now focusing more on the food than the drink.

What was once the domain of the banqueting dep- artments of grand hotels (the inspiration for Jane's book) has now extended to catering companies, which vie to outdo each other with ever wilder forms of presentation and more exotic flavours.

The most obvious changes have been in presentation, Jane notes. Traditional bases for such snacks - biscuits, toasts and fried bread - have been exchanged for other vehicles. Morsels are served in salad leaves or wrapped in blanched leaves; cones of greaseproof paper enclose miniature fish and chips (say, three tiny chips and a nugget of deep-fried monkfish), and seasoned oysters offered in their shells. Sushi is increasingly included, the rice and fish wrapped in nori seaweed.

Moister morsels which you can't pick up can be served in cupcake cases. Soft-boiled quails' eggs and caviar may be presented in small teaspoons.

Even the humble crisp is experiencing a make-over: they are now more likely to be made with sweet potato or beetroot, celeriac or fennel. (These are easy to make at home; peel and cut the vegetables into razor-thin slices, mop dry, and fry a few at a time in very hot oil 180C/350F. Drain on absorbent paper, store in an airtight tin and warm through before serving.)

Jane Suthering argues that it's far more rewarding to put your creative efforts into producing dazzling little treats than sweating over a formal dinner, and she points to the stunning examples on this page. These are the work of Maria Ella, 30, the cook at Delfina Studio Cafe (50 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UD: Tel 0171 357 0244), an artists' co-operative situated by London Bridge with its own lunchtime restaurant. These appetisers are served at parties held in the studio in the evenings.

MACKEREL IN CRISPY NOODLES

Makes 10

2-3 small mackerel fillets

75g/3oz seasoned flour

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

pinch paprika

pinch chilli powder

vegetable oil

125g/5oz fine egg noodles

salt

For the pickle

1/2 peeled mooli (white radish), finely shredded

1 cucumber, seeded and julienned

150mI/1/4 pint rice wine vinegar

2cm/3/4in grated ginger

1/2 stick lemon grass, chopped

1/2 chilli, seeded

sugar to taste

For the dressing

olive oil

vegetable oil

lime juice

harissa (the hot Moroccan sauce) or Tabasco

lemon grass, chopped

fish sauce (nam pla)

pinch of sugar

Make the dressing to your own taste, starting with, say, four tablespoons oil, adding a teaspoon or more of the other ingredients.

Make the vegetable pickle 24 hours in advance. Put mooli and cucumber in a jar. Bring the other ingredients to the boil. Add to the jar and leave to absorb flavours.

Drop the noodles into boiling salted water to blanch, and when water boils again, remove and drain.

Cut the mackerel into 5cm (2in) strips. Roll in sifted flour and spices. Shallow fry in hot oil just long enough to set the flour. Drain on absorbent paper. Wrap noodles around the pieces. Fry again in very hot oil until crisp and drain.

Strain the pickled mooli and cucumber, reserving juices for future use. Pour the dressing over. Serve each roll on the pickle on dessertspoons or in shot glasses.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Emo rockers Fall Out Boy

music

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment

film

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links