Hopefully you will have recovered from the Christmas Day feast, and had a few days to relax and regroup – because now, as the New Year approaches, it's party time again.
Whether you're planning a big gathering or something more intimate, festive canapés don't have to be fiddly affairs that take a lot of preparation; you can actually knock up simple and tasty snacks in next to no time with some off-the-shelf ingredients. The main thing is to have fun preparing these snacks – and they are sure to impress your guests, too.
However good you are at carving the bird, there will always be plenty of meat left on the turkey that you didn't even know was there. If you look carefully in between the bones on the carcass, you will discover a good few bits and pieces of meat with which you can make these delicious little croquettes.
You can even use some bits of stuffing in the mix if you want to continue with the Christmas flavours. If you have leftover cranberry sauce, you can make a great accompanying dip; just adjust the consistency with a little water.
300-400g floury potatoes for mashing
150-200g cooked turkey meat, chopped into small pieces
60-80g leftover stuffing, broken into small pieces
2 small eggs, beaten
50-60g fresh white breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Cranberry sauce, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Bake the potatoes in their skins until soft for 1-1½ hours depending on size. Remove from thef oven, cut in half and leave to cool for a while.
Scoop out the flesh and mash it until smooth. A potato ricer is designed for just this purpose and is an invaluable kitchen gadget, so put it on your shopping list if you haven't got one.
Mix the turkey meat with the potato and season to taste; add the stuffing and any other ingredients. Mould into cylinder shapes about 4cm long and a little slimmer than a wine cork.
Have the flour ready in a dish and carefully roll the croquettes in it, holding them carefully with your fingers and shaking off any excess. Next, roll them in the beaten egg, and finally roll them in the breadcrumbs.
Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fryer. Fry the croquettes a few pieces at a time for 3-4 minutes, until golden, and drain on some kitchen paper. Serve immediately with the cranberry sauce.
Smoked haddock and quails' egg tarts
You can cheat and buy pre-made tiny tarts for these; my favourites are the mini croustades made by Rahms, available at Waitrose.
100-120g natural smoked haddock
10 quails' eggs
100-120ml double cream
1tbsp chopped chervil
Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4.
Simmer the quails' eggs in boiling water for 1½ minutes. The easiest way is to put them in a fryer basket or large slotted spoon and lower into the water, then lift out the basket after the allotted time.
Run them under the cold tap for a couple of minutes and peel carefully. They will need a final rinse to remove any bits of shell stuck to the egg. Then pat them dry.
Poach the smoked haddock in water for 3-4 minutes, then drain. Remove any skin and bones and break the fish into small pieces that will fit into the tarts.
Simmer the cream until it has reduced by half and thickened, stir in the haddock and chervil, then spoon the haddock into the bottom of the tarts and place the quails' eggs on top. Warm the tarts in the oven for a few minutes, then spoon any excess sauce over the eggs.
Duck ham and Cox's apple
You can use smoked duck breast for this, or duck ham, which comes in different guises from simply cured to cured and smoked.
2-3 cured duck breasts, sliced very thinly
3 or 4 Cox's or other dessert apples
Cut the apples into 5cm x ½cm-thick sticks. Wrap a slice of duck around a bundle of 3-4 sticks of apple so that you can just see the ends of the apple.
Cheese and celery
Try to use a soft, Swiss-style cheese such as gruyère or emmenthal and keep it in a warm place – near a radiator, or in a very low oven – just before you wrap it around the celery.
10 slices of soft Swiss cheese
3-4 sticks of celery, peeled if necessary
1tbsp grape must mustard or grain mustard
Cut the celery into 5cm long x 1cm wide sticks. Cut the cheese into large enough pieces that will wrap around the celery with the ends of the celery showing. Warm the cheese as above then wrap around the celery and spoon a little of the mustard on top.
I've used the same tart cases here as I did for the quails' egg tarts recipe on the previous page, as they are perfect for both sweet and savoury recipes.
110g golden syrup
30g dark treacle
110ml double cream
30g fresh white breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
½tbsp lemon juice
20 mini tart cases
Extra thick or clotted cream, to serve
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing the golden syrup, treacle, double cream, breadcrumbs and beaten egg together, and then stir in the lemon juice.
Fill the tart cases with the mixture and bake for 10-15 minutes; then leave to cool. Serve warm with some good extra-thick or clotted cream.