Mega bites: Mark Hix's canapés are big on flavour and easy on the eye

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Canapés may look fiddly, but can be simplicity itself to rustle up.

With our recent appalling weather, it looks like cocktail parties in the garden are off the menu this year. But that shouldn't stop us from entertaining friends over the summer, and canapés can be a lot easier to rustle up than you might imagine. Canapés need to have big, well-balanced flavours; so often you go to a party and the snacks taste of nothing. Also I'm not a big fan of those really tiny canapés – I like to make them a bit larger.

Plantain crisps with guacamole and salsa

Serves 10-20

1 plantain, with the skin on, cut into thin slices
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
1 large ripe avocado or two small ones
The juice of half a lime
½tbsp chopped chives
½tbsp crème fraîche
Sea salt
A good pinch of pimenton
For the salsa
1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
½tbsp olive oil

Heat a centimetre or so of the oil in a frying pan and cook the plantain slices for a couple of minutes on each side until crisp, remove from the pan and transfer on to some kitchen paper and scatter with a little salt. Mash up the avocado with the lime, chives and crème fraîche and season with salt and pimenton. For the salsa, heat the oil in a pan, cook the chilli for 10 seconds; remove from the heat. Spoon about a teaspoon of the avocado mixture on to each slice of plantain and sprinkle a little chilli salsa on top.

Tomato and basil tarts

Serves about 10

You need to have good all-butter puff pastry for this recipe, and it's easy to get hold of in the shops.

Buy the largest cherry tomatoes you can find to make these canapés.
150g of butter puff pastry, rolled to about ¼cm thick
5 or 6 large cherry tomatoes
1tbsp tomato purée
A few basil leaves finely chopped or blended with a little olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and lay it on a baking tray.

Select a round pastry cutter a little larger than the tomatoes and cut as many discs as you can on the baking tray. Then carefully remove the trimmings, leaving the discs on the tray.

Roll the trimmings up into a ball, and freeze for use another day.

Bake the discs for about 6-7 minutes until they begin to colour, then take the baking tray out of the oven and flip the pastry discs over with a spatula or palette knife and pat them down a bit to prevent them rising.

Cut each cherry tomato into four slices, spread a thin layer of the tomato paste on to the pastry and place the slice of tomato on top. Return to the oven for about 5-6 minutes then spoon a little of the basil on and serve.

Courgette and feta tarts

Serves about 10

The natural shape of a slice of courgette makes it perfect for picking up and popping in your mouth as a little snack. You can top the courgettes with whatever you fancy but the feta and mint combination works really well and tastes of summer.

1 medium-sized courgette
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g feta cheese
A few mint leaves, finely chopped
½tbsp olive oil
A good squeeze of lemon juice

Preheat a ribbed griddle pan and lightly oil it. Cut the courgettes into 1-1½cm-thick slices, season and griddle them for about 2 minutes on each side then transfer to a tray and leave to cool.

Chop the feta as finely as you can and mix with the mint, olive oil and lemon and season. Spoon on to the courgettes and serve.

Lamb with cucumber and mint

Serves about 10

The best cut for this is a boneless rump of lamb as it's always tender and is a nice compact cut to slice when it's cold.

1 rump of lamb, off the bone and fat removed
A little vegetable or corn oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Half a cucumber
20 or so mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Season the lamb, heat a little oil in a frying pan and brown the lamb on all sides then transfer to the oven and cook for about 7-8 minutes, keeping the meat nice and rare, then remove from the oven and leave to cool. Meanwhile cut the cucumber into 3-4cm lengths, or 1cm or so longer than the depth of the lamb so that when they are wrapped you will still be able to see the cucumber.

Stand the cucumber upright and cut down into four pieces around the seeds. Cut the pieces into fairly regular batons and put to one side.

Slice the lamb as thinly as possible and lay the slices on a chopping board. Lay about 3 or 4 batons on each slice of lamb with one or two mint leaves and roll them up. You can serve these as they are, or with a little blob of mint sauce or jelly if you wish.

Baked potato with smoked mackerel and horseradish

Serves about 10

Little baked new potatoes make delicious canapés and you can use your imagination and fill them with whatever you want – from caviar to smoked mackerel.

Try to buy the larger new potatoes so that you can get two canapés out of one potato.

10 large new potatoes
30-40g butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp chopped chives
1 smoked mackerel fillet, skinned
1tbsp or so of freshly grated horseradish

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Bake the potatoes for about 20-30 minutes, then remove them from the oven, cut them in half and leave them until they are cool enough to handle. Scoop out the potato and return the potato shells to the oven for 10 minutes to crisp up.

Meanwhile mash the potato with the butter and chives and a little of the horseradish and season.

Refill the potatoes, break a piece of the mackerel and lay on top and scatter with the horseradish.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own