Once bitten: Mark Hix's guide to autumn's most delicious canapés
Saturday 16 October 2010
Another October, another art fair, and this year once again I will be fronting the pop-up restaurant at the Frieze Art Show in London. Hopefully this time it will be slightly less frantic than it was last year – back then I was running around trying to open my new Brewer Street restaurant at the same time.
Pop-up restaurants are all over London at the moment, but they're hard work, because by the time you have got settled in and things have started to run smoothly, it's time to pack up and go.
You can find our restaurant at Frieze at the far end of the tent. Hanging from a tree in the middle of the restaurant, you'll see a Tracey Emin neon sign saying, in big letters, "HIX". Last year, I was standing next to some German visitors who looked up at the tree knowledgeably and said, "Ah, H9!"
One of the most entertaining aspects of the art fair is the many after-parties given by the artists. Everybody tends to knock back the champagne, which means that the food on offer needs to be fairly substantial; dainty little nibbles just won't do the trick. So for this week I thought I would show you how to make easy and filling canapés which will also come in handy during the approaching Christmas party season.
Trealy Farm cured beef with sweet and sour celery
Trealy Farm (trealy.co.uk) are currently raking in the awards for their fantastic cured meats. We always have a selection of their meats on the menus in our restaurants – and they make great sharing dishes. Their cured meats also lend themselves to making snacks or canapés. I've used their cured beef here, which is like an Italian bresaola, but you could also use Trealy's Bath chaps or cured neck.
16 slices of Trealy farm cured beef (or you can just use bresaola)
For the sweet and sour celery
4 sticks of celery, peeled if it's stringy, with some of the leaves chopped
2 small shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp cider vinegar
1tbsp tomato ketchup
Cut the celery into lengths a little longer than the width of the cured beef slices, then cut them into sticks about one-third of a cm thick. Blanch them in boiling salted water for about a minute or until they are cooked but with a bit of bite, then refresh under the cold tap and drain. Meanwhile, gently cook the shallots for 30 seconds in the olive oil, then add the vinegar and ketchup and simmer on a low heat until it's reduced by half. Mix with the celery sticks and the chopped leaves, season and leave to cool.
To serve, remove the celery sticks from the sauce and lay one or two of them on each slice of beef and roll up tightly; then arrange on a serving dish with the sauce on the side or in a dipping pot.
Lamb cutlets 'Reform'
We often serve these as a snack at art parties, as they are quite easy to eat with your fingers as well as being substantial and tasty. This dish was created by the famous Reform Club chef Alexis Soyer in the 1830s. He was a celebrity chef in his own right and would often be asked to cook for big, high-profile parties.
He also had great connections in the art world, as his wife Elizabeth Jones was an artist and sadly died at the age of 29. I've pared down some of the ingredients of the original recipe and incorporated them in the sauce.
8 small lamb cutlets, French trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
50g cooked ham, very finely chopped
1tbsp chopped parsley
60-70g fresh white breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
A good knob of butter
For the sauce
2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Half a clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
A medium-sized knob of butter
tsp tomato purée
2tbsp tarragon vinegar
1tbsp redcurrant jelly
300ml beef stock
1 small cooked beetroot weighing about 70g, peeled and finely chopped
2 large gherkins, finely chopped
First make the sauce: gently cook the shallots, garlic and cayenne pepper in the butter for 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often. Then add the flour and the tomato purée and stir well. Add the tarragon vinegar and the redcurrant jelly and simmer for about a minute, then slowly add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the sauce is quite thick. Add the beetroot and gherkins and season to taste.
Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs with the ham and parsley. Season the lamb cutlets and pass through the egg then the breadcrumbs. Heat a couple of tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and cook the cutlets for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden, adding the butter towards the end.
Leave to cool a little before serving and arrange the cutlets on a serving dish, with the sauce in a suitable dipping dish.
Quail eggs on toast with chorizo
This is a tasty and interesting snack and a bit of a variation on huevos rancheros. The thought of pan frying quail eggs may seem a little daunting, but it's no more difficult than frying a normal egg.
About 100-120g cooking chorizo with the skins removed
1tbsp finely chopped parsley
16 slices of thin baguette, toasted
16 quail eggs (plus a few more in case of mistakes)
A little olive oil for frying
Chop the chorizo into small pieces, almost breaking it down like mince. Heat a frying pan and cook the chorizo on a medium heat, stirring and breaking it up with the back of the spoon as it's cooking and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes. If there are still some big lumps you can remove them and chop them a bit and return them to the pan. Put to one side and stir in the parsley.
To fry the eggs, carefully crack the eggs using the blade of a small knife, individually into egg cups or small containers. Heat a preferably non-stick frying pan on a low heat with some olive oil. Tip the eggs into the pan, leaving space between them, and cook them for about a minute until they are just slightly under-cooked and will take a little re-heating. Once cooked, transfer each one on to a slice of the toasted baguette with a fish slice and place on a baking tray and continue cooking the rest.
To serve, reheat in a low oven for a few minutes, reheat the chorizo and spoon a little on each egg.
Scrumpy battered Dublin Bay prawns with herb mayonnaise
These are proper deep-fried scampi, a million miles away from the ones with that unidentifiable filling that you find in pubs. I serve this dish in my Selfridges restaurant, using fresh peeled langoustine or Dublin Bay prawn tails, but you can also find good frozen raw scampi tails at fishmongers and in supermarkets.
I only use Doves Farm gluten-free self-raising flour for my batter these days; it stays so much crisper than batter made with normal self-raising flour.
16-24 pieces of raw scampi (Dublin Bay prawn tails)
Plain flour for dusting
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
Lemon wedges to serve
For the sauce
3tbsp homemade or good-quality mayonnaise
1tbsp chopped green herbs (parsley, tarragon, chervil, dill)
Lemon juice to taste
For the batter
120g Doves Farm gluten-free self-raising flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
First make the sauce: mix the mayonnaise and the herbs together, then add lemon juice to taste and season. Transfer to a dipping pot.
To make the batter, put the gluten-free flour into a bowl and whisk in enough cider to make a fairly thick batter, then season to taste.
Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer.
If the scampi have been defrosted, dry them on some kitchen paper, then season and lightly dust with flour.
Dip them into the batter, then carefully drop them into the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden, then drain on kitchen paper. You may need to do this in several batches, depending on how many you are cooking for. You could also cook them all off lightly without colouring them too much and re-dip them in the hot fat when you need them. This is the best way for big numbers, otherwise you will find that your hands are constantly covered in batter.
Serve with the lemon wedges and the herb mayonnaise.
Hoisin chicken wings
I know I gave you a recipe a few weeks back for chicken winglets but this one is quite different.
It's always a good idea to have a bottle of Hoisin sauce handy; it's available in some supermarkets and specialist Chinese food shops. These winglets are the joint attached to the breast bone before the actual wing itself.
16 chicken wings (see above)
150ml Hoisin sauce
2-3 spring onions, sliced thinly on the angle
Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4. Chop the knuckle joint with a heavy knife and push the meat down the bone a little. Mix the Hoisin sauce with the wings and 3-4 tablespoons of water and place in a small roasting tray. Cook for about an hour, basting and turning the wings and adding a little more water if they are drying out. You can also cover them with foil for half the cooking if you wish, then remove it.
Serve with the spring onions scattered over the wings.
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