Few things are as effective at crowd control as a platter of canapes. The ultimate in party food keep appetites at bay and needn’t be fussy or stressful. This foursome are a doddle to make and even easier to eat. Start 2016 on a food high …

Canapés: guaranteed crowd-pleasers, and excellent for soaking up booze – and any leftovers will help with the hangover the next day. Photograph: Jill Mead for the Guardian

In our monkey-puzzle tree of a blended family, the period between Christmas and New Year is spent on an extended road trip. As soon as my wife and I pull up outside each friend or relative’s house and open the car door, our wolf pack (George 8, Johnny 5, and Dory 3) whoosh inside, savagely rip open presents, gorge on chocolate and then pile back into the car and snore loudly as we move on to the next stop.

On the occasions when we host a Christmas party ourselves, I try to make up for what our spawn have inflicted on others by going to town on the food. This has generally been successful, with the exception of one year when I decided to do canapés of teriyaki offal – dainty pieces of chicken liver and heart grilled on skewers.

I hired the 15-year-old boy next door to hand the canapés around while I worked the stove. Alas, he picked up two trays of skewers that had yet to go under the grill and handed them out to our 50-or-so guests. I can’t say for sure how many politely chewed their way through a stick of raw offal, but no one protested. Either they were all too drunk to notice, or raw chicken hearts make surprisingly good party food.

In case you prefer a more cooked canapé, Jane’s recipes below are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. They’re also excellent for soaking up booze – and any leftovers will help with the hangover the next day.


Porcini arancini

Makes about 20
70g dried porcini, soaked in 400ml boiled water (for at least 30 minutes)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
250g risotto rice
A splash of vermouth or white wine
25g butter
A dash of truffle oil
50g parmesan, finely grated
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Plain flour, for rolling
2 eggs, beaten
Panko breadcrumbs, for rolling
Oil, for deep frying

1 Fry the onion and leek in the butter and oil for about 15 minutes over a low heat without colouring. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquor, and chop finely. Add to the veg along with the rice and turn up the heat. Cook for 2 minutes, season well and add the splash of booze.

2 Slowly add the porcini cooking liquor, stirring after each addition. Cook for about 20 minutes, adding hot veg stock or water if you run out of liquid. When the rice is just cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the butter, parmesan and truffle oil. Season well and transfer to a tray or bowl. Allow to cool.

3 Shape the rice into balls the size of golf balls. Roll first in flour, then egg and finally the panko breadcrumbs. Deep fry in oil at 180C/350F for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown and hot in the middle.

Polenta with jerusalem artichokes and truffle oil

The polenta can be either prepared earlier or you can buy polenta already cooked in a block.

Serves 10-20
3 tbsp olive oil
200g jerusalem artichokes, peeled and chopped
250g cooked polenta
A drizzle of truffle oil, to taste (optional)
Polenta or fine cornmeal, for dusting
1 tbsp chives, chopped
Parmesan, in slivers or grated
Salt and black pepper

1 Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and season well. Stir and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, or until the artichokes are soft. Mash roughly and season well. At this stage, a little truffle oil and parmesan can be added to taste.

2 Cut the block of polenta into rough pieces about 1cm deep. The pieces can be perfectly square, oblongs or random shapes but they need to be small enough to be eaten easily. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and dip your polenta pieces in a little cornmeal. Fry for a minute on each side until golden over a medium heat. This may have to be done in batches, removing the cooked pieces to a tray to keep them warm.

3 Before serving, arrange the polenta on a serving plate and top with a blob of the mashed artichoke. Sprinkle with the parmesan and chives. Drizzle with truffle oil.


These are based on the ones shown to me by Franco Taruschio who ran theWalnut Tree in Abergavenny.

Serves 10-20
150g ricotta cheese
150g mozzarella, grated or finely diced
50g parmesan, grated
50g salami slices, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
Grated nutmeg
Salt and black pepper
20-25 wonton wrappers
Oil for deep frying

1 In a bowl mix together the first five ingredients, then season well with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

2 On a clean tea towel lay out the wonton wrappers. Place 1 tsp cheese mix into each wrapper. Dampen the edges lightly with water using a pastry brush and old over one corner to the other so you have a triangle parcel.

3 Deep–fry a few at a time in oil at about 180C/350F. Remove and drain on kitchen roll before serving.

Smoked salmon with celeriac

Makes 20
2 tsp hot horseradish relish
1 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp capers, rinsed well and chopped
A pinch each of salt and black pepper
200-250g smoked salmon slices
20 rye crackers
100g celeriac, coarsely grated

1 Mix together the first six ingredients and season well.

2 Cut the smoked salmon into small 2-3cm pieces. Place each piece on a cracker and top with the celeriac.

[Source:-the gurdian]

By Adam