Tasty mouthfuls are a welcome sight when socialising and enjoying a tipple. As soon as platters are glimpsed in the distance, necks begin to crane. This is one type of food offering where looks and manageability rule simultaneously.
A canape has to look irresistible but also needs to be easy to eat, often with one hand and involving no risk of embarrassing spillages. A glass, a canape and a napkin can be quite the juggling act.
These canape recipes can be sized according to need. If canapes are being served on platters in a less formal situation or at home, for example, small plates can be offered and people can sit and take their time. A larger cutter can be used for both the croque monsieur and the scallop artichoke canapes while the cauliflower fritters can be formed into any size.
A crispy croque monsieur on toasted challah or brioche with Dijon mustard, melting cheese and good quality ham is a delicious treat at any time but when cut into petite versions and served warm from the pan, they become a very moreish crowd-pleaser. I use gruyere for flavour and also because it melts easily but a combination of gruyere and mozzarella is also very good.
While jerusalem artichokes can be a bit irritating to peel, with all their lumps and bumps, once done and prepared in this way, the result is delicious, interesting and impressive. The pesto adds a fresh watercress flavour and nutty texture and the just cooked scallops finish off the canape with a divine sweetness.
The third canape uses succulent grilled duck breast glazed with pomegranate molasses. Sliced and served on small spiced cauliflower fritters, - this is an appealing combination and always enjoyed for its flavour and unexpectedness. Both the duck and the fritters are very simple to prepare, assemble and keep warm before serving. An extra drizzle of molasses can be used when plated as well as a sprinkle of coriander if desired.
Challah is a traditional Jewish bread with a heavenly buttery texture. It can be substituted with brioche, which is easier to find and just as delicious but slightly sweeter. Jerusalem artichokes look similar to knobbly ginger roots but taste nutty. They are available now at more specialised vege stores and farmers' markets.