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  • Writer's pictureDotty

3 Easy Winter Canapé Recipes for Hosting

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

As seen at my Living North Cookery Demo!

It's no secret that canapés are my favourite part of a meal. At friends' weddings I always have one eye on the door to make sure I'm the first to see the waiters appearing with those little trays. In a restaurant there is nothing that makes me happier than when the chef sends out a little "amuse bouche" to begin the meal. The concept of having lots of little different delicious bites to get you excited about the upcoming meal really appeals to my greedy side!

Pea Tartlets and Bruschetta garnished with homegrown edible flowers

As well as loving to eat canapés, I love making them too. Quite frankly, I think they are beautiful. I love designing them, considering how the guest will pick it up, how the colours will compliment one another and which plate, board or slate will best set off the produce. I love garnishing them with tiny springs of herbs or petals from edible flowers. I love how people always exclaim with glee when the appear from the kitchen.

Three types of summer canapés ready to be served

As a Private Chef in the North East a lot of my clients request classic European style dishes for the main meals - steak, slow cooked lamb, or chicken. When you're planning a menu to cater for a broad range of ages and tastes, it can be important to go for tried and tested flavour combinations that everyone can enjoy. That's partly why I always encourage my clients to opt for a selection of canapés to begin their meal. Not only is it a blissful way to begin your evening - sat on the sofa, a crackling fire on, a glass of fizz in hand, relaxing with your loved ones all around you - it's also the opportunity for us to explore some more unique and daring flavour combinations. Whipped feta and pickled radish perhaps, or smoked mozzarella arancini, or North Shields Oysters.

The canapés recipes I'll share with you today are a few comfortable classics with a little twist. Salt cod fritters with a hit of spice, sausage rolls made with lamb and smoky harissa paste, and bruschetta topped with feta and red pepper. They're relatively quick and simple to make and are perfect for the hosting over winter.

Salt Cod Fritters with Curried Aioli

Salt Cod Fritters

Makes approx 30 canapé sized fritters

250g fresh cod

1 tbsp fine salt

250g cold mashed potatoes

2 spring onions, very finely sliced

1 small green chilli, finely chopped

10g fresh parsley, tough stalks removed and finely chopped

5g fresh dill, tough stalks removed and finely chopped

1 tsp turmeric

1 egg

2 tbsp flour

zest 1/2 lime

neutral oil for frying

1) Place the cod in a non-reactive dish and salt liberally with one tbsp fine salt and set aside in the fridge for at least one hour, or as many as four hours. Once the cod has salted, you will notice that some liquid has come out of it. Drain this away, or use some kitchen paper to wipe it dry. Wipe off a little of the excess salt too.

2) Heat the oven to 180c fan. Bake the cod in the oven for 8-10 minutes until it is cooked through and flakes apart when pressed gently.

3)Meanwhile, place the mashed potatoes into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients (except the oil) and mix gently to combine.

4) Flake in the cod (remove the skin if required) and mix again until the fish has flaked up into the mixture. Place the mixture in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes.

5) When you're ready to fry the fritters, pour 1cm neutral oil such as sunflower oil into a frying pan and place over a medium high heat. Drop in a small amount of batter to test the temperature of the oil. Once small bubbles are fizzing around the edges of the mix, the oil is ready to use.

6) Use two teaspoons to shape the fritters before carefully lowering them into the oil. Don't worry about being too precise with the shapes as any little gnarly bits of fritter mixture will become delicious crispy bits during the frying process. After a couple of minutes, carefully flip the fritters over so that they colour on all sides. Remove the cooked morsels with a slotted spoon and place onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain.

7) Serve hot from the fryer with a squeeze of lime juice over them. Or they're particularly good with curried mayonnaise which you can quickly make by mixing a few spoonfuls of mayo from a jar with 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) of madras powder.

Harissa Lamb Sausage Rolls

Harissa Lamb Sausage Rolls

Makes 24

350g lamb mince

1 heaped tbsp Belazu Rose Harissa paste

1 large clove garlic, finely grated

small handful mint, leaves removed from the stalks and finely chopped

1/4 tsp salt

1 pack ready rolled puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

1) Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a try with baking paper. Remove the pastry from the fridge.

2) Place the lamb mince into a bowl with the harissa, grated garlic and chopped mint. Add a pinch of salt then use your hand to squeeze the flavourings into the meat. It's important to squeeze the meat like this rather than using a fork or spoon because you are also aiming to change the consistency of the meat. By squeezing it you break down the meat, creating a texture that more closely resembles sausage meat. Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, set aside whilst you prepare the pastry.

3) Unroll the puff pastry and fold it in half lengthways. Open it out again then cut down the fold, thus creating two long thin rectangles of pastry.

4) Use a spoon or a piping bag to create a sausage of meat down the centre of one of the rectangles. Once use half of the meat at this stage. Fold one long edge up and over the meat, securing it on the other side. Press the pastry together by holding your hand parallel to the meat and using the long flat side of your hand to really press into the meat, defining the sausage shape and sealing the pastry.

5) Use a fork to crimp the edges then egg wash the whole thing before cutting it into bitesized pieces. I recommend cutting it into 12. Place the cut sausage rolls on the prepared tray then repeat with the other half of the pastry and the meat.

6) Bake the rolls in the oven for 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden. Cool slightly before serving.

In my opinion, anything with puff pastry is best if it never hits the fridge, so I recommend baking these just a few minutes before you want to serve them. If you want to get ahead, you can assemble them, cut them and place them on a tray to leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or you can freeze them at this stage (but do defrost them before you bake!). Then all you need to do is egg wash them and pop them in the oven. The smell of these baking will have your guests' mouths watering as soon as they walk through the door.

Whipped Feta Toasts

Whipped Feta and Red Pepper Bruschetta

Makes approx 24

1 part bake white baguette

200g feta cheese

2 tbsp thick greek yogurt

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 preserved roasted red peppers

extra virgin oil and balsamic vinegar to taste


1) Preheat the oven to 180c fan. Take the baguette and slice it into thin pieces, approximately 0.3mm thick if you can. Arrange the slices on a tray and put them in the oven for 6-10 minutes until they dry out. You're not aiming to toast the bread, more just dry it out.

2) To whip the feta, crumble the cheese into a mini blender with the yogurt. Pulse to chop the feta, then add the oil and blend briefly until combined. Take care not to blitz for too long otherwise the cheese can become too loose. Set aside until needed.

3) Drain the peppers from their brine and chop into thin strips. Place in a bowl and marinade with a dash of extra virgin oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of salt if you like, or you could add a dash of paprika.

4) To top the toasts, take a teaspoon and half load it up with cheese. Turn the spoon over so that the cheese is facing down onto the piece of bread, then use the piece of bread to gently wipe the cheese off the spoon. This should create a nice smooth dot of cheese on just half of the toast. Repeat on all of the toasts, before topping with some sliced red pepper and serving.

The whipped feta works so well with many varied toppings so experiment with different flavour combinations! It's also really good for brunch with avocado or poached eggs.

Like these recipes? I love to see your pictures and hear your thoughts so leave me a comment or tag me on social media. Or, for more inspiration head to my sample menus to see what canapés I'm cooking up for my clients this season.

Roasted Tomato Tarts


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