Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Party Food

I have been pretty manic this week with the run up to Christmas, doing dinner and canapé parties for clients. On Thursday me and my sister Anna did canapes for 100 which went really well, never seen so much champagne consumed and "accidental" boob brushing against the poor waitresses. I can now safely say I never want to prep or eat pork belly ever again after an incident trimming the skin and coming across two pig nipples...euggh.

Butterflied Prawn on Spiced Guacamole and Tortilla Crisps

2 mexican flour tortilla wraps, cut into bite-size rounds

If you have a deep fat fryer heat it to about 190˚ and fry them until they are golden all over, only takes about 30 secs and then chuck them onto some kitchen towel. They keep well in an airtight container so you can make them a couple of days ahead.

1-2 ripe Avocados
⅓ red onion finely chopped
teaspoon of finely chopped chili
juice of ½ lime
1-2 tomatoes, de seeded and roughly chopped
chopped coriander

Raw prawns (run a knife down the back if you want to butterfly them)

In a pestle and mortar put half the onion, and half the chili and smash it up a bit to make a rough paste, mix it in with the rest of the ingredients and spoon the avocado in and smush it up a bit.
Add more or less of anything, salt, pepper and the lime will keep it green and tasting fresh.

For the prawns just buy the amount in number that you want to do. I grilled them on a really high heat so they get a bit charred and golden, with a bit of olive oil and salt and leave to cool.

To serve, spoon a small amount of guacamole on the tortilla crisps and just prop the prawn on top, looks nice with a little pinch of chili powder or sprig of coriander.

Mini Cheeseburgers with Spicy Mayo

For the patties (makes around 40 tiny burgers)
500g Lean beef mince
2 Medium red onions, finely diced
4 Slices of bread, crusts removed
1 Egg

Mini burger buns (hard to come by but I ordered them from Paul Rhodes bakery in London and they will deliver for no extra price) otherwise you could attempt to make them.

Grated cheddar/ Red leicester/ Blue cheese
Crispy bacon

Spicy Mayo
4 tsp Mayonnaise
2 tsp Ketchup
Pinch cayenne pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice

Fry the onions up in a splash of olive oil until soft. Put them in a large bowl and leave to cool. Blitz the bread in a food processor until you have fine breadcrumbs. When the onions are cool mix everything together an form your mini burgers, it's easiest to do this with wet hands and make little balls then squash them so they have flat tops and bottoms. Place them on an oiled tray and pop in the fridge for an hour to help them firm up.
Fry the mini burgers on a high heat till they get some colour and then put some cheese on them and place in the oven for about 5-10 mins at 200˚C until they are medium rare and cheese all melty.

To serve spoon some spicy mayo on the buns and but a little piece of lettuce/slice tomato/gherkin on and put the patty inside, best to have a pick stick of some sort to hold them together. Big crowd pleaser!

Asian Style Pork Belly

This was another favourite. Bit of a pain to do unless you are feeling ambitious but seriously delicious.
There are a lot of ingredients here that are difficult to get hold of, so if you don't have the spices substitute for something like chinese 5 spice and use soy instead of shaoxing wine.

Piece of pork belly (either from the butcher or some supermarkets do big bits)
You want about 3cm² per portion for a canape.

Spice mix
1/2 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
4 star anise
1tsp fennel seeds

Braising liquid
1 litre chicken stock
7 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
3 tbsp Shaoxing wine
3 tsp yellow bean paste
3 birdseye chillies deseeded and roughly chopped
2 tbsp coriander roots, washed and sliced roughly

Dipping sauce
3 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp chinese black vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1tsp chili oil
1/2 Thai shallot
2cm piece fresh ginger finely chopped
root and stalk of 1 sprig of coriander finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. To make the spice mix, toast the ingredients in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Leave to cool then grind them to a powder.

For the braising liquid, whisk the stock wine and bean paste together and then add the other ingredients.

To prep, trim off any excess fat on the sides. Get a super sharp knife and score the skin in parallel lines about a 1cm apart and then score 3cm apart the other way, this will help when cutting into portions at the end.

Lift the pork belly into a baking tray that it can fit in snugly and pour in the braising liquid so that it comes to just below the skin.

Roast for 20 mins then turn the temperature down to 160˚C and roast for 2 hours topping up with the braising liquid if it needs.

Remove the meat form the oven and place on a wire rack set inside another baking tray. Put the oven up to 200˚C and when at temp roast in the oven for another 25 mins until the skin is crispy. Remove and let cool, when totally cold slice into your 3cm portions and leave aside. To serve heat in the oven at 200˚C for around 15 mins.

Crostini with Goats Cheese and Pimentos

1 Skinny baguette (makes lots)

Choice of toppings

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Slice the baguette in diagonals nice and thin, this can be hard depending on how soft the bread is so I put it in the freezer until it firms up enough so its easy to slice accurately.
Put all the crostinis in a bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper and toss around.
Lay them on a baking tray and toast them in the oven for about 4-6 mins until they are crispy then leave to cool.

You can put whatever you like on them to serve or just use them as a side to dip into things like humus or guacamole.

I put a slice of goats cheese on and some chopped pimentos which you can buy in a jar, also nice with blue cheese and onion marmalade, paté, rare roast beef and horseradish cream so get as adventurous as you like.

Grilled Cheese and Pickle Fingers

These are pretty trendy in New York, very relaxed and easy to do and delicious, also amazing with gruyere, ham and mustard.

1 bloomer sliced loaf (1 sandwich makes 5-6 fingers)
Grated cheddar cheese
Branston pickle
Melted butter

Lay the bread out and spread on the pickle. I blitzed the branston for a second just to make it a bit smoother and easier to spread but you don't need to. Then sprinkle on a good amount of cheese, brush melted butter on the outside of the sandwich and then place in a hot grill and close. Or if you don't have a grill then you could always try toasting it in the oven.
Leave to cool unless you are serving immediately and then slice into fingers throwing away the end bits. When serving just blast them in the oven until hot and melted and serve away. You can do them a day in advance and just keep them in the fridge until you heat them up. They also freeze well.

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