I know it’s only November but if you’re thinking about hosting a Christmas or New Year drinks party then here are a few tried and tested ideas for popular party treats and canapés that I think you’ll find helpful…..and delicious of course!
Most supermarkets stock selections of mini-bites and canapés but it’s hard to beat a homemade selection on flavour or cost, especially if you’ve invited lots of people. Besides, you can always mix bought items like olives, crisps, pretzels (I found lovely snowflake shaped ones last year) and biscuits with homemade ones and still look like you’ve made a massive effort. As I’m usually not trying to compete with hotel-standard fare, I avoid anything that requires me to spend hours in the kitchen, serve it hot, buy special mini-crockery or anything that creates a big mess to clear up afterwards. Dotting a selection of nibbles about the rooms you’re using for your party using festive plates and bowls can make even a humble bowl of peanuts look special – I’ve accumulated lots of pretty glass dishes shaped like stars and serving plates that only come out at Christmas. It’s worth picking them up inexpensively in sales if you’ve got room to store them anyway.
Parmesan Shortbreads are completely moreish and ridiculously easy to make. I keep a roll of the dough in the freezer so I can whip up a batch anytime. I’ve found that Aldi is good place to buy reasonably priced blocks of Parmesan for recipes like this one.
These little baby sausages are probably our most popular drinks party snack. You can find all the different marinades and recipes from this link for Mr. Hubbard’s marinated party sausages.
I usually have to make a lot of these Pigeon Cottage Party Sausage Rolls and make sure there is a big plate in every room – there are never any left over! There are easy to make ahead and freeze well. You can easily mix this up a bit by using different kinds of mixed meat and change the spicing. My core recipe is minced pork, sage and onion but you could replace the sage with e.g. cumin seeds, chilli flakes and a dash of Madras curry powder, or a mix of dried oregano and hot paprika. Try minced lamb instead of pork to create a different flavour experience.
I made this bresaola and grilled artichoke canapé for a new year’s eve party last year and they went down a storm. You’ll need a pack of bresaola slices (I used Sainsbury’s Finest) and a jar of grilled artichokes in olive oil (I found a good and reasonably priced one in Aldi). Slice down each artichoke heart to make 2 or 3 slivers depending on their size and wrap each one tightly in a slice of bresaola – dot a little of the olive oil under the outer edge to ensure they don’t unravel – place them seam-side down on the serving plate. Parma ham or proscuttio wrapped around small pieces of cantaloupe melon or mozzarella pearls are another tasty cured meat canapé and very easy to make.
Pâté or spreads on rye canapés. A pack of good quality German rye bread makes an excellent base for any number of smoked fish or paté canapés. It’s tasty and doesn’t go soggy if you make them ahead like a crisp crostini-type base might. A good canapé should literally be bite-sized and able to be eaten in one mouthful so don’t be tempted to make them too big. Simply cut the bread into small squares and add the pâté and spread/topping of your choice – homemade or good quality shop bought ones.
My favourite rye canapé topping combos are:
- Chicken liver parfait topped with a sliver of cornichon or a few caper berries.
- Smoked mackerel pâté topped with a sliver of cornichon, a few caper berries or a piece of dill pickle.
- Smoked salmon pâté topped a piece of whole smoked salmon, a few caper berries or a piece of dill pickle.
- Cream cheese mixed with finely chopped dill topped with a thin sliver/twist of cucumber (good for vegetarians), a small piece of smoked salmon, a small peeled cooked prawn or tiny cubes of beetroot.
- Cream cheese mixed with a little creamed horseradish topped with a thin sliver or twist of roast beef.
- Black olive tapenade topped with slivers or twists of salami
A pile of mini-poppadoms (most supermarkets make their own brands or stock Pataks) with Indian dips make a tasty alternative to more classical canapés. Serve with dishes of mango and/or lime chutney or finely chopped tomato and red onion spiked with lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper and cumin and finely chopped fresh coriander stalks, or fresh Greek yogurt mixed with finely chopped mint.
Celery bites: wash and de-string the celery sticks. Fill the channel with cream cheese mixed with chopped dill, mint or a little basil pesto. Slice into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a serving plate. Serve chilled.
Cucumber bites: cut the ends off the cucumber and peel it roughly or run the tines of a fork down the length of it to create a striped effect. Cut it in half length-wise. Remove the seeds with a melon baller to create a channel for the filling. Fill the channel with cream cheese mixed with chopped dill, mint or a little basil pesto. Slice into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a serving plate. Serve chilled. You can also peel strips of cucumber lengthwise and create pretty rolls of cucumber ribbons stuffed with the cream cheese or some smoked salmon mousse.