The Perfect Party Canapés

Ideal for serving with drinks before a meal, or enjoying a light bite with friends in the summer sunshine!

Canapés have a particularly rich history behind them, having been served for centuries. Traditionally they were presented during cocktail hour in high class establishments – a traditional canapé had to be either salty or spicy in order to encourage guests to drink more! Bars sell salted peanuts and highly flavoured crisps for the same reason (but let’s be honest, canapés are much classier).

A traditional canapé should be eaten in one or two small bites. Typically, Crostini is the most common type of base; either toasted slices of small baguette, or slices of sourdough, cut into squares or rectangles and toasted. In any case, if you have guests for a drink – maybe even before a night out – it’s always nice to offer a little nibble as a preamble to the evening ahead!

Below you’ll find six different recipes to choose from for your canapés – so you can take your pick of your favourites!

Tips: If you’re making these at home it isn’t always necessary to keep to the salty and spicy rules, and it’s worth remembering that if you’re serving a delicate drink – such as Prosecco – then a very highly flavoured nibble can spoil the flavour of your drinks.

When you have decided on your topping for your canapés, I always find it’s much quicker to create them in a ‘production line’ method. For example, spread ALL the Crostini with goats cheese, then add the onion marmalade on all of them, then finally the mushrooms on all of them, rather than doing all three toppings on each canapé one at a time. Trust me, doing it that way will take you much longer!

 

Canapés – At a Glance:

  • Perfect for Beginners!
  • Preparation: This varies – see below!
  • Baking time: This varies – see below!
  • Serves: Generally, around 6

You’ll Need:

These vary – see below!

Ingredients:

You guessed it, these vary – see below!

Method:

You’ll be happy to hear that all of these are really simple to put together, and the ingredients can be bought easily in the supermarket. Another bonus is that any preparation can be done beforehand, so you only need to put them together quickly just before your guests arrive. That means they stay nice and fresh, and the Crostini remain crisp and easy to pick up – but do remember to provide napkins too!

I’ve given you six ideas here, but usually you only need to make three varieties for an adequate selection. If guests are arriving at various different times, you might find it easier to serve a cold selection, but I’ve also included a couple of ideas for warm canapés too – just for a bit of variety! As a rough guide you need to allow for each person to have two samples of each type of canapé you make, plus a few extra, of course.

First, the Crostini!

 

Crostini – At A Glance:

  • Perfect for Beginners!
  • Preparation: 10 Minutes
  • Serves: Allow 3 or 4 for each person

You’ll Need

  • Baking tray
  • Pasty brush

Ingredients:

  • Small baguette

OR

  • A loaf of sourdough or soda bread

Method:

Crostini bases can be made a couple of days in advance, and kept in an airtight container. First, cut thin rounds from a small baguette. Alternatively, take a sourdough loaf, cut into slices and then make them into bite-size rectangles or squares. They don’t have to be perfect in shape.

Spread them on the lightly oiled baking tray, and brush the top lightly with olive oil. Then bake them in the oven (180oC / Gas Mark 4) for about 7 minutes. A quick word of advice here – set a timer. I’ve thrown away quite a few trays of burnt Crostini over the years!! Once baked, allow them to cool thoroughly, then keep them in an airtight container until you’re ready to apply the topping.

NB: If you haven’t got time to make Crostini and can’t find them in the supermarket, then any small delicately flavoured savoury biscuit will suffice. You’ve got cold topping options and warm topping options – see below!

 

Cold Topping Options:

 

1. Smoked Salmon & Shrimp – At A Glance:

  • Perfect for Beginners!
  • Preparation: 15 minutes
  • Serves: 6

You’ll Need:

  • Crostini
  • Bowl
  • Spoons

Ingredients:

  • 100g Crème Fraiche
  • ½ teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
  • ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped dill (approx half a standard supermarket bunch)
  • 2/3 slices smoked salmon
  • Small pot of shrimps (ready to eat) 

Method:

In your bowl, mix together the Crème Fraiche with the wholegrain mustard and Dijon mustard, a squeeze of lemon to taste, a grind of salt and black pepper and the tablespoon of chopped dill. (But keep some dill back for garnish!) Cut each of your salmon slices into small strips. Next, spread this mixture on the Crostini and top with a small slice of smoked salmon and a teaspoon of shrimps. Garnish with a sprig of the remaining dill.

 

2. Goat’s Cheese, Pesto & Cured Ham – At A Glance:

  • Perfect for Beginners!
  • Preparation: 10 Mins
  • Serves: 6

You’ll Need:

  • Crostini
  • Bowl
  • Spoons
  • A strong piping bag and star nozzle are useful to pipe the goats cheese but not essential

Ingredients:

  • 100g goat’s cheese
  • Small handful of rocket leaves
  • Jar of pesto (green or red)
  • 2/3 slices of cured ham e.g Parma

Method:

Soften the goat’s cheese slightly in a bowl so you can spread it easily on the Crostini, (or pipe) then top with a teaspoon of pesto and some roughly chopped rocket leaves. Then, finish with a twisted piece of Parma ham on top.

 

 

3. Goat’s Cheese, Onion Marmalade & Mushrooms – At A Glance:

  • Perfect for Beginners!
  • Preparation: 15 Mins
  • Serves: 6

You’ll Need:

  • Crostini
  • Frying pan
  • Bowl
  • Spoon

Ingredients:

  • 100g Mushrooms (or shitake if you wish)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of mixed herbs
  • A pinch of Cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons from a jar of onion marmalade
  • 100g goat’s cheese

Method:

Chop the mushrooms into quite small pieces and fry off gently in the olive oil, along with the crushed garlic, salt, mixed herbs and cayenne pepper. Then, allow to cool. Soften the goat’s cheese slightly in a bowl so you can spread it easily on the Crostini, then top with a small spoonful of onion marmalade. Finally, finish with the cooled mushrooms.

 

 

4. Blue Cheese, Parma Ham & Fig – At A Glance:

  • Perfect for Beginners!
  • Preparation: 10 mins
  • Serves: 6

You’ll Need:

  • Bowl
  • Spoon

Ingredients:

  • 100g blue cheese
  • 2/3 slices of cured ham e.g. Parma
  • Figs (fresh or dried)

Method:

First, soften the cheese in a bowl – this is easier when the cheese is at room temperature. Alternatively, pop in the microwave, but for 10 seconds only!. Your newly softened cheese can now be easily spread, so go right ahead. Then, top this with slices of cured ham and either strips of fresh fig (if they’re in season) or strips of dried fig.

 

 

Warm Topping Options:

5. Mini Baked Potatoes – At A Glance:

  • Perfect for Beginners!
  • Preparation: 40 mins
  • Serves: 6

You’ll Need:

  • A deep sided baking tray

Ingredients:

  • 400g baby or miniature Potatoes
  • Oil to coat
  • Salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of soured cream
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Snipped chives

Method:

Put the new potatoes in a deep sided tray and mix with enough oil to coat them all, add a couple of turns of your salt grinder and then the garlic. Bake at 190OC/Gas 5 until they’re golden brown and soft in the centre (which will be approximately 35 minutes). Let them cool for 10-15 minutes, cut a small cross in the top of each and push up from the base to open them up a little. Top with a small blob of soured cream and sprinkle some cayenne pepper and snipped chives on top. A good tip, I always find, is that you can cook the potatoes in advance, then pop them back in the oven to reheat them for 10 minutes before finally finishing with the soured cream.

 

 

6. Paprika Prawns – At A Glance:

  • Perfect for Beginners!
  • Preparation: 25 minutes (including marinading time)
  • Serves: 6

You’ll Need:

  • Frying pan
  • Skewers or party picks to serve
  • A bowl to marinade

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 18 large Prawns
  • 1/2 tablespoon of paprika (sweet, hot or smoked)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil to fry
  • Chives or dill and lemon wedge to serve

Method:

Soak some small skewers in advance (if you don’t have any small wooden skewers, just serve the prawns in a bowl and provide party picks). Mix together the paprika, ground cumin, sesame seeds, chopped garlic, oregano, juice and zest of the lemon. Marinade the prawns for 15 minutes (minimum) at room temperature – you can leave them to marinade for longer but make sure to do so in the fridge! Then, skewer two prawns per stick.

Next, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the prawns for 3-4 minutes, turning part way through. Take care not to put too may in the pan at once, and cook in small batches if needed. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice and snipped chives or dill and serve immediately.

 

 

Personally, I can’t pick my favourites out of all these options, which makes me confident they’ll all be a total hit with your guests! Stay tuned to my social channels for more wonderful recipes – you can find Valley Living on Facebook or on take a quick browse through Instagram!

Audrey Spencer, owner

My passion for cooking stems from my childhood growing up on my family's farm. Mealtimes would often involve being joined by friends, family and neighbours, all eager to enjoy the wonderful farmhouse fayre. As a professional chef I’ve worked in award winning restaurants, boutique country house hotels, and even the Royal Palace! Today, I hope my recipes can help you to enjoy good food, and good company, in style.