With the resurgence of the craft cocktail comes the resurgence of quality party food ideas. I’m not talking about the stale, communal peanut bowls or greasy “bar food.”
These canapé techniques and cooking recipes are more refined to match a fine dining experience. If you are ready for the challenge to create your bite-sized delights, then take notes from the tips below to prepare for a private chef worthy canapé extravaganza.
1. The Basic Formula – A Classic & Easy Canapé
Canapé comes from the French words for “couch” as a garnish looks like as it sits on bread. Count on the French to craft dainty dishes from stale bread and a not so glamorous visual. The basic formula is bread + a creamy spread (for stickiness) + a main item + a garnish.
How it works:
Flatten toasted white bread with the back of a clean pan. Use a cookie cutter or the top of a tea cup to cut 5 cm circles. Spread a teaspoon of cream cheese on each circle leaving room at the edges for guests to easily hold the canapé. Slice cured salmon into 5 cm pieces. Fold salmon in half and place on top. Garnish with diced chives.
2. Twist on the Traditional
Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time for a twist. You can mix or match the ingredients for a custom spin or literally twist things up by playing with shapes and texture. For a twist on the cured salmon classic, try Thomas Keller inspired salmon tartare cornets.
How it works:
Mix together 65 grams of all purpose flour, 1 heaping tablespoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Then, whisk in 2 large egg whites and 8 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter until the batter is smooth. Preheat oven to 205 °C. Create 10 cm circles on the back of Silpat and fill with batter. Sprinkle each cornet with a pinch of black sesame seeds. Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes. Using a 10 cm cone mould, fold the batter around the cone mould to create the cornets. When all the cornets are rolled, return them to the oven and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
With a sharp knife, finely mince 4 oz of raw salmon. Mix salmon with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, 1.5 teaspoons of diced chives, 1.5 teaspoons of minced shallots, and .5 teaspoons of kosher salt. Chill mixture for at least 30 minutes. Fill the bottom third of the cornets with crème fraiche and the rest with salmon mixture. Garnish with salmon roe and chives.
3. Pairing – Invent a cocktail
Create a signature cocktail that matches a variety of canapés to keep your sanity intact and stress levels low. What’s a fancy party without bubbles? And it just so happens sparkling white wine pairs well with savoury food recipes, cured salmon. Mimic the same experience as dinner out in Singapore with the perfect food and drink pairing with morbid sounding yet sweet tasting Death in Venice Cocktail.
How it works:
Pour 15 ml of Campari into a champagne flute. Add 3 dashes of grapefruit bitters and top with 125 ml of Prosecco, stir gently. Finish with an orange twist.
Get some more cocktail inspiration with 5 Tips to get your Cocktail Recipes Right.
4. Two P’s – Plating and Presentation
Similar to many party food ideas, the dish should be visually appealing because you there to entertain and intrigue guests – no boring and stale food recipes here. Creating a theme helps keep the presentation cohesive either through colours or styles. Think along the same lines as you would home décor ideas – where do you want to transport your guest?
Speaking of home décor ideas, many of the serving tools are already in your kitchen. Spoons are perfect for serving canapés since they will balance on serving platters and can hold difficult to serve items, such as rice or couscous. Rice can also be used to help serve canapés that do not stand up on their own.
How it works:
Fill a small black bowl or teacup completely with raw rice. Pack down the rice. Place cornets into the rice, pointy side down. While extremely simple, rice makes it easy for any item that needs to standing look appealing and not lying limp on a plate. Also, using serving ware that contrasts the canapé’s colour yet still fits within the theme will provide interest and cohesion simultaneously. The green of chives and bright orange of the salmon roe will pop more so.
5. Short on time? Make the experience interactive
Canapés take time and preparation; however, you still have options if you still want to throw a fabulous party. First, there is no shame in collaborating with a private chef on the menu. They are the professionals after all. An alternative, which requires to guests to do a little work, is a DIY canapé bar for a more interactive experience. This also allows guests to customise their canapé for those with food allergies or restrictions. For an easy and non-traditional twist, try a gua bao inspired bar or simple cheese and wine pairing display.
How it works:
Mix 96 g of flour with 0.5 tablespoon of baking powder, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir in 175 ml of milk and 1 tablespoon of oil. Mix well and divide into 16 balls. Flatten the balls on parchment paper, brush with oil, and fold them in half. Steam buns for 12 minutes. While buns are steaming, slice 0.5 kg of precooked pork belly into bite size pieces. Then, sauté pork with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and honey. Keep warm until guests arrive.
Place ground peanuts, sliced chillies, fresh coriander leaves, sliced scallions, and hoisin sauce in separate bowls.
For more party food ideas get inspired by your favourite cooking recipes and go to spot for dinner in Singapore. Just shrink them down a bit and make sure you taste the dishes before you serve. Good food is essential for a canapé hour.