Archive | November 2013

More finger food party fare

twizzles and wine

Recently a rather refined friend asked me to produce a few delicacies for  a drinks party he was holding. My first thought ( I was a bit pressured  as his call left me two days to produce something) was – mini sausage rolls plus vol-aux-vents and oat cakes with various additions etc. Mini- sausage rolls? That seemed  shamelessly dull !  He could find those himself in M&S or Waitrose . I needed to get a bit more creative.

So, I got down on my hands and knees ( and after congratulating myself I could still do that!). I delved into the back of the corner cupboard. There it was!

P1030070Now – what on earth is that? I hear you cry! It is round – looks like a kids’ toy – has holes in it. it is plastic. It’s leaning on a kettle – to give you an idea of the size.

I was introduced to this piece of equipment in France at a drinks party where a delightful Frenchwoman had produced a plate of ‘mini-croissants’ stuffed with minced pork and decorated with sesame seeds. They were so very delicious I mercilessly devoured a large quantity. I couldn’t imagine how she had the time to produce such a delicacy at a time when several generations were in the throes of a huge party and she was the one with the small children! ( ‘Ah’ I thought’ it is the French way – they know how to do this from birth’)

How she had she had made such tiny artistic little twirls of pastry and still kept the filling inside. After much of the old  vin rouge I ventured to ask her. I can make myself understood in French but was astonished by the reply, which in essence was

‘C’est le Tupperware’

In  a French accent this sounds quite strange ‘ Sayletoopperwaire’ – I reeled momentarily – she couldn’t possibly be saying ‘Tupperware’ !!! She was! Tupperware – the instigator of all those dreadful, intimidating  house parties in the 70s – is massive in France!!! In the homes of the ‘chic’ young Parisienne, plastic gadgetry  is now ‘de rigeur’  Maybe Le Roux keeps one hidden under his counter, just like me?  Who knows?

Let me enlighten you on its uses.

First buy ‘ready made puff pastry’  ( I know you can make this – and you are welcome!) – Roll it out as recommended and then stretch it across the ‘croissant maker’. You can see there are two sides – one makes 16 small croissants and the other 8 larger ones= just choose which you want.

Pastry rolled out over cutter. Use fingers to press it down firmly.

Pastry rolled out over cutter. Use fingers to press it down firmly.

Now, choose your filling.  I have chosen  simple sausage meat as my grandchildren are coming. However there are  many alternatives which are listed later in this post. I’ll just show you how easy it is to create these delicacies. See below – the secret is in the hole!! Just push your finger up and the pastry will roll. How easy is that.

So easy to roll - nothing sticks and no mess

So easy to roll – nothing sticks and no mess

Now, place a little of your chosen filling 1cm below the rim of the pastry.

placing the sausagematCarefully lift up the little twizzley shapes and place on a baking tray. (I like to line with non-stick baking paper)  Brush with beaten egg wash and sprinkle with  sesame if you like seedy things. Put in a hot oven ( 190 ) and  bake for 30 mins.

On the baking sheet and ready for egg wash

On the baking sheet and ready for egg wash

 

 

Keep an eye open after 20 mins as they might brown too fast.  Place on a rack to cool.

Stop your family eating them by shouting ‘ No – no – well just one!’  See just why below…

 

croissant croissant 2

How delicious is that? Here are some other ideas for fillings:-

  • mushroom and bacon in a little white sauce with oregano to taste
  • tiny triangles of ham with grated cheese
  • sweetcorn in cheese sauce with a little chilli
  • cooked apple with nutmeg – sprinkle tops with a little sugar

Just experiment and enjoy !

 

 

 

 

Use your oats – drinks party

What versatile little biscuits those oatcakes are. They can so easily be eaten on their own for those who like their biscuits plain – but also can be decorated in so many different ways. I am a bit peckish I just add a slab of cheese or …..even a  modest sliver.

oatcake mountain

‘ Doctors say that to stay healthy you shouldn’t eat  cheese bigger than the size of a matchbox’

‘ What? – on each cracker?’

However these little morsels are ever adaptable to decoration. They blend so well with a multitude of tastes. Let’s think of a basis of cream cheese and then smoked salmon, prawns, salami slices even caviar (if you must).  Pate of all kinds sits very well – along with a little curl of cucumber. Tuna topped with slices of gherkin, (Primula) cheese from a tube squirted into a circle and trimmed with a little chopped parsley. Your imagination is the only limitation here. Let it roll – make yourself a batch and invite your friends round. They will be so impressed – just don’t tell them how easy it was.

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Market ventures (outside events in the big wide world!)

Sometimes – to publicise our produce, the market itself, and even to sell some wares and maybe to have some fun, we do ‘outside events’. These are not random – we do not set up stalls on roadsides or  take cake stands along the local streets. In fact this would be breaking the law. We receive an invitation and apply to have  a  stand, pay for our place and then follow the instructions of the organisers.   I have helped erect gazebos in the grounds of a Hospice, a Mediaeval Barn in a craft community, alongside a quay and and at a Dorset Nursery so far this year.

We take samples of produce from everyone who shows an interest- obviously a commercial nursery is not going to welcome our plant producers with open arms! The Market pays for our place and we arrive early to set up the stall. The most recent event was at Woodlands Nursery in Dorset. It wasn’t heavily patronised , but we learned something from it and hope to do a Christmas event to coincide with their Christmas tree rush! Sandra had brought along farm-made burgers, sausages  and bacon and had a cooking stand which meant the whole event had a wonderful smell. Nobody left without either trying one of her baps or perhaps one of the tea/coffee girls’ tempting cake slices!  We had the greatest fun and as you can see from the pictures below, some of us didn’t waste a single moment!  Look out for any Country Market events near you – they have a lot to offer .

 

 

Tea girl cutting the cake!

Tea girl cutting the cake!

I only said 'let's have your best side' !

I only said ‘let’s have your best side’ !

 

 

 

 

Never waste a moment !

Never waste a moment !

Sandra helps a customer choose the right sausages.

Sandra helps a customer choose the right sausages.