I love entertaining over the holidays, and one of my favourite kinds of parties to organise is a canapé party.
I love being able to taste a lot of smaller bites of different dishes so quite often I host a pot luck canapé party (with cocktails, of course!). It’s a great way to cheekily spread the pressure of cooking, but if you choose to go this route, make sure to request a variety of hot and cold dishes as well as dishes for your guests with special diets. Even with just a handful of guests you’ll end up with a nice selection of different dishes to taste.
Whether you’re hosting or just bringing some food for someone else’s party, these three vegetarian recipes can all be made in advance, save some assembly time, so they’re great for the festive season when you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen.
Mini cheese-stuffed breads with cranberries
This dish is inspired by one I first tasted at the legendary Adelaide Hills restaurant, The Uraidla Aristologist, in the early 1990s. At the time I thought it was so innovative to serve a béchamel-like sauce encased in a toasted cube of bread – now the idea seems a little retro! In any case, these are bound to please both your vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests – they are fun to eat and great conversation starters!
Ingredients (makes around 20)
- 1 sandwich loaf with thin crusts (I’ve used a walnut bread here but a rectangular loaf is easier to work with)
- 125g butter, melted
- For the filling:
- 40g butter
- 40g flour
- 175ml milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 70g crumbled goat’s cheese
- 1 tbsp butter
- 20 dried cranberries
To make the bread cases, preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F and prepare a baking tray with parchment paper.
Slice crusts off the bread, then cut it into five thick slices and divide each slice into 4 even-sized cubes. Hollow out the centre of each cube (you can cut a square out of the top of the cube with kitchen scissors then scoop out the middle) to form a space for the filling.
Brush each side of the cubes with the melted butter and bake for 10 minutes, or until the cases are golden brown.Keep an eye on them – they might be ready faster. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
Next you need to make the filling. Bring the milk to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile in a separate pan, melt the butter, then add flour and cook over a medium heat for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour in the boiling milk, a little at a time, whisking to ensure a smooth consistency, until the mixture thickens and all the milk is incorporated.
Return to a medium heat and add the egg yolk, butter and cheese. Stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth and thick.
Turn the oven up to 200ºC/400ºF. Spoon about 2 tsp of the cheese mixture into bread case. You will probably have extra filling, don’t try to use it all just for the sake of it. Place a dried cranberry on top of each bread case.
Place the filled cases on the baking tray and bake until the filling is bubbling and golden on the top, around 5-7 minutes. If you like the top a little more golden, you can finish them under the grill (broiler) for a couple of minutes.
Horseradish devilled eggs
Devilled eggs are so retro but they are great kitsch party food. Switch up the filling to include an unexpected flavour like horseradish for a fun take on a classic.
Ingredients (makes 12)
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- Cayenne pepper, for garnish
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped chives, for garnish
Carefully scoop the egg yolks into a small bowl, set the whites on a serving plate and cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. Mash the yolks, mayonnaise and horseradish until smooth. Using a piping bag or a teaspoon, fill the hollows of the whites and sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and top with chives.
Mini festive frittatas
These mini frittatas look the part for the holidays, filled with red and green peppers. The best thing about them, though? You can prepare everything in advance and bake them as needed. Perfect for holiday entertaining.
Ingredients (makes 12 mini-frittatas)
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- 3 tsp finely grated fresh Parmesan
- 6 tsp finely-diced green pepper
- 6 tsp finely-diced red pepper
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Lightly oil the muffin tin or brush with melted butter. Whisk the eggs and milk with the Parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Carefully pour the mixture into the muffin tins, filling about ¾ full.
Divide the green and red pepper between the muffin tins and bake for 12-15 minutes until the top is puffy and golden. Carefully remove the frittata from the muffin tins and serve immediately.