Treat your family this Christmas with these fantastic canapés recipes from Claudine’s Kitchen.


Olive & Fig Tapenade

1 cup chopped soft figs (whitworths) or soak dried ones
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts or peacans
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese or soft goats cheese

Chops olives and figs into fine pieces and stir in the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, and cayenne (make sure the herbs are chopped very finely). Add olives and garlic, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to allow flavours to blend.

Spread cheese on crackers (Sainsbury’s melba toast is perfect) spoon on the tapenade and sprinkle with toasted nuts

This is truly yummy!!

Baked Mussels with Chilli, Anchovy and Caper Breadcrumbs

Serves 10-12

3 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, very finely chopped
1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
Pinch of crushed dried chillies
2 anchovy fillets in olive oil (from a can), drained and chopped
50g white breadcrumbs, made from stale bread
1 tbsp capers, drained, rinsed and chopped
1½ tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
1kg mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
50ml dry white wine
½ small lemon

01.Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots, red chilli and dried chillies and cook for 5 minutes, until soft but not browned. Add the anchovies and stir until they have melted. Lower the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs until they have absorbed all the oil, then cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until lightly browned. Stir in the capers, parsley and seasoning. Set aside.
02.Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Discard any cleaned mussels that are cracked or those that don’t close when given a tap on the work surface.
03.Heat a large saucepan over a high heat. Add the mussels and wine, cover and cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes, shaking the pan now and then, until they have just started to open. Drain the mussels in a colander and leave to cool slightly. Discard any that remain closed, then tear the remaining shells apart, discarding the empty half. Lay the remaining mussels in their shells on a baking tray.
04.Spoon a little of the breadcrumb mix on top of each mussel. Drizzle with 2-3 drops of lemon juice. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 3 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool for one minute before serving, so not to burn your guests!

Horseradish Blinis with Buttered Beetroot and Smoked Mackerel

Makes about 32

These fish blinis are great to serve at a party or as a dinner party starter.
You can make your own blinis or buy some as readily available at this time of year

50g buckwheat flour (also sold as farine de blé noir)
115g strong white bread flour
1 tsp fine salt
5g fast-action dried yeast
160ml crème fraîche
160ml whole milk
2 medium free-range eggs, separated
1½ tbsp grated horseradish
Small pinch caster sugar
Vegetable oil for greasing
2-3 peppered smoked mackerel fillets, flaked, for topping
1 lemon to squeeze
Crème fraîche to serve
Small bunch fresh chives, snipped finely, to scatter

For the buttered beetroot
50g unsalted butter
2 large raw beetroot (about 150g), peeled and coarsely grated

01.To make the blinis, put the flours with the salt in a bowl. Stir in the yeast and make a well in the centre. Gently heat the crème fraîche and milk in a pan until lukewarm. Add the egg yolks to the warm mixture, stir together, then pour into the well. Whisk with a balloon whisk until the batter is smooth. Cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm for 45 minutes until thick and frothy.
02.In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric hand mixer to medium peaks, then fold them into the batter, together with the horseradish and caster sugar.
03.Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and lightly grease with vegetable oil. Drop 1⁄2 tablespoons of the batter, spaced apart, into the pan and cook for a minute or so until golden brown underneath. Flip, cook for a further minute until golden, then cool on a rack. Repeat in batches until all the batter is used.
04.Just before you’re ready to serve, make the beetroot. Melt the butter in a saucepan and, when starting to sizzle, add the beetroot, season well and toss in the butter to coat. Cook for just a minute until hot but still crunchy, then remove from the heat. Top the blinis with a spoonful of beetroot and some smoked mackerel, then squeeze over a little lemon juice. Add a dollop of crème fraîche, scatter chives over and serve immediately.

Cheese and Rosemary Sables

Makes about 65 sablés

These buttery, crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth biscuits make great cheesy vegetarian canapés to serve with drinks. They also make a brilliant Christmas gift.

175g plain flour, plus extra to dust
½ level tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp English mustard powder
150g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
75g mature cheddar, finely grated
75g parmesan, finely grated
1 medium free-range egg, beaten
75g walnut pieces, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Sea salt flakes for sprinkling

01.Put the flour, salt, cayenne pepper, mustard powder and butter into a food processor and mix together until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the grated cheeses and 1 tsp cold water, then blend briefly using the pulse button until the mixture comes together into a ball.
02.Tip the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half and, with lightly floured hands, shape it into two 3cm thick logs. Wrap them first in squares of baking paper, then cling film and chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours until very firm.
03.Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Unwrap the logs, brush with the beaten egg, then roll in the chopped walnuts, pressing them on firmly by hand. Cut the logs into 4-5mm slices and place the biscuits about 3cm apart on baking trays lined with baking paper.
04.Brush the tops of the biscuits very lightly with the beaten egg, then sprinkle some with the chopped rosemary and some with sea salt flakes. Bake for 11-12 minutes until richly golden brown. Remove and leave to cool on the baking trays, then store in an airtight tin.

Crab Toasts

Makes 18

8-10 slices good quality white bread (the team used sourdough)
Olive oil for brushing
1 ripe avocado
Finely grated zest and juice ½ lemon, plus extra juice
100g brown crabmeat
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
80g mayonnaise
Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped, plus extra to garnish

01.Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/ gas 6 and put a baking sheet inside to heat up. Using a 3cm cookie cutter, stamp out 18 circles from the bread. Flatten slightly, brush with oil, then toast in the oven for about 5 minutes or until golden and crisp.
02.Stone and peel the avocado, then mash with the zest and juice of 1⁄2 lemon, the crab, chilli, mayo and coriander. Season to taste, then add more lemon juice if it’s too rich.
03.Prepare the mini toasts up to 48 hours in advance, then keep them in an airtight container. Make the crab mix and keep covered in the fridge 1-2 hours beforehand but no more. Bring to room temperature to serve. Top the toasts with the crab mixture and a sprig of coriander.

Beetroot and Goats Cheese Cups

Makes 24

These great-tasting, no-cook canapés are quick to assemble at the last minute, suitable for veggies and they look gorgeous. The perfect party food? We think so.

4 cooked beetroot
1 garlic clove
50g Greek yogurt
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
40g fresh breadcrumbs
40g chopped toasted hazelnuts or walnuts
150g very soft, fresh rindless goat’s cheese ( I use Chavroux)
24 mini croustade cups (I used Rahm’s, from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado)
Fresh coriander leaf, to garnish

01.In a food processor, whizz the beetroot with the garlic clove, Greek yogurt, pomegranate molasses, fresh breadcrumbs, hazelnuts and seasoning to form a coarse paste.
02.Put the goat’s cheese in a piping bag, then half-fill the croustade cups .
03.Top with spoonfuls of the beetroot paste, then garnish each with a fresh coriander leaf. Serve straightaway, or keep the beetroot paste in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days, then assemble at the last minute.

Salami-wrapped Griddled Fennel

Makes about 16

1 large fennel bulb or you could use Jerusalem artichokes cut into wedges and roasted – yum!
Juice from 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
250g bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls)
About 70g salami, thinly sliced
Fresh basil leaves to serve

01.Heat a griddle pan over a high heat. Slice the fennel bulb into 3cm chunks. Squeeze over lemon juice and toss with oil, then season. Griddle the fennel, turning occasionally, until soft and starting to blacken.
02.Tip the fennel into a bowl to cool slightly. Take a piece of fennel and a piece of mozzarella ball and wrap in a slice of salami. Keep wrapping until all the salami is used up.
03.Griddle the wraps until crisp, put on a plate to cool slightly, then serve with cocktail sticks and a sprinkling of sea salt and basil leaves.

Pork Larb in Baby Gem

Makes about 30

2 tbsp Thai jasmine or basmati rice
½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed and sliced
2 shallots, sliced
300g pork mince
Small bunch of fresh mint, shredded, plus extra leaves, for garnishing
Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped Juice of 1 lime, to taste
2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
1½ tsp caster sugar, to taste
3 spring onions, finely sliced
4 little gem lettuces, leaves separated

01.Toast the rice in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, for about 4 minutes, until toasty brown then cool. Roughly crush in a pestle and mortar.
02.Place a wok or wide frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, chilli, lemongrass and shallots and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the pork and stir-fry for 3 minutes, until cooked. Add the herbs, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and most of the onions. Cook for a further minute to cook off the liquid. Cool. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more sugar, lime juice or fish sauce.
03.Pile a spoonful of pork larb into each lettuce leaf. Top with a sprinkling of toasted rice, mint leaves and the remaining onions.

Smoked Haddock and Leek Bushetta Toasts

Serves 16

300ml whole milk
3 fresh bay leaves
8 black peppercorns
400g piece thick undyed smoked haddock fillet, skin on
65g butter, plus extra for spreading
600g large leeks, cleaned (see box, left) and cut into 1cm slices
25g plain flour
150ml double cream
16 toasted baguette slices
50g extra-mature Cheddar, grated

01.Put the milk, bay leaves, peppercorns and fish into a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave for 3-4 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Lift the fish onto a plate and cool slightly. Break it into large flakes, discarding the skin and any bones. Strain the milk into a bowl. Set aside.
02.Preheat the grill to high. Melt the butter in a pan, add the leeks, cover and cook gently for 4-5 minutes until just tender. Uncover and stir in the flour, 160ml of the reserved milk and the cream. Bring to a simmer, stirring, then cook for another 2-3 minutes until thickened. Season, then stir in the flaked smoked haddock. This can be made earlier and chilled
03.Grill the bread on both sides until golden, remove and spread with butter. Spoon the haddock and leek mixture on top, completely covering the toast. Sprinkle with the cheese and grill for 3-4 minutes until golden

Speck with Celeriac Remoulade on Pumpernickel Squares

Makes 24 canapés

½ a celeriac grated
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
A handful of chopped gherkins
1 tbsp of chopped capers
A good squeeze of lemon juice
Fresh grinded black pepper
Small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Slices of pumpernickel bread
Speck or other smoked ham

01.For the remoulade, Grated the celeriac into matchsticks. Mix with the sour cream, Dijon mustard, gherkins, capers lemon juice, parsley and pepper. Then chill. (this can be made a day in advance)
02.Cut the slices of pumpernickel bread into 24 bite-size squares, then spoon a pile of remoulade onto each one. Top each with a sliver of speck or other smoked ham, then serve straightaway.