Assuming the Christmas leftovers have been whittled down to a bare minimum, it is time to get our party thinking caps on and decide what we are nibbling to usher in 2016.
Stepping away from the meats, stuffings (the clue is in the name), thick sauces and all of those delish-but-heavy festive foods, I think it is always good to consider seafood and fish as an option. While not always – okay, ever – the cheapest choice, there are ways to make a little go a long way and still impress. Even with something a bit pricey, like crab, there are decent substitutes. And you can always go smaller and one-bite – hoping that one greedy guest doesn’t scoff more than his fair share!
I have deliberately chosen British seafood and fish ingredients – dinky brown Devon shrimps, Scottish smoked salmon and Cornish crab – but purchase as you see fit. Seafood is a brilliant, low-calorie protein choice, and also gives a wide range of B vitamins, Vitamin A, and a host of essential minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and copper. Crab is particularly good for minerals, while salmon is best for health-promoting Omega 3 fatty acids. Just mind the sodium in all seafood.
here's what you'll need...
Crab and Kimchi Toasts (serves 8)
- 100g soft cheese (full-fat or medium fat)
- 100g white crabmeat
- 75g kimchi (found in Chinese and Korean supermarkets)
- 2 small baguettes, thinly sliced
- Garnish: steamed or sauteed samphire or microherbs; Korean red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
Edamame, Ginger and Brown Shrimps Blini (serves 8)
- 150g edamame
- 1 tsp grated fresh gingerroot
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp chopped coriander
- 1 tsp rice vinegar or lime juice
- ½ tsp wasabi (optional)
- Small pinch of salt (optional)
- 1 pack of blini (16 small or 32 cocktail-sized)
- 75g small brown shrimps (these are available cooked and in pots at some supermarkets, otherwise try your fishmonger)
Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Stuffed Baby Mini Potatoes (serves 8)
- 21 very small potatoes (smaller than new potatoes)
- 3-4 slices of smoked salmon, cut into thin strips
- 1 tbsp horseradish cream (more to taste)
- 1 heaped tsp each finely chopped parsley and fennel or dill
- 3-4 small balls of marinated, cooked beetroot, diced into small cubes
here's how it's done...
Crab and Kimchi Toasts
Press most of the liquid from the kimchi and chop very finely in a mini chopper or use a knife. Add the kimchi, soft cheese and crab to a small mixing bowl and mix together with a fork. Cover and refrigerate until use. This mixure can be made up the day ahead but you will want to drain it a little.
When you are ready to serve, toast the bread and top each with a rounded teaspoon of crab mixture and top as desired.
Note: you can cut the soft cheese amount in half for a less creamy and more punchy version.
Edamame, Ginger and Brown Shrimps Blini
Place the edamame in a pan of boiling water and simmer for four minutes. Drain and refresh with cold water, shaking off excess.
Pop everything but the blini and shrimps into a food chopper/mini food processor/blender and process to mostly smooth but still with some texture. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Store in a lidded container until required.
To serve, heat the blinis as directed and top with edamame mixture and divide the shrimps between the blini.
Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Stuffed Baby Mini Potatoes
This is essentially a non-dairy and gluten-free twist on smoked salmon blini. In this simple recipe we use potato mashed with salmon and creamed horseradish to stuff hollowed-out baby potatoes. It really is as simple as that! Top with caviar, dill, fennel fronds or the suggested teensy cubes of marinated cooked beetroot. Serve warm.
Boil the potatoes until done but still firm. The time depends on the size of potato, but my tiny ones cooked in eight minutes. I cook an extra one to test for doneness (hence 21 and not 20). Drain in a colander and let cool enough to handle – about 10 minutes.
When the potatoes have cooled, carefully halve lengthways and use a small spoon to hollow out each half, saving the scooped out potato to a mixing bowl. You will be stuffing 16 potatoes – 32 halves and using the remaining potato “insides” to plump out the filling.
Now mash together the potato and horseradish cream and spoon into the 32 halves. Top with smoked salmon strips and beetroot cubes. You may wish to squeeze over some lemon juice (not shown). These are best served either gently warmed – five minutes at 180C – or at room temperature.
Serve your canapes, enjoy alongside your guests and have a very happy New Year!