I adore nibbly food and am always trying out ideas and flavours to ring the changes. These two different canapés use a very light and crumbly shortcrust pastry, made with just a little Parmesan cheese. I filled half of the cooked pastry shells with a rich, smokey aubergine filling (baba ghanoush) and the rest with an intensely flavoured mushroom filling (recipe below).
I use mini muffin tins for these canapés and a wooden tamper; a wonderfully low-tech gadget, you just put a small ball of pastry into each muffin hole (about 6g pastry per hole), flour the tamper and push down on each ball. The tamper removes easily, leaving a thin pastry shell that is ready to be baked: prick the pastry with a fork and bake them at 180C(fan) for about 12 minutes until cooked.
You can bake the pastry shells blind using a little foil or greaseproof and some baking beans but baking them just as they are works well here – and if the pastry puffs up a little bit, it is really not the end of the world as it tastes good.
I topped the aubergine canapés with some toasted pine nuts and small pieces of sun-dried tomatoes. The mushroom canapés were topped with some chopped oyster mushrooms that were sauteed in butter, garlic and parsley until browned.
The mushroom filling also makes an excellent quiche filling, when mixed with eggs and milk (or cream).
For even easier canapés you can use these fillings to go on top of bread bases, for which sourdough, rye or any full-flavoured bread is ideal: cut the bread into small squares or circles, lightly bake until crisp. Cool and then top.
- 200g fresh mushrooms, finely chopped (use a mixture of any mushrooms)
- 50g dried mushrooms, rehydrated, drained and chopped
- 1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- a few tarragon leaves, finely chopped
- splash of Madeira or brandy
- a few tablespoons double cream
- juice of half a lemon
- unsalted butter
- salt and pepper
- a generous pinch of smoked paprika
(1) Heat the butter on a shallow pan and add the shallot, garlic and seasoning. Cook gently for about 5 minutes and add the mushrooms are added.
(2) Add the tarragon and the paprika cook for about 15 minutes until the mushrooms start to break down and release their juice. Add a splash of Maderia and bring to the boil, cooking until the liquid had reduced by about half.
(3) Add a splash of double cream and a squirt of lemon juice, and simmer until you get a thick, intensely flavoured mushroom mixture. Add further seasoning if required.
(4) Purée the mixture and leave to cool. Spoon into the pastry cases.