Recipe: Parma Ham-Wrapped Dates with Balsamic and Honey

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Here’s another winner of a canapé! Also from the Christmas party. These parma ham-wrapped dates with balsamic and honey are a more sophisticated version than the bacon-wrapped dates, and therefore so much better.

The idea is the same; sweet meets salty but with less punchy flavours (i.e. ham instead of bacon) and a little depth from the vinegar and honey. It truly is a winning flavour combination and one of the easiest nibbles you can make, so keep it in mind for the festive season of 2020!

Parma Ham-Wrapped dates with balsamic and honey, makes 20

With inspiration from Sophie Conran’s recipe.

10 dates, stones removed and cut in half lengthways

10 slices Parma Ham or prosciutto, cut in half lengthways 

20 cocktail sticks

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp runny honey

salt and pepper

Wrap each date halve in a thin slice of ham and secure with the cocktail sticks. Place in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with vinegar and honey. Add salt and pepper. Bake in 200C oven for approx 10 minutes. Leave to cool and serve at room temperature. 

Recipe: Caramelised Bacon Bites – Perhaps the Best Canapé Ever!

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When I cook for a party the food do get some attention, but mostly I just want to the food to be one positive element of the party; what’s important is the mix of food, cold drinks, fun people and a nice atmosphere.

But at our Christmas party the week before Christmas a lot of focus was on the food, and one canapé in particular – these caramelised bacon bites! One can say they were the star of the show, the diva in fact, because they were talked about a lot.

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And I understand why, as this little morsel of deliciousness places itself in that perfect intersection between salty and sweet and crispy and chewy, but it also has a hint of spice and a smokiness that makes every single bite (and trust me, you will eat many!) interesting.

So without much further ado, I give you the recipe. It’s the brain child of the fabulous Ina Garten and I salute her for creating something this perfect AND easy to make. But I have made quite a few changes to the recipe. I only omitted one ingredient (pecan nuts as some guests were allergic), but as I made enough of these to feed a small army, I also changed the method (and size) slightly to save time.

Caramelised bacon bites, makes 30

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe.

118 ml light dark brown sugar

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne

2 tbsp good quality maple syrup

225 g fairly thick slices smoked streaky bacon 

Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Cover a large baking tray with parchment paper. 

Mix all the ingredients apart from the bacon in a bowl. Cut each bacon slice into three (I found using scissors the easiest way to do this) and place with space in between on the parchment paper covered tray.

Pat in the sugar mixture in a thin layer on each bacon piece using a teaspoon then bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until browned but not burnt. Leave to cool on the parchment paper. Serve at room temperature.  

Recipe: Crisps with bleak roe, creme fraiche and red onions

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In Sweden, coming up with new yummy ways to serve bleak roe, is almost a sport. And when I saw this genius idea on Foodetc’s instagram; serving bleak roe and it’s best friends creme fraiche and finely chopped red onions on crisps I just had to try it.

And it turns out crisps are a great vehicle for the bleak roe. They’re crispy and light and has the same effect as rösti and butter-fried bread. So good!

Crisps with bleak roe, creme fraiche and red onions, serves 6 as a canapé

1/2 bag lightly salted good quality crisps

1/2 jar bleak roe

100 ml fat creme fraiche

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

Find the prettiest crisps in the bag and put them on a nice plate/platter. Top with small dollops of creme fraiche, add bleak roe and lastly finely chopped red onions. 

Sweet potato rounds with feta, pomegranate and parsley

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I made these colourful nibbles for a party in the summer, when the sun was shining and children were splashing in the pool. But they work as well lighting up the December darkness or brightening up an October day.

They’re both easy to make and really lovely to eat, so it’s a good idea to make a few extra.

Sweet potato rounds with feta, pomegranate and parsley, makes 30

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled

2/3 packet feta

1 packet pomegranate seeds or a whole pomegranate (seeds only) 

1 bunch parsley, chopped

mild oil

salt and pepper

Slice the sweet potato in 1/2 cm thick slices. Place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 200C oven until soft but not mushy, approx 10-15 minutes. Leave to cool. 

Top all the rounds with crumbled feta, pomegranate seeds chopped parsley.

Crowd pleaser: platters of asparagus and lemon mayonnaise

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A few weeks ago I catered food for a friend’s party (where I was also a guest). There were 35 of us altogether enjoying ourselves in the garden drinking wine, playing croquet or table tennis or splashing around the pool. As it was this type of relaxed party the ‘starter’ for the dinner were three different nibbles served on platters and they went down a storm.

We steamed a lot of asparagus and it was all gobbled down by the crowd and I must say I will definitely do this for parties again. It’s perfect finger food, healthy and delicious!

Asparagus with lemon mayo, serves many

a few bunches asparagus

2 egg yolks, at room temperature

300 ml neutral oil

1-2 lemons, juice only

salt, white pepper

Break/cut off the woody ends of the asparagus. 

Make the mayo: Beat the egg yolks with an electric whisk, add the oil drop by drop then in a thin line while whisking. The mixture will thicken nicely and when it’s nice and wobbly you have a perfect mayo. Add lemon juice (liberally) to taste, as well as salt and white pepper. The acid in the lemon juice loosens the texture a bit so add a bit more oil if you want a thicker mayo. 

Cook the asparagus in salted water for approx 3 minutes; until softened but still crunchy. Drain, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Serve immediately. 

Baked brie with cloudberry jam

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Baked camembert is more or less a staple party food in this country, and this nibble is not far off, but it has a Scandi twist and that is why I served it at my glögg party earlier this year.

The cloudberriy is a berry that grows in the Northern hemisphere. It looks similar to a raspberry and also grows on bushes but is a little bit bigger than the raspberry and has a more sourer taste. It works really well with cheese and is commonly served with breaded and deep-fried camembert in Sweden. This is not a step very far from that, but it feels a bit fresher.

How to: 

Place a whole ripe brie in an ovenproof dish and spread a layer of cloudberry jam on top. Pour more jam into a ramekin and place in the tray. Place it in a 180C oven for about 20 minutes. Serve with crackers such as Finncrisp.