Monday, February 7, 2011

Savoury selection

On Friday evening, having put my relish on to boil, I turned my attention to the savoury nibbles I'd offered to bring.  I'd decided to make salmon puffs (p194), savoury tartlets (p195) and devils on horseback (p193).

I began with the salmon puffs, cutting 5cm rounds out of pre-rolled sheets of pastry. These went into the oven until puffed up and golden, then I took them out, split each puff in half, and cooled the tops and bottoms separately. I was quite pleased with the way these came out - they were perfectly golden and each 'half' was nicely rounded to allow room for the filling. It'll be worthwhile to remember these easy cases, which could be used for all sorts of fillings.

With the salmon puff cases finished, I moved on to the savoury tartlets. More puff pastry, this time a block rolled out to 6cm thickness and cut into rounds to line patty tins. The filling consisted of sautéed onion and bacon, topped with a mixture of eggs and milk.

When the tartlets came out of the oven, they looked absolutely gorgeous, all puffed up and golden. Inevitably, they collapsed as they cooled, and I packed them away in a container ready to take over to Lauren's.

On Saturday morning, I got up early to continue my preparations. I iced my chocolate eclairs, then made the filling for the salmon puffs - a mixture of smoked salmon, cream cheese, parsley, lemon juice, and (oddly) whipped cream. I didn't put this in the pastry cases yet though - I didn't want them to go soggy.

I had one last dish to make: devils on horseback. These simple canapés have only two ingredients - prunes and bacon. You simply wrap each prune in a strip of bacon, and pin it in place with a toothpick, then put them under the grill until the bacon is cooked. The juicy sweetness of the prune contrasting with the salty bacon is just delicious. Unfortunately, I overcooked my first tray, and didn't have time to make any more before running out to meet the others for our dress fittings.

 Returning from the dressmaker's, I went straight back into the kitchen and made another batch of devils on horseback. Thinking I had plenty of time, I sat down and read a book for a little bit, then (some time later) suddenly realised it was almost time to leave and I wasn't at all ready. A lightning-quick job on hair and makeup was followed by a quick change of clothes, then (carefully covering up my outfit with an apron) I ran back into the kitchen to finish off my savouries.

I had big ideas of prettily piping the filling into the salmon puffs, but very soon found that I hadn't chopped the salmon small enough for that. The piping nozzle immediately got clogged with lumps of salmon, so I ended up spooning the filling in. It worked just fine that way - and you could hardly see the filling once I put the tops back on them anyway.

The filling was quite runny - I think because of the whipped cream. Next time I make these I'll just use soft cream cheese and forget about the whipped cream. I've often used the salmon/cream cheese combination in the past and it always goes down well.

I hurriedly piped cream into my eclairs, packed everything into containers or on platters, laid it all carefully in the back of my car, and drove across town to Lauren's, where I made a fairly unsuccessful attempt to reheat my tartlets (soggy!) and helped set out the rest of the food before the other guests arrived.

The hen's party was really quite hilarious. We spent the afternoon making and drinking mojitos, playing dodgy hen's party games and generally having a good laugh. I didn't take the 'pantry item' prize with my relish, by the way: it was deservingly awarded to Sandy, who brought not one pantry item beginning with 's' but a whole basketful.

The food I and my Edmonds book provided all went down very well. Oddly, my soggy savouries were very popular: despite the sogginess, they still tasted pretty good. Still, I'd recommend serving them either cold or immediately after you first bake them. Several people got quite excited when they saw the eclairs, most of which disappeared despite the fact that they're very messy to eat. The salmon puffs and the devils on horseback got positive comments as well, so on the whole, I reckon that making all those nibbles was definitely a worthwhile effort.


  1. Now we know where to go for tasty nibbles. Baz says 6cm thick pastry should rise to about half a metre!!Be interesting to see that result.


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