20 November 2011

Christmas Buffet : Canapés, Cheeseboard & Dessert

Click to enlarge & you'll be able to see more!
First of all, I have just got to tell you how much fun (and a little bit of anxiety) hubby and I had, creating the Christmas Buffet.

Although we've done our best - with what was available - in the past, to make a Christmas Buffet along the lines of this one, we've never had the quality of ingredients.  It was a lovely change - and something of a responsibility - to have such great ingredients to work with.

London Cure Smoked Salmon
Why responsibility?  Well, when you have the opportunity to handle items that are a) worth so much (in relation to our normal ingredients) and b) so beautiful in both quality and flavour, you want to do them justice.  All the ingredients in the Foreman & Field box sent to us by Knorr were gourmet quality.  Although we'd spent quite a long time planning this Buffet, we weren't 100% sure as to whether we'd done them justice, until we'd done it!  For instance, the beautiful London Cure Smoked Salmon - would it have been best to have served it simply, with some buttered brown bread and a lemon wedge?  Maybe so - but we wanted to explore what could be done with the Salmon, as it is unlikely that we'll  get the opportunity again for a long time!

Ultimately, we decided to make some canapés with the Salmon.  This also gave us a chance to show off the Salmon Roe Caviar and have some fun with the ingredients.  We made the predictable Blinis (small sour cream pancakes, with a fold of smoked salmon, a dab of Ricotta cheese - instead of sour cream - and a piece of dill), some smoked salmon pinwheels (a slice of salmon, spread with Ricotta, rolled and topped with a dab of caviar) and some Smoked Salmon Mousse on Rye bread.  I will blog the recipe for the Mousse as my next blog post, as it was completely gorgeous and can easily be made with offcuts of Smoked Salmon - thus rendering it affordable for most!

Smoked Salmon Pinwheel & Blini
Of the three canapés, our favourite was the Blini - and I can tell, having had one, why they are so popular - although probably going terribly out of fashion these days.  Yes, I agree, I could have made my own blinis, but I honestly had enough to do and even with hubby's considerable help, there are just some things that it is easier on me to buy rather than make.  One day, when I'm not so broken, I'll make my own blinis.

We had used Ricotta cheese in the canapés rather than sour cream, in a "damage limitation" exercise as regards the Anti-inflammatory diet I'm on.  (-111 as opposed to -50 for 100g).  The fish is just superb for me (+247 for 100g), as is the caviar, but the cheese is rather a different story - so any little improvement we could make to the negative score at the end of the meal, was worth it.

I enjoyed the Ricotta, although son & heir didn't agree with me.   Hubby wasn't keen on it in the Salmon Pinwheels, although liked it on the Blinis.  I think, perhaps, it would be better to go for the sour cream with the Blini and cream cheese with the pinwheels - but you live and learn!

The pinwheels were simplicity itself to produce - just slice a piece of salmon in half (to a width of around an inch) and trim to 4 inches long.  Smooth cream cheese along its length, remembering to leave a little space at the end free, then roll from the cheesed end to the empty end.  Sit on its cut side and top with a teensy bit of the salmon roe.  Delicious!

Smoked Salmon Mousse, ready to go!
Son & heir's reaction to the Salmon roe caviar was interesting - he completely understood that it was fish eggs and I expected him to be all repulsed by it because of that.  However, he was as intrigued as anything, to the point of stealing one little egg from the top of a canapé while we were still assembling the table.  He loved how the eggs would "pop" on his tongue with the intense salmon flavour and kept going back for more.  He even asked whether any was left - and was very pleased to hear that I'd hardly made an impression on the pot!

The Smoked Salmon Mousse was something else that was simplicity itself to produce.  If you've got a mini food processor, then it'll be even easier - especially if you're making just a little amount, as I was.  The addition of a little horseradish was truly inspirational as it gave the mousse the little bit of tang that had you wondering what it was, without being identifiably horseradish.

We served it on top of Rye bread with sunflower seeds, with a teensy piece of cucumber set in the top - and it was absolutely delicious.  Son & heir wasn't keen on the bread, but I noticed that the blob of mousse disappeared quick sharp!

One of the most amazing flavour sensations was the Smoked Salmon Pinwheel, followed up by a Physalis.  The acidity of the beautiful little fruits worked so well with the oiliness of the fish and acted as a perfect palate cleanser.

The Physalis were also a great success with the cheeseboard, too.  We'd bought some grapes to go with it (along with the Physalis), but those little golden fruits in their papery shells were such a great foil for the richness of the cheese - including the Colston Bassett Stilton - that I commend the idea to you.  Physalis are available in the shops now for around £1 for a bag containing 25 or so fruits, so not too expensive.

Something else I have to commend to you, were the crackers we bought to accompany the cheese.  Carr's Cheese Melts are quite the nicest cheese cracker I've tasted in a very long time.  Because of their fragile nature, you have to be gentle (and almost ladylike!) in loading them up with cheese, or you'll wind up with a plate full of crumbs.  However, once you've successfully conveyed them to your face - especially if the cheese is a crackingly good, creamy, gentle but full-flavoured Stilton like the Colston Bassett - then you're in for a few moments of complete heaven.

Our cheese board consisted of the Colston Bassett Stilton, a fairly young but creamy Brie, a lovely piece of "Real Yorkshire" Wensleydale, a small wax-coated Applewood Smoked Cheddar that only I liked and a wax-coated Double Gloucester, which son & heir thought was the raving business!

I served some green olives and a jar of pickled walnuts with the cheeseboard and was disappointed to find that I was the only person who enjoys pickled walnuts.  Well, me, my Dad and Len Goodman (of Strictly Come Dancing fame) are the only people I know of who do.  Yes, they are a bit of an oddity and yes, they do look a tad strange.  However, couple them with cheese and you're onto a winner.  Ah well, all the more for me!

Dessert was - I admit it - a complete cheat.

I took a completely bog-standard (but very tangy and nice) defrosted Lemon Tart and added raspberries (and 3 physalis, for decoration) to it.  I honestly had no intention of mentioning it on the blog here, as it was such a cop-out that it felt dishonest to do so.  However, it was - for me - the surprise of the night owing to just how delicous and more-ish it was!

Asda's Lemon Tart has always been one of my favourite "quick" frozen desserts, as it is quite surprisingly tangy and completely devoid of horrible ersatz cream, chocolate or other decoration.  The addition of the fresh raspberries though, just propelled it through the stratosphere as regards pimped up quick desserts - and I can't help thinking I'll be doing this again!

Hand me a spoon - I'm going in!

I'd like to take this opportunity of thanking Knorr for the opportunity of experiencing working with these wonderful ingredients and the fun of producing the Christmas Buffet.  Fabulous!


  1. I certainly think you have done the produce justice and the platter looks amazing.

  2. This looks all soo tasty, I d love the Smoked Salmon Pinwheel & Blini. I havent tried pinwheel before but I wouldnt mind to. Smoked salmon and blini is a great combi!

  3. This looks all great but my favourite is Smoked Salmon Pinwheel & Blini. I have never tried the Pinwheel but wouldnt mind to. salmon and blini is already a great combi

  4. Helene, you're absolutely right - smoked salmon & blini is the perfect combination as they're both as light and flavourful as each other, but in complimentary ways. One thing I will say about the Smoked Salmon Mousse is that it would be as nice on some Melba Toast - it doesn't have to go on Rye bread. I know Rye bread isn't to everyone's taste. :)

  5. I agree on those carr's melts, are my favourite of crackers!

    I've got a packet of that smoked salmon too, though not a big fan of smoked fish at all :( Wish I could convert myself to it but alas no!

  6. Anne, then I would definitely try doing the Smoked Salmon Mousse. If you increase the cream cheese, decrease the cream and increase the dill, I reckon it'd be smoothed out sufficiently that you might enjoy it - especially on a Melt! :)


I love to receive messages from you all, so if you can spare the time, comment away!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...