Festive Canapes

If you are planning a festive party this year, then we have some tasty finger food ideas for you to try. Perfect for a festive party buffet or canapes before the main meal.

Rosemary Polenta Bites With Peperonata

Serves 18

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the tin and tray
500ml vegetable stock
125g quick-cook polenta
25g grated vegetarian Italian-style hard cheese
3 rosemary sprigs, needles picked and finely chopped

For the peperonata:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
3 peppers (a mixture of colours is nice), finely sliced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp capers, drained


For the peperonata, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat and sizzle the onion and peppers for a few minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the vinegar and 2 tsp sugar, then reduce the heat and cook for 20-30 mins, partially covered with a lid and splashing in a little water if the pan looks dry, until the peppers are soft and jammy. Stir in the capers. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then chill in a sealed container until ready to serve. Will keep chilled for four days or frozen for up to six months.

Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment and rub a little oil over the surface and sides. Bring the stock to a boil, then stir in the polenta. Cook, stirring, for 5 mins, until thick, like loose mashed potato.

Add the cheese and rosemary, and season with salt. Stir for another minute, then pour the polenta into the prepared tin and level the surface. Leave to cool, then chill for at least 30 mins until set firm. Can be made up to a day before serving and chilled.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Take the peperonata out of the fridge and leave it to come to room temperature. Turn out the set polenta onto a chopping board and cut it into nine squares, then cut each square into two triangles. Arrange the triangles on a lightly oiled baking tray and bake for 25 mins until crisp. Leave to cool for 5-10 mins, then serve warm topped with the peperonata and shaved cheese.

Bread Sauce & Stuffing Croquettes

Serves 6

200g cooked stuffing, crumbled
50g plain flour, seasoned
2 eggs, beaten
100g panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp cranberry sauce
2 tbsp chilli jam
for deep-frying vegetable oil
Bread sauce


Stir the crumbled stuffing through the bread sauce, then chill.

Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs into separate shallow bowls. Take a heaped tbsp of the bread sauce and, using slightly wet hands, shape into the size of a golf ball. Roll in the seasoned flour, then into the beaten egg, then coat well in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

Mix together the cranberry sauce and chilli jam in a bowl to make a dipping sauce.

Fill a pan no more than ⅓ full with the oil and heat to 180C or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Fry the balls for 2-3 minutes, in batches, until golden and crisp, then drain well on kitchen paper, season with flaky sea salt and keep warm in a low oven while you fry the rest. Serve with the sauce.

Vegan 'smoked salmon' Toasts

Serves 14

2 large carrots
1½ tbsp flaky sea salt
2 lapsang soushong teabags
slices of toasted baguette, sliced and toasted
vegan cream cheese
dried seaweed, to serve


Cut the carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler and set aside. Pour 500ml water into a large saucepan with the salt and bring to a boil. Add the carrot ribbons and teabags and remove them from the heat. Leave to steep for 20 mins until the mixture is cold and the ribbons have softened. Pour into a smaller container and chill until needed. Once cold and ready to serve, strain the carrot ribbons, discard the brine and pat dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.

Spread the baguette slices with the cream cheese. Top each toast with a few carrot ribbons and a pinch of the dried seaweed, then season and serve.

Miso Devilled Eggs

Makes 12

6 medium free-range eggs
75g mayonnaise
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp white miso paste
Splash rice vinegar
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
Shichimi togarashi to sprinkle


Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, then gently submerge the eggs and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold running water until cool. Carefully peel the eggs, then slice each in half vertically, wiping the knife in between each egg to get a nice clean cut.

Using a teaspoon, scoop out the yolks and push them through a fine sieve into a bowl to create a smooth paste. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, miso and rice vinegar, stir to combine, and then transfer to a piping bag (with a star nozzle if you have one). If you don’t have a piping bag you can use 2 teaspoons to spoon the mixture into the eggs, but you’ll miss out on that delightfully retro aesthetic.

Pipe the mixture back into the eggs and finish with a sprinkle of finely chopped chives and a pinch of togarashi.

Spiced Paneer with Quick-Pickled Cucumber

Makes 24

5 tbsp tikka masala paste
Grated zest and juice ½ lemon
2 x 225g packs paneer, each cut into 12 cubes
3 tbsp mango chutney (we used Geeta’s)
1 tbsp olive oil
Vegetable oil for frying
Handful micro herbs

For the quick-pickled cucumber:
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
½ cucumber, peeled into 24 ribbons
1 tsp nigella seeds


To pickle the cucumber, put the vinegar, sugar and a pinch of sea salt in a pan with 2 tbsp warm water and gently warm over a low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, remove from the heat, then add the cucumber ribbons and set aside to quick-pickle for 30 minutes (see Make Ahead).

Put the tikka paste and lemon zest in a medium bowl, add the paneer and toss to coat. Mix the lemon juice, mango chutney and olive oil in a bowl and season.

Drain the pickling liquid from the cucumber and discard, then add the nigella seeds and toss to coat.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan, then fry the paneer cubes for 2 minutes on each side until lightly golden and crisp.

Roll a ribbon of cucumber and thread it on a skewer with a cube of paneer. Repeat with the remaining cucumber and cubes, then arrange them on a serving platter. Drizzle over the mango chutney dressing and sprinkle with micro herbs to serve.

Spanish Skewers

Makes 24

200g waxy potatoes, such as Charlotte, peeled and cut into 24 x 2cm/3/4in chunks
1 tbsp mild olive oil or sunflower oil
2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 large red pepper, deseeded and cut into 24 x 2cm/3/4in chunks
1 large yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into 24 x 2cm/3/4in chunks
200g cooking chorizo, cut into 24 pieces

For the garlic dip:
200g half-fat crème fraîche
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ small pack flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

You will need 24 short bamboo skewers


Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Half-fill a large pan with water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and return to a boil. Cook for 1 min, then drain in a colander and tip into a bowl. Pour over the olive oil, sprinkle with the rosemary and season. Toss together.

Scatter the potatoes over a large baking tray and cook for 5 mins. Turn the potatoes, add the peppers and cook for a further 10 mins or until just beginning to soften. Set aside to cool.

Thread a chunk of yellow pepper, a chunk of potato and a chunk of red pepper onto bamboo skewers, finishing with a piece of chorizo. Place on a parchment-lined baking tray, cover and chill (up to 8 hrs). To make the dip, mix all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and chill.

When ready to serve, heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Bake the skewers for 10 mins or until the vegetables are softened and nicely browned, and the chorizo slices are cooked through. Serve with the dip.