We are hosting a small cocktail party this weekend or, as they call it in Switzerland, an apéro, where the evening will be fueled by lots of small canapés and finger food. Hubby is rather excited by all of the possible wine pairings and I have been quite content to bury myself amongst hefty volumes of cookbooks in the late evenings, comparing and choosing recipes for our little soirée.
With a small child at my heels most of the day, a cocktail party might seem like an outrageous idea. But with some careful planning and a good selection of recipes which can be made ahead of time, there’s hope that I might also be able to join in on the conversation rather than be stuck in the kitchen assembling trays of tiny canapés at the last minute whilst simultaneously negotiating with a 10-month old to eat his specially and lovingly prepared beef curry purée.
On the menu will be Roasted Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup served in little coffee cups, a generous tray of Little Aussie Meat Pies with some homemade Cherry Tomato Relish, as well as some Chicken Liver Pâté with a Sauternes jelly to kick off the evening. Seafood will also feature on the menu and which hubby has offered to grill on the barbeque, weather permitting (shrimp on the barbie, anyone??).
In the lead up to this event, I have been experimenting with a few recipes for our vegetarian friends which would also be substantial enough for our meat-loving guests. These dainty little mushroom tarts will hopefully please both camps.
This recipe comes from Pete Evans’ My Party, a beautiful collection of appetisers and other small bites for whatever themed party you might have in mind. Pete is the first person to admit that these mushroom tarts are not the most appealing to look at, but I think that if you make them small enough and dot them with some fresh herbs to provide a contrast in colour, they will look as elegant as they are delicious.
These little morsels are fairly simple to put together, but the only ingredient I couldn’t find was porcini powder which I imagine would have added a bolt of savouriness to the mushroom filling. So I substituted with some crushed porcini stock cube but I think a vegetable stock cube could also work just as well.
Recipe adapted from My Party: Canapés and Cocktails by Pete Evans
Makes about 24
600 g (1 lb 5 oz) brown mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons porcini powder (or half a porcini stock cube)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
3 egg yolks
2 sheets of puff pastry
fresh marjoram, oregano or chives
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Place the mushrooms on a baking tray and drizzle over the olive oil. Bake the mushrooms for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden.
Place the mushrooms into a food processor and blitz until they are finely chopped.
Add the sea salt, black pepper, porcini powder, Dijon mustard, crème fraîche and egg yolks. Blitz again until you have a smooth mixture.
Cut out circles from the puff pastry sheets to fit the holes in a mini muffin tin or mini tart tin. If you are not using non-stick tins, make sure you lightly grease the tins first.
Spoon the mushroom mixture into the pastry cases.
Bake the tarts for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden.
Remove the tarts from the tin and garnish with fresh marjoram or oregano leaves, or even some finely chopped chives.
These tarts taste best straight from the oven, but they are also good at room temperature, which is good to know if you wish to make them a bit ahead of time.