As winter draws in and the festive season of parties and get-togethers begins, the social scene comes alive with various occasions and reasons to celebrate. The Winter Canapé Evening dinner party plan aims to fit every occasion. It also caters well for a large group of people, without the stress of cooking a multi-course dinner for the 5,000 or the expense of booking a good restaurant’s room or a caterer.
Presented in four main phases, the canapés are in various sizes and are all cooked according to what is available during the season. They can be served by some hired help (if you’re feeling decadent) and come out to your guests in a staggered manner. You can serve them yourself in this way, if you don’t mind constantly being at your guests’ beck and call, or you can serve the canapés from a main table in their four stages.
The Winter Canapé Evening has 12 courses and begins with a two-part amuse bouche, followed by three entrees (two fish, one dairy), three meat and two vegetable main entrees. Then to finish off, two desserts with the addition of a cheese and fruit course.
Now, this may sound like a lot of food, but portion control is crucial; don’t go over the top and equally, don’t be too stingy. At the end of the dinner party, your guests will leave satisfied but not too full, if you follow the SDP Time Plan.
Some of the canapés are bigger than others and will have to be served on a small plate with a fork. Other canapés will be as they were traditionally intended and will be just a mouthful. Also, the Winter Canapé Evening is celiac friendly, so there will be no bloated stomachs in sight (allowing your guests to eat, and drink, more).
Talking of drink, SPD has linked up with Lovely Bubbly, a company working tirelessly with small and unique Champagne houses in France to bring some really delightful bouquets to our shores, as well as each phase of the Winter Canapé Evening menu. For a running commentary on why the courses match the Champagnes so well, see Lovely Bubbly Mike Amann’s column on SDP Producer Spotlights for more information and some nuggets to impress your guests with.
SDP’s Winter Canapé Evening aims to tick all the boxesseasonally, taste-wise and ethically. Winter in Britain is the time to make the most of your root vegetables: swede, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and beetroot all survive the winter frosts well or can be stored. British apples and pears are in abundance at this time of year and this autumn saw a moderate to good harvest for these staples. Some seafood is also in season, with mollusks (mussels, clams and oysters) available from September to March and having their time to shine as well as cockles, which are available year round, and prawns.
And don’t forget to make the most of the jellies, chutneys, pickles and preserves that can be utilised at this time, instead of buying frozen or out of season produce. This menu concentrates on a good deal of root vegetables, as well as fish and shellfish, such as tuna and mussels, and game, namely duck (which is traditionally hunted in the autumn and winter months), beef and chicken.
I've also included some seasonal treats from further afield that could never be grown in this country and are worth having a look at. Sweet and tree-ripe Brazilian mangoes feature in the menu and sweet Israeli fresh figs also make an appearance. But if you want to stay British, the mango can be replaced with an apple puree and dried figs can be used instead of fresh.
So, to get you started, here is your WInter Canape Menu, Shopping List, Recipes (below) and SDP Time Plan. Please do read through everything first to make sure you have enough time to get the most out of the Winter Canapé Evening and above all, have fun!