Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne, a sumptuous private dining room, an enthusiastic executive chef and what seemed like an endless supply of canapés – who knew The Corinthia Hotel London knew me so well. I’m forever having friends & family over and if I’m quite honest – never know exactly what to serve. Sometimes I go all out and serve up my golden caramel tarte tatin. In the winter its fondue and at all other times (when in doubt) – I pile a plate with ham & cheese. But all my uncertainty about what to serve is all in the past. After a lavish breakfast last month I walked away with one of The Corinthia’s #12tipsofxmas treats. A canapé masterclass with the hotels executive chef. Glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé in hand – I was ready to get stuck in!
Leading the way with this canapé masterclass was The Corinthia’s head chef, Peter Woods. Prior to arriving Peter had already put together a mixture of ingredients and utensils to create a seemless masterclass. From spices, meat, seafood, vegetables and a never-ending supply of micro herbs tucked away under the counter – I must have missed the secret garden. After a few more sips of Champagne, Peter showed me just how easy it is to create celebratory canapés. Dressed crab was first up and served two-ways. My favourite being in the unusual and very effective tapioca crisps which are coloured with squid ink and puffed up. If you don’t fancy the idea of mixing ink with tapioca pearls (like me), you might be more inclined to thinly slicing a cucumber with a peeler, filling one end with the dressed crab and simply rolling to bind. It needs very little skill to create – just patience and a steady hand.
And then there were scallops. Fresh, pristine white scallops which glistened off the reflection of those huge glass chandeliers. With the help of some good knives and precision perfect chopping skills, shellfish can make for some of the most exciting canapés. Chopped scallops and citrus juice can be simply mixed together and served on a regular household spoon or for a more decadent look – slice the scallops in half, dress in citrus juice, rub with lime and top with coriander. My glass of rosé Champagne paired especially good with these.
Next up on the masterclass agenda were these cream cheese and smoked salmon on sourdough, a classic combination which The Corinthia Hotel London add a spoonful of caviar to for added luxury. Parma ham, mozzarella and sumac were wrapped up together and placed on a skewer to create an eye-catching way of serving – especially appropriate for easy handling while sipping on a glass of bubbly. Peter’s signature canapé however was the mini steak tartare mixture which was blended with ketchup, capers, hot sauce and seasoning – all of which you can adjust to your personal taste. In true classic style each serving is topped with a runny centered quails egg and micro cress for presentation.
Another couple of incredibly simple canapés to put together (and probably the quickest) were these duck & orange delights and Italian dried ham with truffle oil, rocket and parmesan. Rounds of slightly stale bread are needed for the duck which you then top with the sliced smoked breast and finish with chunks of freeze-dried orange. This delicious canapé oozed the essence of Christmas. The favourite of my whole afternoon however were these ham rolls-ups and what’s great about them is it takes very little technical skill – just a love and care. Start by massaging a little truffle oil onto each of the ham slices, a touch of seasoning – then top the centre with fresh rocket, parmesan shavings – and roll! Follow through with a cocktail stick to hold it all together and your done. A delicious canapé which only take a few minutes.
Figs with blue cheese, walnuts and some of that leftover tapioca crisp for presentation. When Peter uttered those words as our next recipe, I was practically drooling. Two of my favourite foods contained in one mouthful. I loved the plating too. It makes for a very effective design and looked great with those festive blue cheese canapés on. I’ve seen smears of colour and purée across plates before (which always goes wrong at home for some reason), but Peter had a slightly different approach for at home. Grab a brush, dab it in pure glucose or honey, then swirl it around the plate to any design you desire. With no hesitation, grab toppings, seeds or spices and coat the sugary design. Well cover, then shake the excess off and tidy up the plate. I was rather impressed if I’m honest, it looked great!
A few hours later and more Champagne than I promised myself, this masterclass had to come to an end. If I’m completely honest I don’t think a canapé masterclass would have ever entered my mind. Yes I love to entertain but canapés are one of those things which while small, they always look much more technical and time-consuming than they really are. And of course they can technical, but what Peter tought me is that they don’t have to be. A reason why this masterclass for me was a complete revelation. All the canapés you see here have been created with the regular kitchen in mind. From regular spoons for serving, basic plates, peelers, cutters and a nifty idea for adding design and glamour to our plates – just another thing I’d have never have thought of. The Corinthia Hotel London is truly a magnificent venue and from what I’ve seen and experienced – excel in making any event unique. Ask them anything (within reason) and I’ve no doubt they can make it happen.
I was a guest of The Corinthia & Laurent-Perrier