Sunday, October 24, 2010
Canapés for ducks
The first thing I made came under the 'movie nibbles' category. I still had condensed milk left over from the apricot slice and the choc chippie biscuits - enough for a half-recipe of Russian fudge (p221). We all know that sweet-making is not really my forte, but I have to do them all sometime, and this way I wouldn't be eating it all myself!
This mixture is then boiled to the 'soft ball' stage, before being beaten until thick and poured into a buttered tin to set. I tested the fudge mixture quite conscientiously, and removed it from the heat when I felt 'soft ball' had been reached, but, on seeing the finished product, felt that I should have boiled it for longer: it was very pale in colour, and didn't have the slight caramelisation I expect in Russian fudge. Still, it was smooth-textured, and tasted quite nice, so I guess it didn't matter.
I also wanted to provide some savoury nibbles. Rembering Bex's partiality for blue cheese, I chose blue cheese spread (p191), a spread designed to be paired with the canape bases on the same page. The recipe stated that the spread should be piped onto the canape bases and garnished with almonds. Since the barbecue was happening on a weeknight, I had no time for fiddly stuff, so I decided just to make the spread and bases separately and provide a knife for people to spread their own.
I next turned my attention to the canapé bases - if you like to give them so grand a name; they're really just little bits of toast! The recipe didn't indicate what kind of bread to use. I assume white is the norm, but decided grainy bread would make them more interesting.
I arranged the bread triangles on a tray and put them in the oven at 150 degrees. The recipe said 10 minutes for sandwich bread and 20 for toast. Mine was sandwich, but with the grains in it, it took 20 before I felt they were nicely crisped up. I left them to cool on a tray and packed them in an airtight container.
The last item I'd decided to make was marinated chicken wings (p141) for the barbecue. I hadn't been able to get chicken wings, though, so they wound up being marinated chicken nibbles. I didn't want to put them in the marinade too early, though, so I mixed up the marinade (garlic, soy sauce, honey, tomato sauce and ginger) on Thursday night, and only added it to the chicken before leaving for work on Friday morning.
On Friday afternoon, I headed off to Rakaia straight after work. I was a bit uneasy about the canapé bases, as I'd opened the container at lunchtime and found that they had gone a bit soft. I figured I could crisp them up in Bex's oven when I got there.
As I arrived at Bex and Richard's place, Bex was just driving out the gate, taking a carful of guests down to watch the milking. I chose not to join them, instead making myself at home in Bex's kitchen, and nearly smoking the house out when I used the oven to crisp up the canapé bases - Bex had been baking earlier in the day and a little cake batter had dribbled onto the bottom of the oven.
After an hour or two of chatting, nibbling, and entertaining the kids, Bex stoked up the barbecue and dealt to my chicken nibbles, along with an array of saussies, meat patties and chicken kebabs. The nibbles came out great - certainly they were they only item I'd brought to the barbecue that I was completely satisfied with. I'd definitely recommend this one.
I had no interest in keeping the blue cheese spread - it got biffed. The remaining fudge I set aside to take to the concert in Hagley Park on Saturday. As for the canapé bases, well, I collected them all up in a bag with the crusts I'd originally cut off them, and wandered down to the Avon to find some ducks.
I did eventually have a group of half a dozen ducks - there would have been more, but there was one particularly feisty individual who chased off any newcomers. Not many of the canapés had softened up sufficiently, so I had to throw them into the water to let them soak - if the ducks tried to eat them straight away, they couldn't break mouthfuls off them!
So here's the final breakdown:
Marinated chicken wings: very tasty. Works well on a barbecue.
Russian fudge: pretty good, but I think I should've boiled it for longer.
Blue cheese spread: make this only if you are a major blue cheese fan and and don't mind raw onion.
Canapé bases: use white bread or you'll wind up with something even ducks can't eat!
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