Small party or dinner with friends is a very pleasant but not so easy thing. You have to make a menu, cook delicious dishes and serve some aperitifs before dinner. We offer you several advises how to make your dinner party great and realy pleasant, several recipes of canapes and some drinks before dinner.
Puff pastry canapes
1. Feuilletes d'Escargots (Snails in Puff Pastry)
Ingredients: Bought or home-made puff paste; 1 or more tins snails (4 1/2 oz tin contains approximately 24 snails); French garlic butter (beurre a l'ail); egg wash mixture (anglaise).
Method: Roll out puff paste very thinly. Cut into 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 squares. Place one drained snail in centre of each square. Cover liberally with garlic butter, approximately 1/4 oz per snail. Brush all edges with egg mixture and enclose this rounded 'parcel' completely by overlapping corners to centre. Brush all over with egg mixture. Turn each one upside down on a floured baking sheet and bake one shelf above centre Gas Mark 7 1/2 (435°F) for about 10-12 minutes or until puffy and golden brown on top. Serve piping hot.
French Garlic Butter
Ingredients: 4 oz butter; 3-4 peeled, crushed (never chopped) garlic cloves; generous pinch of salt; generous pinch of pepper; 2 heaped tablespoons fresh milled or chopped parsley.
Method: Cream butter until very loose and pale. Add remaining ingredients. Cream again and store indefinitely in mild refrigeration after insulating completely by enfolding in tightly wrapped kitchen foil. Surplus can always be used to impart character to grilled meat items.
Egg Wash Mixture
Whisk 2 raw eggs with 1 dessertspoon olive oil, 1/2 flat teaspoon salt and one large pinch white pepper.
2. Feuilletes de Diable (Devilled Sausages in Puff Pastry)
Ideally garlic sausage (sold cut or uncut) should be used for this variant. To make 24, you will require 2 1/4" length of standard size garlic sausage. Skin, halve, quarter and divide each quarter again lengthwise, thus obtaining 8 strip, 2 1/4" long. Divide each strip into 3/4" lengths. Dip each into Devil mixture. Then proceed precisely as described in No. 1.
Note: Ordinary cooked sausages can be used as replacements if each is skinned after cooking and cut into 3/4" lengths.
Ingredients: 1 teaspoon dry English mustard; 4 drops Tabasco; 6 drops well-shaken Worcestershire sauce; 1/2 flat teaspoon pepper; 1/2 flat teaspoon real curry paste or substitute curry powder; water.
Method: Place all dry ingredients in a bowl, add Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and water sparingly to make fairly thick paste.
3. Feuilletes de Moules (Mussels in Puff Pastry)
For 24 mussel canapes buy 1 1/2 pints of mussels to allow for wastage. Scrub mussels carefully. Tug away all hair-like tufts hanging from sides of shells. Steam over boiling water and under a lid until mussels are open, approximately 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Remove mussels from shells and treat each in exactly the manner described for No. 1.
4. Feuilletes de Fromage (Cheese in Puff Pastry)
Cut 1'' squares of Emmenthal or Gruyere cheese for each portion. Thereafter proceed exactly as explained in No. 1 until you have placed the little 'parcels' on a baking sheet. Bake one shelf above centre Gas Mark 6 (4oo°F.) for 12-15 minutes or until richly golden brown on top. This longer, slower cooking ensures cheese will be melted inside by the time the pastry is cooked.
Small quantities of cooked, minced left-overs of meat, game or poultry can be used for making further variants. Make up the Devil given in No. 2, moistening with cream, not water. Bind chosen minced item to a firm paste with this mixture. Shape into small 'walnuts' and use exactly as described in No. 1.
Presentation of canapes
All hot canapes should be served either napkin-wrapped or from dishes on a hot-plate or in lidded silver entree dishes.
When working single-handed as a cook-hostess, there is always a problem over removing drinks glasses, emptying ashtrays and sometimes making up the fire in the sitting room during dinner and before guests return. Go through your planned menu, pick out the essential moment when you must collect something from kitchen; and at the same time whip away offending items. Nothing is more objectionable than returning to a room made shoddy by littered ashtrays and dirty glasses.
Drinks before dinner
If you are taking the trouble to cook a dinner for friends single-handed, you will presumably want to serve wines with your main dishes which your guests can enjoy to the full; so do not offer hard liquor before the meal. This blunts the fine edge of the palate exactly as a cocktail will - and cocktails are a number of good ingredients ruined by being mixed together.
Choose either dry to medium sherry, or dry Madeira, or dry white port, or still or sparkling white wines, or vin rose.
Sherry, like Madeira and port, is a wine 'fortified' with brandy. Among the many categories, Finos are the driest and Amontillados are medium dry. Madeiras are of four different gradings: the Sercials (dry) and Verdeihos (medium dry) are basically the only two aperitif types. Dry white port is a cool, clean, refreshing and slightly unusual before-dinner drink, steadily gaining in popularity.
Dry still white wines: Muscadet; Vouvray; Sancerre; a light Moselle; Yugo¬slav Riesling; Alsatian; Spanish Chablis-type from the Rioja area; or, when obtainable, Champagne Natur.
Dry sparkling white wines: Saumur; Vouvray; hock; Burgundy; dry champagne. This can only be called champagne if it comes from the Rheims/Epernay areas of France. There is also Blanc de Blancs, a champagne made solely from white grapes.
Vin rose: The wine-wise Monsieur Andre L. Simon defined this as being pretty to look at, thirst-quenching and forgotten as soon as drunk.
If our suggestions are unknown to you, put yourself in the hands of a reputable and well-established wine merchant and ask him to sample you with any of the above.
Temperature for Service
All white wines should be chilled (corked) in mild domestic refrigeration for a minimum of one hour before service. Fortified wines require slightly less chilling to bring out the best of their flavour. Wine coolers are inadequate as they do not have sufficient depth for uniform chilling from neck to base. Please remember it is incorrect to say 'corked' for a wine whose taste has been affected by a bad cork. The correct term is 'corky'.
Sherry 'tasters' (copitas) are ideal glasses for serving aperitif fortified wines but these can be served in small versions of the classic 'tulip'. Fill to a maximum half with all fortified wines and with all table wines fill these tulip glasses to a maximum two-thirds.