Valentine’s Day Cheese Hearts

Parmesan cheese hearts for Valentine's Day
Parmesan cheese hearts for Valentine’s Day

Parmesan Cheese Sablés

To make about 30, using a 5cm round cutter, slightly less using a heart shaped cutter

These are extremely easy to make, and well worth the effort. It takes no time to make a large batch and keep in the deep freeze until needed. They are perfect with pre-dinner drinks.For a Valentine’s Day celebration, cut the cheese pastry into heart shapes. These are the ideal nibble to go with Champagne, so they make the perfect wedding canapé. I also love them with a good dry Martini Bliss. Happy Valentine’s Day!


100g plain flour

Pinch each of salt, black pepper and cayenne

1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

90g unsalted butter

90g grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

1 egg beaten to glaze Small handful of poppy seeds or sesame seeds


1. Sift flour into a bowl or food processor and add the salt, pepper, cayenne and mustard powder.

2. Add the butter and rub in or blend until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add the cheese and mix the dough together until smooth. If should be soft and pliable.

4. Chill for 30 minutes, and then turn out onto a floured surface.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 190C/385F/Gas 5. Gently roll out to a thickness of 1cm. Using a round or heart-shaped cutter, press out the shapes and brush with the egg glaze.

6. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds and place on a flat baking sheet. Bake for approx 12-15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown, and cool on a wire rack


Black Olive Tapenade Recipe

A taste of summer and perfect on crostini with a glass of chilled pink wine. A regular free treat in South of France restaurants to keep you going whilst you peruse the menu.


1 garlic clove, crushed

1 lemon, juice only

3 tbsp capers, chopped

6 anchovy fillets, chopped

250g/9oz black olives, pitted

small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Very simply combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blitz slightly for a chunky texture, or for a smoother texture blitz for a bit longer. Spread onto slices of stale baguette, brushed with olive oil crisped in the oven. Alternatively serve as a dip with raw vegetables. Enjoy.

Fabulous Canapes at Guild of Food Writers Awards Party


Creative canapes
Creative canapes

Guild member Aggie MacKenzie, columnist for delicious. magazine and internationally renowned TV broadcaster, will be the presenter at this year’s Guild of Food Writers’ Awards, the UK’s biggest food book, writing and media awards.

The 2013 Awards party will be on Wednesday 29 May at the RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD.

A memorable canapé menu has been developed with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (, to showcase wonderful sustainable wild seafood from Alaska. The Guild is thrilled that Alaska Seafood is supporting the Awards for the sixth year running.

To accompany the splendid menu equally exciting wines from Virginia will be provided by Virginia Wine.

Drinks and canapés will be served from 6.30pm, and the Awards will be presented at 7pm.

Places are limited, so if you want to come to the party of the year, contact Jonathan Woods as soon as possible by emailing or by telephone on 020 8659 0422. Places cost £25 for members of the Guild and £50 for guests; please send cheques made payable to the Guild of Food Writers to Jonathan Woods, The Guild of Food Writers, 255 Kent House Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 1JQ.

Bloody Mary Cherry Tomatoes

Here is a surprising little canape, which is quick and easy (which we like) and one which packs a tasty punch. Next time you have some friends over try giving them these as a treat. Find some black crystal skewers to spear them with and you have an elegant, unusual mouthful.

I like to serve a couple of homemade snacks in place of a starter when I have friends over. You just have to watch that latecomers don’t miss out.

These are usually on the menu when I do canape workshops or hen parties at The Medicine Garden in Cobham.

Canape Workshop
Canape Workshop
The Medicine Garden
The Medicine Garden


To serve approx 6


  • 250g punnet of baby plum or cherry tomatoes
  • 200ml vodka
  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • few drops of Tabasco
  • salt and pepper


  1. Wash the tomatoes and remove the stalks
  2. With a skewer prick small holes all over the tomatoes and place in a small bowl or container
  3. Mix the other ingredients together in a jam jar, give them a good shake and pour over the tomatoes
  4. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours, then drain off marinade and arrange on a serving plate with skewers ready to serve

Tasty Mini Gougeres


Gougeres are large cheese puffs made of a ring of choux pastry, which is then cut into wedges to serve and hail from the Burgundy region in France. This version is the ideal little snack to serve with drinks, hot from the oven. I recently did a party for 250 in Little Venice and these proved to be the most popular of all the canapes on offer. No sooner had we sent a batch out, then the plate came back empty and another lot popped in the oven. Perfect with a well chilled dry martini or glass of Champagne, they are light as a feather and packed with flavour. A classy, fuss free classic.

To make about 30 mini puffs

  • 110g plain flour
  • 175ml water
  • pinch salt
  • 75g butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 50g grated Gruyere cheese
  • 50g grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling on top


  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
  2. Sieve the flour and have ready to add to water
  3. Place the water, salt and butter in a pan over a medium heat
  4. Bring to boil, remove from the heat and immediately add the flour, stirring continually with a wooden spoon until combined
  5. Return to the pan and put back on the heat and beat until the mixture is smooth and comes away from the sides of the pan
  6. Remove from the heat and turn the mixture onto a flat plate to allow to cool
  7. Next add the eggs a little at a time. Make sure that each egg is completely mixed in before adding more.
  8. Beat until the mixture is smooth and glossy and slightly sticky.
  9. Add the grated cheeses and transfer to a piping bag and pipe small walnut sized blobs onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
  10. Sprinkle some extra grated Parmesan on top
  11. Bake until golden, about 30-35 minutes

These are tasty as they are, but you can add some chorizo bits to the mix after adding the eggs. Cut up the chorizo sausage into tiny cubes, then cook until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool.



My latest Cook Up A Party workshop in the lovely Medicine Garden in Cobham was a huge success, great fun with a lovely crowd. We stirred, sniffed, discussed, chopped and chatted away whilst making an exciting array of canapes and party food. In a nutshell, this is my guide to canapes:

Menu planning

  • When choosing your canapés, always try to have a mix of meat, fish and vegetarian.
  • You should also include a good variety of tastes and textures, and colours. Remember that canapés are meant to be served with drinks so will need to be a small bite with a big flavour and also easy to eat without spilling bits down your front.
  • Bear in mind that many people have wheat allergies so make sure that not all your canapés are bread or wheat based.
  • Aim for a mix of varied ingredients and try not to repeat the same ingredient more than once in a menu.
  • Use fresh seasonal ingredients – for instance if it is spring, then you can include some fresh asparagus tips on the menu.
  • Try to include a couple of hot canapés for parties during the colder months, and for summer make sure that the canapés are fresh and light
  • Think about what you are going to serve to drink and try and match the food – i.e. Rustic mulled cider would be better paired with some more robust food, whilst serving cocktails means that the food needs to be pretty stylish. If serving Champagne or Prosecco the accompanying canapes should be elegant and uncomplicated


  • For pre-lunch or dinner drinks, allow three different canapés per person
  • For a two to three hour drinks party allow 10 bits per guest, and choose between five to 10 different canapés
  • For a canapés only party, served in place of a meal, allow 15  pieces per head and choose 8-15 different canapés
  • For canapés to be served instead of a first course before a lunch or dinner, allow five canapés per guest, and choose five different types
  • For a stand-up wedding reception, allow 12 savoury canapés and then 3-4 different sweet canapés