Today’s post is not strictly-speaking a veg, but these taste too good to miss and canapés and Christmas are made for each other. Share some truly great eating among friends and family with these recipes from our lovely Riverford cook, Bob Andrew. Forget cocktail sausages – try our tomato bruschetta, parsnip blinis and stuffing bombs and celebrate cracking home-cooked organic food this festive period.
Parsnip blinis, Cropwell Bishop, walnuts & honey
This is a strong contender to challenge the king of festive finger-food, blinis and smoked salmon. This is inspired by a salad of honeyed parsnips, blue cheese and walnuts that often appears on the Riverford Field Kitchen menu during the colder and darker months. It is a classic blini recipe, replacing one root vegetable with another.
3 Large parsnips
2 Large eggs, separated into yolks & whites
Dessert spoon of rice flour
30ml crème fraiche
Butter and olive oil
100g Cropwell Bishop or another good quality blue cheese
handful of toasted walnut halves.
1 tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper
Chop the parsnips into ½ inch chunks, removing any bits of core that feel woody. Sauté gently in a pan of butter and olive oil until nice and soft. Purée in a food processor, season with salt and pepper, leave to cool in the fridge. Mix the egg yolks, rice flour, cream and milk with the parsnip purée. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the parsnip mix trying, to preserve a much air as you can. Heat a frying pan of olive oil and butter until the butter starts to foam. Drop a few spoonfuls of the mix into the pan, smoothing each in to a 2-3 inch disc. Cook until golden brown on one side and flip over to finish the other. Cook in batches. To serve, top with some crumbled blue cheese, mix the walnuts into the honey and pop one on top. These blinds can be cooked and frozen well ahead of time. Defrost and warm through in a low pan or oven to refresh.
Tea-soaked prunes, crispy bacon & toasted almonds
The prunes and their syrup also make a great accompaniment to your muesli or porridge for breakfast, or with rice pudding or warm custard for dessert, without the bacon of course.
To tea-soak the prunes, stir the sugar into 500ml of boiling water, add the prunes, spices and tea bag, and leave overnight. Cook the bacon, in a pan or in the oven, until crispy. Toast the almonds in the oven until golden brown. To serve, snap the bacon into 6 pieces. Cut a slit in the side of each prune, push a whole almond inside and jam in a shard of bacon. Slide a cocktail stick through the middle so your guests don’t get sticky fingers.
Think of this as a cross between a scotch egg and arancini. If you’re making stuffing anyway just make a little extra for these nibbles. I recommend making 2-3 times the amount you think you’ll need; I’ve seen people push their loved ones aside to get to the last few.
500g of herby sausage-meat stuffing (we add 100g of coarse breadcrumbs soaked in milk, squeezed & added to 350g of sausage meat, the zest of one orange, 1 large red onion diced & cooked till soft, a couple of finely chopped dried apricots & some sage, thyme & parsley finely chopped.)
100g fresh mozzarella or other good melting cheese
1 cup of flour
2 eggs, beaten
200g panko breadcrumbs
sunflower oil for frying
salt and pepper
To make each one, take about 40g of the stuffing and press it in to a disc in the palm of your hand, break off a baked-bean-sized piece of mozzarella and push it into the middle and form the edges round in your hand so you end up with a ball of stuffing with the cheese in the middle. Roll into an even ball and repeat until it is all used up. To breadcrumb the balls, lay out 3 shallow bowls, put the flour in the first, the eggs in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third. One at a time dredge the ball in the flour, shake off the excess, dip and roll it in the eggs and drop into the breadcrumbs rolling and pressing until totally coated. Set to one side. Heat enough oil in a deep pan to deep fry with, bring slowly up to 180˚C. Deep-fry until golden brown and piping hot in the middle. Keep warm in an oven and serve on cocktail sticks.
sourdough bread/ ciabatta
red onion, finely sliced
Grill some ciabatta or sourdough bread on both sides. Rub one side with a peeled clove of garlic and drizzle with good olive oil. Top with cherry tomatoes, red onion, basil, a little crushed garlic and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.