20 delicious canape ideas for your drinks reception
Whether you’re planning a wedding, celebration or corporate hospitality event, canapes can often be the highlight and exciting part of the menu. With bespoke catering you can of course be creative with any aspect of your menu, but with canapes this is the part of the menu where you can be really playful.
plural noun: canapés
a small piece of bread or pastry with a savoury topping, served with drinks at receptions
or formal parties.
We work with lots of clients across the country who are planning events in all sorts of locations, venues and for all sorts of reasons. When you’re bringing together people to mark an occasion, then food and drink really is one thing that breaks the ice and there’s not many people that don’t love talking about food…us included!
We’re taking a deep dive into the world of canapes in this blog. For many menus that we craft with our clients, we work on a brief together where we try to understand what we need to achieve with the menu. Sometimes this can be a menu that is made up of food that we’d call “crowd pleasers” – you just know everyone will enjoy them. Sometimes, however, our clients want us to get really creative and take a theme or a concept and bring it to life through the food. Whether this is picking up on family heritage such as canapes from the Caribbean or Middle East for example. Or whether we look to make the canapes seasonal or relevant to where people met on their first date.
So we’re going to tackle the world of canapes in three parts. Our Head Chef, Mike Scott, has put together some of his favourite canapes that fall in the categories of:
1. Canapes from around the world
2. Canapes from the Mediterranean
3. Canapes that are crowd pleaser
We hope that there’s one or two in here that come as a surprise and may just inspire you to include them on your menu whether that’s for your wedding, celebration, corporate hospitality or a fancy night in!
Canapés From Around The World
1. Jerk Chicken & Rum-glazed Pineapple – The Caribbean This is a wonderfully playful pairing and perfect for summer vibes. The chicken is marinated in a jerk rub, bringing intense heat from the cayenne and chilli, fragrance from the allspice and cinnamon, and a base layer of flavour from onion, herbs and garlic. the pineapple is glazed in a thick reduction of rum and caramel, providing sweetness and a boozy hit, along with the freshness of the pineapple, and this balances nicely with the chicken.
2. Beef Tataki, Pickled Mooli & Ponzu - Japan Japanese cuisine can be used to great effect for canapés. This is beef fillet, seared and then thinly sliced, before being marinaded in a mix of mirin, soy, sake, spring onion and garlic. Once enough flavour has permeated, each slice is wrapped around a bundle of pickled mooli and shredded spring onion, before being served alongside a ponzu dipping sauce - a mixture of rice wine, rice vinegar, bonito flakes, seaweed and yuzu citrus.
3. Paneer Massala, Pickled Vegetables, Raita & Mini Popadom – India Paneer is a great cheese and has a texture that stands up to cooking which is really useful. I marinade it in massala rub before cooking to bring a mild yet fragrant level of spice and flavour. This is topped with shredded vegetables that have been pickled with some Indian spices, in order to cut through the richness of the cheese while adhering to the type of cuisine. To finish, a cooling cucumber & lime yoghurt, all sat on a mini popadom to provide a platform as well as a crunchy texture.
4. Avocado, Corn & Chimichurri Bruschetta – The Americas This South American twist on bruschetta is vibrant and fresh and one I really enjoy. The croute is topped with smashed avocado, similar to guacamole in flavour, and sweetcorn that has been charred to add smokiness to its natural sweetness. To finish, a herby chimichurri with a chilli kick brings the bruschetta alive alongside a dusting of lime zest
5. Thai Crab Cake & Lime Jelly - Thailand Thai food is beautifully fragrant without being rich or heavy. The four cornerstones of the cuisine are salty, sweet, sour & spicy. These crab cakes are a wonderful representation of these flavour profiles, culminating a delicious mouthful of crab. the lime jelly provides the sour and a little sweet to lift the cake and provide a little texture. The finishing touch is some thinly sliced green chilli and spring onion and a little coriander to cool the mouth. 6. Tuna Poke – The Pacific This Hawaiian tuna is full of flavour and incredibly simple to cook and to eat. Cubes of fresh tuna are tossed in sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice and ginger, and allowed to marinade. These are then skewered with cubes of avocado & radish, finished with sesame seeds and crispy seaweed.
Canapés From The Mediterranean
7. Chicken & Chorizo Kiev These little bites are a fantastic take on a traditional Kiev, substituting garlic butter for chorizo butter, wrapped in a ball of chicken and then coated in manchego breadcrumbs. It’s smoky and delicious, without any fear of garlic breath on your wedding day!
8. Marinated Lamb, Spiced Rösti & Mint Yoghurt The marinade on this Lamb is, quite simply, out of this world! Since using it I’ve found it difficult to marinade Lamb in anything else! Herbs, garlic, citrus, spices and juniper create a depth of flavour that is refreshing and intense, and personally evokes memories of my first ever Lamb at a family BBQ. The base of a potato rosti, spiced and spiked with chilli works well with the Lamb, and the yoghurt helps to cool the spice while also allowing for a more easier mouthful for devouring!
9. Panzanella Bruschetta Panzanella is one of my favourite Italian dishes, as is bruschetta, so I thought why not combine them. Heirloom tomatoes, marinated and mixed with shallot, herbs and garlic provide a fresh, vibrant taste, and the bread comes from the croute made for the mix to sit on. Having made numerous varieties of bruschetta in my time, this one is currently the one to beat!
10. Provençal Pastry Swirl, Olive & Pickled Shallot This is a take on a Palmier, which is one of our most popular vegan canapes and so I wondered what I could do to make it even better! I reduce a tomato sauce, infused with garlic and basil, until it is thick and almost ‘dry’. This is the spread onto a sheet of puff pastry and rolled like a roulade. The roll is then sliced and the discs baked. To add some playfulness to the mouthful, I’ve added slices of olive for their saltiness, and rings of pickled shallot to add bite and sharpness.
11. Grilled Sardine, Tomato Salsa & Ciabatta Sardines are packed with oils and flavour, and are easy to cook. Grilled with seasoning to let their flavour shine through, the only thing they need is something to cut through their richness. This comes in the form of a fresh, zingy tomato salsa, sat on top of toasted sourdough just long enough for the flavour to begin to soak into the bread. A real summer canapé. 12. Scallop & Prosciutto Lollipop For a little luxury you can’t beat a beautiful sweet King Scallop. These are wrapped in a layer of Prosciutto to add saltiness, and then grilled so that the scallop lightly cooks and takes on some charred, smoky flavour, while also slightly crisping the Prosciutto. Finished with a skewer and eaten while hot - you won’t be able to get enough!
Canapés – The All Stars Or Our Crowd-Pleasers!
13. Braised Pork Belly, Apple Purée & Crackling Succulent, melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, topped with tart apple purée and finished with a crisp piece of crackling.....a classic flavour combination and fantastic textures....a winning canapé if there ever was one!
14. Honey & Mustard Chipolatas These sausages are a nostalgic classic. Who hasn’t eaten one at a buffet or a party?! These are cooked in a honey and wholegrain mustard glaze, making them sticky with a savoury hit of mustard. A simple, tasty one-biter guaranteed to have guests coming back again and again.
15. Goat’s Cheese & Red Onion Tart This is one of our most popular vegetarian canapés, and for good reason. Goat’s cheese & red onion is an all-time favourite flavour combination. Here we cook the onion to a sweet, sticky jam, and top with crumbled Goat’s cheese before baking. The cheese starts to colour and melt, and the contrast of smooth yet salty cheese and the sticky onion jam is to die for.
16. Wild Mushroom Arancini, Truffle Oil & Parmesan This is a hearty canapé, full of flavour and always go down a treat. The crisp exterior provides a lovely light crunch, before you hit the soft, warm centre that is heavy on the mushroom. To finish, a light drizzle of heady truffle oil and then a liberal cascade of parmesan make these arancini a wonderful addition to any canapé reception.
17. Smoked Salmon Blini This is one of the most classically renown canapés of the lot! It symbolises luxury, flavour, delicacy and all the trappings of the elegant affairs at which canapés are served. The blini’s potato base is lightened with crème fraîche and spiked with lemon to add levity. A cream cheese, laden with chive sits on top and then the crowning glory is the beautifully intense, soft smoked Salmon. This works well as it is, but the addition of toppings, such as dill, seasonings, caviar and so on can all make interesting combinations to wow your guests.
18. Chilli & Lime King Prawns These are one of my personal favourites. They’re incredibly simple yet offer great flavour and it is hard to find someone who doesn’t like a prawn! These are marinated in a mix of red and green chilli, seasoning and olive oil. we don’t add the lime juice and zest until later as the delicate fish would start to cook in the citric acid. Once the flavours have permeated the fish, we grill over a high heat to activate the aromatics and then serve simply at the end of a skewer, finished with a little coriander to contrast with the chilli. A playful, zingy mouthful that will put a smile on the eater’s face every time.
19. Mini Yorkshire Pudding Roast Beef & Horseradish
This is a classic "mini-food" canape and a great way to bring a traditional Sunday roast into a one (maybe two) bite taste sensation. We use rare roast beef and the Yorkshire Puddings act as the perfect bed to hold the tasty, thinly sliced beef topped with horseradish for an extra kick. Lots of great flavours and textures going on in this canape and one that appears on lots of menus no matter what time of year we're catering for.
20. Caviar & Chips
Of course I'm going to say Caviar & Chips is a crowd pleaser - it's our signature canape! But I urge you to try it if you haven't already. There's a secret to the perfect chip that for obvious reasons I can't share. Perhaps I'll let those of you know who have a menu tasting with us. That said to get the perfect crispness in your chip is important as you bite into the chip and expose a fluffy potato interior. The caviar is the luxury topping that acts as the saltiness on the chip. Caviar brings more of an ocean breeze rather than a distinct salty flavour though and no doubt your guests will have tried a canape that they will remember and talk about well after the reception.
We hope this short-list of inspiring and delicious canapes has given you some "food for thought" and ideas to include on your drinks and canape menu.
To start your bespoke menu with Caviar & Chips just drop us a line or give us a call 0800 978 8221 and our chefs can get to work a craft a menu just for you.