Recipes from Provençe
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Warm Canapés from Provence


By Philippe Broad


These Provençal canapés, lightly pan-fried in extra-virgin olive oil, have been created to bring back all the warm flavours of the South of France. You can vary the ingredients and garnishes to offer your guests a delicious selection of different flavours.

Easy to make, I recommend a trial run on a first batch to develop the right technique at one or two easy but critical stages (see 2 and 3 below). Once mastered, it is all plain sailing, so use your imagination to come up with some exciting flavour combinations of your own! I have listed some well-tried basic recipes to set you on your way.


Ingredients


1 large loaf medium-sliced white Bread (If buying your bread in France, choose French sliced pain de mie, which is quite dry. If in the USA or UK, where bread is very moist, it will need to be dried a few minutes in a low oven (so as not to brown) on a baking tray and held down under one of the oven grills to stop it curling. The ideal is "nice and dry", just supple enough to slice through with a very sharp knife!)
1 jar normal Pesto sauce
1 cup thick Tomato, Onion and Basil sauce (see below)
150 g (3 oz) slice fresh Goat's or Ewe's milk Cheese loaf (as a stop gap, replace with pre-sliced processed cheese)
1 tub cherry or sugar plum Tomatoes
1 jar black Olives (which I recommend you pit at home rather than buying pitted olives which are frequently dry)
1 jar green Olives stuffed with red peppers
1 small jar salted Anchovies (or in olive oil if salted unavailable)
1 small jar black olive Tapenade
1 bunch fresh Basil
Extra-virgin olive Oil for frying
1 pack wooden Cocktail sticks

Absolutely essential

1 Extra-sharp flat un-serated slicing knife

Preparation


  1. Place two slices of bread one on top of the other and cut off the crusts to form a perfect square. You will need to cut this later into 9 or 12 ¾ in. bite-size squares, depending on the size of the loaf, so gauge this from the beginning. Once trimmed, open the two slices like you would a book.
  1. Coat the slices with the required blend of ingredients (see below), and re-close the "book" to form a sandwich. When using cheese, make sure the cheese is in the upper section of the sandwich. Heat a small quantity of extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan and fry the sandwich on one side until a nice crispy deep golden brown. Place on kitchen paper to drain and allow to cool for a few seconds. Transfer to a cutting board.
  1. Critical stage:

    1. You will now need to cut the sandwich into ¾ in. bite-size squares without the filling oozing out at the sides. This is easy - simply a matter of technique!

    i) Hold the sandwich firmly between fingers and thumb, close to where you will first want to slice it, so as to maintain the height between the two outer slices and to avoid any lateral movement.

    ii) With your extra-sharp flat slicing knife, gently saw your way completely through the upper uncooked slice ¾ in. from the outer edge and, once done, plunge sharply through to the cutting board to make a clean separation. Repeat the operation the required number of times.

    iii) Reunite the sections, turn the sandwich once (45º), and proceed exactly as above to form the individual ¾ in. bite-size squares or canapés.

    3. Turn the individual canapés over, uncooked side down, keeping them separate (especially where cheese is concerned, notably during the cooking process). Prepare your cocktail sticks, top-most garnish first, then second, etc.

    [ N.B. The final preparation of the canapés takes very little time. You can prepare as above a little ahead of time and then cook for the final stage as and when required during your party. Simply keep your canapés warn without over-heating.]

    Critical stage 2:.

    To avoid the filling oozing out at this second stage, once again using finger and thumb, hold the top and the bottom of the canapé firmly in position, then jab the garnished cocktail stick right through the middle in an upright position. Slide the garnish down to the top of the canapé.

    Using the cocktail sticks, place the canapés back in newly heated extra-virgin olive oil in the pan and fry until the under side is a nice crispy deep golden brown. Drain any excess oil on kitchen paper and serve immediately.
Recipe inspirations

Pissaladière - quite generously coat one side with Thick Tomato, Onion and Basil Sauce, the other thinly with black olive Tapenade and close. Garnish stick with an anchovy fillet, topped with a black olive.


Pizza Marseillaise - less generously coat one side with Thick Tomato, Onion and Basil Sauce, the other with the fresh goat's or ewe's milk cheese (if this is too dry to spread easily, crush with a fork and blend with a little yoghurt and pepper). Garnish stick with an anchovy fillet, topped with a black olive.


Pistou Fromage - coat one side generously with Pesto sauce, the other thinly and topped with the fresh goat's or ewe's milk cheese (if this is too dry to spread easily, crush with a fork and blend with a little yoghurt and pepper). Garnish stick with a rolled basil leaf topped with a stuffed green olive.


Pistou Tomate - coat both sides moderately with Pesto sauce, then one with the fresh goat's or ewe's milk cheese (if this is too dry to spread easily, crush with a fork and blend with a little yoghurt and pepper). Garnish stick with a rolled basil leaf topped with a cherry or olive tomato, halved and sliced-side up.


Thick Tomato, Onion and Basil Sauce

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