If I’m honest I was a little nervous about today with its ‘canapé challenge’. The word ‘challenge’ makes me anxious. It presents the possibility of failure and embarrassment. Images of Wednesday’s flaming sieve were springing back to mind, bringing with them that stomach curling feeling of shame.
But my worry turned out to be relatively unnecessary as we were split into teams of four, so as it could be a joint effort (or joint failure, if you want to look at it pessimistically). And really there was no real way to fail at the challenge: to produce eight different plates of canapés in an hour (or a couple of minutes/ quarter of an hour/ half an hour extra, if we needed it.)
We were given the recipes for the eight canapés, trays of all the ingredients and got to work as quickly as we could. The key to success was to plan and work out a running order, making sure our meat went in to marinade first, our pastry got rolled out and left to rest in the fridge along with a Yorkshire pudding batter and our potatoes were put on to boil for mash.
It was a very rushed, slightly manic hour, but it got a little adrenaline pumping and actually turned out to be quite good fun as well as satisfying when all eight different canapés were brought together and arranged attractively on plates, near enough within the hour. We were then rewarded for our hard work by sitting down to platefuls of some of the nicest canapés I’ve ever tried.
If fifteen or so canapés didn’t quite hit the spot, there was still pan-seared scallops with pea purée and saffron foam and a tarte-tatin with caramel sauce and clotted cream to come. We learnt how to remove the scallops from their shells and prepare them for cooking, along with the need for a smoking hot pan and a very brief cooking time to ensure the scallops were seared on the outside, warmed through and just cooked without being turned to rubber.
The tarte-tatin was very attractive and simple to prepare, although I possibly lost an eyebrow hair or two in the process of flambéing the apples in calvados. The pastry base was crisp in places, a little chewy in others and the tartness of the apples contrasted with the sticky sweet caramel they were cooked in, as well as the moreish caramel sauce.