Just What Is a "Canapé?" Plus, Our Six Favorite Recipes for This Most Elegant Type of Appetizer
Canapés. Doesn't the word just drip with elegance? This snazzy food category certainly lives up to its chic name eliciting images of silver platters, clinking Champagne glasses, and the heady din of a cocktail party. If you're anything like us, though, you may be a little murky, on what exactly a canapé is. "Canapés are simply hors d'oeuvres that tend to be more on the petite side. Usually based upon a bread or pastry, think of a canapé as a tiny open-faced sandwich," says cookbook author Jim Mumford, adding that canapé is also French for sofa. They are "wonderful for entertaining, because they are generally very easy to prepare." Since their base is made from bread, cracker, or pastry, they can be quickly put together, and the combinations are limitless, Mumford adds. "Another advantage of the canapé is that no other spoon or [other] cutlery is required to consume."
Private chef Michael Johnson urges home cooks to be creative with canapés. "Think about what it is you love to cook and how these things could work in small, one mouthful bites and go for it," he says. "Canapés are a great way to showcase your culinary talents and can be fun and exciting." Johnson also reminds hosts to consider how the canapés are consumed when brainstorming ideas: "You don't want your friend to ruin their shirt with a messy canapé."
When making canapés, Mumford advises hosts to plan for around four per person as a starter, or 12 for a main ("these make the best parties!"). Now, to get those wheels turning, here are our six favorite canapé recipes. Are you ready to join us in the "Bring Back the Canapés" campaign?
Smoked Salmon Canapés with Tarragon
The small bites pictured above feature pumpernickel bread, smoked salmon, and cream cheese, and there's really nothing better. Topped off with finely grated lemon zest, this dish is elegant yet so easy to assemble. In fact, you might want to recruit youngsters to help with prep for a fun pre-party task.
Looking for a great vegetarian canapé option? Chanterelle mushrooms are winners atop toast points, but feel free to swap in any fragrant mushroom of your choosing for this savory bite.
Bring a taste of Barcelona to your next dinner party with this simple tomato-and-toast recipe that far exceeds the sum of its parts. In this version, oven-dried tomatoes and fresh marjoram and thyme riff on the traditional Catalonia version.
Have some fun with canapés. Here, butternut squash get the leaf-shaped cookie cutter treatment for a festive amuse-bouche, and it's perfect for the winter holiday season.
Shrimp Salad Canapés with Endive
Bitter endive complements this shrimp salad wonderfully in a bite-sized treat you'll return to again and again. Trade crab for shrimp in this recipe if the mood strikes.
Radish Canapés with Black-Olive Butter
Somebody tell us why we didn't embrace tangy olive butter sooner? Here, olive butter and radishes with a sprinkling of fresh mint makes for a delicious canapé that's served on toasted baguette pieces.
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