Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christmas Special - The 1920s Canape

Canapes have been around for a while, but reached a peak of popularity in the 1920s and 30s when the cocktail party was in its prime. Parties could be short, a couple of hours from 5 til 7, or longer from 6.30 til about 9, or segue into dinner by another name with more substantial fare.

For the 5 til 7 cocktail party, the Adelaide News suggested savoury snacks such as potato chips, pickled onions, salted almonds, olives, anchovies and cream cheese on tiny biscuits, celery boats stuffed with cream cheese, tiny sausages grilled and served on sticks. A longer cocktail party called for oysters, freshly opened and set out on plates with bowls of sauces of different kinds to go with them; slices of brown bread and butter for an accompaniment for the oysters; prawns, lobster, whitebait, and crab mayonnaise in pastry cases and all kinds of canapes.

Canapes are simply pieces of bread cut into rounds, ovals, squares, rectangles or triangles, fried and topped with savoury mixtures of seafood, nuts, eggs, sauces and garnishes. They ranged from lobster slices on creamy lobster butter to tomato sauce spread on bread, baked and then topped with a slice of tomato and cucumber, a dollop of mayonnaise and an olive.

Anchovy or sardine canapes were economical, and exoticised with names likes Canapes Lucia and Canapes Julia.

Tomato Canapes

3-4 slices bread, stamped into rounds with a pastry cutter (or shot glass) or cut into fingers
tomato ketchup
fresh tomato
stuffed olives

Spread bread thickly with tomato ketchup, place on a baking sheet and bake in a hot oven for five minutes. On each piece of bread place a slice of tomato and a slice of cucumber. Top with a spoonful of mayonnaise thinned with whipped cream and a small stuffed olive. 

(Anchovy) Canapes Lucia

3-4 slices stale white bread
12 anchovy fillets
1 - 2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and finely chopped

Cut the bread into slices 1/3 inch thick, stamp out into 12 rounds, fry in butter, then top each round with a curl of anchovy, fill the centre with chopped egg and garnish with a sprig of watercress.

(Sardine) Canapes Julia

3-4 slices toasted bread
cream cheese
cayenne pepper
sardines, boned and skinned

Cut the bread into 12 ovals or fingers, spread thickly with cream cheese mixed with a little cayenne, top each with a sardine.

Lobster Canapes

3-4 slices bread, stamped into 12 rounds
oil and vinegar
endive or lettuce

Fry rounds of bread, drain them and let them cool. Cut small slices of lobster; soak these in oil and vinegar for a few moments. Spread the croutons with lobster butter; lay on each a slice of lobster and over it sprinkle a few capers. Serve cold on a bed of very finely cut light-green endive or lettuce.
Lobster butter is made from the coral of a lobster, fresh butter, salt and cayenne. Rub the coral smooth in a mortar, adding butter till it is of creamy consistency and of a deep red color. Add cayenne to taste and a little salt.