A twist on the classic Champagne cocktail, with frozen orange and elderflower cubes to keep the drink nicely chilled. Decorate glasses with candied orange or remove strips of fresh rind before cutting off the pith for the orange ice cubes.
Recipe Category: Fiona Smith Issue 202
At Cuisine, we love the savoury waffles served at Little Culprit, so this is my homage to them. The waffles go soft quite quickly, but you can cook them ahead then reheat, which crisps them up. The toppings are also great on crostini or grilled bread.
Small floury potatoes work best for these, small enough that you can cut them in half and use the skin as a base when you smash them. You can buy bags of baby baking potatoes in the supermarket – make sure you don’t buy waxy, boiling potatoes. The cauliflower and tomato aioli is a great dip for other uses, too, such as crackers, crudités and platters. The potatoes are not designed to be served piping hot, just a little warm is best.
Seafood and Champagne are a classic match, oysters being number one but so many other seafoods go wonderfully. I also love that oily, fried-food match you get with the likes of fried chicken, with the crispness of the bubbles cutting through the grease. These mussel-fritter sandwiches are the best of both and so easy to make ahead and serve hot.
NOTE There are a couple of ways to shuck your mussels. The best way for fritters is to shuck them raw, as you keep all the juices and the fritters are lovely and light. Do this by sliding a knife blade between the two shells and wedging it open. As soon as you cut through the connecting muscle the shell will release. I like to put my mussels in the freezer for 30 minutes before I do this – not long enough to freeze, but long enough that they start to open a little. Retain all the juices as you shuck. You can also steam them open, just in a little water boiling rapidly, but make sure you pluck them out the moment they open so they don’t get too cooked.
I wanted these to be just like the smoked-salmon blini that people love, only all plant based. If you can, it is best to make the 'caviar' a few days in advance so the charcoal dissolves completely. If the pearls get too stuck together, pour over a little boiling water and separate with a fork.
NOTE This recipe will give you leftover chickpeas and smoked carrot. These are great additions to soups or fritters. I like to make a smoked carrot and chickpea chowder by frying up finely chopped onions, leek and celery, then adding the chopped smoked carrot and drained chickpeas along with some diced potato, sprigs of thyme, a tin of chopped tomatoes and some vegetable stock and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Season with salt, pepper and some hot chilli sauce if liked.
There was a time when you couldn’t go to a party or function and not be served Vietnamese rice rolls. We shouldn’t forget how great they are as finger food, as they are a lovely, fresh-tasting offering and will sit well if made ahead of time (put them on a tray and cover each layer well with plastic wrap). I have served these with a dipping sauce made from the duck juices and bones, which is full of flavour and delicious if you have the time, but if not, use nuoc cham, chilli sauce or similar for dipping.