We served build your own toasts for our engagement celebration last Saturday afternoon. We provided a selection of breads and toasts, spreads and toppings and let people come up with their own combinations. It was a roaring success and letting people make their own turned mindless canapé eating into a fun and interactive experience.
You can make all of your spreads the day before to help make prep on the day easier and fuss free. While it is also lovely to hand brush olive oil onto each piece of crostini, if you are in a rush you can lay out your bread on the baking tray and use an aerosol canola oil baking spray to help speed up the process.
Your crowd size will dictate how much bread you need but always over cater rather than being conservative! You never know who will turn up. We had around 30 people over the course of the day and we went through three baguettes, one ciabatta and two sour dough loaves. Try and invest in good quality bread, a delicious artisan sour dough you won't even need to toast because it is already so delicious. If you buy your baguettes from a chain bakery you can ask them to throw it through the bread slicer to help make your life easier too. It also means you will get more portions out of a single stick.
Build Your Own Toasts
A selection of breads such as baguettes, sour dough and ciabatta
Oil to brush (a garlic infused olive is ideal, a canola based baking spray will also work a treat)
Goats Feta Whip
In a food processor, blitz together 300g goat's feta and 1/4 cup plain yoghurt until almost smooth. Scrape down the sides and squeeze in the juice of a medium sized lemon. Blitz again until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
Smoked Salmon Mousse
In your food processor, combine 180g wood smoked salmon, 200g of spreadable cream cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Blitz for a few minutes until it is completely smooth. Refrigerate for a few hours prior to serving to help thicken it up again.
Grilled Artichoke and White Bean
Heat your barbecue up and place a jar of drained artichoke hearts on the hot plate or grill to get some colour. Once you have managed to get them golden even a tad black on each side whip them off and place them to one side. Place 2 cloves of garlic in the food processor and run it until the garlic has been finely chopped. Add in the artichokes and a 400g tin of drained cannelleni beans and pulse until a smooth consistency is achieved. Add in a squeeze of lemon juice and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper and process again to incorporate. Scape into a bowl to serve with a drizzle of good flavourful olive oil.
Sauté a diced shallot, five cloves of garlic garlic and a pinch of chilli flakes until soft and translucent then add in four cups of frozen peas and two cups of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer until the peas have defrosted and have turned a bright green. Drain the peas but reserve the cooking liquid. Either transfer the peas to a food processor or use a stick blender in the pot in which you cooked them. Process the peas along with a pinch of cumin and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Don’t over process them though - you want it to be quite chunky. If you would like a sloppier smash pea you can add a bit more of the cooking liquid and blend that in too. Serve warm.
Blitz together two to three cloves of garlic, 5 anchovy filets and two tablespoons of capers in a food processor until they are finely diced. Add in around 200g of olives, a small handful each of parsley and oregano and pulse until they have been chopped up to a chunky dice but not too finely. Next squeeze in the juice of one lemon and 1/3 cup olive oil and pulse until the tapenade reaches a consistency that you like. Add more lemon juice, salt and pepper to your taste. Scrape into a bowl and keep covered until you need it.
Again the quantities you will need will depend on the number of guests you have. For ten people maybe a bunch of asparagus, two courgette, one to two capsicums and a punnet of tomatoes is a good starting point.
Halved cherry tomatoes
Cumin Pickled Red Onions
Grilled Vegetables: Courgette ribbons, asparagus, red capsicum
Use a vegetable peeler to create thick ribbons of courgette. Cut each capsicum in half and remove the seeds. The asparagus just needs the ends trimmed. Douse all of the above in a good few luggings of olive or vegetable oil and a very generous sprinkling of salt. Grill the asparagus until it is bright green but with a few blackened bits. Grill the ribbons of courgette until they have the attractive grill lines on them and they have just begun to turn a golden colour. Place the capsicum halves cut side down onto the grill grates and leave to cook for at least five minutes, you want them to be a little blackened. Turn them over and repeat on the other side. The skin should blister and blacken, when this happens they are good to go. Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut the asparagus in half and the capsicum into strips. Serve everything on a big board or platter or in individual.
Cumin Pickled Red Onions
This is my plainer (read lazier) version of Al Brown’s Cumin Pickled Onions in his Depot cookbook.
Cut two red onions into slices 5mm thick. Coat them in oil and then cook them on the barbecue to get a bit of black on them; they don’t have to be fully cooked at all. Be careful to keep them in tact or else the bits will fall down the grating and leave you with a smoking barbecue for weeks afterward…(guilty). Place the onions, two tablespoons of chopped coriander stems and one tablespoon of cumin seeds in a large jar. In a small saucepan simmer together 1/2 cup malt vinegar and 1/3 cup sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved pour it into the jar and over the onions. Press the onions down to make sure they are mostly submerged. Keep in the fridge until you need to serve.
Place all of the above on platters or in small bowls or plates and present them as one overwhelming display of options.