Saturday, June 6, 2015

Cocktails & Canapes for Women's World Cup 2015

FIFA Women'sWorldCup

The first game of the 2015 Women's World Cup Football tournament will be held today and I shall be doing my best to drink and eat along from the comfort of my living room.

With the tournament taking place in Canada the time zones are not helping the european fans watch along but I'll try to keep up with the early games. For each game I am going to aim to serve a cocktail and canape with some connection to the national teams. Don't expect the canapes to be too dainty, we're talking football food here, but I'm going to try and prepare dishes that could easily be scaled back into dainty morsels should dainty be required. Each game I feature I will do a blog update. Most write-ups will include recipes, or at least some basic descriptions. I'm not claiming anything here is totally authentic so bear with me if you think I've shaken when I should have stirred, or if you despair of the connection I have made to a country and a particular dish. In most cases I will be shaking up, or cooking up, something for the first time so lots of unknown territory and dipping into recipe books for new ideas.

The first game is Canada vs China, 11pm UK time, and the menu is:

Niagara Falls Cocktail 

Maple and smokey chilli bbq chicken thighs in a maple & pecan bun

The Niagara Falls cocktail recipe is:

  • 2 parts vodka
  • 2 parts orange liqueur
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 1/2 part sugar syrup
  • ginger ale to top up - cold

Shake the vodka, orange liqueur, lemon juice and sugar syrup over ice in a shaker and strain into a champagne flute.

Top up with chilled ginger ale (Canada dry!) and serve. 

For the Maple & Smokey Chilli Chicken Thighs:
(Inspired by 'Chipotle & Maple Wings' from Pitt Cue Co. The Cook Book)

2tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seed
1.5tsp coriander seed
1tsp black pepper corns
1 large clove garlic chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
2 tbs sunflower oil
1 tsp smokey chilli paste such as Grand Luchito
170 ml orange/mango juice
50 ml maple syrup
1 dessert spoon mango chutney (basic not one with whole spices)
1 dessert spoon ketchup
2 tsp mild mustard
smoked salt to taste such as Maldon smoked rock salt

500g chicken thighs (in my case boned and skinned; if bone in they will take longer to cook)

Boneless/Skinless thighs will be easy to eat inside a bun but harder to cook as they are going to dry our more readily so baste well while roasting.

Toast the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds in a hot pan and then grind to a powder with the pepper corns. I used a pestle and mortar, which is hard work but an electric spice grinder would be much easier.

Gently fry the chopped garlic and finely chopped onion in a deep sided fry pan using the 2 tbs sunflower oil until soft but not browned.

Add the ground spices and the chilli paste and cook for about a minute with the garlic and onion.

Add the fruit juice, maple syrup, mango chutney, ketchup and mustard and cook down until about half the volume to give a coating consistency.

Add smoked salt to taste.

Allow to cook and then pour over the chicken thighs and put back in the fridge to marinade for about eight hours or longer.
When ready to cook heat the oven to 180C, line a heavy metal tray with foil and spread the chicken thighs out over the tray (for skinless thighs drizzle with a little sunflower oil).

Roast for about 40 minutes boneless, about 60 minutes for bone in, turning and basting the pieces two or three times while roasting. Test that juices run clear when a piece is pierced with a knife; if not cook for a further 10-15 minutes. 

You want them to be nicely browned when finished so you may need to use the oven grill at the end to crisp them up which I did for a good 10 minutes on a high grill setting. Leave the chicken to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Warm the buns, slice up the chicken and pack in as much as you dare. Serve with napkins!
Serve with salad garnish and bread rolls of your choice.

Pecan & Maple Buns
The pecan and maple bread buns were baked and popped in the freezer earlier in the week. I modified my basic bread roll recipe to use 50:50 strong Candian white flour and British spelt flour, added 3 tbs of maple syrup to the dough and after the bulk proving kneaded in 75g of chopped pecans.

250g Strong white flour
250g spelt flour
1tsp dry yeast
3 tbs maple syrup
1good tsp sea salt
water to mix
75g chopped pecans

Stir the dry ingredients together in a bowl and then add enough water to give a soft, very slightly sticky dough.
Turn this out onto a work surface and knead until smooth.
Put the dough back in the bowl and cover.
Leave to rise for 30 minutes and then give the dough a few turns (not quite kneading)
Put back in the bowl, cover and leave for another 30 minutes and repeat the turning.
After each turning stage the dough short feel more elastic and far less sticky
Now return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave until double in size.
Turn out and knead in the chopped pecans.
Divide the dough into 75g balls and then shape into even slighlt flat rounds.
Place on parchment lined baking trays leavinf room for them to expand.
Cover again leaving to rise until almost double in size.
Preheat the oven to 180C and then bake one tray at a time for about 20 minutes or until the bottom of a roll when tapped sounds hollow.

I brushed a little maple syrup over the just baked rolls to give them a glaze but this is totally optional.
The maple syrup compliments the pecan flavour but does not make the rolls too sweet.

And the result was Canada 1 China 0, I only managed to stay awake for the first half but was impressed with China, they must have felt gutted to lose to a penalty in injury time right at the end.

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