Saturday, July 4, 2015

Cocktails and Canapes for Women's World Cup 2015: 3rd/4th place play off

Much to my disappointment England did not make it to the finals and therefore tonight they are in the third & fourth place play offs where they meet Germany. The game is scheduled early enough that those of us on European time can watch it without having to lose all of our sleep. The World Cup final between USA and Japan is tomorrow, and it is scheduled way too late for me, so this is the last game I shall watch live, but it has been a great few weeks.
I'm breaking with the pattern today and making a cocktail for one country and a canape for the other. The theme is what does one country joke about to the other. I rarely go on beach/resort holidays so reserving a sun lounger is not something I have any experience of but the Germans have a huge reputation for parking their beach towels on the sun loungers well before anyone else gets up to beat them to it. So my cocktail is for Germany, and it is the 'Beach Towel'.
Now you might ask why none of us from England can beat them to the towel on lounger game but if common belief is right we are in a bit of a mess in the morning from sitting in the boiling hot sun all day and boozing all night. Now I really wanted to do a lobster canape for this theme as lobster red is the colour so many of us will apparently be after one day on holiday but I thought of this all too late to buy a decent lobster. Perhaps being lousy at planning might be another suitable theme! So the canape I have gone with for England is a boozy prawn cocktail. The booze in the dressing is a dash of vodka, and otherwise this is the classic prawns in pink mayo dressing and that pink mayo includes tomato ketchup. This is traditional, I'm not pretending it is the best way to serve prawns.

The Cocktail recipe is from Saveur Magazine website. It is made up of two layers, the lower strawberry layer is frozen. I did not like the idea of freezing the glass with the strawberry layer in it so I froze this mixture separately like a sorbet and placed it in a chilled glass at the last minute. The top banana layer was then carefully poured in trying not to mix the two together.

Here is the recipe with method as published:

For 2 Beach Towel Cocktails

4 oz. white rum
3 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. fresh lime juice
10 strawberries
1⁄2 oz. double cream
1 small banana, sliced

For the Frozen Strawberry Layer:
Puree half the rum, syrup, juice, berries, and 1 1⁄2 cups ice in a blender. Pour into 2 glasses; freeze.

For the Creamy Banana Layer
Puree remaining rum, syrup, juice, cream, bananas, and 1 1⁄2 cups ice. 

Pour the banana layer over the frozen strawberry layer. Decorate the glass as you wish. Spoons, straws may be useful.

Serve straight away as the layers bleed into each other as it starts to melt. This was the first time I had tried making a frozen cocktail; think of it as an adult slush puppy!
There is a really detailed discussion of how to make a perfect prawn cocktail on the Guardian website  and although I am not following the winning  recipe it is really not far from what I think of as classic prawn cocktail and I have made the dressing in the same way except for using vodka instead of brandy.
You will need:
Large prawns
Crisp green salad leaves
Marie Rose Dressing
4 parts mayonnaise
one half part tomato ketchup
one quarter part Worcestershire sauce
one quarter part lemon juice
one quarter part vodka
tabasco to taste

Mix the prepared prawns into the dressing and serve with crisp lettuce/sweet salad leaves.

You do not want too much sauce and you need to make sure the prawns are quite well drained/dry if they have been frozen. Otherwise if still thawing prawns are added to the sauce water melting off from the frozen prawns will dilute the sauce into something too watery and unattractive.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cocktails and Canapes for Women's World Cup 2015: Semi-Finals

The two semi finals games are taking place so late on 'school' nights for us UK viewers that I shall sadly not be watching them.  I am still cooking for each one with USA being my theme for the first game on Monday of USA vs Germany and then on Tuesday back to my home team as England play Japan.

So For USA vs Germany the menu was a 'Chicago Cocktail' and a canape of  Sweet Potato Biscuits topped with cream cheese, roast turkey breast and cranberry preserve.
The Sweet Potato Biscuits came from the Martha Stewart recipe website and I made it as given except I left out all of the sugar. I may not have cooked my sweet potatoes quite enough as they did not mash to a totally smooth puree but this did not make any difference to the taste which was excellent.

Chicago Cocktail
2 ounces cognac or brandy
¼ teaspoon Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
Dash of Angostura  bitters

  • Sugar the rim of the glass.
  • Topped with Champagne (or prosecco in my case!)
  • Sugar the rim of the glass and try to not be so heavy with it as I was!
  • Stir or shake the brandy, orange liqueur and bitters. 
  • Pour into an tumbler style glass, and top up with Champagne (or Prosecco) as much or as little as you want.

For England vs Japan I am of definitely going with an English theme and we will have a Bloody Mary Cocktail and a canape of a thin slice of home made pork pie served with a spoon of The Bay Tree company Piccalilli, one of the best commercial piccalillis you can find in the UK.

My bloody Mary recipe comes from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Bites book and the recipe has been reproduced here on This makes a lot! Scale back as needed. Try to get good tomato juice, mine was a bit basic and it deadened the flavours a little.

Now you may not think of pork pies as canape material but a good home made pork pie is a thing of beauty and should not be shunned, even if you do peel off and discard some of the pastry it is worthy of any occasion. I always try to mince the pork myself as it gives you more control over the fat to lean pork ratio. Too lean a mix of pork will give a dry slightly hard texture, so you do want some fatty pork in the mix. I used a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe, very close to the one reproduced over here on the them-apples blog.  I baked mine in a rectangular tin by Alan Silverwood with drop down sides that makes it easy to release the pie from the tin at the end.

Alan Silverwood Foldaway Pie Tin
So I am keeping my fingers crossed for the England Ladies tonight and really wishing they will make it through to the final. Very proud of what they have achieved.