Drinks Party!

The recent months have been pretty busy Chez Gusto. I have been retraining which involved returning to University. Baby-G is growing and started Junior school. And then I returned to the world of full-time work. So all in all we have shamefully neglected our hospitality and entertaining skills and have not hosted any of our friends for quite some time.

In early January we decided to host a very small drinks party. We invited just a few friends…. enough that we knew we could fit around the fire on a cold dreary January afternoon.

Husband-Gusto suggested making the affair even easier by buying ready made canapes. But I decided to do a mix and match and bought some ready-made an others I made myself. Pottering in the kitchen making fiddly bite-sized edibles is definitely my idea of fun! The above was the laden table. It was nice to keep some of our Christmas decorations for a while longer!

These were simple tortilla wraps. The non-vegetarian version I spread tortillas with cream cheese, layered smoked salmon drizzled with lemon and then cut into finger-sized pieces. The vegetarian version was cream cheese layered with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.

This was a pre-made potato spanish omelette that I cut into handy cubes.

Italian and German salami platter

Easy skewers. feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and a basil pesto dipping sauce (take a jar of basil pesto and add a bit of olive oil).

This is, in my opinion, the best branded hummus available. Sabra (and they do an amazing Baba Ghanoush also).

Finished off with a great hunk of Stilton and fruit.

It was a lovely afternoon. So nice to host our friends and very relaxing. We decided we definitely have to have a small drinks gathering again in the very near future!


Canapes- Mini Egg Florentines

MH900022272We were so looking forward to Christmas and then as always it seemed to fly by. This year I had grand plans to not only decorate the house from top to bottom, but also to make my own Christmas cards. Not only did that NOT happen, but we ended up being so busy that we forgot all about a tree until December 24th and by then it was too late. Not even B&Q had a tree so late in the day.

But, on the 23rd, when we possibly should have been looking for a tree, we had a friend over for drinks and nibbles instead. It seemed decadent to be sipping champagne in front of the fire, and even though there were still presents to be wrapped the afternoon served to make us feel like the holidays had started.

I made mini-egg florentines. A few years ago we attended a cocktail party that featured eggs and spinach wrapped in filo pastry. I have taken the idea and adapted it so that the tiny eggs sit on top of spinach and puff pastry discs and was thrilled to finally be able to try my mini eggs out on people to whom I am not related.


12 quail eggs

puff pastry

frozen spinach – a good handful


1 tablespoon of cream

2 tablespoons creme fraiche

good quality hollandaise sauce (I use Maille)

Roll the pastry out thinly and cut into round shapes using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a wine glass. (I do not own a biscuit cutter. I do however own lots of wine glasses).

Grease a muffin tray and lay each pastry round in the bottom

cook the quail eggs, cool and peel. (Quail eggs are easy to get right. Put in a small saucepan of cold water and as soon as the water starts to get a few boiling bubbles, turn straight off and leave until water cool. They are easier to peel when the eggs are very cold).

Heat the spinach, add nutmeg and cream

heat a good tablespoon of hollandaise sauce, add creme fraiche and heat through.

Pop the pastry into the oven on about 190-200 for 20 minutes.

Once out of the oven, assemble by putting spinach on the pastry, topping with a quail egg and pouring over a dollop of the hollandaise sauce.

These were very popular. They were also quite large, so it would be possible to halve each egg to make it look a little more dainty. However I always think a good canape is a big canape.

stockists of garden quail eggsPhoto kindly reproduced with permission by Garden Quails – a family run business in West Sussex that provide truly free range quail eggs. Check out their website and their story at http://www.gardenquails.com/index.html 

Many thanks to Nik at Garden Quails!!!!