Here are some ideas for classic, yet easy, canape recipes - the perfect French appetizers! Canapé also means couch in French, and it has been suggested that the word derives from the fact that canapes were originally only eaten by the wealthy, whom we could imagine stretched out on couches, leisurely eating tasty morsels. Personally, I'd rather
think of the canape as a little couch itself, on which the tasty morsel is served.
The traditional French canape is all about layers. Layer one is the bread, layer two is a spread (such as the compound butters below), after that comes one or two more substantial layers, followed perhaps by a sprinkling of contrasting color from herbs, nuts, or the classic chive stem.
In French canape recipes, a flavored butter is often spread on the bread before adding an additional topping. Here are some possible compound butters you might like to try.
For each of these recipes, use 1/2 cup softened, unsalted butter:
Anchovy Butter: Mix in 2 ounces anchovy paste. Season with pepper.
Gorgonzola Butter: Break up 2 ounces of gorgonzola cheese and mix with the butter.
Garlic Butter: Mix in 3 cloves crushed garlic and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Season with salt and white pepper.
Mustard Butter: Mix in 1 teaspoon French mustard.
Smoked Salmon Butter: Mix in 1 ounce of pureed smoked salmon. Season with white pepper.
Other possible spreads include: crème fraiche (have a look at this creme fraiche recipe), cream cheese, herb cheese, paté, tapenade, mayonniase, and foie gras.
Canape Recipe Combinations
If you have decided to have a go at the compound butters, here are some suggestions for possible canape recipes:
- Plain butter, small shrimp, mayonnaise, and capers.
- Plain butter, caviar, finely chopped onion and crushed hard-boiled egg.
- Salmon butter, salmon, a very thin slice of lemon, white pepper.
- Anchovy butter, anchovy filet, grilled red pepper.
- Mustard butter, thin slices of sausage, pickle.
Or pick what you think would be pleasing from the following list of classic French toppings and invent your own canape recipes: shrimp, smoked salmon, sardines, caviar, capers, cheese, hard boiled egg slices, young salad greens, aspragus tips, pickles, olives, bell peppers, cucumbers, dill weed, chives, and more!
Remember to have fun making your canapes and enjoy eating them, perhaps sitting languorously on the couch.
8 Tips for Successful Canapes
- Successful canape recipes please the eye as well as the palate. They are little works of art.
- Vary your pleasures by using different sorts of bread for the base: white bread, rye bread, walnut bread, black bread. For classic French appetizers, the bread you choose should have a compact crumb, be soft, and have the crusts removed.
- You may be able to find special small squares or rounds of bread made specifically for canapes.
- Don't make your canapes too big. They should be easily eaten in two polite mouthfuls.
- Change the form of the bread or the toppings, by using a cookie cutter. Try rounds, squares, rectangles, hearts, stars, etc.
- Serve several varieties on one plate. I often see them served in France in tidy little lines, each variety gets its own row. It really does make a lovely presentation, but you could think up something even more creative - how about a checkerboard?
- Don't assemble your canapes too far in advance, because, alas, the bread dries out, the topping gets absorbed, and generally things look a lot less attractive.
- However, to make these easy appetizer recipes, do get everything ready to go for the assembly line. Cut the vegetables, prepare the spreads, snip the herbs, cut the bread (put this in a plastic bag and don't put it in the refrigerator).