While it’s perfectly acceptable to heat up some ready-made canapés in your oven half an hour before your party starts, it really does pay to go the extra mile and make the food yourself. And since the party season is nearly over *sob*, and Dull Dry January looms, we think it's worth going the whole hog and creating something a bit extra-special to see this new year in.
That's why we've gone Italian for our NY gathering this year as a) they really know how to feed a crowd and b) both of the recipes below are delicious and simple ideas that won’t take ages to prepare but will look seriously impressive. Each of these traditional dishes use a combination of gloriously-festive flavours of honey, nuts and a cheese called Grana Padano, a delicious semi-aged hard Italian cheese that is subtler in flavour than Parmigiano and less nutty and salty.
And while we’re on the Italian theme, why not do as the Italians do for New Year - wear red underwear and eat a spoonful of lentil stew when the clock strikes midnight.
When in Rome…
RUSTICI WITH APRICOT AND HONEY
Ingredients (makes 30 pieces):
- 500g Puff pastry
- 300g Dry apricots
- 150g Grated Grana Padano cheese
- 50ml Honey
- 100g Pistachios
- 10g Black onion seed
1) Preheat the oven to 185°C
2) Mix the apricots, Grana Padano, honey, and pistachios in a bowl using a fork or spoon.
3) Roll out the puff pastry and cut into 5cm x 3cm long strips.
4) Place the filling in the middle of the strip and roll the dough into a spiral shape.
5) Brush with a beaten egg and top with black onion seed and extra grated Grana Padano.
6) Place in the oven for 25 minutes.
DRIED FRUITS AND NUTS WITH GRANA PADANO M'PIGLIATI*
Ingredients (makes 100 pieces):
- 500g Puff pastry
- 50g Mix of dried apricots, figs, prunes, pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds
- 3 Tablespoons of honey
- 100g Grated Grana Padano cheese
- 1 Egg yolk
- Icing sugar to dust
1) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
2) Roll the puff pastry into a thin layer and cut the dough into long horizontal strips.
3) In a mortar, crush the dried fruits and nuts.
4) Add the honey and 50g of the grated Grana Padano cheese and use your hands to work the mixture into a paste.
5) Spread the paste onto the top of the dough.
6) Starting with a long side of the dough, roll it into a log, jelly-roll style.
7) Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.
8) Sprinkle with icing sugar once cooled and serve.
* M’PIGLIATI is a Calabrian word for ‘INCASTRATI’ which means jammed, stuck, or entangled