Philippa James' Christmas Canapes recipes - Mini mincemeat baskets and toad in the holes

PUBLISHED: 17:36 24 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:26 20 February 2013

Philippa hands out the canapes in the sumptuous setting of Rufford Old Hall

Philippa hands out the canapes in the sumptuous setting of Rufford Old Hall

Our cookery editor creates canapes at Rufford Old Hall<br/>Here are some dinky, one-bite canapé ideas that are easy to prepare and truly scrumptious too

Here are some dinky, one-bite canap ideas that are easy to prepare and truly scrumptious too

Mini mincemeat baskets

A pack of filo pastry
A jar of good quality mincemeat
Toasted flaked almonds, icing sugar or shortbread fingers
A small quantity of melted butter
Youll also need a mini muffin tin.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c / gas mark 4.
2. Lay three strips of filo pastry down and cut a strip, about twice the width of the mini muffin tin inserts, through the three layers. Then cut these triple strips into squares.
3. Cover the pastry you are not using with a clean, dampened tea towel, or damp kitchen roll. In each of the piles of squares, take the top piece of pastry, brush the top with melted butter and place into the muffin tin. Take a second piece, butter, and put onto the first piece, at an angle. Repeat, without buttering, but also at an angle, the third piece, so the end result looks like a star.
4. Pop a small amount of mincemeat into each pastry case that you have made. Bake for 10-15minutes, until the pastry is golden, turn down if they are browning too quickly.
5. When you remove from the oven you can top with a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds, crumbled shortbread, or a dusting of icing sugar

Mini toad-in-the-holes

125g/ 5oz Plain flour
1 Medium, free-range egg
300ml/ half a pint full fat milk
A little vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper
24 Chipolata sausages
A jar of onion marmalade, Lisa Reedys red onion one is ideal
You will need the mini muffin tin again

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220c / gas mark 7. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the egg. Mix together then whisk in the milk, a little at a time until the mixture is the consistency of single cream. Season lightly and set aside.
2. Using the vegetable oil, grease the holes of a 12-hole mini muffin tin, then put one sausage in each. Put the tin in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.
3. Remove tin from the oven and divide about half the batter among the very hot muffin tin - it should come to about two thirds of the way up each sausage. Cook for 12-20 minutes until the batter is puffed up and golden. This depends on the size of the tin
4. As you remove from the oven, pop a little blob of onion marmalade on to each one, and serve.

Christmas dates

Allow three dates per person (and about eight for the cook!)
Whole skinned almonds, one per date, or pine nuts
Dry-cure, smoked bacon, half a slice per date
Cocktail sticks

1. Slit each date and stuff with a whole almond, or a couple of pine nuts.
2. Pull back together and wrap in a piece of bacon, just long enough to over-wrap the date, secure with a cocktail stick.
3. Grill on all sides until the bacon is cooked through, about eight minutes.
4. Serve with a Fino sherry; the dryness cuts against the sweetness of the dates and the saltiness of the bacon

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