Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Day party at my grandma's

I’m not going to tell you hold old my grandmother is but I will tell you this, it’s been a while since she’s decided she wasn’t going to cook on Christmas Day or on the 1st of January. The good days are over and someone else has taken over.

Every year the family is invited for an afternoon ‘snack’ at my grandmother’s place. It’s an open invitation where you can show up between 2pm and 5pm. What we do is drink a lot of bubbly and wine and eat quite a bit too. It’s a classic family reunion for us. And the way it’s done is usually pretty fancy. Since my grandmother doesn’t cook anymore, she usually hires a high end caterer and has canapés prepared for us. It’s pretty good but I personally think it’s never as good as something made fresh and prepared with heart. Which is why when my grandmother spoke to me about having her usual party, I didn’t hesitate a second and offered her to help. Basically, I told her I would do the dirty job, for free! The only thing she had to do was to pay for the groceries.

I’m not going to lie… she hesitated at first. But when she saw the Coquille St-Jacques on this blog, she called me back and told me I had the job. That’s when I new what I had gotten into. It wasn’t going to be an easy task… My grandmother is not one who is easily impressed.

So I put up my sleeves and decided on 10 different types of canapés for the event, enough to satisfy all tastes. My barriers were the following: 11 guests (I was notified the day before the event!), my food had to be somewhat classic and I couldn’t have any breakable dishes in my plating. As for me, I wanted to be able to make quick and easy bites that would be tasty and have a visual impact.


1 English cucumber, cut in ¼ cm slices
240 g chunk crabmeat (canned will do just fine)
¼ red pepper, minced
4 branches green shallots, chopped
2 tbsp Madras curry

1 tbsp curcuma
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice

In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients. Serve on cucumber slices.


1 pound small cooked shrimps, chopped in pieces 
½ red onion, chopped in tiny pieces
½ jalapeno pepper, chopped in tiny pieces
1 tbsp Jamaican All Spice
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp yogurt
1 lime zest
Salt & pepper

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients. Adjust to taste. Serve in little serving cones.


1 cup dry DuPuy lentils
½ sweet onion, minced
3 carrots, chopped in tiny pieces
4 celery branches, chopped in tiny pieces
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
½ cup Xeres vinegar
1 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper


Soak and cook the lentils as indicated on original package. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the onions, carrots and celery with the lentils.

In a bowl, mix the Dijon mustard, Xeres vinegar and olive oil until you get a nice, creamy texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Incorporate to the lentil salad according to taste. Serve in Chinese soup spoons.


500 g chestnut spread
2 cups 35% cream
1 gelatine sheet
1 tbsp cocoa powder
½ cup Crispearls (optional)*

In a medium saucepan over low heat, dissolve the gelatine in the chestnut spread. Set aside and let cool for about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, whip the cream. Add the chestnut mix and blend until you get a homogenous mix. Split between serving plates and cover in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Before serving, you can add a few Crispearls white and some cocoa powder on top.

*Crispearls are cereals coated with chocolate. The ones I buy are made by Callebaut and I buy them at Aubut, whose reference you’ll find in the places where I shop.

The party and the food were a smash hit. My grandmother called this morning and told me everything was fabulous. It was a lot of work for me but so much fun at the same time! I’d do it again anytime.