Canape plate: Ailis pate, Felada onion crisp and stuffed Cardaway leaves

This week we’re travelling to the Voyager universe and the Delta Quadrant by preparing a canape plate devised by Neelix. He used this to give the bridge crew some sustenance during a particularly stressful time (Voyager: The Cloud). I suggest you can take Neelix’s plan and use this to de-stress dinner party guests, captains (of any sort) and even yourself. Like many foods in Star Trek, we don’t get a great look at the plate, although it’s definitely all finger food.

This canape plate involves three recipes - Ailis pate, onion crisps and stuffed cardaway leaves. Due to the pate being quite strong flavoured, I decided to make the stuffed cardaway leaves vegetarian - but you could of course add some mince meat if you wish. I also added some corn bread to the plate to go with the pate.

This picture was taken in the hazy afternoon light, but if you squint hard enough, I’m pretty sure you’ll get a view into the stars…

This one’s a long one, but all recipes are fairly straightforward and you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic canape plate acceptable anywhere on Earth - and the Delta Quadrant.

Note: As always, photos of the cooking process are available on the Facebook page. This week this will include step by step photos for folding up your own cardaway - or grape - leaves.

Replicate your own
(Makes a canape plate enough for 5-6 people)

For the Ailis pate
(Makes 5 small containers or ramekins of pate)

You will need to start the day before.

500g chicken livers
1/2 onion, minced
5 sage leaves, chopped fine
1 tablespoon green peppercorns, crushed
100g butter
25ml cup sherry (optional)

Start by rinsing the livers in cold water. Change the water a few times until it runs clear. Trim the livers by removing any sinew and discoloured pieces. Set aside.

Sautee in a small amount of butter the onions in a frying pan until softened. Add the livers and cook until they are no longer pink - about 3-4 minutes. Toss in the sage and green peppercorns and mix.

Put the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend. Add the butter and sherry if using, and blend again until smooth - this might take a few goes. Spoon the mixture into some small containersor ramekins and refrigerate.

In the meantime, make the sauce.

For the sauce:
25ml sherry
15ml Worcestershire sauce
300ml water
14g powdered gelatine

In a small saucepan, add the sherry, Worcestershire sauce and 60ml of the water. Heat until almost boiling and add the gelatine, stirring until it is dissolved. Add the rest of the water and let it cool to room temperature.

Spoon the sauce over the pate until the top is covered, and return to the fridge. If you want, you can press some sage leaves or green peppercorns into the top of the sauce once it has been in the fridge for an hour or so (so it has started to harden but you can still press the leaves into the jelly).

Refrigerate the pate overnight, then serve with crackers or bread.

For the stuffed Cardaway leaves

1 jar or package of brined grape leaves (about 40-50 leaves)
1/2 cup pinenuts
1 cup uncooked rice
4 sprigs dill, minced
1 bunch mint, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Start by plunging the grape leaves into hot water, then rinse under cold water. Let drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a dry frying pan, toast the pinenuts until they begin to brown. Remove and set aside. In the same frying pan, add a small amount of olive oil and then cook the garlic and onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the uncooked rice, toss with the garlic and onions and cook until golden. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Mix together the pinenuts, rice and onion mixture, dill and mint. Now you’re ready to fold!

Line a heavy casserole pot or dutch oven with grape leaves. Smooth out a grape leaf, vein side up. Cut away the stem. Place a spoonful of the mixture in the middle of the grape leaf, above where you’ve cut off the stem. To fold, picture the grape leaf as an outspread hand. Start by folding the pieces in the thumb and little finger positions over the mixture. Fold in the sides and then roll the leaf up. Place seam side down in the pot. You can stack them on top of each other if you need to.

Step by step photos of rolling up the grape leaves will be on the facebook page.

Once you’ve rolled up all your dolmades, sprinkle them with the lemon juice and olive oil. Add enough water so the dolmades are covered, and cover with extra grape leaves if you have any left (if you don’t - don’t worry - it’s not essential). Add a plate or saucer to weigh the dolmades down, cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.

Let cool while you prepare….

Felada onion crisps

3 or 4 onions
4 tablespoons plain flour
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Smoked paprika
2 eggs, beaten
Grapeseed oil for frying

Mix together the flour, breadcrumbs, paprika and salt. Set up a dredging conveyor belt with a bowl of the eggs, then a bowl of the flour mixture. Slice the onions into thin-medium rounds and pat them dry.

Dip each piece of onion first in the eggs and then in the flour mixture. You do need to be gentle to ensure the onions stay together.

Heat the oil in a saucepan until it is 180 degrees Celsius. Carefully place each onion piece in the oil, and cook until both sides are golden brown. Drain on some paper towel before serving.

All that is left now is to assemble your canape plate: I’d suggest adding some slices of bread or crackers for the pate and then enjoy everything by eating it with your fingers.

This plate is great for not only diffusing stressful situations if you’re on the bridge, but also for dazzling at a dinner party.

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