1001 kitchen tips #5 - Canapes. On a roll

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
“But they’re so perfect, they look like they’ve been made by machine” a customer said earlier this year when I delivered their canapés. “Yes they have been” I replied “me.”

Christmas. You’ve been round to all of your friends drinks parties, you’ve held yours, and then the family descend on you for the big day itself. Turn the heating up to nursing home level, move the entire contents of the supermarket shelves into your pantry, let the spirits flow like water, and snooze in front of the TV. But we love it.
Christmas is also the time when you can not just keep up with the Joneses but show that you’re better than them. So how do you make the perfect canapé roulade, the one that shows that you can be the domestic goddess at the same time as having the career.
You have to work with tight cling film so you have control on the roulade. Run a damp piece of kitchen paper so the surface is moist. Not too wet, or the cling film will slide instead. Roll the clingfilm accross your surface. Then run a bit of kitchen paper, or the cloth over to stick it to the table and remove any air bubbles. If you are using a cloth make sure it is freshly laundered - that tea towel which has been hanging around for a few days, drying out every time on the aga (at the perfect temperature for microbal growth) will be full of bacteria, and you want to impress the Joneses, not give them food poisoning.
Pipe on your filling, cut the cling film, then, using the cling film, close the near side over the back, so you get your roulade shape, and tuck the cling film over like you're tucking the sheets under a pillow. Now, with the clingfilm, pull the roulade back to you with one hand while rolling with the other and twist the ends to finish. I will add a picture of that technique at some time.
Another trick is to put a sticky label at the top of the clingfilm and fold it over the top, so that when you are unwrapping the roulades you can find the end of the clingfim easily.
Place your roulades flat on a tray and freeze till solid. Cutting them when frozen means they hold their shape. I arrange them on rye bread spread with cream cheese, cut between the edges, then place them apart slightly so you can cut them at a slight angle. Use the hot knife technique which has the dual role in this case of cleaning the crumbs off the knife each time you cut, and heating the blade so you can cut through the frozen roulade easily. A pastry knife is invaluable for this job - you almost feel like you're sawing through.

Smoked salmon roulades are fine to be cut as soon as they are out of the freezer, though ham, such as the ones below, need a little defrosting (till they're semi freddo) before they are cut otherwise they crack apart.

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