Are you entertaining for Christmas or New Year this year?
We had 14 people round the table for Christmas dinner last year, so we decided that Christmas day would be just the four of us this year, then we'll have family round and do some visiting starting on Boxing day.
I'm one of those people who likes to plan my food (my holidays, my work schedule, basically anything I can get into a list) well in advance. And these sandwich bites are on my party table list because:
- They're cute, and I love mini, cute foods.
- They're colourful - and it's nice not to have a party table full of beige foods!
- They're a bit different - multi-layer sandwich bites with different flavour combinations.
- They're great for using up bits of leftovers - smoked salmon trimmings, shreds of turkey, the bottom of that bag of spinach - they can all go in there.
- They look a bit fancy, and I like pretending I'm fancy sometimes.
- And of course they're delicious too.
I'm thinking of making a sweet version too - with banana and mascarpone, raspberries, Nutella and figs. Or how about doing it all in one loaf! Starting with savoury at one end and finishing with sweet at the other end!
The middle slice might be a bit Russian roulette though.....
A week tomorrow till the big day and despite the fact that I'm that annoying list-maker that we talked about earlier, I'm definitely NOT organised for Christmas.
My Christmas cake is in the oven as we speak - several weeks after I was planning to make it (I even have a post titled November is the time to make your Christmas cake!). When I came to make it this morning, I accidentally squeezed the juice of a lemon in the mixture (instead of just the zest), I discovered we had no mixed spice - so had to improvise and make my own, and worst of all, that bottle of cherry brandy I thought I had at the back of the cupboard turned out to be grenedine. So my cake has a mixture of rum and amaretto in it instead.
I'm sure it will be fine.
I also have several pressies left to buy, I need to replenish the ferrero rochers that we stuck in the Christmas tree because I ate them all (and it was a LARGE box), and I haven't posted a single Christmas card.
At least the cats have Xmas outfits though.
(which, by-the-way lasted about 90 seconds, because I couldn't stand looking at their sad/grumpy faces).
So back to the sandwich bites.
Hollow out a ciabatta loaf, then spread the base with cream cheese. This helps to waterproof the sandwich, so the bread doesn't go soggy.
I wanted three different types of sandwich -
- Cucumber, smoked salmon, mizuna/rocket leaves and lemon zest
- Spinach, red onion, roasted peppers and pesto
- Carrot, radish, hummus and beetroot
So I started with a layer of cucumber, spinach and carrot. Next a layer of salmon, red onion and radish. Then mizuna leaves, roasted peppers and hummus, and finally lemon zest, pesto and grated beetroot.
Replace the ciabatta lid. Then if you can't wait, you can chop into bite-size pieces right away (hold each bite together with a cocktail stick).
Or if you want to press it, wrap in parchment and place in the fridge. Place a baking tray on top with a heavy weight (I used a heavy pestle and mortar), and leave for a few hours or overnight.
Then unwrap and chop!
Can I make it ahead?
Yes, so long as you have a good thick layer of cream cheese, and you're using really fresh ciabatta, you can make this 2 days ahead, then wrap and refrigerate.
Can I make it gluten free?
So far I haven't found a decent, thick gluten free ciabatta. If you know of one, let me know and I'll add it to this post. Warburtons do a pretty good gluten free sourdough cob that would work for this though. If you're using a cob, you'll be better off slicing into wedges. The wedges will probably be bigger than the bites, so it will serve fewer people.
What can I use instead of cream cheese?
The cream cheese acts as a barrier to prevent the bread getting soggy. You could use a spreading of butter or some thinly sliced cheese instead.
The French Pressed Sandwich Bites Recipe:
French Pressed Sandwich Bites
- 1 good-quality ciabatta - ideally from a bakery so it's a little larger than normal - about 300g/10 ½ oz
- 4 tbsp cream cheese
- ½ cucumber - peeled into strips using a vegetable peeler
- 1 cup (30g) baby spinach
- 1 carrot - peeled and grated/shredded
- 2 slices (about 60g/2 oz) smoked salmon
- ⅛ small red onion - peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 radishes - sliced
- 1 cup (30g) mizuna or baby rocket leaves
- 1 roasted red/yellow pepper from a jar - drained and roughly sliced
- 3 tbsp red pepper hummus
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp fresh pesto
- 1 small cooked beetroot - grated/shredded (about 50g/1/4 cup)
- Slice the top off a ciabatta loaf, then hollow it out (I use a knife to cut around the inside, then scoop it out with my hand). Try to get as much of the bread out as possible (save the bread to make breadcrumbs for another dish).
- Spread the base of the ciabatta with cream cheese.
- Cover ⅓ of the base with cucumber, ⅓ with baby spinach leaves and ⅓ with grated carrot.
- Top the cucumber with the salmon, top the spinach with the red onion and top the carrot with the radish slices.
- Top the salmon with the mizuna leaves, the red onion with the roasted peppers and the radish with the hummus.
- For the final layer, top the mizuna leaves with the lemon zest, the roasted peppers with the pesto, and the hummus with the grated beetroot.
- Replace the ciabatta lid.
- Wrap the ciabatta in baking parchment and place in the refrigerator. Place a baking tray on top with a heavy weight (I used a heavy pestle and mortar - but make sure your fridge shelf can hold the weight!), and leave for a few hours or ideally overnight.
- Unwrap the ciabatta and chop into thirds.
- Chop each of the thirds into 9 (3-by-3) sandwich bites. So altogether you should have 27 sandwich bites.
- Place on a plate to serve (stick a cocktail stick in each one to make them easier to pick up if you like).
Can I make it ahead?Yes, so long as you have a good thick layer of cream cheese, and you're using really fresh ciabatta, you can make this 2 days ahead, then wrap and refrigerate. .
Can I make it gluten free?So far I haven't found a decent, thick gluten free ciabatta. If you know of one, let me know and I'll add it to this post. Warburtons do a pretty good gluten free sourdough cob that would work for this though. If you're using a cob, you'll be better off slicing into wedges. The wedges will probably be bigger than the bites, so it will serve fewer people. .
What can I use instead of cream cheese?The cream cheese acts as a barrier to prevent the bread getting soggy. You could use a spreading of butter or some thinly sliced cheese instead. . Nutritional Information is approx. (worked out as a whole and divided by 27 bites) per sandwich bite.
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