Stewart Turner’s festive canapés


Head Chef Stewart Turner prepares his classic seafood cocktail: his festive canapé of choice

Our Head Chef Stewart Turner shares his favourite recipes for festive canapés – from fig and gorgonzola blinis to a classic prawn cocktail. They’re easy to make and sure to impress over the festive season.


After the mighty gougère, blinis are always on my go-to canapé list. They’re easy to make, and they’re a great foil for any number of toppings and flavours – perfect for covering all those different dietary requirements.

They can be made in advance and freeze very well. I love a classic smoked salmon topping but I also think creamed wild mushroom or cured ham and fig are fantastic combinations.

So, here’s my basic recipe, alongside some of my favourite toppings.

Base blini recipe – makes about 30

170ml milk

150g plain flour

2 eggs separated

Pinch of salt

½ tsp baking powder

The method

Firstly, combine the egg yolks and milk. Then, whip the whites to stiff peaks. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly whisk in the milk mix to form a smooth batter then fold in the egg whites. Place the mixture in a squeezy bottle and fridge for an hour.

Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat and brush the inside with a little oil. Pipe or spoon a small drop of the mix, about the size of a 10 pence piece, into the pan and allow to cook for about 2 minutes. When the top starts to bubble, turn the blini over – it should be nice and golden.

Cook for a further minute and place on a wire rack to cool. Once ready to serve, garnish your blinis with your choice of topping.

Ideas for blini toppings

Smoked salmon with horseradish crème fraiche

Finish the blini mix with a little lemon zest and chopped dill. Top with smoked salmon and crème fraîche mixed with a little horseradish and picked dill.

Wild mushroom and truffle

Finish the blini mix with a good pinch of dried porcini powder and a splash of truffle oil. Panfry a selection of wild mushrooms with a finely chopped shallot until golden. Then, add a glug of cream and reduce until the mushrooms are coated. Finish with some chopped chives, then spoon the creamy mushrooms onto the blinis. You could even garnish with a slice of truffle.  

Spiced aubergine with pomegranate

Finish the blinis with a good pinch of ras el hanoet spice mix. Then, top with some aubergine caviar, sour cream and pomegranate seeds.

Cured ham, gorgonzola and fig

Quarter some figs and glaze under a hot grill with a little honey and balsamic. Top the blinis with a rosette of cured ham, a small chuck of gorgonzola and a piece of the glazed fig

Crab, avocado and lime

Season some white crab meat with a little tabasco, lime and coriander. Top the blinis with avocado purée and the crab mix, then finish with some freshly grated lime zest.


For many years, a classically garnished plate of smoked salmon was always the go-to starter on Christmas day, but one of my favourite ingredients is shellfish and we’re blessed with some of the world’s best from the waters around our islands.

Freshly cooked and mixed with a little cocktail sauce, it’s the ultimate comfort food. I like to push the boat out for Christmas; for me, it’s all about the lobster and crab, but this also works wonderfully with some good-quality prawns. How much you use is up to you.

For a starter, I would allow about 60g of mixed shellfish per person. I like to plate mine, but you can give yours an old-school twist and serve in some retro cocktail glasses.

Shellfish cocktail recipe – serves 4

Selection of shellfish (crab, lobster and prawns) – cooked and peeled

Extra virgin olive oil 2 heads gem lettuce – outer leaves removed and split in half

1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

4 tsps. caviar – optional ½ bunch chervil – picked and half chopped

Shellfish dressing – optional

Cocktail sauce recipe

100ml mayonnaise

50ml tomato ketchup

Splash of brandy

Dash of Tabasco sauce

Pinch of paprika

1 tbsp crème fraiche – optional

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Squeeze of lemon juice

The method

Start by making the sauce, combining the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste. Then, place the shellfish in a bowl with the chopped chervil and a little freshly grated lemon zest.

Mix in enough sauce to combine with the shellfish. Season the gem halves and cucumber slices with salt, pepper and olive oil. Place the gem at the top of the plate and the cucumber opposite.

Spoon the shellfish mix on top of the cucumber and finish with a dollop of cocktail sauce and some picked chervil. Top the gem lettuce with some caviar (if you’re including it) and spoon over a little shellfish dressing.   

Our experts have selected their favourite wines to enjoy over Christmas. Find inspiration for the perfect accompaniment to your canapés here.