Festive recipes: Three holiday season nibbles to whip up

These easy-to-assemble appetisers have a similar base and require minimal cooking

Light bites are fun to eat and easy to assemble. Photo: Nicole Barua
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One of my favourite activities during the holiday season is throwing impromptu parties with light nibbles and plenty of socialising. For hosts to be able to enjoy the latter, some sleight of hand in the kitchen is useful.

Here I offer you three appetisers with practically the same base that mostly require only assembly. Most of the ingredients are available at deli counters, and even the canape cases come readymade, so making your cooking effortless and, dare I say it, enjoyable.

From a riff on the unfairly forgotten prawn cocktail and fun-to-eat chicken pie bites to tuna forminhas or tartlets, a Goan-Portuguese staple, these classics have been revamped to offer the perfect nugget of nostalgia to fill one with gratitude and comfort.

Chicken pie bites

Makes six medium portions or 16 mini bites


10g red onion, diced

60g mayonnaise

1 tbsp sour cream

15g cheddar cheese, grated

110g roast chicken breast, diced into small pieces

20g capsicum, diced

15g carrot, diced

15g peas, blanched

55g boiled potato

1-2 green chillies (optional), finely chopped

1 tsp parsley (chopped)

Dash of lemon

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 medium tartlet shells or 16 canape casings

Smoked paprika


Soak the diced onions in water for 20 minutes, changing the water once. Drain, rinse and set them in a strainer to dry.

In a mixing bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese, and mix with a spatula.

Add the chicken and all the vegetables, then combine gently with a spatula.

Add the parsley and squeeze in a dash of lemon juice. Add salt and freshly crushed pepper to taste.

Spoon the mixture into the tartlets or canapes.

Dust with smoked paprika for flavour and presentation.

Note: Alternatively, you could make triple the portion and set it in the middle of a plate with crackers.

Prawn and smoked salmon cocktail vol au vents

Serves six

Ingredients and method for filling

85g prawns

80g mayonnaise

30g ketchup

1 tbsp Tabasco

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

80g smoked salmon

1½ tbsp dill, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

80g avocado

1 tbsp sour cream

¼ tsp lemon juice

Heat a pot of water with a pinch of salt. Once it begins to boil, turn off the heat and set the prawns in the water until opaque and firm. Remove and blanch in a bowl of ice.

In a mixing bowl, add mayonnaise, ketchup, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, and mix well.

Dice the smoked salmon and poached prawns and add both to the mayonnaise mix.

Add the dill, and salt and pepper to taste, then cover and set in the refrigerator.

Mash the avocado, add sour cream, salt and freshly crushed pepper to taste. Mix, then add a dash of lemon juice, and set in the refrigerator.

Ingredients and method for the garnish

6 prawns

½ tsp ketchup

½ tsp paprika

Salt, to taste

6 slices Avocado

Lemon juice

Mix the prawns with ketchup, paprika and salt to taste, then set aside.

Liberally cover the slices of avocado with lemon juice and cling film so they don’t oxidise.

Ingredients and method for assembly

6 vol au vents cases (medium)

Heat the vol au vents in an oven at 180°C to crisp them up a bit.

Shallow-fry the six prawns until golden. Set on a kitchen towel to drip excess oil.

To serve, add one heaped teaspoon of the avocado mash into the bottom of the vol au vents, then top with a heaped tablespoon of the prawn cocktail mix. Top with a slice of avocado slice and a fried prawn.

Note: These can be assembled on the morning of your party and can be stored in an airtight container for one day.

Tuna forminhas

Makes 16 portions


25g red onion, diced into 3mm cubes

120g tuna, drained

60g mayonnaise

25g peas, blanched

½ tsp parsley

1 green chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp spring onion, finely chopped

2 sun-dried tomatoes, diced into 3mm cubes

Salt and freshly crushed pepper, to taste

¼ tsp smoked paprika

Dash of lemon juice

16 mini canape shells, for assembly

1 tbsp Nigella seeds or black sesame, for garnish


Soak the diced onions in water for 20 minutes, changing the water once. Drain, rinse and set them in a strainer to dry.

In a mixing bowl, use a fork to separate the tuna chunks. Add the mayonnaise and mix well with a spatula so it resembles a tuna salad.

Add all other ingredients one by one, making sure to incorporate fully each time. Once mixed, taste to adjust the salt, pepper, smoked paprika and lemon juice.

Set in the fridge for at least an hour for the mixture to rest and for the flavours to intensify.

To serve, lay out the canapes and fill with a heaped tablespoon of the tuna filling once it’s at room temperature.

Sprinkle with Nigella seeds.

Note: This can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days in the fridge.

Updated: December 22, 2023, 4:32 AM