I’m a sucker for a canape. In fact, one of my favourite things is to have a ‘drinks and snacks’ dinner party at my house. Of course, it’s actually so much more work to make dozens and dozens of canapes, perfectly presented, than it is to make a normal meal in a bigger volume. But yet I still do it every Christmas time, and often in between. My friends will also say that I am always “just not quite ready” when they start arriving, because I always underestimate how long it will take to do the plating, but that’s part of the fun. Then I put them to work as they arrive. Someone starts serving drinks (because I’m too busy), someone else chops the garnish, and a third answers the door. It’s wonderful. And every time I throw a ‘drinks and snacks’ party, these sweet potato rostis are the hit of the evening. The first to go, the canape that receives the rave reviews, the one that people start searching for in earnest as the empty wine bottles start stacking up in the kitchen. I also like to serve them as a starter/snack to a normal dinner, and then leave starch out of the mains and just serve meat and salad. It gets rid of the highly addictive bowls of chips on the table pre-dinner, that I inevitably demolish.
Sweet Potato Rostis with Tomato & Basil Cream
800g sweet potato
4 tblsp cornflour
salt & pepper
200g cherry tomatoes
3 tblsp basil pesto
3 tblsp cream
3 tsp lemon juice
parmesan, to garnish
* makes about 25
Mix together the cream, pesto and lemon juice in a small bowl and refrigerate. Cut the ends off and peel half the sweet potato. You want to do it in halves because sweet potato tends to discolour if you leave it standing out too long, and it also grows in volume a lot when you grate it. Grate it into a large mixing bowl, and stir through half the cornflour and a generous grind of salt and pepper. Heat 3 tblsps of oil in a large frying pan (medium/medium-high heat), and drop spoonfuls of rosti mixture into the pan. I find the best way to do this is to use a round cookie cutter or dariole mould: put the cookie cutter in the pan and drop a tablespoon of rosti mixture into it, and then press the mixture down with the back of the spoon within the confines of the cookie cutter, before removing it. This gives them a nice uniform size and shape. You’ll probably get 5 or 6 in the pan at a time.
Once you can see that the edges are browning, flip each rosti (gently) using a small spatula. The rostis should be a nice golden brown when you flip them – if they are still very pale, you either jumped the gun or the oil isn’t hot enough. Once they are done, remove them from the pan and drain on paper towel. Continue with the remaining mixture. Once the rostis are all made and have cooled to room temperature (that’s important – if they are still warm, the cream will melt), arrange them on a serving platter. Top each rosti with half a teaspoon of basil cream, and half a cherry tomato. Garnish with shavings of parmesan and serve.
Note: you can keep the cooked (but bare) rostis in a tupperware in the fridge for a couple of days until you need them. Then crisp them up by grilling them briefly on each side in the oven (watch them closely so they don’t burn) and then let them cool to room temperature.
Other topping ideas:
– goats cheese & caramelised onion marmalade
– crispy bacon, blue cheese and creme fraiche
– plain yoghurt, avo and sweet chilli sauce
– marscapone, moonblush tomatoes and fresh coriander
– parma ham, rocket and creme fraiche
– smoked salmon, sour cream & chives