Dish: Canape Sampler (Caprese Crostini with Roasted Cicada Crumble, Smoked Octopus? Tartar on Sweet Potato Chip Canapes, and Peach Raccoon Bacon Canapes)
Ethel smiles to herself, the ingredients are absolutely perfect! She had been hoping for ingredients that would work for canapes in the appetizer round. Hurrying to gather her ingredients she wastes no time. Firing up her smoker, she adds the wood chips to get it going just right. In the last round, her success had been with the judges, but she now knew that the audience and wandering food critics were just as important. She never makes the same mistake twice, that's how she's made it to such a ripe old age after all!
The octopus slithers about as she pulls it from the can, saving the juices leftover for later. The creature is difficult to kill all right, but Ethel goes to town on it with vigor ill-fitting of her age. Chopping the writhing mass of octopus? until it is finely diced she scoops the finished product in a large deep pan that she then places in the smoker. For her cicadas, Ethel spreads them whole on a baking sheet and puts them in the oven to bake thoroughly. Next, she begins working on the raccoon meat. Breaking down the animal she cuts the meat into strips which she then drapes over the rotating racks in the smoker. Bacon, even when made out of raccoon meat, is best when smoked after all.
Next Ethel begins slicing the sweet potatoes with her mandolin, getting the chips very thin so that they will crisp up perfectly. These she spreads out on sheet pans with olive oil drizzled on top and a sprinkling of octopus? juice and a little bit of brown sugar. Putting them in the oven, she then gets out her bread. The baguettes are crusty, just the way she needed them to be! Slicing them up she also arranges them on sheet pans before brushing them with extra virgin olive oil. They just need to toast a bit.
Ethel hums to herself happily as she fires up the grill, putting a griddle pan on top of the flame. Pulling out the bacon from the smoker, she begins frying up the strips. She adds a dash of octopus? juice to the pan, watching it flame up for a moment before settling down as the bacon soaks up the salty liquid. The raccoon bacon sizzles pleasantly as Ethel begins to peel and slice peaches. She alternates grilling peach slices and flipping bacon in the pan. Bringing out the cream cheese she sets it in a bowl so she can grind rosemary leaves in her mortar and pestle. Next, she combines the two together to create a rosemary cream cheese mixture. Once that's done she begins putting a generous spread of cream cheese over half of the toasted baguette slices followed by a drizzling of honey. She then carefully places a slice of grilled peach right in the middle. The sweet fruit has a lovely color contrasted by the dark grill marks. As the final touch, Ethel breaks the bacon into small pieces and arranges them aesthetically around the peach slice. The cream cheese holds them in place.
For her next canape, she takes the other half of the toasted baguette slices and tops them with a generously thick slice of fresh mozzarella cheese. Taking out the roasted cicadas, she spreads them on a cutting board, Ethel uses a fork to break them up into crumbles and puts them in a bowl. She then brings out her roma tomatoes and slices them up, placing the slices on top of the mozzarella as she goes. Once all the baguettes are topped, she sprinkles black sea salt and pepper on top and puts them back in the oven to bake. While they bake, she slices up fresh basil leaves and gently stirs them into a mixture of balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. Once the mozzarella and tomato topped baguettes have crisped up and the mozzarella just the right amount of melty, she pulls them from the oven. Sprinkling the roasted cicada crumbles on top she then drizzles the balsamic mixture over it carefully.
Now for the grand finale! Ethel brings out shallots and begins to mince them thoroughly, she also finely chops some capers before putting it in a very large mixing bowl. Next, she pulls the smoked octopus? from the smoker and gently scoops it into the bowl as well. She then adds mustard and zests a lemon before juicing it and adding the liquid to the mixture. Combining it gently, she sets it to the side for later use. Bringing out fromage blanc, parsley, and chives she sets about to snipping the chives and chopping the parsley before combing them with the creamy French cheese. Smiling to herself she then pulls her perfectly crisped sweet potato chips from the oven. She spoons the herbed fromage blanc onto them gently so as not to break any chips then tops each one with a generous helping of the freshly made octopus? tartar.
Finished, Ethel takes a moment to eye her creations. While they are all the same style of appetizer, the different canapes all have to compliment each other. She's confident that they will, as each one is savory with a hint of sweet. Plus she made sure to use octopus? juice in place of salt on the two canapes that did not contain actual octopus? in them. It will be a subtle note of flavor, but it should tie the three together on top of the savory-sweet highlights.
Carefully, she sets about the task of plating for the judges. Two of each canape graces the plates. She then takes them up to the judges, smiling sweetly at them as she presents them the appetizers. She then returns to her stall and looks out at the audience. Smiling sweetly at them she waves at a few friendly-looking faces. She knows she needs their support to move.
"Oh, what lovely people you are. Why you remind me of my late grandson, he was such a dear. Why don't you all come and have some canapes?" She offers with a sweeping gesture toward her cart.
Some people meander over and she serves them plates of six canapes each, just like the judges. She gives each person a big smile and kind words. "You all deserve the best and Grandma Ethel is going to give you just that, my dearies!"