I’ve been canning and preserving diligently all year long. My larder is now loaded with all kinds of interesting jams, jellies, chutneys, compotes that can be summoned when I want to make a mundane supper more interesting. I haven’t made a catalogue yet but all those half-eaten jars in the fridge are on regular rotations so I do not forget any of them. An interesting idea occurred to me the other day as I was nibbling on my morning toast slathered with apricot vanilla jam. What if I plan a party menu without any special grocery trip? Can I come up with enticing bites with lots of variety just by using ingredients in my larder and fridge? I think this would make for a fun challenge for canning enthusiasts.
The opportunity to flex my creative muscles arrived this week in the form of matafan, a fluffy mashed potato pancake from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. The matafan is at once sturdy and tender with a mild potato flavour in the background. I opted to make blini-size pancakes which became perfect canvas for all kinds of toppings. Let the fun begin!
The recipe for the batter is made of mashed potatoes, eggs, flour, and warm milk leavened with whipped egg whites. Staying with my theme of using available ingredients at home, I made a few substitutions. First, I used two Agria potatoes (yellow flesh similar to Yukon Gold) and two Red Norlands. I rarely have russet potatoes around the house since my CSA tends to offer varieties not typically available at grocery stores. I roasted the spuds on a bed of lemon & thyme coarse salt which perfumed my whole house during the long 90 minutes roasting. The frugal side of me could not bear the thought of wasting a perfectly hot oven. So I quickly made a bonus dish to bake next to the potatoes. After I passed the peeled potatoes through a food mill into a mountain of fluffy bits, I mixed in two duck eggs, two chicken egg yolks, flour, and chicken stock. The batter was very stiff but it lightened significantly once I folded in the whipped egg whites.
Frying the batter into pancakes was trivial except for a good dose of patience. My batch made 23 three-inch size mini pancakes, each stood fluffy, tall, and proud. Finally, I’m already to make some pretty Matafan Canapé!
Spicy Onion Jam Matafan:
Spicy red onion jam, parsley
I love this chipotle-laced caramelized red onion jam from Homesick Texan’s recipe. The heat cuts through the sweetness nicely to create a savoury condiment.
Blue Cheese & Pear Butter Matafan:
Danish blue cheese, vanilla pear butter, toasted walnut
Classic combination with a little twist. Instead of using a slice of fresh pear, I used my own vanilla pear butter which was made in the slow cooker for hours. The sweetness rounds out the assertive flavour of blue cheese nicely.
Cranberry Sauce & Greek Yogurt Matafan:
Orange cranberry sauce with apples & figs, Greek yogurt
This is the last of my leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. I love this so much I actually wouldn't mind making another batch for everyday eating! The chunky texture made of dried figs, apples, and cranberries makes this more of a compote. The tartness pairs well with a tiny quenelle of 2% Greek yogurt.
Kumato & Basil Matafan:
Cream cheese, kumato, basil
When tomatoes are out of season, I often turn to hot house grape tomatoes or these brown kumato. Although they cannot compare to vine-ripen tomatoes in summer, there is good flavour in these beauties to make them worthwhile.
Egg & Spicy Mango Chutney Matafan:
Spinach, hardboiled egg, spicy mango chutney, black sesame seeds
Brie & Ruby Port Tomato Jam Matafan:
Brie, ruby port tomato jam, pistachio
When I made these Ruby Port Tomato Jam, I couldn't decide if I like them or not. It really straddles between sweet and savoury. Spreading it on my morning toast was just plain weird to my taste. However, the first time I served it with cheese platter, the sky opened up. It tastes absolutely marvellous with creamy cheese.
Hot Pepper Jelly & Cream Cheese Matafan:
Cream cheese, hot pepper jelly
Classic southern pairing of tangy sweet hot pepper jelly with cream cheese is a recent favourite of mine. I used to view hot pepper jelly with suspicion until I tried making my own this summer. I made mine with Pomona which created a very sturdy set. This is one of those savoury jars of preserves I have in the fridge that Little Brother carefully avoids when he eats his morning toasts. I wonder why
Crabapple “Membrillo” & Rosemary Sheep's Milk Cheese Matafan:
Crabapple fruit cheese, aged sheep's milk cheese with rosemary, almond
This is a nod to the tapas mainstay membrillo & manchego. I will have real membrillo soon though since I have some quince waiting patiently at home! It’s hard to resist cutting off slices from my block of fruit cheese because it is rather like candy. What a great way to use up fruit pulp after making a batch of jelly!
Watermelon Radish & Saffron Rouille Matafan:
Watermelon radish, saffron rouille, fleur de sel
This is a play on the very Gallic snack of radish & butter by using a more decadent saffron garlic olive oil mayonnaise. I just love the dramatic look of these radishes. And they taste pretty mild too.
It’s really amazing how a fully-stocked larder can turn out so many delicious combinations. Notice how I tried to keep each canapé fewer than three ingredients. This way the flavour doesn’t get too busy and the individual ingredient gets to shine. All I need now is a bottle of bubbly to get the party started!