Perfect mouth-sized bites to ward off the hunger pangs while you wait for the ‘main event’.
Cooking time: 1 hour
Prep time: 1 hour plus 3 hours setting time
For the marmalade
400g red onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
350g redcurrant jelly
50g balsamic vinegar
2 juniper berries
3 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp oil
For the cheesecakes:
100g cream cheese
250g good quality soft goat’s cheese
35g watercress, stalks discarded
150ml double cream
120g puff pastry and some plain flour for rolling
20g sesame seeds
20g poppy seeds
120g unsalted butter, soft
1 leaf bronze gelatine
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Then make the red onion marmalade. Add the oil to a saucepan over a medium heat, then cook the onion and garlic with a good pinch of salt until softened.
Add the redcurrant jelly and balsamic vinegar to the pan, then wrap the juniper berries, thyme and cloves in a muslin cloth. Tie at the top then also add this to the pan. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the liquid has reduced to a syrup, remove the herbs from the pan and allow the marmalade to chill in the fridge.
To make the base of the cheesecakes, flour your work surface and roll out the puff pastry to around half a centimetre thickness then place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool then break up and add to a food processor along with the seeds and a pinch of salt. Blend until a breadcrumb-like consistency is reached, then add the soft butter and blend again until combined.
Line a deep baking tray with greaseproof paper, ensuring that the paper covers the sides and comes over the top of the tray. Press the pastry into the tray, ensuring that it is even. Leave to rest in the fridge for one hour.
To make the cheesecake topping, beat the cream cheese and goat’s cheese together until smooth using an electric mixer. In a small pan, bring the cream to the boil then set aside.
Soak the gelatine in cold water until softened, then squeeze out any excess water and whisk into the warm cream until completely melted and combined. Add the cream and gelatine mixture to the cheese and whisk until smooth. Finely chop the watercress leaves then fold through the cheese mixture along with some freshly ground black pepper.
Pour the cheese mix over the set base and allow to set until firm, around 2-3 hours. Once set, carefully remove from the tray using the corners of the greaseproof paper.
For round canapes, use a small metal pastry cutter. Alternatively, use a sharp knife to cut square shapes. Dip the cutter or knife into a jug of hot water between cuts to both clean the blades and give a smoother finish.
Arrange on a plate or slate, then top with the chilled red onion jam and a small sprig of watercress to garnish.
For even more tempting watercress recipes, visit www.watercress.co.uk.