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Spring canapés for Melbourne Cup Carnival

Chrissy Dupé

The countdown is on to the race that stops the nation.

So odds are that you’ll be glued to a TV screen somewhere next Tuesday even if you couldn’t give a toss about horse racing for the other 364 days of the year.

The Melbourne Cup is held every year on the first Tuesday in November, and there’s even a public holiday in Victoria to mark the occasion. My dad has always been a huge racing fan and has shares in a few horses. I’ve never understood the fascination, but there is something about the Melbourne Cup Carnival that makes you want to put on a ridiculously small hat, pop a bottle of bubbly and back a winner.

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The Cup is undoubtedly the main event, but let’s face it the spring racing season is really all about food and fashion (oh, and some tiny men in loud jumpers ride around on horses or something).

If you’re like me and enjoy getting dolled up to watch the race with friends but can’t be bothered battling the boozy crowds at the track, you’ll need some tasty little treats that you can whip up at home.

For springtime I think it’s nice to have a balance of lovely fresh ingredients that are in season, like watermelon, as well as decadent finger food favourites like goat’s cheese and prosciutto.

So frock up, dust off the fascinator and get yourself down to the barriers ladies – it’s time to get your Cup on.

Watermelon, goat’s cheese and prosciutto

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Prep time: 10 mins
Makes: 16

Ingredients

1/2 a watermelon
2 tbsp goat’s cheese
2 slices finely sliced prosciutto, ripped into small pieces
Shredded fresh mint leaves to garnish

Instructions

Slice the watermelon width-wise so you have two large rounds that are approx 2cm thick. Use a small cookie cutter to cut them into small rounds (approx 3.5cm wide x 2 cm high). If you don’t have one you can cut them into small squares using a knife.

Use a piping bag to pipe a small amount of goat’s cheese onto the top of the watermelon rounds (if you don’t have one you can just use a small teaspoon to put a dollop on top).

Place a small piece of prosciutto on top of the goat’s cheese and finish off with mint leaf.

Sweet potato and sage galettes

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Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes: 8 (you can cut in half once cooked to serve 16)

Ingredients

Half a sweet potato, sliced into very thin circles then halved
8 fresh sage leaves
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed slightly
20g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, whisked
Pinch of fresh or ground nutmeg
Pinch of paprika
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180°C and preheat a lightly greased, flat baking tray.

Place the puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and prick lightly all over with a fork and brush with melted butter. Cut into eight rectangles and layer around 4-6 sweet potato slices on each galette so they’re overlapping, leaving about 1cm of pastry around the edges.

Fold / push the pastry in slightly around the edges to form a little border around the sweet potato. Season with salt and pepper and a small sprinkling of nutmeg and paprika. Place one sage leave on each of the galettes.

Brush the pastry edges with a little egg wash and bake for around 15-20 mins or until pastry is golden and crispy and the sweet potato is cooked through.

Caramelised onion and goat’s cheese tartlets

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Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Makes: 16

Ingredients

1 large brown onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp goat’s cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
Dill fronds
Small tartlet casings (you can buy these in most supermarkets)

Instructions

Heat oil over a low-medium heat. Add onions and turn heat down to low, cooking for around 15 mins to soften, stirring occasionally to stop them from sticking to the pan. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 5 minutes to finish caramelising.

Remove from heat and cool onion for a couple of minutes, then spoon a teaspoon of onion into each tartlet casing.

Add a small dollop of goat’s cheese to each tartlet, using a piping bag. If you don’t have one you can use a plastic sandwich bag and cut a small hole in the corner to pipe the cheese on. Top with dill fronds to serve.

 Golden stretchy mozzarella balls with Sriracha mayonnaise

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Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Makes: 25

Ingredients

25 baby bocconcini balls
3/4 cup of panko crumbs
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup plain flour
1 cup whole egg mayonnaise
1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
Vegetable or sunflower oil for frying

Instructions

Drain bocconcini balls and pat dry with paper towel. Put flour on a plate, then whisked egg next to that in a bowl, panko crumbs on a plate and a large, clean plate or platter lined with some grease proof paper at the end of your production line.

Roll the bocconcini balls first in the flour, then the egg, letting excess drain off before rolling in the panko crumbs and placing on the plate. Make sure there’s enough space on the plate for the balls to sit without touching each other so they don’t stick together.

Mix Sriracha sauce into the mayonnaise and set aside. Heat oil to around 180°C. If you are shallow frying, fill a large, deep frying pan or skillet with around 2 inches of oil. If you’re deep-frying follow the instructions on your deep-fryer and fill the oil to the recommended level.

When the oil has reached temperature, carefully lower your bocconcini balls into the oil in batches using a slotted spoon, taking care not to drop them in to avoid any splashing. Cook for around 1 minute on each side if shallow frying or 2 minutes immersed if deep-frying until golden brown.

Turn off heat and carefully remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place onto a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Serve with toothpicks and Sriracha mayonnaise for dipping.

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Chrissy Dupé

Chrissy is a lover of lists and a self-confessed control freak. Her mission is to help other women with a strong need to be in control learn how to harness the power of their inner control freak and use it for good. Having lived through the devastation that being control freak without focus brings, and going out the other side stronger, Chrissy developed a series of hands-on, zero 'fluff' programs to help women control their freak, instead of letting it run them into the ground. Her philosophy is based on the little-known fact that control freaks are actually born for greatness... and that without them, the world would fall into disorganised chaos. You can find out more at www.controlyourfreak.com. More about the Author

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