The canapes I made up from scratch, and the baskets were by far the best. An outline of the recipe is below, but basically they can be filled with anything that you might otherwise use as a crostini topping. Rough schedule:
Friday night: Make filo cups, cheese straws and polenta cubes. Toast hazelnuts. Cook the blackcurrant mix and refrigerate it overnight.
Saturday morning: Clean bathrooms (sigh). Shop for everything - food, wine, flowers, the lot. (After carrying which, my arms ached - I blame the wine.)
Post-shopping: Make blackcurrant puree, set to churn, place in freezer. Make hazelnut biscuits. Tidy lounge and half-heartedly hoover, arrange flowers (badly). Skin, core and chop tomatoes, dice mozzarella. Prepare potatoes and vegetables. Make peach coulis. At some point, eat for lunch exactly the same as you had for your last three meals, feeling thankful that it is finally all gone and glad the monotony will be broken soon.
6.00pm: Shower and dress. Wish you had a
Last minute: Tidy kitchen and lay table. Prep ingredients for beef. Greet first guests, pour delicious sparkly wine and point one guest in the direction of laptops and router so he can sort out wireless before dinner. Set the other (who you have only just met) to construct filo baskets. Accept you won't be winning the World's Best Hostess award just yet. Get cheese out of the fridge and transfer sorbet from freezer to fridge. Finish prepping main course.
Second couple arrive: pour more drinks, serve nibbles, set main course to cook and enjoy your guests' company!
Caprese Salad Filo Bites (24 of them):
First get a clean tea-towel and dampen it. This is to wrap the filo pastry sheets in whilst you are working, as, if it dries out, you're stuffed. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Lightly grease two twelve-hole mini muffin trays.
Take your first sheet of filo, placing the remaining inside damp tea-towel. Cut into six squares of about such a size as to line a mini-muffin hole with some overhang - about 2.5" - 3". With the pastry I had, this meant that I had about half an inch wastage along the edges of each sheet - unfortunate, but unavoidable. Brush one square lightly with melted butter and lay another on top at an angle (i.e. corners off-set). Brush this second square lightly with butter and place a 3rd one on it, off-set from both of the first two. Brush lightly with butter and then lift the little stack, which should hold together easily due to the butter, and place over a hole in the muffin tin. Ease it down into the mould, trying to get it as central as possible and with the folds of pastry fairly uniform around the entire circumference to ensure even cooking. Repeat with the remaining 3 squares from that filo sheet. Continue with the rest of the pastry sheets. Try to work as quickly as possible, while maintaining accuracy, so the pastry doesn't dry out and become brittle and/or likely to burn. When you have filled the first muffin tin, pop it in the oven. Check after 4 minutes, then at 1 minute intervals. Take them out when the top edges are golden and crisp and the bases are dried out (you won't get the base coloured before the tips are burned as they are so much thicker and heavier with butter).
Once cooked, leave them to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then when cool enough pop them out of the tray and on to a wire rack to get completely cold. Store in an airtight box if you are not using them straight away.
To assemble, first prep all the filling ingredients, have them all lined up and then construct immediately before they are going to be eaten, so there is no time for the pastry to get soggy. (As has been said before, nobody likes a soggy bottom!) So, the tomatoes: fill the kettle and turn on. Place the tomatoes, stalks removed, in a large, heatproof bowl. When the kettle boils, pour the water over the tomatoes and leave for five minutes. Empty out the water and pour over plenty of cold - the colder the better. When the tomatoes are cooled down somewhat, take a sharp knife and score the skin into quarters from pole to pole. You should be able to easily get hold of a corner and peel the skin off in four neat pieces. If not - good luck! Once peeled, chop the tomatoes open and discard the pulp along with the skin. Finely dice the flesh and set aside until assembly-time. Finely dice the mozzarella also. When just about ready to serve, layout the filo cases on the plate or whatever. Take one, drop in a blob of pesto to cover the bottom - about 1/3 of a teaspoon. Add a layer of tomato pieces, a few tiny cubes of cheese and a fine dusting of pepper. (You should have leftover filling, but better to be safe than sorry.) Serve quickly.
*I actually don't really recommend this recipe - it was a little bland, even with toasted hazelnuts, and the dough was a bit of a nightmare to deal with - it "bruised" like none I've used before (i.e. you couldn't touch it without leaving a mark).