An amuse-bouche is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre or appetizer in that served to guests whilst they
await the main meal. Usually served accompanied by a complementing wine to arouse the taste-buds of your guests and offer a glimpse into your approach to cooking., They allow the host to use up the
odds and ends they have in the kitchen.
The term is French, literally translated to "mouth amuser". The plural form is amuse-bouche or amuse-bouches.
The original French word, more frequently employed, is amuse-gueule or titbit, although amuse-bouche is more common.
The amuse bouche holds its own special little niche, delivered before even the appetizer arrives on the scene. The next time you have guests for dinner, consider adding an amuse bouche to your menu. Your guests will be delighted to be presented with this special little titbit.
Amuse-bouches can be fiendishly complicated and time consuming to create but there are a myriad recipes and suggestions. There are also dozens of cookbooks available which are specifically aimed at teaching people how to prepare these little treats, but be warned, preparation does not come cheap and you will need huge amounts of patience to get it right. Now for some recipes I have used in the past:
Iced Watercress purée for 6 shot-glasses or cocktail glasses
1 large bunch of watercress
3 shallots, finely chopped
600gm Greek style yoghurt
10cl double cream
½ litre full fat milk
Sea-salt, (the best you have)
Freshly ground pepper
Thoroughly wash the watercress. Pick few nice leaves, blanch them (2-3 seconds on boiling water them immediately into iced water), put them aside to garnish the cream at the end.
In a thick bottom saucepan, melt the butter and gently sweat the shallots for 5 minutes or so.
Coarsely chop your watercress and add them to the shallots, season well and allow to gently simmering for 5 minutes. Finally pour in the milk and let the mixture cook for 8 minutes.
Let the mixture cool down for a little while then whizz the watercress-milk mixture in a food processor. Then pass it through a fine sieve making sure to make most of the watercress's pulp passes through.
Put your double cream in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Mix your watercress puree with the yoghurt, taste the seasoning and put the mixture in the fridge for two or three minutes.
Whip the double cream; season it well with salt and pepper. Alternatively be lazy and use squirty cream – I did!!
Divide the watercress puree into shot-glasses or tiny ramekins. Using a piping bag, add a bit of whipped cream on the top of the soup. Better still – a tiny splodge of squirty cream. Sprinkle a cayenne pepper on the top, then decorate with a couple of blanched leaves of watercress.
Potato and Blue Cheese Soup shots with garlic butter rye toasts
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp butter
500 gm floury potatoes (Vivaldi or baking potatoes)
100 ml sherry oloroso
500 ml vegetable stock – be lazy, use a cube!!
75 gm gorgonzola
Sea-salt and pepper to taste
For the garlic butter toasts:
3 - 5 very thin slices of rye bread
15 gm butter (lightly salted)
1 small clove garlic
Peel and chop the onions, peel and crush the garlic. In a heavy-based pot, melt the butter, then fry the onions until translucent. Peel and finely dice the potatoes. Add the garlic and potatoes to the onions and cook for another few minutes. De-glaze with the sherry, leave to bubble for about 3 minutes; add the stock. Cook on medium to low heat until the potatoes are soft; add the diced gorgonzola and leave to melt. Puree and season with salt and pepper.
The toasts, melt the butter in a pan, season with pepper. Cut the rye slices into strips that
comfortably sit on the rim of the glasses without touching the soup. Brush toasts with garlic butter and brown under the preheated grill for about 2 minutes.
Serve in shot glasses, dilute until the soup has a comfortable pouring consistency, you don't want half of the soup stuck in the glass. Easiest way to do it neatly is to re-use an empty Mayonnaise squeezy bottle – cheating again!!!
Top each glass with a rye toast and serve the soup warm, but not scalding - the glasses must be easy to hold and the soup quick to drink.