The béarnaise sauce that accompanies the ‘steak on toast canapés’, served on board the Queen Elizabeth in Diamonds are Forever (1956), has a hidden meaning. As I explain in my contribution to The Many Facets of Diamonds Are Forever (ed. O Buckton), the sauce represents the first part of Tiffany Case’s ‘marriage proposal’ to James Bond. James thinks that the sauce, made by Tiffany herself, is wonderful, and smiles with appreciation at the gesture – and at the prospect of the second part: love-making.
Canapés appear again in The Man with the Golden Gun (1965). In his role as a sort of entertainments officer for Francisco Scaramanga, James Bond has the task of passing a tray of canapés around the assembled hoods and KGB agents, but we don’t find out what sort of canapés they are.
In the recipe below, I replace the toast with oven-baked bread rounds. The instructions for the sauce are taken from my cookbook and are tried and tested.
Makes approx. 16 canapés
- 2 thin-cut beef steaks
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3-4 slices of white bread
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the sauce
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- ½ tbsp finely chopped tarragon (plus an extra pinch)
- ½ onion or 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- ½ tsp peppercorns
- ½ tbsp cold water
- 30g butter
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp finely chopped parsley
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan-assisted; 400F). As the oven is heating, prepare the sauce. Put the vinegar, onion and tablespoon of tarragon in a small saucepan. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and reduce the liquid by half. Strain the liquid and transfer it to a bowl or basin. Discard the onion and other ingredients and half-fill the saucepan with water. Bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Sit the basin on top of the saucepan. Add the cold water, a small knob of butter and the egg yolk to the basin. Whisk the ingredients until they are well mixed. Add the remaining butter, a portion at a time, ensuring that each piece has combined with the sauce before dropping in the next piece. Continue to whisk until the sauce is thick and creamy. Add the parsley and the pinch of tarragon. Pour the sauce into a small bowl and set aside. (The sauce can be made well in advance.)
Pour some olive oil into another small bowl. Season the oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. Brush or spread the oil over both sides of each bread slice. After each slice is coated with oil, cut bite-sized rounds out of the slice using a cookie-cutter or the rim of a narrow glass or cup. (I happened to use a whisky glass with a rim-diameter of 45mm and managed to get four rounds per slice.) Arrange the bread rounds on a baking tray and place the tray in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, turning the bread over after about 3 minutes.
While the bread rounds are in the oven, heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Place the steaks in the pan and fry for 1 minute on each side. Lower the heat to medium and cook the steaks for a further 30 seconds on each side (or a little more if you like your steak less rare). Remove the steaks from the pan. Trim the edges and cut out any gristle or fat. Cut the steaks into neat, bite-sized pieces.
If you haven’t already done so, take the baking tray out of the oven. Transfer the rounds to a serving plate or tray and assemble the canapés. Place a piece of steak on each round, then drizzle the béarnaise sauce over the steak.