Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Christmas/New Year’ Category

Mulligatawny is such a strange sounding word, but it simply means pepper water.  Rather than being rooted in India, it is thought that Mulligatawny probably originated in Sri Lanka, although it could possibly have come from the Tamil speaking people of South India.  ‘Mulligatawny’ or ‘Milagu Thanni’ is an amalgam of two Tamil words: ‘Millagu’ meaning pepper and ‘Thanni’ meaning water, although the soup we eat is probably closer to another Tamilian soup called Rasam.  Originally a thin soup, under the rulers of the British colonial Raj Mulligatawny became rich and dense.  A Mulligatawny soup recipe such as this one would have been familiar to those Britons who lived and worked during the Imperial Raj, the British rule of the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947.  Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon), a large island just to the south of mainland India, had close ties to Britain but was never part of the Raj.  The British tried to recreate familiar dishes, as far as possible using the new and unusual ingredients they found but the hot climate, lack of refrigeration and unfamiliar cooking facilities would have made this very difficult.  Originally Mulligatawny was served as a vegetarian ‘sauce’, but the British varied the recipe, including meat and other ingredients, often thickening it with rice and adding turmeric to give a yellow colour.  Recipes for Mulligatawny appeared in many Victorian publications including one in the 1870 Nabob’s cook book which featured the addition of ‘fowl’.  Although the soup was popular in India and Ceylon, it was not highly thought of back home in England but the resulting mixture of East and West has cast an influence on British cooking which can still be found today.

I have wanted to make Mulligatawny Soup for some time but when looking for a recipe, as you can imagine from the information above, there is  a great deal of choice.  I knew that I wanted to make a hearty and spicy soup which could be eaten in place of a main meal: the type that would be ideal when the weather is at its January chilliest.  I found two complementary recipes and this version of Mulligatawny Soup is a combination of the best of both.  The sources were Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert and a wonderful recent find (from the secondhand bookstall at the church where my choir meets) The Ultimate Hot & Spicy Cookbook by various authors (published by Lorenz books), which I will certainly be revisiting again and again.  I certainly wanted to add meat, chicken from choice (but this could be varied) and unable to choose between adding rice as in the Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons and lentils as in The Ultimate Hot & Spicy Cookbook I decided to add both, something I will definitely do again.  The second book also included sultanas, but as I do not like these in curries I have left them out.  The dollop of Mango Chutney (home made, of course!) made it sweet enough for me.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Mulligatawny Soup
(Serves 3-4)

10g/½oz butter
1tbsp olive oil
4 chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite size chunks
or
2 chicken breast fillets, cut into bite size chunks
or
about 8ozs/200g leftover turkey or chicken from a roast
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium sized carrot, diced
1 medium sized potato, diced
1 small turnip, diced (optional)
1 tbsp mild madras curry powder (or another powder of your choice)
1 litre/1¾pints chicken stock
2 large tomatoes, chopped (did not skin & deseed as in original recipe)
2-4 cloves (according to personal preference)
6 black peppercorns, crushed lightly
4ozs/100g rice (preferably Basmati)
2ozs/50g red lentils
2ozs/50g sultanas (optional – I left these out)
handful chopped coriander (reserve some for garnish) – or parsley
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Garnish
1tbsp per bowl natural yoghurt/crème fraîche/sour cream (more if you wish)
1tsp per bowl mango chutney
chopped fresh coriander (reserved)
grind of black pepper or light dusting of cayenne pepper/chilli powder

1.  Melt the butter and oil together in a large saucepan.  Turn up the heat and fry the diced raw  chicken quickly turning frequently until it has browned.  (Cooked leftover chicken should be added about 10minutes before the serving which should be just long enough for it to be thoroughly heated through.)  This should take about 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

2.  Stir the curry powder into the remaining oil and cook briefly.  Add the onion, garlic, carrot, potato and turnip (if using) to the oil remaining in the pan.  Stir well and turn down the heat.  Cover and cook very gently for about 10 minutes.

3.  Add the stock and stir well.  Add the cloves, crushed peppercorns and chopped tomatoes.  Bring to the boil and reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 2o minutes.

4.  Return the cooked chicken to the pan along with most of the chopped coriander, including the stalky pieces (use just chopped leaves for the garnish).  Add the rice and lentils and simmer gently until they are just cooked, adding a little extra water only if needed.  (If leftover cooked chicken is being used in place of fresh meat, this should be added about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.)

5.  Remove the cloves before serving if you can find them. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve in warmed soup bowls topped with a dollop of natural yoghurt, crème fraîche or sour cream, a spoonful of mango chutney and a scattering of chopped fresh coriander leaves (or parsley).  This can be served with Naan bread if you wish.

Read Full Post »

Whatever else is on offer, a Trifle is an essential dessert for New Year’s Day (at least that is my personal opinion though I am more than happy to serve it at other times of the year.)  At New Year meals in past years I have offered Sherry Jelly Berry Trifle, Black Forest Trifle and Chocolate Orange Trifle (yet to appear on this site).  This year it was the turn of a Mulled Plum Trifle. (Should probably rename it Mulled ‘Yum’ Trifle actually!)

This recipe is my own, an experiment which I knew would be fine – after all what could be wrong with a combination of plums and custard/cream with the obligatory slug of alcohol!  I am sure that any plums would be fine, but I used the type of hard round plums that are readily available throughout most of the year in the UK with colours ranging from cerise red to a deep ‘plummy’ maroon with golden or reddish flesh.  We find that these are not particularly good to eat uncooked but I often serve them for dessert as Mulled Plums, stewing them in a similar method to that below.  See also my previous post on Mulled Stewed Fruit.  This year I served Mulled Plum Trifle to my very forgiving extended family, with Candlemas Crumble as a hot alternative.  Most people ate both and I sent my guests home with a portion each of Mulled Plum Trifle for tea the next day.  I find the combination of almond and goes well with plums so I soaked the trifle sponges in the bottom of the dish with a sherry glass of Carina brand Cremandorla: Crema aux Amandes, a Sicilian almond flavoured aperitif made with Marsala wine, which we buy when on holiday in France.  It can be found in many French supermarkets: Leclerc, Super-U, Carrefour, Intermarche…  My sister in law uses an Italian almond flavoured (amaretto) liqueur called Disarono which is similar and available, I think, in the UK.  Most trifles have sherry or marsala and this can, of course, be substituted.  This is a jelly free trifle and actually I think it does not need either jelly or gelatine.  However, if you wish, a complementary flavoured jelly can be used – for example raspberry or blackcurrant – or alternatively gelatine can be used to set the liquid without adding another flavour.  In both cases the cooked plums should be strained and the cooking liquid made up with enough extra water to make a strong jelly mixture.  It is helpful if you remember how many pieces of whole spice you have used as they will be removed when the plums are added to the trifle – either that or give a prize to the person who finds a piece in their mouthful!)

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Mulled Plum Trifle
(Serves 6-8)

10 or 12 Trifle sponge fingers/Boudoir biscuits to cover base of dish
2-3 tbsp Almond Liqueur or dry sherry (optional) – see note above
2-2½lbs/1-1.25kg plums, halved and pitted (more if you wish)
Zest & juice of ½ lemon
2-3 thick slices fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves
1-2 star anise
1 bay leaf
3-4 tbsp demerara sugar
¼pint/5fl ozs/150ml water
1 pint of custard made with custard powder and milk – sugared to taste
284ml/10fl oz carton Elmlea double or whipping cream
For decoration
Small handful of blanched split almonds
Sugar dragees or stars (optional)

1.  Quarter the plums, remove the stones and place in a shallow pan (I use my large frying pan) along with the lemon zest and juice, ginger slices, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise and bay leaf.  Sprinkle over the sugar, add the water and bring to the boil.  Put on the lid and turn the heat down low.  Stew very gently for about 10 minutes until the plums are soft and the liquid is syrupy.  Remove the lid and boil briefly if the liquid needs to be reduced.  A little extra water can be added but only if absolutely necessary as although it will soak into the sponge too much liquid will make the trifle watery (remember that this trifle is not set with jelly or gelatine).  Remove pan from the heat and leave to cool.  This step can be done in advance the the plums refrigerated.

2.  Make up a pint of custard, varying the amount of sugar used according to the sweetness of the base layer.  Leave to cool.

3. Toast the almonds either under a hot grill, in a dry frying pan or for about 5 minutes in the oven if it is on.  Leave to cool.

4.  Line the base of a transparent glass dish with trifle sponge fingers/Boudoir biscuits and soak with the almond liqueur or sherry.

5.  Spoon the plums and their juice into the bowl, distributing evenly and removing the spices and bay leaf as you come across them.

6.  Spoon the cooled custard carefully over the plums, distributing evenly and smoothing carefully.  Try to avoid the dark plum juice ‘bleeding’ through the surface of the custard.

7.  To serve: Whip the cream and spread evenly on top of the custard.  Just before serving sprinkle over the cooled almonds (this way they will retain their crunch) and any other decoration such as dragees or stars.

Read Full Post »

A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL MY READERS

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Dundee Style Christmas Cake 2011

Some years ago, instead of our usual marzipan and iced cake, I experimented by making a Dundee Style one with the traditional topping of cherries and nuts.  This year, having already made two marzipanned cakes with one iced as well (the Easter Simnel Cake and our Silver Wedding Anniversary Cake) I decided to make another Dundee Cake.  The basic cake was made using the Special Occasion Rich Fruit Cake recipe which I use for all family celebration cakes.  Before it was baked I selected enough nuts and fruits to put in concentric rings on top, which are added before the cake was baked.  Last time I used just blanched almonds and glace cherries but this time I topped it with circles of walnuts, pecan nuts and blanched almonds interspersed with red and green glace cherries.  When we were in Spain on holiday this year I discovered green cherries in little bottles and was very pleased as I have been searching for them for some years.  They are not quite the same as the red cherries we have in the UK, as the syrup is much lighter, but the flavour was the same.  The ribbon came from Primark and was a bargain at £1 a roll – a perfect match for the colours I had already used for the cake topping.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Read Full Post »

More and more churches are serving their Christmas congregations mulled wine or a non-alcoholic alternative these years after the annual Christmas Carol Service and what could be more welcome on a cold evening.  I have yet to add a recipe for Mulled Wine or an alcohol free alternative here but Amanda, The Vicar’s Wife, makes a non-alcoholic version of Mulled Wine called Spiced Cranapple, a mixture of Cranberry and Apple Juices.  Mulled Cider is a popular alternative to Mulled Wine and last year I came across several recipes for Mulling Apple Juice.  This simple recipe for Spiced Apple Punch, was an immediate hit with my family.

This particular recipe is a variation of the one on the Tesco website, but I have adjusted the ingredients for our taste.  The ingredient quantities listed below are mine, but the original amounts are listed with the original recipe for Spiced Apple Punch.  It is important that whole rather than ground spices are used as the latter would make the juice cloudy, even if it is well strained.  I added some strips of root ginger, halved the quantity of lemon and put in slightly less Star Anise.  Often Cassia Bark is sold in our local ethnic food shops in bags labelled Cinnamon.  Although not the same Cassia is usually less expensive and as it gives a similar flavour and is removed before serving seems a good alternative, however use true Cinnamon if available.   One recipe I found includes honey as a sweetener, but we felt that this recipe is sweet enough already.   The original recipe suggests that for an alcoholic version, replacing half the apple juice with dry cider and adding 2 tbsp apple brandy.  Alternatively I suggest that I tablespoonful (more if you wish) of brandy be added to each glass before pouring over the hot spiced punch.  If you are making a quantity to serve at an event a slow cooker is useful for keeping mulled drinks of any type piping hot.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Mulled Apple Punch
(Serves 4-6, depending on portion size)

1 litre apple juice
2 star anise
2 cloves
3 or 4 thin slices of fresh root ginger, washed but unpeeled
1 crumbled cinnamon stick
or
1 finger length of Cassia Bark, broken into pieces
½ lemon, thinly sliced
1 clementine/satsuma, thinly sliced – alternatively half a sweet orange.
1.  Wash the lemon and satsuma/clementine with a little detergent and rinse well.  On a plate, in order to catch the juices, halve the lemon and thinly slice both it and the clementine/satsuma (or half orange).
2.  Place the apple juice in a large saucepan with the star anise, cloves, ginger slices and cinnamon stick or cassia bark.
3.  Add the slices of lemon and clementine/satsuma/orange.
4.  Gently heat the juice until hot but not boiling, turn off the heat and leave to infuse for at least 10 minutes but longer if possible.  I left it for an hour.
5.  Serve the Spiced Mulled Apple Punch in mugs or heat proof tumblers.

Read Full Post »

My Dad is a Crunchie fan – he just loves honeycomb – actually you could probably call him a ‘Crunchie nut’ so this is ideal for him!  When I came across this just before last Christmas I just knew I had to make a batch so I could give him some for Christmas (saving some for our family, of course!)  I also made White Christmas Slices and was able to give him and mum mixed box of goodies.  I like the idea of giving handmade presents, sadly its something I rarely have time to do.  This year my mind has been on other things with little time to make those festive extra treats we love: pickles, chutneys, Stollen, Lebkuchen…

I first saw this on the television series accompanying the new (in Christmas 2010) book, Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson.  Such a simple idea and I was able to take down the recipe from the TV.  A shortcut possibility, or for anyone outside the UK who cannot get Crunchie Bars (though they seem to be widely available), would be to use honeycomb, also known as cinder toffee.  I understand this is fairly simple to make and there are various methods online.  Here is just one version: Lets make a crunchie bar (giving first a recipe for honeycomb and then turning it into home made ‘crunchie’ bites) from fellow London based blogger London Eats.  If you use honeycomb rather than Crunchies, then you would need to add more chocolate to account for the missing chocolate covering on the bars.  I found that the finished article was much easier to cut straight from the fridge: once it had started to warm up the portions were not quite so neat and started to crumble.  My one concern was that the finished  article could have looked a little prettier.  I used bars of Sainsbury’s Basics range chocolate, which I understand comes from a very reputable source yet is very resonably priced and was careful not to overheat it.  I am not very experienced with chocolate and I would have liked a smoother finish, however I don’t think this was the fault of the chocolate.  The taste was great.  As an alternative to using lined shallow square or rectangular tins Nigella suggests using disposable foil tins.  I always make sure I rescue these when they come with commercially bought meals, usually desserts or cakes, rather than immediately recycling them.  By the way, don’t worry about using salted peanuts, just shake off any excess salt before use.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Sweet & Salty Crunchie Nut Bars

200g milk chocolate (I used Sainsbury’s Basics range)
100g dark/plain chocolate (I used Sainsbury’s Basics range)
100g unsalted butter (I used slightly less than the 125g in the original recipe)
1 x 15ml tbsp golden syrup
250g salted peanuts (I used Sainsbury’s Basics range)
2 x 80g Crunchie bars

1.  Line a tin about 26cm square or a rectangular tin of similar dimensions with tin foil, smoothing out as much as possible.  Alternatively use disposable foil tins (see note above).

2.  Tip the peanuts into a large hole sieve or colander and shake over the sink to remove excess salt. Tip them into a medium sized mixing bowl. Crumble and add the Crunchie bars. Stir to combine.

3.  Gently melt the butter and golden syrup together in a heavy based pan. As it melts break up and add the chocolate bars. Stir until dissolved, but do not allow to boil.

4.  When the mixture in the pan has just melted pour it over the nuts and broken Crunchies and stir together.

5.  Pour into the lined tin or foil tray.  Spread out to the corners and try to flatten it as possible.  A spatula will help with this.

6.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for several hours.  Remove and slice, working quickly before the mixture starts to warm up, which I found made it more difficult to cut accurately. I could be cut it into chunks, wedges or even random shapes.

7.  Store in the fridge until you are ready to give away.  Placed in small decorative boxes and wrapped with cellophane this makes good Christmas gift.  It could also be served as a ‘naughty nibble’ with a cup of coffee!

Read Full Post »

Once we have got across the channel we buy a lovely fresh stick ‘pain’ for our first picnic and then spend time poring over the wonderful offerings on the delicatessen counter.  Which cheese?  Can’t choose: OK let’s get two types …and we mustn’t forget the pâté!  Mostly we buy this from a supermarket but sometimes, if we are in a town, we buy from a Charcuterie or Pork Butcher, where it is likely to be the butcher’s shop own recipe.  Pâté, of course, comes in many different local and regional guises.  My husband loves Pâté Provençale, often slightly spicy with pieces of red and green pepper and there are no prizes for guessing what my duck loving daughter chooses … I’m just happy to try as many different ones as I can!  We all have a bit of a weakness for a good meaty (and garlicky!) French pâté.  The French seem to have a penchant for adding pistachio nuts to cooked meats and pâtés so I was very pleased to come across this recipe which made a very pretty addition to our Christmas afternoon tea (and several subsequent meals) last year.  I have been intending to share it for some time and as there is a French theme this month, here it is at last … and as promised.  Be warned, though, this is not a particularly quick recipe to make as the pressing and cooling takes at least 2 hours in addition to the making and cooking time, but it is worth it.

The recipe comes from one of my Christmas presents (a request!) last year: The French Market by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde.  I already own a copy of the companion book by the same authors: The French Kitchen.  The pâté had favourable comments from our Christmas and New Year visitors but if I was being critical I think it needs a few little tweaks when I make it again, and I will.  Firstly, I felt that the recipe needed a little more seasoning (I was probably being careful so underseasoned) and the addition of garlic for a stronger flavour.  This is down to personal preference and is a comment rather than an instruction: you will have to make up your own mind and alter as you think fit.  I used the exact amount of pistachio nuts but felt it was rather a lot and could be reduced a little next time, perhaps by a quarter or even more.  You can see from the photo just how generous the quantity is.  Other recipes include peppercorns which give a lovely spicy hit in the mouth: the quantity to add would be trial and error of course and certainly not the same in quantity as the pistachios.  I have a tub of mixed coloured peppercorns bought in France – a mixture of black, white, green and pink which I will try sometime.  Another adaptation could be a version of Pâté Provençale, adding chopped mixed peppers and Herbes de Provence.  I chose to make the mixture in two smaller loaf tins, which meant that I needed almost double the number of bacon rashers and then froze one block to extend the use by date, defrosting it overnight before cooking, though I could easily have cooked both and simply frozen one afterwards, perhaps ready sliced.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

French Style Country Terrine/Pâté (Terrine/Pâté de Campagne)
(Serves 6-8 as a lunch dish – more as part of a buffet)

450g streaky bacon, thinly sliced & rind free (extra for more than one block of pâté)
200g chicken livers, trimmed
500g lean pork, diced
4 shallots, finely diced
or
2 small white onions, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped/crushed (optional addition to original recipe)
2 eggs, beaten
bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 sprigs of thyme, just the leaves
or
1tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves, chopped
Sea salt & ground black pepper
100g pistachio nuts, or less (whole or chopped – reserved some whole to garnish) optional

1. The original recipe specified heating the oven to 160oC/Gas 3.  No Farenheit temperature was given but I think this is about 312oF.

2. Chop the chicken livers and 250g of the bacon and place together in a bowl.

3. Stir in both the chopped and the minced pork, chopped shallots or onion, chopped or crushed garlic, herbs and seasoning. Add most of the pistachio (or other nuts, peppercorns or similar) at this point, reserving a few as a garnish.  Mix well.

4. Line a 22cm x 11cm terrine dish or loaf tin with most of the remaining slices of bacon, reserving a few to go on top once it is filled. Alternatively use two (or more) smaller ovenproof containers, but as mentioned previously you will need extra bacon. The bacon can be gently stretched with a knife so it covers a larger area of the tin and should be laid side by side with no gaps. The pâté will have an attractive striped appearance.

5. Fill the dish(es) or tin(s) with the meat mixture.

6. Fold the ends of the lining bacon over the top of the meat mixture and lay the remaining slices on the top side by side.

7. Bake in the oven for 1½ hours – two separate containers should need slightly less time. Watch the surface and if the meat starts to brown too much, cover with a layer of tin foil, shiny side up to reflect away the heat.

8. Remove and leave to cool for 30 minutes before carefully draining off the collected juices. These can be kept as stock and added to another meat recipe.

9. Place sheet of tin foil and then a snug fitting weight on the top of the terrine or tin for at least 1½ hours in order to compress it. (I used some tins with some heavy bags of salt on top, but use whatever is to hand.)

10. For ease the finished terrine should be turned out while still slightly warm. It can then be eaten immediately or chilled in the refrigerator until ready to slice and serve. Scatter with the remaining pistachios or other nuts, if using, to preserve their crunchiness for as long as possible. (If adding peppercorns you do not need to reserve any.)

11. The book recommends that this will keep for up to 7 days in the refrigerator. If making more than one container or loaf the second one can be wrapped well in tin foil and frozen. It should be thoroughly defrosted (overnight in the refrigerator) before eating.

12. This can also be cut into portions or individual slices to be taken in advance from the freezer and defrosted.

13.  Serve with crusty French style or Wholegrain bread and salad.  Good for buffets and summer picnics and excellent to serve as a starter, especially as it can be made in advance.

Read Full Post »

My last post was Chunky Vegetable & Pasta Soup: warming, satisfying and meat free.  I thought I would follow it with an equally warming and satisfying one that includes just a little meat: some chicken and bacon.  I am very fond of red lentils too, which cook down to give the soup a warming, slightly grainy thickness.  Although the original recipe specified fresh meat (a boned chicken thigh) I substituted leftover chicken, adding it later in the recipe as it was already cooked.  It is always good to have a variety of ways to use up the remains of a chicken – or even some of the Christmas turkey!  I suspect we will continue to have warming winter soups for some weeks yet so I am sure I will be making this again and very soon.

This is yet another hit recipe from my favourite soup recipe book, initially from the library but then bought with some birthday present money: Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert. In the book it is called The Number One Winter Soup, a rather strange title and although I agree that it is a first class recipe, I did feel I wanted something more helpfully descriptive.  Apart from substituting leftover chicken as I had some available, in place of a chicken thigh, the recipe is more or less as it originally appeared.  I did add a few more lentils to make the portions a little more generous and I have included this information in the instructions below.  (The lower figure is the amount of lentils given in the original.)  This dish is easily adapted by adding a little more of any of the ingredients that are particular favourites plus, of course, it could be completely meat free if the chicken and bacon were removed, vegetable stock substituted and a tin of favourite beans added.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Winter Vegetable, Chicken & Bacon Soup (The Number One Winter Soup)
(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp butter
4ozs/125g streaky bacon (about 4 rashers)
1 boneless fresh chicken thigh
   or
4ozs/125g cooked chicken (or turkey)
2 onions, peeled & chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 parsnip, diced
2 leeks, sliced
3pints/1.7litres weak chicken (or turkey) stock
175g/6ozs red lentils (can increase to 225g/8ozs)
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley (plus a little to garnish)
¼tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1.  Heat the oil and butter together in a large saucepan.  Cut the bacon into small pieces and gently fry until golden.

2.  If using fresh chicken cut into small pieces and add now.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on a gentle heat until it starts to brown.  (Pre-cooked chicken is added later to prevent it from breaking up.)

3.  Stir in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips and leeks.  Cover and cook over a low heat for about 10minutes until they are starting to soften.

4.  Add the stock, lentils, thyme, bay leaf and parsley (remembering to reserve a little parsley to garnish).  Bring to the boil, cook for 10 minutes uncovered, then put on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 30minutes.  If using leftover chicken add this 10minutes before serving, which gives enough time for it to adequately heat through.

5.  Before serving check and adjust the seasoning.  Serve in warmed bowls, garnished with the reserved parsley and with some crusty bread on the side.

Read Full Post »

One of the joys of the colder months, particularly just after Christmas when the food has normally been rather rich, is a simple bowlful of soup accompanied by some crusty fresh bread.  I was attracted to the flavour combination of the ingredients in this recipe: carrot always makes a delicious soup (at least I think so), butter beans add a smooth creaminess and rosemary gives both scent and flavour.  This is my final recipe this year for seasonal leftovers.  It was first made just after Christmas so I used Turkey stock, but the original recipe specified chicken stock (vegetable stock would be fine too).  Don’t worry if you are a bit fed up with turkey flavour as the main flavours come from the other ingredients so you won’t feel you are eating ‘that bird’ – yet again! 

The recipe comes from my soup book: the Women’s Institute Soups for all Seasons by Liz Herbert.  Butterbean, Carrot & Rosemary Soup, the original title, is listed in the Winter section and it truly is a warming bowlful for a cold lunchtime.  It was made and on the table in a very short time, which is always an advantage.  The recipe uses tinned beans.  Dried beans can be substituted (in which case the amount of beans used should be halved) and I have given details below, however the recipe will no longer be so speedy.  The carrot predominates and my version has the option of adding extra carrot, so I changed the title a little.  The word ‘Thatched’ is my addition, which I have used once before when I grated cheese onto Thatched Cauliflower Cheese Soup.  This time I suggest an additional small carrot is grated with most stirred in and a scattering on top for decoration, or if you prefer simply reserve and add a few strands for decoration.  Stirred though, without cooking, gives a crunchy texture to the otherwise smooth soup.  On first tasting the soup can taste a little bland so beware overseasoning and taste again before serving.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Thatched Carrot, Butterbean & Rosemary Soup
(Serves 4)

2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
12ozs/35og carrots, diced
1 or 2 sticks celery, diced
1½pints/700ml turkey or chicken stock
2tsp fresh chopped rosemary (or 1tsp dried rosemary): more if you love rosemary
1 bay leaf
400g can butterbeans, rinsed & drained (or 200g dried butterbeans)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
sprigs of fresh rosemary to garnish (if available)
1 more carrot, grated (small: garnish only/medium: garnish & stir in) optional

1.  For tinned beans, start at step 2.
If using dried beans instead of tinned they should first be soaked overnight to soften or, if time is short, pour over boiling water and leave for 1 hour.  Bring to the boil in unsalted water, reduce heat and cook until soft, about 30minutes, before using in the recipe.  (Salted water will toughen the skins of the beans.)

2.  Heat the olive oil in a large lidded saucepan.  Gently sweat the onion, garlic, carrots and celery for about 10 minutes until soft but not browned.  Shake or stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

3.  Add the stock, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

4.  Stir in the butterbeans.  Simmer for a further 10 minutes.

5.  Allow the soup to cool slightly and purée, using a liquidiser if available.  Check and adjust seasoning.  I usually add a little more hot water to rinse the liquidiser once the soup has been puréed so I do not lose any of the soup.  Return the soup to the saucepan along with this extra soupy water and reheat.  If you are stirring grated carrot through the soup then add it just before the soup is served, reserving a small amount to garnish.  Do not reheat for too long as the grated carrot will lose its crunch.

6.  Serve in bowls, garnished with a thatch of grated carrot and a sprig of fresh rosemary.  The original recipe suggests that the pretty lavender flowers of rosemary, if in season, add to the appearance of the dish.

Read Full Post »

Every year I try to find something new to try using the turkey leftovers from Christmas.  After the festive meal we strip the carcass of usable meat, reserving the remainder for turkey soup and stock.  We enjoy some of the meat cold, but the remainder is packaged up into meal sized portions (in our case to feed 3/4 people) and frozen.  We have favourites of course such as Midwinter Turkey Chilli Beanpot, Turkey & Bacon Fricassée and Turkey Flan with Leeks & Cheese .  I had been meaning to try pearl barley in place of rice to make a dish similar to a risotto, so when I came across this recipe I just had to give it a go especially as I needed a recipe that was quick and easy.  Since writing this post I have been reminded through the comments of the reported health benefits of Barley Water, often recommended for kidney health.  Barley Water is mentioned in Wikipedia as a remedy for cystitis, but does not specifically mention the kidneys:  there are numerous other sites which do make the link though, but to which I am not prepared to add a link.   My mother used to use the water in which barley had been boiled and flavour it with slightly sweetened lemon for a version of Lemon Barley Water that was so much better than any brand name bottled variety.  (You can also cheat and use it to water down a commercial lemon – or orange – squash.)

The recipe comes from the website Allrecipes.co.uk, which is a good source of ideas.  The original was called Lemon Barley Pilaf with Chicken.  This is my version which uses Turkey and Bacon.  It can be made with either fresh or pre-cooked turkey (I have given instructions for both) adding the bacon for extra flavour.  (Chicken can be used if you prefer.)  A smaller quantity of leftover meat will be needed than fresh meat and, of course, ready cooked meat is added towards the end of the cooking time as it just needs reheating.  I ‘tweaked’ a few of the other ingredients a little and also used baby Spinach in place of rocket.  The instructions for cooking the pearl barley did not seem to give it long enough, so in line with another recipe I make regularly (Pot Roasted Vegetables and Pearl Barley) I pre-cooked the barley for a short while (about 15 minutes) before adding it to the remaining ingredients.  This recipe got the thumbs up from my family, particularly because of its delicious fresh lemony flavour, so I shall definitely be making it again.  I think it could equally well be made as a conventional risotto using arborio or a similar risotto rice.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Lemon Barley Pilaf with Turkey & Bacon
(Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled & diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
225g pearl barley
600ml chicken stock, hot
1 tbsp chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g frozen peas
125g/40zs chopped bacon or leftover ham (optional)
325g/12ozs fresh diced turkey/chicken – extra if not using bacon
   or
250g skinned roast turkey/chicken, in small pieces – extra if not using bacon
50g baby spinach (or rocket as in the original recipe)

1.   Place the barley and stock in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until partially but not completely cooked.  Check liquid level reguarly to make sure it does dry out, adding a little extra water if needed.

2.  Put the oil in a heavy saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Stir in the onion and if using fresh meat add the diced fresh turkey or chicken and bacon (cooked meats are added later) and cook until it starts to change colour.  Add the carrot, celery and garlic and stir into the mixture.  Cook gently for about 1o minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften but without browning.

3. Stir in the cooked barley along with its cooking stock and bring back to the boil.   Stir in the thyme and lemon zest.  Turn the heat to as low as possible, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally until the barley is almost soft.

4.   Add peas and stir well.  Cover the pan and simmer for a further 4–5 minutes.The barley should be soft and the liquid should disappear but be careful the mixture does not stick so check and stir regularly.  Add the lemon juice.  If needed, a little more boiling water can be added.  Season to taste.

5. If using leftover ready cooked meat then dice it well and add to the pan.  Add the baby spinach leaves, lightly stir through the mixture and cook for no more than 1minute so it is just wilted.

6.  Serve immediately in a bowl with a scattering of grated parmesan (optional).

Read Full Post »

So, here we are in a New Year with Christmas over and just a few remnants of festive foods lurking in the fridge and cupboard.  This recipe is one of the best I know for using up the last of the mincemeat, but actually I would happily open a new jar to make this.  There are two recipes for sweet mincemeat on this site.  Most recently I have added a delicious Suet Free Mincemeat which is ideal for this recipe.  There is also Last Minute Mincemeat, a method for augmenting a standard shop bought jar and very helpful if you have just small amount left over from Christmas.  (For a small quantity for each 4tbsp mincemeat add around 3tbsp dried mixed fruit, 1tbsp brandy, 2tbsp orange juice and 4 chopped glace cherries.)  About half a jar full is needed for the recipe, but if it is slightly less don’t worry.  If you are just slightly short of the quantity required, a third and very quick method would be to simply add a scattering of mixed dried fruit.  For the record, another good way of using up leftover sweet mincemeat is in a Candlemas Crumble, which is good at any time, not just on 2nd February!  I served a large (double sized) version of Mincemeat & Almond Delight at this year’s New Year’s Day meal for our extended family as an alternative to a Sherry Berry Jelly Trifle.  Most people ate seconds, coming back for the pudding they had not tried first time round! 

The recipe for Mincemeat & Almond Delight comes from The Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cookbook.  It is a shortcrust pastry flan case filled with Mincemeat and sliced banana and covered with an almond mixture similar to that in Bakewell Tart, known as crème d’amande (almond cream).  French Style Pear Tart/Pear Pie Bordalue (Tarte aux Poires), also with crème d’amande, uses a similar method and a recipe will eventually also be posted here.  I am indebted to Clothilde at Chocolate & Zucchini (one of my favourite blogs) in her post  about Galette des Rois (something else I fully intend to make one day!)  She helpfully writes:

“There is a lot of confusion between crème d’amande, and frangipane, so here’s the difference: crème d’amande (almond cream) is a simple mix of butter, sugar, ground almonds, and eggs, more or less in equal parts. Frangipane, on the other hand, is a blend of crème d’amande and crème pâtissière (pastry cream), which is made with eggs, milk, sugar, and flour or cornstarch.” 

So now you – and I – know the difference.  Having written that the filling for this recipe and the Pear Pie Bordalue was Frangipane I now stand corrected and I have amended my words accordingly.  Thanks Clothilde!  The original recipe used a butter rich pastry crust, but I opted for a standard Shortcrust Pastry using my usual method.  I also finished the tart with a sprinkling of split almonds, toasted as the tart baked, which gave a Bakewell Tart appearance.  This recipe can also be made as individual sized tarts for tea time. 

Mincemeat & Almond Delight
(Serves 6)

Shortcrust Pastry to line a 20cm/8inch flan case
50g/2ozs butter
50g/2ozs caster or soft brown sugar
50g/2ozs ground almonds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
a few drops almond essence, extract if you can get it
225g/8ozs mincemeat (about half a jar – see details above)
2 bananas, thinly sliced 
25g/1oz split almonds to finish (optional)

1.  Make the shortcrust pastry (I used 6ozs flour and 3ozs fat). Wrap in plastic and leave in the fridge to chill for at least 30minutes.

2.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6.   Roll out the pastry and line the greased and floured flan case.   Fill with beans and bake blind for 10minutes.  When cool enough, remove the beans and when cool store for another use.

3.  Reduce the oven heat to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4.

4.  Make the almond cream. Cream the butter and sugar together.  Gradually beat in the egg.  Add the ground almonds and almond essence and mix together well.

5.  Spread the mincemeat evenly into the pastry case and cover with the slices of banana.

6.  Pile the almond cream on top of the banana and spread evenly to the edges of the case.

7.  Sprinkle with almonds and bake for 35-40minutes until golden brown. 

8.  Best served hot or warm, but also good cold.  Serve with custard and/or cream, crème fraîche or soured cream.  If you have leftover brandy butter it can be served with this tart.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: