Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tasting the Difference

Still warming up for the festivities, I continue to seek out useful recipes - especially ones that can use ingredients we already have. This first is a soft pate (best served straight from the fridge) that has a really tangy flavour:
Lentil and Cheese Pate: serves 4 - 6
5 oz (175g) dried red lentils
1 x 200g (7 oz) pack of soft (Philly) cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
finely grated zest of 1 orange
salt and pepper
Wash the lentils, then boil until just tender (about 15 minutes). Tip into a sieve and drain well, using a wooden spoon to press out excess liquid. Leave to cool for five minutes, then gently mash (although pressing through with the spoon may have already mashed them). Leave to get quite cold.
Put the cheese into a bowl and beat this up with a fork until smooth then stir in the lentils, the garlic and the orange zest. Season to taste. Spoon into a serving dish and keep chilled.
Serve with Melba toast or crisp bread.

This next is a home-made pesto, this time using parsley instead of basil, and walnuts instead of pine-nuts. Put into small containers with a layer of olive oil on top, it should keep for at least a week in the fridge, but small amounts could be frozen in ice-cube trays ready to thaw and add to a pasta dish.
Parsley and Walnut Pesto:
2 oz (50g) walnut pieces
1 good handful parsley (pref flat-leaf)
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
4 fl oz (100ml) olive oil
1 - 2 oz (25 - 50g) grated Parmesan cheese
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped (opt)
Put the walnuts, parsley and garlic into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Still keeping the motor running, slowly pour in the oil. Taking a spatula, scrape the pesto into a bowl, and stir in the cheese. Serve by stirring the pesto into hot pasta (to serve 4), adding a few more pieces of walnuts and extra Parmesan.

For a change from the usual BLT (bacon, lettuce,tomato), here is a recipe worthy of a Boxing Day Brunch.
Turkey BLT Melts: serves 4
8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
4 slices toasting bread
1 tblsp olive oil
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
6 oz (175g) sliced cooked turkey
7 oz (200g) sliced Brie Cheese
Grill the bacon for about five minutes until crisp. Cut each rasher in half and set aside. Toast one side of the bread slices, then turn and drizzle the other sides with the oil then place overlapping layers of the tomatoes, turkey and cheese on the top . Grill for 5 minutes until hot and the cheese has melted.
variation: include slices of stoned and peeled avocado, or apple. Use feta or halloumi cheese instead of Brie.

Another variation on a sarnie is the following, again using up foods we have all over-ordered at Christmas. The advantage with these is they can be frozen up to 3 months, so turkey, turkey, turkey, does not have to be on the menu for each of the Twelve Days.
The Vicarage Supper: serves 4 (F)
6 oz (150g) cooked turkey
3 oz (75g) cooked ham
4 oz (100g) Cheddar cheese, grated
1 rounded tsp Dijon (or English) mustard
2 - 3 tblsp milk or cream
6 oz ( 150g) softened butter
6 slices bread
2 tblsp oil
Either mince or process the turkey and ham together then mix with the cheese and mustard. Bind together with milk. Butter the bread (save some butter for cooking) and make into sandwiches with the mixture. Remove the crusts (at this point they can be frozen: wrap, seal and label, use within 3 months. To serve: thaw for 3 hours then continue as following). Heat the remaining butter in a pan with the oil, and fry sandwiches on both sides until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

A mention yesterday of Coronation Chicken has prompted me to give you this version made with turkey.
Coronation Turkey: serves 4
1 tblsp olive oil
4 oz (100g) cashew nuts
1 onion (pref red), chopped
2 tblsp Korma curry paste
4 oz (100g) no-soak apricots, sliced into slivers
1 tblsp tomato puree
1 x 142ml tub of creme fraiche (or soured cream)
5 fl oz (125ml) mayonnaise
1 lb (or thereabouts ) shredded cooked turkey
1 fresh mango (or use canned) peeled and sliced
Heat the oil in a pan and add the cashew nuts, stirring until lightly toasted. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
To the same pan, add the onion and cook for five minutes until softened, then stir in the curry paste, the apricots and the tomato puree. Cook for 2 more minutes then remove from heat and leave to cool.
Once cooled down, stir in the creme fraiche and the mayonnaise then spoon out into a bowl and add the turkey and mango. Pile onto a serving plate (or individual dishes) and scatter over the cashew nuts. Serve with a crisp green leaf salad (watercress, rocket and spinach is a good combination).

The final recipe today, using only 2 ingredients (not including the egg for glazing), and is a brilliant one for using up puff pastry and marzipan. No need to buy a pack of each because at this season of the year we may already have part-packs lurking somewhere. Just use what you have and enjoy.
Dutch Boterletter: serves 10 (F)
1 x 190g pack puff pastry
8 oz (225g) pack marzipan
1 egg, beaten for glazing
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to a 28" x 4" (70 x 10cm) strip. Work the marzipan in your hands to soften it, then roll into an even sausage shape, 26" (65cm) long. Place this onto the pastry. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg and roll up (like a sausage roll), sealing the ends. Place onto a baking sheet, forming it into a letter (traditionally M for mother). Freeze at this point, open-freezing until solid, then wrap, seal, label. Use within 3 months. To cook from frozen follow next directions, allowing five to seven minutes longer). To cook, glaze with egg and bake at 220c, 425F, gas 7 for 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool and serve in slices.