Friday, June 20, 2008

Playing Shops

This next recipe makes use of chicken livers (always inexpensive and can be bought frozen from the supermarkets), and although this recipe uses rice, the cheaper pearl barley works just as well although may take a little longer to soften. Speeding up the cooking time of pearl barley can be done by soaking the barley in hot water for an hour or two prior to cooking. Or the left-over barley used when making lemon-barley water could be used (in which case use less stock).
Chicken Liver Risotto: serves 4
2 tblsp olive oil
quarter pint measure rice or pearl barley
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
good pinch ground ginger
pinch salt
half pint (300ml) chicken stock
1 lb (450g) chicken livers
6 oz (175g) mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 oz (50g) butter
grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Put the oil in a large frying pan and stir in the rice or barley. When the grains are coated with the oil, add the onions, garlic, ginger, salt and stock. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the grains have cooked. If necessary add a little more water.
In another pan, quickly saute the chicken livers and mushrooms in the butter, then add these to the cooked rice/barley and stir together. Season to taste and serve hot sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

This next dish is a summery salad, and with any luck all the ingredients should be in the storecupboard, fridge and possibly freezer (if using home-cooked chickpeas). Halloumi cheese has a very long fridge shelf-life, with a good 12 months 'keeping' dates on the packs (and how old was it before it reached the store?). We had some the other day a good 3 months past its date. Still perfect. One the pack has been opened, then it will need using up within a few days.
Couscous Salad with Halloumi Cheese: serves 4
9 oz (250g) couscous
9 fl.oz (250ml) boiling water
salad dressing (recipe below)
4oog can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
10 oz (300g) courgettes, sliced diagonally
8 oz (225g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pkt (250g) halloumi cheese, thickly sliced
salad dressing (recipe below)
Put the couscous into a bowl and pour over the water. Cover and leave to stand for about 5 minutes, meanwhile making the salad dressing. Check the couscous has absorbed the water (if not drain), then fluff up the couscous with a fork and mix in half the salad dressing and all the chickepeas. Pile this onto a shallow serving dish.
Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot then fry the courgettes for a couple or so minutes until darkly golden. Drain in kitchen paper. Put the tomatoes, cut side down into the frying pan and fry these for a couple or so minutes until also beginning to brown. Scatter the courgettes and the tomatoes over the couscous.
Slice the halloumi cheese in half lengthways (often the cheese splits there naturally), and - if necessary add a little more oil to the pan - fry the halloumi slices for 2 - 3 minutes, turning once until they too are browning and sizzling. Place the strips of cheese over the courgettes/tomatoes/couscous, and drizzle over the remaining salad dressing. Serve warm.
salad dressing:
3 fl.oz (100ml)olive oil
2 - 3 tblsp lime or lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tblsp chopped fresh mint
half tsp caster or icing sugar
Put everything into a bowl and mix well together (or put into a jar with a screwtop lid and give it a good shake). Use as required.
Tip: if you have a griddle pan (on that has a ridged surface) pre-heat this dry and brush the halloumi with oil and lay these diagonally over the bars on the pan, this will give that interesting 'charred' effect on the strips of cheese.
The easy way to clean these griddle pans, is to fill the pan with water while the pan is still hot and with luck most of the oily juices will float to the top. Brush between the bars using an old toothbrush if any fat is burned on or congealed. Always oil the food rather than put oil in the pan.

A few days ago there was a request for recipes using cherries. Have managed to find another that sounds very delectable. Dare say it could be made using other fruits and other flavourings
Frangipane Cherry Tart: serves 6
one 9" (23cm) pastry case, baked blind
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
5 oz (15og) ground almonds
5 oz (15og) butter, melted
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tblsp Kirsch
a good 1lb (500g) cherries, stones removed
2 tblsp cherry conserve/jam
1 tblsp water
Put the sugar, ground almonds, butter, whole egg plus the yolk and beat together until creamy, stir in the Kirsch. Chill for half an hour, the spread the mixture over the base of the pastry case and bake for 20-25 mins at 190C, 375F, gas 5 until golden and crisp (cover edges of pastry with foil f getting too brown).
Remove from the oven and place the cherries on top of the frangipane in a single layer. Heat the conserve with the water until smooth, then brush this over the cherries. Leave to get cold. Cut into wedges to serve.
Tip: If possible, bake the pastry case while the filling is chilling, and leave the pastry in the tin to continue the cooking process. Remove from the tin prior to serving.