Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Little Things Mean a Lot

Here is a recipe that can be prepared now, especially if you have the makings to hand, and is an alternative way to serve vegetables that works particularly well at Christmas.
Festive Vegetable Ring: serves 8 - 10 (F)
1 lb (450g) parsnips, peeled, and chopped
1 lb (450g) turnips, peeled and chopped
2 oz (50g) butter
1 egg, beaten
1 tblsp sherry
1 lb (450g) carrots, peeled and sliced
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and sliced
1 level tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
Cook the parsnips and turnips in salted boiling water until tender. Drain well then return them to the pan and shake/heat until they have dried off all the surface moisture, then remove from heat and add the half the butter, all the egg and sherry and season to taste. Beat well until thoroughly blended (this could be done in a food processor). This mixture can be frozen in a rigid container for up to 6 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then continue as below - for serving on the day.
Put mixture into a well greased 1 3/4 pint (1 ltr) ring mould and level the surface. Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for half an hour. Meanwhile, cook carrots in boiling salted water until tender, then drain and keep warm. Melt remaining butter in a pan and lightly fry the spring onions for 3 minutes, then add the carrots and toss together, sprinkling over the parsley. Take the baked veggies from the oven and turn out onto a hot plate, filling the centre with the carrot mixture. Serve at once.
Tip: if you do not have a ring mould, use a large cake tin and put a foil covered mug or jam jar in the centre, greasing the foil, then remove when ready to turn out. If the jar or mug is tapered, place the wide (open) end facing upwards.

When it comes to savouries, these can be nibbles or starters, buffet food or for a light lunch or supper. Here are some ideas and to these you can add or take away according to your personal tastes.

This first is a basic salad, but if the salami is kept whole - usually round slices - these can be served with a little of the salad on individual plates to make a pretty decent starter.
Roman Salad: serves 8
12 oz (350g) canned or frozen sweetcorn
1 oz (25g) each black and green olives, stones removed
2 oz (50g) salami, cut into strips
2 slices white bread
4 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp vinegar (pref tarragon)
salt and pepper
If using frozen corn cook in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and cool. Leave olives whole, or halve, slice as you prefer and mix with the corn and salami. Cut the bread into half inch (1cm) pieces and fry in the (hot) oil until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
Mix oil and vinegar together adding seasonings to taste, and stir into the corn mixture. Chill before serving, then serve with the fried bread croutons sprinkled over.

This next can be fairly simple, made into the basic pate and served with Melba toast or small circle of fried bread. For something more special it could be spooned into small ramekins that have been lined with strips of smoked salmon, the overlapping ends of salmon folded over, then turned out onto individual plates and served with toast, croutons and maybe a few rocket leaves. Instead of whipping double cream, you could use creme fraiche which is fairly thick to start with and needs no whipping.
Creamed Smoked Salmon: tops 40 canapes (F)
8 oz (225g) smoked salmon pieces
2 oz (50g) butter, melted
2 tblsp lemon juice
4 tblsp double cream, whipped
freshly ground black pepper
Put the salmon, butter and lemon juice in a blender/processor and blitz to a puree. Scrape mixture out into a bowl, stir in the cream until well blended, adding pepper to taste. To freeze, pack in rigid container, seal and label, use within a month. Thaw in the fridge for 4 hours then either make up as suggested in the foreword, or pile onto croutons of fried bread and top each with a slice of stuffed olive.

This next recipe is a variation of stuffed puff pastry 'horns' - where strips off puff pastry are wound round greased cream horn tins then baked. But how many of us own those tins now? Instead suggest - for a buffet -fill ordinary sized vol-au-vent cases with the mixture below, for a starter bake and fill larger ones, round or square - you could bake the cases yourself to any size you wish. If you can spend a little extra, a tin of 'real' crab could be used instead of (or even with) the crab paste. Hardly worth freezing as so quick to make, but as it can be frozen, can at least give you the choice. Personally, I prefer to make and serve almost anything without it having to be frozen. But that is just me.
Creamy Cheese and Crab: (F) fills 20 'horns'
1 x 53g jars of crab paste
1 x 75g pack Philadelphia cream cheese
1 level tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and cayenne pepper
Mix everything together, adding seasoning to taste. To freeze: pack in rigid container, seal, label and use within a month. Thaw in the fridge for about four hours and spoon into pastry cases just prior to serving.