Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mincing Words

Because cooked ham is something we may well be cooking or certainly eating over Christmas, here are a few more recipes that also use minced cooked ham, the first ending up as a 'meat loaf' that can be eaten hot with a mushroom or tomato sauce, or cold and served sliced with salads.
Wham, Bam, thank you Ham Loaf: serves 6
1 pint measure minced cooked ham
1 mug cornflake crumbs
2 eggs
2 tblsp grated onion
1 tblsp chutney, pickle or relish (cooks' choice)
8 fl oz (225ml) milk
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 tblsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Place all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well together. Spoon into a greased loaf tin, pressing it down well, cover with foil (or leave uncovered if you want a crusty surface) and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 35 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Alth0ugh this next recipe is made with ham, it would also work with cooked chicken or turkey. When a can of pineapple rings has been opened, I always try to save a couple, wrap each separately and freeze away to add to a dish such as this, or to a fruit salad or stir-fry.
Ham and Salad Spread: enough for four sarnies or rolls
half pint measure very finely chopped or minced cooked ham
2 tblsp finely chopped celery
2 tblsp chopped almonds or cashew nuts
1 - 2 rings (drained) canned pineapple. chopped
2 - 3 tblsp mayonnaise
Mix together the ham,celery, nuts and pineapple. Add enough mayo to make a good spreading consistency and store in a covered container in the fridge. Use within 5 days.

Am stepping away from the true 'minced' meat for this next recipe, for this is a great way to make a speedy cassoulet (normally these can take hours to cook). Cassoulet is a very traditional French dish and I suppose you could call this the bastardised version. However, this does make an excellent and very well flavoured winter casserole, and as this version uses diced cooked ham (could be minced), chicken wings and some spiced smoked sausage (my favourite being chorizo), the rest of the ingredients being cheap enough (especially if you have cooked your own beans and then stored them in the freezer), this version is pretty low cost.
Quick Cassoulet: serves 6
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can haricot, cannellini or butter beans, drained
2 large onions, sliced
3 tblsp sunflower or olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp tomato puree
1 tblsp black treacle (or muscovado sugar)
half pint (300ml) beef stock
salt and pepper
4 oz (100g) cooked ham, diced or minced
6 chicken wings
4 oz (100g) spiced smoked sausage, diced
2 oz (50g) butter
2 tblsp dryish breadcrumbs
2 oz (50g) grated Cheddar cheese
Fry the onions in the oil for 3 minutes, then stir in the garlic. Fry for a further minute, then add the tomatoes, tomato puree, treacle (or sugar), the stock and seasoning to taste. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes, then stir in the beans. Heat through then set aside.
Put the butter in a frying pan and fry the chicken wings and diced smoked sausage over medium heat until the chicken wings are browned all over. Stir in the prepared ham and set aside.
Put half the bean mixture into an ovenproof casserole, then top with the meats and juices from the frying pan, covering these with the remaining beans. Cover and cook for 30 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4 then remove from oven, stir the ingredients together, cover the surface with the breadcrumbs and cheese, return to the oven, uncovered, and bake on for a further half hour. Serve hot, straight from the casserole.
Note: if the chicken wings have been cooked through thoroughly before adding to the casserole, and the rest of the ingredients heated through to boiling point (following the above directions as far as possible) it would then be a matter of just combining the lot, covering with the crumbs and cheese and finishing off in the oven for half an hour. On the other hand, the longer the food can stay together, the more the flavours develop, so an alternative way would be to follow the first part of this note, combine when everything is heated through, and the chicken has certainly been cooked, then the casserole could be cooled quickly, covered and chilled overnight to allow flavours to develop, then the next day top with the crumbs and cheese finish off baking as above for the last half hour.
tip: bring the cassoulet from the fridge and allow to 'warm up' to room temperature while the oven is heating up - this will make it heat through more evenly. If taking straight from fridge to oven, allow a further five minutes cooking time.

only after first tasting the dish.

The dessert recipe today is for a steamed pudding. Many decades ago these were eaten every week, particularly during the winter months for these are both warming and filling. Faced with the Credit Crunch at this present time, more of these should be made for they are extremely inexpensive. Below I give the basic recipe with variations. Although these are traditionally made and steamed in one pudding basin, the mixture can also be put into tea-cups 3/4 full, and then these take less time to steam, usually about 20 minutes.
Basic Steamed Pudding: serves 4
4 oz (100g) butter or margarine
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
6 oz (175g) self-raising flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 tblsp milk
Beat the butter or marg until creamy, then beat in the sugar. When light and fluffy, add the salt and sift in the flour alternately with the beaten eggs. When combined, fold in the milk.
Spoon into a greased 2 pint (1.2 ltr) pudding basin and level the top. Cover with greased baking parchment or greaseproof paper, then a sheet of foil, tucking (or preferably tying with string) to secure edges under the rim.
Either place the pudding in a steamer standing over a pan of boling water OR stand the basin on a trivet (or upturned saucer) in a saucepan with enough boiling water poured in to come half-way up the basin. Cover and steam for 1 1/2 hours. Always keep the water boiling, adding more water as necessary. Unmould onto a shallow serving dish and serve immediately, with custard.
variations of flavour:
chocolate: remove 1 tblsp flour and replace with 1 tblsp cocoa, sieve this into the flour before adding to the creamed mixture, then follow directions above.
coffee: dissolve 2 tsp instant coffee in 2 tsp boiling water and mix this into the milk before stirring into the batter.
citrus: omit the milk and in its place add the grated zest and juice of either one orange or one lemon.
sultana: as the basic recipe, but adding up to 4 oz (100g) sultanas to the batter.
syrup/jam: put a tablespoonful of golden syrup, jam or black treacle in the base of the greased basin before adding the pudding batter.
ginger: sift a couple of teaspoons of dried ginger with the flour, and also add a little diced crystallised ginger to the batter, or put into the base of the pudding basin before the batter is added.