Sunday, November 30, 2008

Something a bit Different

The first recipe is a vegetarian chilli, to be cooked for all of 8 hours (or even longer - although best to check manufacturer's instructions when it comes to cooking times). There are no specific weights for many of the ingredients, it more a matter of how many servings you wish to make, so use your own judgement.
Slow-cooked Vegetarian Chilli: (V)
onion, chopped
courgette, chopped
clove(s) garlic, peeled and finely chopped
celery, chopped
green or red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
mushrooms, sliced
tsp chilli powder
1 chopped and de-seeded chilli
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g red kidney beans
14 fl oz (400ml) water
Put everything into the slow cooker, and cook for around 8 hours.

Often, when it comes to the simplest of recipes, we can make them more upmarket by altering the ingredients slightly. Although this recipes is an easy version of the Russian blini, have dumped the traditional caviar and instead suggested serving with a small amount of hot or cold cooked salmon, or smoked salmon. Sour cream agains is the traditional topping, but I prefer to use creme fraiche, or even thick Greek yogurt.
Buckwheat 'blinis' with Salmon: serves 4
6 oz (175g) buckwheat flour
half tsp bicarbonate of soda
10 fl oz (300ml) milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp sunflower oil
4 0z (100g) cooked flaked (or smoked) salmon
juice of half a small lemon
4 good tblsp creme fraiche
1 - 2 tblsp finely chopped fresh chives
freshly ground black pepper
Sift the flour with the bicarb into a bowl, then add the milk and eggs. Whisk until a smooth batter, then leave to stand for 15 minutes.
Heat a dry frying pan until hot, then add the oil, swirl it over the base, then pour in a little batter to make a 4" (10cm) diameter circle. Depending on the size of the pan it may be possible to cook four 'blinis' at a time (there should be enough batter to make eight). When bubbles appear on the surface and start to burst, flip the 'blinis' over and cook for a further 30 - 40 seconds. Place on a cake airer than has been covered with half a tea cloth, and lay on each each 'blini' when cooked, folding over the surplus cloth to cover, so they don't dry out.
Once all have been cooked, place two on each plate and arrange some salmon on top, drizzling over a little lemon juice and give each a light grind of black pepper. Place a dollop of creme fraiche on top, sprinkle with chives and serve.

Pears, blue cheese and walnuts go very well together, and - at a pinch - very well drained canned pears could be used instead of fresh, patting them dry of the juices , slicing and leaving them open to the air overnight to dry out slightly. Otherwise use fresh pears as given in the recipe. After a large meal, a sweet dessert, followed by a cheese board some might feel would be going a step too far, so feel that the following dish gives the best of both. Use any blue cheese you wish, but Gorgonzola or Stilton would be my choice.
Blue Cheese with Pears, Walnuts and Honey: serves 4
3 firm dessert pears
1 oz (25g) butter
9 oz (250g) blue cheese of your choice, crumbled
3 tblsp walnut pieces
4 fl oz (100ml) runny honey
Remove stalk from pears, halve and remove cores, then slice each half into 6 pieces. Melt half the butter in a frying pan and saute half the pear slices for 4 minutes until golden brown. Remove using a slotted spoon, and keep warm while repeating with the remaining butter and pears.
Divide the pears between four plates, sprinkling over the cheese, walnuts and finishing with a good drizzle of honey.

Some of you, like me, will be cooking the turkey ahead of time, maybe the day before so that it can be cooled and sliced to be re-heated later, or cooked even earlier to be sliced and frozen. Either way there will be oddments of cooked turkey flesh that should not be discarded, so here are a few recipes to make use of these. Cooked chicken could be used instead.
Potted Turkey: serves 4 - 6
4 oz (1oog) butter
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp crushed coriander seeds (opt)
12 oz (335g) cooked turkey oddments, finely chopped
freshy grated nutmeg
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
Put the butter in a pan with the lemon zest and coriander. Heat until just beginning to foam, then remove and stir in the remaining ingredients, adding seasoning to taste. Spoon into individual ramekin dishes and chill for half an hour. Serve with toast.

This next turkey dish uses store cupboard ingredients, and if you haven't fresh mushrooms, canned would do, or alternatively use a condensed mushroom soup as the 'sauce' rather than the creme fraiche. Tagliatelle is the Italian name for 'noodles', but just about any pasta shapes could be used.
Turkey Tagliatelle: serves 4
12 oz (335g) tagliatelle
4 rashers streaky bacon, pref. smoked, diced
1 tblsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
4 oz (100g) mushrooms, sliced
4 oz (100g) frozen peas, thawed
10 oz (300g) cooked turkey, diced
1 x 200ml tub creme fraiche
salt and pepper
juice of half a lemon
Put the pasta on to cook, following packet instructions. Meanwhile, put the bacon into a frying pan and dry-fry until the fat flows free and the bacon is crisp. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Set to one side.
To the fat in the pan, add the oil and stir in the garlic and mushrooms and cook on high for 2 - 3 minutes, then stir in the peas and the turkey. When the peas are cooked and the turkey fully heated through stir in the creme fraiche adding seasoning to taste.
Drain the pasta and stir into the turkey mixture. Tip into a warmed serving dish, drizzle over the lemon juice add a little extra black pepper and sprinkle the bacon on top.

This next has to be one for the children, although am sure adults will find it enjoyable. Again really a matter of using food most of us keep in store, plus of course the turkey. Cooked sausages could be used instead of the turkey, or even pre-cooked meat balls.
Chip Pie: serves 4
675g oven chips
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 tblsp plain flour
7 fl oz (200ml) turkey or chicken stock
1 lb (400g) cooked turkey, chunks or scraps
1 tblsp sweet chilli sauce (or could use tomato ketchup)
1 x 420g can baked beans
salt and pepper
3 oz (75g) grated Cheddar cheese
Cook the chips as per packet instructions and temperature but for 15 minutes only, then lower the oven temperature (if needed) to 200C, 400F, gas 6. While the chips are cooking, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion for 5 minutes, then sprinkle in the flour and stir/cook for a further minute. Add the stock gradually, stirring all the time, until the mixture has thickened and come to the boil, then stir in the chilli sauce and the turkey. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the baked beans and season to taste.
Sp0on into a shallow, ovenproof dish and cover the surface with the chips, then sprinkle over the cheese and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the well heated through and the cheese is bubbling.

This next is a suggestion for Boxing Day. When a child we always had cold turkey with Bubble and Sqeak on B.Day, but tastes chance, cooking as become more adventurous and dare I say more 'grown0up' and so as this 'hash' makes good use of leftover veggies that might have been served with Chritmas lunch, then at least younger folk, not tied to traditional apron strings, may care to make this almost-omelette.
St. Stephen's Hash: serves 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 oz (25g) butter
1 onion, cut into 10 wedges
1 green bell pepper, de-seeded and sliced
1 lb (450g) - or thereabouts, cooked turkey, diced
leftover roast potatoes and carrots,
adding leftover roast parsnips, cauliflwer and sprouts
4 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
2 tomatoes, cut into slices
handful black olives, stoned and halved
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, add the onions and saute for a couple of minutes before adding the strips of pepper. Fry for 5 minutes over medium heat. Dice the chosen cooked vegetables and stir these into the pan, then stir in the turkey. When heated through, pour over the eggs, giving the pan a gentle shake so the eggs flow over and through to the base. Top with the tomatoes and olives and cook over a medium to low heat until the eggs have set like an omelette. If you wish, pop under a hot grill for one minute to set the top. Serve straight from the pan cut into wedges. Alternatively leave to get cold, again cut into wedges and serve with a salad and pickles.

For the last turkey dish of today, and still using cooked turkey (or chicken), this is one that can be rustled up in double quick time. The trick behind speedy cooking is to have the ingredients ready prepared and assembled, so it is just a matter of putting the lot together in the order given.
Curry in a Hurry: serves 4
2 tblsp sunflower oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 tblsp curry paste (fairly mild)
15 fl oz (450ml) turkey or chicken stock
4 oz (100g) sliced green beans
12 oz (335g) cooked turkey, chopped into chunks
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained (or use home-cooked
boiled rice and yogurt to serve
Heat half the oil in a pan until quite hot, then fry half the onion for 2 - 3 minutes until crisp. Remove from the pan, and drain on kitchen paper. Add the reserved tblsp of oil to the pan and over a low to medium heat, then fry the remaining onion until softened.
Stir in the curry paste, fry for a further minute then add the stock. Sir and bring to the boil, then add the green beans. Reduce heat to simmer, cook the beans for 2 minutes then stir in the turkey and chickpeas, then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Serve with boiled rice, topping the curry with the crispy onions and a dollop of yogurt.

Biscotti is a twice cooked biscuit - normally eaten with a cup of coffee, and - in my opinion - more like a rusk than a dunkin' doughnut. However, it is fast becoming 'the new black' when it comes to 'coffee and biscuits', so here is a fruit 'n nut version that - given an added pinch of mixed spice - might be just perfect served around the festive season. Note: the 'rounded' tsp of baking powder does not mean 'heaped', just slightly more than level.
Biscotti with Fruit and Nuts: makes 30
9 oz (250g) plain flour
1 rounded tsp baking powder
pinch salt
half tsp mixed spice (opt)
7 oz (200g) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
2 oz (50g) no-soak apricots, chopped
2 oz (50g) dried cranberries, chopped
2 oz (50g) dried figs, chopped
3 oz (150g) chopped mixed nuts
Sieve together the flour, baking powder, salt (and spice if using), and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre. Mix together the eggs and vanilla, then pour this into the flour, mixing and pulling the flour in from the outsides to the centre until everything is fully combined and making a soft dough.
Add the prepared fruit and nuts, and - using a wooden spoon - stir to ensure they are evenly distributed throughout, then turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for half a minute.
Form into a ball, then cut this in half and roll each to form two 'sausages' about 14" (34cm) long and just under 2" (4.5cm) wide. Place both on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving room to spread, and put into the fridge for up to half an hour or until the dough has firmed up.
Bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 25 - 30 minutes or until a golden colour and firm on top. Leave to cool for 20 -30 minutes. Meanwhile reduce oven heat to 140C, 275F, gas 2.
Using a bread (serrated edge) knife, slice the 'logs' into 1" (2.5cm) pieces, placing the cut side down - in a single layer - on a baking sheet and return to the oven (now at the lower temperature) and bake for a further 10 minutes until a pale gold. Turn them over half-way if you wish. Cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container.