Sunday, December 13, 2009

Planning Ahead

The first dish today is a Balti-style curry that uses up cooked turkey (or chicken). So one to think about using when faced with the left-over Christmas bird. If you haven't coconut powder in store (not a lot of people know about this, but it is on sale), you could whizz up desiccated coconut in the blender to make a version of your own, or instead use coconut milk/cream instead of the evaporated milk.
Sometimes we see a recipe that does not give servings, just calling it a 'family meal'. In recipe-land, a 'family' usually means two adults and two children, and if adults only, the amount shown might only be enough only to serve three good portions.
Turkey Curry, Balti-style: serves 3 - 4
1 tblsp sunflower oil
1 lb (450g) cooked turkey breast
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
2 carrots, diagonally and thinly sliced
4 oz (100g) frozen string beans, thawed and halved
4 oz (100g) frozen peas
3 tblsp mild curry paste
1 x 410g can evaporated milk
2 oz (50g) coconut powder
fresh coriander garnish
Cut the turkey into small chunks. Heat the oil in the pan and stir-fry the peppers, carrots and green beans for 3 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and cook for a further minute, then stir in the peas and the evaporated milk. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle over the coconut powder and stir until dissolved. Add the chunks of cooked turkey, and cook/stir for a few minutes longer until the vegetables are tender. Serve hot, garnished with coriander leaves. Good eaten with either pilau rice or naan bread.

There are many recipes for pilau/pilaf, which is a rice dish with 'added extras'. Here is one that - after initial pan-frying - is oven-cooked, can be eaten as a main meal in its own right to serve four, or will serve twice as many when served as a side dish with curry. The advantage with this dish is that it makes good use of shelled nuts that have also been leftover after the festive season.
To give an interesting flavour, use a variety of nuts such as: almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts and cashews.
Nut and Apricot Pilaf: serves 4 or more
1 oz (25g) butter
1 dessp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
small piece of root ginger, grated
8 oz (225g) long-grain rice
5 oz (150g) toasted mixed nuts (see above)
3 oz (75g) no-soak apricots, chopped
half tsp saffron strands (optional but worth it)
15 fl oz (450ml) boiling vegetable stock
5 fl oz (150ml) white wine
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 tblsp chopped fresh mint
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
5 fl oz (150ml) Greek yogurt
Heat the butter and oil in a large pan, add the onions and celery and cook gently for 6 minutes then stir in the garlic and ginger, cooking for a further 3 minutes until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned.
Add the rice, stirring so that it becomes evenly coated with the oil, and then stir in the apricots and nuts, mixing everything well together.
Stir the saffron into the stock and pour this into the pan, also stirring in the wine. Season well, bring to the boil, then pour into a buttered casserole dish (approx 2 pints/1ltr capacity), covering tightly with a lid or foil, and bake at 180C, 350F, gas 4 for 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
Before serving, stir in the spring onions and herbs, adding a dollop of yogurt to garnish the dish.

This next is a two-part recipe as the cake base can be made well in advance and can be frozen for up to 3 months. It also keeps well for a week on a larder shelf when well wrapped in foil. So perhaps the time to plan ahead and make this now. Assembling the dessert can be done several hours ahead of serving, but the syrup should be poured over during the last hour.
The aim with this dessert is to use up the oddments of fruits that we often have languishing in the fruit bowl around New Year. It is not necessary to use the fruits as given in the recipe, use what you have, but keep it colourful.
Festive Fruits Torte: serves 8
torte base:
2 oz (50g) unblanched almonds
4 oz (100g) self-raising flour
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
3 eggs
Grease and base-line a loose-based 10" (25cm) cake tin. Coarsely grind the almonds in a food processor/blender, the put into a bowl with remaining ingredients. Beat for several minutes until light and fluffy. Spread evenly over the prepared tin and bake for 25 - 30 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas 4 until golden and firm to the touch. Turn out cake and cool on a wire rack.
torte topping:
7 oz (200g) medium fat soft cheese
1 tsp grated orange zest
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
6 figs
6 satsumas
12 oz (350g) mixture green and red seedless grapes;
6 tblsp orange juice
2 tblsp sherry
Beat together the cheese, orange zest and 1 tblsp of the sugar. Halve the figs, break the satsumas into segments, and remove grapes from their stalks.
Put remaining sugar into a pan with the orange juice and sherry and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Poach the figs in this for a couple of minutes then - using a slotted spoon - remove and set aside. Poach the satsuma segments in the same way. Finally just dip the grapes in the syrup, then drain and leave to cool. Reserve the syrup.
Put the torte base on a serving plate and spread with the cream cheese mixture. Arrange the fruit over the top, more piling it on than being precise.
Less than an hour before serving, boil the reserved syrup until beginning to thicken, then immediately remove from heat, wait for the bubbles to subside, then spoon/drizzle the syrup back and forth over the fruit. Serve a.s.a.p.