Thanksgiving Jello Salad

I don't know how exactly she made it, but this is a reasonable simulacrum of my mother-in-law's Thanksgiving Dinner Salad.

A packet of orange jello, enough to make 570 ml / 1 UK pint (I used a block of tangerine today)
A medium tin of pineapple pieces in syrup
Apple juice, less than a pint
1.5 large fresh crisp carrots
A clear glass or plastic dish that you can serve from, or a nice-shaped dish if you plan to turn it out.

Drain the pineapple well. Heat the syrup and melt the jelly into it. Make up to a pint with cold apple juice.

Pour a small amount of jelly into the dish and pop it into the fridge until it sets well around the edge. Grate the carrots, not too finely. Sprinkle the carrot into the dish, fill up with most of the rest of the jelly. Adjust the amount of carrot so that there will still be room for the pineapple and the last of the jelly.

Arrange the pineapple pieces on the top, and gently add the last of the jelly. Refrigerate until set, turn out if you like to slice, or spoon from the dish.

You can always make more jelly if you need to, for example if you've chosen a bowl-shaped dish. Don't try to use fresh pineapple, the jelly won't set. You might be able to get away with pineapple in juice, but I'm wary. And if you like to turn it out and make a centrepiece of it, you can put the pineapple in first and add maraschino cherries to make a pattern.

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Maple Bacon Toffee Apple Cheesecake

This is a work in progress … I found recipes for a savoury stilton and bacon cheesecake, and also for something like an upside-down cake with toffee apples in the base, cheesecake on top, then up-end it to serve, no biscuit or cake base. I'm doing a mix and match with a cheesecake recipe I know works, and we'll see what happens.

What I'm doing is:

  • 4 rashers Waitrose maple cured bacon
  • 3 tart apples, Granny Smiths, peeled and cored
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 tblsps brown sugar
  • 2 tblsps maple syrup
  • 250 gms digestives
  • 4 oz butter, melted
  • 12 oz cream cheese – the real stuff if you can get it, otherwise use Philly
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tblsp calvados

Finely snip the bacon and dry fry the bits until really really crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool.

In a big heavy pan, chop the apples in about half inch cubes and cook in the butter, sugar and syrup until dark golden and slightly soft, and the sauce has pretty much evaporated. Cool a bit, but not too long, I suspect it would set solid.

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4.

Make a digestive biscuit base for a 9 – 10" springform pan, by crushing the digestive biscuits and mixing with the melted butter. Press firmly into the pan.

Top with the toffee apple mixture, and sprinkle on the bacon.

Process the cream cheese, add caster sugar, eggs, and calvados and process till smooth. It's very wet.

Pour over the apples, and bake for about half an hour until set and not wobbling too much in the middle. It'll set more as it cools.

Out of the oven and looking good. I'm still debating a topping …

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Christmas Day menu

Breakfast:

Beetroot-cured salmon, blinis, hardboiled quail eggs, creme fraiche, Ovruga fake caviar, chives and dill. Champagne or clementine juice, coffee.

Dinner:

Glass of Taylor's Chip Dry White Port, chilled.

Roast goose, goosefat roast potatoes, butter roast parsnips, sausages in bacon, sage and onion stuffing balls, plain boiled sprouts, petits pois, ginger cream sauce, port and redcurrant gravy. Choice of spiced pickled pears, sweet spiced prunes, cherry compote, cranberry and horseradish relish. Chateau Neuf du Pape.

Christmas pudding with cream or white sauce or rum butter. Orange Muscat Flora.

Coffee and Bendicks mints.

Late supper:

Winter apple, Comte cheese, clementine.

Phew.

 

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The Most Pretentious Menu I’ve Seen Yet

Menu from a conference dinner (the venue has a maritime / naval warfare historical connection, which may explain some of the more florid bits)
 
Warm Mousseline of Sussex Chicken stuffed with Cave Matured Roquefort and Fresh Harvested Walnuts with a Sauce of Sorrel Hollandaise and Julienne of Russet Apples
 
A Ravioli in the Colours of the Kingdom of Naples filled with Scottish Lobster, Salmon and Ginger from the Windward Islands and topped with Deep Fried Leeks
 
Cannon of English Lamb stuffed with Wild Woodland Mushrooms and Truffles, imprisoned in a pastry cage with a Sauce of Wild Rowan Berries and a Plume of French Bar-le-Duc
Black Potatoes from the Ardennes
Bundles of Vegetables gathered fresh from the garden
 
A Miniature Gateau flavoured with Liquorice from the Spanish Maine concealing a heart of liquid fire glazed with Quince Jelly and served on Lapsang Creme Anglaise with Baby Pear finished with an arabesque of purest gold.
 
Glazed Normandy Brie with Wild Mulberries and Bath Oliver Biscuits
 
Coffee and Homemade Truffles
 
I had to look up Bar-Le-Duc, it's a French preserve named after a town in Lorraine, traditionally made with whole redcurrants which have had the seeds extracted by little old ladies using a goose quill. I would normally spell Spanish Main without the "e", but otherwise there were no spelling mistakes – too many capitals but consistently used. On the whole though – YUCK – over complicated, and generally a right mess. Apparently the dessert was a sponge with something like a malteser in the middle, which in turn had a brandy liqueur centre. It wasn't popular. And the Brie was glazed with a sugar topping, so two desserts.
 
One idea worth playing with might be the Lapsang custard with a poached pear, that could be an interesting combo. 

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Chicken Parsnip Apple Thing

Tonight we were due to have sesame chicken salad with spinach and ginger dressing, but it just wasn't the weather for a fresh salad, especially with the clock change and stuff. Something more in the nature of a winter warmer was called for. So I took some things that were hanging about:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 medium parsnip
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 breast fillets of chicken
  • chicken stock
  • 2 tsps mango chutney, no lumps
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 large Bramley cooking apple
  • 1 bunch chives

Cooked the onion and parsnip in the oil until the onion was soft. Added the spices and the chicken, cut into bite sized pieces. Cooked until the chicken was seared, added enough stock to cover, the chutney and lentils. Stewed slowly on top of the stove until the parsnip was cooked and the lentils turned to mush. Added the apple, chopped but not peeled, and stewed again until the apple had softened completely and made a thick sauce – helped by occasional vicious stirring. Added a bunch of chopped chives at the end to give a bit of a lift.

Sweet, tart, warming. Because of the apple sauce content it was hot hot hot, beware initial mouthburns. Might up the carb and spice content a bit more next time, I'm starting to feel hungry again. No idea what the calorie count was, but it can't have been too high. If I wasn't looking out for that, there'd have been some creme fraiche and crispy fried onion garnish on the top.

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