Chicken Liver Salad

Just-cooked chicken livers on a bed of spinach leaves and fresh orange segments, dressed with pan juices deglazed with port, redcurrant jelly, orange juice, lemon juice. Salt and pepper.

Recipe suggests slightly warming and wilting the spinach leaves in a sprinkle of oil and lemon, that might be interesting. Just under 500 cals allowing 100 gms liver per serving.

From a Tesco Recipe Collection booklet, 1997

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Orange Rice

Went really well with spiced lamb, better with a plainer meat than a rich sauce or casserole.

In a heavy pan (preferably one that has a lid for later), fry in a little oil:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6 whole peppercorns
  • 2 inch stick of cinnamon
  • 2 heaped tablespoons cut mixed peel (or diced citron, or shredded tangerine peel)
  • 2 handfuls carrot batons

When it's all soft and smelling spicy, stir in a cup or so of preferred rice (tonight was easy cook brown Italian), and cover with boiling water, some chicken stock concentrate or salt to taste.

Cook slowly-ish, for about half an hour, with a lid on. In the last few minutes, nibble a grain or two of rice to check it's cooked, add a little fat (butter, or fat off the meat if you're having it with a roast), and raise the heat to boil off the liquid.

Take the cinnamon stick out, and warn people about the cloves and peppercorns.

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Beef Stew with Clementine Juice and Ginger Wine

I saw this recipe in a recent Waitrose magazine, and adapted it for our tea today.

800 gm pack diced braising steak
1 oz plain flour, seasoned
4 banana shallots
2 tbsps oil
1 piece star anise
Half bottle (250ml) fresh clementine juice
250 ml reserve (red top) ginger wine
75 ml beef stock

Heat oven to Gas Mark 2. Toss the meat in the flour, fry in batches in half the oil. Put aside. Chop and fry the shallots in the rest of the oil. Stir in the anise and the liquids, tip the meat back in and boil. Put a lid on it and bung it in the oven for an hour. Take the lid off and give it a stir, and another hour. If you're not ready to eat it, chill it and reheat, or keep on very low for another hour or so.

It was nicely orangey, and a tart orange rather than a sickly one. The ginger smelled good initially, but faded and you could only just taste it. Maybe a bit more fresh or powdered ginger towards the end? It smelled of a good Chinese restaurant while it was cooking, they recommended mash and green veg with it (which is what we had), but I'm thinking boiled rice and a crisp veg stir fry. There was lots of gravy, it was a bit pale and pasty, like flour-based stews often are. Perhaps keep the flour out, just cook in less liquid initially and then thicken at the end with some cornflour and more ginger wine. That was quite a hit of sugar, though. That quantity gave us two large portions each and there's a good portion left.

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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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Red Couscous

Following the M&S couscous salad the other week, I decided to make something similar for a party tomorrow. I got down a big mixing bowl, and:

Filled it about a third full with dry couscous and added a little salt and enough boiling water to cover it plus about half an inch, and left it for 5 minutes.

Got out the food processor and roughly chopped:

  • a large red onion
  • a seedless clementine
  • half a packet of frozen raw cranberries
  • a handful of organic dried apricots

When the couscous had absorbed all the water, I fluffed it up and added the veggie mix, along with a drained tin of chickpeas. I would have put in two tins if I'd had them, it would have improved the texture.

Then I put the processor back together again (unrinsed) and blended:

  • a huge bunch of fresh coriander, stalks and all
  • orange juice (about a mugful)
  • lemon juice (about a half a cup)
  • 2 teaspoons rose water
  • enough olive oil to make it look like a salad dressing
  • lots of spices, biggest amount first - mixed spice, cinnamon, paprika, ginger, oregano, thyme, cardamom, nutmeg
  • three heaped teaspoons chopped garlic from the jar

until the coriander was quite finely chopped, then I poured it over the couscous.

Before I mixed it in I also added:

  • a handful of very good dried sweetened cranberries, that were almost like glace cherries
  • a mugful of raisins
  • a mugful of flaked almonds
  • half a mug of dried barberries
  • half a mug of dried pomegranate seeds
  • half a mug of raw pumpkin seeds

I stirred it all well, and topped it up by sprinkling some of the still hot water over it – when the dressing starts to get absorbed it will dry out. It felt like making a really good Christmas pudding.

Tomorrow I will taste it again, and see if it needs more salt, I don't use a lot of salt automatically anymore and tend not to add enough. Also for sweetness – it's going to be one of those things that initially tastes very sharp but has a lot of lasting sweetness in it, so the first taste might need mellowing and the longer tones sharpening – honey and onion will do that nicely. And for heat – it will need just a little kick and some more paprika or even cayenne might be in order.

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Moroccan Salad

Back to the recipe library backlog … A Waitrose card for a salad, good at any time of year. Serves 4 at 412 cals per.

  • 500 gms carrots, cut into 2cm lengths
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsps white wine vinegar (unless you're using pickled or marinated beetroot, in which case miss it out)
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 oranges
  • 250 gms cooked beetroot, cut in chunks
  • 2 x 100 gm packs goat's cheese, in chunks
  • 20 gm pack flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Cook the carrot until tender. Toast the cumin seed, and mix with the vinegar, olive oil, and seasoning (salt and pepper, presumably). Coat the hot carrots in this mix and leave to cool to room temperature.

Peel the oranges and cut into chunks. Fold everything together and serve.

(I'd be tempted to marinate the cheese in with the carrots, and not add salt until I was sure it needed it – goat's cheese can be well salty. That's a lot of calories to say there's no bread with it, but the carrots and beetroot should keep it quite filling.)

 

 

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Pimms Winter Carrots

Before I forget. Last night we had Christmas Eve again, and I bought some little salmon en croute parcels (which were actually fairly boring). They had ginger and spinach in them, and I'd decided on quite plain veg, with steamed new potatoes, frozen peas, and a dish of carrots. I'd bought the carrots already cut in batons, with the intention of poaching them in fruit juice and a bit of butter. In went the ends of the nice juices in the fridge – ruby breakfast, orange, and clementine. A sprinkling of salt, and a knob of butter. Looking at the salmon and thinking it would be quite dry, I wanted to keep the carrots wet with a lot of juice to make a sauce. And I thought I'd pep it up a bit as well. On the way to the spice cupboard I passed the drinks bar still laid out from New Year, and sat right at the front was a bottle of Pimms No 3, the winter brandy-based one with orange and spices. A few good slugs of that, some at the beginning and a bit more at the end to freshen the sauce. Brilliant.

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