Sardine Stuffed Peppers

Waitrose do little red cherry peppers stuffed with a sardine mush as part of the Delicatezze range, and they're gorgeous but very expensive. So when I saw packs of baby orange bell peppers in LIDL the other day, I took them home and did things.

  • 6 baby bell peppers
  • 2 tins sardines (boneless, skinless, in oil)
  • Big handful organic stoned dates
  • Balsamic glaze (the vinegar reduced until it's a thick syrup)
  • Lemon juice
  • Teaspoon chopped roast garlic
  • Pine nuts

Steam the peppers whole for 20 minutes (which made them very soft, a shorter time would have worked). Cool.

Pour off some of the oil from the sardines, not too much because you need the moistness. Mash the sardines. Process the dates with the garlic, some balsamic and lemon until it's a thick slurry. Mix into the sardines, add the pine nuts and set aside to mature for a couple of hours.

Cut the stem ends off the peppers, clean inside if necessary, and stuff with the sardine mixture.

There was enough filling to do at least another 6 peppers, it was great as a spread on bread and just wet enough to be a dip for tortilla chips.

Next time: could do with a bit of salt. Additions could include chopped herbs, anchovies for the salt, shredded lemon peel. We ate them straight away, you could put them in a shallow bowl and dress with an oil and lemon dressing and leave for a bit. Room temperature is probably better than fridge cold. Raisins would do instead of dates, and might be a bit sweeter – they are what is in the Waitrose ones.

EDITED: whoops, forgot the garlic.

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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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Scribble

Found a scribbled note today, that said "black pudding with pear and blue cheese salad". Sounds intriguing, but could be over salty if not careful.

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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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M&S couscous salad

Marks has a fruity couscous salad at the moment, which is dead yummy and consists of: about half cooked turmeric couscous, mixed with: chickpeas, oranges, red onions, raisins, apricots, sugar, cranberries (fresh), fresh coriander, and some bland oils.

It's dressed with a mixture of: lemon juice, soft brown sugar, wildflower honey, orange juice, salt, sunflower oil, cinnamon, garlic puree, black pepper, cumin, ginger puree, ground coriander, smoked paprika, cayenne, turmeric.

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Two-way Tofu Salad

A recipe in Sainsbury's magazine from June 1999. It's very complicated, but boils down to this:

Puree some toasted sesame seeds, sake, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, fresh ginger, tofu, and a little salt until smooth and creamy, chill.

Take some block tofu, cut into small fingers, coat in cornflour, eggwhite, then sesame seeds and deep fry, three fingers together on little skewers.

Make a salad with Chinese leaf, asparagus, mangetout peas (blanched), cucumber, enoki mushrooms, carrot ribbons, spring onions, and finely chopped chilli.

Top with the tofu skewers, and a drizzled dressing of sake, soy sauce, plain oil and sesame oil. Serve with the tofu-sesame sauce to dunk.

I think it's messy and overly fussy, but there's a good idea lurking in there somewhere. You could cut the calorie content by grilling or baking the tofu, combining the dressing and sauce and making it sharper. The salad itself could be simplified as well.

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