Fartes de Batata

In a Sainsbury's magazine from October 1997, nicked from a Portuguese cookbook. Gluten-free, but loaded with sugar.

  • 12 oz mashed sweet potato (3 – 4 potatoes should do it), cooled
  • 3 oz good quality candied fruit or peel, chopped as finely as possible
  • 2 large eggs
  • 12 oz caster sugar
  • 1 oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 oz ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

To coat:

  • A large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Caster sugar

Beat the eggs, sugar and butter well for 2-3 minutes. Put in a large, heavy saucepan with the almonds, fruit, lemon juice and potato. Beat thoroughy and then heat, gently, gently, stirring constantly so it doesn't catch, for about 10 minutes or until it feels like fairly stiff dry mash. Spread out onto a floured board (rice flour if you want to stay gf) and leave to cool.

Heat the oven to Gas Mark 5, grease 2 baking trays.

Take walnut sized lumps and make into little cakes about 2" in diameter. Place on the greased trays brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes until lightly golden and cool before eating.

Definitely sweeties more than cakes.

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Wicked Chicken Korma

I made this on the fly for dinner the other night, and didn't write it down at the time, but it went something like this:

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • Butter and oil, or ghee
  • 4 small boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2 handfuls raw shelled pistachios
  • 1 handful vanilla-soaked dried apricots (or organic apricots and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or half a bean)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 small tin coconut milk
  • Chicken stock
  • Small tub creme fraiche
  • Ground almonds
  • 2 hard bananas
  • More butter
  • A tub of dry crispy fried onions

In a big heavy pan, melt the garlic, ginger and onion in the fat, slowly. Soften but not colour. Add the chicken, nuts, apricots, and spices. Stew gently and stir until the chicken is coated in the spices and cooked on the outside. Add the coconut milk and enough chicken stock to cover. Cover and simmer gently for up to a couple of hours, if you can, but at least half an hour. Take the lid off and mash the apricots into the sauce. Simmer again for at least another half an hour, longer if possible. Top up with water if necessary. When you're getting close to serving time, add the creme fraiche and stir in. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of ground almonds on the top and stir in well. This will thicken the sauce, let the first lot swell and do its work before adding more if you want thicker sauce. Watch it as the thicker it gets, the quicker it's likely to catch and scorch. While that's happening, chop the bananas into chunks and fry quickly in butter until golden.

Serve the chicken with the bananas on top, a sprinkling of fried onions, and some plain rice or naan bread to soak up the sauce. We had it with lamb stewed for hours in a low oven with tomatoes and hotter spices, and an aubergine and red pepper madras.

If you can't find the onions in your regular ethnic stores, try the IKEA food shop, or make your own by finely shredding shallots, frying in light hot oil until crisp, and draining well. Dry on paper towels. Or don't bother – a bit of crunch adds a nice texture but it isn't necessary.

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Banana Tarte Tatin

Today I've seen three references to Banana and Cardamom Tarte Tatin, one with a caramel topping flavoured with star anise.

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Speculaas Spiced Nuts

Building on the Wasabi Cashew recipe we've tried before, I've gone with a Christmas version.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 teaspoons Speculaas spice (Dutch Christmas mixed spice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • and mixed nuts, pecans, walnut pieces, and cashews – about 400 grams

Coated, baked at Gas Mark 6 for 7 minutes, turn, and 8 more minutes. Smells gorgeous. Increased the sugar from the original, less salt.

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Bog-standard Trifle

I've got a wonderful trifle dish, which is actually the glass bowl bit out of a dead washing machine. I'm making a standard trifle in it today, which is:

 

  • 1 bought Madeira cake
  • Raspberry jam / conserve
  • Madeira or cream sherry
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 dessertspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 pints double cream
  • Fresh raspberries

Slice the madeira cake and sandwich the slices back together with raspberry jam, in whatever shape is convenient for your bowl. Sprinkle with plenty of booze to soak well in. Today we're using ordinary raspberry jam, but soaking in Blandy's Avada 5 year old sweet Madeira.

Make a custard – in a bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour. Heat one of the pints of cream to nearly boiling, pour over the egg mixture in a stream, whisking as you go. Put back in the pan, and heat gently until well thick. Pour it over the sponges, banging it up and down a couple of times to make sure it settles well around the sponges. Leave to cool and set.

When it's cool, whip the second pint of cream, with booze and flavourings if you like, and spread over the top. If you're using a bowl shaped like mine, that's wider at the top than the bottom, you may need more cream to get a decent layer.

Decorate the top with fresh raspberries.

This is actually better the next day, but if you're leaving it for a while you might want to wait on the raspberries.

Variants – blueberries (jam and fresh for the top), cranberries ditto – but sweetened dried for the top, fresh is too tart, chopped nuts on top, some people put fruit in amongst the sponge, but I'm a bit of a purist about that, you can put vanilla in the custard if you must.

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Chicken Liver Parfait

Another one based on Glynn Christian's Pies, Pates and Terrines. Scaled up, with variations. Makes a beautiful smooth mild creamy pate, great for parties. Keeps well in the fridge if sealed with fat on the top.

  • 150 gms butter
  • 1 medium size onion, finely chopped (about 6 oz)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 750 gms chicken livers, cleaned, but left whole (3 tubs if you bought frozen)
  • 5 fl oz double cream (or possibly more, you want about 6 tablespoons of whipped cream by the end)
  • seasoning and flavourings, see below
  • butter / goose fat to seal

Melt the butter, in a fairly big heavy frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently until soft but not coloured, don't let the butter scorch. Add the chicken livers, and cook for about 5 minutes – don't stir them or poke them about, just let them set in the warm butter. They should still be pink inside. After 5 minutes, turn them over once, so the pink side is down, and turn the heat off. This is important now, let the mixture cool, not until it's set solid, but so that the fat is thickening and it's definitely not warm. It can easily take over two hours, especially if your kitchen is warm, so go find something else to do. Process in the whizzy-thing until perfectly smooth – the solidifying fat gives a good air content and a moussey texture. Whip the cream until thick, in a big bowl. Fold in the pate mix, and your chosen flavourings. Salt of some kind is good, and about 6 tablespoons of some kind of liquid – alcohol is usual.

Today I'm using brandy and crushed green peppercorns, but we've also had pernod and dried tarragon, prunes and calvados, or any plumped-up dried fruit left over after making flavoured vodkas.

Smooth into a serving dish, with a bit of room left at the top. Melt butter, let the solids sink to the bottom, and pour the clear fat onto the top to seal. You can put bits of greenery into that to decorate, or peppercorns, or whatever. Or you can just melt butter and poultry fat together, and use that. Make sure it's well covered to seal. Keep in the fridge, I think it's best left for a day or so to mature the flavours.

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Hogswatch Pork Pie

I wanted a giant pork pie for Hogswatch, and I've amalgamated ideas from various different recipes. The main starting point for the mixture was Glynn Christian's Basic Pork Pie from Pies, Pates and Terrines from Sainsbury's, plus some additions from the Artery-Hardening Hogswatch Pie in the Nanny Ogg Cookbook. And what felt good at the time.

I mixed:

  • 1.5 kg pork mince
  • 1 Bramley apple, peel on, coarsely grated
  • 1 onion, finely chopped, about 6 oz weight
  • 3 capfuls brandy
  • 0.25 pint white wine
  • 2 fl oz manzanilla
  • 1 tsp each dried sage, allspice, nutmeg, and black pepper
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 2 heaped dessertspoons wholegrain mustard

I made a hot water pastry crust with 24 oz flour, 2 tsps salt, 250 gms lard, and a quarter pint water. I took 400 gms fancy chipolatas, with honey and rosemary, and twisted them in half – cocktail sausages.

In a 9" springform cake tin, I put three-quarters of the pastry, then half the main mix, then a layer of sausages, then the rest of the mix, and put the rest of the crust on top, leaving a central hole for breathing and addiing jelly later.

It's currently in a Gas Mark 6 oven for half an hour. Looking at the weight of meat, I think after that it'll get 2.5 hours at Gas Mark 3-4. After an hour at the lower temperature, it'll get glazed with an egg-wash.

I haven't decided on the jelly, but I think a mixture of white wine and Calvados for the liquid. It was a very wet mix, it'll probably shrink quite a bit, so I'll make well over a pint of jelly. The 12 oz I made for the game pie the other week wasn't nearly enough.

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