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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Ramen Stock

I like making simple noodle broth dishes, they're quick and healthy, refreshing in summer and warming in winter. But it's always been a pain to do one quickly without using stock or flavour concentrate, or tinned consomme. Wine isn't appropriate, and water doesn't cut it. The bought concentrates from the Chinese shop are very salty, or too hot, or just come in HUGE packs. I found a recipe for Vegetable Pho by Sophie Grigson in the Waitrose food magazine for July 2005, which is fairly standard, but did include this roast vegetable stock. It's my intention to make it once to try it, and if it works, make it in quantity and freeze in portions enough for 2-3 servings. This amount serves 4, supporting 125 gms rice noodles, lots of veg and 150gms tofu for the protein.

  • 6 cm root ginger, sliced thickly
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 carrots, quartered lengthways
  • 3 stems celery, thickly sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thickly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 litres water
  • 3 tbsps soy sauce
  • 0.5 tbsp caster sugar

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 8. Toss the veg and spices in the oil, and tip into a roasting pan. Roast for half an hour, until the veggies are patched with brown. Transfer to a big pan, scraping all the residues in. Add water, soy sauce and sugar. Boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain.

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Chilled Summer Soup

It says summer, but this might make a good lunch for a stuffy overheated office in winter. Another Waitrose card, serves 6, 224 cals per.

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 250 gms courgettes, sliced
  • 250 gms peas
  • 750 mls hot stock, chicken or veggie
  • 20 gm pack fresh mint
  • 500g tub greek yoghourt

Melt the butter and add garlic, onion and rosemary. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stir in courgettes. Cook for 5 more minutes, until courgette is starting to soften but not colour.

Add peas, and stock. Boil and simmer for 10 minutes until courgette is tender. Cool, and discard rosemary.

Blend soup with mint and yoghourt. Season to taste and chill.

(They suggest Fudges Mature Cheddar and Black Pepper flatbreads to serve, but if you needed something else almost any crispbread or toasted pitta bread would be fine. You could cut the calories with a low-fat yoghourt, but I suspect the richness of the yoghourt is crucial to the taste and texture of the soup.)

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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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Curried Fish with Pistachio

Tonight we tried a new DrGourmet recipe, Pistachio Crusted Grouper Braised in Curry . Grouper isn't easily available over here, but our fishmonger had caught it in Florida, and recommended if we were after something similar but not too ordinary, we could try barramundi. And very edible it was too. The basic recipe involves coating 2 x 4oz fillets of fish in 3/4 oz pistachio nuts, ground, and baking in a very hot oven (gas mark 9) in a sprayed pre-heated skillet, 8 – 10 minutes, turning once.

Meanwhile you heat in the microwave:

 

1/4 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 tsp. salt
  fresh ground black pepper
1 pinch grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp garam masala
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. fresh lime juice

and pour it over the fish and bake for about another 4 minutes.

I was quite concerned as I don't usually think curry spices do well unless dry-fried or heated in oil first. And the amount of acid looked a bit iffy. I left out the salt as I use bottled chicken stock concentrate which is salty anyway. When I took the fish out of the oven the sauce had dried away, and had to be resurrected with some additional hot water. I'd tipped the remainder of the pistachios from the fish-coating plate in with it, and it was definitely trying hard to be a korma. It was vaguely curry-tasting, but overall a bit bland – a lot of his curries are far too mild for British tastes. We'll definitely have it again, but I'll pick a more robust fish, monkfish would do well I think, or just a plain white fish block. The remainder of the nuts could be ground finer and heated with the sauce separately to thicken it more, and keep it softer. The fish coating would have been crunchier, which would have made more it more interesting in terms of texture. Extra heat, either from some fresh chilli in the sauce, extra curry powder, or some dried chilli flakes in the pistachio coating.

We had plain basmati rice with it, and some melon on the side because I couldn't be bothered to do a real fresh chutney or raita. It does need a fresh savoury crunch with it though, something with tomatoes and red onion maybe. And you could blitz a load of fresh coriander into the sauce to make a pesto-sort-of-thing. You've got plenty of calories to play with, the fish dish comes in at 204 per serving.

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Beetroot-cured salmon

We always have salmon over the holidays. Smoked, whole baked Crusader style with cinnamon and dried fruit, cold decorated with citrussy mustard jellied mayonnaise, or Russian pie with rice, hard-boiled eggs, dill and puff pastry. I like it with horseradish, too. We love beetroot as well, best of all being Russian beetroot caviar with garlic, prunes and brandy.

I've never tried making home-cured gravadlax, but this looks like an interesting place to start. From Good Food December 2005. Says serves 8 with leftovers, the calorie count is 306 per serving but that's based on 12 servings.

  • 2 skin-on salmon fillets, about 3lb in total
  • 8 oz caster sugar
  • 5 oz seasalt flakes
  • 3 oz fresh horseradish
  • 3 medium raw beetroot, grated but not necessarily peeled
  • 1 bunch dill, chopped

SALAD

  • 1 frisee or oak leaf lettuce
  • 4 medium beetroot, cooked, peeled and diced (that would be one vacuum-pack of pre-cooked)
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • drizzle olive oil

DRESSING

  • 1 200ml tub creme fraiche
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp fresh horseradish
  • handful dill fronds, chopped

Check the salmon fillets for pin bones. Mix up all the other ingredients to make the cure. Lay out a double-thickness of cling film and spoon on some of the cure. Top with one piece of salmon, skin side down. Add most of the rest of the cure. Sandwich together with the other piece of salmon, skin side up. Add the last of the cure, wrap up tightly. Put in a container (like a roasting tray), and weight. Keep somewhere cool (fridge or garage if it's cold enough) for at least 3 days or up to a week. Check every day, pour away surplus liquid, turn the salmon, and re-weight.

On the day, unwrap the salmon and brush off the remaining cure. Slice into thin slivers. Mix up the dressing and toss the salad.

The salmon will now keep in the fridge for a week and can be used as smoked salmon.

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Bang Bang Turkey

This is a noodles and meat variation on the Gado Gado salad, with a peanut dressing. From Good Food, December 2005. Another recipe from Ainsley Harriott, who in the same article posited the wacky Asian Fish with butter. This looks a bit more ethnically traditional, and would be a tasty way of using up cooked turkey. 4 portions at 351 calories per serving.

  • 6 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsps dark soy sauce
  • 125 gms thin rice noodles
  • 8 oz cooked turkey breast, shredded
  • 1 small iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, matchsticked
  • Half small cucumber, halved, deseeded, matchsticked (doesn't say peeled)
  • 4 spring onions, shredded

Put the peanut butter in a bowl and add the chilli and soy sauce. Stir in 4 tbsps boiling water until well combined and runny.

Soak the noodles as per packet instructions, drain.

Toss everything together, drizzle the sauce over. Serve with extra soy if you like.

It's the same method of making the peanut sauce as in the Gado Gado, but more simplistic – no fish sauce, no lime juice. If you weren't having anything else with it, you could add some extra calories with some fresh roasted peanuts. And I think a chilli-garlic sauce instead of the sweet chilli would make it a bit more interesting. When I've had Bang Bang in yer bog-standard Chinese restaurant, it's usually served as a tossed salad with the meat neatly laid on top and then the sauce.

 

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