Thursday, 30 December 2010

Jerusalem Artichoke Pureé

This recipe is in essence very similar to my Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, however its worth posting on its own as its such a great accompaniment to a wide range of dishes. It's nutty, light and creamy and can be served hot or cold.

Top tip: Jerusalem artichokes don't freeze well, so make use of the season while you can (Oct-Feb). With this recipe you can always add more cream if you want it thinner!

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

Jerusalem Artichokes - 200g
Chicken Stock - 200mls
Double Cream - 50mls
Nutmeg - 1 pinch
Garlic - 1 clove

1. Peel and roughly the dice the Jerusalem artichokes, and place in a sauce pan, adding chicken stock to just cover.

2. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes until the artichokes are soft.

3. Peel and crush the garlic and add to the pan.

4. Using a food processor mix the artichoke, stock and garlic until very smooth. Add the nutmeg and cream and mix further.

5. Season to taste and either store in the fridge, or serve after warming on the hob.

Serve with my Christmas Terrine and a cranberry for decoration, or with my Lamb Cutlets.

Christmas Terrine

As you can imagine this is a terrine that fits all the classic Christmas flavours into one dish! I chose to make this as a way to get all the festive ingredients into one starter, to precede a more alternative main course. This terrine is packed with an assortment of Christmas tastes all in one mouthful, and can be made well in advance.

Top tip: Always taste a little of the terrine mix before the packing stage, so you can get the seasoning and flavours just right.

Makes 1 terrine tin (serves 12-20)

INGREDIENTS:

Sausage Meat - 1kg
Turkey Steaks - 2
Cooked Chestnuts - 200g
Onion - 2
Porcini Mushrooms (dried) - 200g
Sherry - 150mls
Lemon Zest - 1 lemon
Fresh Thyme - 1 bunch
Flat-leaf Parsley - 1 bunch
Dried Cranberries - 1 handful
Cranberry Sauce - 20g
Streaky Bacon - 12 rashers
Butter - 25g

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in the sherry for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, dice and chop the onions, and sauté in the butter until softened.

3. Chop the chestnuts roughly. Remove the mushrooms from the sherry, keeping the liquid, and chop the mushrooms roughly.

4. Next make the terrine mix. In a large mixing bowl add the onions, sherry, mushrooms, thyme, parsley, chestnuts, lemon zest, dried cranberries and sausage meat and work together with your hands. Season well with salt and pepper.

5. To make up the terrine, grease a terrine tin (or small bread tin) and lay the bacon rashers overlapping each other to cover the bottom and sides of the tin. Allow the excess to overhang the sides of the tin - you'll need enough to fold over the top to seal the terrine.

6. Press approximately an inch thick layer of the terrine mix into the tin. Slice the turkey steaks into thin fillets and layer over the terrine mix, and with a pastry brush glaze with some of the cranberry sauce.

7. Repeat with a second layer of sausage meat and turkey as before finishing with a top layer of sausage meat. Fold the excess bacon over the to seal the terrine and press in a sprig of thyme for decoration.

8. Cover with buttered foil, and wrap the whole tin in a double layer of cling film.

9. Fill a roasting tray half way with boiling water, and place the wrapped terrine in the center. Roast the bath in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for one hour.

10. Remove from the oven and place a heavy object over the tin (I used my chopping board and granite mortar) - this compresses the terrine whilst it cools and compacts the layers. Allow to cool overnight.

11. When ready to serve, remove the wrapping and turn the terrine out of the tin. Remove any excess fat and slice into your desired portion size.

Serve with melba toast and my Jerusalem Artichoke Pureé.

Chilli & Rosemary Stuffed Poussin

The idea for this dinner came about as an alternative to roast turkey that everyone gets so bored of by the end of the festive season. Not wanting to completely digress from festive tradition I thought it would be a neat idea to present the poussin as individual 'Christmas Roast', but with refreshingly different flavours. Poussin is much more flavoursome than turkey and a deboned bird means your guests can eat the whole thing!

Top tip: Many good cookery books will teach you the correct deboning technique. I suggest trying on a full sized chicken before attempting these delicate birds.

For one poussin

INGREDIENTS:

Poussin - 1
Rosemary - 2 sprigs
Garlic - 1-2 cloves
Red Chilli - 1/2
Butter - 25g
Olive Oil - 1 tsp

1. Using a sharp knife carefully debone the bird starting by chopping off the wings at the joints, and then making an incision along the belly. The correct technique is to remove the carcass whole leaving the outer skin and breast and legs intact. Use your knife to work closely around the rib cage slowly peeling the meat away - this can get quite fiddly when deboning the legs!

2. Lay the bird on it's back and start seasoning inside the cavity. Peel and crush the garlic, and chop, deseed and dice the chilli. Place inside the poussin, covering evenly. Sprinkle in the rosemary, and season with salt and pepper. Finally place the butter inside, and fold the bird back over to resume its original shape.

3. Place in a roasting tin and drizzle over the olive oil. Season the skin further with salt and pepper.

4. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

Serve with my Roasted Baby Parsnips & Carrots with Cumin, and Pigs in Blankets.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Festively Spiced White Chocolate Ice-Cream

This delicious dessert is a little bit of fun! You can bring it out at the end of a drunken dinner party as a bit of a conversation piece, or to keep children entertained. You don't have to dress it up like a snowman, but the temptation is hard to resist! The ice-cream itself is surprisingly festive, with hints of mulled wine and smooth white chocolate.

Top tip: If you're making snowmen it can be quite fun to let your guests finish the dressing with licorice scarves and chocolate chip eyes.

Makes 1/2 litre

INGREDIENTS:

Full Fat Milk - 500mls
Caster Sugar - 75g
Egg Yolks - 5
White Chocolate - 200g
Double Cream - 100mls
Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
Mulled Wine Spices - 1 sachet

1. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until stiff and white. Then break up the white chocolate and melt in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.

2. In a separate pan add the milk, cream, cinnamon and sachet of mulled wine spices and bring to the boil. This will infuse the milk with a real Christmas flavour!

3. Remove the milk from the heat and allow to stand and cool before removing the sachet.

4. Into the milk pour in the melted white chocolate and mix in.

5. Whilst constantly whisking, add the egg yolk/sugar mixture. Keep whisking until all has been added, keeping as much air in as possible.

6. Whilst constantly stirring, pour into a running ice-cream maker and allow to set. (If you don't have an ice-cream maker you can use the same technique as making a sorbet, see my Passionfruit Sorbet recipe).

7. To make snowmen, roll balls of the set ice-cream in your hands (it helps to wear rubber gloves!) or use an ice-cream scoop, and place the balls on top of each other before placing back in the freezer to set in position.

Serve with my Sticky Toffee Chocolate Steamed Puddings!

Roasted Baby Parsnips & Carrots with Cumin

What else can I say about roasted vegetables? Perfect with almost anything, tasty and simple to make, and just slightly different from the norm.

Top tip: Roasting in the juices of the meat always adds great depth to the flavour.

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

Baby Parsnips - 6
Chantenay Carrots - 6
Cumin Seeds - 2 tsps
Butter - 50g
Clear Honey - 1 tbsp

1. Slice the parsnips and carrots lengthways in half, keeping the tips in place.

2. Place the parsnips in a pan of boiling, salted water and par-boil for 5-10 minutes until slightly softened, then drain immediately.

3. In a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius melt the butter in a roasting dish. Once melted, place the vegetables flat side down. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the cumin seeds, and drizzle on the honey.

4. Roast at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes, turning once until golden.

Serve with roasted meat, like my Rolled Lamb Shoulder with Pecorino & Mint or Chilli & Rosemary Stuffed Poussin.

Rolled Lamb Shoulder with Pecorino & Mint

You can't beat a good roast, around this time of year they're all the rage. It can become exhausting coming up with new ideas, so how about this to beef up your roasting repertoire? The lamb simply melts in the mouth, and has extra decadence from the pecorino and mint stuffing.

Top tip: If you don't have the time or scared you might do things wrong, you can always ask your local butcher to debone the lamb for you.

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

Lamb Shoulder - 1
Fresh Mint - 1 bunch
Pecorino Cheese- 100g
Dried Thyme - 1 tbsp
Garlic - 6 cloves
Onion - 1
Olive Oil - 20mls

1. Using a sharp knife debone the lamb shoulder, keeping the meat intact, and salvaging as much meat from the bone as possible. Keep the bones!

2. On the inside of the lamb season very generously. Start with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, then shave the Pecorino over the top. Peel and roughly chop the garlic, and distribute evenly. Tear up the mint leaves, and scatter evenly before sprinkling on the thyme.

3. Roll the meat with your hands into a tight cylinder, and secure in place with string.

4. To prepare your roasting tray, place the bones and a quartered onion in the center. Place the lamb shoulder on top and drizzle on the olive oil. Season again with salt and pepper.

5. Cover with tin foil and roast in a pre-heated oven at 250 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes, before lowering the temperature to 170 degrees and roast for another hour and 40 minutes.

6. Let the meat rest once done for at least 15 minutes before carving. You can use this time to make a red wine gravy from the juices.

Serve with seasonal vegetables, my Roasted Baby Parsnips & Carrots with Cumin and a pea and mint pureé.

Red Berry Sorbet

I find that around the festive season you can just eat and eat and eat! That's all very well, but sometimes you just need something light to finish off a meal. Sorbet is a refreshing alternative, and the red berries add a great festive touch.

Top tip: Keeps well in the freezer, so can be made in advance.

Makes 1/2 litre

INGREDIENTS:

Raspberries - 250g
Mixed Berries (blueberries, blackberries & blackcurrants) - 250g
Egg White - 1
Caster Sugar - 150g
Water - 400mls
Lemon Juice - 1/2 lemon

1. Add 50mls of the water to a saucepan, and dissolve in 50g of the sugar over a low heat.

2. Add the berries and bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes.

3. In another pan make a syrup by dissolving the remaining sugar in the water over a low heat. Using a sieve, strain the berry mix into the syrup, and mix in with lemon juice.

4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Meanwhile, whisk the egg white until stiff, then add to the cooled berry syrup, stirring in.

5. Place in an ice-cream maker and allow to set. (If you don't have an ice-cream maker, see my recipe for Passionfruit Sorbet).

Serve with a few fresh berries or as a compliment to my Christmas Ice-cream.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Parmesan Shavings

Jerusalem artichokes are in season from October to February. I absolutely adore this vegetable - such a subtle, nutty flavour and it's still little-known about so I can really surprise my guests with a new taste! This soup is delicate and very easy to make, the beauty is in the taste of the artichoke itself. I've had no complaints yet!

Top tip: When in season your best bet is to buy from a local grocer, although they are popping up in a few of the larger supermarkets.

Serves 5

INGREDIENTS:

Jerusalem Artichoke - roughly 400g
Onion - 1
Garlic - 2-3 cloves
Chicken Stock - 500mls
Double Cream - 75mls
Butter - 25g
Nutmeg - 1/2 tsp
Parmesan - 1 handful

1. Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and roughly chop into small chunks.

2. Peel and dice the onion. Peel and crush the garlic. Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter until softened.

3. Add the chicken stock and Jerusalem artichokes and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, or until the artichokes are softened and almost falling apart.

4. Add the ground nutmeg, and using a handheld blender pureé until smooth.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the double cream.

Serve hot with a sprinkling of parmesan shavings and some more black pepper.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Chestnut Mushroom & Blue Cheese Sauce

This sauce is absolutely irresistible. So much so that even after three days of excessive festive gorging we still found ourselves wanting to lick the plates clean! After tasting this sauce it was a must-have recipe for my website, and thanks to my brother-in-law Dan you can all enjoy this creamy, nutty, salty, more-ish and truly dreamy sauce.

Top tip: I like a strong blue cheese like Roquefort, but you can use lighter, creamier ones to suit your palette.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

Chestnut Mushrooms - 1 punnet
Butter - 25g
Olive Oil - 15mls
Ground Black Pepper - 1 tbsp
Thyme - 1 sprig (to taste)
Double Cream - 300mls
Roquefort - 75g

1. Heat the butter in a pan until it starts to turn brown, and then add the olive oil heating through for another minute. This creates the rich base for your sauce.

2. Slice the mushrooms thickly and place the mushrooms in the pan, but do not stir them around, instead let them cook through one on side for about 6-7 minutes on a low to medium heat, then turn over and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and place to one side.

3. If you're making the sauce to have with steak (recommended!) now is the time to cook them in the same butter/oil mixture. This will give your sauce extra meaty flavour!

4. Once the steaks are cooked to your liking remove them from the pan. Deglaze the pan with a swig of brandy, and allow to flambé. This will pick up all the lovely juices from the pan.

5. Add in the cream, pepper and thyme and crumble in the blue cheese, and on a low heat allow it all to reduce for about 10 minutes to about half it's consistency.

6. Take off the heat and stir in the mushrooms, and serve immediately.

This sauce is perfect with thick-cut steak and home-made chips or roasted potatoes.