Culinary delights and inspiration over the Christmas period

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So my fridge – my relatively new fridge in fact (still under guarantee phew) – decides to die a dramatic death on 22nd December. Great timing. I mean it could have died in November or in the summer but no it decides to die just as I want to start cracking on with preparations for Christmas.

I will not let my fridge dampen my spirits however. On the bright side I have a freezer and a cold coal cellar so I am going to rise to the occasion and go back in time when freezers did not exist. I now have all the contents of my fridge in storage boxes with ice bags surrounding them. Some jars are in the garden in boxes in the rabbit hutch. Our rabbits passed away recently…..that’s another story….so there is room in the hutch away from prying urban foxes.

So I thought you might need some last minute inspiration of things to cook with turkey leftovers, meals after christmas and before new year and canapés etc. So first up is turkey, ham and leek pie. Very straightforward and a great way to use up the turkey and ham.

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On boxing day or 27th I will be cooking my crispy skin cod with white beans, padron peppers, spinach, dill and aioli. You can use monkfish or hake instead, whichever you decide it’s a lovely dish to serve after the filling fare of Christmas day.

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This wintery warm lentil and goats cheese salad with a fresh basil dressing will also be making an appearance. Slow cooked tomatoes are a favourite in my household and we are all rather fond of goats cheese. I also like the fact that is vegetarian, filling and incredibly tasty.

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Perhaps you have friends or family coming over for a glass of bubbles or mulled wine. Both these canapés are very straightforward and don’t take too much time to prepare. The pastry for the parmesan caraway biscuits can be made in advance and kept in the fridge. When you are ready to cook them you simply slice them thinly, lay them out on a tray and place them in the oven for around 10 minutes, or until they are lightly bronzed. Let them cool slightly and then they are ready to be devoured.

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The rosemary spiced walnuts are wonderful to snack on and are not too filling before the main event. We love them and I am sure you will too.

Whilst we are all very fortunate to have the love of family and friends around us at Christmas a great way to give a little back is reserving a place for a homeless person at one of the crisis shelters. £22.32 reserves a place for one person but also allows them to have:

 – a health check with a doctor, dentist and optician

 – shower, freshen up and clean clothes

– three nutritious meals including christmas dinner

-an introduction to Crisis’ year-round services for training and support for the future.

You can find out more and how to donate here. I think it is a wonderful charity and one that I support each year.

So that’s it from me for 2016. I wish you all a very merry christmas and a happy new year and I hope to be able to inspire you with some exciting recipes in 2017. Thank you for your continued support and readership, it means a lot to me.

Torie xx

 

 


Nigella’s Italian Roast Chicken with Leeks, Peppers and Black Olives and Leftover Chicken Soup

We had a family gathering last weekend and I wanted to cook a no fuss meal that would literally cook itself freeing me up to enjoy my guest’s company. So while we all sipped on our Aperol with Prosecco – a drink that I was introduced to this summer when we at our friend’s wedding in South Tyrol (and which has apparently become very in vogue in London this summer!) and caught up on each others news, the chicken and vegetables were nicely roasting in the oven without any need for stirring or turning over.

I paired them with good old roast potatoes (that I had parboiled first and then drained and given a good shake in the saucepan before putting them on a roasting dish with a splash or two of olive oil) that are always a home run at a family occasion. Couscous would work equally well or even mashed potato.

The saltiness from the black olives and the sweetness from the peppers and leeks worked a treat and together they created a delicious gravy to pour over the succulent meat and roast spuds.

I love it when guests can help themselves to what they want as this tends to avoid wastage as they only take what they are going to eat and also it’s a fun and relaxing way to all share a meal together. I chopped (no carving here) the chicken up so that there were lots of options on what meat they could dig into. Around the side I scattered the leeks, peppers and black olives and in a separate gravy jug I gathered all the juices.

With the remaining two carcasses I made some homemade stock, which I then turned into a delicious chicken soup for lunch the followingday. Easy, healthy and no wastage – other than the bones.

Italian Roast Chicken with Leeks, Peppers and Black Olives

adapted from Nigella Lawson’s latest series Nigellissima on the BBC 

Serves 8 (simply halve the quantity for serving 4 people)

2 whole chickens (1.3kg)

2 whole fresh lemons – halved

6 fresh rosemary sprigs

8 leeks, washed and trimmed

6 peppers – red/yellow/orange, quartered

300g black olives

good splash of olive oil

sea salt and pepper

1. Prepare the peppers and scatter them on a large roasting tray along with the leeks, which should be cut to 3 inches in length and then halved. Evenly spread the black olives over the vegetables along with two sprigs of fresh rosemary.

2. Take off any string on the chickens and place a whole lemon – cut in two, into the inside of each chicken along with two rosemary springs in each. Season with pepper and salt and splash the chickens and vegetables liberally with olive oil.

3. Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees if using a fan oven (200 degrees if not!)  for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes – or until the chickens are bronzed and roasted and the juices are running clear when you cut into the chicken with a sharp knife.

4. Serve on a warm large platter with the chickens cut up in the centre and the vegetables and olives surrounding the meat so that your guests can help themselves.

5. There will be a good amount of juices left in the roasting dish, which you need to transfer to a gravy dish for people to pour over their food.

I served mine with roasted potatoes however, couscous or mashed potato would work equally well.

Homemade Chicken Soup

Serves 4

left over chicken (1 or 2) carcass

1 large carrot, chopped into three

1 medium sized onion, chopped in two

3 bay leaves

water to cover the carcasses

a good glug (half a wine glass) of cheap white wine

1 chicken stock cube (optional)

2 tbsp single cream

juice of half a lemon

pepper and salt

1. Place the chicken carcasses in a large pot and cover with water. Make sure that there are no lemons remaining within the chicken carcasses when you are making the stock.

2. Add the carrot, onion, bay leaves and wine to the pot and simmer gently for an hour and then set aside to cool.

3. Strain the liquid through a sieve and return to the pot along with the carrot and onion. Place the chicken carcasses on the side and remove all the remaining meat with your hands and place into the pot. The meat with easily come away from all the bones. Bits of rosemary will also be on some of the meat from when you first roasted it. Add this to the pot as well as it adds a lovely taste to the soup.

4. Gently heat up the liquid once again and add the single cream, one chicken stock cube (optional), juice from half a lemon, some more water if you want it to go further. Season to taste.

5. Using a hand blender, blend the liquid until it is smooth.

6. Serve piping hot with a quarter of lemon on the side should guests which to add a little more lemon and some crusty bread.


No more cold cuts please – Turkey, Ham and Leek Pie

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and loved ones and that it was not too stressful if you were the one in charge of feeding the masses. We always end up with loads of turkey and ham/gammon leftovers and whilst cold cuts are delicious for maybe one or two sittings, any more than that and one craves for variety. I felt a good old fashioned pie would be the perfect way to use up some of the leftovers and fill the bellies of my guests. Whilst I had every intention of following the recipe on  ‘lovefoodhatewaste’ I ended up deviating off a lot to the extent that I think it is better to describe the recipe on the site as giving me ‘inspiration’. I found that the dish to be a hit and it was polished off completely in one sitting.

Turkey, Ham and Leek Pie

serves 8

450g turkey, (or chicken) cut into small sized chunks

350g ham/gammon, cut into small sized chunks

5 leeks, chopped

2 celery, chopped

100g mushrooms, chopped

2 tsp of cornflour

1-1.5 litres of turkey stock

pinch of salt

black pepper

400g of shortcrust pastry or ready made

1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Evenly chop the celery, leeks and mushrooms and place most of them on the bottom of the pie dish. (The dish I used was 35cm length by 24cm width). This will allow the vegetables to cook properly through when they are in the oven.

3. Cut the turkey and ham into small sized chunks and scatter over the vegetables along with the remainder of the vegetables that you put to one side.

4. If you have any turkey stock left over use that, otherwise, use chicken stock cubes, such as knorr. I also had some juices left from the ham so I managed to combine these into the stock as well giving it a really delicious taste. Add approximately 1.5 litres of stock to the pan and warm it through completely. Place 2 teaspoons of cornflower into a small bowl along with a couple of tablespoons of cold water. Stir until the cornflour is smooth and watery and add to the stock to thicken it. As an alternative to stock, you could use a tin or two of Campbell’s chicken soup so as to give it a creamier consistency.

5. Add the stock over the meat and vegetables and using your hands try and make sure all the pieces are covered to some degree in the stock. Add salt and pepper to season.

Easy Shortcrust Pastry

400g plain flour

200g butter, cubed

2-3 tbsp of cold water

6. To make your own pastry, simply place the plain flour into a large mixing bowl along with the cubed butter (room temperature is best). Using your finger tips gently mix the butter and flour together so that it begins to crumble. Using a knife stir in a little water into the dough so that it binds together. If you put in too much water just add a little extra flour. Once the dough has come together, form a ball and cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

7. Roll the pastry out onto a cold floured surface. Once it is larger than your pie dish gently place it over the top of your filling making sure the extra pastry hangs over the sides. I find it is best to use the rolling pin to place it gently on top. Press down at the edges using your finger and thumb so that the pastry is completely secure. Using a knife cut the extra pastry that is hanging over the sides. You can then get creative on the top of your pie using the left over pastry.

8. To help give your pie the perfect brown glow, gently brush the top of the pie with your beaten egg.

9. Using a fork place a few fork marks over the top of your pastry so that it can let out the air within the body of the pie when cooking.

10. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes, checking to see that it does not brown too much. Serve immediately with peas and new potatoes.