Tag Archives: Make

Chicken Waldorf Salad

It’s been a long time since I contributed to my own site here and after much um-ing and ah-ing over whether or not to continue Gentle Voice or amalgamate this with my blog, here I am again, posting here. I am nothing if not indecisive. I think.

So without any more wiffle, here’s a little treat for the tastebuds: Chicken Waldorf Salad. This is an incredibly simple but oh so tasty recipe. Don’t be afraid to alter amounts of the separate ingredients because it’s a very forgiving combo of flavours and creativity is the key to good cooking I say!

Ingredients (For two people):

2 cooked chicken breasts (or equivalent meat from elsewhere on the bird), cut into bite size pieces

1 stick of celery, chopped

2 spring onions (scallions), chopped

2 oz (50g) walnut halves, roughly chopped

6 oz (175g) seedless grapes, washed and halved

3 rounded tablespoons of mayonnaise

Salt and crushed black pepper to season

Lettuce leaves (something crunchy like Cos / Romaine lettuce is good).

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl, add the mayonnaise and gently toss through to combine and coat everything. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves. Simple as …

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Creamy Parsnip and Squash Bake

SERVES  8    PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes + cooling    COOKING TIME: 1 hr 10 mins

Easy to prepare

INGREDIENTS

425 mls / 15 fl oz  (approx 2 US cups)  double (heavy) cream

1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped

2 thyme sprigs, one stripped of leaves

butter, for greasing

500g / 1 lb 2 oz parsnips (about 4 large)

500g / 1 lb 2 oz butternut squash (about 1/2 a large one)

25g / 1 oz Gruyere cheese, grated

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Method

Place the cream, onion or shallot and the thyme sprig in a small pan.  Slowly heat to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Strain, discarding the onion and thyme.

Heat oven to 160C  / 325F  / Gas 4  /  (Fan oven 140C  /275F).  Rub the bottom and sides of a gratin dish measuring about 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 in) with butter.  Peel the parsnips and trim the ends.  Peel and scoop the seeds out of the squash.  Thinly slice the vegetables.

Layer the parsnip and squash in the dish, pour over the infused cream, then scatter with the thyme leaves and Gruyere cheese.  Bake for 1 hour until golden and a fork slides easily into the veg.

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Get Ahead:  Leave the bake to cool, then cover and place in the fridge for up to 2 days.  To reheat, place in a 220C  / 425F  / gas 7  (fan 200C / 400F) oven for 15 minutes.  If the top starts to brown more than you’d like, cover with foil.

This recipe first appeared in the December 2007 Christmas edition of BBC Good Food magazine

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Special Jewelled Stuffing

CHESTNUT & CRANBERRY ROLL   ** (Can be prepared ahead)**

 

Makes 2 rolls, each cuts into 8 slices

Preparation Time: 30 minutes.     Cooks for 1 hour

Easy to prepare

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INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 Bramley (cooking) apples, approximately 140 g / 5 oz each, peeled

3 x 450 g (3 x 1 lb) packs good quality pork sausages

2 x 200g (2 x 7 to 8 oz)  packs vacuum-packed chestnuts, rougfhly chopped

Small bunch sage, leaves roughly chopped

Small bunch thyme, leaves stripped

1 egg

100g / 4oz white breadcrumbs

175g / 6oz fresh or frozen cranberries

24 rashers streaky bacon

butter for greasing

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Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then gently fry the onion for 5 minutes until softened.  Finely chop the apples, either by hand or in a food processor.

Squeeze the sausagemeat from the sausages into a large bowl, then add all the other ingredients except the cranberries and straky bacon.  Season generously then get your hands in and mix well.  Weigh out 450g (1lb) of the stuffing and mix a handfull of cranberries into it.  Use to stuff the neck of the turkey.

To assemble the rest:  Butter and season a large sheet of foil.  Stretch out the bacon rashers slightly with the back of a kitchen knife, then overlap 12 rashers on the foil. 

Spoon half of the stuffing mix evenly over the bacon, leaving a border of about 3cm (a little over an inch).  Scatter with half the cranberries, then pat them in.  Tuck the long edges of the bacon over the stuffing, then, using the foil to help, roll the stuffing up into a log shape. 

Repeat to make a second roll.

Heat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas mark 5 / Fan oven 170C

Put the foil-wrapped rolls onto a roasting tin and roast for 45 minutes.  Unwrap, draining off any juice, then finish roasting for 15 minutes, until the bacon is crisp.

**These rolls can be prepared up to 2 days ahead and kept, raw, in the fridge, or frozen for up to 1 month.  Roast up to 1 day ahead if you wish, then reheat, wrapped in foil, for 30 minutes while the turkey rests and your vegetables finish cooking.

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Recipe and photos from a recipe that appeared in BBC Good Food Magazine, Christmas edition 2007

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Cider Roast Turkey

SERVES 8 with leftovers.  PREPARATION TIME 15 minutes.   

COOK approx 4 hours for a 4.5 – 6 Kg (10-12 lb) bird.

Moderately easy recipe

Choose a free-range bird for the best flavour – they’re more expensive, but well worth it for a special occasion.  Here in the UK I’ve found KellyBronze has a good flavour.

FOR THE TURKEY

4.5 – 6kg (10-12 lb) turkey, giblets removed and kept

450g / 1lb stuffing

2 leeks, trimmed and halved

2 carrots, halved

50g / 2oz butter, softened

300ml /1/2 pint of dry cider

FOR THE GRAVY

300ml /1/2 pint dry cider

600ml / 1 pint of chicken or home made turkey giblet stock

2 tbsp quince or redcurrant jelly (cranberry jelly would also work well as an alternative if you can’t find quince or redcurrant)

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Heat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas 5 / 170C for a fan oven (approx 365F).

Wash and dry the turkey, removing any feathers.  Pull out the giblets and the neck, then set aside.  Lift up the skin that covers the neck opening, then stuff the stuffing up and under the skin, securing it tightly underneath with a skewer or two cocktail sticks.

Weigh the stuffed turkey (you may to use bathroom scales to do this), then calculate the cooking time, allowing 40 minutes per kg (20 minutes per pound).

Put the leeks and carrots in the bottom of a roasting tin in a single layer – this makes a trivet for the turkey to sit on, keeping it out of the fat that pools in the bottom of the tray and also adding flavour to the gravy.  Take the neck from the giblets you had set aside and add to the tin (again for flavour).

Sit the turkey on top of the layer of carrots and leeks and coat the breast all over with butter.  Pour in the cider, cover with foil, then roast according to your timings.  Keep checking the tin every 20-30 minutes and if the vegetables look like they’re burning, add a splash of water or cider.

At 30 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the foil and season generously with salt and pepper.

To test if the turkey is ready, pierce the thigh through its thickest part – the juices should run clear.  Take the turkey out and leave to rest, covered with a clean tea towel. 

Leaving the bird to rest is essential in order to allow the fibres of the meat to relax again and for the residual moisture to redistribute in the flesh.  You can leave the turkey to rest for up to an hour.

TO MAKE THE GRAVY

Drain the fat and juices from the tin into a jug, discarding the veg and the neck.

Place the tin over a flame then pour in the cider, scraping up the flavour filled crusty bits with a wooden spoon. 

Reduce the cider by half, then strain into a saucepan (this will save you hob space later).

You should find that by now the juices you poured out of your roasting tin into a jug will have separated out – the fat floating to the top.  Carefully tip off this excess fat, then add the remaining juices to the reduced cider and pour in the stock.  ***Reduce over a high heat for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened.  Stir in the quince jelly, taste and then season if necessary – if you’re using commercially pre-prepared stock be warned that this usually contains a lot of salt so your gravy may only require a little cracked black pepper by way of seasoning. 

Pour the gray into a serving jug or gravy boat, any resting juices that have come out of the turkey should go in now too.

***If you prefer a thicker gravy, mix 1 tsp cornflour with a splash of cold water, then add to the gravy, stirring constantly until smooth and glossy.

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This recipe has been slightly adapted from one  that appeared in the December 2007 Christmas edition of BBC Good Food magazine.  All photos from the same article.

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Giblet Stock

Making your own turkey giblet stock is very easy and well worth doing.  If you’re going to use this with Christmas or Thanksgiving lunch or dinner, this is something that you can easily prepare a day ahead, ready for use on the big day. 

You will need:

The turkey giblets

1 onion, sliced in half

1 carrot, sliced in half lengthways

A few parsley stalks

1 celery stalk, plus a few leaves

1 bay leaf

6 whole black peppercorns

Salt

900 ml (about 1-1/2 pints or 32 fl oz) water

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Wash the giblets and put them in a saucepan with the halved onion.  Cover with water and bring up to simmering point. 

Remove any surface scum with a draining spoon then add the remaining ingredients. 

Half cover the pan with a lid then simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. 

Strain the stock, allow to cool and store, covered, in the fridge.

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Natural pest control, 2

LacewingI’ve already covered planting to deter aphids and encouraging toads into the garden to munch away slugs, snails and other garden pests.  Everything in nature is in fine balance and in just the same way that certain bugs are determined to eat their way through our efforts in the garden, so Mother Nature has given us other insects that are the natural enemies of the garden marauders and are therefore our friends.  There are many garden friendly insects but the two most recognisable are the pretty green Ladybirdlacewing (Chrysoperla rufilabris …seen above), and everybody’s favourite – the ladybird, the adult and/or larval forms of which will eat aphids practically by the lorry load. 

To encourage garden friendly insects to your patch of green, first and foremost you must stop using chemical sprays (but then I’m sure you probably guessed that already). 

Secondly, if you can leave a sunny patch of your garden to grow wild, then please do.  In fact the ladybird’s favourite plant for nesting in is the humble nettle so where you see nettles Ladybird larvaestarting to grow, please leave them – you will be helping to increase the ladybird population.  Bear in mind that it is sometimes the larvae of garden friendly insects that are the biggest help to us and this is certainly the case with the ladybird, although you may, up until now have assumed that this little chap is just another pest.  He isn’t.  He’s a veritable aphid hoover!

Third, you can give garden friendly bugs a home in which to live.  There are attractive commercially made bug condominiums available to buy but making your own is also incredibly simple.  I made mine (pictured at the end of this post) by cutting pieces of hollow bamboo to a uniform length using secateurs – I’d say, cut the lengths to about 10 inches long.  (Bamboo is often used as plant supports and so can be easily purchased from garden Bugs1nurseries).  Cut both ends off  a large/2 litre plastic drinks bottle and tightly stuff the cut lengths of bamboo into the resulting plastic tube.  Tie string or twist wire around both ends of the newly made ‘bottle condominium’ so that you are able to hang it in a horizontal position.  Place it somewhere warm, preferably near the main problem area in the garden.  Pretty soon insects will find it and start to settle in your bug condo.  By the way, many insects hibernate over the winter months so it may be helpful to put your bug shelter somewhere like a garden shed over the coldest months to help protect it from frost.

Finally, make a compost heap, the simple presence of which will help to encourage insect life into your garden … not to mention providing you with fabulous compost.

If your garden is under serious attack right now, (or you are of a very impatient temperament!) friendly bug ‘attractants’ can be bought on-line.

0088, Bug shelter

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Too silly

‘Recommended’ for me on YouTube today -yes, they’ve got me pegged alright! Erm…Isn’t this just a bit silly and for people with rather too much time on their hands?  Another eco-schmeco waste of time because whatever is wrong with the traditional coir door mat?  …Mind you, I like the idea that I’m ‘being productive’ when I’m drinking wine. I must remember that one!

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