Apricot, Celery and Raisin Stuffing (for Turkey)
Sufficient for a 12 lb turkey
250g/9oz fresh white breadcrumbs
50g/2 oz butter
2 onions, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped finely
250g/9oz unsulphered dried apricots
2 large oranges, grated rind and juice of both, additional juice may be needed
50g/2oz walnuts (optional)
Good bunch of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Begin the night before by soaking the dried apricots and raisins. Grate rind of one orange into the dried fruit, then add the juice of both oranges. Depending on how juicy your oranges are you may need to add additional liquid, orange juice or sherry if you prefer!
The following day soften the onions in the butter then add the celery and cook just briefly. Turn these vegetables out into a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, roughly chopping the soaked apricots. Season and leave to cool before stuffing the turkey.
With a whole episode of Fawlty Towers dedicated to the subject, is there anyone who doesn’t know the ingredients for a Waldorf Salad? In that episode they were repeatedly listed as celery, apples, walnuts and grapes in a mayonnaise dressing. In fact the origins of the recipe are credited to Oscar Tschirky, the maître d’hotel at the Waldorf Hotel in New York and did not originally include either nuts or grapes. The walnuts had however been added by the time the recipe appeared in the Rector Cook Book in 1928. Grapes remain an optional extra.
I find the basic ingredients of celery, apples and walnuts, which are always to hand at Christmas, make a refreshing and crunchy salad as a counterpoint to all of the excess. Lighten the mayonnaise with lemon juice before mixing with the other ingredients.
Stilton and Celery Soup
This thick and hearty soup is a great way of using up leftover Stilton at Christmas.
Makes 1 pint (Serves 2 as a main course)
300 ml/ ½ pint milk
small onion, sliced
25 g/ 1 oz butter
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 rounded tbsp. flour
300 ml/ ½ pint of chicken or turkey stock
100 g/ 4 oz Stilton cheese, crumbled
Pepper and salt if required
Heat the milk, sliced onion, bay leaf and peppercorns to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
Melt the butter in a heavy based pan and cook the celery until just softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, straining to remove the flavourings, and stirring after each addition to achieve a smooth amalgamation. When all of the milk is incorporated add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese, stirring until it melts. Stilton is quite salty so no additional salt has been used up until now, but taste and adjust the seasoning if required.
Serve with crusty bread.
Celery with Anchovy Dip
Bagna Caôda is a hot Piedmontese dip, usually served in a communal terracotta pot, which is kept warm over a candle. Fresh, raw vegetable strips are dunked into the dip – Cardoons are considered essential in Piedmont, but celery is a substitute in its absence. Red & Yellow peppers, cauliflower florets, carrots, and Jerusalem Artichokes are some of the other possibilities.
We are of course familiar with the concept of Crudité, raw vegetables served with a dip, but this hot dipping sauce may not be so familiar. Crudité are a slimmers delight, celery especially so, as it is said to burn up more calories in the digestion than it contains.
4½ oz butter
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
10½ oz salted anchovy fillets
7 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Pound the garlic and anchovy fillets to a paste in a pestle and mortar. Add the butter and continue pounding to combine the ingredients and soften the butter. Transfer everything to the top of a double boiler over a very gentle heat and leave, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and anchovies have dissolved into the hot, but not boiling butter. Add the oil and continue to cook extremely gently until the mixture becomes creamy. Add the red wine vinegar just before serving and keep the whole thing warm in a terracotta pot set over a candle (or a fondue if you have one, although this is rather larger than required).