Pease Pudding

This recipe comes from my friend Andy Chastney, who describes it as “Northern Style”, on account of the use of ginger beer.  I’m not sure whether cooking ham in ginger beer is in fact a Northern tradition but it certainly made the most delicious Pease Pudding I have ever tasted.  A worthy British rival to hummus.

Ham or gammon joint

Ginger Beer

Onion

Bay leaf

Peppercorns

A couple of cloves

A few Cardamom pods

Yellow split peas, soaked overnight

Begin the night before by soaking the yellow split peas in water.  Cook the ham in ginger beer with the added flavourings, retaining the cooking liquor to make the Pease pudding.

To make the pudding, put the drained peas into a pan and cover with enough of the liquor (including some of the onion, spice and a bit of the fat) to cover the peas by an inch.  Simmer slowly until all of the thin liquid has gone and the peas are very soft – this will take about an hour and a half.  Add a knob of butter and leave to cool for 10 minutes before liquidising.  Pour straight into a dish where it will set to form Pease pudding.

Parsley Recipes

APRICOT, CELERY & WALNUT STUFFING

(Sufficient for a 12 lb Turkey)

8 oz fresh white breadcrumbs

2 onions, chopped

1½ oz butter

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

6 oz dried un-sulphured apricots, chopped

2 oz raisins

1 large orange

2 oz walnut pieces, roughly chopped

a good bunch of parsley, chopped

salt & pepper

Put the chopped apricots and raisins in a bowl with the grated rind and juice of the orange.  Leave to swell for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and soften the onions without colouring.  Add the celery and cook briefly before combining with the remaining ingredients.

Although there is a lot of advice nowadays not to stuff the body of the turkey, this is exactly what I do as the flavour of the stuffing gains so much from the juices of the bird as it cooks.  Just take care not to pack the stuffing in too densely and remember to add the stuffing weight to the weight of the bird when calculating cooking times.

CHICKEN WITH PARSLEY, LEMON AND THYME

A simple roast chicken in Italy is always a very herby affair.  There are several ways the herbs can be incorporated.  A herb butter, smoothed over the breast of the chicken between the skin and the meat, will both flavour and baste.  The cavity may be filled with a herb and breadcrumb stuffing, or, more simply, just with a cut lemon and sprigs of thyme, with the stuffing in the neck end only.

For the stuffing

1 banana shallot, chopped

1½ oz butter

8 oz fresh white breadcrumbs

1 small bunch parsley, chopped

Handful of thyme, preferably lemon thyme

Salt and pepper

1 unwaxed lemon

Melt the butter in a small frying pan then cook the chopped shallot until softened but not coloured.

Meanwhile strip the thyme leaves from their stems and mix them, together with the chopped parsley, with the breadcrumbs.  Finely grate the zest from the lemon and mix this with the breadcrumbs.  Stir the breadcrumbs into the buttered shallots, season well with salt and pepper and then add sufficient lemon juice to bind the mixture.

For the herb butter

1 small bunch of parsley

Good handful of thyme, preferably lemon thyme

Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

4 oz unsalted butter

Salt and pepper

Chop the parsley, including the stalks, in a food processor.  Add the thyme leaves and lemon zest and process again briefly to mix.  Now add softened butter, a seasoning of salt and pepper, and process again until evenly combined.  This quantity will be more than you need for the chicken but is also good atop accompanying vegetables.

BOILED BACON WITH PARSLEY SAUCE

Parsley sauce is delicious with boiled ham, bacon or gammon.  In the spring I would serve with broad beans.

3 lb lean forehock or shoulder bacon joint

1 onion, peeled and quartered

1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

parsley stalks

1 oz butter

1 oz flour

3 fl oz single cream

3 tbsps chopped parsley

black pepper

cider (optional)

Put the bacon joint in a large pan and cover it with cold water.  Bring slowly to the boil then discard the water.  Cover again with fresh water (or a mixture of cider and water), add the onion, bay leaf and carrot and bring slowly back up to the boil.  Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1½ hours.

When the bacon is cooked, remove it from the pan and put some of the stock into another pan to re-heat the beans.  Meanwhile make a thin sauce.  Heat the butter in a pan, add the flour and cook for a minute to make a roux.  Taste the stock.  Ideally you will use about 8 fl oz of this for the sauce, but if it is too salty it will be necessary to use some other liquid, such as cider.  When you have finished adding stock or cider to the sauce add the single cream.  Season with pepper (it is unlikely to need salt) and stir in the chopped parsley.

Celery Recipes

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

50g/2oz raisins

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.

Waldorf Salad

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

bay leaf

6 peppercorns

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).

Making Stock

People seem to think that making stock takes hours, well the cooking does, but not your involvement in it.  It really only needs 5 minutes of your time but will provide you with the basis for another meal.  If the cooking time is a problem for you on the day you have a carcass to use, just freeze it and then make stock on a day when you will be around.  I often do freeze the carcass anyway and then make a larger batch of stock when I have two or three.  This is especially useful if your bird did not come with giblets as you have less flavour available from one carcass.  However even a single carcass will make a light stock suitable for a vegetable soup or risotto.

To make the stock all you have to do is put the carcass and giblets, excluding the liver, into a large saucepan and cover them with cold water.  Add a peeled onion, a carrot, stick of celery, half a dozen whole black peppercorns, a bay leaf, sprig of thyme and a small bunch of parsley (the stalks have just as much flavour as the leaves).  If you haven’t got all of these things don’t worry, they add flavour but the stock will still be better than a stock cube even if you make it with just a carcass. Other potential flavourings if you have them to hand include leeks (the greener top part is fine) and the stalks, or even skin, of mushrooms. Now put the pan on to a high heat and, as soon as it begins to boil, skim the surface with a slotted spoon to remove any scum that has floated to the top and turn the heat down so that the liquid is just simmering.  This means that bubbles are breaking the surface but slowly.  If you have an Aga you are probably not reading this because you will already be a regular maker of stock, but you can put the stock into the bottom oven overnight.  Otherwise leave it simmering on the hob, uncovered or with the lid ajar, and check the liquid every now and again to make sure that it is not simmering too hard and to skim the scum from the surface.  After about 3-4 hours you should have sufficient flavour.  If you added too much liquid in the first place you can concentrate the flavour once you have strained the stock by boiling hard to reduce it.  Once the stock has cooled put it into the fridge overnight.

The following morning, skim the fat from the surface with a slotted spoon followed by kitchen paper used as a blotter. Any sediment will have sunk to the bottom, so pour the stock carefully to avoid disturbing it and this bit can be left behind.  If you are not using the stock straight away it is best frozen, but can be kept in the fridge for up to a week if boiled before using.

Pheasant Rissoles

In the restaurant we make rissoles from the meat from the pheasant legs and sometimes an extra whole bird. You simply pass the cooked meat through a mincer and add this to some finely chopped shallot sweated off with some finely chopped mushrooms (you can chop these in a Robot Coupe or other food processor). You can also add some of the bacon bits and vegetables from the sauce. Add some reduced pheasant stock, sauce or gravy – just enough to moisten the mixture, season it well and refrigerate it. We cut circles of pastry with a cutter and fill them with the mixture – a bit like a baby pasty – then deep fry them and serve them with a cup of consommé and a glass of dry Madeira.

(From A Very Honest Cook by Stephen Markwick and Fiona Beckett)