Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Chicken liver mousse

13 November 2020

It used to be perfect for apéro, and since those days are on pause I’ve started making it regularly, for no particular reason. Every few weeks recently, so that it can be there for a quick lunch or ‘Abendbrot’ dinner (German for bread and cheese and cold cuts, in this house usually also with soup or salad), or even breakfast. It has become part of a rhythm, like my weekly bread.

Chicken livers in any form is one of my favourite things, and this has become indispensable. It’s always devoured and often fought over in this house. So easy to make (thirty minutes) and completely addictive.

Chicken liver mousse
This is very similar to my chicken liver terrine from ten years ago, but processed into an unctuous mousse. So in the absence of a food processor, the livers can be chopped by hand.

600g chicken livers
300g butter + Olive oil
3 shallots or small onions, thinly chopped
Fresh sage and/or thyme
Brandy and port (or marsala or Madeira, whatever is open and on hand)
Salt and pepper

‘Trim’ the chicken livers, meaning cut off the sinew and carefully remove any green (it’s the gallbladder which is bitter).

Melt the butter in small saucepan, reserving a large tablespoon to cook the livers. Once melted, remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan with the reserved tablespoon of butter and a little olive oil. Add the shallots (or onions) and cook gently until translucent and just barely starting to brown.

Turn up the heat and add the livers, drained of any excess liquid (otherwise they will stew rather than brown). Cook over high heat, turning over once, for 3 to 4 minutes, until starting to brown.

Lower the heat to medium, add the herbs and give them a swirl in the pan to meld the aromas. Now add a few glugs of alcohol, about two tablespoons each of the sherry and marsala (or port).

Continue cooking for a minute or two until the livers are just cooked through (cut one open to check — it should be pink).

Transfer the livers and onions (take out the herbs) to a food processor. Process until blended. Add about 250g of the melted butter gradually to whip up a mousse. [=> Reserve just enough butter to cover the mousse with a layer of fat at the end.] Taste. Season generously with salt and pepper. Taste again.

Transfer the mousse to a bowl or terrine, cover with the remaining melted butter. Let cool before transferring to the fridge for a few hours at least.

The mousse keeps for a couple of days.

Autumn soups

9 November 2020

Occasionally (or, possibly, fairly often), I binge-buy vegetables. Last Wednesday was such a day. Whatever the reason — (ir)rational distractedness? — I apparently ordered, from our London supplier of local British produce Farm Direct, carrots, cauliflowers, broccoli, leeks, turnips, kohlrabi, pumpkin, celery stalks and root, onions, peppers… I may be forgetting something? — Mushrooms!

I rarely buy food with the intention of a specific recipe. Usually, especially with produce, it’s what looks good and is available, and since the season has changed there was exaggerated enthusiasm about all the new things. Which doesn’t solve the problem of what I will be doing with all of this, but an easy guess would be: soup!

Here are a few autumnal soups that I like going back to, over the years.

Creamy spiced lentil soup

A soup in shades of green

Spicy lentil and red kuri squash soup

Parsnip and butternut squash soup with sage

Soba noodle soup with meatballs and bok choy

Cream of cauliflower soup with salmon roe

Five-ingredient pumpkin leek soup

Pear and Stilton elevenses

23 October 2020

October 23. Cycling through the park speckled golden with leaves and sunlight this morning is a memory for today. Autumn at its most perfect. And already the sky is overcast, dulled and dreary, a few drops even. In London the weather changes five times a day, it’s about catching the rays.

This snack, which may just as well lengthen the sun or brighten a rainy morning, is my favourite thing in autumn.

Pear and Stilton elevenses

A perfectly ripe pear, peeled or not

‘Save the plums’ jam

6 October 2020

October 6th. Reliably, like every year in early October, there is a bowl full of old plums in my kitchen. They are already at varying degrees of bruised, shrivelled, and slightly alcoholic. They’ve been there for a week. I don’t think it’s intentional, but always during the last shimmer of plum season I buy lots, and only ever manage to save them in the nick of time, with jam.

I cut up the plums yesterday, mixed them with just under half their weight in sugar, added the juice of one lemon, and let them macerate overnight in the fridge, stirring once or twice as the sugar tends to slide to the bottom.

Now to figure out whether to add anything. I usually turn to ginger or bay leaf with plums, but today I am wondering — cardamom?

Save the plums’ jam

1kg plums
850g light brown sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
Optional: 6 pounded cardamom pods / one or two bay leaves / finely cut ginger

Wash and pit the plums. In a bowl, mix together the plums, sugar, lemon juice, and the spices or herbs if using. Cover and leave to macerate overnight in the fridge. Stir once or twice as the sugar will sink to the bottom.

The next day, transfer the mixture to a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook at a lively simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly.

Meanwhile, in another pan half-filled with water, bring to a boil and sterilize 3 or 4 jars for 5 minutes.

Once the simmer slows down and the jam is ready, scoop the jam into the jars and close the lid immediately.

[ => To check that the jam is setting, place a spoonful in a saucepan in the fridge for a few minutes and check that the liquid is starting to run thick.]

Wait a few weeks, if possible, before using.

Earlier ‘save-the-plums’ jam ventures:

Greengage plum jam with lemon and bay leaf
Damson and Victoria plum jam with lemon and ginger
Plum jam with candied ginger

Green tomato jam

1 October 2020

First of October. Grey skies. The earth damp from yesterday’s showers, scattered, then persistent. Today the air is mild, the nebulous cover a moderating blanket. The weather turned ten days ago, right on cue at the equinox.

Transitional moments are a catalyst for cooking inspiration. Holding on to the waning season, devising some last ways with the summer produce, while simultaneously grasping the novelty of autumn.

And few things embody this transition quite like green tomatoes, straddling the divide.

I remember just one person in my childhood who made green tomato jam, my father’s godmother Lily (from her I also have my favourite recipe for clafoutis, and an early fixation on quince in the form of cotignac). I never got Lily’s green tomato jam recipe, but the memory remains, and this method works very well.

Green tomato jam based on a recipe by Christine Ferber
The recipe takes three days, which sounds complicated, but in fact the process is broken down into three brief, manageable slots that fit easily into each the day.

1 kg green tomatoes
850g sugar
2 lemons
Optional: a pinch chilli flakes or a vanilla bean

Day 1: Wash and thinly slice the tomatoes. Add the sugar, the juice from one lemon, and the other lemon very thinly sliced by first cutting into quarters or sixths and then crosswise. If using, add the chilli flakes or vanilla bean cut lengthwise. Stir to combine and leave to macerate overnight at room temperature.

Day 2: Bring the tomato/sugar/lemon mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming away any scum that may form. Let cool and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 3: Bring the jam to a lively simmer once again for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sterilize a few jars in boiling water (this quantity yields just 3 to 4 jars), fill with hot jam, and seal immediately.

See also Green Tomato Chutney

%d bloggers like this: