Grandma’s Rice Doodle

The sun is beating down swift rays with highs of thirty degrees this week. So I hope to be creating and introducing quite a few beautiful dishes for lunches, dinners, sides and snacks – ideal for any more heat waves over the summer months.

This is a lovely rice salad from my Grandmother’s repertoire that I found handwritten on a little slip of paper tucked away in the back of a book about French provincial cookery. Almost like a simple salad-version of a special fried rice dish, this little plate looks so pretty and has such subtle flavouring it’s lovely hot or cold.

A cup of rice (long grain is better for this recipe)
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 spring onion
Leftover roast chicken (or cooked prawns are a nice alternative)
1 Green pepper
½ cup of raisins
Chopped walnuts
A handful of grapes
Fresh parsley

Steam the rice until cooked and allow to cool a little before tossing the turmeric powder to stain the rice a soft yellow colour.  Finely chop the spring onion and pepper and toss into the rice along with the raisins and pieces of roasted chicken.

Garnish with halves of grapes, fresh parsley and the chopped walnuts.


Spiced Oranges and Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream

Have you over come the post-holiday blues yet? Are new year resolutions settling themselves around food, fitness or health? I cannot kid myself any longer.

If I wasn’t eating over Christmas I nose deep in my Grandmother’s cookbooks back at my parents’ house. A good few days of writing up and deciphering recipes lead me to the conclusion that there is just no time for diets and the denial of happy food thoughts. Eat in moderation, and eat well. Exercise accordingly.

And so now for something sweet and sugary. Here is a desert recipe Elise had scribbled into the pages Great Dishes of the World, by Robert Carrier. From the list of spices it sounded wintery. After tasting however, I think this is a desert that could offer itself very well after summer meals – the sharp sweet flavours are a nice refreshing end to a meal perhaps like a barbecue, and it is easy to prepare in advance.

1/2lb sugar (220g)
1/4 pt water (140ml)
1/4 pt Red Burgundy (140ml)
1 clove
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips orange peel
2 strips lemon peel
4 oranges

Start by making the syrup base: warm the water over a flame and melt into the sugar. When the sugar is completely melted, combine the Burgundy wine (holding back about two tablespoons for later) and drop in the clove, cinnamon, and strips of orange and lemon peel.  Simmer gently until it is reduced to a syrup. Add the reserved two tablespoons of Burgundy to loosen the syrup a little and increase the alcohol levels again.

Peel and slice the oranges and put into the warm syrup, then chill in the fridge before serving them with ice cream.

Home-made Vanilla Ice Cream

This is my variation on a recipe I found in the same book. I think there was more cocoa powder than printed word on these pages of deserts, so I will be trying them all out soon.

4 egg yolks
120g sugar
1 pinch salt
440ml single cream
1 tsp vanilla esscence
The seeds of a vanilla pod
290ml double cream, thickly whipped

Beat the egg yolks, sugar and salt until it turns a pale yellow colour. Heat the single cream to almost boiling and add to the eggs, whisking until mixture is well blended and no longer grainy.  Pour the mixture into a ban-marie and cook over hot water, stirring continuously, until the consistency becomes custard-like and coats the spoon.

Stir in the vanilla pod seeds and essence, then allow to cool completely.

Once cool, stir in the thick double cream into the vanilla custard and freeze for at least 3 hrs.

Quick Cranberry Sauce

This dish is so easy to make up in advance. It takes such little effort it will make you wonder if you’ll ever buy a jar of pre-made sauce again.

300g cranberries
100g light brown soft sugar
100ml ruby port
2 cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange zest

In a pan over a low flame warm the cranberries, sugar, and port. Simmer to melt the sugar and soften the fruit but try not to over boil. Add the cinnamon, zest and cloves and stir in gentle. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes or until the cranberries are soft and bursting in the pan. Remove from the heat and simply pour into a sterilised jar for storage. If you want to you can run a fork through the sauce and pick out the cloves before you jar it up. This way you wont get a mouthful of clove-surprise one roast dinner in the future. Otherwise leave them in – the cloves will bring added depth to the flavour if you intend on storing the jar for a long while before use.

Try it with cold meats, roasted birds (chicken, goose, pheasant, turkey), with mature cheeses as a relish, in sandwiches or on salads. Or even instead of ketchup to accompany the good old sausage roll.