Sometimes part of creating your own kitchen calendar or kitchen lore is in the planning and plotting. Over the years many things have changed as I have tried things decided I liked them, intended to use them again and never got back round to revisiting and tweaking that recipe or recipes. Time constraints and real life often deciding what gets done and what does not. However there is a part of me that is always in research mode wanting to expand my knowledge base further and building on it with each stage which includes a lot of experimentation some of which is an outright disaster, some which is not quite right and some of which is spot on. Those are the recipes that I hold on to as I am a firm believer in that having the right recipe makes a heck of a difference when it comes to what we like food wise and what we don't.
I have said before that I am from a family on both sides who prepared for Christmas. The days leading up to Christmas were always frantic with preparation. Quite often 16plus were expected for dinner on Christmas Day at my grandmothers home and us youngsters learned fast that you kept out of the way when my Grandmother, Mum and Aunt were in full flight in the kitchen. (the kitchen was tiny with a conservatory off of it and at one time the pantry was outside the house but was incorporated under a conservatory to prepare an early version of a boot room/conservatory).
Nan always used to prepare a ham (in those days they used to keep their own pigs and salt and prepare the meat and store it in the cold pantry), there would always be plenty of pickles and preserves in the pantry as well as Nan always used to prepare these during the year as well as making her own wine and beer. So you can possibly see where I get it from. My Nan worked in the Naafi as a cook during the War and was later school cook at the village school.
My thoughts have turned therefore to Christmas. I am starting to sort recipes out that I intend to use and as the strategy has always been even in my Nan's day that the ladies do all the preparation for the Main event i.e. Christmas Dinner and all the food for Christmas after Christmas Day it is for the best part cold cuts and the men if something warm was needed as an accompaniment to cold cuts would often rustle up warm bubble and squeak or soup etc. so that the ladies got a bit of a rest as well. This is why I always make sure that there are plenty of chutneys, relishes, pickles, pickled onions available to pad the meat out.
Pate falls into this category. Over the years I have made all sorts of pate including those made the traditional way and covered with a salt paste crust cover to protect the pate during cooking but which you do not actually eat.
Round at the Polish shop round the corner they sell chicken livers by weight so I intend to snaffle some and make some pate in advance and freeze it in little containers and it will not only do you sterling service over the Christmas period but the remnants can be used for pack ups or as part of a cheese and pickle platter for supper in the New Year. We quite like the relaxed informality of such a platter as it makes for easy enjoyable tasty eating. If you are having a big party you can always pot the pate up into a larger dish/tin and serve it as a centre piece cutting it into slices.
One thing I will say is that when handling liver of any kind I always get rid of any membranes and sinews and then no matter what kind of liver I soak overnight in milk. This is to take away any bitter juices from the liver. Its something that does not seem to be commonly mentioned in cookery books these days that I have seen but it was how I was taught to process liver by my mother. She used to work as a Butcheress in a well known Butchers in Lincoln as well as being taught by her mother.
So I have sorted a Chicken Liver Pate recipe out - which I will post separately but I also have terrine recipes utilising belly pork, sausage meat and liver to make as well. There are also Feasting Pies, pork pies larger and individual to make so it looks as though I am going to have to down tools and have a session of meat related products. I have found in the past with regard to Feasting pies etc. you can always make the pies and freeze them raw and then cook them straight from the oven and then only once the pie is cooked adding the jelly. So there is always a way around preparing good food in advance. You just have to remember which dish or tin you cooked it in so that you can pop it back into said tin straight from the freezer.
With the use of a food processor making pate is made easier than the process that our forbears had to use.
Right had better get a wriggle on. Recipe to follow.