These are my Valentine’s recipes from this issue of Northern Ireland’s Flavour magazine!
To my mind, there is no better way to show someone you love them than a home-cooked meal. The thought and time that goes into planning and cooking it is much more valuable than a teddy bear and a box of chocolates purchased from the local supermarket in my opinion.
I do understand, however, that time might not be on your side so the recipes here are quick and hassle-free. Some of the ingredients are said to have aphrodisiac qualities such as the garlic, coriander and gentle spices of the chermoulla (said to increase the blood flow to certain parts of the body!), the vanilla (said to stimulate the nervous system) and the honey of the tart (apparently the word “honeymoon” is derived from newly-wed couples drinking a honey beer called Mead to “sweeten” the marriage!)
Whatever about the old wives’ tales, you will enjoy this tasty meal which will be satisfying without being overly heavy.
All recipes serve 2 but the parfait & chutney will serve more. A great leftover to have in the fridge for lunch the next day (if you are lucky!!)
Chicken Liver and Thyme Parfait
225g Chicken livers, rinse them in milk
225g Butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons of chopped thyme leaves
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A generous measure of brandy (35-40 mls)
Salt & Pepper
Optional: 100g Butter to make clarified butter to top the pate
Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the livers, garlic and thyme with a little salt & pepper.
Cook over a gentle heat, almost poaching them in the butter until the livers are fully cooked. You can check this by opening one of the thicker pieces of liver and checking there is no pinkness in the middle.
Place the mixture in a food processor.
Add the brandy to the pan to deglaze. Place the pan back on the heat and let the brandy bubble up whilst scraping the tasty bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the rest of the juices from the pan into the food processor and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
Pulse the livers until fairly smooth and then add the rest of the butter to the mixture.
Taste for seasoning and place into serving dishes. Ramekins work well here. Smooth the pate down if you are topping with clarified butter.Place in the fridge while you make the clarified butter.
For the clarified butter:
Place the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and melt gently. When it has melted, switch the heat off. Do not move the pot. The solids will fall to the bottom leaving the golden clarified butter at the top. Using a small ladle or tablespoon, pour the butter over the surface of the pate and leave to set in the fridge.
500g plums, stones removed & chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
100ml white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of water
1 cinnamon stick
100 g demerara sugar
Cut the plums in half down the crease, twist the halves in opposite directions and pull apart. Prize out the stones and discard. Roughly chop the flesh.
Heat the oil gently in a saucepan and add the shallots with a small pinch of salt to prevent them from burning. Soften for about 5 minutes or so
Add the chopped plums, vinegar, water, cinnamon and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly thickened.
Place in a kilner jar or bowl and leave to cool and then store in the fridge until ready to use.