Excitement levels and blood pressure are rising in our house as it is only three more sleeps until I take off with my eldest daughter, the Cupcake Queen, for Vancouver to pick up the youngest from her student exchange. After spending a few days in Canada, the three of us will have the girls trip of our dreams traveling down the west coast of the US to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We will be leaving behind the two blokes, husband and son, who will have to fend for themselves – and keep the dogs, cattle and poultry alive – for three weeks. The last time I left the family for any length of time I spent a week cooking and freezing multiple meals. In retrospect, I think that little burst of domesticity was fueled by guilt and a misplaced sense of my responsibility for their nutritional and culinary well-being. I’m very happy to say that I’ve grown so much as a person in the last few years that neither of these conditions are an issue for me at all now. 😉
Not only have I not filled the freezer with digestible examples of my spousal and motherly devotion, but I actually gave it a very thorough clean out just before Christmas so the pickings in there are very thin indeed. Once they’ve gnawed through the two bags of frozen walnuts, the packet of frozen mango cheeks and discovered that the ice cream tub is, in fact, full of chicken stock, I’m very hopeful that the enormous collection of cookbooks will catch their eyes and imagination and I will return to find them accomplished kitchen converts. Although, you will note I said “hopeful” not “optimistic”.
However, I am not completely heartless and just before they lapse into a low blood-sugar induced coma, they will find one foil-wrapped feed that should hold them long enough to work out which cupboard the saucepans live in and just what the stuff in that funny little bottle marked “olive oil” is for. I’ve been making this chicken loaf/terrine thingy for more years than I care to remember and have no idea where I found the original recipe so cannot credit it, but it is a family winner. Made at least 24 hours ahead, it is easily doubled, freezes well and can be adapted to suit whatever you have on hand. Turkey mince substitutes very nicely, as does bacon instead of proscuitto, thyme instead of rosemary, walnuts or pecans for the pistachios and dried apricots or prunes for the cranberries. However you make it, do serve it with the best relish, chutney or mustard fruits you can find – they will kick it up a level and impress guests no end.
Recipe: Chicken and Rosemary Terrine
- 50 mls olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 750 gm chicken mince
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachio
- 1/2 cup craisins
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- ground black pepper
- 12-14 slices moist proscuitto, about 8 cm wide
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Cook onions in olive oil until soft, add garlic and rosemary and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Cool.
- Mix onions, chicken mince, breadcrumbs, nuts, fruit, eggs, mustard salt & pepper in a large bowl. Wet your hands and mix thoroughly with hands until completely blended.
- Overlap 2 long sides of 50cm lengths of foil by about 8 cm. Spray foil with non-stick spray or olive oil spray.
- Place proscuitto slices along centre in 2 rows end to end, overlapping long edges by 2 cm and narrow ends by 3 cm to make a 35cmx40cm rectangle.
- Place the chicken mix lengthways along the centre and shape into a loaf.
- Using the foil sheets to hold them, bring the proscuitto sheets up over the loaf and fold back the excess on the top.
- Brush with extra olive oil, bring the oil back up and seal lenghthways and at the ends.
- Bake in a shallow tray or baking dish for 50 minutes. Remove from oven, open foil and drain off the juices.
- Leaving foil open, place back in oven for 10 minutes to crisp a little.
- Cool, re-cover and refrigerate until completely cold and set.
- To serve, remove from foil, slice and garnish with extra rosemary.
Number of servings (yield): 6
I’ll be on the road/in the air for the next three weeks or so, but do stay tuned as I’ll make every effort to keep you all updated with photo’s and some of the high points of our fabulous girls trip!