Beetroot ‘carpaccio’

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This fabulous winter starter may sound a little fancy, bordering on pompous but apart from the original beef carpaccio, beetroot may be one of the few thinly sliced things to come close to be called after the eponymous Venetian painter of beautiful reds, Vittore Carpaccio. His precious vermillion, ruby, intense scarlet & carmine reds made the contemporary of Bellini, Mantengna, Giorgione and the young Titian the proper patron of the famous Harry’s Bar’s classic and maybe even the humble sliced beetroot. Just look at the beautiful burgundy-coloured beetroot slices, Carpaccio would have happily lend his name to this vegetarian version. Continue reading

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Apple, walnut & sausage stuffing

This is a great stuffing for a festive bird: the Thanksgiving/Christmas turkey, a Martinsgans (Saint Martins goose) or a duck. It’s apple, celery, pork and walnut combination is a winner. I have added garlic, bacon and some sage, which is an ingredient in (good) British sausages and if you are not able to get them you might be missing something. This appeared on our table the first time we had our own British-German Christmas turkey together with red cabbage, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts and all the other trimmings.

Maybe you are American and will think this is an old hat or you might say, why is this American, never heard of this before what is going on about. Or, why should I make this with my British/German/French/insert country here bird/dish, do you think they will understand/balance each other? Well, in any case, and I am repeating myself here: this is a great stuffing. We cooked the rest of it in a separate dish along side the bird and it was even better, if I am allowed to say this.

If you are having a goose I would add some Artemisia vulgaris or mugwort (german: Beifuss), a herb which is traditionally used to counterbalance the richness & fatness of the goose. Look it up and you’ll find the most amazing names for this common European herb: felon herb, chrysanthemum weed, wild wormwood, old Uncle Henry, sailor’s tobacco, naughty man, old man or St. John’s plant.

American stuffing for Thanksgiving & Christmas
adapted from Delia Smith’s Christmas

55g (½ stick) butter
2-3 medium yellow onions, finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped finely (optional)
4 sticks celery, cut into 1cm (½ inch) dice
450g (1lb) pork sausages (or sausage meat), cut into 1cm (½ inch) pieces
4 slices of thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, cut into small cubes
1 clove garlic, chopped finely (optional)
175g (6 oz) rustic white bread without crust and cut into 1cm (½ inch) chunks
2 apples, chopped into chunks (1cm or ½ inch), add lemon juice to prevent browning
125g (1 cup) chopped walnut kernels
2 teaspoons dried thyme
a little dried sage (optional if you are using British sausages)
zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon ground mace
salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion dice until translucent, add the celery, sausage pieces and bacon and fry while stirring until they are golden brown. If you are using garlic, add it now and sauté only a little more so that the garlic does not burn and turn bitter. Meanwhile mix the bread cubes, apples chunks and walnuts in a large bowl. Add the onion-celery-sausage fry-up and season with thyme, the optional sage, lemon zest, mace, salt & pepper.

Use it to stuff your bird, you might have more than enough either to stuff the cavity or place the rest in an oven-proof dish and bake in the oven until golden brown. The baking time depends on the size of your dish and the amount of stuffing you have. If you are baking the whole amount in a shallow ceramic dish, I would estimate the time for about 30-40 minutes in a 180°C (350° F) oven.