Monday, 7 February 2011

Belleau Kitchen Random Recipe Challenge 1 - A Perfect Date Night.

Dom at Belleau Kitchen has started a new challenge this month - see here if you fancy joining in.  

I wasn't going to join any more challenges as I do four in a month as it is but this one is perfect and is also nice and relaxed - no pressure to do anything - just join in as and when you like.

But the best thing about this challenge is that Steve is going to join me doing this one.  It's always lovely having company and, of course, spending time with my husband.

The idea is that you find a random recipe among all the recipes in all the cook books that you already own.  I, for one, constantly have that guilt that I still buy more cookbooks even though I haven't made a fraction of the things in the books I already own.  So, this challenge is going to give me the clear conscience which will allow me to buy more books!  Well, I'll try not to for a while yet.  Especially as we are moving house in a few months and we have far too much junk to transport as it is!

Anyway, Steve and I have date night every Saturday when the kids are in bed.  Yes, one of those date nights at home.  We usually watch a film, play a game, chat over a few drinks, whatever - as long as we spend the time together.

This date night we decided we would spend time together in the kitchen, each of us making our random recipe for the challenge.

Steve chose my recipe first.  He shut his eyes, pulled a book from the shelves, opened it a random page and there we are - chicken liver pate!  The book was 'I Love Food' by Clare MacPherson-Grant Russell. I got it for my Christmas so have only made three recipes from it so far.  I have never made chicken liver pate in my life as I don't have a food processor.  But after reading the recipe closely I discovered that it is a rough pate and no processor is required.  If it weren't for this challenge I would have continued to skim over this recipe and would have never made it!  It is such a quick and easy recipe - so simple - doesn't even feel like work at all.  It has prunes in it which give a lovely sweetness to balance the rich livers.  This pate is indulgent and deceptively easy to make - I know I will make this a lot now that I have tried it.

I then chose Steve's recipe and I ended up choosing his favourite cookbook - Moro.  But not a problem - I LOVE everything he makes from this book.  The recipe was Tortillitas de Camarones - prawn tortillitas.  These looked like a gorgeous little nibble and turned out to be ideal for date night.  This date night also happened to be Steve's birthday so we opened a bottle of Prosecco which we sipped while cooking and these tortillitas accompanied the last few glasses perfectly.
Again, these probably would never have been made otherwise.  Steve doesn't get a lot of time to cook - just at the weekends and he does look through the books for something to make but will go for a meal dish with lots of veggies so his wife doesn't nag at him for not feeding the kids enough good stuff.  So, we probably wouldn't have ever bothered to make these wee snacks before.  He'll definitely be making them again though - we both loved them!

Now, the only problem is that I will have to type out two recipes.  I wonder if I can persuade him to guest post on here and write out his own challenge next month?!?

Rough Chicken Liver Pate (from 'I Love Food' by Clare MacPherson-Grant Russell).

Ingredients - 
(I doubled the recipe.  We had one dish for lunch the following day with crusty bread, oatcakes and salad. I have another dish which I will serve to the girls when they come over for book group.)
8 oz (225g) chicken livers
4 rashers streaky bacon (grilled)
2 finely chopped onions
8 prunes, stoned
5 oz (125g) butter
Salt and pepper

Method - 
1. Fry onions and chicken livers in butter.
2. Add stoned prunes, chopped grilled bacon and seasoning.
3. Mash roughly with a fork and place in a pate dish.
4. Leave in fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
5. Cover with melted butter and cool.
6. Serve with hot French bread.

Tortillitas de Camarones (from 'Moro' by Sam and Sam Clark).

Ingredients - 
200g peeled brown shrimps, or 300g prawns in their shells, peeled and thinly sliced (we just used peeled, cooked prawns)
approx 200ml olive oil for shallow-frying
1 lemon, quartered

For the batter - 
55g chickpea or gram flour
130ml soda water or water
1/3 teaspoon sweet smoked Spanish paprika
a pinch of bicarbonate soda
sea salt

Method - 
1. To make the batter, sift the flour into a bowl and slowly add the soda water, mixing in with your fingertips or a wooden spoon, trying to avoid lumps forming.  The batter should have the consistency of something between single and double cream.
2. Add the paprika, bicarb and salt to taste.  Chill the batter, covered, for at least 20 mins.
3. When ready to eat, stir your shrimps or prawns into the batter.  Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to cover the bottom liberally.  Heat the oil to a medium to high temperature for about 3 mins.  Now with a dessertspoon scoop up a heaped spoonful of the mixture, carefully pour it into the oil and gently and quickly spread it out with the back of the spoon.
4. Create two or three more tortillitas (depending on the size of the pan) in exactly the same way.
5. When your first batch reaches a beautiful light brown colour, carefully turn over using a metal spatula and fork.  Finish cooking the other side.  
6. Do this with all the mixture, lifting each tortillita out onto kitchen paper when ready. Serve immediately with some lemon on the side.


  1. double whammy! impressed!... thank so much for joining in. I love the look of that chicken liver pate... fabulous ... and that you got Steve to join in... I may have to get The Viking to do the same... he he he x

  2. I love the idea of your Date Night and cooking these dishes sounds like a great way to spend time together.

  3. What a fun way to do date night. I like the pate recipe and think I might give it a try this weekend. I have always thought it would be difficult to make, but this recipe makes it sound doable.

  4. That pate looks great!

    Tempted to join in this challenge, definitely need to use my books more but I just hope I don't end up trying to cook something from the Noma book...


  5. Hi everyone - thanks for the comments. It was definitely a really fun date night. I love when we cook together. Dom - I would love to see The Viking get involved!
    Chris - come on and join in - you know it'll be fun!
    Kim - I was amazed at how easy it was. I love pate and had never before tried making it. Let me know if you do it.

  6. I love this post (and I think I might make my husband read it!) - it's full of so many good ideas. You've done a much better job at this challenge than I did too! I'm definitely bookmarking that pate recipe, but I don't think it would be a date night dish for us. I love chicken livers but the only other person I know who likes them is a friend's husband and it might be a bit weird to have a date night with him...

  7. Love the idea of date night at home - although it would be difficult for us as our kids go to bed later than we do!!

    You struck gold with these two recipes - they sound delicious.

  8. Thanks KitchenMaid. Ha ha - would be a bit strange. There are, of course, much more romantic recipes for date night you could use!

    Brownie - How old are your kids? I guess I should appreciate the fact we can pack ours off at 7pm every night.

  9. i wandered over from Dom's blog, and I'm really impressed! that is a lot of pate! that said, i love pate though, and that sounds really yummy (: