THE MENU Kipper Pate Portuguese Pork Medallions with Sausage and Clams Potato Cake Steamed Zucchini Grapefruit Cake and Grapefruit Ice
This meal consissts of familiar foods in combinations peculiar enough to nudge winter-benumbed palates and good enough to satisfy. It starts with a smooth, delicately smoky kipper pate that shines as an example of how good sime English food can be. Next is an intriguing Portuguese dish that astonishingly combines pork and sausages with fresh clams in a sturdy, savory sauce. Accompanying the pork are mashed potatoes, but baked as a cake so that a brown crush encases a creamy inside, plus a docile dish of peeled, steamed and lighly buttered zucchini chunks. Desert is an old standby, the 1 (cup butter), 2 (cups sugar), 3 (cups flour), 4 (eggs) cake, updated and made fragrant with grapefruit juice, rind and essence. A grapefruit ice served with the cake reinforces the freshness.
The kipper pate, which is made in minutes with a food processor, can be served with drinks or as a proper first course at the table. The pate will keep under refrigeration for a good three weeks if it is sealed, as the recipe directs, with clarified butter. It should be brought to room temperature before serving. Packed in an attractive terrine, it is passed with toast or bread. The pate is super-rich, so small portions are appropriate.
The pork medalions are cut from as narrow a boneless loin roast as can be found. The slices of meat are first marinated, then browned and finally cooked with the sausages, tomatoes, onions, garlic and the marinade. The reduced juices from the clams are added only at the very end. Chorizos, which can be found in specialty food stores and, of course, Spanish stores, are authentic -- but hot Italian sausages are a more than adequate substitution, a blessing considering their widespread availability. The entire dish can be prepared hours in advance or even the day before, but care should be taken to submerge the pork slices in the sauce so they won't dry out. The clams can be washed a few hours in advance, held in the refrigerator and cooked at the last minute and just until they open. Any clams that refuse to open should be discarded. The sand that inevitably is found in clam cooking liquid can be trapped easily by a strainer lined with wrung-out cheesecloth. The smaller the clams, the better. Two clams are ample for each portion, but for those who prefer generosity, three are better.
Potatoes ostensibly the most amenable of vegetables, generally do not take to advance preparation. This dish can be assembled a few hours before it is baked, but care must be taken not to cover the potatoes tightly with plastic wrap, which would give them a stale taste. Rather, drape them with waxed paper.
It is odd to find small, tender zucchini on the market at this time of year, but they are there and this meal takes good advantage of them.
In this cake with its unusual flavor, the grapefruit rind contributes texture as well as taste, and the citrus zester makes short work of grating the rinds.
Fruit ices in general should be eaten the day they are made, ideally just after they have ripened in the freezer for four hous to bring up the flavor. A reasonable ice can be produced without special equipment, but the home ice cream machine with a dasher not only produces a better product, it takes far less effort and time than the freezer, which requires that the ice be beaten at least twice during the process. Most ice cream machines need about four or five pounds of ice cubes per batch plus enought salt to bring the temperature of the water surrounding the container down to at least 20 degrees. KIPPER PATE (8 servings) 2 3 1/4-ounce cans kipper snacks, drained and skin removed 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted 1 tablespoon or more lemon juice, to taste 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt to taste 3 tablespoons butter to make about 2 tablespoons clarified butter 2 tablespoons minced parsley
Reduce the kipper snacks to a smooth paste in a food processor. With the motor running, add the melted butter and process until amalgamated, stopping the motor once or twice to scrape down the bowl. Add the lemon juice, cayenne and salt and process, stopping the motor once or twice to scrape down the bowl. Adjust seasonings and pack into a 1 1/2-cup terrine.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat and let stand off heat for about 3 or 4 minutes. Skim the foam, which will have formed on the surface, and discard it. Pour the remaining butter through a strainer lined with wrung-out cheesecloth. There will be 2 taplespoons plus a bit more of clarified butter. Spoon it over the surface of the pate and refrigerate. To serve, bring to room temperature and sprinkle with parsley. The pate is excellent with crustless white toast triangles or warm, thinly sliced french breach. PORTUGUESE PORK MEDALLIONS WITH SAUSAGE AND CLAMS (8 servings)
For Marinating the pork: 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin roast 1 cup dry white wine 2 teaspoons paprika, preferably imported from Hungary 1 bay leaf 3 cloves crushed garlic
For the sausages: 1/2 pound choizos or hot Italian sausages
For cooking the pork: The marinated pork medallions 3 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon peanut oil 2 large onions,sliced thinly 2 large cloves garlic, crushed 14-ounce can imported plum tomatoes, drained The reserved marinade from the pork The reduced cooking liquid from the clams
For the clams: 16 to 24 small clams, either littleneck or cherrystone
For the garnish: 2 lemons, quartered 1/4 cup chopped parsley
Marinate the pork starting several hours or the day before it is to be cooked. Cut the strings off the pork roast if it is tied and cut the roast into 16 equal slices, or medallions. Combine the white wine, paprika, bay leaf and 3 crushed garlic cloves, place the pork medallions in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, turning the slices occasionally.
Cut the chorizos into 1/2-inch slices. Or, if Italian sausages are used, cook them whole in an inch of water for 5 minutes, turning them as they cook. Drain, cool, slip off the cashings and discard them. Cut the sausages into 1/2-inch slices. Refrigerate until needed.
To cook the pork, remove the medallions from the marinade, discard the bay leaf and reserve the marinade. Dry the pork well on paper towels. Melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan and brown the medallions, a few at a time, quickly on both sides. As the pork is browned, remove it to a heavy, flameproof casserole. Then brown the sausage slices and add to the pork.
Add the sliced onions and garlic to frying pan and cook over low heat until onions are soft. Turn up heat and brown onions lightly. Add drained tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Then add reserved marinade and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add sauce to pork and sausage slices, cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The pork can be prepared in advance to this point and reheated.
Wash the clams an hour or two before using under cold running water. Refrigerate until needed. Ten minutes before pork is to be served, place half an inch of cold water in a large pot, add clams, cover and place over high heat. Shake pan from time to time, for 5 or 6 minutes, or until the clams open. Remove them with a slotted spoon, place in a shallow bowl and cover with a cloth towel to keep them warm. Continue to cook clam juices over high heat for 5 minutes. Pour reduced juices through a strainer lined with wrung-out cheesecloth and add to the pork. Raise heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring.
To assemble, spoon the sauce onto a large, warm serving platter and arrange the pork medallions and sausages on the sauce. Surround with claims and lemon wedges and sprinkle the parsley around the border. POTATO CAKE (8 servings) 3 pounds russet potatoes 1 1/2 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoon salt Pepper to taste 3 tablespoons heavy cream 2 large eggs, beaten 4 tablespoons melted butter
Peel the potatotes, cut them into 2-inch-thick slices and boil until tender. Drain well, return to saucepan and shake potatoes over medium heat for a couple of minutes to dry them out. Leave potatoes in pan and, with an electric hand mixer, beat them until they are fluffy. Then beat in the flour, salt, pepper, cream and eggs.
Brush the bottom of a 10-inch pie plate, preferably one attractive enough for serving, and turn the potato mixture into it.Spread the potatoes evenly in the pan and flatten the top with a spatula. Brush the remaining butter over the top. The dish can be prepared up to 2 hours in advance to this stage. Drape plastic wrap loosely over the potatoes and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 35 minutes, or until a brown crust has formed. To serve, cut the cake in wedges. STEAMED ZUCCHINI (8 servings) 8 small, thin zucchini, about 2 pounds 2 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons grated fresh parmesan cheese (optional)
Trim ends of zucchini and peel them with a potato peeler. Cut each zucchini into three pieces on the diagonal and steam pieces in a vegetable steamer over hot water for about 8 minutes, or until they can be pierced easily with a thin, sharp knife. Turn into a serving dish and coat with butter. If parmesan cheese is used, place zucchini in one layer in an ovenproof serving dish and sprinkle with the cheese. Place in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheese has browned. GRAPEFRUIT CAKE (makes a 10-inch cake)
For preparing the pan: Softened butter to grease a 10-inch bundt pan or tube pan Bread crumbs to coat the pan
For the cake: 3 cups sifted cake flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup unsalted butter 2 cups sugar Grated rind of 1 medium grapefruit 1/4 teaspoon imported grapefruit essence (optional) * 4 eggs 3/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
For the glaze: 1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice 1/3 cup sugar
Prepare the pan by greasing it liberally with the softened butter. Add the bread crumps and swirl them around the bottom and sides of the pan to coat it. Turn the pan upside down and discard excess crumps. Set aside.
Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt and set aside. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until light. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the grapefruit rind and grapefruit essence and beat thoroughly. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a third of the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Repeat with another third of the flour, the remaining juice and finally the last of the flour. Do not overbeat. Turn the batter into the prepared pan. Rap the pan on the counter to get rid of any air pockets and swirl the pan to level the batter. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour, or until a cake tester, straw or toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and set the cake in its pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto a rack. Place a piece of waxed paper under the rack and glaze the cake. Make the glaze just before it is used, by combining the grapefruit juice and sugar and spooning the mixture over the warm cake until all the glaze has been absorbed. Let the cake cool before transferring it to a serving plate.
* Available at LaCuisine. GRAPEFRUIT ICE (Makes about 1 quart) 1 1/4 cups sugar 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold water 2 1/2 cups fresh, strained grapefruit juice Up to 1/4 teaspoon or to taste grapefruit essence (optional) *
Make the syrup a day or more in advance. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, place over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil without further stirring, immediately remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Cool and refrigerate.
If using an ice cream freezer, make the ice about 6 hours before it is to be served. If using the freezer, start 8 hours in advance. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of cold syrup (there will be a few tablespoons left over) and combine with the grapefruit juice. Add the grapefruit essence two drops at a time and taste. Do not use too much essence. Freeze in an electric ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's instructions. Turn the frozen ice into a covered container and cure in the freezer for 4 hours or more. Serve the same day.
If using a refrigerator freezer, pour the mixture into a wide-bottomed bowl and place in freezer for 3 hours or until it becomes mushy. Remove and beat with an electric mixer or, in several batches, in the processor. Work quickly to prevent the ice crystals from liquefying. Return the bowl to the freezer for 3 more hours. Beat again until fluffy, pack into a covered container and freeze for another 2 hours.
Half an hour before serving, remove the ice from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to soften.
* Available at La Cuisine.