December - Partial Recall

A recipe for two-mole turkey and the story behind its inspiration

We all get more forgetful as tempus fugit, but I was always led to believe that past memories tended to be preserved in amber whereas exactly why one had run upstairs just a moment ago was a bit of a mystery. So, while I can't now recall which of my groaning files of food clippings, jottings and experiments produced the recipe below, I will never forget the inspiration that brings it to this page: a memorable night last year at a brand-new aircraft museum in St Mawgan, where a very good friend and his band were doing a gig.

It was Easter but it was freezing in the vast hangar that houses the museum. Giving it his all on guitar and gob-iron, as he calls his harmonica, doubtless kept him reasonably warm, but the rest of us never removed our overcoats, hats and gloves, even while dancing energetically. The warmest place to stand was next to a very efficient hand-dryer in the Ladies cloakroom, but the next warmest was the gift shop, where some very good Camel Valley fizz, and Victory Cookbook by Marguerite Patten, OBE, warmed the cockles of my heart, on every conceivable level.

Employed by the Ministry of Food to help our rationed nation through the Second World War, Marguerite Patten was a godsend for beleaguered home cooks with mouths to feed and morale to keep up. Ingenious recipes for 'Mock Cream' and 'Chicken Terrapin' (which contained neither chicken, nor, thankfully, terrapin) must have raised a smile even if her 'Good Dark Christmas Pudding' apparently provoked some outrage for the generous slug of medicinal rum or brandy in the ingredients. Anyone in any doubt about just how trying these times were might reflect on band-leader Harry Roy's popular song of the time 'When Can I Have A Banana Again?'

Victory Cookbook combines three of Mrs Patten's books of the war years, The Victory Cookbook itself, the endearingly titled We'll Eat Again and Post-War Kitchen. From her notes on 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain, we learn that as rationing is phased out, new and exciting ingredients are coming in. 'Mock Cream' becomes 'Real Marzipan'. Oranges are advertised. 1953 brings Coronaton Chicken, a very stylish option for any hostess with (bliss!) leftover poultry to recycle.

Before I'm accused by eagle-eyed readers of Food For Thought of having even forgotten now that turkey is my least favourite seasonal centrepiece, the truth is that I would quite happily cook one just for the leftovers. The recipe below is not Mrs Patten's (I do recall that much) but for me, they are seasonal favourites, slightly updated to take advantage of the wealth of produce we so take for granted these days.

Lest any of us forget.

Victory Cookbook is published by Octopus Publishing Group, in association with the Imperial War Museum. You can catch 'When Can I Have A Banana Again?' on youtube.com

TWO-MOLE TURKEY

Serves 4

Two-Mole TurkeySet aside thoughts of stuffing small animals into bigger ones - a mole (MOH-leh) is merely a sauce. The first mole of the title is based on chillis and chocolate and loosely based on a recipe said to have originated in a convent. The second is simply the mole in guacamole, the work of the devil if you overdo the heat, heavenly if you don't. If you don't, you get to taste the wine. If you do, a chilled Mexican beer is a safer bet.

For the guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 green chilli (choose your intensity), sliced and partially seeded (also your choice), or a few drops of green Tabasco
  • 1 large ripe plum tomato, skinned, deseeded and finely diced
  • Coriander leaves to garnish (pinch some from the recipe below)

Halve the avocados, remove the stones and scoop the flesh from the skins into a bowl. Quickly add the lime juice to stop them discolouring, season with salt and fork into a rough mash. Now add the other ingredients and gently fold in. Don't over mix. Check the seasoning, garnish with a few whole coriander leaves and set aside.

For the turkey

  • 500g cooked turkey meat, skin and bones removed, pulled into bite-sized pieces
  • A small bunch of coriander, leaves only, washed and dried
  • A handful of raisins, soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes
  • A tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
  • 50g raw peanuts
  • A pinch of whole salt and a few black peppercorns
  • A few drops of green Tabasco
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • a small red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • a small green pepper, deseeded sliced
  • a small red onion, sliced
  • 2 plump cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a good pinch of chilli flakes or 2 fresh red chilli, partially or wholly deseeded and sliced
  • 475ml chicken stock
  • a good pinch of cinnamon
  • a lesser pinch of allspice or cloves
  • 30g best-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped or grated
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • lime wedges to serve

In a pestle and mortar or mini-processor, combine the peanuts with the salt, peppercorns and a tablespoon or so of coriander leaves. Add the Tabasco and work into a zingy paste. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan until lightly coloured and reserve.

Heat the oil in a pan and soften the onion and peppers together. Add the garlic and chilli and cook briefly. Now add the stock and spices, and bring to the boil. Let it bubble and reduce slightly before adding the drained raisins, the turkey and the thyme. Finally, add the chocolate. Cover and simmer gently for about 25 minutes until the turkey is cooked through and the sauce thickened. Finally, stir in the nut and coriander paste. Check and adjust the seasoning if need be, with salt and Tabasco.

Scatter with the reserved pumpkin seeds and the remaining coriander leaves. Garnish with lime wedges and serve with steamed rice and a small pot each of guacamole and sour cream on each place.

Feliz navidad!

Match of the Day

For me, this is red wine territory, but should you prefer to stick with white, seek out a chunky chardonnay from the new world, and proud of it (ie not trying to be white Burgundy) or a viognier or gewürztraminer in the same vein.

Friendly: Pisano Progreso Tannat 2013 (ref UR351, £7.95)

Premier League: McManis Family Petite Sirah 2012 (ref US5591, £9.95)

Director's Box: Painted Wolf 'Pictus ONE', Swartland 2009 (ref SA8791, £14.95)

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