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Kathy's Menu for February 2000

Starter : Parma Ham Parcels with Prawns and Avocado

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Main Course : Chicken Breasts stuffed with Bacon and Mushrooms

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Pudding : Fallen Chocolate Souffle

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Parma Ham Parcels with Prawns and Avocado
Serves 4

Ingredients

12 slices of Parma Ham
12oz (350g) cooked shelled prawns
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons walnut oil
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
black pepper

Method

  1. Peel, halve and remove the stone of the avocado, then cut it in to half inch (1cm) cubes. Reserve some cubes of avocado and a few prawns for garnish.
  2. Mix together the oil, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl and marinate the rest of the avocado and prawns in it for about an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, lightly oil and line four ramekin dishes with cling film and then line with the parma ham. Use three slices for each one and overlap the slices leaving the ends of each slice to fold back over the top later on.
  4. Strain the prawns and avocado and then mix them with the mayonnaise and add black pepper to taste. Spoon this mixture in to the prepared ramekins and fold over the ends of the parma ham to seal the parcel.
  5. Chill for 1 hour and then turn out the parcels and remove the clingfilm. Garnish with the reserved prawns and avocado.

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Chicken Breasts stuffed with Bacon and Mushrooms
Serves 4

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts with all skin and fat removed
0.5oz (10g) dried porcini mushrooms
6oz (175g) open cap mushrooms, finely chopped
70g (3oz) pancetta or streaky bacon
1oz (25g) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
grating of nutmeg
salt and black pepper
For the sauce
5floz (150ml) dry Marsala
1 teaspoon oil
reserved pancetta
1 shallott, peeled and chopped
3 small mushrooms, finely sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
heaped teaspoon plain flour
soaking liquid from the porcini mushrooms
salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in a jug with 5floz (150ml) of boiling water and leave to soak for 20 minutes. After that strain them in a sieve placed over a bowl and squeeze all the liquid out of them. Reserve the liquid for the sauce.
  2. Now melt the butter in a good solid frying pan, finely chop the pancetta and cook half of it in the hot butter until golden and crisp and set aside on a plate. Then add the chopped onion to the pan and fry gently for about 5 minutes to soften.
  3. Whilst the onion is cooking, chop the strained porcini mushrooms finely and add these to the pan along with the garlic, sage and finely chopped open cap mushrooms, a little nutmeg and the cooked pancetta. Stir well and as soon as the juices start to run from the mushrooms, reduce the heat to very low and let the whole lot cook gently uncovered until all the juices have evaporated and all you have left is a thick mushroom paste. This should take about 30 minutes. After that remove from the heat, season to taste and allow it to get completely cold.
  4. Now take each chicken breast and fold back the fillet, making a deeper cut if necessary, so that it opens out like a book. Season the chicken and spread a quarter of the mushroom mixture over it, fold back the flap and then roll lengthways like a swiss roll. When all of them are filled, lay each chiken breasts on a lightly buttered piece of foil. Wrap each breast up in its foil, folding over the ends to seal it. Chill the parcels for at least an hour.
  5. When you are ready to cook them pre-heat the oven to 230C (450F or gas mark 8). Place the chicken parcels on a baking tray and cook them for 20 minutes. Then remove them for the oven and allow them to rest, still in the foil, for 10 minutes before serving.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. Put the oil in the pan in which you cooked the mushroom filling and gently fry the remaining pancetta and shallott for about 5 minutes. Then add the sliced mushrooms and chopped sage and continue to cook for about 1 minute, by which time the juices of the mushrooms should have started to run. Next stir in the flour to soak up the juices and gradually stir in the porcini soaking liquid followed by the Marsala. Season with salt and pepper. Keep stirring the sauce until it bubbles and thickens, then turn down the heat and add a spoonful more of Marsala if the sauce is too thick. Now let the sauce cook gently for about 20 minutes.
  7. To serve, unwrap each parcel on to a plate and cut each one in to 4 pieces at angle to show the stuffing. Then pour the sauce over each one and serve straight away.

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Fallen Chocolate Souffle
Serves 4

Ingredients

12oz (350g) pitted ready to eat prunes
5floz (150ml) water
5floz (150ml) amaretto
For the souffle :
7oz (200g) dark continental chocolate (75% cocoa solids)
4oz (110g) butter
1 tablespoon amarreto
4 x size 1 eggs, separated
4oz (110g) caster sugar
For the sauce :
5floz (150ml) creme fraiche

Method

  1. The prunes need to be soaked overnight, so put them in a pan with the water, bring them up to simmering point, remove from the heat and pour the prunes and their cooking liquid into a bowl. Stir in the amaretto and leave to cool. Cover and chill overnight.
  2. Prepare an 8inch (20cm) springform cake tin, grease and line it with silicone paper.
  3. To make the souffle, pre-heat the oven to 170C (325F, gas mark 3). Break the chocolate in to squares and place them with the butter in a bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt and stir until you have a glossy mixture. Remove the bowl fron the heat, add the amaretto and allow to cool.
  4. In a large roomy bowl combine the egg yolks and caster sugar and whisk together for about 5 minutes, using an electric hand whisk, until the mixture leaves ribbon like trails when dropped from the whisk.
  5. Count 18 of the soaked prunes, cut each one in half and combine the halves with the whisked egg mixture along with the melted chocolate.
  6. In another bowl whisk up the the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them carefully in to the chocolate mixture. Spoon this mixture in to the prepared cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes or until the centre feels springy to the touch. Allow the souffle to cool in the tin and when it is cold, peel off the paper and cover and chill for several hours.
  7. To make the sauce, liquidise the remaining prunes along with their liquid. Place the puree in a serving bowl and lightly stir in the creme fraiche.
  8. Hand the sauce round separately to serve with the souffle.

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