Monday, November 30, 2009

#209 Chicken and Leek Pie from Wales

During this rubbish weather (God, I am so English – all I do is talk about the weather) there is nothing like a good pie. The Farmers Market in Manchester Piccadilly Gardens just happened to be on as I was walking through and I saw a stall selling some very nice free range farm chickens and so I snapped one up. I then consulted the book for chicken recipes and decided on this. It seemed a little bit like the pork and apple pie I did a while ago in that there is no gravy or sauce per se but runny juices instead. I was slightly concerned about this as it was a major short-falling in the pork pie. Anyways, I have cook everything in this book whether I like it or not.

It is best to start this pie the day before you want to cook it, or at least in the morning. Start by placing a roasting or boiling chicken in a close-fitting pan along with a quartered, unpeeled onion, two tablespoons of chopped celery (a stalk, in other words), a bouquet garni and some salt and pepper. Place a close fitting lid on top, bring to a boil and simmer until cooked. The cooking time will be dependent upon the type of chicken you have – around 45 minutes for roasters, and at least an hour for boilers. Let the chicken cool in the stock (leave overnight if you want). Remove it and strip the carcass, cutting the meat into nice chunks. Skim the stock – if it seems a bit bland, add more seasoning or return the bones to the pot and simmer again. You could also reduce the stock after straining it too.

Arrange the pieces of chicken in a pie dish along with 4 ounces of sliced ox tongue that has been cut up. Next, wash, trim and slice a load of leeks – Griggers says eight in all, but I reckon that that it all depends on the size of your pie dish. Either way, blanch them for two minutes in salted water before draining and adding to the pie dish. Chop two tablespoons of parsley and sprinkle that over and then ladle the stock over the lot until it comes up about half way up the chicken and veg. Season well. Cover with shortcrust pastry (the amount will depend on the dimensions of your pie dish). To make sure you get a good seal, when you roll it out cut a strip of pastry and glue it around the rim of the dish with some beaten egg. Brush glued pastry with more egg and lay the pastry over. Press it down, make a central hole and brush the top with egg. Bake at 230⁰C for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180-190⁰C for another 20. Allow to cool a little before you eat it. It had it with mash and peas.

#209 Chicken and Leek Pie from Wales. This was a really good pie – the stock was very flavoursome and ensured the chicken remained very moist. I’m not sure what the point of the tongue was though. It is also very nice cold – the stock cools to become a nice, rich jelly; though that kind of thing is not to everybody’s taste. Give it a crack! 7/10.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

#208 Cumberland Plate Tart

It seems that the further north you go in England, the more desserts and teatime treats using currants and raisins there are: Eccles cakes and Chorley cakes are the ones that spring to mind. I’ve never heard of one from Cumberland before; funny, since there are actually two recipes from there in English Food.

I think these things were popular because they are very comforting and definitely a wintertime food, and it is grim Up North, as we know. It has been particularly grim at the minute – particularly around the Cumberland area – so I thought I’d give one a go. The best thing about the recipe is that it is a very good store-cupboard pud – I didn’t have to buy anything, I had it all in! Tiny things please tiny minds.

First make some shrtcrust pastry using 2 ounces each of butter and lard, 8 ounces of plain flour and some milk. Roll out half and line a deep oven-proof plate. Now make the filling: weigh out 3 ½ ounces of golden syrup. To do this, put a saucepan on your scales and tare them before adding the syrup. Add an ounce of butter to the pan and warm though gently so that the butter melts and the syrup becomes runny. Now stir in 5 ounces of either raisins or currants (or a mixture, you devil), an ounce of chopped peel, an ounce of ground almonds, ¼ teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, allspice and salt and finally 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Use some egg white to brush around the edges of the pastry, roll out the last of the pastry and cover it. Crimp the edges, make a hole in the centre and then brush with more egg white and sprinkle with some caster sugar. Bake for 15 minutes at 220⁰C, then turn the oven down to 190⁰C and bake for a further 30 minutes. She don’t say, but serve it with some cream, innit.

#208 Cumberland Plate Tart. Just what the doctor ordered! I really like this sort of dessert, but many can’t abide currants and raisins and things like that these days, so they are going out of fashion which is a big shame. What can be bad about sweet fruit, moist almonds and good old golden syrup? Bring ‘em back I say. 6.5/10

Monday, November 23, 2009

#207 Sussex Stewed Steak

Stewed steak is one of the things that remind me of being a kid back home in Pudsey, Leeds. My Mum used to do stewed steak with dumplings sometimes and it was delicious. It’s odd, however, that I’ve never had it anywhere other then my Mum’s; nobody else seems to eat it. I don’t what it has to do with Sussex either. This recipe is pretty much exactly what my Mum did, except for two main differences: this uses one big piece of steak and has additional flavourings. This is a very easy recipe and perfect for these times of filthy weather that seems to keep your socks permanently soggy and your mind on sunnier times. Give it a go.

Start off with a nice two to two-and-a-half pound slice of either top rump or chuck steak. Make sure it is well trimmed. Season both sides well with salt and pepper and coat with flour. Place it a well fitting ovenproof dish, and cover with sliced onion; use a large one. Now add six tablespoons each of stout and port and two tablespoons of either mushroom ketchup or wine vinegar. Cover tightly with foil and place in an oven preheated to 140⁰C for three hours. That’s it! Serve with mashed potato and field mushrooms, says Griggers.

#207 Sussex Stewed Steak. This took me right back to my childhood. The delicious thin gravy with a hint of rich booze and wonderfully tender beef cooked slowly – it’s what rainy November evenings were made for. 8.5/10.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

#206 Orange Mincemeat

Christmas is a-coming! The consumerist nightmare has begun and there’s nothing like it to kill the Christmas spirit. The best way to counteract this is to make some lovely Christmas fayre. The Christmas cake is done and the only other necessity for the encroaching festivities is (in my opinion) mincemeat. I made Mrs Beeton’s recipe last year and gave a potted history of the foodstuff (see this post). This year I’m making orange mincemeat; it better be nice because I really liked Beeton’s. It should be good though; there’s plenty of orange juice and one of my favourite boozy drinks ever – Cointreau. Of course, we shall have to wait a while before I review them (although I’m sure I’ll crack a jar open well before Christmas).

If you want to make your own mincemeat, make sure that you make it at least two weeks before you want to use it as it needs that long to mature. If you’ve never made it, have a go, it really is very easy – there is no cooking involved, just some chopping, measuring and mixing.

This recipe makes absolutely loads of mincemeat – around ten jars – so reduce the quantities if you want to make less. To make it, simply mix together the following ingredients together in the following order in a huge bowl:

8 ounces of candied orange and lemon peel
2 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and chopped
One pound of chopped suet (use fresh, if you can)
One pounds each of raisins, currants and sultanas
One pound of dark brown sugar
1 freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces of blanched slivered almonds
The juice and grated rind of two oranges
Four tablespoons of brandy
Eight tablespoons of orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau)

Pack the mincemeat well into sterilised jars and leave for at least two weeks. (FYI to sterilise the jars, put them along with their lids on trays in an oven set to 110⁰C for 25 minutes, pot whilst they are still warm.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

#205 Potted Tongue

There are several recipes in English Food that involve tongue; a bit of the animal now much ignored by most, including me. It’s one of the few things I’ve never tried, so I thought I should make sure my first foray into tongue cookery a simple one. Potting is nice and easy as long as you have a food processor or blender, plus I always need sandwich fillings for work. It uses eight ounces of cooked tongue – this can be calf’s or ox tongue, pickled or fresh. The calf’s tongue that I got from Winter Tarn was exactly eight ounces in weight after it had been cooked and trimmed. However, if tongue is not your bag then you can use beef, salt beef, venison or any other game.

Chop the calf’s tongue and place in a blender or food processor – use a blender for a smooth finish, a food processor for a slightly coarse one – along with four or five ounces of clarified butter, some salt, pepper and mace (if you are potting a different meat, you could use a different spice or even a couple anchovy fillets). Blend until the right consistency and place in pots, making sure you pack them down well and leave flat surface. Pour more clarified butter over to form a seal.

#205 Potted Tongue. In Yorkshire, potted beef is still quite popular, but for me, the tongue did not work quite as well as I’d hoped. The tongue tasted okay when it had been cooked, but perhaps stronger tasting cured ox tongue would have been more appropriate. Oh well, never mind – you can’t win ‘em all. 4/10.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Preparing and Cooking a Calf's Tongue

Jane Grigson describes how to cook and prepare ox tongue in some detail in English Food as well as providing several recipes. Most use pickled ox tongue, but for some it is not specified and I had a calf tongue to use. Many recipes require a cooked, boiled tongue (including the next recipe), but there is no guidance on the preparation of calf tongue. I did a bit of reading and came up with my own method which I am now imparting upon you good people, natch.

The tongue before cooking

Start by soaking the tongue for six hours, changing the water a couple of times. Place it in a closely-filling pan with some cold water to just cover along with an onion studded with two cloves, a chopped carrot, a stick of celery, a bay leaf, a sprig of time, a bay leaf, some crushed peppercorns and a teaspoon of salt. Bring slowly to boil, skimming away any grey foam that may rise. Turn the heat as low as possible, cover, and simmer gently for an hour (I erred on the side caution and cooked it for best part of an hour and a half, but it was definitely over-cooked). Remove the tongue and as soon as it is cool enough to handle, peel the skin away and cut away any gristly bits and blood vessels. The tongue can then be used as required in your recipe.

Friday, November 13, 2009

#204 Minced Veal and Eggs

Here is another recipe from Alexis Soyer – the first celebrity chef and all-round (though slightly pompous) good guy. I have mentioned him before in previous posts. I thought I would try this recipe as a test for the veal I bought from Winter Tarn. This seemed like a good mid-week meal as it is quick to cook that seemed nice and satisfying; just what one needs of a Wednesday in rainy Manchester.

Begin by chopping a small onion and a clove of garlic and softening them in a generous ounce of butter. Once soft, turn up the heat to brown them slightly and then add 8 ounces of minced veal. Fry until it has browned slightly. Now add some seasonings, herbs and spices: a rounded teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper, a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg and a teaspoon of thyme leaves. Next stir through a heaped teaspoon of flour and when that has browned slightly pour in a quarter of a pint of milk (full fat if you can!). Simmer very gently for fifteen to twenty minutes until the mince has become soft and unctuous in its now creamy sauce. Whilst that is happening poach an egg and fry a slice of bread per person. Taste the veal and add more seasonings and ‘sharpen it’ with some lemon juice or white wine vinegar.

Place a slice of fried bread on each plate, then a helping of the veal and finally a poached egg on top.

#204 Minced Veal and Eggs. What seems like a bizarre recipe turned out to be absolutely delicious, the delicate milky veal melds perfectly with the milk in the sauce and the fried bread and poached eggs added to the comfort food kick that I really required. Great stuff. Give it a go; quick and easy. 8/10.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veal or no Veal?

Eating veal has something of a stigma these days; it is considered cruel by many. In English Food it appears quite often, either in veal recipes or as part of other recipes that you perhaps would not expect, for example, giblet gravy and chicken pie. Jane writes rather a long introduction to her Meat chapter discussing the problems of mass meat production and the decline of meat quality as well as those suppliers that try to produce good quality products. Nowhere in the introduction does she mention veal – beef, yes, at length, but not veal. I can only assume that in her opinion veal was always a good meat product (she has a poor opinion on the state of almost every other meat, and quite rightly). Indeed, it probably was, but certainly not from the poor veal calves’ point of view.

Rearing veal calves was notoriously cruel, and lumped together with fois gras production. The problem being that calves were kept in tiny darkened rooms to keep their meat white and tender. This practise is still common in many counties but is not allowed in the UK. Veal produced in British farms have a much higher standard in animal welfare; calves can eat grass after weaning and walk in the fields to produce rose veal – so-called due to the pale pink colour of the meat. This is obviously a good thing; I cannot see how anyone (vegetarians aside) can have issues with this. It is the same as eating lamb after all. For more information about the prevention of cruelty to animals in farms see the Farm Sanctuary website.

Veal production like this is still allowed in many countries

The point I would like to make is that NOT eating veal is cruel, or at least disrespectful. The dairy industry wants female cows for milk. Cows do not simply just produce milk all the time – which many people seem to think – like any mammal, they produce milk when they have given birth (or about to give birth) to calves. Female calves are a good thing for future milk production, but the poor old males are surplus to requirement and are generally killed. What a complete waste! A waste of food and a waste of life! People seem to coming round to the idea - even Marks and Spencer have a line in rose veal!

All British rose veal is produced with welfare in mind

I intend to tackle some of the veal recipes in the book – I have been biding my time because I want a good supplier. I believe I have found one too: Winter Tarn in Cumbria is an organic farm that produces cheese but have recently started selling veal though they don’t really mention it on their website. They attend many regional farmers’ markets. The quality of the meat is very good, and most importantly, I think, they don’t charge the Earth like many other organic veal suppliers seem to think they can do. Check out their website here.

My consignment arrived the other day, stewing veal, minced veal, tongue, kidney, liver and bones for stock. Not all of the items are for recipes from English Food, the offal is essentially just to cook anyway – veal offal is highly prized, but I have never tried it, so I seized the opportunity.
I shall keep you informed of my progress, natch.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas is Becoming...

Yes I know it is only the beginning of November, but it is time to seriously think about starting to get some of the Christmas fayre ordered or made! I love Christmas, and I love making the cakes and mincemeat and everything. It definitely brings out the best in me.

Today I made the Christmas Cake (recipe here) - a definite Grigson favorite; it'll be the third year in a row I will have made the one from the book. Around a week before Christmas, I'll be making the marzipan and royal icing too (recipes here).

Also, later this week, I shall be making the mincemeat for the mince pies. Last year, I made a traditional Mrs Beeton recipe, but I'm going to make the other recipe in English Food this time - orange mincemeat.

After discussion with the family, we have decided to not do a turkey this year. Instead we are going to have roast beef (recipe here), roast pheasant (recipe here) and a Bradenham ham. I ordered that two weeks ago from their website. I am organised!

I shall be adding the recipes as I do them of course. Why not have a crack at one or two yourself? You know you wanna...

Ho ho ho!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How to Make Game Stock

This is a recipe for a good game stock – it is a modified version of one that appears in Lindsey Bareham’s very excellent book A Celebration of Soup. If you have some game carcasses left over from a meal, turn them into stock – you can either freeze the stock, or the carcasses, for whenever you need them. You don’t need many either – I managed to make a pint of good stock from a single woodcock carcass.
The amount of vegetables and spices etc indicated here will do for up to 4 small birds or 2 larger ones. You may want to increase or decrease the amount of water added though – don’t forget, you can reduce a stock so you can be quite liberal with the water. If you want to make more, you can just increase the ingredients.

First chop the carcass(es) and place them in an ovenproof casserole dish and roast them in the oven for 20 minutes at 200⁰C. Remove them and add a little wine – red or white is fine – or a little water to deglaze the dish. Add some chopped stock vegetables: a carrot, an onion, a celery stick, 2 tomatoes and one or two cloves of garlic. Return to the oven for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Now add a spring of rosemary, a bay leaf, five or six peppercorns and between one and two pints of water, depending on the amount of stock you want. It also depends on the birds being used – small partridges, woodcock or grouse produce a stronger stock than, say, pheasant. The stock needs to be cooked uncovered for at least two hours very gently; you can do this on the hob or in a low oven. Strain the stock, reduce if required, season with salt, then skim after it has been allowed to cool. Easy peasy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

#203 Partridge

One of the good things about my favourite fishmonger, Out of the Blue, is that – like any good fishmonger – they supply game during the season. It’s very well priced there and I picked up a couple of partridges for just £2.50 each. Great stuff. I’ve already done a stewed partridge recipe from the book. As well as specific recipes, Griggers goes through each game species with some advice on how to cook them. Here is what she says about partridge:

Roast: 30 minutes, 220⁰C;
Inside: chopped liver, chopped onion and butter, mushrooms chopped and stewed in butter;
Serve with: bread sauce, etc as for pheasant (see this recipe);
Braised: with chestnuts and cabbage and white wine (see this recipe).

So roast them I did. I filled them with onion and butter (the fillings used for game are there more to prevent them drying out than anything else, really). Before roasting I did make sure they were well-seasoned. To serve I thought I’d add some mashed potatoes – the bland creaminess goes well with strong metallic-scented game – and some kale with fried bacon lardons stirred through them. Lastly I made a sweet rich sauce from half a pint of strongly-flavoured game stock made from a woodcock carcass (see next entry, if I pull my finger out and write it!), a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly and the deglazed juices from the roasting pan (I used some port do to the deglazing).

#203 Partridge – 6/10. I liked the partridge, the leg meat was very gamey and the breast meat milder; a good combination. I am assuming that they were our own indigenous grey partridges because of their small size and strong flavour (there are two species in the UK, the other being the slightly larger and introduced red-legged partridge). There was a surprisingly large amount of meat on these little birds and one was certainly enough per one person. I would certainly recommend trying them if you haven’t before, though I’d go for the braised recipe rather than this roasted one.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

#202 Pressed Beef

A quickie this one.

I wanted to do a recipe from the cured meats section of the book as I haven’t done many of them and I didn’t want to start getting behind. This one appealed to me because it was similar to the salt beef recipe I had already done and I knew that the cold, pressed beef would keep me in sandwiches and snacks for the week, plus the cooking process would produce a nice stock which could be turned into a lovely soup. I also thought that you don’t really see salt beef these days in supermarkets etc, and then by total coincidence my workmates and I went to the very good café in the Whitworth Art Gallery (which makes up part of Manchester University’s campus) and what was on the menu? Salt beef sarnies! I may be some kind of soothsayer.

To make your own pressed beef you need a joint of silverside – go for somewhere between 2 and 3 ½ pounds in weight, I reckon. You can use either fresh or salted for this. If you want to do pressed salted beef, you can buy it from your butchers, but it is much better if you make your own. I did – follow the instructions on brining on this earlier post if you want to have a go. Next, you need to boil the beef joint – follow the instructions on this post here for how to do that (I love how the blog is becoming self-referential!) you can follow the same recipe if you’re using fresh beef too. Leave the beef to cool in the broth for a couple of hours before removing and wrapping well in cling-film or foil. It now needs to be pressed overnight; either use a tongue press or place it under some very heavy weights. I used an upturned loose-bottomed cake tin so I could precariously balance a cast-iron griddle pan, an earthenware jug and some tins of food on it with at least some attention to health and safety.

Next day, you can slice the beef as you need it. Make sandwiches using rye bread, pickled gherkins and horseradish sauce (I also added some mayonnaise). Alternatively serve with an avocado salad.

#202 Pressed Beef. This is absolutely delicious. So much more tasty and such better quality than any supermarket pre-sliced nonsense. I would really recommend trying the curing, cooking and pressing yourself, it’s doesn’t take much effort at all and the pay-off is great. The beef is firm and deliciously sweet and salty. The spices – particularly the mace – come through beautifully and compliment the beef so well without drowning out its flavour. 8.5/10.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#201 Tea Cream

A good dessert to make if people are round because you can make it a couple of days in advance.

The tea in question for this tea cream recipe is green gunpowder tea. Green tea is a strange thing – I don’t ever drink it because it tastes of a combination of washing-up water and seaweed. Bleurgh. However, having it with cream and sugar did appeal slightly more; cream and sugar never taste bad, now do they!?

FYI: green tea comes from the same plant as our more familiar ‘black’ tea (e.g. PG Tips, Tetley, etc), but is unfermented thus retains its natural green colour, as opposed to black tea which turns its dark colour due to oxidisation during fermentation. Green tea is popular in China and Japan as we all know – but also in Muslim counties where it is forbidden to drink fermented tea. How bizarre. Anyone know why this is?

To make this tea cream mix together half a pint each of double and single cream in a jug. Pour around three-quarters of it into a small saucepan along with two tablespoons of sugar and an ounce of green gunpowder tea. Slowly bring to a boil, though keep on tasting it as you don’t want the tea to be ‘over-stewed’. Pour the hot cream into a bowl through a sieve. Taste again; if too strong add more cream. Use either a packet of powdered or five leaves of leaf gelatine to make the cream set. It’s best to follow the instructions on the packet at this point but generally you dissolve the powdered stuff in a little hot water and stir it into the cream, or soak leaf gelatine in cold water until soft and stir into the still-hot cream. Pour the whole lot into a mould – buy a fancy one if you can, I did. Cover with cling-film, allow to cool and then place in the fridge until needed. Turn it out onto a plate – you will need to dip the mould in hot water briefly to help loosen the jelly, I left it in too long and it went a little liquid around the edges. Serves five or six.

#201 Tea Cream. A funny one this one. I really liked the creaminess of the ‘jelly’, but the tea taste – though strong when hot, diminished greatly when chilled so I couldn’t really tell it was there. I certainly liked it enough to give it a second go at some point though. It did look very good in its fancy shape. 6/10.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

#200 Steak, Kidney and Oyster Pudding

As promised, a dish that is more English that roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, at least I think so anyway. It may be because I’m a Northerner, but I also think (and I could be wrong here) that although it is very English, it hasn’t travelled to other countries as well as, say, roast beef. In other words, it’s a sort of hidden gem. I have been saving this one for number 200 for a while, though I did change my mind a fair few times.

The seemingly unusual ingredient here is, of course, the oysters. The recipe is surprisingly recent: it appears as a steak pudding in a book by Eliza Acton in 1845 and the kidney turns up in Mrs Beeton’s Household Management nearly fifteen years later. In those days folks living near the coasts were falling over oysters – they diminished however due to a combination of an increased population eating them and the increased pollution created by all those extra people. No one wants a shitty oyster. However, before this, they were cheap and the preferred alternative to the very pricey mushrooms that the posh gentry would have enjoyed. It was only since around the Second World War that mushrooms have been cultivated on a large scale, before that they acquired by foraging: limited and very seasonal. Of course, these days it is the mushrooms that are ten-a-penny, and the oysters that break the bank. That said, native oysters are in season at the moment and the ones I bought from Out of the Blue in Chorlton were just sixty pence each.

This pudding is a pretty posh all-out one; giant, full of rump steak, red wine and extra beef stock plus both mushrooms and oysters:

To begin, make the filling: cut two pounds of trimmed rump steak into one inch cubes and then slice a pound of ox kidney (or veal, if you’re being really posh), removing any fat or gristly bits on the way. Toss these in two tablespoons of seasoned flour. Chop a large onion and fry it gently in two ounces of butter until nicely softened, remove with a slotted spoon, turn up the heat and then hard fry the beef and kidney. When brown transfer to a casserole dish (or, if you have a cast-iron one that goes on the hob you can keep it all in there. Deglaze the pan (or casserole dish) with either a pint of beef stock, or half-and-half stock and red wine. Now slice 8 ounces of mushrooms and fry them in an ounce of butter. Add these along with the cooked onions and a bouquet garni to the meat. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours at 140-150⁰C. You can do all this the day before if need be.

Next, open the oysters: Griggers suggests 18-24 oysters, though makes them an optional ingredient for the pudding. I went for a dozen as I didn’t want to go bonkers with the spending. Add them, plus their liquor to the meat. I’ve written about opening oysters before.

To make the suet pastry, use a knife to mix together 10 ounces of self-raising flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, ¼ teaspoon of salt, ground white pepper, ¼ teaspoon of thyme and 5 ounces of chopped fresh suet (use the packet stuff if you can’t get hold of it). Now add cold water little by little to the mix, stirring with the knife. Use the minimum amount of water that will bring the pastry together, using your hands towards the end. If it seems too wet, add more flour. There’s enough pastry to line a three pint pudding basin, so roll it out in a circle large enough and remove a quarter of it (you’ll use this later). This’ll make it easy to line the basin – use water as glue to stick down the ‘hem’. Spoon in the mixture and then roll out the reserved quarter into a circle to make the lid. Place this on top and fold any surplus edging over it and glue it with more water. Secure the lid if using a plastic basin, or cover with buttered, pleated foil secured with string. Place in a steamer and cook for one and a half hours; don’t let it boil dry. Turn it out onto a plate and serve immediately.

#200 Steak, Kidney and Oyster Pudding. The poshest pudding in the world! It was very, very good though. The beef and kidneys were very tender and the gravy was good and rich. The real revelation was the oysters – at first I wasn’t very sure about them, but it was a taste that was acquired very quickly. They provided a mysterious iodine tang to the whole thing. The original surf ‘n’ turf! The only thing I would change is the amount of pastry - there was barely enough to line the basin, making it split open when it was turned out! 9/10.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Warm Lamb's Fry Salad

Well #200 was now upon me, so I got a few folks round to join me in scoffing it. The trouble was I couldn’t do starter from the book – otherwise that would be the big 200, and I didn’t want some little starter to be it. However, I decided that the food would have a theme: offal. All three courses would have some offal as part of it. You see, I knew that I had some lamb’s fries in the freezer that I bought a while ago from the Cheshire Smokehouse and this seemed like the perfect time to cook them. After a little internet research, I found that they weren’t that difficult to cook, it seemed that you could treat them the same as scallops. I decided on a warm salad. I just hoped they weren’t awful, and that people weren’t going to be squeamish.

It has been a while since I put one of my own recipes on here...

For six:

Heat some cooking oil in a frying pan until nice and hot. Throw in two cloves of garlic and a good pinch of chilli flakes. As soon as the garlic starts to brown, throw in seven sliced and previously seasoned lamb’s fries. Quickly stir fry them for around two or three minutes only, and then season with more salt and pepper if required plus a little sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir through some dressed spinach leaves and serve immediately. I forgot to take a picture. Oopsey!

The lamb’s fries were okay – very tender and rather bland. It was quite difficult to get excited by them. I think I’d would rather have had something bizarre and shocking, than something that was just okay. At least everyone that came can say they’ve tried them. And I can say that when I do testicles, they melt in your mouth! (F’nar!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Well here we are in November, would you believe. When did this happen? I still keep thinking that 2009 happened recently, and now it is nearly over. November, though not full of vibrant fruit and vegetables, is still chock-packed with many of my favourites: the apples and pears are in abundance, and there are many, many varieties. Game is now probably at its very best now. I have bought some hare and mallard already for recipes this month, but at the game stall at the Farmers market at Hoghton there was grey squirrel. I didn’t buy any, but maybe next time.

FYI: The game man, who does allsorts of fantastic stuff, and has been very good to me by getting pheasant giblets for me. His company is called Shaw Meats and they are doing five-bird roasts for Christmas as well as other exciting things. He’s based in Cumbria, but does deliver. Check out the website.

Vegetables: Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, brussels tops, cabbages, cardoons, carrots, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, endive, spring and winter greens, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins and squashes, salsify, swede, turnips.

Fruit: apples, medlars, pears, quince, raspberries.

Wild greens and herbs: nettles, watercress.

Wild flowers and fruits: rosehips, sloes

Fungi and nuts: chestnuts, hedgehog fungus, horse mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, walnuts, blewits.

Fish and shellfish: cod, crab, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, prawns, scallops, sea bass, sprats, squid, whiting.

Game: goose, grey squirrel, grouse, hare, mallard, partridge, pheasant rabbit, woodpigeon.