Archive | June, 2012

SoupTuesday Cookbook Swap …

29 Jun

Hello my name is Lucy and I like cooking things and posting things. You would have thought that foodie penpals would be enough for me. Well, you’re wrong. I signed up for a cook book swop too. Hosted by the SoupTuesday blog, you get matched with a person to send to and a person to get from. Oh yes.

This month was the first month so I’m hoping it goes well for everyone. The theme for this month was RETRO. I’ll confess striaght away that I couldn’t find a retro cookbook at home (at least one I was going to give away), so I trundled to British Heart Foundation and found a nice 80s one where you have to add cans of soup to lots of recipes. The reminded me a lot of an earlier but much older boyfriend’s cooking style. Retro indeed.

My cookbook came from Hannah at HomeBakedOnline. She writes a great blog about all the nice things and does it fantastically. It was ‘The Wholefood Cookbook’ by Pamela Westland. It is out of print now, but if you want, you can pick it up second hand off the old Amazon. The tagline is “Natural recipes for health”. Naturally I turned the pages to see if there was an offal recipe … I find all the older cookery books are generally pretty good for offal. There was one for Mushrooms and Liver Provencal. Fate.

So here is the recipe, photographed from the book:

Basically, you quickly fry the liver on both sides, then add it to a simple ragu of tomato, peppers and mushrooms. The herb used is marjoram. You serve it with ‘noodles’ but it is really tagliatelle!

My liver stack, waiting to enter the ragu

 

Part of the joy of the cookbook swop is being reminded in these recipes of things you’ve not seen for a while. I would like to know what happened to the savoury loaf? You know the ones NOT BREAD but things like asparagus and parmesan in a loaf tin, or a stripey one with carrot and fennel or whatever. Because I haven’t seen one for a while (especially not in a restaurant), not only am I going to resurrect them (Surprise Offal Loaf!), but I feel sure they will be the latest great food trend.

I’ve also enjoyed the 80s food photography in the book.

There is what the book reckons my provencal liver should look like. And here is what it actually looked like:

Note the two pieces of roast potato. What a nice extra. The best thing about this swop and the recipe I chose, is that it introduced me properly to the pairing of offal and pasta. I had been dubious after reading other recipes, but am pretty sold. I’ve also really liked the tomato liver sauce. And the fact that one herb (marjoram) is the star. I know I can get herb happy and toss them all in and I think its a good change for me to think consistently about single culinary herbs.

I hope there’s going to be another cookbook swop, so do get involved!

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Foodie Penpals the Fourth!

28 Jun

Can you adamandeve it? I’m not sure I can. If you’re not on the foodie penpal bandwagon, you need to sign up for Rocksalt’s scheme here. This month I sent a package to Dan, is a non-blogging food person from Sheffield. My parcel came from Lisa at Sweet2Eat baking.  Lisa is very good at baking. Lisa is very good at icing. Lisa is very good at enthusing about the food-blogging community. Do go and have a look at her recipes – I’m am totally lusting over the coriander, ginger and mango cheesecake. And the Jubilee biscuits.

This is the package Lisa sent me:

What the devil did I get? Well obviously a recipe – this was for creamy bacon pasta, so I’ll need to make a bacon substitute (maybe that’s where the pig’s ears can come in?) and a lovely card …

I got some Rooibos tea (I’ll share that at work), some granola bars, some cherry biscuits, some dried cherries, and best of all two homemade things. One is Lisa’s patented hot chocolate mix. The other was two lovely sultana scones.

Lisa had wanted to put a Great British theme behind this (HER FIRST) month’s foodie penpal box. What could be more great and British than tea and scones in the garden? I just need to herbaceous borders to match now … It was especially nice to get tea and cake in a box as moment with my lovely partner have been rare this month and sitting with him in the garden was right good.

This June was too busy for me (moving house, working away a lot, sick family) so I didn’t have a chance to experiment with the recipe Lisa sent. I WILL though. I WILL.

Thank you very much, Lisa. It was a lovely thoughtful box and I hope you enjoyed your first one too!

Happy Foodiepenpalling everyone! And thank you Carol Anne for fixing us all up like a wee canny Cilla Black. Yup. Compliments are what you get here!

Venison Liver a la Hermes Diaktoros …

20 Jun

Have you ever done this thing where you read in a novel what somebody is eating and you immediately want to have that for yourself? That you were licking lips while you heard the descriptions, and your stomach started to rumble.

I did.

Hermes Diaktoros is a Greek detective, written by Anne Zouroudi*, who solves crimes in a variety of settings around the Aegean. If you’ve not read them, DO. They are really good. I’m saving at the moment to get the newest one on my kindle. But, this is not a book reviewing place.

The description I’m talking about comes from The Whispers of Nemesis, where Hermes and a taxi-driver called Hassan are sharing a plate of goat liver:

It was, as Hassan had said, a fresh, well-flavoured mouthful: a touch of pink at the centre, the onions soft and flavoursome, the whole made interesting with a scattering of thyme.

Not only is it interesting to me as it shows a Greek take on liver and onions. It also talks about liver cooked in a sensitive way. And thyme is my favourite herb.

I didn’t have any goat liver, but I did get some venison liver a while ago, and was inspired to try and feel a bit Greek (but without the murders) in Beeston.

I floured the liver, pan fried it for a couple of minutes each side and served it on top of two potato farls (a lot of my family is Irish too), a bit of Greek salad and LOADS of fresh thyme. It was super tasty.

Have cooked something from a novel? What are your favourite food novels?

I’ve not read any James Joyce (the shame) but I know he’s all over the offal. I know this because my very supportive godmother posted this:

“Mr. Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls”

Then there was an interessting discussion about how offal because part of national cuisine, when a country has a high level of meat export. In this case, beef and lamb cuts exported to the British Army from Ireland. Just leaving the trotters and chitterlings behind.

Who says offal isn’t political?

*she is a second cousin of the Barnsdale branch of our family. That’s by the by.

Oxtail Soup – the Heinz Kind

11 Jun

Sometimes you just need an offal quick-fix.

This is my go-to for that. it contains 3% oxtail, so it’s not the most oxtailful of oxtail soups, but it does hit the spot. You can also buy it in lots of supermarkets. And it comes in two sizes. The smaller size is shown above.

What I’m really meaning to say is that offal doesn’t have to be complicated. There are very easy and simple things you can buy. The ox tail soup is one of them.

I really like it with some sourdough toast. I always have a tin or two in my cupboard (just in case).

Apparently a few years ago Heinz did a tinned kidney soup too. There is a mixture of love and hate on the internet about it. Yahoo links you to this recipe for it which I’ll probably try and copy when I’m feeling energetic. I also enjoyed this one from Ron. Maybe with enough pressure more offal soups will return! Maybe you could make an uber kidney soup with lots of species? I’ll write to Covent Garden Soup about it – I saw an carton in the supermarket today that was cheese and piccalilli soup. To me, kidney sounds a bit more tasty …

Did you have to eat tinned kidney soup? Can you buy it where you live? Am I the odd one out in preferring kidney to piccalilli soup?

While I’m on the soup subject*, get in on the Baxters Royal Game Soup action. Its VERY DELICIOUS. My housemate adds a can of Spam to it for extra meaty action. (That is however, a step too far for me.)

 

*I’ve not been sponsored, don’t worry. I am above selling myself to The Man. If The Man is feeling generous then I’m happy to accept sponsorship to my half marathon http://beatms.mssociety.org.uk/netcommunity/lucymooreruns – that’s you Heinz and Baxters!

Lamb’s Liver and Orange?

6 Jun

This is a recipe I stole off of Nigel Slater. You can find it here. The title there is Lamb’s Liver with onion and Seville orange relish. Or as I realise now Marmalade Liver. Paddington would like that?

I was staying at my lovely Mum’s and she ever-so-thoughtfully bought us some lamb liver (which is the only offal me, Mum and my brother like). I could have just dusted it in flour and cooked it simply, but to be honest I’ve had quite a lot of floured offal in the past few months, so wanted to fancy it up a bit.

Unlike the modest beginning of this post. It is actually a pretty delicious recipe. So if you’re cooking liver, give it a go.

You will need:

Lamb’s liver for 3. Also salt and pepper, fresh sage leaves and 1 tsp mustard seeds.

4 onions, 25g butter, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 orange (preferably Seville) zested and juiced (you add the zest and jucie, not the whole fruit), 1tbsp cider vinegar, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 6 prunes chopped

  1. Cut the onions into quarters or rings and cook slowly for half an hours in the butter and oil so they go lovely and soft and gooey.

    You can see I mixed it with using red and white. Danger!

  2. While that’s going on put some salt, your mustard seeds, some peppercorns and your lovely fresh sage in your pestle and give it a bash.
  3. When the onions are as soft as you want, basically add the rest of the ingredients. Originally I used prunes and honey, but that was a bit too sweet. So don’t use honey. this is the voice of experience. This will be a sauce to go on top of your liver. So keep it warm while you cook your liver.
  4. Season each side of liver with your sage/pestle mix of seasoning. Fry/grill your liver on boths sides on a high heat for 2 minutes each side. I like my liver pink, longer if you don’t.

    Frying one side …

    … frying the other

  5. Serve with some nice vegetables and enjoy. I dry-fried some extra sage leaves to use as a garnish. Posh!

    our lovely Emma Birdgewater strewn table!

    My plate

    Mr Pink Liver!

    Fakenham Flollop for Pudding?

I would definitely recommend broadening your offal horizons. Get some liver down you! This Jimmy’s Farm or whatever programme (I’ve not seen it, just followed the resulting twitter threads) seems to have got people talking about offal and whether you should eat it. My biased answer is that yes, you should. It’s lovely if you cook it well. There reasons over ethics and sustainability that I shouldn’t have to say. Mostly I think it’s a matter of respect. If you eat meat, you should respect the animal. That includes eating its organs. Get over your squeamish selves.

The excuse of “It’s societal” is often rolled out. ‘Societal’ gets changed by being PERSONAL and endeavoring to live your life by the ethical standards that you choose. And that stands if you’re vegan, or meatatarian, or offaltarian, or only eat balloons. Once you consider what your own standards actually are, your own choices become much clearer. Just give it some thought …