Archive | September, 2012

The versatility of Cold Oxtail – part 3

25 Sep

Continuing my flirtation (that’s becoming more of an obsession) with the cold offals, is the last chapter in the suggestions I came up with for things to do with a cold ox tail. This recipe also put me in the new territory of baking bread (don’t judge too much). I guess it’s also a kind of Americana too …

So, in the words of Katherine Hepburn “Hot Dawg!”, this was good.*

To bring anyone new up to date, I have recently been bemoaning the fact  that you can’t find ready made offal sandwiches in Leeds. This has caused me to get experimental with cooking and cooling my own offals. The legacy of which began in posts one and two and continues now.

I welcome you to the Inaugural Presentation of the Ox Dog. That’s right. An Ox Dog. A hot dog, filled with ox tail. Ox dog. Ox dog. Ox. Dog.

The real inspiration behind here was a post from RockSalt about making hot dog rolls, which you can find here. I trust Carol Anne and believed when she said how simple they were to make. They are. I’m no bread baker, but even I managed to make some presentable rolls.

This is them before they got ovened. The recipe is super simple, so please do have a look and have a go. Basically you add yeast to water, let it bubble, then add egg, flour and salt. You don’t knead it very much. They take ten minutes to bake. The whole process is forty minutes – what’s not to love? Mine are all yellow because I used canola oil in the batter, which is orange to look at! I think they look sunshiney, or jaundiced, depending on your outlook on the world.

Whilst my rolls were getting doggy (?) in the oven, I made my filling. I took the now dwindling bowl of cold oxtail out of the fridge and added it along with some sliced peppers to a pan and gave them a good frying. The peppers and the oxtail go all sticky in the pan together.

Once it all looks suitably delicious, turn the heat off and if ten minutes have gone by since you put your rolls in, get them out too. Then either wait and fill your rolls once they’ve cooled, or don’t wait, get indigestion from hot bread and eat straight away. I put some cheese on top and grilled them.

I should point out, my grill is very fierce and you probs shouldn’t actually burn them. However, this was a lovely snack, made from stuff I had already (using up ends of peppers). This was probably the fifth meal from my oxtail, which is pretty good going considering I was working with pure meat and stock.

I would definitely make these again – I would even cook an oxtail especially for these – Halloween here I come!


*That is also a clue. And it is the Katherine Hepburn portrayed by Cate Blanchett in the Aviator, not any other KH – in case you were confused and couldn’t remember her saying that in the African Queen.

Yorkshire Tasting Menu, Dough Restaurant

20 Sep

If you haven’t been to Dough in Leeds, then you should because it’s really amazing. Luke (who is clearly a totally awesome chef) creates beautiful dishes. He is also very helpful and supportive to offaltarians like me who don’t know what to do with trotters.

The idea of the Yorkshire Tasting Menu was/is (I believe it happens every year) to appreciate the beautiful bounty of Yorkshire, my adopted county. (A Lincolnshire tasting menu would be haslet and/or chine and/or sausages, Brussel Sprouts and Margaret Thatcher’s toenail-clippings.* I am glad the last prime minister to be born in Yorkshire was Asquith and he was Liberal.) At £58 for seven courses, including booze , I a) got a right bargain and b) was pickled by the end of the evening.

I loved eating here and can’t recommend it enough. I’ll be visiting again as soon as I can. The food was beautiful and I got some lovely ideas for combinations to try at home. The picture is followed by the dish and the accompanying alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks. We really liked how much attention was given to the booze-free boozes (though a little explanation of why the flavours were chosen, like what happened for the boozes wouldn’t have gone amiss). There’s nothing much else to say, other than to reiterate that it was EXCEPTIONAL and repeat the menu with some increasingly fuzzy bad phone pictures.**

Canapes – hot dog, sausage roll, pork pie, chorizo – porkalicious!

(Leeds sparkling rhubarb Prosecco/Rhubarb lemonade)

Leeds yellow tomato Bloody Mary gazpacho with Artisan bakery olive bread

This was amazing. I don’t like tomatoes and would have NEVER chosen this. It was probably my personal highlight in a night of amazing food. This proves that Luke can clearly make everything delicious – so if you visit don’t let your previous tastes inform your choices.

Whitby crab cake – tartar sauce – pea puree – garlic chunky chip

(Ilkley Brewery Mary Jane/Sparkling apple and elderflower)

Faggots in Leventhorpe red wine – piccalilli – Yorkshire blue – celeriac puree

(Black Sheep Yorkshire Square/Red grape juice)

Allotment blackcurrant and gin sorbet

East coast mackerel – cauliflower and cheese cake – Roundhay rhubarb coulis – feathering late asparagus

(Leventhorpe Seyval Blanc 2009/Orange and cherry lemonade)

Confit of Thirsk lamb leg chepher’s pie – wrapped in filo pastry – Fountain’s Gold cheddar – yoghurt and mint sauce – beetroot salsa

(York Brewery Yorkshire Terrier/Strawberry and kiwi juice)

Warm Yorkshire parkin – Yorkshire tea ice cream – dark chocolate crisp – cherry sauce

I accidentally ate all of mine before thinking that I should take a picture. Yorkshire tea ice cream is BOSS!

(Homemade Vodka iced cherry tea/Homemade ginger beer)

*This is sheer flippancy. Lincolnshire grows and produces loads of lovely food. Don’t be put off visiting – no one has cannibalised Maggie (yet)! Also, I am not a Tory and do not think by eating any part of Margaret Thatcher that I will become one. I’m civilised. I know I’d have to eat her brain, not her toenails.

**This is no reflection on the restaurant and more on my crap phone and unsteady hands.

Review: Energex Plus

19 Sep

A slightly anomylous post I know, but a while ago I was sent some Energex Plus capsules to try and review. I wanted to try them because as well as be interested in all of the meat, I am also interested in all of the herbs, supplements and healthy eating things. I might not follow them all the time, but I do find it all FASCINATING.

The Energex Plus capsules appear to basically be a herbal ProPlus. They are however sugar-free and as well as providing a caffeine hit, they also act as a supplement for 100% of your RDA of B vitamins. I was very intrigued as to what would supply the caffeine hit – I should have guessed it would be guarana. I think they are vegetarian, but you should double check that if its a crucial factor for you.

At the time that I received these in the post, I was going through a caffeine-free period, so didn’t take them. I was very run down and because caffeine (along with many other things) can inhibit your immune system, I put the coffee and tea away for a while.

However, now I have a dissertation to write, an overdue academic article and lots of other things to write, concentration is at a premium. I want to get it all done, but sometimes the voices start singing and the last thing you want to do is sit at a desk and do thinking and typing.

They are very big though … it’s the size of a finger joint. Having swallowed one, I can see how easy it would be to swallow a bit of finger!

To the verdict: having tried it on several occassions I can say that it does work and it does pep you up, but it is not for me. The first time I used it I was volunteering and inputting infomation to a database. I felt a bit blocked, so took a capsule hoping for a ‘lift’. I did have more energy, but very little attention-span. Not to be deterred, I tried it again whilst working at my desk and a similar thing occurred – my internet-distraction-ometer went through the roof!

I gave the issue some consideration. I think they key issue is that I’m probably not as tolerant of caffeine as I used to be, so a whole tablet is simply too large a dose for me. I put this hypothesis to the test and took a capsule at work (I am a shop assistant amongst other things) and the physical aspect of standing and moving seemed to counter-act the jitters.

Luckily there’s a neat line you can break, so you only take a half. Interesting that the inside isn’t green but pale brown, isn’t it? Green is a ‘friendlier’ colour.

To sum up, if you’re active and used to caffeine, these will probably make a great alternative to espresso/Red Bull/ProPlus or whatever else it is you use to keep awake and focussed. I think they are more effective than the caffeine tablets I took when I was studying for my finals. From a health perspective, I wouldn’t take them if you’re ill (you don’t want to go over the edge) and I’d think closely about how much caffeine you consume regularly before taking a whole one. All in all a good product that I think will work well for lots of people. You can buy it here for £8.95.

The versatility of Cold Oxtail – part 2

18 Sep

In the part the first, we saw an ox tail ramen soup made purely from the ox tail stock. You can find that post here. It was of course concerned with the stock. Now we turn our salivating attention to the meat. Lovely, sticky, cardomanny, tamarindy meat.

The reson I decided to cook an ox tail and eat it cold was due to the paucity of cold offal snacks available to your average offaltarian. Do you ever see kidney sandwiches in the supermarket? No. Is there a liver salad waiting to be dressed in the chilled cabinet? No. I work. Sometimes I get tired of cheese sandwiches. Or tongue sandwiches (also packets of cold pressed tongue are phenomenally expensive – 75p per slice – I’m not Midas). Anyway you don’t get pre-made tongue sandwiches in Leeds.

So, to cold lunches. Salad. And ox tail. Ox tail salad. Lordy lordy! I was well addicted to ox tail salad for a while.

Here is one salad I made. I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence by telling you how to make a salad. This one was based around spinach, broad beans, oxtail and a stale packet of mixed nuts.

Here is a tupperware salad, made of spinach, coleslaw mix and ox tail.

The secret behind these salad is of course the dressing. This I will tell you about, at length and naturally in excruciating detail, for my laws on salad dressing are Gospel.

The joke is, my dressings are pretty easy. Oil (I use Neals Yard Beauty Oil) which is a blend of hemp, avocado, flax seed, pumpkin seed and evening primrose oils. I think it tastes really nice. Then I use usually either lemon or lime juice. And I’ll add maybe some garlic, or some harissa, maybe mustard!

This summer I got well into flavouring my own vinegars! The idea first came to me on the old herb course as vinegars are another traditional way to preserve the qualities of medicinal herbs. I didn’t make any medicine-grade vinegars, but I did make strawberry vinegar, thyme vinegar and honeysuckle vinegar. Now I’m adept at the vinegar-making, I’m going to make some Autumn vinegars too – bramble and elderberry are on the list.

Again, it’s another fancy thing that’s really simple to do. For the strawberry vinegar, you add some strawberries to some cider vinegar, leave it on the windowsill for a week then strain. For the honeysuckle a couple of weeks. For the thyme one month. Strain and bottle.

Ox tail salads, in their infinite variety, are IMMENSE. Next time you buy one, reserve some meat and eat it cold. Yumyumyum!

Mentioned in the Observer

17 Sep

Yesterday the Observer A to Z of food, I was mentioned. In a nice way. So that’s very lovely.

I’m very grateful to my fame in the Sun, otherwise the Observer wouldn’t have heard about my blog (chicken and egg situation). If you’d like to read it online, the link is here. Am I a food trend now?

Thank you for visiting, I might make some changes this week, so do keep popping back.

Venison Liver and Holistic Cauliflower

15 Sep

Less of a post, more of  a handy hint: did you know that venison liver is awesome? Try it. I got mine from Round Green Farm at the Kirkstall Farmers Market and it is SUPER TASTY. I’ve eaten it before and always look out for it. The simplest way to cook it is to flour it all over and then fry for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Did you know that you can eat the leaves of cauliflowers as well as the florets? I didn’t and I come from the Land of the Brassica (tip courtesy of the lovely lady a B Whiteleys Vegetables). Don’t eat the woody tough bit that runs down the middle of the leaf, but the floppity leaf bits at either side. I snipped them away with scissors and them steamed them briefly. Lovely, cabbage but not, if you will. I’m sure this is old hat to some people, but it was flash of enlightenment for me! What other overlooked leaves can you eat?

I also made a cauliflower cheese. What a nice dinner! I do like going to the Kirkstall Market …

The versatility of Cold Oxtail – part 1

11 Sep

Apart from cooked sliced tongue, it’s quite hard to find offal that will go in sandwiches. You can’t even find a ready-made sandwich with offal in (unless you’re counting sausage, but then they invariably have ketchup in which I just can’t stomach). Kidney sammich, anyone? To remedy this I slow-cooked a lovely oxtail with the express purpose of using it cold. Oh yes. You can’t keep me in that box. I’m not Schroedinger’s Cat.

Here is my lovely ox tail from Walsingham Farm Shop – a present from my Mum – and you should definitely visit if you’re in Norfolk. I meant to take a picture of the label (which specifies some details about the beast that provided the tail), but forgot – however there is a great page about their suppliers on the website. This sort of transparency in origin is what was emphasised in my abattoir visit. Yet I do remember, growing up in Lincolnshire, it being perfectly normal to know who farmed the animals you were eating (and you probably wouldn’t trust a butcher who couldn’t tell you).* I decided to add some flavours and chose black cardoman, tamarind and mugwort. I shouldn’t have put the mugwort in as the stronger flavours swallowed it up …

Then you cover it all with water and I slow cooked it on high for about six hours. The next step was to separate the meat from the stock, and then the bones from the meat. You will have a jug of beefy, taily deliciousness and a bowl of juicy, beefy meat.
I put both of them in the fridge and waited to use them.

The first thing I wanted to use was the delicious stock, so I had a stab at making a beef noodle soup. Of course, all the fat had risen to the top of the stock, so I scraped a lot of it off, used some to fry my peppers and put the rest away for later use.

It had set into a jelly (because of the lovely bones) – with a nice spicy layer at the bottom of thicker gravy. It all goes in! I really wanted to taste the stock, so kept the rest quite simple. I fried some onion and peppers, then added some rehydrated seaweed, the stock and the noodles, then boiled it all together so the noodles were done. Added some spinach at the end, bob’s your uncle. I put a blob of harissa in the middle too.

A lovely meal, from a jug of stock and some cupboard bits and bats.

If you don’t think about making stock already – please do try it out. You can ask your butcher for some bones, or use leftover ones (a perfect example is an eaten around chicken carcass). All I then do is boil it for a number of hours until all the bones come away from each other  (I don’t know if that’s a professional way to judge it, but it appears to work for me). You can add veg and things, but I tend to be a stock purist. Sieve it to get the bones n ting out, then you can either use it within a week, or freeze it to use at your leisure. Risotto totally is best with homemade stock. And it’s really good for you – lots of trace elements are kept in bones, so real stock can help boost your immune system! If it sounds like a faff, kept your eye out for reduced fresh stock in the supermarket, as you can freeze it ready for risotto o clock!

I can hear you asking, what else did she make with the ox tail? Stay tuned for part 2!

*I am aware of the quotation marks around “normal for Lincolnshire” – this can be seen to include tracing six generations back with strangers (you never know who you are related to) and every tenth house having a surplus veg stall outside.