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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 …

Rose & Crown, Flamborough

4 Sep

Last week I was on holiday in Bridlington and Flamborough. It was very lovely indeed. I did a lot of paddling in the North Sea. I really love paddling. No matter the time of year or how cold the water, I’m duty bound to be taking my socks off within five seconds of seeing the sea.

Daz and I also both like a nice dinner. After deciding on the spur of the moment to stay in Flamborough overnight, we found (to out surprise) a lovely bed and breakfast. They then recommended the Rose and Crown pub.

Lately, when I’ve been going out to eat, I’ve mostly had vegetarian options – offal is still not that widespread in Leeds. The nasty secret voice in me thought “oh no, another pasta dish based on spinach”. Cynicism be damned! There was OFFAL!  And it was served neither in a “oh we so trendy manner” nor was it disgusting.

I chose to have liver and onions, still expecting it to not be that nice, but it was. The liver was firm but not overcooked, in an amazing gravy. Delicious! I was even allowed to have chips and veg (breaking the chips/salad or potatoes/veg dichotomy). For me, it was lovely to eat some nice offal not in my own home – any suggestions anyone (the Yorkshire area preferably)?

We squeezed pudding in (which was clearly made at home there too). That was well tasty – raspberry roulade for me and chocolate brownie and ice cream for the gentleman. If you’re in Flamborough, it’s clearly the place to eat. If you’re not in Flamborough you should be, because it is epically beautiful!

Don’t get caught out by the tide though!

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!

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.

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 …

Lincolnshire Haslet – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 14

16 May

Wow. The last day of nose to tail fortnight and my eating along the animal challenge.

How do I feel? Full of meat. I’ve got a craving for cauliflower.

How far along the animal did I get? All the way, baby!

Here is the full nose to tail body part list: pig head, cow foot, pig lung, cow heart, deer kidney, chicken liver, cow stomach, lamb testicle, pig trotter, cow tail, sausages and caul fat.

Haslet seemed a fitting way to end my nose to tail fortnight. Here is what wikipedia says:

Haslet, also spelt ‘Acelet’, is a porkmeatloaf with herbs originally from Lincolnshire, England. The name is derived from the Old Frenchhastilles meaning entrails[1].

In Lincolnshire, haslet (pronounced hayzleht locally), is a meatloaf typically made from stale white bread, ground pork, sage, salt and black pepper.[2] It is typically served cold with pickles and salad, or as a sandwich filling.[citation needed]

Basically it is offal and off-cuts ground up with sage, salt and pepper; the pressed out of it; wrapped in caul fat; then baked. I haven’t tried to make it myself, mostly because Hargreaves of Spalding make the best ones and I try to alway have one in my Leeds-based freezer. It freezes really well and defrosts gently over-night.

I like to eat the end slices by themselves. As well as eating it cold, you can also fry it up and have it warm. A very versatile pork product indeed. The top should be a darker colour (due to the baking). If you look carefully at the picture above, you can see the pattern of the caul fat on the top. The caul keeps the haslet bound together.

In my sandwich on Sunday, I added fresh sage leaves and a few leaves of Jack-by-the-hedge. That made an excellent sandwich.

Don’t buy the stuff from the supermarket deli counter. It is minging. If you do, I’ll play you this Cyndi Lauper clip very early in the morning, so you faint from over-exposure to Shaggy. That’s real threat.

If you’d like to try a proper one, it can be arranged. You can either find a proper Lincolnshire butcher (if he doesn’t rub his hands together, he’s not the real deal) or send me a message and I can be your dealer.

Another Lincolnshire delicacy to try is Stuffed Chine. Shaggy loves it.*

 

*I imagine he does.

Doing things properly!

23 Apr

I was delighted when I found this little volume it a second-hand shop in Fakenham in Norfolk. I’m not sure what it was called, but I know it had moved some distance to its new premises there. It sold some books, some furniture, records, coins and miscelleany. The man was valuing a home-made exploding warship when I was in there. The explosion was caused by a mousetrap! But I digress …

I really love cookery books from the 1970s and 1980s. This gem was published in 1984, fulfilling the niche in the cookery bookmarket. It was designed “for those who are buying (or thinking of buying) their first slow cooker, as well as the expert” – something for everyone you may say. In the introduction, it’s still women who do cooking. Men can’t. Wrong sized hands. My favourite section is about Who uses a slow cooker? and it lists Students, People out at Work, Mothers and Old Folks. So most people, right? Not fathers though. You couldn’t say that EVERYONE uses a slow cooker. Not yet, anyway.

The other reason apart from the sexism that I love these books is because they often have several offal recipes. Some of which have a continental influence! *Gasps*

So to dip my toes into the “Properly Explained” world of Slow Cookery, I started with a liver recipe.

I’m still working out my relationship with liver. I really like it, in all the species, but it is very much an offal you have to treat with respect. Ox-tail you can do what you want with and as long as you cook it long enough, it’ll be lovely. Liver, I believe, could turn against you if you’re not kind to it.

So I gently stroked my lamb’s liver and whispered to it: “If you could become one of the recipes from Slow Cooking Properly Explained, which one would you like to be?” And the liver said “I would like to be Liver Austrian Style”. Who am I to refuse a dead organ’s last wishes?

Liver Austrian Style

LOW 3 – 10 hours

1 lb sliced lamb/pork liver, 300ml milk, 25g butter, 1 finely chopped onion, 100g sliced chestnut mushrooms, 1 tbsp flour, 1 tsp salt, black pepper, bouquet garni, 300ml stock, 3 tbsp cream

If your liver isn’t fresh or you are worried about the quality of it then you’ll need to soak it in the milk for 8 hours before cooking it. Put it in a bowl, cover with the milk and refrigrate for 8 hours. When you’re ready to use it, drain it, discard the milk and pat the liver dry with kitchen roll.

To make the dish: in a large pan gently fry the onion in the butter until softened but not browned. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further minute on a low heat. Toss the liver in the flour and brown it quickly on both sides, stirring to keep the meat separate. Add the seasoning, bouquet garni and stock. Bring to the boil, stirring consistently until sauce has thickened. Transfer to the slow cooker and cook for the recommended time (above). Just before serving remove the bouquet garni, stir in the cream and serve with wither buttered noodles (?) or rice! I served ours with kale not carbs.

What you can also do is just throw everything in the slow cooker (apart from the cream) and it all cooks fine. I did this because there were no clean pans and I was too tired to wash one.

As a note on liver, if you look carefully in the picture above, you can see holes where the veins ran through the organ, They need removing before cooking. Here I am putting my left index finger through one. This was lamb’s liver that we used. Just saying. That means their veins are the size of our fingers. GIANT LAMBS roaming Wensleydale, bleating that not enough people eat their organs after they die. I did my duty. It was good.

 

Lincolnshire Pig’s Fry

4 Mar

This, in case you were wondering, is a pack of Fry. Or Pig’s Fry. Or Bag of Deliciousness. What you can see, going left to right is some pork offcut, some fat, some liver and hiding underneath is some sliced kidney. These are the raw ingredients for Lincolnshire’s Fourth Most Famous Pork Dish (Sausages, Haselet and Chine come further up the Walk of Fame) – Lincolnshire Pig’s Fry. A lot of the cuisine I grew up with can be summed up in two words. PORK and SAGE. Pigs are very cunning, George Orwell would have us believe. Sage is used as a medicinal herb to aid alertness and concentration and also helps the body to digest fat. Clearly Lincolnshire’s sons and daughters should be taking over the world on this diet … *embarrassed cough* Margaret Thatcher …

Being the well-behaved yellowbelly that I am, I did feel quite sad when I realised it had taken me til my 27th year to cook and make it myself. Unsure of how to procede, Google came to my aid with a recipe from this website. I’m not sure if it’s a blog, or something else, but thank you for putting it online as it gave me an outline for my Fry Making!

What you need is:

1kg pig’s fry – I bought this from Hargreaves Butchers in Pinchbeck (“Now then Mrs Moore, nice bit of beef *whispers* on the bone?” a quick nod, then “See you round the side” where you collected your then illegal beef on the bone from a secret door near the bins … I kid you not so many moments of my adolescence were pretty much copied by League of Gentlemen) – if you don’t visit backwaters very often then you’d need to either ask your own butcher for a fry, or get a pig liver, couple of kidneys and some meat. So it all adds up to a kilo of weight.

Potatoes, washed and peeled, then sliced

2 large onions sliced in rounds, 2 large carrots sliced in rounds, 2 pints of stock, 2 tbsp dried sage, 2 tbsp flour, salt and pepper, a knob of butter.

First of all you need to tackle your offal:

From left to right you’ll find a slice of liver, a slice of kidney and some fat from around the organs. In the background of the third picture, you can see the pork meat. No idea of the cut – I kept meaning to telephone and ask, but also kept forgetting.Possibly belly, but it didn’t seem fatty enough. Anyway, I’ll take order for when I’m next down in the Shire …

Everything needs to be cut into similar sized pieces. You need to check the liver is de-veined – if it isn’t they come out quite easily if you just pull them. The veins look like white tubes. You only need to pull the biggest ones out. The kidney needs to have the white core removed and then cut to chunks. I like to say “WHITE CORE” in a Star Trek voice because I think it sounds like either space engineering, or astronomical stellar gumpus! “We can’t save the white core, captain! We just don’t have the power!” The fat also needs to be cut to chunks, as does the meat.

Add the flour to a bowl, season it with salt and pepper, then roll each chunk in it so they are all generously covered. If you run out of flour, just use a bit more.

Heat the butter in the bottom of the casserole you’re going to use and add the onion. Cook until soft. Now add the floured meat chunks and brown them all off.

Add the carrot, the sage and lots of black pepper. Add the stock. Boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Lay the slices of potato on top of the casserole, the layer can be as thick as you like, mine was of 2 or 3 slices thick. Put lid on the casserole and either heat in oven for a few hours, simmer on hob for few hours or if you’re using a slow cooker, cook on High for four hours.

Basically you get a really sagey stew – think Lincolnshire sausage seasonings – with a potato top that is basically steamed because the lid is kept on the casserole. Different to Hotpot, because the potatoes aren’t crisp. It is well delicious and stands up to re-heating very well.

We had at least six really large meals out of it, but what I think I’d do next time is to cut it all up, but cook half and freeze half. I think two smaller frys are better than one big one.

Also, don’t be concerned about the lump of fat, I’m sure it’s really nice fat and even though it looks massive in my hand a) I have tiny mouse hands and b) it’s very thin. It does add a lovely taste and because the sauce goes floury and potatoey it sort of melts into a suspension. You wouldn’t know it was there, if you hadn’t seen this picture.

I can’t wait to go back to the Shire to get me some more fry!

If you’re interested in the cuisine of Lincolnshire you can visit the Lincolnshire Sausage Assocation website – I’m already planning an October Sausage Festival trip – maybe to tie in with Mum’s birthday? Nothing says “I love you, thank you for nurturing me” than a superfluity of sausages!

Quick Chicken Liver and Tamarind Curry

22 Feb

If you’ve ever lived with me, you’ll know that I have a penchant for suddenly making “curries” out of pretty much whatever is in the fridge. Kipper and swede curry, surprisingly good; curried bechamel parsnip lasagna, quite the disgusting disaster. Tonight however, with some defrosted chicken livers winking at me, I’m game for a new curry.

Chicken livers are fast to cook and well delicious. I first had them a few years ago fried with balsamic vinegar and wilted spinach salad, or something along those lines, balsamic was definitely involved. However, even though I know I like them, I really don’t ever cook with them. Time to rectify this!

At the start of January (the same day I bought my kidneys) I bought a packet of Sainsburys chicken livers in a fit of enthusiasm. I then realised I didn’t have time to eat them, so froze them. With the old offal, especially the organs you can only freeze things for a month, so the other night I combined unorthodox currying with my defrosted livers.

A while ago I made a tamarind stew which was super delicious (it may or may not have involved oxtail) and I thought the tamarind’s sour notes would be a good foil for the chicken liver richness. There is also an amazing chicken liver curry that you can get from Shabab’s that is spicy and delicious. With chicken livers, you can, I believe cook them until they’re slightly pink, but because these ones had been frozen I gave them a good cooking. This didn’t mean they were tough though. It’s all to do with cooking times. Like so much of cooking.

What I wanted was to get loads of flavour going in those livers, so I marinated them for half an hour or so, basically while I cooked the vegetable part of the curry.

I have a rice cooker, so before I did any of the following I put the rice cooker on with some brown rice in!

What you need is:

1 packet chicken livers;

1 onion chopped; 1 medium sweet potato roughly chopped; squirt garlic puree; 1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tsp tamarind paste; 1/2 tsp ground ginger; 1 teaspoon madras curry powder; 1 tsp chillies chopped in oil; 1 tsp cumin seeds.

First of all mix together all the spices. It will go to a dark loose paste. A teacup and a teaspoon are good tools.

Secondly, take half of the mixture and put in a bowl with the chicken livers. Mix this well. It is now marinading.

Thirdly, start to fry the onion, then add garlic, then the sweet potato. Cook this for a few minutes on a medium heat, then add the other half of the spice mix. Keep stirring. Add the tinned tomatoes. Keep it moving. The chicken livers take very little time to cook, so you want the sweet potato to be cooked through. This seemed to take about twenty minutes.I added the blood from the liver carton to the sauce too.

Fourthly, put the curried veg mix to one side in a bowl, and using the same pan add some oil and fry the chicken livers, along with their accompanying marinade. They need a couple of minutes each side on a higher heat than the vegetables did.

Don’t worry if they start to look a bit breadcrumby because the liver is full of blood and bits come off and make it all look a bit scruffy. You can see that below. Don’t worry.

I cooked them so there was still a tiny bit of pink in the middle, mostly because I knew there would be residual heat that cooked them further whilst I plated up rice, made drinks and faffed around. Also, you want to avoid cooking-the-shit-out-of-it-itis. By the time you eat it, the pink is pretty much gone.

Fifthly, add the vegetables back into the pan and combine them and the livers together. The crumby bits of liver will now combine in the sauce.

Get a plate, put some carbs on it, then add your curry. DELICIOUS!

Dining out at Kendells

2 Feb

One of the first challenges of the offaltarian diet you’d think was Eating Out. As a lot of vegetarians find, restaurant menus can be quite limited in what they offer and part of the point of my year of offal eating is to broaden out what I eat, as well as to make up my holistic carnivore debt.

As a very lucky lady, I got taken for the second time to Kendells restaurant in Leeds. It is very nice indeed. It’s pretty well-known for all the food awards it has won. It’s an excellent place to eat. What I want to add to the blogosphere of food writing was that the offal dishes that I ate, were not just excellent offal dishes, but were excellent dishes in their own right.

As a starter I had Boudin Noir which is French black pudding. There’s not a lot of similarities between it and the rounds you can buy in the supermarket. Soft, delicious and melting, I had to hold myself back from scoffing it all up super fast.

For my main course I had Foie de Veau which is calves liver, more of this in a second. Less recently than our trip to Kendells I was in Lincolnshire at the cafe I used to work at. In the Shire, offal is still pretty big. Liver and onions is on a lot of menus and people don’t think anything of it. I ordered Liver and Onions as part of my pact to order offal whenever I can. It was pretty gross. Cooked, frozen and re-heated, the liver was GREY and tough and I couldn’t finish it. So there was still a little trepidation when I ordered my baby-cow liver at Kendells.

I should have known not to be worried, because it was the tastiest meat I think I’ve ever eaten. Thin tender slices of pink-in-the-middle-sticky-grilled-charm on the outside, I well loved it. In all seriousness it was a whole new carnivorous experience. Liver is amazing when it’s done well. If you’re iffy about it, please don’t be, just go somewhere good and try it out! At Kendells served with creamy mash, crispy bacon, home-made onion rings and fried sage you can’t get any better! New taste sensation=liver+fried sage!

I’ve read a bit about calves liver now and if you’re thinking of going out and getting some, please ask your butcher if it’s continental or British. Continental is bad as the calves are kept in pretty nasty conditions. However that is outlawed in animal-loving England – even the RSPCA says it’s ok to eat British rose veal. There are a couple of companies that come up in a google search that appear reputable, so I might buy from them. Here and here. In fact I’ve already put together an order with the Alternative Meat company, oh yes! In my ignorance I didn’t ask the question at Kendells when I sat down to eat, but I’m crossing my fingers that it was Nice Veal.

Overall I would like to say a big Thank you to Kendells for introducing me to offally good delights and making me think further (after the eel debacle I should have known) about the provenance of the offal I’m eating!