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Casual Testicle Curry Turned Indian Feast

22 Aug

The Indian Feast part will be focussed on here. The Casual Testicle Curry you will find over at Juls’ blog PepperandSherry. Juls has been a really supportive reader of here and offered lots of encouragement. She also gets a prize for being the first person to ask me write a Guest Post. I am also available for weddings and bar mitzvahs! So if you go over and read my guest post, I hope it doesn’t reflect too badly on Juls’ wonderful blog. Btw she blates loves the offal too.

To start with, I continued my ear obsession and made Sticky Tamarind Pig’s Ear Salad. This was made in pretty the same way as the rest of my pig’s ear salads, but I marinated the ears in tamarind, lime juice, chilli and garlic paste.

Then obvs, we had testicle curry. I invented my new method of de-sacking a testicle using scissors. I’m very proud of it. You can read the whole recipe for the testicle curry over at PepperandSherry (my first Guest Post), but to go with it I made some black cardoman chick peas, some celery seed flatbread and some raita!

All three extras were really simple to make.

The chickpeas were simply one onion chopped and fried, with a can of chickpeas, a can of tomatoes and four black cardoman pods added, then simmered for one hour.

The raita is really a sort of cucumber salad. You mix some white malt vinegar with a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt, then mix them all togerther.

The celery bread comes from ‘Cook, Brew and Blend’ which is a great volume from the old Yard. It mixes a materia medica of herbs with advice for different organ systems, lifestyles, tips on using herbs, tips on making your own products and lots more. I love it. You can buy it here. The flatbread was very simple and went along the lines of add celery seeds to flour, with a bit of water, mix, then roll flat, then griddle on each side.

Then for dessert we had some chilli and lime sorbet that I made a while ago after a FoodiePenpals package. Nowadays I’m the sort of person who just has the perfect dessert in the freezer.

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Pig Kidney Stroganoff

30 Jul

Ve vere just expecting you Mr Bond ….

I’m not sure what puts a connection between James Bond, things that sound vaguely Russian and dodgy eastern European accents, but there you go. This can only be eaten and discussed if you use a comedy voice. Have you got your Xenia Onatopp voice in your head now? “Vot shall ve do viz zese pigz kiduhneyz?”

In all seriousness, I was super lucky at the Kirkstall Deli Market on Saturday.* I snuck in just before everyone packed up due to the pouring rain. My mission was to get some black pudding from the Blue Pig Company. I had some a few weeks ago on a romantic weekend away at the Craven Arms where they use it in their menu and it is well delicious! I then had a trawl around the other stalls, picking up some lovely tea and chatting to the venison man (they’d sold out of liver and kidneys) and the buffalo people (they didn’t have any offal). I did however, end up back at the Blue Pig stall, investing in some pork and apple sausages. I then spied some kidney at the back of the stand. Hiding. Sneakily hiding. To cut a long story, the kind stall owners gave me the two pig kidneys for free! Altruism at its best!

Normally when I cook kidney, I get kidney from the market. As it is a filtration organ, it does worry me slightly that these kidneys are not organic, so probably have residues from feed supplements and other animal things I don’t really know about! Pig and beef kidney are meant to be the kidniest tasting of them, so I was looking forward to experimenting with these lovely free range kidneys (but free range doesn’t necessarily mean organic, will have to investigate)!

Kidney stroganoff was a suggestion that my godmother made when I began this journey. She makes it quite often and loves it.

The recipe I based mine on was from good old Delia. I did make some changes though …

Take:

2 pork kidneys, 1 sliced onion, 2 oz butter, 8oz mushrooms (I like chestnut ones), 150ml soured cream, 1 tablespoon paprika, salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, cook the onion gently for ten minutes, add the mushrooms and cook for a further ten minutes. Prepare the kidney by de-coring and slicing. Turn the heat up under the pan and add the kidney, brown it all over. Next turn the heat down and add the paprika and the sour cream and simmer for five minutes.

We had ours with some kale and some brown rice. I’d recommend giving pig kidney a go. Especially if you’re going to pair it with nice robust flavours. A subtle blend of herbs wouldn’t stand up to it, but punchy paprika and black pepper both do the job well.

I pretended I was a secret agent eating hearty food in an Eastern Bloc country. James Bond would be proud.

*The Saturday I’m talking about was in May possibly … a little while ago certainly.

Pig’s Ear Popcorn

29 Jul

So my current obsession with all things auricular means an infinite variety to my creations. As you might have noticed I also tend to be all over a food or ingredient for a few weeks and it’s all I want to use/eat. Lately I’ve been experimenting with making popcorn at home. An excellent mix to go on your popped corn is paprika, salt, sugar and dark chocolate.

But what would happen is crispy pig’s ears and popcorn got cooked together to make a delicious snack?

Offal snacks have been on my mind, as there are few offally bits that you can just pick up and run with. Scratching are one. I’m not sure about biltong. Gone are the days however, where my afternoon snack could be a couple of slices of ham. Oh dear. What to do? Tongue is an option, but what else could be out there?

Cue my patented pig’s ear popcorn! Similar to creating crispy pig’s ears, instead of a frying pan, use a saucepan. Fry the ears in hot oil for five minutes, then add your popping corn. Wait til it’s all popped and then shake through your salt, sugar, paprika, or whatever flavouring you’re balling with currently! I like some fennel and cumin seeds thrown in with the popping corn.

I made some to take on a long car journey with me and below is the picture of the remnants, because they were SO BLOODY DELICIOUS I snacked down on them all and forgot to take a good picture.

I used salt, sugar and paprika to shake on, leaving out the dark chocolate … chocolate and pork didn’t seem quite the perfect combination.

Next time you’ve got some pig’s ears lying around your fridge have a go! Or just pop some corn, it’s bloody great!

Crispy Auricular Salad

15 Jul

How delicious does a Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad sound? I know. Incredibly delicious.

You may remember that I postulated that my off the cuff whim of buying pig’s ears might result in a pig’s ear carbonara from the Foodie Penpals Recipe … well, Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad is not that. Mostly because I kept coming across people saying how good crispy pig’s ears are. (You know who you are, Brian.)

You do need to prepare your ears first. Shave the hairs off (Bic razors are a good tool) and then scrub all the crevices (a toothbrush is another good tool) to remove any dirt/wax. It’s not as gross as it sounds. I did it when I roasted Arthur.

Then you need to poach your ears in a delicious stock. Since they are made up of skin, cartilage, tiny bits of meat and other thin tissues, there isn’t a huge amount of flavour there already, but they do carry the stock flavours on.

Here the ears are in their poaching liquid. I poached them for two hours until the skin was just beginning to come away. I added a bay leaf, a bouquet garni and a fresh lovage leaf (bobbing in the middle of the picture). When you fish the ears out, don’t through the stock away. The stock is awesome.* In fact if I was to make pork stock again I’d probably just use ears.

Then you need to press them. I put them on a plate, with another plate on top, and then a few bottles of beer top of that in the fridge overnight.

Now they are ready for you to make creations with. For a crispy pig’s ear salad, you need to slice the ear into long strips, that you then toss in corn flour and fry. I got most of my instructions from After Hours with Iggy – go check an awesome food blog!

That is the cross-section of a pig’s ear. Informative. Biological. Interesting. The white line is the cartilage and the pinkier bit at the bottom is some meat. Don’t worry about the cartilage being too tough. The poaching and then the frying makes it tasty nice! So cut as many fine slices as you want to eat. Then toss them in corn flour (for extra crispness – it makes a big difference to the taste). Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan (or if you have a deep fat fryer use that) and fry them until they are pretty crispy.

Sizzling in the pan! I used olive oil so they take about 4 mins on a high heat to get to the Crispy Factor. If you use sunflower oil that gets hotter, so it will probably take less time. Just watch as you toss.

While these were frying I made my vinaigrette. I’ve been experimenting with herbal vinegars (yes, I do live in 1992) and am currently enjoying strawberry vinegar (thyme and honeysuckle are also on the go). If I’m making dressing for one I use my indispensable tiny Tiptree jam jar. So I added one-third strawberry vinegar, two thirds Beauty Oil, a squeeze of lime and some chilli flakes. Then I shook my tiny jar. Presto! Dressing! Pronto!

The rest is history. Put the ears on kitchen towel to drain. Add leaves, ears and dressing to a bowl and enjoy.

I love pig’s ears. There will be more pig’s ears posts coming soon. Auricular pickles anyone?

* We used the stock to make an aromatic risotto of just onion, rice, orange zest, a teaspoon of dried mugwort and this stock. IT WAS SO GOOD.

Rendering your own lard (and my Lardy Oatcakes)

21 May

Really this should have been part of all my nosetotailings, but for reasons of space and time, I didn’t manage to use the lard until it was over. Yes, the suspense is lifted, I did manage to render some of my own lard. Nigella, eat your pancreas out!

The principle behind rendering your own animal fat into usuable storable fat is quite simply. The thing that makes natural fat go off is the cell tissue and membranes, if you melt it enough the fat will spearate from them and you can size them away. However it is a slow process, and I would do a couple of things differently. Also I’m not sure I’d have done it if I hadn’t had a slow cooker. (You must be converted to my slow cooker by now.)

There are two types of rendering of lard: wet and dry. Dry rendering you very gently over a long time heat the fat on its own until the cells and tissue break down which then forms a crusty surface. Wet rendering you again heat it long and slow, but with the addition of water, which stops the fat from burning. As we all know, fat and water don’t mix so well, so you can just pour the water off.

WARNING. I have no idea about weights and measurements as I used the fat I got off the head of Arthur after we’d feasted on him. There will be a lot of ‘some’s. If you google ‘Rendering your own lard’ there are a lot more precise recipes than mine (for example here and here).

So basically:

  1. Chop you fat very small.
  2. Add it to a slow cooker.
  3. Cover this with water (fat floats, make sure it’s all floating).
  4. Put the lid on.
  5. Switch the low and cook for 4 days. (I forgot to tell my boyfriend to turn it off whilst I was away for a night.) Keep it topped up with water.

When you top it up with water, it will bubble in an alarming fashion. Watch this if you don’t believe me:

When you think it’s melted enough, strain it all through a tea towel (or muslin) into a bowl. Let it cool, then tip the water that will have gathered underneath away. You will now have some lard in a bowl. It’s that simple.

What would I do differently next time? Two things. First I would freeze the fat and then use a grater to make the pieces really small, thus cutting the rendering time. Second, I’m not sure I needed to heat it for 4 days. I think that was excessive, so I would monitor that more carefully next time.

So what do you do with the lard that you have rendered? Well, there’s lots of things – you can use instead of butter or oil in anything. It’s meant to make amazing pastry. It’s a mono-saturated fat, apparently, which is the same as avocado oil, so it’s healthier than the term LARD now suggests. As you may have guessed, what I did do was make my own oatcakes with it. One, I bloody love oatcakes. Two, I thought they’d be a good vehicle for ‘tasting the lard’. (I was also quite proud and wanted the send my foodie penpal something lardy, but wasn’t sure if a jar of lard would be a welcome gift in the post.)

So. Lucy’s Oatcakes. Oatcakes a la Lucy. Das Lutzykuchen!

You need:

150ml water, 8oz medium oatmeal, quarter tsp baking powder, quarter tsp salt, 1 generous tbsp of lard (or butter, or oil), 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp black mustard seeds.

What you do:

Put the water in a small pan and add the lard to it, heat until lard is melted.

Put the oatmeal and seasonings in a bowl, mix them together.

Add the water/lard mixture and mix it all up til you have a firm ball.

Roll this out with a rolling pin on a floured surface, then cut it into bits, or for little mouth-sized morsels, use a cookie cutter.

Put on a greased baking sheet and bake at Gas Mark 4 for twenty minutes, turning them over half way through.

Cool and feast yourself on the Lutzykuchen!

Magen Sie Lutzykuchen? Moechten Sie Lutzykuchen essen? Lutzykuchen schmecht mir gut!*

This introduces something *almost* not offal to the blog – is that a good idea?

(I lost the photos I took, so stole this one off my lovely foodie penpal. It is much better than any I could have taken.)

*I apologise to anyone German, sincerely. Mein Deutsch ist gefahrlich!

Lung Soup – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 12

14 May

Lungs.

Also called lights.

They’re not a commonly heard offal I hear you cry. I don’t think Lucy has even cooked with them. (I have, FYI, in my forthcoming haggis post.) Who would want to eat a lung? There’s probably a reason we don’t eat them.

Well, I’ll have you know that lungs are described by many as tofu-like, or mushroomy. Does that make it sound better?

There are a couple of recipes for lung soup that are around. I’ve read a few online and I’ve read Jennifer McLagan’s in ‘Odd Bits’. If there’s one in the Fith Quarter, then I’ve read that too. So I did all the reading and preparation. Then I freestyled. That’s quite typical. Generally I’m either a recipNazi, or I say “It’ll be fine, we’ll just make it up, food is food” and so on. With the latter there is always a risk. (The blood episode sticks out.)

Why don’t we eat lungs? They are cheap – £1 for a pair – they only come in pairs. I know there are some issues surrounding supply. When I made the haggis I had to telephone EVERY BUTCHER in Leeds to get hold of them. But they were lamb’s lungs. The ones you can get at Leeds market are pig’s. I’ve noticed with the nosetotail malarky that pork offal seems to be the easiest to get hold of. Do you find that true?

Anyway, back to the lungs.

I soaked my lungs in repeated fresh bowls of cold water for about an hour. This gets excess blood to come out. They feel spongy.

Perhaps not the most appetising looking of meats. They look pale because I took this picture after quite a lot of the blood had come out.

My lungs came with windpipe attached. I did a naughty thing and threw it away. Mostly because I was very tired and simmering a windpipe for small amount of stock didn’t appeal. Bad offaltarian.I then decided I was only going to use one lung today, so put the other in the freezer.

Then I got involved with my hands. There’s a membrane surrounding the lungs that is easy to peel off with your fingers. I’m not sure if you have to do that or not, but it was hampering my chopping, so I took it away.

If you’ve done GCSE Biology, you’ll know that lungs are full of tubes. Branchioles? Some of these are soft enough to eat, but if they look a bit bit or a bit tough, chop round them. Bearing in mind that the biggest ones are where the windpipe joins the lungs, I started my morsel chopping from the bottom of the lung. I found scissors easier to use than a knife.

So snip, snip, snip. I was quite tired when I was doing this, so I forgot to take any photos. SOZBAD. If you’re interested, get in touch and I talk you through my lung scissoring technique. You end up with a pile of tubes (for the bin, or stockpot, or hound) and a pile of lung tissue.

Then I sliced 1 leek and chopped 1 onion and fried them together gently in a pan. I added 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp oregano, quarter tsp suma spice, quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon. Stir it all around. Then add the lung bits. They cook really fast.

You can see the darker bits are the lung morsels, a couple are still a bit pink, so you can see how they change.

Then add 1 can chopped tomatoes and an equal amount of pork stock. I, of course, used my head stock. You could use any. Even chicken. Or vegetable. The simmer for about twenty minutes. The soup is quite a chunky one. Don’t blitz it.

And there you have it. An unusual soup.

What I realised whilst I was eating it, was that lung is totally in my all time favourite soup – Baxters’ Royal Game. If you’ve not had it. Do. it’s amazing. All through my life it’s been my poorly soup and it is DELICIOUS.

There’s even a stag on the front. So it must be amazing. That’s if you follow the wine rule, where the bottle with the cutest animal on is definitely the most delicious.

Sausages – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 11

11 May

The end of the week is always super busy. On Thursday I played netball until ten o clock. When I got home I realised I’d not had any dinner. What to eat?

Sausages!

Well one sausage. The lonesome sausage. In the freezer. Shivering for some love. I ate him with a fried egg.

Sausages were originally designed to use up all the offally parts. I’m pretty sure a lot still do, so that’s why I’m eating them. The posher ones I buy, I’m sure have never seen an organ, but it’s a difficult question to ask.

One day I will make my own sausages.

Then I will rule the world.