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KFC

29 Jan

Dear Offallygood Friends,

I ate it. I had the most delicious chicken bucket EVER. It was very tasty.

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The wrapped packages are corn on the cobs! Obviously, the flash wasn’t on. Ooops!

Below: Obligatory GET IN FACE SHOT …

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In all seriousness, now that I’m back to eating meat. Like not feeling guilty about having lasagne with mince, or chicken thighs. I feel a bit bad. I’m pretty sure the cows that died for my Morrisons lasagne didn’t live a skippy-happy life. Don’t get me wrong – it is delicious, but the sour taste in my mouth comes from ethics. Perhaps Offfallygood has turned me vegetarian after all?

One idea I am nursing is to be vegetarian all week, then eat some well-chosen meat at the weekend. Maybe from a meat box that we freeze?

To me, I just don’t feel very happy with this carnivorous liberty I have now. I don’t want really to eat meat that I’m not confident in. I guess the legacy I have now is much more of a conscience about food. I started out to relieve my offal debt – and I have totally done that pound for pound – however I do feel much more a responsibility to make low-impact choices, to try and live increasingly respectfully and to try and offset decisions I feel are neccessary but bad.

I’m sure lots of people already live this way, but all this blog has ever been is a chronicle of journey. The offal year has closed. I’m looking forward to the future, but won’t need to share it as often. Yes I have a few drafts that I’ll be sending out and when I cook my penis, you’ll be the first to know, but for now this is a offally grateful, offally humble, AU REVOIR.

 

P.S. In case you’re worried – my vegetarian cooking is just as experimental as my offal cooking – tonight Triple* Celery and Walnut soup.

*celery, celery seeds and celeriac … I love celeriac

 

This and That

29 Nov

Please don’t think I’ve not been busy in the kitchen! I have, I promise, but the offal has been a bit of a slow burner lately. Health issues and a natural inclination to scale the offal feasting back, mean that mostly we’ve been eating a lot of vegetarian food. Yeah! If you know me personally, you could see that as a Bad Thing – mostly because of my epic curried parsnip in white sauce episode. Kind of gross.

Yet, lately I’ve not managed to curdle white sauce with a parsnip. I did make some AMAZING parsnip burgers:

That’s parsnip and fenugreek burger, on a layer of red pepper and walnut pesto what I did make too!

I’ve also learnt how to keep my kale perky:

That’s right – kept in a pint glass of water in the door of the fridge, it keeps for BARE TIME. You also get new tiny baby kales growing in the middle and they are just so cute. So cute.

And that Waitrose labels the fish that is sustainable that it sells! I felt same eating these fishcakes.

I would like all fishes to have this label. BUT it is confusing because I saw some cod with that label (aparently it was a very specific cod catching area and method) AND cod is meant to be almost an endangered species. I still won’t eat cod. I don’t think you should eat any endangered species, even if the bit of it you’re eating isn’t. That’s why I don’t like to eat tuna nowadays. Some tunas are worse off than pandas.

I also thought people might be interested in my CURRENT BEST INGREDIENTS. Only capitals will do. I have phases in my cooking. The blood phase. The lovage phase. The aromatherapy oils in cooking phase. Some of these are with me long time – neroli in the Christmas cakes as we speak. Others – like lovage – are waiting for Spring. The blood phase, well, I will make black pudding and I will make it soon. The point is these are my current favourite things and if you have the (mis)fortune to dine chez moi, these things will probably be in the dishes. Maybe all together, maybe separately, who knows? I’ll keep you guessing.

So there’s Herby Salt from Dilston Physic Garden, Fenugreek seeds which are apparently a cholesterol buster and Nomu dukkah which I got in FPP parcel. I know there’s a lot of talk about how salt isn’t healthy and YOU’RE RIGHT, but we do need salt for our bodies to work and I reckon having a bit of lovely delicious salt used in either the cooking or the condimenting bit, you’ll be OK. Don’t eat it by the spoon though. Personally I find it quite strange ‘using salt’ because I grew up cooking without it (aged grandparents) and it wasn’t until recently that I began. Now I’ve flavoured some of my own salts: lovage salt, juniper and orange salt, rosemary and lavender salt. All are good. I’m working on an ‘Asian’ salt currently! Fenugreek has a lovely gentle curry flavour. I also love how knobbly the seeds are, like potatoes for Borrowers. The dukkah is basically ground up nuts and spices and I can’t wait to start making my own when this is used up. You sprinkle it on whatever you want – soup, stew, vegetables, burgers, all the things. A word of warning though: if you put it on everything, all the time, don’t be surprised that everything tastes the same. It is pretty powerful stuff!

If you’re missing me talking about fresh and juicy offal. Don’t worry, the offal is rising and I’m defrosting an ear as we speak!

Ox Heart Carpaccio

17 Oct

When you need a quick lunch at work, why don’t more people take a chunk of offal and a lime?

A question indeed. With all the talk of ceviche and the explosion of sushi in popularity, why isn’t carpaccio and tartare more routine? I don’t the answer, but I thought I’d try an alternative lunch last week and have some ox heart carpaccio. Queue: one lump beef, a tupperware, things to marinade.

I took my chunk of ox heart (read about that here) to work, chopped it into a size I would call a morsel, then squeezed a lime over the top and shook a bit of green tabasco on top. This was my pack-up. The tabasco is still in my bag and has come in handy on more than one occassion since. Always be prepared. The idea was in my 15 minute break, to have a healthy snack of heart and an orange. Main and pudding.

Here is the heart, immediately after being prepared:

And look at the difference:

It REALLY does cook the meat. This particular lunchtime I had to go back on the shop floor, so it marinaded for a bit too long I think (20 mins) – I think 10 mins would have been better. BUT it was well delicious. I added some Beauty Oil to the carpaccio mix. It was delightful. Obviously I wouldn’t eat this every day, but I would recommend trying it.

Maybe days when you need some extra iron? Or if you had a steak, you could trim a bit of and use it like this. Summer food. Hearty food. *pun intended*

For me, it was an experiment that went well. Try it and see!

Oxheart Revisited

15 Oct

I bloody love Brideshead. So does my friend Lauren. And on the last hot day of summer, we were finally converted to the baroque.

By Brisdeshead, I obviously mean the 1981 BBC version. Nothing else will do. I’m not sure if its Jeremy ‘rubs-thighs’ Irons, or the Oxford connection, or the phrase “I’m sorry about your pig”, but together it is sublime. Castle Howard is really the star though – much more than Jezza, or even ole Gielgud.

The other excitement waiting for me at Castle Howard was the butchery there, where they claim to have a good range of offal. FYI they do. And the butchers are lovely! And I got a haul of black pudding, sausages and … an ox heart!

A breakfast of kings went down the following day. But I was most excited about the ox heart! From the estate. Imaginary Catholic-guilt-wine-tasting-idolent-summer-interwar-halcyon-days-heart. Hearts are big. I really wanted to treat the Bridey (the heart) nicely, so decided to treat Bridey as if the cut was a roasting one – but pot-roasting.

First you have to prepare your heart. Abattoirs slash all hearts to check that they are healthy, so it does sort of butterfly open already. Remove the bits of sinew.

Here I am pulling the sinewy heart strings out. Pulling on Bridey’s heart strings. (I wouldn’t actualy sigh over Bridey, but I like the sound/concept.)

Did you know you can put your fist through the blood vessel of a cow? I didn’t until I tried. That’s how big cows are. Massive.

They were a couple of other things I wanted to do with my heart, as well as roasting it, so I sliced a nice muscular part of it off, for a rainy day … you’ll see what I mean …

Next was time to cook my heart. I used the slow cooker. I mean, why wouldn’t you? A better term if you don’t have a slow cooker would be casseroled whole heart, I guess. The idea is to cook a whole heart and then serve it as if its a joint (practise for Christmas really).

What I did was to put the heart in the slow cooker, cover it with water (maybe only just, so a little sneaky bit of heart peeps above the surface) and then cooked it on high for 6 hours. You can see its lying on a bed of onions, carrots and swede. There’s also quite a lot of fresh rosemary tucked around. Snuggly. Turn it over half way through the cooking time.

 

Here I am, doing some carving. Heart makes lovely slices. If I ran a delicatessen counter, I would totally sell slices of cold heart. (Puns about that on a postcard – or the comments – please …)

As you can see, a lovely gravy is made by the veg and the meat together, nothing else added.

Check the grain of that meat out! And it was super tasty. And only a few ingredients. Simple, delicious snackage. The heart was fresh and tender and tasted beefy. BEEFY. But in quite a sophisticated way. I will definitely cook ox heart again. I think it is my favourite of all the hearts.

You can also use it cold in sandwiches. Here is my train baguette. Baguette de coeur de boeuf. Baguette de coeur de boeuf de la Castle ‘Oward.*

 

Castle Howard (*cough cough* Brideshead) suits me, doesn’t it?**

*Can you tell my French is less good than my German – Blutpfankuchen indeed!

** I just realised and stood in front of the sign that said son’t stand on the steps. Sorry. Don’t do that.

 

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.

Foodie Penpals the Third

31 May

So this was my third month of being a Foodie Penpal. I send a box. I receive a box. Said box is full of delicious things. Everyone is a winner. If you want to win like that too, then go and have a shufty at RockSalt’s Sign Up Page.

This month I was paired with Jess to send to and Rhian to receive from. You will be able to read all about what I sent Jess here. (I won’t give any secrets away, oh no!)

Rhian sent me a fantastic package that was pretty generous. So spoiled am I! Her internet presences can be found here, but really you should follow her twitter @rhiandaniel – there’s a lot of good goings-on there.

So Ta-DA:

Here you can see my lovely card with macaroons on at the top left, then clockwise: a packet of Zoo pasta (actually amazing – I can’t wait to eat through the jungle), some handmade cinnamon and coconut macaroons (more later), TWO BARS OF WELSH CHOCOLATE (one dark, one caramel), a recipe book all about iced things (more later toooooo) and finally a packet of Rooibos tea (just because I’d said I like the loose leaf stuff, fancy pants that I am). What a haul. I can’t think of a better advert for foodie penpals than this.

The pasta, I’m waiting to eat because I really want to share it with my partner’s 6 year old son – we’ll going to make a well amazing cheesey sauce to go with it. Lions love cheese. Just like Shaggy loves haslet.

The chocoalte was very delicious. I took the caramel one away with me to my course at Dilston Physic Garden and nommed it to keep my brain cells going on a massively busy couple of days. The dark is delicious, but I’m saving it to make some delicious something with – maybe dark chocolate fudge? Really nice chocolate deserves to be shown off.

The Rooibos tea, I will confess, had my heart fall a bit. Not because it wasn’t a really thoughtful and kind thing to send, but because I forgot to say I don’t really like the stuff on the times I’ve tried it. However, I’m not going to let my pre-conceptions rule my life like that. In fact this rooibos is pretty nice and has very little of that metallic aftertaste I associate with the tea. I think it’ll make a really nice iced tea (maybe the weather will hold enough for a nice jubilee/commonwealth iced tea).

The macaroons turned out to have several lives in them. A flagrant rebel, I put the tea and the macaroons in separate houses (consolidating at the moment) so couldn’t follow Rhian’s suggestion of having them together. Instead I put the macaroons in my handbag *intending* to eat them very soon. By the time they swam to the top of my handbag again, I thought “uh oh I am an ungrateful selfishperson”. Yet, the miracle of Rhian’s baking meant they were still pretty moist and flavorsome. So I apologise, but also thank you Rhian. I’ve enjoyed them in some different ways. One was to crunch one up and add it to my post-netball smoothie:I also crumbled another one on the top of my fudge flavoured ice-cream. Cinnamon and coconut both go well with fudge and ice-cream, so a macaroon of both was bound to be awesome. It was. I felt a bit of a culinary genius. You don’t need to be Nigella and make hot chocolate sauce on a whim. Just crumble a biscuit. (Though these macaroons were a lot more than biscuits.)

Then to the recipe book. I love books. I really love recipe books*. I really love cold things. I under-use my ice-cream maker. What a perfect choice. I’d said to Rhian that I’d enjoyed getting a recipe in my previous packages, so would like one if it was possible from her. A book full of them is indeed inspirational. Lots of ideas for fruity lollies, sorbets, granitas and a host of other iced things. The recipe that caught my eye the most was ‘Watermelon Granita’. It caught my eye because I’d just bought a watermelon from the market and when I got it home and cut it open, well, it had lost it’s bite, but wasn’t manky. Spongy watermelon isn’t what you want.

So I took inspiration from the recipe (I say that because I’ve left the recipe book at my other house and can’t remember it all).

What I did was use my juicer to juice the flesh of the watermelon. If you’re familiar with juicers, you have a pulp compartment and the jug comes out a spout into a jug. After the juicing of my medium sized watermelon, I noticed that the pulp part clearly had a lot of juice in it too. I scooped the pulp into the middle of a clean tea towel and squeezed the rest of the juice out. I think I probably had close to 2 pints of juice.

Then I heated 200ml of water with 150g caster sugar until the sugar was all dissolved. I let this cool down while I grated the zest of a lime to the watermelon and then added the juice of that same lime. The sugar syrup was cool by now, so I swished it in with my watermelon/lime juice. Then I plugged my ice cream maker in and churned it til it was like a slushy that you get at the cinema.

Here my watermelon syrup is churning silkily. I am aware that it sounds like I have all of the kitchen kit. To be fair I do. If you don’t, you can I am sure get the same result by mashing the watermelon and squeezing it all through a tea-towel. The to freeze, put it in a tupperware and keep taking it out and stirring it with a fork. Granita is I think meant to be a bit chunky, a bit crystalline.

I had to try some and it was GOOD. Much more limey than I had anticipated. I don’t think I need to buy a brightly coloured Slush Puppy again. I even caught the last of the sun in the garden. And inspiration struck once more:

I hope growing watermelon seeds inside a watermelon isn’t some sort of fruitarian cannibalism. I do think its a natural plant pot. Maybe even looks a bit stylish? Eat your heart out Chelsea, Beeston is where the cutting-edge gardening is happening. Just you wait til you see my entirely imagainary rockery.

With my muses flowing, I began to make another iced thing. This time a ‘Chilli and Lime Sorbet’, but I had to go to work, so the syrup is growing some muscles in our fridge to be churned tomorrow:

That is some sugar, some lime, some chilli and some honey, waiting to be churned with more lime juice. Tingly tastebud ahoy!

To close, thank you very much for my package Rhian. Little did I know when I opened it that I would be led to ruminations over cannibal watermelons. I did know (pretty much as soon as I saw Rhian’s name on the list) that she’d send a lovely thoughtful parcel, and she totally came up trumps.

Thanks Rhian, Thanks RockSalt.

Keep offalling!

*If you’d like to participate in a cookbook swap – go to SoupTuesday!

Hybrid Chocolate Chip Cookies

29 May

A while ago it was the Snooker World Championship. Me and the Glorious Gentleman both well love the snooks. He has a blog and its joys. While we were watching the snooks, on the bank holiday weekend, a terrible thing occurred. We ran out of snacks. We also were low on ingredients. And biscuits were NECESSARY. Neither of us could leave the coverage. Uh oh.

Obviously I cook a lot of meat. I have also been known to bake. A few years ago I got a bit obsessed with cupcakes and tried to bake my way through cupcake recipe book I’d been given. I got about a fifth of the way through and then ran out of mileage. However the above dilemma could only really be solved by putting my baking gloves on again and making some biscuits.

I’d read a while ago on twitter a recipe link to hazelnut butter chocolate chip cookies. But I lost the link*. Anyway, the point is I went off to find abother recipe. I found one. I converted the measurements. I measured my butter. Too little. Too little for even a half batch. Uh oh. Then through the power of the internet I found a recipe for butterless ones with olive oil. Ha! says my over-educated brain. I will combine the two. Other hybridisation factors came into play – such as no chocolate chips? Just use Easter Egg!

Here is a Hybrid Chocolate Cookie Recipe. Feel free to free-style with it. It could be an either/or recipe substituting butter or oil. There’s no brown sugar involved! Versatile!

The recipe doesn’t make those melt-all-flat cookies but does make those chunky New England (?) ones.

The recipes that I combined are from here and here. Both blogs are well worth a peruse, so head over. Especially the second, which is based in New Zealand. I liked the recipe for Anzac biscuits there.

Look, you can see Ronnie in the picture.

Ingredients:

  • Flour – 500g/ 2 quarter cups
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • Sugar – 250g/1 cup
  • Fat: oil quarter cup; butter 1 and quarter cups; if using mix go to third of a cup/100g ratio doesn’t appear to matter
  • Liquid sugar: honey, golden syrup, maple syrup, jam –¬† 2 tbsp. Don’t have any – either leave out or up the granulated sugar.
  • Chocolate – as much as you like! I quartered half a pack of Rolos and broke a 100g easter egg up. Other recipes say 1 ounce.

So cream together the fat and the sugar and the liquid sugar form/s. Add the eggs and mix in. Add the chocolate and mix. Sieve the flour and the baking powder in and mix. If it looks a little dry (to my judgement if it doesn’t have the consistency of the dough in Cookie Dough ice cream) then add a teaspoon or two of milk or water.

Roll them into little balls and then flatten them between your hands, so they are still quite thick. They don’t really melt down very much so that will be the thickness of your biscuit.Put on a greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven at just above gas mark 4 or 190 degrees C.

The point I’m really wanting to get across is to be brave in your baking and cooking and, especially if you have the internet on hand, nothing is a disaster!

It got me thinking as to whether you could make a recipe table/spreadsheet that had axes where you could calculate your recipe according to what you have in the cupboard? Has that been done? Is it crazy talk?

*I have now found it through google. I am quite rubbish at the internet sometimes. I really want to make some ones with all the nut butters and nut oils. New ambition!