Noffal

8 Nov

Noffal means Not Offal, which is a term I coined when I was shopping today. I posted last about losing my offal mojo, but trying to not make a big deal out of it. Some people were concerned that I was abandoning my project and had hunkered down to steakdom. Don’t worry. Let me alay your fears. I’m still not eating regular meat – but am probably now an ethical pescatarian (?) – what I mean by that is I will eat fish, but only ones classed as 1,2 or 3 on the Marine Conservation list. Tuna is out. Cod is out. Tilapia is IN LIKE FLYNN. I am also dipping my toe into tofu and its philosophy.

Tofucianism has been a concern of mine since I heard a BBC Radio 4 food programme that discussed the impact of soya on the world. It was bad. I had tofu guilt. Basically soya is produced in a lot of developing countries who cut down their natural resources (like rainforest) to make room for the soya. Most of the soya, however, does not go to Alpro (who say they use sustainable soya) but to make cheap animal feed – particularly for cattle. This concerns me because basically I don’t want to be the wanker at the farmer’s market asking producers if they feed their cattle soya. Minefield. But a very thought provoking programme, which you can still listen to here.

So, what was in my shopping basket today? (One Sunday paper always used to have a feature where they judged  the celebrity by their shopping basket – so judge me? Or informed opinions on what else I could be doing please)

I also bought some anchovies in oil. What keeps striking me in my use of the sustainable fish list is how you have to be really sure of the geographical area of where your fish come from. With anchovies, you should only have them from the Bay of Biscay, not from the Portugese coast or the north-east atlantic. Equally, the fishing method is important. If you search for salmon – sea caught salmon is a no-no, but organic open net farmed is a 1. (I am still learning about farmed fish, and understand that there are a lot of concerns, but bear with me as I am a beginner.)

Sausages are allowed. An initial straw poll asked the question and the answer was a majority YES, because of course traditionally sausages were where all the BITS were used up.

The other thing that has been inspiring my Noffaltarian flight of fancy is my weekly veg box. I may do one of those ‘look at my veg box posts’ in a bit, but at the moment, suffice to say, I like it. I always have veg now. No excuse.

So what other vegitarian/fruitarian/raw/vegan treats am I missing out on?

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All’s quiet on the offal front …

6 Nov

I think after ten months of being offaltarian, I’ve hit the offal wall. Some may say it was inevitable, or indeed that it should have happened in March, but there, I’ve said it: my offal mojo is deflated. I’ve bought soya spread instead of lard.

So, Offal – like Ross and Rachel – we’re on a break. I am the Ross and am going to get into bed with chickpeas and lentils and hot photocopier ladies for a while; you, Offal, are the Rachel and will be cross with me when I return to you – especially when I’m honest about the roast chicken I ate at my Mum’s the other week. It was sexxxy. But I thought of you the whole time …

I’m not making a big deal of it – all relationships have their peaks and troughs – and our relationships with food are the same. Food fads, celebrity diets, Hugh F-W’s new series, we all like to suddenly embrace the novel. After this year, brassicas feel a bit novel. I’m a bit in love with my veg box.

For a while I blamed being SUPER BUSY – working away, doing yet more job applications – I’ve too much of a headache, Offal – it’s not you it’s me …

I love Offal long time. We will get back together. We just need a little time right now … besides there’s well loads of game at the butcher:

YUM

YUM

GET IN MY

ETHICAL

TUM

Foodie Penpals the Eighth

31 Oct

People should blates know the FoodiePenpals drill now. If you don’t, or have been on Mars, then you sign up to send a treaty package to one plumptious personage, whilst receiving your own from another gorgeous giver.
Lovely! I sent mine to Juls of the blog GoodGobble – so if you want to know what I sent, have a look over there.

My parcel came from Ali, who doesn’t have a blog (I think), but she does Tweet @alimaley and sent a great parcel! What was inside?

And under the stuffing …

Loads of things. I had a STUFFED BOX. Obvs quantity isn’t everything, but it is nice to have lots of things sometimes. I live in the twenty-first century, therefore I consume!

So there was a lovely letter, explaining about all the things and why they were there. Clockwise from the top we have:

Pink Himalayan salt, Manuka honey, Voodoo raw chocolate, Heinz tomato soup, sun-dried tomato bruschetta, Guinness Nuts, Asian soup mix with seaweed, Pomegranate tea, a Shrewsbury, Harissa paste, cheddar oatcakes

I immediately had some pomegranate tea and a raw chocolate!

All the things were things I’d looked at, or already used, which was lovely. The pink sea salt I in fact sent tomy very first foodiepenpal. The other really exciting thing was the raw chocolate. I’m very interesting in trying to be healthy and embracing different ways of eating and raw principles are really interesting. Ali gave me lots of great advice about raw networks in Leeds too. Anyway, raw food isn’t heated above 38 degrees, so amazing things are done with dried fruit and unprocessed ingredients. Raw chocolate does have a different texture to Dairy Milk, but I think its delicious. At work we’re discussing making a raw Christmas cake for us to all share as all of us eats differently.

Thank you for a great parcel Ali, I’ve been enjoying it all month! You’re a raw chocolate genius!

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.

 

Tears of Christ and the Fifth Quarter

12 Oct

Last week, my beautiful life partner took me for a surprise dinner to Salvo’s Restaurant. Salvo’s is a restaurant that I wanted to go to since I moved to Leeds really – everyone said how amazing the food was and my friends who had been to Italy said how authentic it was too. This however, was no usual night at Salvo’s, but a night of offal feasting!

Needless to say, the food was amazing. Each course surpassed the previous one and there was a lovely chatty atmosphere. I got to eat some NEW OFFAL and got some lovely ideas to bring home to cook too. If a night like this is done again, I’ll definitely go, because it was totally delicious.

Our menu came with some historical notes:

This is one aspect of Roman cooking which derived from the practice of paying the slaughterhouse workers of Rome (the most modern slaughterhouses in Europe were found in the Testaccio distrct in the 19th century) with some of the less noble parts of the beast which were then often sold on to the local hostelries. The skills and knowledge of the Roman cooks created culinary masterpieces from the cheapest ingredients, refining ‘Cucina Povera’ or the cooking of the poor, to gastronomic heights.

And so to dinner*:

Sopressata alla Toscana

Typical ‘insaccato’ from Tuscany made with the tongue and other pig bits, served with mustard fruit

What an elegant way to begin an Offal Supper, the mustard fruits were like spicy glace fruits and the ‘insaccato’ was delicious.

Crostino Toscano

Roughly chopped chicken livers with anchovies, capers and white truffle oil on toast

Amazing. Anchovy and liver is awesome.

O muss’ e puorco sorpressata

Pressed pig’s head with red chilli and amalfi lemon, watercress salad.

Nasturtiums always get my vote, so I was sold even before tasting. Post devourment, this was my favourite dish. Citrus cutting through the pork, so very delicious. Tongue-tingling in the best possible way.

Zuppa di lenticchie con cetechino di Modena

Umbrian lentil soup with cotechino sausage. Originated in Modena and now traditionally served at Christmas, but borne out of hardship in the 15th century, the pigs rind is stuffed with minced lean and fat pork and cooked slowly.

Daz’s favourite. Served with some fresh shaved fennel to help cut through the richness.

Risotto con midollo di vitello

Risotto with veal bone marrow

New offal to me. Marrow in the risotto, as well as in the bone. Plus I loved delving in the bone with a teaspoon. (I couldn’t believe that the people near us didn’t eat theirs – I almost asked if I could have it, but felt I ought to be more decorous than that.)

Rognoni trifolati al senape

Lamb’s kidneys in grain mustard sauce with barone sourdough.

Yum. I ran out of things to mop the sauce up with. Again I restrained my gluttonous self from actually licking the plate.

Linguine con aglio, olio e animelle d’agnello

Pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli, served with lambs sweetbreads alla pizzaiola

At this point I was so excited by each course that I kept forgetting to snap a photo. It was better presented before I dived in. Alla pizzaiola is with tomatoes and capers according to the staff we asked. Capers appear to be an ingredient I’m not using enough of. Again, gorgeous.

Coda alla Vaccinara

Old Roman style oxtail with celery and pine nuts, enriched with bitter chocolate, pecorino mash.

Lovely. I would have never thought to serve a chunk of oxtail as a cut in its own right. Lovely sauce and the cheesiest mash ever.

Here I am eating the prickly pear fruit brought round to freshen all our palates before dessert. Gip (one of the owners I think) brought it round and explained that he imported it to sell, but ate most of the stock himself! I’d never tried it – I would say to me it was a bit like a cross of watermelon and carrot, but a little drier than that would sound. Daz (who hates fruit) manfully tried it, but it wasn’t his cup of tea. I’d go for it again.

Sanguinaccia

Pig’s blood and chocolate pot with chilli almond shortbread.

I was pretty excited to see this on the menu as it’s a pudding I’ve been meaning to make all year. Very tasty.

Thank you very much Salvo’s for making such a delicious dinner. I loved all the courses, the service was lovely and the atmosphere great. I was also really intrigued to see quite a mix of different people there too – offal is clearly a universal love! If you’ve not eaten there yet, GO, I don’t think anyone would be disappointed!

*Please note, my pictures were taken on my phone – for clearer, professional shots of the food, please go to the Salvo’s website.

Foodie Penpals the Seventh

7 Oct

Woah there. Seven months of Foodie Penpals … Wahooza! Seven months of getting ace parcels of deliciousness to my door? Wahoooooooooooooooo.
This month I was paired with two Sarahs. Sarah who I sent my parcel to runs a blog about lots of things, but one of the most important aspects is her candid discussion of mental health. You can read about how she found the package at her blog ‘Make-up and Mirtazapine’.

My parcel came from another Sarah, who has her own writing blog here. And once more, what a lovely parcel I got!

I did my usual ritual of saving it and then settling down with a cuppa and some cake, for the unpacking!

What would be inside my box of wonder?

All the amazing things! Sarah had clearly read through other posts and worked out what things I’m interested in and what sort of things I like. She set out by saying that she tried to theme it around Rosemary and sent some from her garden. Then there was some chilli vinegar, some parmesan biscuits, some chilli chocolate, a liquorice bar, some apple and elderflower tea, some rosemary cake and a pot of dukkah, which is a spice blend that you can add to everything! There was also some interesting infomation about rosemary and how it pairs really well with dark chocolate.

A great box of lovely new things to try and lovely homemade things to sample.

The dukkah was pretty exciting – I put it on top of some soup I made this week, which made it super tasty! The soup was a lentil, home-cured pancetta, chard and cavolonero soup. Or a veg box special in a less-pretentious tone.

The powder on top is the dukkah, which is a blend of sesame, almonds, hazelnuts, cumin, coriander, sugar and salt. I really like it. Other suggestions are to dip freshly baked bread into it and to sprinkle it over salads and cous cous. Another flavour of dukkah that the company does is pistachio and sumac, which I might try to re-create at home!

I’m sure I’m going to create some more delicious things from this great box of tricks too!

Thanks again for another lovely foodie penpal month, if you’re inclined to join in, please go over to the lovely RockSalt’s page and sign up.