Planning Ahead

Now I've gone back to work, I'm finding it diffcult to guarantee enough energy to cook properly in the evenings. Plus it's COLD, and we want the sort of food that takes ages and ages. And we're poor. So I've been cooking several stews or similar over the weekend, that can just be finished off and reheated. Today I've made:

  • red cabbage in red wine, with onions, bacon, goose dripping, thyme, bay and lots of pepper – to be finished with vacuum packed chestnuts and to eat with gammon steaks and baked potato if we're really hungry
  • beef braised with fresh ginger, star anise, slices of mandarin orange, lots of carrots, beef stock and sake

I've got something with celeriac and blue cheese in the pipeline, but that will have to be last minute. There's a curry sauce and veg waiting to be stir-fried with some chicken. Which makes four huge meals and puts me ahead of the game. In the past few weeks we've had:

  • goose legs cooked in fat with garlic and thyme in the slow-cooker, fished out and flashroasted
  • venison liver braised with bacon and lots of red onion in stock and redcurrant jelly
  • soft tortillas stuffed with beans, or veg, or chilli, coated with spicy tomato sauce, topped with cheese and baked
  • giant suet herb dumplings cooked in thin veg soup

The larger Christmas meats are beginning to show up now, especially in freezers, and I'm thinking about how to do those and then portion them up.

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The Fifth Quarter – an offal cookbook

I borrowed this from the library, hoping to find some recession-proof recipes. It's not brilliant for that, a bit too esoteric (Anissa Helou, the author, mentions her good friend Arabella Boxer which is a Big Clue, not to mention the foreword by Hugh Fearney-Wittingstall.). A lot of the offal is of academic interest as it's difficult to get, and many of the recipes are so ethnic they're virtually impossible. Brains and lamb tripe are not easy to find, but goose feet and abalone (at least one of which is endangered) are in the You're Just Avin A Larf category. As is Singapore Fish Head Curry. There were some good hints and tips buried in it though.

I had always thought of heart as a long-cooking casserole meat (although I've had cold smoked moose heart, which was gorgeous), but apparently lamb heart and liver make a good mix and can go on a bbq kebab or be grilled briefly. Lots of yummy Moroccan flavours.

You can hollow out a giant potato, bury a well-seasoned lamb kidney in it, and bake it. We're trying that one this week.

Kidney can feature in Chinese dishes, stir-fried and with a sweet and sour sauce. Liver salad with a Chinese sesame and garlic dressing.

There was also a recipe for Little Pots of Curried Kidneys which is basically a very mild extra-creamy curry sauce, with kidneys and onions fried in butter mixed in, topped with breadcrumbs and briefly flash-baked. Looks like a good breakfast, or starter, or lunch with kedgeree.

A Spanish recipe for pig's trotters simmered with onion, tomato, garlic, with added prunes and pine nuts, thickened with ground almonds and crushed biscuit. That would do for a belly pork or lamb breast as well, I would think.

It was an interesting book to read, difficult because there is a lot of text on darkly coloured pages. I wasn't sure whether the aim of it was to enthuse me or gross me out (tripe makes me heave at the best of times, but fish tripe?), but it's certainly given me a few ideas. I certainly wouldn't buy my own copy, though.

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Things to do with Goose

The Cuisine for December 1984 also had a retro-article on goose cookery, it's not worth writing out the recipes, they were fairly standard, but some of the ideas were a little bit different. And would do fine for duck too.

Liver – dredge with seasoned flour and cook in goose fat on a high heat, serving with a jammy sauce made with prunes soaked in Madeira, onions and tart apples, with a little marjoram at the end.

Casserole – with onions and mushrooms, finished off with double cream, french mustard and fresh parsley

Ragout with bacon, turnips, cloves, bay leaf – caramelising the turnips in goose fat and sugar before adding them

A very complex stuffing for goose, making a cornbread with crumbled Italian sausage in it, mixing that with dried orchard fruits and mushrooms. Served with chestnuts braised with celery and goose gravy until coated and caramelised, and honeyed yams. I wouldn't do all three of those, it would be far too sweet – and certainly I'd want a watercress salad on the side, or a raw cranberry relish, or something very tart and sharp.

 

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In Memoriam – Julia Child

The recipes that I use most are more for the winter – we have either her Chou Rouge a la Limousine (red cabbage braised with red wine, spices and chestnuts) or Endives a la Flamande (braised chicory) every week just about. But at some point this week we will have (not necessarily at the same meal !) Cotes de Porc Sauce Nenette (pork chops with mustard, cream and tomato sauce), Chou-Fleur Beurre au Citron (cauliflower with lemon butter sauce), and I have some halibut fillets which could use a Sauce Mousseline Sabayon. And some squid tubes I was planning to stuff and steam in a Coulis de Tomates a la Provencale (tomato sauce with fennel and orange peel among other good things). And the Foie de Veau Saute Sauce a l’Italienne recipe (calf liver with tomato, mushroom and ham sauce) will do very nicely for some chicken livers over pasta. If the weather does turning minging, I am also tempted by Laitues Braisees (braised lettuce) in place of salad. It means spending some time today preparing things, but it will be worth it. If you haven’t been pointed at it already in the last couple of days, I can do no better than send you to the Julie/Julia Project at http://blogs.salon.com/0001399/2002/08/25.html I am up to October 16 2002, and rationing myself to a month at a time.