February 28, 2009

Filed under: Northwest European, Light, Offal — ros @ 1:21 pm

I need to do more storecupbioard based cooking. The results never fail to please and it’s always a good feeling to know you’re saving money. I guess I do it less than I used to because I’m spoiled by the area in which I live. Everything’s available within a five minute walk unless, of course, it’s Sunday.

Last Sunday I wandered into Waitrose on my way home and found a pack of duck liver in the bargain bin. At £1.30, I couldn’t say no. Although I’d never cooked duck liver before, I thought it fair to assume it tasted similar to chicken liver and that’s the basis I worked on when I made this.

duck liver, apple and black pudding salad

Lurking in my fridge was a bunch of parsley and a bag of rocket which, combined with some walnuts from the storecupboard and a chopped granny smith apple made a nice tart accompanimnet to the livers. I dressed this salad with extra virgin olive oil mixed with a little apple juice and brown sugar and then served it on a bed of black pudding. The potatoes were just thickly sliced and roasted until golden brown in duck fat (from the last time I had duck). The livers were simply seared until just browned on the outside.

And that was it really. No need for a recipe with something so simple, and I doubt I could remember quantities anyway. The duck livers were, as I thought, similar to chicken livers but more rich with a great texture. At that price they’re a much better choice than calf liver.

December 31, 2008

Filed under: Northwest European, Reared red meat, Offal, Unusual meat — ros @ 12:55 pm

after several months of not being able to properly access your blog. When I finally opened up my admin page after goodness knows how long, I was pleased and slightly suprised to find some people had linked to me. Of course I was less pleased when I found they’d just been hotlinking my photos. Chuh! :roll:  

Then there were the forty or fifty comments largly made up by spam. Having been there when my spam filter was designed, I know that this spam isn’t made by spam robots as it used to be. There are apparently now many hundreds of trained spam monkeys trawling the internet and leaving badly disguised links to their websites, masqueraduing as gushingly complementary comments.  

Anyay, yes, hello, I’m back, at least temporarily. I still don’t have a real computer. Just a laptop with a screen I can barely read and no keyboard. Thank God the boredom of the Christmas holidays has finally forced me into typing on a barely functioning USB device to update this poor, neglected website. So now I can tell you about my recipe for sheep.

No, of course I couldn’t eat a whole one. Not in one go anyway. But this dish includes a fair number of sheep consituents.

sheep dish with offal

Towards the end of August, I went to the Covent Garden Night Market specifically to see Fergus Hendrson perform on their stage kitchen. Softly spoken and slightly awkward in front of the large audience, he was a far cry from what you’d expect from a ‘celebrity chef’, yet he conveyed his passion for good cooking and ingredients better than any popular household name. Two things in particular stick in my mind. The first is his assertion that recipes are merely guides, not rules, for a genuinely good cook. The second is what I have come to hold high in my list of cooking commandments:

Love Thy Butcher

According to Henderson, if you find a butcher worthy of your custom and let them know how much you love them, you can expect great things. In his case, he got pig trotters. I was after sonething slightly different.

I was expecting a negative reaction clutching my short but unusual shopping list but the gentlemen at H G Walters barely batted an eyelid when I handed them the piece of paper. One veal kidney, some lamb sweetbreads and two lamb tongues would apparently be no problem.The two latter ingredients were destined for a recipe that held my fascination for some time: lamb rack with sauteed tongue and sweetbreads.

The original recipe, from the first series of ‘The Great British Menu,’ had obviously been created in the summer and required fresh broadbeans and samphire. I made do with defrosted peas but otherwise the ideas are largely unchanged. 

Sheep Feast (Rack of Lamb with sauteed tongue, sweetbreads and peas)

For Two People

  • 1 large rack of lamb (wih about 6 rib bones in)
  • 2 lamb tongues
  • 350g lamb sweetbreads
  • 2 handfuls of peas, fresh or defrosted
  • 200ml fresh lamb stock
  • unsalted butter- around 30g
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley to garnish
  1. Prepare the sweetbreads: If they’re frozen, allow them to defrost. My butchers say that if you’re short on time, let them sit it some warm water to speed this up. Then soak them in cold water in the fridge for two hours.
  2. Drain the sweetbreads. Bring a pa of water to the boil. Drop in the sweetbreads, bring back to the boil. Drain immediately and refresh in cold water. When they’re cool, peel off the tough outer membrane, then pop them in the fridge until ready to cook.
  3. Prepare the tongues: Place in cold water and brinng to the boil. Simmer until tender (around 1 hour 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the cooking liquid.
  4. Roast the rack of lamb as you norally would. I brushed mine with olive oil, seasoned and roasted it in a preheated oven at gas mark 6 for15 minutes This gave me pleasantly rare meat. Wrap in foil and leave to rest.
  5. While the lamb is roasting/resting, cook the peas in boiling water then drain.
  6. Pat the sweetbreads dry and dust them with the seasoned flour. Heat half the butter in a frying pan and when it is foaming add the swweetbreads and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  7. Drain the tongues and cut in half. Sautee on both sides auntil golden brown.
  8. Add the sweetbreads, stock and peas to the pan Simmer together for a few minutes.
  9. Cut the lamb rack into cutlets and serve with the peas and sweetbread mixture. Garnish with parsely. Minted new potatoes made a good accompaniment to this.


All in all a good recipe. The slighly diappointing thing for me is that the sweetbreads weret te crispy type I’ve had before. Perhaps that is easier to achieve with calf sweetbrads. Still, the flavour was good and I imagine that if I’d had a chance to get my hands on some samphire, it would have been even better. Incidentally, lamb sweetbreads are CHEAP. Excellent value for money if you have a good butcher that can order them for you. The most expensive part of this meal was the lamb rack but, given the quality it was well worth it. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

August 28, 2008

Filed under: Northwest European, Offal — ros @ 12:36 pm

The internet is a funny place isn’t it? For a start, it isn’t really a place at all, although it does feel like one: a seperate world where people can quietly have a look into other people’s lives (yes, serial lurkers, I still know you’re there ;) ). It’s a place where one can anonymously irritate and insult perfect strangers all day without getting punched in the face and, on a chatroom somewhere, a lonely guy in his mid forties can start a loving relationship with a beautiful girl in New York without knowing that in reality she’s a fat hairy man from Newcastle.

I’ve heard some people say that one day the internet will be the world’s single source of information and will eliminate the need for books and television. Personally, I hope this doesn’t happen. I’m no stickler for tradition but I think there is one big problem with the net at the moment: search engines. Search engines were designed to be intelligent, but they are, for now, very, very stupid indeed. To demonstrate what I mean, let’s try a little experiment. Open a new tab on your browser (or a whole new browser window if you’re the type to have a messy desktop) and go to www.google.co.uk. Now, search for ‘how to cook couscous’.

Obviously Google, the biggest and most important search engine in the universe, is designed to bring you the best and most useful results for your query. Look down to the bottom of the page (possibly the top of the second page) and you should see a link starting ‘Andy Millar….’

That’s right, in Google’s opinion, one of the world experts on cooking couscous is Goon. The man who the other day served up crunchy pasta in a carbonara, the man who asked me if chocolate truffles were dug up by pigs in France, the man who I recently caught trying to drink sherry soaked raisins straight from a mug, is one of Google’s top choices for advice on cooking this particular carbohydrate.

Needless to say, Goon has never cooked couscous by himself. It is very, very dangerous to trust Google’s recipe choices.

Of course, in reality, I love the internet. Over the last week when my access was limited, I felt like I was going slightly mad. Google is the one of the things I use the most, both for searching and for advertising on my site. However, on occasions it does frustrate me. There are days, when I have a bit of comment abuse from the internuts and I wonder why they have decided to attack me so suddenly. Generally it turns out that Google has put me top of an image search for cute fluffy bunnies and I bet you can guess which posts it links to.

Then there are the occasions where Google does send people with relevant queries to my site but directs them to the wrong place. If you search for beef mince recipes (as a ludicrous number of people appear to do), my blog’s first appearance will direct you to the archive for September 2006, which is totally useless. I do have a page somewhere with beef mince recipes but that obviously isn’t relevant.

Now, one of Google’s favourite pages on my blog appears to be the recipe for devilled kidneys. It was an old page, from before the great hard drive crash of Summer 2006. The picture was gone, the recipe was vague. However it was Google’s 5th hit. I was embarrassed, so I decided to spruce it up and, to make sure that Google doesn’t start sending people to the August 2008 page instead of to the right place, I’m giving it a Google boost.

So, Google spiders, are you watching? This is the recipe for devilled kidneys. That’s right, a devilled kidney recipe. In fact it is a lamb kidney recipe too.  You may wish to call it a deviled kidney recipe  or a recipe for deviled kidneys.

I think that should do it. :) I’m afraid you have to click on one of the links to see the devilled kidney recipe. You’ll see why.

April 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, Northwest European, Offal — ros @ 10:31 am

Calf liver is my treat for when Goon is away. It’s an automatic reaction now. If Goon is going away to work on his business or visit his parents, I head straight into Borough Market, find my way to the Ginger Pig and buy myself the nicest bit of veal liver they have. You see Goon isn’t a big liver fan. He can cope with chicken livers providing I soak them in enough cream and alcohol, but he hates lamb liver and is ambivalent about calf liver.

At £25 per kilo, ambivalent isn’t allowed!

So calf liver is reserved for the days when I have the flat to myself. My problem is I always buy the liver without knowing what to do with it. Last weekend I was after a change from the usual creamy marsala sauce but the internet was providing little inspiration. In fact, the recipe websites seem alost saturated with straightforward liver, bacon and onion recipes. That’s not quite what I wanted for my treat!

Eventually an idea came from an old BBC recipe. A liver, bacon and onion recipe by Gary Rhodes involves serving liver with melting onions with marmalade. A bit of musing led to the recipe below. Unfortunately, due to the great Islington juniper shortage that hit last weekend, I didn’t sprinkle my calf liver in finely ground juniper as intended. Instead, I dusted it with 1 juniper berry I had left, after giving it a good soak in gin.

Then I gave my own liver a good soak in gin. Happy times. :)   

Calf Liver with Juniper, Caramelised Apples, Maple Cure Bacon and Tangy Apple Onions

posh liver bacon onions

  • 200g calf liver
  • around 8 juniper berries, finely crushed
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 6 pieces
  • around a level tablespoon of honey
  • around 30g-40g butter
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 rashers maple cure bacon
  • half a small onion, sliced
  • a tablespoon of apple sauce
  • a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar and sugar to taste 
  • half a glass of fruity red wine


Sprinkle the liver with finely crushed juniper berries and press them in properly (or soak it in gin!). I suggest the calf liver is  cooked to pink in the middle. For the liver you see in the picture, that involved dry frying for approimately 30 seconds on each side and resting for 5 minutes wrapped in foil.

Melt 3/4 of the butter over a low heat in a small saucepan and stir in the honey. Add the rosemary sprigs and allow to infue for a minute or two. Add the apple slices, sir to coat in the butter. Turn the heat up slighty so the apples caramelise. They should be golden brown on the outside, but firm. Discard the rosemary sprigs before serving.

The bacon was grilled until crisp. Easy

And for the onions, the only involved part of the meal, soften them in the rest of the butter until golden brown, add half a glass of red wine, allow to bubble down until almost completely evaporated then stir in a tablespoon of apple sauce. Add balsamic vinegar to taste- this will depend very much on how sweet/tart your apple sauce was. Calf liver has a delicate flavour compared to, for example, lamb liver, so you don’t want the onion to be overwhelmingly tart, just slightly tangy. I doubt you’ll need to add sugar but it is probably worth having some on hand just in case.

I served this with some simple buttered wilted spinach but spiced braised red cabbage would also be good.

September 28, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean, Central/Southern European, Offal — ros @ 6:31 pm

I’m often looking for ways to do lamb liver, mostly because it is very, very cheap and quite tasty. Unfortunately most people seem to reserve it for liver and onions or a tomatoey pasta thing.

So I was rather delighted when I came across an idea in a Turkish Recipe. This suggests you cook the liver with pernod, peppers, parsley and onions. The result was really delicious! It was a bit dry so I added a bit of chicken stock to make more of a sauce and then added a lot of ground black pepper.

Liver with red pepper and pernod

Really, if you like liver try this! The vegetables are just allowed to sweat until soft, then mixed with pernod, stock, black pepper and parsley then mixed into a pan of cooked lamb liver. Who’d have thought of combining aniseed and liver? Well, apart from the Turks.

The downside to this recipe is that pernod is expensive. This didn’t bother me last night as I hadn’t paid for it but I might try and recreate it with ground star anise some day.

Here is my version of the  Turkish Liver with aniseed recipe (Arnavut Cigeri)