Archive for the ‘recipes’ Tag

DT #233, 21 August 2014 (Cordoniu Gran Cremant)   Leave a comment

Cordoniu Gran Cremant


A fresh batch of broth:
What better celebration
Excuse do we need?

Name: Cordoniu Gran Cremant
Type: sparkling wine
Recipe: Butternut Squash curry:  I got this ‘recipe’ from the Running Bug spam I received a week or so ago.  There were no quantities listed except ‘2 cans of tomatoes.’  Here’s what I did similar to their recipe…cube a butternut squash and a potato and fry these.  Add some red onion, turmeric, curry powder, red hot chillies, some chilli powder or paprika, ginger, and garlic and continue to heat about 5 minutes.  Into this, empty a can of tomatoes with juice then add some tomato purée (paste), a couple of fresh chopped tomatoes, some broth (which conveniently was just finishing nearby), some coriander (cilantro), parsley, and rinsed red lentils and simmer 15 minutes.  Add some frozen green peas and simmer another 5 minutes.  Serve on rice or, barring that, do what we did and serve on some urad dal (split lentils which have had the skin removed…lots of protein and fibre and the flavour is grand).

Review/notes: It’s crap cava, but it was on sale and what-the-heck, right?

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

Posted 2014/08/22 by Drunken Bunny in Daily Haiku, Daily Tipple, food, wine

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DT #215, 3 August 2014 (Canaletto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo)   Leave a comment

Canaletto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and brisket


‘Twas not meant to be
An ode to a squaddie bar
And so it isn’t.

Name: Canaletto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Type: red wine
Recipe: Brisket 1: Salt, pepper, and brown a piece of brisket.

brisket 1 browning

Brisket 2: Put some onion in the bottom of the pan to flavour it and act as a rack.

brisket 2 onions

Brisket 3: Put the meat on the onions, coat with English mustard, put some water in the pan (don’t cover the onions, though), put a couple of branches of rosemary on top, cover the brisket with oil-soaked cheesecloth, cover the pan tightly with foil and a lid and bake for 4 or 5 hours at 150°C.

brisket 3 mustard

Review/notes: On the run in Durrington and around the Bulford Camp I tried hard to find a pub on or near the base that would be open to the public but serve primarily the enlistees, to no avail.  Of the two new pubs, I couldn’t find a draft beverage that hasn’t featured in the Daily Tipple so far either…best laid plans, etc.

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

Posted 2014/08/04 by Drunken Bunny in Daily Haiku, Daily Tipple, food, wine

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DT #212, 31 July 2014 (Quirky Bird Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier)   Leave a comment

Actually two Quirky Birds, if you look closely across the table

Actually two Quirky Birds, if you look closely across the table

Got a new cookbook,
Lucky charity shop find.
All Thai recipes.

Name: Quirky Bird Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier
Type: red wine
Recipe: Thai Duck Curry: Make a marinade of the juice and grated peel of one orange and 30 mL/2Tbs  each of sesame oil, minced ginger and Chinese 5-spice powder.  Mix this with 4 duck breasts cut into bite size chunks and set aside for at least fifteen minutes.

In the meantime, boil some water and add similarly chunked butternut squash; boil 5 or 6 minutes to almost tender.  Drain and set aside.

Drain the duck marinade into a large pan and heat along with a large spoon of Thai red curry paste.  Once it is bubbly and fragrant, add the duck and brown a few minutes then add 30 mL/2 Tbs of fish sauce and a small spoon of brown muscovado sugar.  When THAT is all smooth, add 300 mL of full fat coconut milk (the sort that is partially frozen at room temperature) and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Break up four lime leaves and seed two red chillies and stir these in with the squash and heat for another 7 or 8 minutes.  just before serving, stir in a large handful of chopped coriander (cilantro).
Venue: house

Review/notes: The wine stood up to the rich flavours of the curry and, on its own, stood up to a more rigorous tasting…dark berries and cigar, to use the lingo.

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

DT #207, 26 July 2014 (Banrock Station Colombard Chardonnay)   Leave a comment

Banrock Station Colombard Chardonnay

This healthy eating
May well be the death of me
Many years from now.

Name: Banrock Station Colombard Chardonnay
Type: white wine
Recipe: Falafel…soak chickpeas overnight but don’t cook them (the starch helps bind the patties later without having to add flour).  Drain and put in a food processor with onion, parsley, cumin, egg, salt, turmeric, cayenne, and garlic…so much garlic….  Whiz them to a consistency almost of fine bread crumbs then add just enough water (I was making chicken broth so scooped a little of that) to help it bind).  Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours then fry small spoonfuls mashed into patties.
Venue: house

Review/notes: I’m from the Deep South and can’t enjoy catfish without a side order of hushpuppies.  As soon as I decided on basa fish for Saturday I put the chickpeas for falafel in to soak — falafel are the Arabic equivalent of hushpuppies.  These were an especially good batch, too.

The wine was awesome with the aroma of Juicy Fruit chewing gum and flavours of nuts hiding behind plums and other summer fruits.

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

DT #201, 20 July 2014 (Thatcher’s Heritage)   1 comment

Thatcher's Heritage Clifton

The freezer was full,
Nought identifiable.

Name: Thatcher’s Heritage
Type: cider
Recipe: You can’t fuck up cassoulet and anyone who says they have the definitive recipe is some sort of psychopath…for instance, here is one version I’ve done in the past (linked here) and another here and another here.  The “American Indian Style Cassoulet”  presented here has nothing to do with traditional ingredients the Native Americans would use but, rather, gets its name because you use every bit of the carcass (that is, you empty the freezer and put everything vaguely cassoulet-ish in).  Here’s what this one entailed.

cassoulet start

150 g black beans
180 g potatoes leftover in the larder
287 g lamb cubes
215 g duck meat rendered from 650 g leg quarters cooked like confit (fat saved for cooking, bones for broth)
180 g leftover brisket
2 liters of soup from 6 tubs found in the freezer (accumulated over last 4 months)
500 mL venison stew sauce (heavily reduced wine in there)
500 mL defatted residue from the brisket last week (fat added to bacon drippings for cooking greens)
500 mL homemade salsa leftover from some nachos sometime the last several months
Dump all into slow cooker and leave on low for 6 hours. Yum.

cassoulet feast
Venue: The Clifton, Swindon

Review/notes: The Clifton was already a very good bar but now, depending on how you want to look at it, either it has become gentrified or improved.  It has DEFINITELY been tidied a bit and the garden was a very nice place to catch our breath on the long trudge uphill to Old Town after picking up some DIY crap over at Home Base.  We couldn’t linger, though, as we had some stew to overeat.

Thatcher's Heritage Clifton pump


[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

Thought-free Pickled Eggs   Leave a comment

pickled eggs step 1-ish

As anyone who has run behind me on a Sunday morning can attest, I love me some pickled eggs (talk about your ‘carbon footprint’).  I love pickled anything, for that matter and used to drink pickle juice from the fridge before I found out that it doctors up sauces so well.  Now I reserve it for cooking but have somehow accumulated a bit extra and decided to use it for some delicious eggs.

Step 1: Put boiled eggs in pickle juice.

Step 2: Put in fridge for a month.

Step 3: Eat with some chips and beer.

As an alternative, you can make Welsh eggs (a variation on Scotch eggs).  Take a pickled egg and pack about a centimeter of sausage meat around it then bread the outside with herbed crumbs and some thin egg/milk/flour batter.  Fry these (or bake).  Portable breakfast or awesome bar snack!

Posted 2014/06/20 by Drunken Bunny in food

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DT #062, 3 Mar 2014 (La Vieille Ferme)   1 comment

La Vieille Ferme

Eighties artifacts.
Tidying turns up items
You forgot about.

Name: La Vieille Ferme
Type: red wine
Recipe: Leftover chicken, ground cumin, paprika, ground coriander seed, and a can of tomatoes heated through.  Add leftover rice (couldn’t find a can opener for the beans), some green/spring onions and chopped cilantro/coriander.  Warm some tortillas and add cheese then fill.  Feast.
Venue: house

Review/notes: A rather standard red for burrito night.  We’re still living in clutter but can see daylight.

I had buttons like this in the early 1980s, but this was one of Jackie’s (picked up in a shop in Athens, GA June 6, 2004 a few hours after we heard the obit on NPR).  I married well.

ronald reagan rots in hell close

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

Hot Buttered Rum [Advent Booze Calendar: 12 Days Till Xmas]   3 comments

hot buttered rum finish

It’s not always beer in the Advent Booze Calendar.  I got this Red Clay Ramblers song stuck in my head this morning and diagnosed the drink as a medical necessity, although whilst fixing the grog I couldn’t stop thinking about those Johnny Rotten [John Lydon] Countrylife Butter commercials a few years back (American’s, these were real, surreal, hyperreal and they actually aired for a few years).

Recipe per mug:

2 shots (100 mL, y’know…MAN shots or Russian ½ shots) dark rum
1 spoon brown sugar
1 pat butter
boiling water to fill
½ cinnamon stick to muddle the sugar/butter/rum and to stir the mix (or, a large pinch of powdered as I had used the sticks in the Apple Whiskey steeping at present)

Very, very wintry and 100% too good for the likes of us.  Tell your grandparents it is better than a Werther’s Original.

Yesterday’s entry here.

hot buttered rum start

Be vewy quiet…I’m cooking wabbits!   2 comments

rabbit and elmer fudd

Weekend cooking…pure joy, especially when the butcher is stocking game. But, I can’t cook rabbit without channeling Elmer Fudd: “Tonight we’we having a dewicious fwicassee of wabbit with wosemawy, cawwots, cewewy and wed peppews. Huhuhuhuhuhuh!”

rabbit fricassee with white wine and herbs

The bunny is sectioned and soaked in a cup each of water and rice wine vinegar along with three tablespoons salt; after three or four hours, dry the pieces and brown in oil and bacon fat then set aside while a cup each onion, carrots, and celery are browned in the same pan. Pour off the excess oil and deglaze with a large glass of white wine then add the bunny parts back in with some rosemary, basil, and sage and a can of tomatoes (and the juice). Stir then cover to simmer at lowest heat for an hour and a half. Awesome.

rosemary by radio wiltshire

The guinea fowl leftover from our Thanksgiving cancellation was thawed the next day so, on the way to pick up my Sunday paper, I snapped a sprig of rosemary off an enormous bush in a neighbour’s front garden. There is little that needs to be done for guinea fowl, so I did little…especially since we were out of bacon to moisten the top. Instead, it got half a lemon stuffed into its salted interior along with the rosemary and some butter and crushed garlic larded under its breast skin before baking at 200 C for 15 minutes and 175 C for as long as I could stand to wait. Standard dressing, buttery asparagus, and copious quantities of wine accompanied it.

And, we’ve still got venison in the fridge for later in the week!

Posted 2013/12/09 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Chiles Rellenos done Lasagne Style done Brit Style   3 comments

It has been a while since I bothered with a recipe, here, so here goes.  Our stove is shit for frying so I’ve developed an alternative version of chiles rellenos that works pretty well.

Chop an onion and a shitload of garlic (six or eight large cloves) and slowly sweat them with a little salt and olive oil.  Meanwhile, brown some minced beef with a spoonful or so of the reserved onion and garlic.  Once the onion goes clear-ish, add some canned tomatoes, cumin, chili powder (I use dark paprika over here, which is essentially like American chili powder) and a little fresh oregano AND dust the meat with the same spices and some cayenne. Bring this to a simmer for about fifteen minutes with the aim of making something like a passata but without straining it — it should still have the texture of the tomatoes.  For this batch I actually added a batch of leftover passata which resulted in far more sauce than is advisable but the result is yummy no matter what you do to it.

chiles rellenos 01 meat and onions  chiles rellenos 03 passata and filling nearly done

I had no poblanos, so I gathered a bunch of bell peppers and blackened them.  They would work fried as well but the shape of the poblano is more suited to the traditional chile relleno.  Had I been barbecuing something I would have done this step on the BBQ but the broiler/grill of the oven is just fine.  Once blackened, set them aside for awhile and they will cool and collapse and become easier to work.

chiles rellenos 04 scorched peppers

This is where it starts looking like lasagne.  Pour the lumpy passata in an acid proof baking pan. Peel the skin off the peppers and do a half-assed job of removing the seeds; if these were REAL rellenos you would want to be careful not to split them for stuffing but in this case unfolding is essential…cover the sauce with the blistered fruit.  Add some cheese (queso fresco in the States would be great but sharp cheddar is fine; here I am using Red Leicester).  Spread the meat and cover with some more cheese.

The next bit is inspired and absolutely necessary.  Take 8 eggs and whisk till frothy then whisk in 1/4 cup of flour and a spoonful of baking powder and a little salt; beat until smooth then continue just until it starts to get a bit bubbly.  Pour this so it runs down into the cheese and meat.  For this batch, which came out pretty good, I cut the batter in half due to the large volume of sauce but I have used as many as 12 eggs in the past to make things come out in slices.

Jackie doesn’t like hot chillies, so I add mine to the top but they could get cooked into the sauce or the meat just as easily.

chiles rellenos 05 chiles layer  chiles rellenos 06 over chiles  chiles rellenos 07 meat layer  chiles rellenos 08 batter and more red leicester  chiles rellenos 09 spicy for me

Bake at 350°F/175°C until the sauce spews from the solidified crust.  Eat until you think you are going to spew your own self.

chiles rellenos 10 baked

This batch came out brown and tempting as you can see above and as seen from the side (below).  Normally the batter penetrates farther and holds it together better but I went sauce mad.

chiles rellenos 11 from side

Posted 2013/07/28 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Kebabs in the Garden, Our House, Swindon (kpw* bonus kebab)   2 comments

[*kpw = kebab per week for 2013, as noted in an earlier post and the 33rd entry for the 2013 Challenge]

kebab meat

The kebabs so far this year have all been lamb (with one exception) or otherwise all döner (with one other exception).  For the Challenge, you can’t use a venue twice but there’s no reason not to have homemade so here’s a recipe for something Americans might recognise as a kebab.

Start with a good piece of lean beef (this lightly marbled rump roast cut like warm butter).  Instead of cubes, try cutting strips ¾” thick, 1½” wide, and 4″ long so they will pleat on the skewers.  These need to marinate and I chose a mostly dry rub to work with: a little garam masala, minced parsley, loads of garlic powder, a touch of black pepper and a crushed Oxo cube.  The Oxo cube provides the salt which is key to any marinade or, indeed, to any meat: it doesn’t take much but salt draws the liquid from the tissue and the resulting pressure gradient draws some of the salty-spiced moisture back in; salting anywhere from four hours up to two days is essential for making a lean piece of meat succulent and moist.

kebab meat ready for coating  kebab dry rub

The next afternoon the meat was skewered along with veg (bell peppers with sliced leeks, mushrooms, and courgette/zucchini slices) and put over the barbecue.  The smoke was sublime.

ready to cook  cooking

The result was lovely with just enough spice to flavour without masking the meat.  Sublime.

homemade kebabs at ours

Lupini, Fast Food for a Hectic Lifestyle   3 comments

2013-05-11 lupini bagged

“Do you know how to cook these?” asked Anna whilst ringing up my purchases.  I had not been to the Italian grocers for months and grabbed the bag of lupini as an impulse buy because they looked like yellowy broad beans.

“Erm, boil them, I reckon?”

Franco butted in: “you must soak them then cook them an hour; after that you store them in cold water for five days.” Now I was intrigued and had to have them.  “They get sweeter as the time goes on.  Don’t get in a hurry, though.”  His admonishments were confirmed on several cooking sites with many suggesting two weeks storage.  Here is the chronicle of our efforts to prep lupini in time for the 2nd May Bank Holiday this year (although they weren’t ready until the following weekend for the birthday debauch).

2013-05-11 lupini and other prep

Whilst prepping another meal, I boiled half a bag of the thumbnail sized seeds and they began to plump up after 20 minutes.  I left them to simmer another 2 hours whilst throwing in bits of vegetables and the fat from some sausage, then drained them, packed them in a Kilner jar (Mason jar, Yanks), covered them with cold water and stuck them in the fridge.

As a reference point, I tasted one of the freshly packed beans.  It was the most bitter thing I have EVER tried to eat and for two hours it ruined the flavours of everything else I tried to eat or drink…cookies, iced tea, aged provolone, gin and tonic: they all suffered.

"All we've eaten mate for the last four bleeding weeks is lupin soup, roast lupin, steamed lupin, braised lupin in lupin sauce, lupin in the basket with sauted lupins, lupin meringue pie, lupin. sorbet... we sit on lupins, we sleep in lupins, we feed the cat on lupins, we burn lupins, we even wear the bloody things!"

“All we’ve eaten mate for the last four bleeding weeks is lupin soup, roast lupin, steamed lupin, braised lupin in lupin sauce, lupin in the basket with sautéed lupins, lupin meringue pie, lupin. sorbet… we sit on lupins, we sleep in lupins, we feed the cat on lupins, we burn lupins, we even wear the bloody things!”

The beans are the seeds of the yellow lupin and are reputed to have the highest protein content of any beans except soy; that’s as may be, but you have to wonder who first decided to try them and then who came up with this convoluted method of preparation.  Most of the Italians in town are Calabrian and most sites I have scouted place lupini in Calabria and Puglia so I am guessing this is sort of Italian soul food, but the question is still begged: from whence does it hail?

2013-05-13 lupini in storage

At work at the CCRC in the mid Oughties, I developed methods for immobilising lectins on silica gel to make a separation material for specific complex carbohydrates largely because so many of these are extremely toxic to humans and other mammals.  The lectins in lupini are likewise specific to particular carb-chains and are also allergens to broad swathes of the population and carry warning markers (such as the persistent bitterness I experienced) for the rest of us.

2013-05-13 lupini husks optionally removed

Some, but not all, of the bitter flavour comes from the skins of the shells. Many of these peel off easily after the first couple days of soaking, but I only tasted the intact beans and the bitterness subsided somewhat even in these after just ten days so this might be overkill.  For now, we’ll just take the easily removable husks and leave the rest for the taste test.

They were finally okay to eat on the 1st of June, three weeks after we started them.  I minced a clove of garlic and covered it with a splash of olive oil then added a sprig of oregano and some cayenne pepper; this would be tossed with the beans to make the long-awaited snack.  The beans didn’t have to be heated but I thought this might be nice.

beans and condiments

The verdict? In the deep south, you get boiled peanuts served up, hot and wet, in a brown paper bag that taste as good as these do.  The boiled peanuts take an hour or two from start to finish and there is never a chance of lectin or alkaloid poisoning if you aren’t already sensitized to peanuts.  I’m wondering if the seeds will sprout, though; lupins are lovely plants.

yum i guess

Posted 2013/06/02 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Recipe: Bacon and fried eggs on toast   3 comments

bacon eggs toast quik observer

1.  Fry some bacon

2.  Fry some eggs

3.  Serve on toast, with some chocolate milk and the Sunday paper

Posted 2013/01/06 by Drunken Bunny in food, newspapers

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Thanksgiving 2012, Swindon   Leave a comment

It has been years since I cooked a turkey at Thanksgiving because they are always lousy hunks of pseudo-meat back home but I decided to give it a shot since my friend and butcher Bryan does such an admirable job sourcing his product. So a month ago I put in an order and Tuesday I picked up one of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen.

Monday through Wednesday at work were hectic with almost everything breaking, then it was a flood on the roads and I couldn’t find any pumpkin…it was a complete pre-Thanksgiving disaster. I arrived home from a late shopping trip at 8:30 pm and mixed up a brine of a scant handful each of table and rose salts and half as much sugar, submerging the bird in it until midnight when it was rinsed and put in the cold oven to dry overnight.

The recipe I used involved a mirepoix of onion, leek, and carrot on which the turkey would sit for the first half hour with the oven at full whack then lowering the temperature to 150 C and pouring in some broth which was a mix of a meaty gelatin/residue mixture and a thin, clear broth that have been cluttering up the freezer for a couple of months.

Once all those were on, I put on some lamb’s liver and onions for breakfast (yes, I am both anaemic and still obsessed with Joyce’s Ulysses–read the first chapter for this reference and you won’t be able to stop).

The dressing involves my cornbread crumbled into some bread cubes with the boiled turkey offal and some sautéed carrots, onions and celery plus a shit load of green spices then three extra-large eggs and some of the leftover broth.


The vegetables were bok choy (pak choy in British) and bell pepper (spiced with a jalapeño . I didn’t make any pumpkin pie because I didn’t get any pumpkin until the turkey was almost done, but will do for some leftovers on the weekend…leftovers of this beautiful and incredibly tasty creature:

Posted 2012/11/22 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Sweet potatoes, figs, spring onions, chillies and goat cheese   1 comment

This recipe was in Saturday’s Swindon Advertiser.  Homesick for the subtropics, I memorised it and went shopping.  Here’s my version:

To start, all serious cooking is done with a drink.  You might like a glass of wine and, indeed, the flavours you will lick from the edge of your knife will go well with a white bordeaux.  I was in a bourbon mood, as this progressed and the cleansing power of 80 proof liquor has its advantages.

Per serving use a sweet potato.  Cut it in half lengthwise then make each half into three wedges.  Toss them with some olive oil then salt and pepper them and bake at 200° C for twenty minutes.

You will need a balsamic vinegar reduction which often involves adding a little caster sugar to help it thicken.  Really cheap balsamic fakes the aging process by incorporating some caramelised sugars anyway so you can shortcut the process by using el cheapo balsamico, 25 mL per serving.

You want to heat this very slowly and swirl the pot from time to time.  The trick is to take it off the heat before it is as thick as thin syrup because it will thicken some more as it cools.  If too thick, you can add a drop of water (I had just prepared a chicken pie and was making stock from the carcass, so I used a little stock to thin the reduction).

We both like hot chillies but Jackie doesn’t like the heat of hot chillies, just the flavour.  So, while the recipe calls for one thinly sliced for four people, I thinly sliced one for the two of us but was diligent to neuter the poor thing first by stripping it of seeds and membrane.

Take three or four spring onions (green onions, in American) and cut in half lengthwise then into 1 inch pieces, per serving.  Mix these with the peppers and a tablespoon of olive oil.

Figs are an unadulterated joy.  They taste good, sure, but they also have all sorts of ancillary aesthetic values.  For instance, they are the flower of their tree that, once pollinated by the wee wasp that works for it, closes up around it in a little botanical orgasm.

It’s true.  And, when you cut it open to reveal the inside of the fruit in its full Judy Chicago glory you can still make out the basic structure of the flower.  Fascinating. Delicious.

So, it is about a fig and a half per serving.  Quarter them and toss with a scant drop or two of lemon juice to keep them from oxidising.

On medium high heat, fry the pepper/onion mix for up to 5 minutes but don’t brown the bits.  You just want them softened a little.

Scatter these over the wedges then arrange the fig quarters.  Looks pretty, tastes good like this but is even better once the balsamic reduction is drizzled over it.

This next bit isn’t for everyone but if you like goat cheese you probably already think it goes with nothing so well as it does with figs.  I used about 60 grams to dump little pieces onto the platter before putting it away in the fridge as a surprise when Jackie gets home.

Take it out of the fridge about an hour before serving to come to room temperature.  It really should be a fantastic side dish to something off the barbecue, but we’re having it with the chicken/stilton/broccoli/asparagus/filo pie which should be fine, I think.

Posted 2012/11/11 by Drunken Bunny in booze, food

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Sloe Gin, Step 0: Find some Blackthorn   5 comments

Before moving to England, I had avoided sloe gin successfully since the late 1970’s.  Back then in the US, it was sold in pint bottles alongside schnapps and crème de menthe (which were equally chemical in nature and essence), made primarily for the amateur (that is to say, youth) drinking market although I suspect many cat ladies also loaded up on bottles on which to get loaded whilst watching their soaps.

Was I ever that young?

One day while hiking one of the Roman Roads in Cambridgeshire, we met this family foraging along the path and stopped to chat; the mom gave us the basic recipe that I’ll relate as this series of posts progresses the next several months.

Blackthorn: berries from August to November (varies with weather), usually first thing to bloom in the spring…and fucking EVERYWHERE on this island

Step Zero, then, would be to find some blackthorn bushes and wait for the berries (sloes) to ripen then pick a shitload of them.  Tradition has it that they are best for making sloe gin after the first hard frost which softens the skins but the weather is so mild here that other traditions have emerged (more on that in Step 1: Harvest).  The sloes I will use this year will come from some hedgerows I scoped out on one of my runs along the Ridgeway, not far east of the White Horse of Uffington.  Many sloe gin makers jealousy guard the locations of their spoils, but mine are from right around here:

Will probably call this batch “Devil’s Punchbowl”

The final product makes a pleasant enough dessert drink and has depth of flavour and colour that make it a fine ingredient in sauces, dark soups and gravy.  It is also incredibly high in alcohol (flammable) so it can be used to glaze meats or baked fruit.

Next…Step 1, Gather the Fruit

Step2, Prepare the Infusion

Duck Offal and Cornbread   6 comments

Cleaned a duck and put it in the oven for 4 hours at 140 C stuffed with a couple of satsumas and a cinnamon stick; I have no idea what this will be like except that this sort of slow roasting generally makes a succulent duck. In the meantime, I had a liver, heart, some gizzards and a neck left over to snack on so put them in a cup of broth and cup of wine to simmer for a while.

Jackie’s return from the States with good USA treats left us craving some cornbread, a southern staple that you pretty much have to make from scratch, here (once when we lived in Holland, mom sent a bag of Martha White cornbread mix via UPS and it cost something like €25 by the time we got it through customs). However, I think I have perfected moist and flavourful cornbread for use as a side, a further ingredient in stuffing, or to dump pinto beans and pot liquor onto:

Put an 8″ iron skillet into a 200 C oven for awhile (it has to seal the batter on contact).

Mix these dry ingredients:
7/8 cup fine corn meal + 1/8 cup plain flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Whisk together these wet bits:
1/2 cup or so whole fat plain yoghurt (or sour cream); don’t be fundamentalist about the measure because the milk sorts that for you.
Milk to make the yoghurt up to 1 cup, total (more yoghurt or sour cream yields moister and somewhat tarter cornbread).
2 extra large eggs

Put 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet just to melt and coat the skillet, then pour that into the dry stuff and stir it up a little. Pour the wet stuff into the now buttery dry stuff and mix well (although a lump or two isn’t the end of the world). Pour into the now-probably-smoking skillet and return to the oven until golden brown and firm in the center. The resulting bread should fall out of the pan intact if you invert it after cooling 5 minutes, and it will be moist like a cake and deliver a subtly sweet nose, a mild mouth and a powerful cornbread finish. Classic.

And, now to use some of yesterday’s batch to mop up the pan juices from the duck innards.

Posted 2012/09/23 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Cassoul-eh   Leave a comment

There were  some lamb chops left over and some duck breasts in the freezer and I was starving after the 13.5 mile run with only ale and cider for fuel.  There was no time to make a proper meal with either of these, I thought, but rummaging the pantry I came up with this.  First, trim the fat close on the chops (and cut up some spring onions):

Pull the skin and fat from the duck breasts but render the fat with a little olive oil (to make up about a tablespoon or two once cooked down).

Throw an amount of chopped-after-crushed garlic that you think might be too much into the fat and oil, then one more clove; don’t let it burn, or do let it burn…it’s not bad, just different.  Throw the chops on top of the sizzling garlic and the duck (which by now has been cut up coarsely into pretty big chunks) on top of that.  Throw the spring onions in, too (what the hell, right?).  Forget about that stuff for a while and go rinse a package of beans (I had some kidneys that have been gathering dust):

When the smoke alarm starts screeching, stir the meat, garlic and onions and add some oregano (don’t be shy) and some hot peppers (I like it hot).  put the beans on top and add a splash of cherry juice (real stuff) and some heavy-handed glugs of dry sherry and bring the liquid volume up to not quite cover the mixture.  Stir again and put the battery back in the smoke alarm.

The liquid needs to concentrate so leave it alone for ten to twenty minutes.  If you are fussy you can stir it frequently, but if the smoke alarm battery is good you can go read some of the Sunday paper.  If you catch it before the alarm does, you may want to add a little more broth but you want it thick when you add the tomatoes at the last minute (I had a bunch of these little tomatoes that need to be used):

This is a very quick and tasty meal on its own but for a hungry boy like m’self, a healthy side dish might be appropriate.  Full preparation time was 40 minutes (compared to weeks for the version I do during the Winterval each year) and I have some to reheat for breakfast.  Yum.

Posted 2012/09/10 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Easter Chili/Carnitas   1 comment

Eat this for it is my flesh, and take this wine while your at it (can you tell I really didn't pay attention in religion classes?)

It is Easter weekend and it is rainy and cool so the barbecue plan was abandoned.  Brian (the butcher) is closed until Thursday so I stocked up on stuff and asked him for a bit of pork shoulder and he brought out this beautiful rolled roast.  “Have you got anything less lovely?”

“What are you doing with it?”
“Carnitas,” I said.
He looked puzzled then smiled and asked, “how do you do that, then?”

I told him the basics and he brought out the remainder of the shoulder which he was going to use in other items like a batch of pies; in the States you would use pork butt, but here no one cooks with shoulder so you can get nicer bits for a song (and he even cut me a deal on this beautiful pile of meat, one kilogram of perfect succulence.

To cook it, I pulled out two frozen liters of broth I made earlier in the month and about a pint of roux mixed with a bit of vindaloo sauce.  To this I added a chopped onion, copious quantities of cayenne, paprika (can’t get proper Mexican style chili powder here) and crushed cumin seeds and some green spices that looked tempting.  Once boiling I poured it on the pork bits in a slow cooker, topped it off with dry white wine and let it heat for 7 hours until shreddy.  Separating the meat from the soup, I refrigerated both until the next day.

Cheese, habanero chili, sliced plum tomatoes, cilantro (coriander), a squeeze of lime and green (spring) onions go on top

In the morning, I washed some dry black beans and put them in the leftover cooking juices, brought it to a boil and awaited tenderness before putting the nearly cooked beans into a large pot (discarding the soup, finally) with the shredded carnitas, a couple of cans of tomatoes, some coarsely chopped bell peppers, olives, cumin powder and cayenne and a healthy volume dry white wine…this would normally be beer but I’m down to my last can of Carling and don’t fancy a trip to the store and we have many bottles of this Orvieto.  Red wine makes a different sort of chili but it is worth a try as well.

This is cooked at a simmer for two or three hours, lid off if you want it thick.  We are kept it fairly wet and ladled it over rice, topping with fresh cilantro/coriander, green/spring onions, and cheddar cheese.  Yum. Serves about 100, or makes two meals for two if you are pigs like us.

Posted 2012/04/07 by Drunken Bunny in food

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Biscotti and Vin Santo–Thanksgiving Week 2011, Day 2   7 comments

I love Thanksgiving…too much drink, too much food, and most of it exotic.  After yesterday’s visit to Casa Paolo I had a hankering for some Tuscan Pasta (farfalle, sausages, cannelini, some light spices, a little escarole soup and some stewed tomatoes), so headed up to Franco and Anna’s (a superb Italian deli in our neighbourhood a dude in Lechlade tipped me off to, months ago).  Anna stocks the only decent fresh sausage in the south of England (and the cured meats look as good as what you might find in the Polish places around) and she knows (or is related to) every Italian in the county, it seems, so is always worth a visit.  I also wanted to ask about ordering some Vin Santo for the Christmas holidays (this is something amazing if you dip almond biscotti into it–a discovery from our first trip to Firenze back in 2002).

Turns out, they stock this stuff all the time at less than you pay for it in Italy, so I got a bottle and some almonds and went home to do some baking:

You toast a cup of almonds 10 minutes at 175°C and let them cool.  Meanwhile, mix 2 cups of flour, a teaspoon of baking soda, and a cup of sugar; also, melt a knob of butter (an ounce or two–use a shot glass, ’cause we know you have one).  Once the butter is back to room temperature splash in some vanilla extract (1 or 2 teaspoons) and three eggs, stir ’em up and pour into the flour mix, and knead.  Once it holds together start dusting with flour and pulling through the bowl until the stuff at the side starts to cling.  Dust it one more time and push the almonds in, letting it sit for 5-10 minutes for the liquids to absorb and the lump to thereby dry a little.  Roll into two cylinders about 16 inches long and bake on a floured sheet at 150°C (300°F) for 40 minutes.  Cut at a diagonal, once cool, into 1/2″ wide slices and toast another 50 minutes at the same temperature.  Divine.

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