Archive for the 'recipes' Category

The first step

I’m lucky to live in a village that still has a butcher and fishmonger – fantastic ones at that. At a time where large supermarkets still dominate despite the growing desire to shop local, it is cheering to see a queue snaking out of the butcher every Saturday, at pretty much any time of day (although not in the photo below!).

Rawlings of Cranleigh is a family-run butcher that has fantastic meat, award-winning sausages, pies, and also a well-stocked cheese counter, with cheeses ranging from Stinking Bishop to the local Norbury Blue. The staff are very friendly, and (like good butchers should be) are always on hand with advice and cooking suggestions.

Although I won’t pretend that we do all our meat shopping there, we try to visit our butcher whenever we can; the meat is much better and more varied, which in turn helps up to discover and cook new things.

One of the things B. and I wanted to do once we had our house was to cook more of the things that we would simply buy – especially things we count as treats (or should do now we have a mortgage!). Making pâté is the first step, and hopefully you will see more posts on here of this nature in the coming months.

This weekend when we went to Rawlings, there was mixed game they had prepared displayed at the front of the shop. I had been intending to get a couple of rabbits to make pâté, but a pack of venison, pigeon, pheasant, duck, partridge and rabbit seemed too good to pass up.

I consulted a few recipes, and found that what goes into pâté seems to be pretty flexible. The constant is cooking it in a bain-marie, but in terms of what you put in there, you need some kind of fat, such as pork belly and bacon; livers add flavour but it isn’t essential. Egg or breadcrumbs are good binders. If you can, it’s good to marinate the raw meat for a few hours or more beforehand – I didn’t have the time, but found my pâté to still be full of flavour.

Pates can be cooked in a terrine/loaf tin or in preserving  jars – the cooking method remains the same; if you cook in a terrine, then you need to line it with bacon and then once cooked, weigh it down with weights in the fridge for 24 hours.

All in all, I was pleased with the results. It came out a cross between a spreadable pâté and a sliceable terrine – I am guessing if you increase the liver content it would become more spreadable. Nevertheless, this does spread – especially if you use some of the surrounding fat – not very healthy, but it tastes so good! It was gamey, but not overly so, and the flavours of the pork and chicken livers also came through to make a deliciously meaty pâté.

In B.’s words: “We’ll never buy pâté again when we can have home-made stuff like this.” I have to agree.

Mixed game and pork pâté

One word of warning: when the pate is cooked, it will be swimming in fat. I was worried as no recipe I had looked at had mentioned it. Luckily I then found a Delia recipe, where she notes that her coarse pork pâté “ will be swimming in fat, but ignore it – you are not going to eat it but its presence around the pâté keeps it moist.”

2 large knobs of butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Splash of vegetable or olive oil
600g mixed diced game
225g sliced pork belly, cut into chunks
240g chicken livers
300g streaky bacon, chopped
3 tsp redcurrant jelly
8 juniper berries, lightly crushed and then chopped
400g sausage meat
Glass of port
25g breadcrumbs

1) Heat a large knob of butter over a low heat and cook the onion for 5-10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic for 2 minutes to cook through. Set aside in a large bowl to cool.
2) Add more butter and a splash of oil and cook the game and pork belly for several minutes until browned. Pour the liquid that comes out into a separate bowl, then transfer the meat to the onion bowl.
3) Quickly fry off the livers and bacon, then pour the excess liquid into the reserved cooking juices bowl. Transfer the livers and bacon to the game and onion bowl. Add the redcurrant jelly, juniper berries and thyme to the cooked meat and stir well to combine.
4) Pour the reserved cooking liquid into the pan, along with a few glugs of port. Reduce until it forms a glaze, then pour into the meat bowl. Leave to cool for 45 minutes or so – this will also give a chance for the flavours to mingle.
5) Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Pulse the meat mixture (including juices) in a food processor along with the sausagemeat and breadcrumbs until you have the texture you want – I went for quite a fine pâté.
6) Pack into sterilised preserving jars – we filled 2 x ½ litre jars and 1 x 250ml jar. Place in a deep roasting tin or casserole and fill with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides. Cook in the oven for 1¼ hours until the pâté is coming away from the sides at the top. There will be quite a bit of fat in the jar (see my note above) – it will keep the pâté moist. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
7)  Chill in the fridge once cooled. The pâté should keep for at least a week, but it should last longer as the jars have an airtight seal. It will taste better if left for a day or two for the flavours to develop. Serve with good bread or toast.

New beginnings

After an extremely harsh winter, the first signs of spring seem to be appearing, and not a moment too soon. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to all the exciting produce that this season has to offer, and can’t wait to see what shows up in my veg box.

Spring is a time of new beginnings and, this being the first official day of the season, is the perfect time to begin my blog. I am lucky enough to work for a well-known food magazine as a sub-editor and writer, but this will be my personal space to talk about what’s in season, some ideas with what to do with the bountiful produce the seasons bring, and other food-related writing.

The recipes I post will be a mixture of my own and favourite recipes from well-known cooks and chefs – and all seasonal of course.

I live in the Surrey countryside with my boyfriend, B., and he loves food and cooking just as much as I do. We do most of the cooking together, so this blog is a joint project; although you will mainly hear from me, B. will always be in the background – and who knows, he may even make a special appearance once in a while.

Our kitchen is small, but we make good use of the space, and look forward to a time when we have a large, airy kitchen, hopefully with a Kitchen Aid. We receive a Riverford veg box each fortnight; we are quite adventurous and love trying new things, and hope that getting the seasonal box will help us explore even more new dishes.

Until recently we didn’t have a kitchen all to ourselves, so although we are enthusiastic cooks, there is still a lot for us to discover, even with everyday produce. Join us on our culinary journey, as we cook our way through seasonal fruit and veg (with the odd sweet thing, too).

I was excited to receive some purple sprouting broccoli in our veg box this week – it was more purple and had thinner stalks than the pre-packed type that I normally see in the supermarket. Although classed as a winter vegetable, it heralds the arrival of spring and the end of a sparse period on the fruit and veg front. Although I have eaten purple sprouting broccoli before, B. hadn’t, and I had never cooked it before, so this was an adventure for both of us.

First cultivated by the Romans, purple sprouting broccoli doesn’t need much cooking and has a much more subtle taste than its green cousin. It is a great addition to stir-fries and salads, and makes a fantastic side. However, I wanted to cook something where purple sprouting broccoli was the main event.

Despite the slightly warmer weather, there is still enough of a chill for me to hanker after something warm and comforting. I decided to do a quick pasta dish that I had been eyeing up for a while. Pasta with sprouting and cream from Nigel Slater’s wonderful book Tender Volume 1: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch is simple and speedy, and combines some of my favourite ingredients: blue cheese, crème fraîche and garlic.

The orecchiette pasta was surprisingly hard to track down (I eventually found it in a branch of Waitrose, sadly not my local one) but it was worth it. Meaning ‘little ears’ in Italian, this traditional Puglian pasta is the perfect shape for this dish and is often paired with broccoli. The sauce pools in one side of the pasta, and clings to the ridges of the other. Before today, I had actually never tried this pasta before, but I will definitely be having it again.

I cannot recommend this dish highly enough; the creamy cheese sauce had a tang from the Gorgonzola and a savoury note from the anchovies that complemented the purple sprouting broccoli perfectly. I couldn’t get enough, and I am not ashamed to admit that after polishing off the pasta and veg, I drank the rest of the sauce from the bowl (B. actually licked his!) – yes, it is that good. Normally I like to tweak recipes, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing.

Overall, it was exactly what I hoped it would be: comforting, yet light and creamy, perfect for a sunny but cold spring day.

Pasta with sprouting and cream (adapted from Nigel Slater’s book, Tender Volume 1: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch)

 

Serves 3-4

250g purple sprouting broccoli

250g fresh (or dried) orecchiette

30g butter

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped

250g crème fraîche

170g Gorgonzola

  1. Bring two deep pans of water to the boil. Trim the purple sprouting broccoli; break into smaller florets, trim any dry ends or tough stalks but do not remove the leaves. Lightly salt the water in one of the pans and drop in the purple sprouting broccoli. Cook for 3-4 minutes until tender, then drain and set aside.
  1. Wipe out the broccoli pan and return to the heat with the butter, garlic and anchovies. Cook on a low heat for a minute or two until the anchovies have dissolved. Add the crème fraîche and Gorgonzola and cook on a medium heat, stirring continuously until the cheese has melted.
  1. Meanwhile, generously salt the water in the other pan and drop in the pasta. Cook according to pack instructions (about 5-6 minutes) then drain well.
  1. Add the cooked purple sprouting broccoli and pasta to the creamy sauce and serve immediately.

 


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© 2015 Sharon Lane

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