Monday, 30 January 2012

Sunday Supper and the Weekend

Salmon with baby leek gratin and stirfried sprouts and shallots, which we ate alongside a delicious Mersault.

This weekend, I have also recycled all our leftover citrus fruits into marmalade,

made rhubarb jam (and eaten a lot of rhubarb),

and made blood orange curd...

There is also a rhubarb cake just out of the oven - might take it and test it on my workmates tomorrow...

I'll maybe blog some actual methods for some of these things at some stage if anyone is interested - I'm pretty pleased with the cake, at least.

I'm also planning some proper Seville marmalade over the next few days and I have some kumquats destined for candying.

I don't mind in the normal scheme of things, but sterilising all the stupid jars for this stuff is the one thing that makes me really yearn for a dishwasher.

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Thursday, 26 January 2012


Duck livers with stirfried everything.

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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Mackerel and Masterchef

Mackerel with fish saucy, chilliey stirfried vegetables and the very last of the leftover Burns mash...

Prepared and eaten whilst watching Masterchef, as is appropriate ;-)

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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dinner Catch Ups

In all the haggis excitement of the last few days, I haven't posted very many normal dinners, so here's a quick catch up...

On, I think, Friday, I ate this delicious aubergine salad from SuLin over at Tamarind and Thyme.

I slightly bastardised it with the addition of garlic and chilli, but I'm unapologetic about that - it was properly nice. And so simple - definitely one for the 'regulars' pile.

I ate it with an egg.

And last night, we finally broke free from the leftover haggis (though husband is still manfully working his way through the leftover mash), so - stirfried leeks, garlic and tomatoes with soft boiled eggs and sprinkled with Burmese Spicy Beef Floss (courtesy of the amazing Mimi of

I need to stop eating the beefy floss now - I'm an addict.

Maybe just a teeny tiny bit more now, just a pinch. And a bit for lunch :-)

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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Haggis or Things To Do With An Inside Out Sheep

I love haggis.

People have a tendency to be a bit scathing about it - 'ugh, isn't that just all the bits that you're not supposed to eat?' and you get some funny looks from all your (weird) offal haters and all that.

And I guess they're kind of right - haggis is proper peasant food - made from, amongst other things, the sheep's "pluck" (which is his heart, lungs and liver) and a load of oatmeal, it is quite offally and cheap. It's not just bits of ears, gristle and anything, though, not by any means - it's a very specific set of innards.

It's also highly spiced, nutritious and delicious and something I honestly defy anyone to try it and dislike it.

And there's not much more impressive than a great steaming haggis. Any foodstuff which has its own address has to be something pretty noteworthy, I'd say.

Anyway, I've eaten quite a bit of haggis in my time, but never tried actually formulating one from scratch before, and was keen to give it a go, so the run up to this Burns night seemed like a pretty good time to experiment.

I basically used Tim Hayward's (helpfully photographed) method, published in the Guardian a few years ago, with a bit of my own spicing variation, so I'm not going to tell you the whole thing again, but here are some illustrative photographs.

Simmering the sheep's pluck - traditionally, you hang the windpipe over the edge of the pan to 'remove impurities'. Happily, my sheep had already had his removed, so I didn't have to get involved in this.
People had warned me that this stage would be utterly horrible and stink out the house. It wasn't and didn't. It was just like making stock or similar and smelled nice and meaty.

The lungs, after having simmered for a couple of hours, then rested in the cooking liquid overnight, ready for mincing.

Mincing the lungs. I evidently didn't do much biology at school, as I was kind of expecting them to be balloony and inflatable. They're not - they're just like a slightly spongier liver or similar, with added bits of what I vaguely recall are called bronchioles, the chunkier of which I endeavoured to remove.

The hacking of the heart. This was clearly not a very health conscious sheep - he had a LOT of fat around his heart. I chucked that in too. Obviously.

Minced heart and lungs - not bad knife skills, eh?

Pinhead oatmeal ready to toast in the oven.

The addition of the grated onions and liver, which I did in the food processor, for fear of also grating my fingers, which is never nice.

All mixed up.

And now with the addition of the suet, oatmeal and multitudinous seasonings. I went for a mix of dried herbs, including savory, and generous splodges of white pepper and allspice, which I'm pretty sure is what haggis usually tastes of. I guess you could use whatever you wanted though.

All mixed and ready to go. I sampled it at this point, to see what the seasoning was like (trying to ignore the suety bits and the scrunchy uncooked oatmeal). It was VERY spicy. Husband was a bit worried. That white pepper is hot stuff.

Rinsed and dried ox bung. Mr Hayward was absolutely right about the imagery here.

Stuffed bung. I had a good third of my mixture left over. I haven't yet been able to bring myself to throw it away. It's in a plastic bag in the freezer, hoping that I might buy more bung to stuff.

Simmering away.

The finished product. Not a great picture, but it honestly looked extremely convincing. Just like a proper Macsween's.

We ate it at a preliminary Burns Night.

I bought two large backup haggises in case it didn't work or tasted awful.

We didn't use them, so it can't have been too bad (if anyone wants any haggis-based meals in the next few weeks, you know where to come - there's a LOT).

In fact, it went down pretty well. The spicing mellowed with cooking (as expected) and it ended up tasting really quite close to the 'real thing'.

Husband thought that it might have been a bit less meaty tasting than your average bought haggis. I don't know whether that was down to the quality of my innards, the proportions or just the recipe - I wonder whether commercial products put in additional meat or meat extract or similar.

I was really pleased overall. I thought it tasted great and it turned out to be pretty straightforward to make.

I reckon, now that I've tried it once, I'd probably do it again...

Burns, Baby, Burns

We had an early Burns Night supper last night (it had to be early, as we're already invited to others on actual Burns night this coming Wednesday and next Saturday), which, amongst other things, offered the opportunity to play around attempting to make haggis (see haggis post for details).

Here's how it went down...

 'Whisky cured'* salmon and oatcakes to start with.

Here's the salmon again, up close - it was good, actually, and very easy to do.

And here are the oatcakes. I wanted to make them like my grandad does - I used his recipe - but it turns out that it takes a special talent (or possibly just years of practice or something), which I do not have, to make them properly thin. 
Actually, when I think about it, I realise that he is the only person in the family ever allowed to make oatcakes - I think that nobody else can really do it, either, so I don't feel too bad .

 Here is a cheering Scottish themed wine brought by one of the guests. It's actually a New Zealand sauvignon and, I'm ashamed to say, we didn't try it, so I can't tell you whether it's nice or not, but I think, in this context, that's not really the point, in any case.

 Lovely husband (shamed into dressing up) addressing the haggis, before undertaking a bit of haggis-based sabrage. Not something you see every day.

I don't seem to have taken a picture of the haggis with its warm-reekin, rich gushing entrails spilling out (a bit of an oversight there), but here are the 'neeps

and tatties.

Oh, and some (actually v nice) vegetarian 'haggis'

 And here is the 'before' picture of the beverage selection. (Please bear in mind that there were between 6 and 10 people present during the evening. Probably mostly 6, if I'm totally honest).

Evil sweets of death - fed to 'unsuspecting' (though definitely should have known better) masses by a mischievous Shed, with a surprisingly high uptake rate.
Officially the sourest super sours ever.

Pudding - cranachan ice cream with whisky soaked raspberries 

and shortbread.

There were also deep-fried mars bar bits (no national stereotyping here...) but I was too busy battering and frying to have managed to photograph them. To be honest, they probably weren't actually that pretty anyway... Not sure that deep-fried confectionary is really about the visual appeal.

Here are the morning-after leftovers. Observe the fill of the remaining few whisky bottles. Oh dear.

And here is the 'recovery breakfast' - haggis potato cakes and bacon

and a refreshing post-early-Burns beverage.

Happy Burns week, everyone!
May your week be filled with haggis, whisky and poetry :-)

*except that I didn't have any whisky at the time of curing, so actually just cured in the end. With a bit of juniper for added ginniness.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Lonesome Tonight

So super quick, easy tea for me.

Salmon (MORE salmon - I should probably stop soon) salad with spicy dressing...

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Sucker Succour

I love eating squid and octopus and things.
I understand that it puts some people off a bit, but there's honestly almost nothing I like more than chowing down on some lovely suckery tentacles.

To that end, this evening I made a spicy squid and clam (massive juicy clams, in fact) sauce with pasta for husband and carrot "pasta" for me.

Super quick, simple and delicious.

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lost Dinner...

I made a beautiful dinner last night with (some of) the things that the nice people at Hubbub brought for me.

Pollack fillets (yum, by the way. I have no idea why everyone prefers cod) fried with steamed cauliflower and broccoli and an awesome lemon/chilli/garlic/parsley dressing. And (slightly incongruous) mash for hungry husband.

It was super tasty, but also (rather out of character for me) really quite visually pleasing - all nice colours and composition and stuff.

It all looked so yummy though, that I momentarily lost my mind and forgot to photograph it.

I had the leftover vegetables for lunch today with the remaining scrapings of dressing and two rather delightful soft boiled burford browns.

I did photograph that, though it's really not up to the standards of the sadly lost dinner.

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Monday, 16 January 2012

Salmon Again

This evening represented the end of my @markymarket salmon and I think it was the best yet...

Miso salmon bits with soy and mirin (my iPhone wants to correct this to moron) dressing.

Hopefully there's enough for lunch tomorrow too...

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Sunday Dinner

As opposed to Sunday lunch...

Chargrilled bavette and cauliflower (romanesco, which looks pleasing like an alien) with something approximating chimmichurri...

We also drank (earlier - not with steak) my Christmas stocking wine - this crazy-but-delicious vin de l'oubli.

And I made my own nutella and baked a load of stuff, including these macarons

Think that's pretty much how the weekend should be.

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Friday, 13 January 2012

Vegetables and Whatnot

Slowly sauteed onion and tomato 'pasta sauce' with garlicky balsamic mushrooms and black olives.

Sounds a bit dull, but actually super tasty.

Once again, I cleverly made a bit too much and baked up the leftovers with an egg for lunch today.
I'm feeling very smug.

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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Fish Wednesday

Today - gingery stirfried things that are green and (really badly filleted) miso trout.

And unexpected wine :-)

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Fast Food

I took my desk piggy bank to Tesco's after work today and emptied him into the Magic Coin Machine... £100! Amazing, no?

To celebrate, I spent 30 of those pounds on light bulbs, anchovies and a DVD.
The woman behind me in the (seemingly interminable) queue was buying sanitary towels in two different sizes and fig rolls. Now that's some focused shopping right there...
I like to think that she was also admiring my purchases.

After all the adventuring there was little time remaining to make tea, so we had swiftly grilled pork bits, stirfried shiitake mushrooms and pak choi and leftovers from last night. Husband had rice too - he was hungry.

I mixed an egg into the last of the previous day's leftovers and baked them in a mini loaf for tomorrow's lunch. I feel so organised, it's actually a little bit hurty...

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