Damson gin

Sep. 21st, 2009 03:45 pm
enitharmon: (Default)
Right, there's some of the damsons pricked and packed into a 1-litre preserving jar with most of a bottle of Morrisons 43% gin.

Christmas, here we come!

Meanwhile there's jam to be dealt with.
enitharmon: (Default)
Home-made sausage with home-made candles

Here's the sausages I made today, flanked by a couple of the candles I made this week.

It's been a creative week all round!
enitharmon: (Default)

This is the fruit of my first attempt at sausage-making.

These are chicken sausages, which isn't ideal but I had some chicken and I wanted to practice handling the sausage shins, which isn't all that easy although I'm sure there's a knack.

Both the chicken and the skins come courtesy of N & S Rhodes Butchers on Barrow Market. The skins were free. The chicken wasn't...

The chicken I put in the slow cooker with onion, roots, herbs and bouillon. After an hour the chicken came out and I let it cool a little before taking the meat off - this is the meat that went in the sausages. Then the rest of the carcasee goes in the pot for a few more hours. The broth I put aside for soup. Such well-cooked meat as fall away from the bones I set aside for risotto. The rest of the carcase went in a hot oven for half an hour to make crispy nibbles.
enitharmon: (Default)

I just whiled away an hour of a pleasant evening gathering a tubful of blackberries. About a kilo, and there's plenty more where they came from. Very abundant, fat and juicy. Something likes all the recent rain!

What amazes me year after year is that there's all this top-notch food available for free and hardly anybody takes advantage of it. More fool them, I say!
enitharmon: (Default)

The last spoonful of Bruzzi beans went into the grinder this morning, and that can only mean that a trip to Lancaster was called for. After a lengthy debate, including sniffing and tasting, in Atkinsons I allowed myself to be persuaded to split my usual half kilo into 250 g of the usual Bruzzi beans and 250 g of El Salvador Pacamara, so a new experience for breakfast tomorrow. Both are part of the Rainforest Alliance fair trade scheme. I also salivated over the new Atkinsons range of cask-bottled single malts, especially the Highland Park at GBP 72.99 a bottle. I need a sugar daddy!

A trip to Lancaster means other things too. Ice cream by Wallings of Cockerham from Cuthbert the Clown's World of Wonder in Penny Street, for example. And I have discovered a new place to have my lunch, rather than the somewhat pricey John o'Gaunt.

The Borough

The Borough

The Borough, in Dalton Square by the Town Hall, isn't exactly the authentic English Pub Experience. It's not even been a pub all that long, but it is housed in an elegant Georgian town house and the inside has a louche, slightly camp, piano bar atmosphere which suits me fine. Very woman-friendly.
enitharmon: (Default)
Thank you [livejournal.com profile] yokospungeon

Mark in bold what you've eaten, italicise what you've eaten and hated, strike through those you're not willing to ever try. Underline ones you have no idea what they are.

1. Venison (as sausages)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (in prizewinning sandwiches from a Bristol deli)
6. Black pudding (Yum!)
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht (and I make it regularly too)
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries (Yum! Bl;ackberries...)
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans (as rice and peas)
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche (in the form of a tin of evaporated milk boiled of destruction)
28. Oysters
29. Baklava (in a variety of spellings)
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (had it many times in a ceramic bowl though)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float (even found an old-fashioned drug store in Oneida NY to drink it in.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (Armagnac is better, and the cigar should be a Cuban one of course)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo (as okra or bhindi)
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat (very nice with 39)
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk (just making oatcakes with some as it happens)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more ("As We Get It" - a cask-bottled Macallan)
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala (not my favourite curry dish though)
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin (and I've gathered them myself. And I've sat on one!
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (not the Meal, no. Thank goodness!)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (for medicinal purposes only. It's only clay after all)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (I have seen one on sale but not when I wanted to but one)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (a great favourite of mine)
69. Fried plantain (yummy)
70. Chitterlings or andouillette (known as lamb's fry in these parts)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (I like it one part to 2 parts Assam)
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum (in the Vietnamese form from the Polish shop)
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare (rabbit) (I've had hare and I've had rabbit and they are not the same...)
87. Goulash
88. Flowers (certainly, if globe artichokes count. Also rose petals)
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (brought up on it! Makes great fritters)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor (waste of good lobster)
98. Polenta (not madly keen though)
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (nice but not ten times the ordinary price nice)
100. Snake (but Frank went on at great length about how he had, and how to kill them)
enitharmon: (Default)
Mmm. Just had blackberry crumble with vanilla ice cream.

The blackberries I gathered myself a few hours ago, down at the feral part of Barrow Island. There's loads of them, and with the humidity and rain mixed with sunshine they are fat, sweet and juicy.

The vanilla ice cream is from the Co-op. This is not synthetic vanilla ice cream, bleached pure white and flavoured with vanilla-scented petrochemical derivatives; the very definition of blandness. This is serious, pale-buff coloured vanilla ice cream with lots of bits of real vanilla in it.

enitharmon: (Default)
I wanted a tin of tuna for a pasta dish. Preferably yellowfin in olive oil. Could I get it?

The best I could manage was the inferior skipjack in sunflower oil. It was hard enough to find that. What I could find was a hundred and one varieties of tinned tuna: tuna in mustard sauce; tuna in tomato sauce; tuna in lime mayonnaise; tuna in chilli sauce; tuna in mermaid's blood. All right, I made the last one up. But what the hell?

I strongly suspect that this is a ploy by the food industry to fob off inferior ingredients. But what I can't understand is why anybody falls for it? The best way to start a tuna dish is with plain tuna. Tinned tuna is fine for convenience. The only limit to what you do with it is your imagination. I make my own spicy tomato sauce by the bucketful; it uses nothing but cheap ingredients and only requires a saucepan and a blender (if you don't mind a courser sauce you can do without the blender). Onions, dried chillis, garlic, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, parsley, salt, sugar, herbs as available, water. It's good, too, better than any tomato sauce you can buy. Lime mayonnaise? Provided you don't make your own mayonnaise it's a piece of piss. Same for any other mayonnaise with something flavourful and piquant stirred into it.

Don't people realise that all those 'value-added' (one of the most insidious of marketariat weasel words) are actually limiting, not liberating?

It's not just food. See it happen with children's toys, all ready to suppress your child's imagination ready to take her place in the market society as a good, compliant consumer. When I was little, I had Lego as today's children do, but my lego was very general, and you built whatever your imagination led you to build. Now, it's all pre-prepared projects, with very specific units that can only be used for one purpose. Something happened to Plasticene too - once you bought the basic material and you fashioned according to your imagination. Now it's all on rails - make your own Gromit, but for mammon's sake don't think originally!
enitharmon: (Default)
I've just made one of my favourite Christmas treats ever since I was very little. A batch of rum butter, made the authentic Cumberland way as my Nanna did it. Spread it on buttered toast - yummy! Traditionally eaten with Christmas pudding (although actually I will make rum sauce) and goes very well with Christmas cake. Also delicious scooped out of the bowl with a finger.

500 g soft brown sugar
250 g butter
nutmeg to taste
a good slosh of rum

Melt the butter gently in a pan. Sir in the sugar and mix well. Add the nutmeg and rum. Decant into a bowl. Leave to set.
enitharmon: (Default)

It was a glorious autumn day with an extra-high tide on the channel. Much too nice to be indoors, so I walked up North Scale way and then across the island to West Shore, gathering blackberries as I went. Not being greedy, I got a kilo. I feel another crumble coming on!
enitharmon: (Default)
One of the very real pleasures of living in Notting Hill, as I did for ten years, was being able to visit Geales; a little bit of Scarborough dropped in central London, a slightly-genteel yet chaotic sit-down fish-and-chip restaurant where the portions were huge and cooked to perfection, the haddock was properly fried in beef dripping (a rare thing in London), the mushy peas and gherkins were authentic, the chips crips on the outside and soggy in the middle as they should be, and there was always bread-and-butter, tea and apple crumble and custard for pudding. All at a price that was astonishingly reasonable for the area. The decor was basic and unpretentious, but clean. Off-duty celebrities went there to be anonymous and enjoy real good food (not at all like The Ivy where celebs are contracted to appear and the food is reputed to be no big deal.)

All things must pass. A few years ago the family that had owned it for generations sold up, and the name was snapped up by a group of Young Turks who already had a posh restaurant in Mayfair. In came the chichi interior decorators, up went the prices, down went the size of the portions, out went the quality. Those in the know abandoned it for Costas in the next street. And this weekend, I see, the Guardian ran its food critic's obituary. Quite right too.

Costas, incidentally, is one of my top three chippies of all time, and as well as the simple but excellent restaurant there are few things better than taking a wrapped haddock and chips into Holland Park on a balmy summer evening.

The other two? One has to be the one in Thurso many years ago, I don't remember the name and it's probably long gone. The other is Andy's, here in Barrow.
enitharmon: (Default)
Just for the hell of it, I went to Lancaster today. Actually although I didn't really need to go there, there were things I could usefully do when there. Like stocking up on the excellent fair-trade Brazilian Bruzzi coffee beans form Atkinsons, that finest of all coffee shops anywhere (unless anybody can convince me otherwise.) Atkinsons is always worth the voyage anyway, but there's also Burt's for top-notch sausages and black pudding, and the wholefood shop, and the ice-cream from a local farm (raspberry swirl, yummy) sold from a stand in Penny Street. Oh, and I bought a couple of plantains from a very friendly black lady in the market. I'd given up hope of finding plantains, to which I am very partial, up here!

It was a gorgeous day for it - bright and sunny despite yet another forecast of rain - and maybe it was my brightening mood but I struck up an interesting conversation with a travel agent on the train out, and another with a splendid old lady on the bus from Barrow station home.

Oh, and I caught a fleeting but unmistakeable glimpse of an avocet on the marshes between Silverdale and Carnforth from the train.

Tomorrow I have to go to the sorting office and find out who's been sending me packages without enough stamps on!
enitharmon: (Default)

Goddard's Pie House: January 2003

It's come to my attention only this afternoon that one of my favourite London eateries, Goddard's Pie House in Greenwich, closed last November.

I'm simply stunned. The queues at Goddard's were long and it was seldom easy to find a table. The pies were of proper beef, the mash of proper potato, the parsley liquor suitably glutiverdinescent, and the whole was excellent value. But some clown thinks we ought to want plastic burgers of doubtful provenance instead.

It is a scandal that London's own regional speciality is now diminished in favour of bland, rubbish you can get anywhere in the world. There ought to be something written into the planning regulations to prevent it ever happening again.
enitharmon: (Default)
In the Christmas rush I missed the death of Richard Boston. It's funny, I was only thinking about him recently. I wondered where he had got to, because at one time, in the 1970s, you couldn't open a newspaper or turn on the radio without encountering him. An encounter was always worthwhile too - he was funny and frighteningly erudite and loved good living. I never met him, which is a shame because I'm quite certain we'd have got on well in a fiery kind of way. The great shame is that he was only 67.

What I remember him for mostly his his book, Beer and Skittles, which seems to be shamefully out of print. The anecdotes related to beer and to pub culture were entertaining enough - and given the demise of the kind of English pub he celebrated it's a valuable cultural document - but the best thing of all was the recipe section, which provided me with a lot of the standards that have been a fixture in my culinary repertoire over the last thirty years. The oxtail casserole is rightly praised in the Guardian obituary, but there's also the Guinness stew, and my near-legendary sausage casserole, and of course my Christmas pudding for which, given the result of the recent poll, I should print here. Although this particular recipe has granted establishment status by its inclusion in Jane Grigson's English Food, a book which should be a sdtandard in every kitchen.

Richard Boston's Christmas Pudding

300 g Fresh breadcrumbs
250 g soft brown sugar
250 g currants
300 g raisins
250 g sultanas
60 g chopped mixed peel
300 g shredded suet
½ tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
grated rind of a lemon
2 tsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
150 ml milk
300 ml bottled Guinness

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the liquids. Mix everything together, then divide into three 1 litre buttered pudding basins. Cover each basin tightly with greaseproof paper and foil. Leave overnight, then steam for 8 hours. Cool, re-cover, and store in a cool place.

Before serving, steam for a further 2-3 hours. Serve with rum butter (qv) or, as I have always done, rum sauce:

250 ml milk
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 Tbsp sugar
A good slosh of rum

Cream the cornflour and sugar with a little of the milk in a jug. Heat the rest of the milk in a saucepan until almost boiling, then add to the jug. Mix well and return the mixture to the saucepan. Keep stirring until it thickens. Slosh in a generous amount of rum.
enitharmon: (Default)
'Tis the season to set about making the little bits of goodies. There's a cake to be marzipanned and iced, and there's that traditional rich treat of this part of the world, rum butter.

Both marzipan and rum butter are simple to make, and much, much better than ready-prepared-and-chemically-preserved products available in supermarkets.


For marzipan you need:

500 g ground almonds
250 g icing sugar
1 large egg
3 tsps lemon juice

That's all. No artificial flavouring, no yellow chemical dye. Note that this marzipan is a delicate straw colour, not bright yellow.

Mix almonds and sugar in a bowl. Beat the egg, and add the lemon juice. Add the egg and lemon mixture to the bowl and mix to a stiff dough. Knead the dough on a board dusted with icing sugar. Use as required.

Lovers of The Amber Spyglass know very well just how orgasmic marzipan can be! (Well, they do if they have read the British edition rather than the American one.)

Rum Butter

Rum butter is even easier. You need:

250 g butter (unsalted, natch!)
500 g soft brown sugar (light or dark is immaterial but I prefer dark)
1 generous slosh of rum (I use Appleton's Jamaica Rum but any dark rum will do at a pinch. White rum, like Bacardi, is of course rubbish)

Melt the butter in a pan. Stir in the sugar. Slosh in the rum (I find about two shot glasses is about right if I'm being really fussy). Grate nutmeg into the mix to taste (pre-grated nutmeg is naff). Pour into a bowl and leave in a cool place to set. Keep your grubby fingers out of it!

[Poll #893061]
enitharmon: (Default)

I uploaded the photos for this to Flickr last week - a dangerous thing to do when [livejournal.com profile] acanthium is about! So it's time to write the entry.

Staffordshire oatcakes aren't oatcakes like the Scottish oatcake, but a flatbread, and thus cousin to the chapati, the paratha, the Mexican tortilla and the Derbyshire pikelet. Almost like a pancake bound with oatmeal instead of eggs, and fluffed up with yeast. They are quicker to make than bread, you can roll up what you like in them and eat them as a wrap, put them on a plate with bacon and eggs, or just butter them. Yummy!

You need

500 ml warm milk
500 ml warm water
250 g plain flour
250 g medium oatmeal
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 lump fresh baker's yeast

(Ask for fresh baker's yeast at the bread counter of your local supermarket - Morrisons around here give it away, and so do Tesco)

Mix the milk and water. Cream the yeast and sugar together in a cup and mix to a thin paste with some of the liquid. Mix the flour, oatmeal and salt in a large bowl (every kitchen should have a big Gresleyware mixing bowl), making sure the mixture is free of lumps. Add the liquid a little at a time, mixing it all to a thin batter. Add the yeast mixture. Cover with a teacloth and leave in a warm place for half an hour until the batter is frothy.

Now the fun bit. Heat a lightly-greased frying pan (I love my American cast-iron skillet which is just perfect for this) and pour in a ladleful of batter. Spread it around the pan so it makes a thin pancake. Wait until the top is set and covered with bubbles, then flip it over with a fish slice. Repeat until you have a plate piled high with oatcakes.


Very moreish!
enitharmon: (Default)
Christmas Puddings

I seem to have rather a lot of pudding this year! Triplets, each of them bigger than most shop-bought ones.
enitharmon: (Default)
Three-and-a-half hours later...

I made my Christmas cake today. See here for the whole story!

It won't have any marzipan for another month, yet, and it won't have icing until Christmas Eve, but I'll keep its progress posted.
enitharmon: (Default)
Tonight I cut my custard apple in half, spooned out the flesh of one half into a bowl and ate it with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

It was really rather nice! The texture of the inside really was like custard, and it tasted sweet and creamy with just a hint of sharpness. A little bit like a very slightly acidic mashed banana.

The worst part was extracting the hard black seeds. I've set them aside and I'll probably try planting them in some seed compost to see what (if anything) comes up. It might just make an interesting houseplant after all.


Oct. 11th, 2006 11:48 pm
enitharmon: (Default)

Custard Apple

Reg the Veg brought me one of these - a custard apple - in my fruit box today.

I haven't a clue what to do with it, but no doubt somebody reading this will know some bright ideas...


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