Cool weather and some thoughts and a recipe or two.

What a week… so much happening, not much of it good. One of the people I occasionally chat with had a note on his web page saying ‘price of sushi will now rise’ I was not amused.

The Melbourne Food and Wine extravaganza drew to a close and by this stage its likely that the organising committee and employees are sitting back congratulating themselves and god knows why. I have to pose the question, all the vast amount of money that is spent on bringing international celebrities to Melbourne, is that for
1: The edification and enlightenment and BENEFIT of the Victorian food industry.
2. Just to be sure that there are bums on seats and plenty of cash flow.

Call me cynical, call me an old fart, call me just dead nasty, and I am all of these things, but I am dammed if I can see what benefit this whole thing is to Melbourne or Victorian wine and food producers, I for one have never been invited to any events, to participate in any way at all. And they call me the Spice King.

Apparently I am not. But that’s ok, I can handle that, spice is a very small part of what I do and so I am content to let that ball through to the keeper.

What I am not content to do is to just sit back and watch this event turn into a mini version of the slow food movement and become consumed by financial and commercial considerations when it should be helping the masses to eat well. Not how to cook and prepare roast haunch of baby ostrich, but rather how to cook and use things like mince and better yet, how to choose and discriminate our foods..

Enough for the moment, but I am about to launch into this question as a cause and so stand by for developments.

Cool weather is clearly just around the corner and its time to start thinking about warm, long cooked dishes that just keep you deeply content. My Dad’s favourite was steak and kidney pudding (can be pie) and so here we go… If the whole idea of eating offal is repugnant, then just increase the beef content. Mind you this is another of those issues that has occurred over the past few years where we do find many people with issues about eating offal. And it is tragic.

Steak And Kidney Pudding
This recipe is cooked in a suet crust, the recipe for which is given first. It can be cooked as a pie using flaky pastry or even puff pastry.
Suet Crust
2 cups self raising flour
pinch of salt
125gr (4oz) fresh suet or packaged shredded suet (you can used well chilled grated butter)
approx 1/3rd cup of cold water

If you are using fresh suet, remove the skin from the suet and, using a grater, grate on the fine shredding side. Measure the suet required. Sift the flour and salt, stir in the finely shredded suet, cutting it through the flour with a knife. Begin to add the water, still cutting with the knife, when the dough begins to form, gather it into a ball, you may still have to add more water, begin to knead it lightly until the dough is smooth. (it will never be completely smooth, that is fine, the suet will melt in the cooking as it should.)

Meat mix is..
1kg (2lb) chuck or blade steak cut into 2.5cm cubes
1 calves kidney or 2 sheep’s kidneys, cored and chopped
1tblspns flour
1 tspn salt
1 tspn black pepper
1/2 tspn mixed dried herbs
1/2 cup water
2 tblspns Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tspns nutmeg
dash of cayenne (optional)
onion and garlic are also options (1/2 onion in rings, 2 garlic, chopped fine)

Place the meat and all ingredients in a saucepan, cover and simmer gently for two hours or until the meat is well cooked. This can also be done in the microwave. Add more water if necessary, the mixture should be on the wet side.
Roll out the suet pastry and line a 4 cup basin, that you have buttered and floured, saving some for the top, the lining should not be thicker than about 5mm. Pour the meat into the basin, don’t fill more than 1cm from the top. Fit the top piece of pastry on the basin, using cold water to seal the pastry together. Cut two holes in the pastry to allow steam to escape.

Cover the top with a piece of greaseproof paper (or foil) and then cover with a cloth that you have folded double thickness, dampened and floured (flour side down) tied down the basin 2 cm from the top. Tie securely. Take the four corners of the cloth and tie above the basin in a knot, it makes it easier to remove.

Have a pot of water boiling that will take the basin easily, the water should come up the side of the basin at least 3/4 of the way (not more), boil for 3 – 4 hours, as the water evaporates, replace with boiling water to keep the depth the same.
Serve straight from the basin with mashed potato and green peas.
The same meat can be used to make a pie or a scone (USA biscuit) covered dish.

Now for something entirely designed to make those of you who don’t like offal.. cringe.

Fried Calves Brains
You can do the same thing with lamb brains, just cut back the poaching time to ten minutes and remember that the liquid should be a gently burble, not fierce or they will fall apart. Poaching is a very good approach to this form of offal as you can do this ahead of time and simply fry them when wanted.
1 set of calves brains or 3 sets of lamb brains
1/2 carrot peele1/2 onion peeled and sliced
1/2 stick of celery peeled and chopped into 2 cm slices
1 tblspn vinegar (white is best)
flour, egg and breadcrumbs for dipping.

Wash the brains in cold water, soak them in a bowl of water for 10 minutes, drain and remove as much of the surrounding membrane as you can. Don’t get too fussed about this, it really has not effect on the final dish. It is more desirable when brains are being used without a coating.

Put the carrot, onion, celery, vinegar and salt in a saucepan with 1.5 litres of water, bring to the boil, allow to simmer for 10 minutes to get the flavour from the vegetables into the water. Put the brains into the water and bring back to the boil, turn it down to very low and cook for 20 minutes (for lamb brains, 10 minutes is enough)

Remove the brains with a slotted spoon and allow to completely cool. Refrigerate for a while to make sure they are set.
Cut the calves brain into 12mm thick slices the lamb brains cut in halves length way. Dip the brains in flour egg and breadcrumbs and allow 15 minutes in the refrigerator to set. Fry in hot oil until golden brown on each side.
Serve with lemon wedges. Or for those of you a little more adventurous, a Black Butter sauce…
Black butter
A traditional butter sauce to serve with fish or vegetables. It should be made immediately before serving.
100 g butter
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon capers
1 tablespoon (I like malt vinegar) vinegar
Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed pan until it becomes brown (not black).
Add the chopped parsley and capers to the hot butter.
Immediately before serving stir the vinegar into the hot butter.
Serve hot.
Good luck all… we will do some winter food tastings very shortly and maybe I might even whip up a steak and kidney pudding. Who knows.


~ by peterwatson on March 18, 2011.

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