Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zebra - A to Z Challenge 2015

Originally I wrote my blog about zucchini, but having written about Zebra on both of my previous A to Z challenges, I couldn’t resist checking on whether it is considered edible. It is, in fact.

I present you with a dazzle of zebra.
It doesn't really surprise me that they are eaten because horse is eaten in France and there are many similarities. There are lots of things which are eaten in other parts of the world which we would never consider. Dogs for instance or monkey brains. I am pretty good at trying most foods but I think I would balk at some of them.  But then I have never been starving and then I believe you will eat anything. I have also been told that there are zebra farms and my friend said she had tried zebra meat but didn't think that much of it.

Cooking with Zebra

Zebra is very lean, low fat and tastes excellent.  Unusually for a red meat, zebra has a very light flavour.

Zebra steaks should be cooked like a nice piece of Venison but don't cook more than than medium rare.  If you want to be really bold, try it as a carpaccio.

Zebra Stew

  • 1 ½ lbs. zebra meat, using topside
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Good pinch of mixed herbs
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, peeled
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of celery salt
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion
  • Pinch of paprika
  • 1 cup stock or Knorr-Swiss onion soup
  • ½ cup cream
Cut meat into stewing pieces, dip in seasoned flour and brown in oil.  Add tomatoes, quartered and seeds removed, then the stock or soup and seasoning.  Simmer until tender, depending on age of zebra. Just before serving add cream and a little red wine, if available.

That is the end of my contributions to the A to Z for this year. I've had fun, I hope you have too.

Have a great day

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yuca - A to Z Challenge 2015

 Yuca or CassavaI have just discovered there are two words, Yucca or Yuca which mean two entirely different plants. There are some parts of some Yuccas which can be eaten, but the Yuca or Cassava is more widely used as a food plant. It is native to South America and when dried and ground is known as tapioca. If that’s the same tapioca as used in Britain as a milk pudding, Yuca PlantI have eaten it many times, we used to call it frogspawn. It is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics. Although Nigeria is one of the largest growers of Cassava in the world whilst Thailand is the biggest exporter of the dried root. If not prepared properly apparently it can impart lots of cyanide into the body causing all kinds of illnesses. And they used to feed it to us kids in school. Guess I am lucky to be alive LOL

The following recipe comes from the Cayman Islands and looked delicious to me.

Cassava Heavy Cake
Travel by Stove
Country: The Cayman Islands

Makes: 12-16 servings
Cassava Heavy CakeIngredients:
  • 2 14 oz cans coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 cup grated cassava (yucca)
  1. Put all the ingredients except the cassava into a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the mixture starts to separate.
  2. At this point there should be foam forming on the surface--skim the foam off the top of the mixture and save it (you'll be using it later).
  3. Add the grated cassava and pour the mixture into an 8 x 15 inch greased baking pan.
  4. Bake at 350 or until the cake is no longer jiggly in the center, which should take about 20 minutes.
  5. Using a pastry brush, spread about half of the foam you reserved from that earlier step over the top of the cake. Now return it to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, then remove and repeat.
  6. When the top is brown and the edges of the cake start to pull away from the pan, it's ready.
  7. Note: Don't store this cake in the fridge, because refrigeration will ruin the texture. Instead let it sit out for a day without covering (to prevent sweating), then you can keep it at room temperature for about five days.
Have a great day

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for Xiphios - A to Z Challenge 2015

Several people wondered about the Woodcock recipe yesterday, it appears that there is an American Woodcock. This article describes hunting them in Nova Scotia.

SwordfishActually Xiphios is Greek for Swordfish (xiphos means sword, it’s scientific name is xiphias) but as it was in Greece I first ate swordfish it doesn’t seem that much of a cheat. It is, in fact, Matt’s favourite fish. We were always told it was like pork chops; a bit in its texture maybe, but that’s all. It is certainly a very solid fish but delicious to eat. Unfortunately the swordfish is endangered these days and various campaigns have induced chefs to remove it from their menus. People are still fishing for them though although no longer as aggressively.

However, if you ever do get the chance to eat swordfish, here is a recipe from Giada di Laurentis, one of my favourite TV chefs. Grilled does seem to be one of the preferred methods of preparing it.

Grilled Swordfish with Lemon, Mint and Basil

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

4 servings

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (5 to 6-ounces each) swordfish steaks
Prepare the grill (medium-high heat). Whisk the oil, mint, lemon juice, basil, and garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Season the lemon and olive oil mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.
Brush the swordfish steaks with 2 tablespoons of the lemon and olive oil mixture. Grill the steaks until just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side (depending on thickness of steaks). Transfer the steaks to plates. Spoon the remaining sauce over and serve.

Have a great day

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Woodcock - A to Z Challenge 2015

Woodcock_earthwormDespite the fact that this is the last name of our son-in-law (the artist) I know little or nothing about the Woodcock. Through his blog, not often published, I also know it is called a Scolopax. Apparently they are a genus of 7 or 8 small wading birds. Most of them are found in the Northern hemisphere. Some of the varieties have been overhunted and are considered pretty scarce. They feed at night and use their long bills to pull up worms and such. As you can see, although they are pretty small, they are plump little birds which would make them interesting for the table.
As  I think it extremely unlikely that anyone reading this would get a chance to eat woodcock, I haven’t worried about the fact that this recipe looks a tad complicated. The recipe came from ShootingUK

Roasted woodcock with rosti potato and caramelised parsnips

This woodcock recipe is delicious, looks fantastic and doesn't take long to cook
This woodcock recipe requires a brace of woodcocks and will serve two
»» brace woodcocks (2)
»» 2 parsnips
»» 1 grated large potato
»» salt and pepper
»» 1 tsp honey
»» 25g butter
»» 2 tsp veg oil
»» sugar

Prepare the woodcock Pluck the woodcocks as normal, but do not draw them
How to cook this woodcock recipe
: Pan roast the birds in the oil and butter, thyme and garlic.
Seal off both sides and place the birds breast-up in a hot oven (preheated to 180-200 degrees) for eight minutes.
2: Take the woodcock out the oven and rest for four minutes.
3: Once rested, take off the legs and crown it.
4: Use sharp scissors to remove the backbone and entrails. Set this aside to use for gravy later.
5: Clean the parsnips, core them and cut into quarters.
Roast in the oven for 10 minutes in oil with a sprinkle of sugar, salt and pepper.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey.
6: Grate the potato and squeeze the excess starch out.
Mix the potato with some oil and butter and season it.
Squeeze the potato into a patty shape.
Fry until brown on both sides (around five minutes for each side).
7: Place the cooked potato rosti on a plate and put the woodcock breast and legs on top. Serve with the caramelised parsnip.
Mark has added chopped, creamed savoy cabbage to the dish in the picture above.
Have a great day

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Veal - A to Z Challenge 2015

vealA lot of people refuse to eat veal because it comes from a young animal. I do see their point, but if you eat meat I don’t really see the difference caused by the age of said animal. Matt and I both enjoy veal and although I quite enjoy schnitzels made from pork, originally they were always veal. Some of the classic schnitzel dishes, particularly from Austria, Italy and France are absolutely delicious meals. In Germany I remember eating Schnitzel Holstein which was wonderful. Apparently most veal comes from the young bulls of dairy cattle although it can be from either sex.

We have a favourite Italian dish which we haven’t made for a while. Veal has to be cooked quickly by the way, if you cook it for too long it becomes tough. Pairing it with tuna may seem odd, but in fact is the most delicious dish for a summer meal. I first ate Vitello Tonnata at the Christening of my Goddaughter who’s father was an Italian chef – he made all the christening food and taught us to make this dish.

Vitello Tonnato

Classic Italian

2 1/4 pounds(1 k) boned veal, cut from the rump.Vitello Tonnato
3/4 lb (320 g) tuna packed in oil
3 eggs
6 salted anchovies (the canned variety, sold by delicatessens)
A handful of pickled capers
1/2 cup (approx.) olive oil
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
A bottle of dry white wine
The juice of a lemon
A rib of celery, thinly sliced crosswise
A few leaves of sage
2 bay leaves
3 cloves (some people omit these)
A few more perfect capers, some lemon slices, and sprigs of parsley for garnishing

1. Put the meat in a bowl with the bay leaves, cloves, sage and celery, and pour the wine over it. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours, turning the meat occasionally. The next day place the meat in a Dutch oven. Strain the wine and add it to the meat, then add enough water to cover. Lightly salt the pot and simmer the meat for an hour. In the meantime, wash, scale and bone the anchovies. When the hour is up add them to the pot and continue boiling for another half hour; the liquid should be reduced by half.
2. Hard boil the eggs, run them under cold water, peel them, and extract the yolks (you can discard or fill the whites as you prefer). Rinse, squeeze dry, and mince the capers.
3. When the meat is fork-tender remove it from the pot and strain the broth into a bowl. Transfer the fish filets to a clean strainer and press them through it, together with the tuna and the yolks, into another bowl. Stir in the minced capers, the vinegar, the lemon juice and the olive oil, and then dilute the sauce to your taste with some of the reserved broth.
4. When the veal has cooled slice it finely and lay the slices out on one or more platters (you want just one layer). Spread the sauce over the meat, garnish the platters with the lemon slices, capers and parsley. Cover them with plastic wrap and chill them in the refrigerator before serving.

Servings: 8

Author: Kyle Phillips

Have a great weekend

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Umami - A to Z Challenge

Umami foodsOK, today I am cheating, umami is not an ingredient but I really couldn’t find one for U. It is, nevertheless, an important word in cooking and eating.The word is made from the Japanese umai (delicious) and mi (taste). This is lifted directly from Wiki. Umami has a mild but lasting aftertaste that is difficult to describe. It induces salivation and a sensation of furriness on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth. By itself, umami is not palatable, but it Umami2makes a great variety of foods pleasant especially in the presence of a matching aroma. But like other basic tastes, with the exception of sucrose, umami is pleasant only within a relatively narrow concentration range. The optimum umami taste depends also on the amount of salt, and at the same time, low-salt foods can maintain a Fifth Tastesatisfactory taste with the appropriate amount of umami. In fact, Roininen et al. showed that ratings on pleasantness, taste intensity and ideal saltiness of low-salt soups were greater when the soup contained umami, whereas low-salt soups without umami were less pleasant. Some population groups, such as the elderly, may benefit from umami taste because their taste and smell sensitivity is impaired by age and medicine. The loss of taste and smell can contribute to poor nutrition, increasing their risk of disease.

Ripe tomatoes being rich in umami so long as salt is used, here is one of my favourite snacks which I have been eating since I was a kid.

Tomato Toast

For each person

1 Slice of bread, toastedTomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp olive oil
Slices of tomato to cover
Salt and pepper

Rub the toast all over with the garlic then spread the olive oil over the toast. Cover with slices of tomato, season to taste and then enjoy.

Have a great day

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Tomatillo - A to Z Challenge

TomatilloAlso known as the Husk Tomato or Mexican Husk Tomato, when ripe, the fruit can be several colours including yellow, red, green, or even purple. The freshness and greenness of the husk are quality criteria. They are a key ingredient in Mexican and Central American green sauces. As far as I am aware I have never eaten one although I have often seen them for sale in local supermarkets. Mexican food is very popular these days.
Salsas are very popular too although in fact the word salsa simply means sauce but these days has come to mean a relish like additive.

Somebody commented about a white squirrel yesterday. I just had to find a picture of it to show everyone. It obviously is an albino with the red eyes. But a pretty looking critter.

Three Chile Dry Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

A wonderful vegan Three Chile Tomatillo Salsa. The tomatillos and chiles are dry roasted (slightly blackened) in an iron skillet giving it a wonderful flavor. Great for green chilaquiles.


Next3 chile roasted tomatillo salsa
recipe makes 12 Servings
  • 1 pound tomatillos, unhusked
  • 2 serrano chile peppers
  • 2 jalapeno chile peppers
  • 8 pequin chile peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small whole onion, peeled
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
  1. Place the tomatillos, chiles, garlic cloves, and onion in a dry, cast iron pan. Toast, turning occasionally over medium-high heat until the husks of the tomatillos have blackened and their skins turn translucent. The goal is to soften the tomatillos by blackening the skin without allowing them to split. Remove from pan, and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Remove the husks from the tomatillos and the stems from the peppers. Place into the bowl of a food processor with the cilantro and salt to taste; process to desired consistency. Pour the salsa into a saucepan, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes to mellow the flavors and remove the raw taste.
Have a great day

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Squirrel - A to Z Challenge

Red SquirrelIf it weren’t for their bushy tails, most of us wouldn’t think much of squirrels at all, but those tails make them look so cute. In England we have the red squirrel which has been fighting a losing battle against the introduced grey squirrel for many years. Also loss of habitat is affecting this animal. I have now discovered there is an American Red Black SquirrelSquirrel which is not to be confused with the Asian one as their territories in no way overlap. We also have the ubiquitous grey squirrel which appears to be the dominant species and certainly in southern Ontario we have the black squirrel which I understand is actually an offshoot of the grey. It is a much prettier looking critter in my opinion. I must admit when I think of eating squirrels, I always picture the American Grey Squirrel but I guess it really doesn’t matter. I  myself have never eaten squirrel but I imagine it’s not that different to eating rabbit which I have done many times and found it delicious. I understand the Brunswick Stew was originally made with squirrel.

Squirrel Stew

Backwoods Bound

~ 3 squirrels, cleaned and cut upSquirrel Stew
~ 1/4 cup all purpose flour
~ 1 teaspoon salt
~ 1/2 teaspoon pepper
~ 2 slices bacon
~ 2 tablespoons butter
~ 5 cups of water
~ 1 - 28 oz can whole tomatoes
~ 1 chopped onion
~ 1 heaping tablespoon of brown sugar
~ 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
~ 1 - 10 oz package frozen lima beans
~ 1 cup frozen corn
~ 3 tablespoons all purpose flour

Combine 1/4 cup flour, salt and pepper. Coat the squirrel pieces.
In a Dutch oven, combine bacon and butter over medium heat until butter melts. Add squirrel and brown.
Add water, tomatoes, onion and brown sugar and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove squirrel pieces and let cool. Remove meat from bones.
Add meat, potatoes, beans and corn to Dutch oven. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and cover. Simmer until potatoes are tender.
Mix 3 tablespoons of flour with 3 tablespoons of cold water, then stir into stew. Heat to boiling.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, bubbly.
Serve with warm rolls and enjoy!

Have a great day

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Rabbit - A to Z Challenge

RabbitRabbit used to be eaten a lot in England, don’t know about today, but I can certainly remember my mother cooking rabbit quite often. During the war years (WWII) Matt’s family used to keep rabbits to supplement their diet, other families did the same as meat was severely rationed along with everything else. We once came across rabbit in a restaurant nearby, but that was a while back. Matt ordered it and said it was the best rabbit he’d ever tasted. Just remembered another time going to a friend’s house in England and she had two shot wild rabbits on the kitchen table which had been given to her but she had to get Matt to skin them for her as she didn’t know how. Nor, I might add, did I. She gave us one of them. There are eight genera of rabbits and many different species throughout the world. Australia used to be overrun with rabbits and the illness myxomatosis was introduced to try and reduce the numbers. It was a pretty horrible disease and there was a lot of outcry against it’s introduction. I read that they have gradually become more resistant to the sickness.

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce

By Tiger Duck at

I came across this delicious rabbit recipe in the French section of a cook book about Mediterranean cooking. As my mother always pairs rabbit with mashed potatoes - which is also highly recommended with this recipe - I doubled the sauce. Who doesn't want extra sauce for the mashed potatoes? This has also the advantage that the dish can easily be reheated. I usually thin sauces with a little bit of water, wine, cream or milk if I reheat them. When I cooked this recipe, I reheated it several times, as it was only me who ate it and it always tasted delicious. You can of course halve the sauce if you are not as partial to sauces as I am. I also changed the recipe found in the book slightly in that I rubbed the pieces of rabbit in mustard before frying them. My mother always does it this way. For me rabbit cooked like in this recipe with plenty of mashed potatoes on the side is pure comfort food. I also recommend to serve some cooked carrots or steamed tomatoes with it. Yummy.
Servings 4-6  
  • rabbit
  • 1 58 kg rabbit, pieces (with bones, 3lbs 9oz)
  • salt
  • pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons mild mustard
  • olive oil
  • mustard sauce
  • 4 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 slices bacon, thin slices, sliced into 3 cm pieces (1 1/5 inch pieces)
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup single cream (if the single cream in your country works well in sauces, otherwise use cream)
  • 3 -4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • thyme (to garnish)
  1. As indicated in the introduction I have doubled the sauce of the original recipe. You may therefore halve it if you are not as partial to sauce as I am.
  2. Preheat oven 180°C / 355°F / gas 2.
  3. Remove any visible fat from the rabbit meat. Rinse rabbit meat under cold water and drain well with kitchen paper.
  4. Brush pieces with mustard, but do not use too much of it, as it otherwise will burn during the frying process. Generously salt and pepper the meat.
  5. Fry the meat pieces in portions in hot olive oil in an oven-safe pot until they have a nice colour. Use more oil if necessary. Put browned meat aside.
  6. Fry onions and bacon in the pot you fried the rabbit for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with flour and stir. Add wine and stock and bring to a boil while you keep stirring. Add meat and thyme leaves.
  7. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 75-90 minutes or until tender. Remove pot from oven and put on stove. Add cream and 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard. Mix and check if you want to add another tablespoon. Season to taste. Cook for a few minutes on the stove until the sauce is creamy.
  8. Serve on individual plates with mashed potatoes and vegetable of your choice. Garnish meat with thyme sprigs or thyme leaves.

Have a great day


Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quince - A to Z Challenge

QuinceThe Quince is related to the pear tree and it’s fruit does look very similar. It has been grown for years for the fruit which is used in cooking, but I have just discovered it is also grown for its attractive blossoms. It is native to Southwest AsiQuince_flowersa, Turkey and Iran although it can be grown in northern Scotland. It likes rocky slopes and woodland margins. Once ripe the flesh is very hard and strongly perfumed. I have also just discovered it seems to be the same fruit that is being sold in my neck of the woods as pomelo. The first time I ever heard of a Quince was in the Edward Lear poem, The Owl and the Pussycat.

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat


By Edward Lear 1812–1888 Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are,
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"
Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."

So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;   
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Here is a recipe using Quince or Pomelo. They don’t give a picture but I found one of the Brussels Sprouts and Pomelo. I think you know what a quiche looks like.

Membrillo and Stilton on quiche with roasted Brussels sprouts and pomelo

BBC Food

Make quiche extra special with Stilton and membrillo. Serve with roasted Brussels sprouts and zesty pomelo for a flavourful vegetarian meal.

Serves 6 Roasted Sprouts with Pomelo


For the quiche
For the Brussels sprouts and pomelo

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
  2. Toss the squash in a bowl with the oil, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown, turning once. Set aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5.
  3. Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface, roughly 3mm thick, and transfer it to a 24cm/9½in quiche tin. When lining, leave some pastry hanging over the edge. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  4. Line the tin with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown. Set aside to cool.
  5. Spread the squash over the pastry base, dot the stilton between, and sprinkle the membrillo all over.
  6. Place the eggs, cream and crème fraîche in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Whisk together and pour over the squash, leaving some of the filling exposed. Place in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the egg mixture has set. Leave to rest, then remove from the tin and break off the hanging pastry.
  7. Meanwhile for the pomelo, place the sugar, cinnamon and star anise in a small saucepan with 100ml/3½ fl oz of water and bring to a light simmer. Cook for 1 minute, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and set aside to cool.
  8. Peel the thick skin off the pomelo. Segment the fruit, making sure to remove all the white membrane. Break into bite sized pieces and put in a shallow bowl. Pour the sugar syrup over the pomelo and leave to marinate for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the cinnamon and star anise and strain the pomelo reserving the juices.
  9. For the sprouts, increase the oven to 220C/200C Fan/ Gas Mark 7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the sprouts and shallots and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water and pat dry. When cool, halve the sprouts lengthways and cut the shallots so that they are similar size to the sprouts. Put in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ tablespoon of salt and some black pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the sprouts are golden brown but still retain a bite. Set aside to cool.
  10. Just before serving, put the shallots, sprouts, pomelo and coriander in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining olive oil and lemon juice, plus 1 tablespoon of the reserved pomelo marinade juices and ¼ tablespoon of salt. Gently mix, season to taste, you may wish to add another tablespoon of the pomelo marinade.Slice the quiche and serve alongside the Brussels sprouts.
Have a great day

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Pheasant - A to Z Challenge 2015, Lightbringer.

Ring_necked_Pheasant_Ring necked pheasants are seen all over the US and southern Canada – the males are such colourful birds although, as often happens, the females are quite dull looking.They crow almost like roosters and the sound can be heard from a mile away. They were introduced to this part of the world from Asia in the 1880s and quickly became a very Ring neck femalepopular North American game bird. They eat seeds and waste grain predominantly although they do eat the odd insects too. There are quite a lot of birds in the family including the ordinary pheasant. I know in the UK there is a season for hunting these birds, I don’t know about in North America. Grouse is another bird which is hunted and the season always starts on the Glorious Twelfth (August 12). I don’t know why I know this so well, I’ve never hunted them in my life nor have I eaten them although I have eaten pheasant. Apparently the male pheasant also helps with the rearing of the young.

If you visit Brandon Ax you will find he is revealing the cover of his new book in the Lighbringer series. It is called Lightbringer. He also has his first two books Elemental and Ashes on sale for .99¢ each. I just bought them myself.

This recipe is one of Emeril Legasse’s which means it gets “kicked up a notch” but there are recipes which don’t do this of course. I have only ever eaten it roasted as far as I recall, and not for many years but I do remember I enjoyed it.

Emeril's Favorite Roast Pheasant

6 servingsRoast-Pheasant_jpg_rend_sni12col_landscape

  • 3 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) farm-raised pheasants*, innards removed, wing tips and necks trimmed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup Madeira
  • 1 cup rich chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding, recipe follows

  • Emeril's Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding:
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sliced yellow onions
  • 10 ounces assorted wild mushrooms, such as oyster, shitake, chanterelles, wood ear, or porcini
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 teaspoons Essence, recipe below
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lager beer
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup grated Gouda cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 pound stale white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon plain bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
Season the cavities and the outside of each pheasant liberally with salt and pepper. Divide the chopped onion and carrot equally among the cavities of the pheasants. Squeeze the juice from both halves of the orange and set aside. Cut 1 of the squeezed halves into 3 pieces, and tuck inside of the cavities along with the veggies. Insert 1sprig of thyme into the cavity of each pheasant.
Arrange the pheasants in a large roasting pan, breast sides up. Lay 2 strips of bacon over the top of each pheasant, cutting the bacon into pieces if necessary to cover as much of the pheasant as possible. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove the bacon strips and continue roasting for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, or until the juices run clear. (It is important to not overcook the pheasants, as they are very lean birds.) Remove the pheasants from the oven and transfer to a serving platter, loosely tented, while you make the sauce.
Using a spoon, carefully remove as much extra fat from the pan as possible. Place the roasting pan over high heat and, when hot, deglaze with the reserved orange juice and Madeira, using a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When the orange juice and Madeira have reduced by half, add the chicken stock and continue to cook until sauce has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 to 4 minutes. Swirl in the butter and remove from the heat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Remove the back bone from each pheasant, then cut along the breast bone to divide the birds into two halves. Serve 1/2 pheasant per person, napped with some of the sauce and with some of the Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding.
*Note: Wild pheasants are usually smaller birds, and thus will cook in less time. If you are using wild pheasants, please adjust the recipe accordingly.

Emeril's Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding:
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown and tender, 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Essence, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender and have given off their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the beer and cook, stirring, to deglaze the pan and until the mixture is almost dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cream, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of Essence, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and whisk well to combine. Add the mushroom mixture and cheeses and stir well. Add the bread cubes and let sit until the bread has absorbed the liquid, 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with the butter. Add the bread crumbs, shaking to cover the bottom evenly. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the prepared pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour and uncover. Continue baking until risen and firm in the center, and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup

Have a great weekend

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Offal or Organ Meats - A to Z Challenge 2015

Some of you may be interested to know I found a source of Nopalitos in Toronto and have ordered some. Shipping came quite expensive mind you. They are San Miguel Nopalitos.

Mostly known as Organ Meats in this part of the world, it does seem to be Offalsomething not much eaten. Liver probably is, but I think it is mainly the imports, like us, who eat kidneys, tripe and other such items. Lamb’s kidneys are pretty difficult to find although beef kidney (what we call ox kidney in the UK for some reason) is seen in the stores now and then. Liver is always available, be it pig or calf liver. I have seen tripe now and again which I don’t eat – my parents used to love it. I have never been that keen on liver except in one Portuguese dish, and I have never eaten chicken liver. In my young days sheep brains were often eaten and pig’s brains are still eaten in the South. Brains and eggs is a very popular dish in North Carolina. Sweetbreads which I used to love, I have never seen around here at all, my mother used to prepare them and I would always enjoy. My mother also used to make brawn called head cheese in this part of the world, absolutely delicious.  She also used to make stuffed sheep’s heart. I have cooked that myself in the past. To quote Wiki Some offal dishes are considered gourmet food in international cuisine. This includes foie gras, pâté and sweetbreads. Other offal dishes remain part of traditional regional cuisine and may be consumed especially in connection with holidays. This includes Scottish haggis, Jewish chopped liver, Southern U.S. chitlins, Mexican menudo as well as many other dishes. Intestines are traditionally used as casing for sausages.

So, liver being offal, I have to include my favourite liver dish which I try and sneak in every year as I want to encourage people to try it, it is such a wonderful way of eating liver and, as I frequently emphasize, I don’t really like liver. I could have included a recipe for Steak and Kidney Pie or Devilled Kidneys two of our favourites, but I figured some people might try the Iscas (pronounced Iscaj - soft J) recipe.

Iscas: Marinated Liver with Red Wine Sauce
Foods of the World: Time Life
Note: all measurements are English so a pint is 20 fluid ounces

Serves 4

1/4 pt. dry red wine
1 1/2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp of finely chopped garlic (or more if preferred)
1/2 bay leaf, crumbled
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb calf's liver, cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
2 1/2 tbs olive oil
3 rashers of bacon, coarsely chopped
2 tbs finely chopped parsley

Put the wine, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, salt and a few grindings of pepper into a glass, enamelled or stainless-steel bowl or baking dish. Add the liver, turning the slices about with a spoon until they are evenly coated. Marinate at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Heat the olive oil over a moderate heat in a large, heavy fry pan until a light haze forms above it. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and crisp. Drain on a double thickness of paper towel.
Remove the liver slices from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towel. Reserve the marinade. Heat the bacon fat remaining in the fry pan until it splutters. Add the liver and cook the slices about 2 minutes on each side, regulating the heat so they brown quickly and evenly without burning. Remove the liver to a heated dish.
Quickly pour the reserved marinade into the pan and boil it uncovered over a high heat until it has reduced to about half, meanwhile scraping in any browned bits clinging to the bottom and sides of the pan. Taste for seasoning. Scatter the bacon pieces over the liver, pour the sauce over it and sprinkle with parsley. Serve at once.

If you don't like liver, I recommend it. If you do like liver, I recommend it even more.

Have a great day

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Nopal - A to Z Challenge 2015

NopalActually Nopal or Nopales is made from the Opunti Cacti leaves. There are many sources of edible cactus in Mexico and the leaves are generally sold fresh there. They are, however, bottled or canned and sold elsewhere. I have bought them in North NopalesCarolina. The nopalitos, I read, are made from the Prickly Pear fruit of the cactus. The jar I have is called nopalitos and is definitely from the cactus leaf. I like them, Matt doesn’t. There is so much information about them on Wiki and what they are used for that I suggest you follow the link if you need to know more. I am finding it a tad confusing. The slices are what you end up eating with all the prickly bits removed. I believe they are imported into Canada, I just haven’t found a source yet though. I recently found a jar in my store cupboard which I had forgotten I had.

Nopales Salad or Cactus Paddle Salad

If you can't get fresh nopales, you can substitute a 12 - 15 ounce jar of the cactus pieces, drained. If you can't find Mexican queso fresco, you can substitue feta cheese--but the feta may beNopales Salad saltier than the queso so adjust your seasoning.
Servings 4
  1. Heat 6 inches of water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the cactus and boil, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Drain the cactus and transfer it to a large bowl.
  4. Add tomato, onion and cilantro; set aside.
  5. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, oregano and salt; pour over the vegetables and toss.
  6. Line a platter with lettuce leaves; top with salad; sprinkle with cheese; garnish with jalapenos and radish slices.
Have a great day