Category Archives: Recipes

The Good Life Experience

In between festivals at the mo – returned from a new one for me; The Good Life Experience up in beautiful Hawarden, Flintshire, North Wales. Bloody wow – was actually and genuinely fantastic. Just waiting for some pics to come through and I’ll post a bunch on here and plonk in some more wordage. Aldeburgh coming up this weekend – got a demo and a host of workshops so that should keep me outta trouble for a day or two.

Hare Haggis

I normally don’t do Burns Night, seeing as we’re English and all but I’ve recently been well into haggis and all its faggoty, brawny cousins (that’s probably the only time I’ll say the last bit of that sentence). The idea of using bits that normally end up in the bin is very appealing from both a chef’s viewpoint and also from someone very much aware of the vast array of costs involved in running a catering business.

We got in half a dozen hares the other day – in fur and with guts intact. I’m somewhat of an wannabe amateur taxidermist (in that I’d like to do it just haven’t got past the stage of having a bunch of semi cured skins & hides stored all over). Taking out the innards is something that gleefully involves all the senses (i.e. it’s very bloody smelly) and as I pulled out the pluck (the heart, lungs and liver, a gory bundle that comes out in one ‘pluck’) I got to thinking that perhaps I should use it up. So I did. And the results are below. I don’t make stock from hare bones as the resulting liquid (and aroma) is very pungent and makes for a similarly strong tasting sauce/stew that doesn’t appeal to many not currently incarcerated for weird fetishes. And I was thinking that maybe the innards would result in something not particularly tasty. But, as is often the case, I was wrong!

Here’re the main bits – liver (the dark red stuff), heart (the heart shaped bit) and the lungs (slightly lighter in colour).  Trim any sinewy bits, pipes and gristle off, I scrape the membrane from the liver with a knife. Once trimmed this came to 825g.

Next up – bung it in a pan with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

The lungs are the bits floating on top stir it a few times during the cook and they’ll be fine.

Meanwhile melt a big knob of butter and sweat off some diced onion (260g or one big onion).

Get the other ingredients ready – oatmeal or oats (320g), spices – white & black pepper (2 tbs each),

ground ginger 1 tsp), cardamom (1 tsp), ground mace (1 tsp), ground coriander (2 tbs), suet (150g).

Add some rabbit loin (320g), fine diced by hand – or you can use minced lamb (or beef).

Blitz up the cooked bits, strain the liquor off and add some to the mix (700ml). Mix the whole lot together.

 

If you can get hold of a beef bung (or lamb’s stomach) to encase it then great. But you don’t generally eat that bit so for ease I use foil. Lay out a sheet of foil, lay a sheet of cling film over this and spoon the mixture onto it on the edge closest to you. Roll it up carefully and evenly, tucking the edge over the haggis and pulling it towards you – you wanna try and get it as tight as possible. Once it’s wrapped up twist the ends like a cracker, it should feel nice & tight. Then, bung it in a simmering pan of water, about 15 minutes should do it. If you use traditional casings then it can burst if you’ve packed it too tightly – this way the ends slowly twist open as it expands.

At this point the thing’ll be cooked! Open it up, fry it off a bit in butter if you like it with crispy bits – or just spread it onto some lush bread and eat. Bloody awesome with some mango chutney. The pepper gives it a lovely bite with gentle heat afterwards, the meat itself isn’t gamey or offensive at all. Feed it to your loved one/s and watch the delight on their faces. Just don’t tell them it’s Hare Haggis until afterwards.

Squid Jeddah with khubz

 Squid Jeddah with khubz

Squid Jeddah, khubz
Here comes a recipe. The first one on here – I’ll attempt to take more pics of the ‘before’ process as I go on. Right, Squid Jeddah, firstly I made the name up, it’s not a famous Red Sea recipe, so don’t go saying ‘ah, yah, I always insist on Squid Jeddah when I’m cruising the corniche’. As you may be considered some kinda eejit. That being said it does draw on some Arabic threads and is a fab alternative to the seared, salt & pepper squid that seems to be on every bloody menu.

A note on squid – it used to be a pretty cheap product but since the advent of the tellychef and 24/7 food programming, squid has become cool, meaning expensive. 2 ways to cook it really – really quick or pretty slow. If you’re shallow or deep frying it it needs only a few seconds – any longer than that and it’ll tighten up and turn into the chewy rubberbands most people remember from their hols. Try and get the small to medium size squid (the main tube up to about 15cm long). Any bigger than this and they start to get pretty thick and only suitable for slower cooking.
This will feed 4 as a main (add some rice or couscous) or 6/8 as a starter.

 

3k of fresh squid, that should turn into around 2k of ready to cook loveliness when it’s been trimmed. Cut the tubes into manageable, one bite mouthful size pieces. If the tentacles are large, cut them in half.
10 cloves garlic – half really thinly slices, half mashed
8 shallots, peeled (make sure you take it down the nice bits – no tough layers). Cut into quarters.
100g of pitted olives
1 aubergine, cut into dice sized  pieces
3 medium heat chillies, jalapeno work fine – take the seeds out and fine dice the flesh. Works well with a little heat but the seeds would smash it
500ml water
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 level teaspoon ground cumin
60g dark sugar
4oz banana chilli ketchup
4oz flaked almonds

 

Rightio: splash a little oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Bring to a good heat and throw in the shallots, move them around for a coupla minutes until they’ve started to brown in places. Add the aubergine – shake it around for a coupla mins again. Add the squid, garlic, cumin & chilli. Give it another 4 mins of moving around.

Throw in the olives, soy & sugar, stir till dissolved, add the water & whack a lid on it. Bring it to a simmer and leave it for half an hour. The squid will have turned all lovely and tender. Take the lid off, twonk the heat up and add the ketchup, stir in and reduce until the stew is er, ‘stew like’, taste and add some sea salt if you think it needs it. Chuck the almonds in, take off the heat and get ready to serve it.

This makes a fab meal in itself or just as a starter. Add some rice to the bowl if you need the carbs. I like to serve it with a rolled up khubz (Arabian for bread but generally means a pita like bread). The version I like with this is a batter-like bread spread onto a non stick pan with a spatula and cooked like a crepe, but that’s for another recipe…