what to do with a pig liver

pate ingredients

I’m generally not a huge fan of liver, but when someone hands you a package of liver from one of their pigs, which you know was a happy, well-taken-care-of pig of great quality, you make sure to cook with it. I find myself hoping that if I keep trying it, I’ll eventually like it, so I decided to try my hand at pâté.

I found a recipe in my parents’ copy of The River Cottage Cookbook for a very straightforward-sounding country pâté, really just a liver-based meatloaf. We invited some liver-loving friends over to dinner, and a few days ahead of time I got out the meat grinder and put it together.

pork liver

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street food party

Supper club is back, and we really had a great theme this time – street food! We could easily repeat this theme every year and have a completely different dinner.

borek//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I made a variant of Turkish borek. This was the second version of borek that I’ve tried, from the cookbook Turquoise by Greg Malouf (a beautiful and inspiring cookbook, btw, but somewhat undependable in the ingredient lists and index). Both used the same yogurt and butter rough puff pastry (yum), but the first batch had a filling of steamed squash, herbs and feta. It was good but very subtle, so for the actual supper club I made a lamb and pine nut filling (the same one I use for my lamb pizza) and it worked very well. These guys are dense and rich and kind of a lot of work but well worth playing around with. Continue reading

braising a bunny

dinner

I really don’t know why Americans don’t eat rabbit. There’s definitely a factor of “oh, it’s too CUTE to eat” which is part of why we don’t eat much lamb as a nation, either. But it’s really hard to find rabbit in grocery stores – we asked once at our usual market and I think they could special order it frozen for us if we gave them enough notice, and it cost an arm and a leg. Weird.

So when a friend of ours, a local farmer, asked if we wanted to take one of the rabbits she’s been shooting to keep them out of her vegetables, we said Definitely. Even before we received the rabbit, I started looking through my British and Mediterranean cookbooks for possible recipes. We haven’t had much experience cooking wild game of any sort, so I wanted to get a feel for the most common treatments. Rabbit isn’t a strongly gamey meat, but it’s still liable to be stronger-tasting than, say, a farm-raised chicken, and the meat is very dense and low in fat, so it requires some care in preparation.

rabbit

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and the house smelt of truffles

truffle salami

noodles for dinner

On Monday I really, really didn’t feel like going anywhere, including the grocery store. I rummaged through the refrigerator, then tossed a tweet out asking for suggestions based on my main available ingredients: macaroni noodles, fresh tomatoes, feta and salami. Cook Local (as well as my cousin Katherine) came through with an improvised pasta idea – thanks! I decided to add arugula at the last moment, partly to add color but mostly because a friend gave us a bag of arugula that still needed to be finished off – I had forgotten to list it among my assets.

truffle salami

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L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

When we flew into Kansas City last week, getting in just in time for dinner, we were sorely tempted to go back to our favorite BBQ joint, Oklahoma Joe’s. In the pursuit of knowledge, however, we felt that we really needed to try somewhere new – you know, so we can say with authority where our favorite KC barbecue is. We’ve tried Gates, Smokestack and Joe’s, but we had never made it to one which is often touted as the best in the city: L.C.’s Bar-B-Q.

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

Located on the corner of Blue Parkway and Sni-a-Bar Road, just off of the eastern curve of 435, L.C.’s isn’t hard to find – there are even signs on the freeway to get you there. It’s not much to look at, and they don’t serve beer, so I would suggest getting takeout – that’s what almost everyone else was doing when we stopped in. If you eat in, though, you get a big bottle of extra sauce and plenty of paper towels.  We also got to eavesdrop on a really interesting conversation L.C. was having with another guy at the corner table.

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

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what to do with bison bacon

view from Chuckanut Drive

If you ever hop off of Interstate 5 north of Mount Vernon and take Chuckanut Drive north as a scenic route to Bellingham (a side trip well worth taking, except when the road is closed by rockslides), you’ll pass by a number of great opportunities for local food buying. Without going very far out of your way, you can hit Slough Food for cheese, wine and salumi, Breadfarm for wonderful bread, cookies and crackers, Taylor Shellfish for oysters, Samish Bay Cheese (for cheese, obviously), and the Edison Inn for shuffleboard and a burger. Just to mention a few.

Just recently, we started noticing a bison farm out on Chuckanut, advertising meat for sale. We’d never cooked with bison, that I could think of, and weren’t really sure what it might be like. So a few weeks ago Jon was out getting us some oysters and he made an executive decision to stop at Rockin R  Bison. He bought a pound of chuck steak and a pound of “bacon.”

The chuck steak was easy, we cut it thinly and seared it to make a Thai-style stirfry with bamboo shoots. It was delicious, with a strong beefy flavor but marbled enough to be tender. But what to do with bison bacon?

The first few strips I tried cooking in a skillet like pork bacon. It didn’t work particularly well – the meat was done well before the fat rendered, and the taste was very much like beef jerky – not what I really want with my breakfast. Then Jon had a brainwave – use it in a Sichuan-style stirfry, based on the dry-fried beef recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s book!

bison stirfry

It worked really, really well. Continue reading

pork vindaloo

 

white lilac

It’s been a fragrant week around here.

First, I was walking home for lunch, and was waylaid by a neighbor who was engaged in cutting down several large white lilac bushes that had been attempting to take down some powerlines behind her house. The lilacs were in full bloom, and she insisted on cutting me a large bouquet to take home before they wilted on the downed shrub. I put them on the kitchen table, and every time the evening sun hits them the room fills with the scent of lilac.

daphne

Then, of course, the daphne odora is in bloom by the front porch steps. It’s old for a daphne, and beginning to list alarmingly to starboard (I may have to attempt some pruning this year), but when it blooms the smell is an astonishing sugary explosion, drowning out all other scents within a fifteen foot radius.

And finally, we made pork vindaloo. The house smelled wonderful for days.

pork vindaloo Continue reading

lamb riblets

grilling lamb riblets

We consider ourselves very lucky to finally have a local grocery store that actually carries lamb. Usually, each new store that opens up includes lamb in their meat case, just to make themselves look interesting, but as soon as the novelty wears off they drop it, except for the occasional leg at Easter. Boo. We did once get some lamb from a farm near my parents’ place, but it was closer to mutton and very badly butchered, to the point that the cuts were unrecognizable and hard to deal with.

But to our delight, Haggen (our favorite grocery store, apart from the co-op) has actually continued to have lamb in their case – we can always get leg and ground lamb, can often get loin chops, and every once in a while there is a package of riblets – what’s left after the breast meat is cut away. They’re dirt cheap, so we snatch them up and stuff them in the freezer until we have enough for a meal.

dinner

What to do with them? Continue reading

parsiloaf

lunch

You could, of course, make traditional Parsi kebabs. If you’re feeling more casual, you can simplify the technique and make Parsiburgers. More casual yet is Parsi meatloaf. I recommend it.

meatloaf ingredients

The flavors of this meatloaf are bold and sparkling: fresh ginger, green chiles (seeds and all), cilantro and mint, all jumping out of a simple meat-and-potatoes framework. It’s spicy enough to make you want some salad or a beer, and complex enough to eat without any condiments or sauce (if you want).

meatloaf Continue reading