Saturday, 20 August 2011

Rabbit with pasta

There is something gloriously retro about eating rabbit. Not that it featured a lot, in fact at all, in my 1980's childhood. It went out of fashion long before that. I suspect that once the country was spared the hardships of rationing, and was introduced to convenience foods, rabbit went off the menu completely, only to be seen again following the rise of the TV chef.

It was a TV chef (Jamie Oliver) inspired recipe which provided the basis for this dish of rabbit with pasta.

First of all the meat is marinated in olive oil, lemon zest, garlic and fresh herbs. We picked some lemon thyme and fennel from the Incredible Edible beds in Todmorden yesterday so that's what I used. Incidentally, we picked the herbs from the beds at the police station, which must be one of the few times some has reached in through the bars of a police station, rather than reaching out.

After marinating for about 4 hours the meat was browned in a big saucepan and then following it into the saucepan went a glass of white wine, 3 bay leaves, a chopped up lemon, salt and pepper and enough water to just about cover the meat. This went into the oven, at about 170-180 degrees, for a couple of hours.

After the rabbit had cooked for a couple of hours it came out of the oven to cool down, and I then picked the meat from the bones and strained the cooking liquid. The shredded meat I added back into the liquid, with a good knob of butter and heated it through whilst I cooked some pasta.

It made a really nice change from chicken and beef, and with a couple of tweaks is something I'd do again. I'd leave out the fennel next time, as it had a slightly medicinal edge to it, which may have been exacerbated by the Aussie viognier I used. Pinot Grigio never fails when I use it in Italian food, it has such a well rounded taste it can go with just about anything. The viognier had too much of a mineral taste.

From a rabbit costing £3.50 there was enough meat to feed 4 people, which makes it really good value. As it is the extra is now sitting in the freezer waiting for a day when cheese on toast for lunch just won't do.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Grilled mackerel with minted potato salad

This lovely dish couldn't be easier or cheaper.

We had some egg yolks left over after making some coconut macaroons (2 egg whites, 160g dessicated coconut, 100g sugar - whisk then put some blobs onto some baking paper and bake in the oven at 180 for 12ish minutes) which were, well still are in fact, delicious. With the egg yolks we made some mayo. Homemade mayo really will put you off shop bought for good.

If you want arms like Popeye then whisking mayonnaise is the way forward. But if you want to make your life a lot easier then a blender comes in very handy. All it takes is 2 egg yolks, a teaspoon of dijon mustard (and some english mustard if you fancy), a dash of white wine vinegar and some oil. We tend to use normal vegetable oil (which more often than not is rapeseed oil) so that the mayo doesn't take on a taste of oil, but some recipes I've seen suggest olive oil. So use whatever takes your fancy.

Put everything except the oil into a blender and give it a couple of short bursts, then switch to constant and start trickling in the oil. It'll take quite a bit, something like 150-200ml. It's done when you have a thickish pale yellow sauce. It will need a little bit of seasoning, which is best done at the end. If you're using pepper, use white rather than black to prevent very visible black bits in the mayo.

We had a mackerel in the freezer and felt like having a light Sunday lunch, so we thought we'd have it with a potato salad made with our homemade mayo.

It doesn't take a lot of explaining really. We boiled some new potatoes, cut them in half and then mixed them with some mayo, some chopped gherkin and some fresh mint for a very tasty potato salad. We simply topped that with a grilled mackerel fillet, and there you have it. A very rewarding tea for very little effort.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Lamb meatballs with Romesco sauce

We had a trip to Ilkley. There's a few good reasons why you might go to Ilkley, for us it was meat and cold water.

The cold water in question was the Ilkley Lido. Its about 15 minutes walk out of the town centre, near the rugby club and offers a heated indoor pool as well as an unheated outdoor pool. After getting a lot of enjoyment out of the Lido at Portishead when we lived in Bristol we were keen to go to Ilkley's pool.

It is a very picturesque setting, with Ilkley Moor just a short way up the hill, and the water is very cold. Well, cold anyway. But for the perverse this is all part of the fun.

For the meat we went to Lishman's. Makers of the Yorkshire sausage and an award winning banger - the Champion. Its one of those butchers where you just want to buy a bit of everything. We bought some sausages, we just had to, some pig cheeks and the lamb mince for this dish which I had been wanting to do for a while.

It was extraordinarily good meat. I could almost smell the field that the lamb had been gamboling about in.

Using a pound of mince for two people I seasoned it with salt, pepper and paprika in the absence of pimento - although I don't know if there's a lot of difference. I made the seasoned mince into 10 meatballs and fried them slowly in some olive oil. Once they were nice and brown I added the romesco sauce and just heated it through for a few minutes, and served them with rice.

Romesco is a Spanish, or to be more precise Catalan, sauce of tomatoes, peppers and almonds. I googled for a recipe and found this one.

It was a lovely dish. Rich, slightly spicy and a little sweet with a nice toasted nutty flavour from the almonds which went really nicely with the browned meatballs. Definitely one for the repertoire.