Saturday, December 13, 2008

Offaly Goode for You

The first recipe today is a fairly basic liver 'n bacon, but should not be ignored as liver cooks really rapidly, so think of the fuel saving as well as the low cost, not to mention the high protein content (in other words value for money).
Liver, Bacon and Apple: serves 4
2 oz (50g) butter
2 large cooking apples, peeled and cored
1 lb (450g) lambs' liver, sliced
4 rashers lean or streaky bacon, rind removed
Slice the apples into thick rings. Melt half the butter in a frying pan and saute the apple rings until softened, then transfer to a warm dish and set aside.
Melt the remainder of the butter in the pan, then add the liver and fry gently for 2 minutes on each side, until tender and barely pink in the middle.
Grill the bacon until crisp (or this could also be fried in the pan before adding the liver - the bacon fat adding extra flavour). Place the cooked liver onto a warm serving platter, interleaving with the apple rings, and place the bacon either side. Serve immediately.

(economy tip: this is the type of dish where the cheaper 'offcuts' of bacon rashers or thicker pieces can be used, often these contain quite an amount of fat, which can be rendered down to save as 'bacon dripping'. Just tossing some steamed cabbage in hot bacon dripping will improve the flavour. Also fry breaded liver 'gougons' in bacon dripping instead of oil, and you cut down on using bacon rashers - or omit them completely. When serving liver, cabbage, bacon and new potatoes, also fry on the cooked potatoes in the bacon fat for a few more minutes, again to give added flavour).
Liver Jalousie: serves 6 (F)
1 tsp dried thyme or mixed herbs
8 oz (225g) plain flour
pinch salt
2 oz (50g) margarine
2 oz (50g) lard
cold water to mix
1 oz (25g) bacon dripping
1 onion, chopped
6 oz (175g) lambs' liver, sliced
6 oz (175g) rindless bacon rashers, chopped
2 oz (50g) mushrooms, chopped
1 crisp eating apple, peeled, cored, chopped
1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
Sift the dried herbs with the flour and salt. Rub in the fats and add water to bind to a soft pastry dough. Set aside.
Put the dripping into a frying pan, and when melted, fry the onion, liver and bacon/ When cooked, remove to a flat plate or surface and chop finely. Put into a bowl and mix in the mushrooms, apple and parsley, adding seasoning to taste.
Divide the pastry dough in half and roll each into a rectangle 12" x 8" (30 x 20cm). Place on onto a baking sheet and spoon over the liver filling, spreading to within 1/4" (0.5cm) of the edges. Moisten the exposed edges with water, then place over the remaining pastry, pressing the edges together to seal.
At this point open-freeze the 'jalousie' and when solid, wrap tightly in foil, then bag, seal, label and keep frozen for up to 3 months. To cook from frozen, unwrap, place back on baking sheet and brush with egg or milk, then carefully cut through the top layer of pastry only, across, but not right up to the sides, at half inch intervals. Cook at 200c, 400F, gas 6 for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 180C, 350F, gas 4 and cook for a further 15 minutes. Serve with a well-flavoured (pasta type) tomato sauce.
If wishing to cook once assembled, brush the pastry with beaten egg or milk, slash the top as above, and cook at the 200C etc temperature for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the dish is heated through.

When buying liver from the butcher, request the slices be no more than a quarter inch (1/2cm) thick to give even cooking. Cooking at excessively high heat for too long will toughen liver, so cook at medium to high heat and for only about 2 minutes on either side. The liver should remains slightly pink inside.
Liver with wine gravy and Potatoes: serves 6
approx 12 large thin slices lambs' liver
2 - 4 tblsp flour
salt and pepper
pinch dried tarragon or mixed herbs
6 large onions, thinly sliced
4 tbslp butter
half pint (300ml) light red or rose wine
1 tblsp Dijon mustard
mashed potatoes
Mix the dried herbs with the flour, adding salt and pepper to taste, then dip the slices of liver in this to coat, patting the surface of each slice to remove excess flour.
Put half the butter into a frying pan over medium heat, and fry the onions until softened and golden, but not letting them burn (this should take between 10 - 15 minutes). Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon, and set aside, but keeping them warm.
Add remaining butter to the pan, raise the heat, and when foaming, add the sliced liver (will need to be done in batches) and sear quickly on both sides (2 - 3 minutes each side). As each batch is fried, removed to a heated serving dish and keep warm.
When all the liver is cooked and in the serving dish, add the wine to the juices in the pan, and over high heat, bring to the boil, scraping sides and bottom with a wooden spoon to gather all the liver flavours into the gravy. Check the seasoning, adding more if necessary, then reduce heat to low and stir in the mustard. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the onions and mix well together.
Pour the onion gravy over the liver in the serving dish, and sprinkle over the parsley, serve immediately with a bowl of mashed potatoes, or (if you have the time and a piping bag of mash at the ready) pipe the potatoes around the liver.

cheat's tip: by now, readers will be fully aware that I use a convenience sauce mix when it saves me time, and there is a Colman's 'Liver and Bacon' casserole mix that I used recently when wishing to cook some pigeon breasts. Normally 78p a pack, Tesco are selling these (and other mixes) at three for £1.00. One of these could be used, with the onion added, as the gravy for the above recipe, and would work out cheaper than when using wine, and also saving a lot of time and trouble. If serving six, maybe an extra half packet of the mix may need to be added (with extra water), and worth remembering - like most foods - not ALL of a packet of dry mix (or stock cube, cup a soup etc) needs be used every time it is opened. Just fold the pack tightly over to contain the surplus, and keep this to be used later.

Because of the festive season coming up, am giving two recipes for the same dessert as these are worth making for any buffet or dinner party. The joy of is that they can both be prepared and chilled several hours before serving. Take heed of what I suggested above re stocking up with culinary booze, for this dish uses more than one type.
Syllabub: serves 6 - 8
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
half pint (300ml) sweet sherry
2 tblsp brandy
1 pint (600ml) double cream
2 egg whites
3 tblsp caster sugar
Put the lemon zest in a bowl and cover with the sherry. Cover and leave to soak overnight. Next day, strain the sherry into a bowl, using a muslin lined sieve.
Add remaining ingredients and whisk until thick and frothy. Pour into six tall or 8 shorter serving glasses and chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Serve with sponge fingers or biscotti. Decorate the sides of each glass by slotting over a slice of lemon, alternavely sprinkle a little lemon zest on the top of each syllabub.

Everlasting Syllabub: serves 6
5 fl oz (150ml) sweet white wine (eg Sauterne)
1 tblsp sweet sherry
2 tblsp brandy
1 lemon or 1 orange
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
half pint (300ml) double cream
Pour the wine, sherry and brandy into a bowl. Squeeze the juice from the lemon (or orange if you prefer to use this), and add to the booze. Remove the pith from the shell, then cutting the peel into thin shreds and add half the peel to the bowl. Cover and leave overnight, the next day removing and discarding the peel.
Boil the remaining peel in 5fl oz (150ml) water for 2 minutes to remove any bitterness. Drain and cut it into finer shreds and reserve for garnish.
Stir the sugar into the wine mixture until dissolved, then whisk in the cream to thicken to soft peaks. Spoon into wineglasses and chill for at least 2 hours (or longer). When ready to serve, sprinkle the peel shreds over the top of the syllabub.
(tip: personally see no reason why the peel removed from the booze after an overnight soaking could not be boiled in the water and shredded finely - this would save a half lemon shell, which could then be frozen, added to others and used as a container for sardine pate etc, or just for adding to a pan of water to flavour rice. Alternatively use the booze soaked peel to flavour casseroles (lemon with fish, orange with beef) or other savoury dishes. Whenever you can, remember: USE NOT LOSE).