The Latest Rundown of our Freezer Contents

And so, after all of the unwanted excitement of the weekend, I did very little cooking, but, suffice to say, I did have a couple of stiff drinks to settle my ravaged nerves.
For those who have wished Coney well, a brief update: she is doing fine now apart from a big plaster on her chin and top of her skull. The vet noted that if she had been any other breed she might have sustained more damage but apparently greyhounds have brains the size of walnuts (and Coney has displayed this on more than one instance) so walked away virtually unscathed, albeit wobbly. She also happily devoured a couple of pigs ears (hers and Maxs’) despite having almost bitten all the way through her cheek, although she is having issues yawning: she has to do small yawns (try yawning without opening your mouth really wide, it’s quite difficult) and, as a regal greyhound, she yawns a lot whilst surveying the silly things that us humans and Max get up to.
Anyway, before the whole sorry incident, we had gone shopping on Saturday and as usual I spent too much money but we now have a fully stocked freezer, ready for any eventuality and then some.
I have been lusting after some of Julian Temperley’s homegrown Somerset Cider Brandy but I could only afford the Apple Cider blend which comes in a beautiful pre-raphelite styled bottle from all branches of Waitrose. This is cider, not for swigging out of a brown paper bag down the local park, but for using in cooking with pork or to make a apple desserts even more luscious. The cider is pressed from ancient strains of apples with names like Harry Masters and Kingston Black, then it is distilled into casks where it eventually becomes the famous Cider Brandy. I can’t wait to use it.
And, being physically unable to resist an unusual food item, I bought some Shetland Black Potatoes. The Shetland Black was first officially listed as a strain back in 1923 but it was the Victorians, with their love of experimenting and bright colours, who
would have first bred this distinctive spud. It has an aubergine coloured skin that looks slightly cracked but when you cut them open, other than a purple ring striating through the potato, the flesh is a milky colour. They are firm and waxy with a taste
that reminds me of freshly picked hazels: nutty and creamy. They hold their shape well, as my husband discovered when he made a non-Victorian dish - potatoes with chorizo - for supper last night. They taste like I remember potatoes to taste when I was a child, of the earth and not just of starch as so many taste these days.
I discovered a fantastic potato recipe in the latest issue of Fine Cooking that I think would suit these beautiful amazing tubers perfectly, whereby you boil the potatoes, in their skin, until cooked. Then, squash them flat with a tea-towel and the palm of your
hand so they look like exploded potato stars but haven't disintegrated (this is where the length of time spent in the cooking water is crucial). Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the oven for about half an hour. I think these would make a brilliant alternative to the usual roast potato and they can be prepared in advance, boiling them up, squashing them, then retiring them to one side until you are ready to bung them in the oven. They'd also be a great snack to pick on whilst watching a movie, plate on lap, with a bowl of sour cream (or straight from the carton if you're uncouth like me!).
I think it's important to support these unusual, antiquated breeds of vegetables (and meat too!) where you can because they are part of our heritage and, furthermore, they taste so much better than mass produced veg! On Rick Stein's Food Heroes he carries out several blind taste tests, comparing organic chickens to intensively reared ones, fresh farm eggs to battery ones, and the organic always wins. My own taste buds tell me that this is true: organic food tastes better and it cooks so much better. I would much rather live on pasta all month and have one decently reared roast chicken than eat
insipid, watery chicken that has lived a miserable life in a battery.
I also have a net of chestnuts still to prepare, a haggis to cook and some amaretti biscuits and a squash that I'm planning on filling ravioli with tomorrow night.
As tonight is detox night, I am cooking a simple spicy prawn curry from Keith Floyd's Great Curries book. An interesting story about this book: we went to see Keith Floyd during his tour of the UK where he talked about his life in the army and then his various failures as a restauranteer and his subsequent success as one of the first TV Chefs and afterwards he was signing autographs so, being the chef groupie that I am, I politely asked him for an autograph, which he duly obliged, and then cheekily asked for a photograph. To which he duly obliged. He really is one of my cookery heroes and non-pretentious, self-depracating chap to boot.
Oh, and I also finally bought my chicken livers that I have been dying to get for so long. I made sure to buy organic (they only cost about 50p more and will be free from the chemicals and toxins that non-organic hens are pumped with) and I have several dishes in mind ranging from Tamasin Day-Lewis' spiced Chicken Livers to Nigel Slater's Rough Garlicky Terrine which I hope to make for Christmas day. Thankfully my husband defrosted our freezer, giving us at least another drawers worth of frozen meat and veg!
Whatever I do prepare with my exciting new ingredients, you can be sure that I will be posting it here, failure or success (greyhound mishaps aside)!


Kathryn said...

Hi Freya

Good to hear Coney is doing okay.

How was the spicy prawn curry? I love prawns and curry! I am interested in the squash and amaretti ravioli - I made a squash, sage and amaretti risotto from Jamie s few weeks back and it was delicious. I am also interested in the cider - what will you cook with it?

I agree wholeheartedly about chickens. I have just ordered our Christmas Bronze turkey - I presume it is still living a good life now.

Kathryn x

Shaun said...

Freya, love - I, too, have been hankering for chicken livers. Really not sure where to get them, though. There aren't really any reputable butchers in Southern California anymore. I might see what they've got up in Beverly Hills/Hollywood because there are some good Jewish restaurants and delis that could turn me on to a good purveyor. "Tamasin's Kitchen Bible" arrived today. Tried to leaf through it quickly because I'm writing an essay, but 40 minutes later I was still "just having a quick look". Unlike you, I have nothing fabulous in mind for the week ahead, but you never know...Eric and I may get inspired to create something fabulous mid-week. Take care.

FreyaE said...

Kathryn, good for you and the turkey! Aside from the welfare issues, at least you can also be sure that there's no chemicals in it as well, not to mention the flavour being superlative! I'm about to do a brief post about the prawn curry so the full recipe will be there. It was very good!
The ravioli I think I'll make Friday Night when I have bags of time to experiment (I'll make the pasta dough Thursday though). I'll keep you posted on that too!

Glad that you're enjoying the Kitchen Bible - I love getting new cookbooks (fingers crossed for Christmas!!). What I find myself doing is buying an interesting ingredient and working recipes around it rather than working out menus. Sometimes it takes or week or two to get inspired (thank goodness for freezers) but it does happen eventually! Such a shame there's no decent butchers where you are, same here too. No butchers dealing in good organic meat, or smoking their ham. I'm sure you'll get inspired really soon! You have really inventive menus!

Freya x