Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Recipe: rabbit in wine

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

We made this back in February, and it was lovely – but I promptly forgot how to make it. Today, the rediscovery.


  • One rabbit per two people
  • Mushrooms (about a quarter-pound each)
  • Bacon (a handful)
  • Onion, garlic, etc as seems reasonable, plus stock
  • Red wine, in quantity.

If your rabbit is not yet dismantled, then dismantle it as discussed earlier. (If it is still fluffy, you’re on your own, but let me know how it went.) This time around, I took the meat off the thighs, and only cooked the forelegs as a complete unit; works well either way.

Fry the (finely chopped) onion and garlic, then the bacon, in a large flat-bottomed pan; once they look done, add the mushrooms, and then the rabbit. Once it’s browned, add the stock and some red wine – enough to cover it – and cook at a low heat, covered, for about an hour and a half, stirring regularly. If it looks like boiling dry, add more wine.

You should end up with some very deeply coloured meat – not much to look at, but tastes a lot better than it looks – and a small amount of liquid, depending how free you were with the wine. Serve with rice (it soaks up the excess wine better than potatoes) and whatever vegetables are to hand – I used diced carrots.

Haring about

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

So, last weekend, wandering through the market and wondering what to make for dinner – venison sausage stew, in the end, which was just as good as you might expect and carried me through to Wednesday – I noticed some recently deceased hares hanging outside one of the butchers; wandering a bit further on, I found some skinned and on sale. I was sorely tempted, but refrained on the ground that a) I had no idea what to do with them, and b) they were certainly too large to cook for myself, unlike a rabbit, which you can just about manage on your own.

Thinking about it afterwards, though, the temptation grew. Some research found recipies; some further questioning found some volunteers to eat it, and so on Thursday I bought a hare, stashed it in the freezer, and began to plot.

First discovery: it takes longer to thaw out a hare than you might think. Second discovery: ditto dismantling. I think I finally had it butchered about 1am on Saturday morning, with the kitchen looking like something of a charnel house. (Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?) Net product, two thighs (large), two forelegs (skinny), and a pile of chopped bits of meat. This is, I think, the first time I’ve dealt with the carcass of something wild rather than farmed – the prominent gunshot wound through the ribcage was a bit of a giveaway. An interesting, if messy, experience.

The reason I was butchering it the night before was in order to marinade it; a bottle or so of red wine, some wine vinegar, garlic, a chopped onion, some chopped carrots, and a handful of peppercorns, cloves, and a bouquet garni, something I always worry I will mistake for a teabag at the wrong moment. Stick it in the fridge (needing to rearrange the fridge in the process) and leave overnight.

Saturday, into town in the morning for some groceries, and then to work. Empty out the bowl, meat to one side, straining out the onion and carrot from the liquid; keep the marinade or discard it and start again with fresh wine, as you see fit. (I did the latter, partly because of an oversupply of cooking wine…). Fry the meat to brown it; the problem is, of course, that it has marinaded overnight in red wine, and so is somewhere between purple and black, so identifying “browned” is a bit tricky. Give it a shot.

I was aiming to feed five, so three duck legs to go with it – partly because duck would add some fat to the stew, and partly because I wasn’t sure quite how far the hare would go, and having one large leg per person seemed wise. Put all the meat into a large pot, cover with the strained marinade (or fresh wine) and some stock, begin simmering.

I ate the first of the hare at this point, one of the smaller pieces – it was cooked through – and it was… unexpectedly strong. I mean, I’d been expecting strong, but stronger than that; much more removed from rabbit than I’d expected.

The other elements were fairly simple, as well; some butter beans and a handful of carrots, which always stew up beautifully, plus the onions and carrot from the marinade, fried with a little bacon and then thrown in. Cover the pot and keep on a low heat for two hours, or longer. I served it with boiled potatoes, which were lovely, and some green beans, which were perhaps superfluous and could easily have been set aside in favour of more carrots (which were meltingly lovely).

So, the verdict? Interesting. Very strong; not unpleasant, but sharp and gamey, a bit more so than I’m normally comfortable with. I’m not sure the marinade really offset it much; I think I might try a different composition next time, and see if that helps. The other possibility is roasting it rather than stewing it – with a lot of additional fat – which does seem quite interesting but means I’d have to put a lot more effort in, and I’m not sure how the flavours would come out that way. My grandmother tells me that in the thirties she used to get hare soup after her father’s friends went shooting, which seems like it would work – the flavour would carry very well.

An interesting meal and worth it as an experiment, but I think I might stick with rabbit until I’ve had a chance to eat hare prepared by someone else and see what they do with it!

Recipe: chilli

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I am not good at making chilli. My previous attempts have led to slightly meaty, slightly red soup. But I think I’ve cracked it. This is enough for two hungry people, or one hungry person across two days (which is a good idea – the flavours will soak in). You need:

-1 tin of kidney beans;
-1 tin chopped tomatoes;
-about 250g lamb mince (I cooked mine straight from frozen – I’m sure quorn mince would be just as good);
-1 stock cube;
-about 200g mushrooms, chopped (any kind – I used the chestnut ones);
-some garlic (fresh or paste);
-some ground cinnamon;
-some black pepper;
-1 fresh red chilli, chopped and deseeded;
-some exceedingly elderly red wine (if you have more class than me, use actual red wine vinegar);
-oil to cook with.

Use a saucepan for this, not a frying pan. Start with your oil, and your fresh garlic if you’re using it. Fry the mince and the mushrooms in it together on a high heat until the mince isn’t very pink any more and the mushrooms are starting to shrink. Add the chopped tomatoes, the kidney beans, the stock cube, shake in some cinnamon and pepper, add the garlic paste if you’re using that.

Stir. Leave it on the high heat until most of the liquid has bubbled away. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Add the chilli and a good splash of red wine, stir some more. Bring down the heat to medium and let it bubble away until it’s chilli and not soup. Put in a bowl and eat.

(Wtih rice, if you’re classy, or bread, if you’re slightly less so, and just in a bowl, if you’re me.)

Recipe: whipped cream

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

This one is more for my reference than an actual recipe, but. Some months ago Andrew’s grandmother very patiently taught me how to whip cream. (After expressing mild astonishment that I didn’t even know you could whip cream. I don’t even know what I thought. Maybe one udder full-fat, one skimmed, one whipped?)

Anyway, I’ve been waiting to have a go at it myself. And it appears, contrary to every recipe on the internet, it is not that hard to whip cream through trial and error. I bought ordinary double cream, fished out my flatmate’s very nice Ikea whisk, and whisked. And whisked, and whisked, and whisked, and whisked. And got bored, and switched to a fork and took the bowl through to watch ten minutes of Deep Space Nine.

Nothing doing. I changed back to the whisk – apparently, you cannot do it with a fork, but you can do it without an electric mixer. Within about thirty seconds, it had turned pleasantly solid and fluffly. I chopped some strawberries into it, and they aren’t very nice – it’s only April, so they’re imported and a little tasteless, even though it was such a sunny day they were half price – but I am ridiculously pleased with myself.

That is all. Next time I will do it with someone else in the house – Andrew is away – so I am not loser girl eating her way through an entire bowl of whipped cream all by herself.

Recipe: slow-roasted tomatoes

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Oh my god. Remember I said I was slow-roasting tomatoes? Well, today I had the afternoon off school and resolved to try it.

Oh, oh my god. I had no idea how this was going to work, but the tomatoes just came out of the oven and they taste like…. well, the original author described them as “twenty feet tall and made of sunlight”. The taste is indescribable: sort of sweet, sort of sour, sort of like the best pizza you ever had, sort of like dessert and somehow still savoury. It’s utterly delicious.

I altered the recipe slightly, as expected: my tomatoes took not quite six hours, not the recommended seven, and that includes twenty minutes earlier when my flatmate wanted the oven for a pizza. (I suspect this shorter time is because it’s a fan oven, and obviously all ovens are different, etc.) Despite the ridiculously long cooking time, they’re very simple: ten minutes’ preparation time, maximum, and although you should check them every so often just to check they’re not turning into little red leather scraps, but essentially it’s easy peasy.

I have this feeling I’m just going to eat them out of the jar, rather than use them in actual food, and that they might be gone tomorrow. I had no idea how much to start with, so guessed 750g of baby plum tomatoes: this has yielded one not-very-large jar (that is already looking depleted, sigh).

Mmm. Tastes like summer. And speaking of summer, it’s coming; the birds are singing, the glass is green, I’m drinking smoothie out of a wine glass and my landlord’s cat has just bounced through the window. Life’s good.

Recipe: chicken with apricot sauce

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

I wasn’t going to write up this recipe, but today I changed my mind, as you will see!

You need:

-four chicken breasts, boneless and skinless;
-an onion;
-three garlic cloves;
-three tablespoons of honey;
-half a lime;
-two handfuls of dried apricots;
-some ground cinnamon;
-black pepper;
-two chicken stock cubes
-some type of cooking oil.

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and fry in your oil on a high heat, so it cooks through quickly. Once it’s done or nearly done, set it aside in a wee bowl. Chop your onion into half-slices, crush the garlic cloves and fry them up in the same pan until the onion pieces are translucent.

Slice the apricots finely and throw them in the pan, add a few shakes of ground cinnamon, a few shakes of brown pepper, and turn the heat down so the apricots start to get properly squishy.

Then make up the stock. You want it to be thick, so put two stock cubes into one mug of boiling water. Stir this, throw it into the pan and then put the chicken back in.

Stir this well, put your three tablespoons of honey in to thicken it all, and squeeze the juice of the lime in as well. Stir, stir, stir, stir, and turn the heat up so the liquid starts bubbling off. Once most of it’s gone, turn it right down and let it all jellify nicely until there’s no liquid left, just nice squishy apricot-y sauce.

Serve with rice.

This is much more complicated than my usual recipes, which is why I wasn’t going to post it originally – this series is meant to be based on a theme of delicious food you can make fast and simply – but it’s truly, truly tasty and not that difficult to make. It feeds two, if you have plenty of rice, and leaves a bit. The bit that’s left, you let cool and then put in a plastic lunchbox with two handfuls of chopped lettuce, half a chopped cucumber and the rice that’s left, plus another squeeze of lime. Eat after a long morning of classes and make happy, happy noises. So good, especially after the flavours have soaked in.

My next project: slow-roasted tomatoes. These look wonderful, but I haven’t tried them yet because I haven’t been home for seven hours together since I saw the recipe! But I will be soon, and in the meantime have done two dry runs: chopped tomatoes with black pepper roasted for an hour at 140 degrees. The first lot I put in pasta with feta cheese and olive oil (delicious!) and the second lot went in a sandwich with mozarella and honey-roast ham (also delicious).

Really, this eating-lunch lark is a dream.

Recipe: roasted vegetable salad with feta and rocket

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I am not a great fan of salads as actual meals. In my view, a salad counts towards your daily calorific intake the way oxygen does, and I probably consume them both with the same enthusiasm.

(And while I’m here, a quick thought. Nightline, that bastion of journalism, did a televised debate about whether it’s “okay” to be fat. Er. Anyway, anti-obesity activist MeMe Roth said this:

“We’ve gotten ourselves to the point where we’re behaviorally and neurochemically dependent upon food.”

Seriously. Seriously, she actually said that. Dependent on food. Like, I am so dependent on food, I can’t go a whole day without a fix of it. Sometimes my physical and emotional health suffers because I haven’t had any!

…ah, you get it. That people can actually say things like that – yeah. This comes entirely courtesy of Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose, which, for what it’s worth, is one of my favourite feminist blogs out there. I’m not much of a fat activist – to my sorrow and exceedingly large dollop of privilege, I pretty much resemble the societal ideal for how women should look in terms of body shape, only shorter, smaller breasts and a bit too brown – but certainly I agree with the central tenet that the media preoccupation with obesity, and body size, and the purported health dangers of the former, is not value-neutral science but comes with its own assumptions and prejudices. At its worst, it’s a well-disguised way to damage women, to make them sweat and obsess over their bodies, to drive them to constant distraction as a means by which they can be controlled. (Hey, the population is fifty-one percent women, the patriarchy can’t be everywhere.)

And more than fat acceptance, Kate Harding writes well about feminism, really well – unlike the mainstream blogs, she doesn’t tolerate racism, ableism, or in the case of Feministing a couple of days ago, just plain information fail. Consider this a rec.

This was going to be a recipe, wasn’t it? Normally I don’t approve as salads as main courses. Normally. But this one has lots of protein, and is tasty, and just about passes muster if you weren’t that hungry to start with. And, hey, it is tasty and you can always have some cake after.

You need:

-one large pepper, preferably red;
-handfuls of rocket, or baby spinach, or both, or anything else green and leafy;
-feta cheese, about 100g;
-a couple of slices of good ham;
-cherry tomatoes, a few;
-pine nuts or sunflower seeds or both;
-a small red onion or half a big one;
-nice olive oil.

De-seed the pepper, chop into rough chunks, halve the cherry tomatoes, cut the onion into slices. Put them all in a baking tray, douse well with lots of the nice olive oil, stick them in the oven at 180 degrees Centigrade for twenty minutes. (You’re not trying to roast them properly – just till the onion is edible and the tomatoes a bit squishy.)

Cut the feta cheese into chunks and crumble those into a big bowl. Rip the ham into small strips, and after the twenty minutes, add the ham to the baking tray and put it back in the oven for another five minutes, until the ham is curling at the edges.

Then, pour the contents of the tray into the bowl with the feta, mix well and be sure all the oil gets into the bowl, it’s lovely. Stir well, pour in some pine nuts or sunflower seeds, add handfuls of rocket or spinach, keep stirring until it’s alll mixed. Presto, done. And have some cake afterwards for the carbohydrate.

Recipe: rabbit stew (including surgery!)

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

On Friday, wandering through town after my haircut, I dropped into a butcher’s to buy a few sausages, or a bit of pork, or something. I came out with a rabbit.

I am not entirely sure how this happened. Still, never say die. What can you do with a rabbit? We thought for a bit, and decided on stewing. After consulting with the usual oracles (thanks, Ewan), this is what we came up with:


  • One rabbit, skinned and cleaned and rendered visibly less fluffy
  • Several slices of bacon
  • A handful of carrots, an onion, some garlic
  • A bottle of cider
  • Honey, some dried mixed herbs (or fresh thyme & bay, if you have it), salt, pepper
  • A large casserole dish, with lid, and an oven at ~120 degrees

First, start the bacon frying; when it’s lightly done, decant into casserole, and start on the onion and garlic ditto.

Meanwhile, prepare the rabbit. (…I suppose there are people who don’t want to read this…)

End result : one pile of rabbit meat (small), one skeleton fit for stock or feeding to any carnivorous animals you have around the house (small), one sense of achievement (medium). I don’t know if you can actually feed rabbit bones to small carnivorous animals, so you might need to check that bit first. Or bury it in the garden, dig it up in a year, and present it to a small child who wants to be a vet.

Anyway, when we went into surgery the bacon, onions and garlic were lightly sizzling. Decant them into the casserole, leaving the fat in the pan, and then fry your rabbit with enthusiasm. Get it nice and golden, and in it goes too. Chop the carrots into lumps, and in they go; add a couple of spoonfuls of honey, the herbs, salt, pepper, stir it all around. Top off with enough cider to cover it all; if you’ve not enough, then a little warm water to suit. (If you’ve too much, have a drink. Thirsty work.)

Pop it all in the oven at about 120 degrees for about two hours. (A little warmer or a little longer won’t hurt at all, of course). Serve with rice or bread or potatoes – something solid and absorbent. Serves two to four depending on whether you remembered to eat lunch.

Next experiment: do it with wine. Rabbit in red wine does sound delightful…

Recipe: too much passata

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Last night, we made pizzas. (This is now my favourite way of feeding a dozen people – the work can be shared out easily, it allows for complex democratisation of who eats what and how much of it, and you can spread it over an hour so you only need one oven.)

The problem was, we ended up with too much sauce. A small bowl of heavy, thick, gloopy passata-and-garlic-and-basil sauce which I salvaged for dinner today; nice and rich, but too thick to put on pasta.

So, take the sauce, bulk it out a bit with a small tin of tomato pureé and an equal amount of warm water; mix in chopped cooked sausages, chopped carrots, and some mushrooms. Cook for about thirty minutes at 200 degrees; stir, add some cheese on top, another twenty minutes. Serve with an enormous pile of rice.

Not bad, all told, but more filling than it looked at first! Two things that’d have improved it:

  • parboiling the carrots before adding them, as they came out a little too crunchy
  • using equal amounts of red wine and pureé, rather than water and pureé

We had red wine to hand, in fact, but vetoed using it because it seemed too nice to cook with and there wasn’t much left. I think that was the right decision, but it’s tough to say.

Recipe: something to do with sausages

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Easy as pie, this one, but surprisingly nice.

-three sausages, good ones – I used pork and caramelised onion;
-one baking apple;
-one red onion;
-olive oil;

Peel and chop the apple into rough chunks and throw into a deep baking tray. Add the onion, chopped into fair-sized chunks (not slices). Toss with olive oil, and stir some honey through it all. Put in the oven at 180 degrees Centigrade for twenty-five minutes.

In the meantime, grill or fry the sausages – I recommend grilling, because this is already a fairly oily mix. When done, the apple and onion ought to be done as well (check to see the apple is soft enough to turn into goo in your mouth). Chop the sausage into bitesized pieces, toss in a bowl with the apple and onions, mix well and add a sprig of parsley if you’re feeling decadent. Done.

This is enough for one hungry person, but it scales perfectly – just double everything. It really is rather nice.