I’ve decided that Mother Nature is either a manic depressive or severely PMSing during the spring. She’s definitely a moody one, especially in Montana. Maybe it’s because she loves us so much that it incurs this severe differences in our days (you know the saying, you hurt the ones you love the most). For example, Sunday before last it was a gorgeous beautiful spring day, by Tuesday there was 6 inches of snow on the ground. Moody, moody, moody!
If Mother Nature PMS’s all spring, then I must have become in sync with her living in Montana over the years. Just as quickly as the weather changes so does my mood. If I wake up and the sun is out, so am I. I become an amazing production machine; whether it’s yard work, house work or ‘real’ work. I feel like I have boundless energy and can conquer the world. Continue reading “Hearty Spring Pasta” »
I was so happy when I got my assignment this month for Secret Recipe Club! I was assigned Tandy from Lavender and Lime. First off I’m a fan of citrus, and she obviously is too, it’s right there in her title. Tandy is from South Africa, two years ago McGyver and I went on a Safari there and stayed to visit friends, you can read about that here and here. Naturally anything to do with South Africa brings back a flood of good memories.
Tandy has some serious cooking chops! Her recipes have been published in several venues, even before she started her blog. She’s also won a cooking competition. Tandy makes her magic in a small kitchen with the best of ingredients. And I love this quote that she has in her about page.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
When it came to choosing a recipe I went straight for her venison recipes. Lucky me, I have a freezer full of venison and I am always looking for exciting new ways to prepare it. As soon as my eyes landed on her recipe for Venison Roast with Coffee and Star Anise Rub it was love. Tandy mentioned in her intro to the recipe that she wanted to use a loin but didn’t have any so she used a leg roast instead, well Tandy, I had a loin just waiting to be used.
This would be a good time to mention that what Tandy refer’s to as venison are ‘bokkies’, as in springboks (which is also a rugby football team), blesboks, bushboks, etc. Bokkies are actually an antelope, here in the states when we use the term venison it’s in reference strictly to deer. Having ate spring and blesbok before I knew that the flavor was not dissimilar and it would be no problem using deer instead of blesbok. Of course there was zero chance that I would actually be able to get my hands on one.
Speaking of not being able to get my hands on something, I went to four stores and not one of them had juniper berries. Thank goodness I had a trip to San Francisco scheduled and I was able to pick some up. Also while I was there I bought some cabernet salt which I used in place of the regular salt. There will be more on that and the rest of my trip on Friday (are you happy Debra? She’s been asking me when I was going to share). Continue reading “Coffee, Juniper Berry, and Anise Crusted Venison Loin” »
Inspiration comes from many places. I never dreamed that a challenge from another blogger would get me going, I mean really going. Simone over at Junglefrog Cooking, set out a challenge for this month to make something homemade. As in, not a homemade meal, but rather something homemade that you would normally purchase, such as granola, a condiment or cheese.
Cheese was the first thing that came to mind since I had purchased a cheese making kit and a book. Then there was the goose, a truly experimental bird for us. We had heard that Canada Goose was not ideal for roasting so we went down the charcuterie path and did breast prosciutto, which I featured on a pizza and then we did a confit of the legs, thighs and wings.
Each month members are assigned another blog, the member selects a recipe and secretly prepares it, then posts on reveal day. Each group has a wonderful hosts that facilitates the whole thing, our host for Group C is Debbi. My assignment this month put me in a slight conundrum. I was assigned Juanita’s Cocina. Only it’s not Juanita behind the scenes, technically it’s Jen.
Jen always thought she should have a Spanish translation to her name, it sounds much more exotic than Jen (as a side note my BFF is named Jen so I LOVE the name Jen). When her Dad told her there was no true translation for Jennifer and that Juanita was the closet thing, can you believe that she hated that name? Worse yet it rhymed with fajita. Juanita fajita.
Sometimes it tough to think with family activities, the dogs, the TV blaring, the dishwasher and washer and dryer going..all that din one can hardly hear themselves to think. I think that is why my clever ideas most often come to me when I’m riding my bike or when I’m in the shower. The throaty purr of the motor and the sound of water cascading down creates such a lovely white noise that clears the mind and allows more creative thought.
So it was, I was in the shower (a little to early for me to be riding yet) and the idea of what to do with my leftover corned venison and cabbage came to me. Reuben’s are always a favorite way to use leftover corned beef, only I didn’t quite want to do the same thing, so a little variation came to my mind. Instead of sauerkraut I used the leftover cabbage and then served some cooking liquid on the side for dipping. Hello French Dip Reuben.
There is something so delectable about taking a crusty piece of bread, dipping it, letting those crunchy bits of bread soak up the jus, softening it up so that when you bite into it you get a burst of the broth and some crunch. It’s so satisfying to eat a messy sandwich.
The slurpy, tender and crunchiness of the sandwich carried over for me into my next leftover transformation. I ditched the French Dip concept and became French Onion Soup inspired (is there a trend). Really this is no recipe, I just chopped up the leftover cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions (we were out of corned venison by then…wish I would have had a bigger roast), dropped a rye toast and a slice of Swiss cheese on it, broiled it and viola! A gorgeous soup that was simplicity itself.
In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, relish and dash of Worcestershire sauce. Butter one side of each slice of bread, put bread together butter to butter side. On the side of the bread facing up, spread it with the sandwich sauce, then layer the corned beef on top, add the cabbage and finally the swiss cheese.
Start with a cold pan, turn to medium heat, griddle cheese side down first. Griddle until the bread turns a golden brown, any where from 3 to 5 minutes on the first side and 2 to 3 minutes on the reverse side. Serve warm with a warm cup of broth.
I like to warm up my corned meat and cabbage prior to putting them on the sandwich.
Bluefish. Is a mild flavor highly sought after sport fish. It is found in most climates, in Australia it’s referred to as Tailor and in South Africa it’s called, Shad.
Boar. A.K.A. a wild pig. It is also the ancestor of the domestic pig. It is still widely popular in Europe and Asia both for game hunting and eating.
Boar’s Head. The boar once upon a time was a feared animal and a menace, in pre-Christian times boar hunts and feasts were part of pagan Yuletide events. It involved into a Christian celebration, the Boar’s Head Feast in which a flaming boar’s head was brought to the table to celebrate Christmas.
I am so not trendy, seems like when ever everybody is into something, I’m like, “meh”. Just look at my wardrobe… For example the whole five minute artisan bread, I didn’t post anything like that until this post in December. Here I go again… Last year the Charcuterie was all over the blogosphere, there were even contests for it. I read them with interest, but only interest. Oh I wanted to get into the make everything from scratch kind of life but my lazy bone seems to get in the way every time! Plus I am kind of quirky, it seems when something is super trendy I want to turn the other way and run. At least until it shows some staying power and I find it has the possibility of positively contributing to my life.
No, I’m not having any holiday confusion. I know it’s St. Valentine’s Day but it is also The Daring Cooks challenge for this month…patties! Get it…Saint Valentine’s Day, Patties…heart shaped patty? The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis and they chose to present Patties for their ease of construction, ingredients and deliciousness! We were given several recipes, and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose” Jack Frost has certainly been nipping at our noses here Montana, actually, I think he’s been biting our noses off. Our grounds are snow covered and in the last week we’ve had temperatures as low as 7°F.
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” when I hear that song, it elicits visions of comfort and warmth, a nostalgia over takes me. I have never roasted chestnuts over an open fire, nor have I ever roasted chestnuts period. I have felt like I was missing out on something important. this year, I didn’t want to just elicit that nostalgic feeling I wanted to experience it for real.
“Chestnut roasting in a closed oven” (no open fire here)…. I discovered that indeed, I was missing out. Missing out on peeling the little buggers, talk about difficult. I followed some instruction I found on the internet…”make an ‘X’ on the nut, roast at 425°F for 15 to 25 minutes, when cool enough to handle peel immediately”.
Not sure where I went wrong, the chestnuts were definitely done. Did I not score a deep enough ‘X’? Were they roasted incorrectly? I think both. After further research I discovered that there should be a little char on the nuts (which I did not have) and the outer covering should curl back making them fairly easy to peel. I believe a deeper ‘X’ and better roasting would have made a difference.
Let’s just say they ended up being a labor of love. I love my Baby boy and I let him do all the labor!
If you’ve never had a chestnut, you are in for a treat. Chestnuts do not taste nutty as their name would lead you to believe. Rather, they have a more starchy texture with a slightly sweet taste. I can see why chestnuts are often paired with sausage in stuffing. The spicy/sweet combo is a great pairing.
Would I do this again? Yes, yes I would. But first I will have to work on the roasting/peeling part, maybe I’ll even try it on an open fire, if Jack Frost doesn’t bite my nose off.
1 package seasoned stuffing cubes (I used Pepperidge Farm)
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onions
1 pound venison sausage (or any other bulk sausage of your choice)
1 pound chestnuts, roasted, peeled and chopped
2 cups turkey stock
Zest of one orange
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter, sliced into pats
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large frying pan over medium high heat, brown the sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break sausage up into pieces. Remove meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoon of fat from the pan, sauté the onion and celery until the onion is translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil, remove from heat.
Put stuffing cubes in a very large bowl. Add sausage, chopped chestnuts and orange zest. Pour stock/onion/celery mixture over the stuffing, mix gently. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired. Transfer the stuffing to a greased two quart casserole. Top with pats of butter. Bake for 30 minutes.
I wonder how many people won’t read this post today because the title has Deer and Liver in it? There are many people who don’t care for wild game and plenty who haven’t even tried it. However, the deer liver is easily substituted for chicken livers, so if you haven’t browsed away yet…
For those who do not like liver I can’t say that this recipe would make a convert out of them. Liver haters are passionate about their hate and are most unwilling to be convinced. McGyver is an exception, he does not care for liver but adores paté, complicated guy.
I’m posting a Deer Liver Paté recipe because hunting season has started; often the liver, heart and kidneys are wasted. Which is a shame. With the right treatment and cooking technique, the liver, heart and kidney can be quite tasty.
My goal was to make a smooth pate without a gamey flavor. I accomplished this by soaking the liver in buttermilk and capitalizing on great flavors like onion, shallot, garlic, thyme and sherry to tease the palate. My secret weapon? Black truffle infused oil, sublime!
Traditionally paté is served with cornichons (little pickles), but I wasn’t being very traditional using deer liver and thought a game liver could be paired with something a little more tangy; so I paired mine with Branston Pickle.
If you’ve never heard of this little gem, don’t be surprised. It is actually a product of the United Kingdom. It’s made from swede (rutabaga or turnip), cauliflower, onions and carrots. All pickled in a sauce made from apple, tomato, dates and tomato. It has spices like cayenne, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, coriander, and mustard.
As you tell by the ingredients that it’s a complex pickle, it is sweet and spicy. I had my first experience with it when I lived in England and I had a ploughman’s lunch at a pub. It came with crusty bread, sharp cheddar, country ham, butter and then there was this brown blob on my plate. I tried it with an open mind and fell in love instantly.
Like cornichons, Branston pickle offers a sweet, vinegary crunch to counter the rich creaminess of the pate. You can purchase Branston Pickle at British Specialty shops and some stores like World Market.
When you prepare the liver make sure you remove the thin film covering the outside.
If you are dead set against Truffle oil, it can be omitted.
The paté was so delectable I didn’t want it to end, when we got to the point where we had a little left over, I stretched it by mixing it with softened cream cheese and making a sandwich with pickle, onion and the paté. This sandwich was rockin, talk about flavor (fortunately I didn’t have to breathe on anyone).
1 pound deer liver, skinned and cut into large pieces
1 cup buttermilk or milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cubed and divided
1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup shallot, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup dry sherry or cognac
1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon black truffle oil (optional)
Soak the skinned liver in buttermilk for a minimum of one hour. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and the tablespoon of bacon fat. Add the onions and shallots, cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add the deer liver, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until the livers are browned on the outside and still slightly pink on the inside, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the liver is cooked through. Do not overcook.
Let cool. Discard bay leaves, add liver mixture, parsley and truffle oil to a food processor, puree. Stop and scrape down the sides occasionally. Add the softened butter pieces and pulse to blend. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Pack paté into ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for six hours.