19th November 2011
Black Pudding And Foie Gras
Macleod Black Pudding

Last Christmas Mum got me the delightfully plush Black Pudding & Foie Gras cookbook. I've fancied trying out its eponymous dish for a while now, and finally got around to it this weekend.

As well as a couple of staple guests, I also had a full set of Alexes:
Ex-Jenny Alex is an old friend and lives just round the corner, which makes it all the more embarrassing that I rarely see him. Work-and-play-mate Alex is someone I visit regularly but have felt guilty for some time about not returning the favour and inviting him over.
So a great opportunity to make some amends.

Foie Gras being roundly despised these days and illegal to produce in Britain (though personally I think that unlike Lance Corporal Jones' Dervishes those saucy French Geese just love it up 'em), it's a bit hard to get hold of. But it's my second favourite food so it's worth making the effort. Fortunately George Bower came through with the goods. A snip too at a mere £30. Oooh. Taste the suffering.

So, what to serve it with?
Well I have a giant pumpkin left over from Hallowe'en, so that's the soup sorted. Thanks Chef Bocuse!

I made a loaf of bread machine red onion, thyme and rosemary bread, and a bowl of Earl Grey flavoured pumpkin seeds to prevent Flora from passing away before the meal arrived.
I baked some potatoes to make plain mash, braised a Savoy cabbage, and in keeping with the autumnal theme I decided to experiment with a pumpkin ice cream for dessert too. But as per usual all the supermarket pumpkins had turned into golden coaches or something at the stroke of Hallowe'en and driven off.
So I used butternut squash instead.
Which was probably better to be honest.

Despite being able to get the soup, baked potatoes, braised cabbage and dessert organised well in advance as planned, serving up the main course was still a bit hectic. It takes a some time to assemble each plate of goodies, and it doesn't help having lots of things which need frying just before serving. Typical shoddy planning on my part - though it is somewhat the nature of the dish. Fortunately the black pudding and the caramelised apple slices keep warm quite well, and with a bit of help from ex-Jenny Alex peeling the puddings unlike the real and original (Lancashire!) intestinal black pudding, Scottish versions are bizarrely shrink-wrapped in plastic  and mashing the baked potatoes whilst work-and-play Alex documented the proceedings in 3D! we managed to get things out in a reasonable time frame. Maybe work-and-play Alex will post his videos for our entertainment at some point?
It probably helped that everyone was already stuffed with cheesy cream soup.

After throwing the croutons into the waiting soup and ladling it up, I had time to reheat the cabbage then stick it in the oven to stay warm, boil up a little milk to reheat the mashed spuds, and should have taken the opportunity to stick the scrumpy reduction and apple chutney in the oven too to keep them at the ideal temperature. As it was, the chutney was a bit too cold, and the reduction a bit too hot (and consequently runny).
After that it was just frying, frying, frying.

Carved Pumpkin The Foie Gras Sliced Foie Gras Black Pudding and Foie Gras

Work-and-play Alex has published some of his 3D party pictures!
I reproduce a couple here - if you squint really hard at the pairs of pictures until the dots in the middle merge they will literally jump out of the page and smack you in the face.
Or at least, that's why I assume I now have this massive headache!

Pumpkin Meal - Left Pumpkin Meal - Left
Black Pudding and Foie Gras - Left Black Pudding and Foie Gras - Right

Braised Cabbage In Cider
Inspired by a Roux Brothers recipe

Serves 4

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).

Trim any coarse or damaged leaves from the cabbage, then cut it into quarters. Slice away the hard central stalk and shred the remaining cabbage into 1cm strips. Rinse in cold water and drain thoroughly in a colander.
Cut the bacon into 1cm strips.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole and fry the caraway seeds until they release their aroma.
Add the sliced bacon and the shallots. Fry until the onions are starting to colour.
Meanwhile peel and core the apple and cut into 1cm cubes. Add to the pan with the crushed garlic.
When the apple has begun to caramelise, add the cabbage and stir around to coat with oil, then add the cider and bubble it off a little while you scrape the bottom of the pan.
Season with a little salt and some black pepper.
You can pause at this stage if you don't need the cabbage just yet. Just reheat it back up on the stove when you're ready to continue.
Put on the lid and transfer to the oven for about 30 minutes, until the shallots and cabbage are tender.

Serve hot.
Really good. Though the colour can be rather dull unless you pick nice dark cabbage.

Red Onion Bread with Thyme and Rosemary
bread veg
Thank God for bread machines!
I thinly sliced three red onions, threw in a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary, and gently caramelised them in a tablespoon or two of butter until golden and well reduced.
Then I mixed enough strong white flour to dry the mixture out so it wasn't too greasy looking, and added a tablespoon of roughly chopped thyme leaves.

Then I just followed my bread machine instructions for making Classic White Bread, and added my onion and herb mix when the machine angrily beeped at me demanding nuts, or raisins, or whatever you're supposed to add.
Despite mysteriously rising over-enthusiastically and sticking itself to the roof of the machine, spoiling the crust a bit, the bread was rather good.


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