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3rd October 2013
The Milk of Bovine Kindness
Sauerkraut

Spherified sauerkraut - ever heard of it?
Well neither have I, but apparently Martin Wishart has. So: Leaving Step two aside for the moment watch this space... making sauerkraut is the easiest thing in the world, apart from the waiting, and once it's ready you can make yourself a sauerkraut salad with it. How good is that?

But about that milky beef.
Ah milk - streams of pearly goodness massaged from the teats of complicit ruminants. And what more appropriate liquor for boiling up their flesh than their own lactate?
Actually I was attempting to make saffron potatoes, and I wondered if gently poaching spuds in saffron-flavoured milk (with a dose of salt for flavour and sodium bicarbonate to retard curdling) would work.

Conveniently enough I've recently acquired a small crockpot from the back of Mum's cupboards and brought it back home with me after she died (silver linings eh?). I've got a slow cooker already, but this one is much smaller and despite being pretty old, looked to be in good shape and I thought it might work more effectively for smaller amounts. So I filled it up and set it off...

Turns out the recipe's a bust - the potatoes stubbornly resist flavouring (or softening) and the saffron adopts a rather harsh tannic taste from long simmering rather than the delicate aromaticism is that a word? I was hoping for.
Not only that, but it seems that small crockpots from the seventies aren't the models of efficiency you might have hoped - were they giving electrickery away free in those days? Unlike modern cookers which make at least some concessions to insulation, the entire aluminium casing of this Rima electric cooker heats up, which means that its main effect is to warm the kitchen (indeed - I could feel the crockpot as soon as I stepped foot into the room), and warming the ceramic liner occurs as something of a side effect. Making it the most inefficient slow cooker on earth I should imagine, unless the intention was always to use it as a space heater too?

Anyway, back to the cooker's disappointing contents;
Rather than waste the lot, and remembering something from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall about milk-braised pork, I just threw in a small silverside beef joint (cut up) and some vegetables and left it to get on with it.
It tasted reasonably foul after 12 hours, but a day later was actually quite palatable!
It seemed to go especially well with fruity flavours (I had some sun-dried tomato couscous in the cupboard to eat it with) so it might help to throw in some dried apricots or prunes.
Unfortunately due to the milk curdling (the onions will do that - if nothing else) it looks like a bowl of sick.
So I'm not sure I'll be making it again to find out.

Milk Braised Beef
main meat
Hmmmm milky beef.
Pity it looks like sick.

Serves 4

Ingredients
Method
Grind the saffron up a bit with some milk in a mortar.
Cut the beef into generous chunks, de-seed and roughly chop the pepper, peel and quarter smallish potatoes, wipe and quarter mushrooms and fill your slow-cooker. Season with herbs, salt and pepper and a teaspoon or two of mustard.
Cover with the milk and turn it on.
Wait 24 hours, then eat it with your eyes closed.
It's not too awful, but it might look (and taste) better if you left the joint whole?
You can serve it with rice or couscous if you want.

Popular in Eastern Europe. Allegedly.
Sauerkraut Salad
salad raw veg vegan
This salad definitely benefits from being left to marinate for a while.

Feeds 8

Ingredients
Method
Chop or grate the vegetables as you prefer. Add in chopped pickled chillies (jalapeño) or pimento, or just red bell peppers as you like. Mix them up with the sauerkraut.
Heat up the dressing ingredients in a in a small saucepan until the vinegar dissolves, allow to cool then mix with the salad. It's best to refrigerate this mixture overnight before serving to allow the flavours to meld.
Keeps for days in the fridge.
Not particularly impressive, but edible. American versions of this recipe seem to go absolutely mad on the quantities of sugar and oil - I've seen 1 cup oil to 1½ cup sugar and ½ cup vinegar!

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