1st February 2016
'Orrible Oysters, Poisoned Poussins or the Salmonella Salad?
Orrible Oysters

Flora's sister's partner Ferran does good business at parties and soirées as OYSTERMAN; his oyster-shucking performance alter-ego.
This means that every so often Flora mysteriously acquires sacks of well-sourced, but surplus-to-requirements oysters which arrive wrapped in soggy newspaper and need eating like immediately.

Monday was just such an immediate occasion, so I hustled over to help eat at least a score of oysters, and a couple of poussins which Flora wanted to use trying out a barbecue recipe she'd found online (she seems to have a thing for small birds does Flora). To be served with a red cabbage salad.
I brought the red cabbage.

We scarfed down the oysters with a selection of tempting (and wholesome) dressings - vinegar, lemon juice, vodka or perhaps it was gin?, though sadly no Tabasco, and I must have got through a dozen at least. Every one plump, delicious, firmly closed and swimming in plenty of its natural juices. All the signs of a good oyster.

Not having a broom handle to barbecue the poisons on, nor a barbecue, we roast them in the oven suspended by a bundle of soaked bamboo skewers.
Well roast too, I might add - their succulent cooked juices running perfectly clear.
Juices which delightfully complement a red cabbage salad whose only questionable component is the raw egg yolk emulsifying its dressing.
A super-fresh egg from a free-range local flock in Fife, moreover.

I tell you all of this because I want it to be clear that there was no obvious reason why I would have to leave work on Wednesday morning, a full 36 hours later, crippled by nausea and stomach cramps, to spend the next two days enjoying bouts of spectacular diarrhoea and occasional vomiting.
I finally got back to work on Friday, having shat myself only three times during the preceding 24 hours.

I figured with the symptoms and the incubation period it was most likely a norovirus infection from the oysters not uncommon, apparently - even among the best oysters, and the best restaurants but I was lucky enough to still have surplus poison and salmonella-dressed-salad in the fridge. So I was able to find out for sure by dining on the leftovers, once I'd sufficiently recovered my guts of course.
To no ill effect.

The 'Orrible Oysters - case closed!

Lemongrass Poussin
barbecued chicken
fowl main
James Martin cooks his birds strung on a broom handle over a barbecue, and I'm sure the recipe is ideally suited to that, but it's not the only way you can roast these critters.

Flora and I cooked these in a 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 oven for about 40 minutes (we used a half-dozen soaked bamboo skewers to hold the poisons suspended over a deep casserole dish) and they were still very good. In fact, maybe they were better 'cos you get to pour all the delicious delicious juices collected by the dish over your red cabbage salad. Hmmm. Delicious.

Incidentally, the marinade is very good for smaller chicken pieces which can be left in it for days before roasting for 30 minutes at Gas Mark 6 on an oven tray (to catch all their delicious juices).
Or skewered over a barbecue, probably.

Serves 4

Soak a large, unvarnished wooden stick (like a broom handle) suitable for cooking, in cold water, preferably overnight.

Light the barbecue and allow the flames to flare up and die down, until the coals are glowing red and starting to turn white.

In a bowl, mix together the lemongrass, coriander, garlic, chillies, ginger and lime juice until well combined. Stir in the vegetable oil, then add the poussin and turn to coat them in the marinade, scooping some inside each, too.

When the barbecue is ready, slide the poussins onto the stick, securing them with string.

Set the stick about 30cm/12in above the barbecue coals and cook for 30-35 minutes (depending on their size), turning every so often, until the poussins are completely cooked through and no trace of pink remains when the thigh meat is pierced in its thickest part with a skewer.

Serve the poussins whole with a pile of red-cabbage salad alongside.
The poisons are very tasty and fun to make. Even if you don't have a barbecue!

Red Cabbage Salad
salad veg
So first of all, you won't have any walnut vinegar, and you won't find any either, unless you live in the Dordogne. You can throw some walnuts into vinegar to make your own if you like, but it will take months. I'd suggesting using sherry vinegar and adding some walnut oil instead, since you might be able to find that!

Serves 4

To make the dressing whisk the egg yolk, Dijon mustard, walnut vinegar and water together in a bowl until combined. Gradually whisk in the vegetable oil I used a bit less than 250ml. Just add until you get a nice thick foam., whisking all the time, until emulsified.
Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the red cabbage into a large bowl, then pour over 100ml/3fl oz of the dressing and mix well.

Nice with lemongrass poisons
You can keep leftover dressing for a week in a sealed container in the fridge, if you have any:
I used about 100ml of water, and a bit less than 250ml of oil (I just added it until I got a nice thick foam), and used all the dressing on the cabbage.

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