Rising to the bait. With no olives included.

Olive asked me to choose four favourite dishes. Is she mad? How on earth do I choose four dishes? Essentially, anything that has calories will be a hit with me … except for tripe and brains. Used to like brains but went off them in the Mad Cow Disease debacle … and many consider me a mad cow anyway.
But I love smoked oysters. Made into a pâtè with soured cream, some well-flavoured cream cheese, freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of cayenne to tantalise the tongue, it surpasses expectations. Whoosh it all together in a Magimix to a softish mix, check texture and flavour – add what you will to satisfy your taste buds. Fresh parsley is good in this, too. Serve in small pots so everyone gets fair shares! – there have been tears when I put the yummy mix in a larger dish and allowed people to help themselves. Stoneground sourdough toast on the side, or toasted granary bread … go. No sharing.
I am also partial to Oysters Rockefeller, even when the oysters are fresh. The combination of that salty bite with spinach, Worcester sauce, celery, spring onions and toasted breadcrumbs is too delectable to pass up. However, this dish works really well with smoked oysters – with some teensy-weensy modifications … sorry, Rockefeller.
Use scallop shells or dishes which can stand being put under a hot grill (broiler? Sounds as though it involves hot water). Put the oysters in the bottom, spoon on cooked and squeezed fresh spinach (frozen is invariably too watery), a generous dollop of hollandaise, parmesan to taste, mixed with a few stoneground sourdough breadcrumbs. Stick under the grill until brown and bubbling on top. Heavenly.
Gosh – beef stuffed with smoked oysters? Or veal in ginger wine? Or breast of lamb stuffed with kidneys and spinach? Or Coronation Chicken? Or that prawn dish I haven’t made for a long time …
Decisions, decisions.
I often prefer cheaper cuts of meat – the flavour can be better and the gelatinous quality of the juices and sauce they provide is wonderful. So stuffed breast of lamb.
I know you Americans are not big on lamb – but ooh, you are missing out. And, it infuriates Kiwis that their lamb is cheaper in the States than they can buy in New Zealand. Depending on appetites and the size of the breasts of lamb, one per person or one per couple. Ask your butcher to bone them out – you do still have butchers’ shops in the USA? If you haven’t, it is easy enough to strip out the bones yourself with a good sharp boning knife. Take out any large layers fat that might be underneath the bones.
Mix fresh, chopped spinach with some breadrumbs – not too many, just enough to soak up the cooking juices. If you use frozen spinach, thaw it and squeeze till dry. Cut into small/medium chunks 1-2 lamb’s kidneys per person, taking out the white stuff in the middle. If you can get veal kidneys – what a win. Mix in the chunks. Add sliced mushrooms – fresh are best – the brown Portobello have good flavour – and season with sea salt (don’t use table salt, it has aluminiun salts to make it free-flowing), fresh black pepper (just smell that stuff as you grind!), some chopped fresh garlic (not garlic salt, for goodness sake!), freshly grated nutmeg, a spoonful or two of brandy, or Marsala, or sherry or whiskey or …to moisten. Mix well, without losing texture.
Lay out the breasts, divide the stuffing between them, fold in half to create a pocket and either sew (it will look like a fat triangle) or hold the edges together with poultry pins or wooden pins – toothpicks or skewers.
Pour over a glass (generous) of wine – red, white or rosé but not sweet wine – and slow roast in a low-medium oven for about two hours. (A slow cooker would work but you’d need to seal the top bottom of each parcel first. It will look appetizing, dark golden brown and the juices in the pan wil make a great gravy with the addition of some good flavoursome stock and a little flour to thicken – but just a little.
Wonderful with rösti. You can leave the crisp potato cakes plain, just seasoned with salt and pepper, or add pistachios or fresh herbs. Add colourful vegetables to serve with the lamb – mange tout, broccoli, turnip greens, roasted butternut (not pumpkin – pretty tasteless without a deal of effort. (No wonder it is used to harbour lighted candles …) What about a fabulous salad with interesting mixed leaves? – not iceberg. It’s tasteless, takes a long time to grow and a long time to break down in the gut and often the culprit where marshy gases are concerned … Add avocado, blanched green beans or mange tout, red onion, peppers. Maybe not green peppers – they are not ripe and can be difficult to digest. Sundried tomatoes, roasted aubergine chunks (egg plant), bamboo shoots, beansprouts soaked in iced water to crisp them up) … so many things to add colour, flavour, colour, texture and taste … Make your own dressing with good olive oil and wine vinegar – if they are good, you don’t need anything else. Maybe some black pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt.
Okay, that’s three dishes … what to choose for dessert?
How about fresh figs? Wash them, cut them on top, without going to the bottom, into four. Pull the ‘petals’ open, fill with a good mascarpone – or Philadelphia cream cheese – arrange on a plate or in individual dishes and pour over some Marsala. Drooling …
I have figs in the fridge and guess what – I have Marsala too!
Actually, I think I have mentioned more than four dishes. Oh well.

#favouritefoods #caloriestoadore #lamb #kidneys #spinach #oysters #figs #eat

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