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Haddock Roe Pate

roe pate

I am incapable these days of passing up the opportunity to buy something new to me when I’m food shopping. About the only spontaneity I go for is impulse shopping with groceries. This is one of the perks of shopping locally and seasonally where this style of shopping rarely results in coming home with seventeen sorts of biscuits and a bigger bill, but a bag of economical cooking challenges.This week’s why not moment was when I called in at the fishmongers and saw these plump pink roes.

I’d recently rediscovered the joys of taramasalata which I thought was both delicious and glamourous back in the 80s when it adorned every dip selection going, but as my little girl love of pink things waned, I lost my taste for it despite loving those intensely savoury umami flavours it offers. But a few weeks ago, a dish of it came alongside some pitta bread I’d ordered for a light lunch and I fell in love with it all over again.

These haddock roes aren’t smoked like the tarama (or bottarga) of the Mediterranean but I thought they might have the same creaminess at least. A generous 300g portion set me back £1.50 and it didn’t seem to matter that I had no idea how to cook them. (I really must remember to ask the fishmonger these things in future!) A quick Google suggested poaching them and then blending into a pasta sauce, but I wanted something more reminiscent of the picnic style family lunches of my childhood so I made a pate style dip instead.

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Sticky, spicy ribs for a brilliant Bánh mì sandwich

Banh mi ribs 13

There’s been a bag of Porcus pork ribs in my freezer for the last couple of months, hiding under a furze of frost, waiting for the right recipe. Last weekend they received their calling when, leafing through the ‘Ginger Pig Meat Book‘ which I got for Christmas, out leapt an intriguingly simple recipe for spare ribs. Sounded perfect for bits of a ginger pig.

Over the years I’ve had a few goes at making slow-cooked, succulent sticky ribs – the last time was in the autumn, when I cooked them under foil at gas mark 1 overnight, before uncovering and getting a quick blast under the grill. They were good, but not gooey and crisp like proper BBQ ribs should be. Not enough time marinading beforehand, letting the flavours permeate every sinew of the meat. Miss South and I went to Bodeans in Clapham a couple of years ago, and enjoyed massive mounds of BBQ meat, and I’ve had good ribs in the States, but was never able to replicate that kind of taste at home. Until now.

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North, South, West…the East Coast’s best!

Mister North and I have been talking about taking a weekend trip along the Northumbrian coast for several years now, but with an uncharacteristic flurry of organisation from both of us, we managed to arrange this long awaited adventure for the weekend of Halloween. After some deliberation we decided to stay in the picturesque market town of Alnwick and use it as a base to explore the wilds and wonders of this historic coast. We also hoped we get the chance to sample some local food and drink as we went…
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Woodcocks provide pleasure for two?

Woodcock: so small, but so tasty…

Back in the gamebird season Miss South visited the depths of the snow-covered Pennines to see in the New Year: in respite from the cold we took solace in cooking homely hotpots and sitting in front of the fire, reading cookbooks. One of these was the massive River Cottage Meat compendium by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in which he raves about the joys of snipe and woodcock. As luck would have it, next time we visited my favourite butcher he had both birds freshly delivered by his game man, and I could pick up a brace of prepared fowl that coming weekend after they’d been hung and dressed. Miss South had unfortunately gone back to London by this stage, so after I picked up the plucked woodcocks they went straight into the freezer, awaiting her next trip north.

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