Monday 30 June 2014

Very Curious Woollen Sausages

Very Curious Woollen Sausages

My wife found these. Maybe she spends too much time finding inconsequential images? Without sampling these very different snarlers, I think they may be hard to chew and a bit stringy and woolly.
Very unusual ..... here is the image.

Monday 23 June 2014

Chicken, Rocket and Cashew Sausages – The Fridge, New Plymouth

Chicken, Rocket and Cashew Sausages – The Fridge, New Plymouth

I had to make a quick trip to New Plymouth over the weekend. When I was up there someone mentioned a butcher’s shop in Devon St, the main street of New Plymouth. Around lunchtime on Saturday I popped in. The shop is called "The Fridge" and it states outside that it is a butchery and delicatessen. It has the feel and look of a shop that sells quality food. The cuts of meat on display have obviously been aged, and the slabs of meat are ready to cut to the customer’s desire. A very impressive butcher’s block is behind the counter. A selection of cheeses and other delicacies are also for sale.

I choose two types of fresh sausages to buy. The chicken sausages made a quick trip back to Wellington where they were cooked up prior to the All Blacks giving the English a pantsing in the rugby test at Hamilton. A very enjoyable evening, with the All Blacks putting on an imposing display and handsomely walloping the English, while I munched on a quality chicken sausage.

These are chunky wholesome sausages. The chicken meat used is the thigh. I consider the thigh to be the best cut of meat in a chicken. It has more flavour than the breast. Fresh rocket and roasted cashews are added. The Fridge roast their own cashews and all the herbs they use are fresh. Salt and pepper are also added.

I cooked these sausages slowly. They oozed a bit out the casing. However with a slight bit of caramelisation they cooked up nicely. Once I bit into the sausage I knew that it was a very good chicken sausage. It tasted of chicken, this is dominant flavour. There are plenty of chicken sausages out there that taste of chicken flavour. These sausages have the taste of chicken meat. The cashew nuts are roughly cut and there are hunks of the nuts in the sausages. When you bite one the flavour of the cashew nut comes through. These sausages do have a strong pepper taste. The pepper flavour of the rocket I suspect has been enhanced by pepper. I would have preferred a different balance of flavours, with a reduced pepper taste, however this does not detract from this being the best chicken sausage I have tasted this year.

I talked to the owner of the butchery, Mark - he was friendly and engaging. I also brought some dried sausage, watch out for a review of the kolbaz. Mark gave me a slice of this sausage and it tasted great.

My mum, who is in her eighties, was with me. She said she had walked past The Fridge but had never been in the shop. Mum was raised in rural Taranaki, and brought up a family of five hungry kids, with a very limited budget. Her cooking was reflective of the era of NZ cuisine in the 1950s-1970s. Mum sampled the kolbaz and said it was too spicy for her. She did not like it. In the car on the way back to her place, she remarked that she could still taste the sausage. The paprika was obviously lingering as an after taste. There is a very obvious difference in our palates. I love a smoky spiced sausage while my mum’s preferred snarler is a plain pork sausage. The key element here is that everybody can be happy. However if she wants to be happiest when eating meat, my advice to her was, "If you want quality, I think I have identified a great place in New Plymouth to buy your sausages and meat."

When next in New Plymouth I will be back to sample more of the quality sausages made by The Fridge.

Cost per kilo: $22.50

Coconut and Curry Sausages - Eastbourne Village Meats

Coconut and Curry Sausages – Eastbourne Village Meats

I was in Eastbourne recently and thought I would purchase some more Louisiana Reds, see link. However, the butcher informed me that they did not have any. They did have some curry and coconut sausages on display, so I thought let’s buy some of these and give them a try instead.

These are hearty big sausages. They are pork sausages and made with coconut cream and curry. When smelling them prior to cooking you could smell the aroma of the meat, this dominated the spices.

They cooked up nicely. There was a little oozing from the end of the casing. This sausage is a fine to medium grind. On my palate I could not detect the coconut and the curry is slight and not particularly pronounced. I cooked these as a pre dinner snack. Three of them disappeared and I took one to work for lunch the following day.

The boys said they were ok, but they liked other sausages better. I would agree with this sentiment. We all agreed that a nice Louisiana Red is the sausage of choice from the Eastbourne Village Meats, so far.

Cost per kilo $17.95

Monday 16 June 2014

Paua Fritters and Chorizo

Paua Fritters with Chorizo

A work colleague gave me a couple of paua (abalone) at work today. These are a large shellfish. The flesh is black and can be tough if not prepared and cooked correctly. These paua were in the sea yesterday. You used to be able to get a decent feed of paua in quite a few places around Wellington’s rocky coast but over the last few decades the number and size of paua has declined.

I came home and made some fritters for dinner. I sliced the paua thinly, and put the slices into a food processer. This minced the paua. If you do this, do not do it for too long, you do not want to end up with paua goo. This makes for a sloppy, very moist fritter. I added some cooked onion, flour, baking powder, and eggs to the minced paua. I mixed the mixture in the bowl and then cooked the fritters in a pan.

My fritter philosophy is to have a good ratio of fritter filling to fritter binding. The taste of the fritter filling must be the dominant flavour. My standard fritters are paua, corn or whitebait fritters. The key element is not to use too much flour. No recipe is used, I do it by feel and look.

So the paua fritters were cooked and eaten by an appreciative family. As I only had two paua to make fritters from, it made nine fritters. I also served some Sremska, see link, or chorizo criollo, see link. The family made appreciative comments about both the fritters and sausages.

A nice dinner ‘snack’. Thanks to the work colleague for the unexpected treat.

Sunday 8 June 2014

A Dish Dinner Party

A Dish Dinner Party

Last night we hosted a Dish Dinner Party. The guests had to make a recipe for a copy of the latest Dish Magazine. This was organised through Wellington Foodies. We anticipated eight courses, however a late withdrawal due to sickness meant only six were served on the night, which proved to be just the right number. Each person also matched a wine with their contribution.

The menu is below.
Dish Dinner Party

Saturday 7 June 2014

At Northland
Cauliflower Croquettes by Tyron

Portuguese Seafood Soup with Saffron Potatoes by Don

Chicken on Sourdough Croutons with herb & caper sauce by Jan

Potato Latkes with Apple Sauce and Crème Fraiche by Lucy

Cauliflower Salad by Sue

Spanish Rice with Chorizo & Prawns by Marian

Baked Brown Sugar & Baileys Caramel Custards by Philippa

Spiced Pear & Chocolate Pudding by Miriam

This concept is a great way to sample many dishes and determine what you may wish to cook yourself. I cooked the Portuguese seafood soup and saffron potatoes. This was relatively easy to make and tasted good. I will make this again.

Naturally I was really interested in the Spanish rice with chorizo and prawns. Marian, who made the dish, commented on the ease of making it which means it ticks the first box in my cooking repertoire. The next determinant is what does it taste like? This was a very good dish - the arborio rice is complemented with spicy tang of chorizo and sweetness of the prawns. Cherry tomatoes, garlic, oregano and parsley also add to the complexity of flavours in the dish. Marian used Primo chorizo which she purchased at New World. I would have preferred a chorizo with a bit more zing in flavour and when I make this again I will use my old favourite chorizo criollo, see link, or maybe a very nice Argentinian chorizo, see link.

The evening was very pleasant with good company and fine conversation, with a bit of a focus on the food. Eating fine food in relaxed convivial atmosphere is a great way to spend an evening. I will look forward to having a go at making the Spanish rice with chorizo and prawns.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Beef Sausages - Eastbourne Village Meats

Beef Sausages – Eastbourne Village Meats

Also refer to the previous post.
The friendly butcher told me the mince he was selling was similar to the meat that goes into these sausages. If you use quality meat you get a quality product. These beef sausages have beef as the primary flavour. The butcher said they add a small amount of ginger and a few secret spices and herbs the mix to enhance the flavour.

These were cooked up at the same time as the Louisiana Red sausages, see link. They were not as popular, However they are meaty pleasant tasting beef sausage.

But then I would choose to eat a pork sausage over a beef sausage on most days.

Cost per kilo: $13.95

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Louisiana Reds - Eastbourne Village Meats

Louisiana Reds - Eastbourne Village Meats

I went out to Eastbourne recently on a "hunter gather" mission as a few people have mentioned the sausages made at the local butcher’s shop, Eastbourne Village Meats, to me. This shop looks and feels like a traditional butcher’s shop. When I went I talked to the butcher and found him to be friendly and obliging. When it came to asking more detailed questions about the sausages I was purchasing, he said they had a few trade secrets that he would not share with me. I purchased four Louisiana Red Sausages. This is an interesting name for a sausage, my thoughts where Cajun food, gumbo and jambalaya along with zydeco music, and a bit of the blues.

This is a healthy looking sausage, smaller eaters may consider it a meal in itself. There is a large portion in each sausage. The butcher told me that this pork sausage has chilli, cayenne, garlic, black pepper and parsley added to the sausage meat to bring out that southern USA flavour.

The sausages did not have a strong aroma. They smelt of the meat, the spices could not be detected when I smelt them. It was a very pleasant smell.

The sausages cooked up nicely. A bit is sausage meat oozed out the casing. The real test came in the eating. These sausages were soft, the filling inside the casing was spongy, and this is unusual for a sausage. It made eating them a pleasure. The sausage meat was malleable between the teeth and it slipped down the gullet easily. Some sausages require a lot of chewing but these are at the other end of spectrum.

When I think of food from Louisiana, I think of hot and spicy. These sausages are mild with a subtle hint of spice. There is a stronger after taste of cayenne and chilli, but this is not pronounced. This sausage is a coarse to medium grind. It goes down nicely. The boys had one each, and wanted more. They thought this was really good sausage. However I had eaten one for quality control and was onto the second one by the time they requested more. It pays to be fast in our house. I have a saying when it comes to food, "there are the slow and the hungry."

This is an excellent sausage and when next in Eastbourne I will buy some more.

Cost: $17.95 per kilo

Monday 2 June 2014

Titi and Smoked Pork Bratwurst

Titi and smoked pork bratwurst

We had friends over for dinner over Queen’s Birthday weekend, and although I am firmly in the republican camp, my principles do not extend to declining a day’s leave to celebrate Liz’s birth. A Sunday evening on a long weekend is great time to hold a social gathering. In my youth we often used to hold parties on these days. As I get older the social habits change and having friends around for dinner works a treat.

For a real change I cooked titi – muttonbird, or sooty shearwater. These birds are a traditional food source from the southern part of New Zealand. To harvest titi you have be of Kai Tahu descent and also hold titi - muttonbird rights. The birds are collected from islands around Rakiura - Stewart Island, where they nest and breed during the summer months. The only time people land on the muttonbird islands is during the harvesting season. I have muttonbird rights as my tipuna – ancestors are southern Kai Tahu. In the hard winter months a supply of titi stored in kelp bags helped supplement the diet. Titi were preserved in their own fat inside the kelp bags. No one in our whanau has gone muttonbirding since at least the 1920s but this does not stop us eating them though.

To cook the titi I first brought water, with the titi in the pot to the boil, let it simmer for few minutes and them tipped out the water and started again. In this case I did this process three times. This takes some of the saltiness out the bird. I also prepared kumara – sweet potato, and potatoes to accompany the dish. I half roasted these and then added the muttonbird on top. Titi are fatty and the fat from the birds adds to the flavour of the roast vegetables. To finish off I grilled the birds with spinach making the skin crispy.

They were served with smoked pork bratwurst from the German Butchery in Haruru Falls. It is disappointing to hear that this butchers shop is closed. They made fantastic sausages. See link. These sausages were part of a shipment I arranged to be sent to Wellington, see link.

Friends had brought additional roast veges and a salad to add to the kai – food.

An English friend present had not eaten muttonbird before and she commented that it would make great cassoulet. The fattiness of the titi would mitigate the need for pork fat in the dish. I’m not quite sure if she will use duck with the titi, or go for a straight titi cassoulet. An interesting idea that she is planning to explore while pushing culinary boundaries – hopefully we will be invited for the tasting sessions.

Titi have a salty, anchovy like taste. There are elements of linseed flavour also present and the name muttonbird is apt. The flesh does taste and look like mutton. The titi were enjoyed by all present. This is a dish that is not cooked too often, but it was certainly appreciated.

The kids commented in their acerbic way, just because our tipuna ate them doesn’t mean that we have to live off them too.