Monday, 13 October 2008

Books and Food

I really must get the books physically organized, as well as catalogued on LibraryThing. It is all very well having a hugely erudite collection, but it is annoying when attempting to cook dinner to search on the cookery bookshelf for Marvellous Meals with Mince and find only Hymns of St Ephrem the Syrian and the like.

The mince recipe (a cross between shepherd's pie and moussaka with a layer of sliced beetroot which rather failed to harmonize) received a rather mixed reception. However, it gave rise to a more inspired follow-up: Crimson Venison Casserole (TM). Having boiled the beetroot, I was left with almost half a litre of bright purple cooking liquid, and it seemed a pity not to do something with it. The diced venison in the freezer needed using, and the recipe on the back of the box required dried cranberries, of which we did have an ancient packet in the cupboard. No fresh mushrooms, no shallots: no matter. Substituting beetroot for beef stock, I adapted the recipe so heavily as to make it unrecognizable. The result was really rather delicious. For those who would like to try it, here is the procedure:

Crimson Venison Casserole
by Myopic Bookworm

(Optional: beforehand, soak a small sample of dried oyster mushrooms or similar in boiling water.) In a flameproof casserole, brown handfuls of diced venison in some hot olive oil, removing once brown to a handy plate. Chop a medium onion fairly small, mince some garlic, and fry both in the remaining oil for a couple of minutes. Chuck in a tablespoon of wholemeal flour and keep cooking for another minute. Throw in a decent portion of roughly chopped carrot, a handful at a time, stirring into the flour mix. Add around 40-50g dried cranberries, 500ml beetroot stock and 100ml red wine, a pinch of dark brown sugar, and a good sprinkling of dried thyme, and stir again (adding the soaked and drained oyster mushrooms if you've got some). Lay the venison on top, screw on some fresh black pepper, and put in a preheated moderate oven (can't remember temperature; must have been about 180C in our fan oven) for 75 to 90 minutes. Serve with potato (boiled new potatoes or mashed) and a green vegetable (we had purple sprouting broccoli).

The combination of orange carrot and crimson beetroot juice is just stunning.

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