Honor the Source; Venison and Potato Salad

Venison Potato SaladThe second left-over meal descending from Kenn’s gift of a venison loin (Honor the Source was the original and Thai Venison Salad the first left-over) is adapted from the Silver Palette cookbook. The original was made with beef tenderloin or rib-eye and an aggressively garlicky dressing.  Although I haven’t tried it with anything other than beef, I think this simple, hearty salad would work with almost any left-over, lean, grilled meat or poultry.

Ingredients, minus the peppers, mustard, vinegar and olive oil I forgot to put in the set up

Venison Potato Salad with garlicky vinaigrette dressing

6 oz (more or less to taste) grilled venison
4 medium potatoes, cooked and sliced
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red, yellow or green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
2-3 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tsp. dry mustard (or 1 tsp. Dijon style mustard) – optional
1 Tbs. sherry vinegar (or substitute malt vinegar)
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce (I use Col. Pabst All Malt Amber-Lager Worcestershire)
2 Tbs. top quality Extra-virgin Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat, potatoes, peppers and onion.  Toss gently to mix.

Gently mix meat, potatoes and onions

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, garlic, mustard (if using), salt and pepper.  Dress the meat and potatoes and toss gently to coat

Dress the salad and gently mix

A hearty simple salad for two.

Venison Potato Salad with garlicky vinaigrette dressing

 

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Honor the Source; Thai Venison Salad

Thai Venison SaladIn the original Honor the Source I pan grilled some medallions of venison loin I was gifted from my friend Kenn. And there were leftovers – on purpose. Today I’ll revisit the leftovers as Thai Venison Salad.

Thai Beef Salad is a staple of most Thai restaurants I have been in.  This is my version adapted from a cookbook called Thai Cooking Class, where it is called Yam Nua.  When  making this with beef I usually use a small piece of tenderloin but any good cut of beef would work.  I have also had versions of this in restaurants made with duck breast.  Today, due to my good planning I have two medallions of venison loin already cooked and ready to go.  If you were making this from scratch with beef or some other meat, pan grill the meat to medium rare then set aside to cool before proceeding with the salad.

Ingredients for Thai Venison Salad

Thai (style) Venison Salad

6 oz. (2 medallions)Venison loin, cooked medium rare
2 Tb. water
1 Tbs. fresh lime or lemon juice
1 Tbs. Fish Sauce (I use Red Boat 40˚N but Three Crabs is good too)
1 medium cucumber (or 2 of the small hot-house type), thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 fresh chili, seeds and veins removed, finely diced (or substitute 1/2 tsp. dried chili flakes)
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro leaf
2 Tbs. fresh basil leaf, torn into rough pieces
2 Tbs. (or more) fresh mint leaves (spearmint preferred)

Slice the venison across the grain into bit-sized pieces

Thinly slice the venison.

Mix the water, lime or lemon juice and fish sauce in a small bowl.

Toss, toss, toss, gently

In a large bowl mix the venison and all the remaining ingredients until everything is well distributed.  Add the dressing and toss until well coated.

Thai Venison Salad with rice, on the side, and a couple of pot stickers

Serve over lettuce leaves or rice.  Makes a light but satisfying summer salad.  Serves 2.

Honor the Source

We have a dear friend, Kenn, who grew up a hunter in Northeastern Wisconsin. He long ago moved to Washington State but returns almost every fall to hunt for deer with his son and other relatives. Some years the hunt is better than others. Those years, when he is lucky, we are gifted with a piece of venison. This year Kenn appeared at our door on Thanksgiving day with a piece of loin, a prime cut.

The loin was about 1-1/2# and as beautiful a piece of meat as you could want. But what to do with it? I felt that however I prepared it, I should take care to honor the source – both the animal and my friend, the hunter.

A pound and a half of venison loin is pure meat. Aside from the silverskin, there is no loss to trimming. A pound and a half is also too much meat for two people to eat at one sitting. What ever I did would have to take into account the inevitable left-overs in an equally respectful manner.

This is the tale of the first meal from the loin. The two subsequent meals gleaned from the leftovers follow here;

Honor the Source; Thai Venison Salad
Honor the Source; Venison Potato Salad with Garlicky Dressing

Venison loin. Honor the animal. Honor the hunter.

I don’t get to cook venison very often and am always hesitant in doing so for fear of ruining it. It’s not like I can just go down to the grocery and pick up another loin if I screw this one up.  So it’s taken me from Thanksgiving until March to work up the courage and confidence to tackle this.  My plan was to cook the whole loin in the first pass in such a way as to leave myself some leeway in dealing with the rest in the second and third meals.  Rather than roast the loin whole, I cut it into thick medallions as a form of portion control (remember, there’s supposed to be left-overs).  To season the meat I chose a rub that promised to enhance the flavor of the meat without overwhelming it and without limiting too much what I could do with the remaining meat.

Pan Roasted Venison Medallions with Smoky Chipotle Rub

2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. smoked paprika
1 Tbs. sea salt
1 tsp. chipotle chile pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2# venison loin, cut into 6 portions
1 Tbs. duck fat

Mix the dry ingredients and coat the venison medallions well on both sides.  Set aside to rest for several minutes

Coat the venison medallions with smoky chipotle rub

Preheat a well seasoned cast iron skillet to near smoking.  Add the duck fat and tip the skillet to coat the bottom.

Sear the venison in a HOT cast iron pan

Quickly add the venison medallions, spacing them evenly in the pan.  DO NOT MOVE THEM AROUND.

Turn once a nice crust has developed

Leave them sear for 4 or 5 minutes to let a crust develop.  Turn each medallion over and continue to saute for an additional 4 – 5 minutes or until done to your liking – I was shooting for medium-rare.

 

Oops. I always get carried away and forget to take a picture of the finished dish until I’ve eaten half of it.

Remove the venison to a serving plate and let rest 5 minutes.  Serve with a vegetable and a starch of you choosing.  I chose crudites (cucumber, radish and carrot) with a lime dipping salt (2 pts. sea salt, 2 pts. sugar, 1 pt. lime zest – mix well) and purgatory beans cooked grandma style with sage and bay.

When done well, a small piece of venison is satisfying and I hope I was respectful of the animal that provided it and to the hunter who gifted it to us.  Thank you Kenn.

Revuelto, a spring Migas of sorts

This week David Tannis, food writer for the New York Times reprised a recipe for Spanish Asparagus Revuelto from an article originally published in 2014 titled Asparagus, Spanish style.  The inter-web tells me that revuelto is Spanish for scrambled eggs.  So, Spanish asparagus and scrambled eggs.  Sounded good to me.

In reading through the recipe, it struck me that this revuelto sounds a lot like a variation on Migas, which we wrote about several years ago.  A comparison of that Migas to this Revuelto reveals a similar approach in preparation but with more vegetables, without the chickpeas and with eggs scrambled in rather than cooked separately and presented on top of the other ingredients.

I followed Mr. Tannis’ recipe but roughly cut it in half except I used 4 times the amount of pimentón that he called for and double the amount of chorizo.

The end result was very tasty but the eggs didn’t exactly scramble, rather they formed more of a sauce that coated the other ingredients.  I think the asparagus brought a lot more moisture to the dish than I had anticipated, making for the sauciness.  Yummy none the less.

Asparagus Migas

1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil
2 peeled garlic cloves, whole, plus 1 small clove, minced
1 cup day old bread (baguette or ciabatta), torn into 1/2″ pieces
Salt and pepper
2 oz. Spanish chorizo, cut into matchstick pieces
3/4 pound thin asparagus, cut into 1″ – 2″ pieces
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
2 Tbs. Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Saute the whole garlic in olive oil until lightly browned, remove and discard.

Saute the bread in the oil until lightly browned and crispy.  Remove from the heat and add a pinch of salt, some pepper and 1/2 tsp of pimentón.  Remove from the saute pan and allow to cool.

Saute the chorizo a minute or two to release some of its oil, add the asparagus and saute for several minutes until the asparagus is tender but still firm.  Add the green onions and saute an additional minute.

Beat the eggs with 1/2 tsp of pimentón and a pinch of salt and some pepper to taste.  Add the eggs to the asparagus mix and cook, stirring until the eggs are just soften and creamy.

Divide the revuelto onto two plates, top with parsley and croutons.  Serve immediately.

Pharma-Scrabble

I’m sure you’ve noticed the proliferation of advertising for prescription drugs on the TV in recent years. Gone are the days when the name of a drug might give you some understanding of what it does. The names are often a meaningless and atypical grouping of letters (with frequent use of “bohemian” letters like J, V, X, Y & Z) that are intended to make the drug name stand out but instead makes them all start sounding the same.

Over the past several weeks I’ve been keeping track of the drugs (mostly prescription but a few over-the-counter) advertised on broadcast TV during prime time. I’ve come up with 31 different drugs although I’m sure I’ve missed some.

In looking over the names it occurred to me that many of them would be great Scrabble or Words-with-Friends words (if proper names were allowed) so I tallied the scores each would bring, not counting any double/triple letter/word bonuses.  Any thing above 15 is a respectable score but some drug companies are just not trying very hard to win the game and use too many low scoring vowels and consonants in too short names.  A few load the deck, using hardly any vowels and extra “bohemian” consonants.

Of course, their scoring potential aside, I doubt you could tell me what more than a handful of these drugs are for.

The addition of the X saves the day with a score of 19

Score = 8    Too short, too many low scoring vowels

Score = 13

Score = 20

Score = 17

Score = 16

Score = 18

Score = 11

Score = 13

Score = 15

Score = 18

Score = 16

Score = 15

Score = 16

Score = 11

Score = 17

Score = 21

Score = 15

Score = 12

Score = 12

Score = 12

Score = 14

Score = 14

Score = 14

Score = 10

Score = 21

Score = 14

The winner at 39 points. Too bad there aren’t two Xs in Scrabble

Score = 24  Good job of packing the high scoring letters into a short name

Score = 17

Score = 20

Clash of traditions: Birds or Beans?

cardinalWe have two traditions that clash with each other on New Year’s Day.

We’re birders and we keep a life list (all the birds we have ever seen in our lifetime) and a year list of all the birds we have seen in a calendar year. Obviously, the life list is on-going and cumulative. And obviously, the year list re-sets each year on January 1. It’s exciting to get up on New Year’s Day and see what birds are visiting our feeders. Of course, most are the same birds that were here yesterday but today it’s as if we haven’t seen them before. Every bird has the chance to be the first bird of the year, though, not all are contenders. Cardinals get up early and often are at the feeders before first light. They’re followed by the juncos, mourning doves and sparrows. Later in the morning, well out of contention for “first” honors come the various woodpeckers, finches, nuthatches and chickadees. We welcome them all but honor the first arrivals by naming each year the “Year of the ______” in our journals.

After breakfast we bundle up and head out for some field birding; usually along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Sheboygan, north to Manitowoc, east to the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay with field and forests along the way. Depending on the year, the weather and our aging eyes we may total 20-30 species for the day – not a championship tally but a respectable way to start off the birding year.

The Clash!

Beans and Ham Shank simmering

Our other tradition is to eat Red Beans and Rice, a traditional southern dish, to herald the New Year and which you can read more about here. The clash? Beans and Rice take a long time to cook – 3 to 4 hours. It’s hard to stay around the house cooking beans and rice when birds beckon outside.

The solution? Beans and Rice are even better the next day, so we cook up a batch of Beans and Rice on New Year’s Eve day and when we get back from birding on New Year’s Day all we have to do is reheat the beans and cook some fresh rice and enjoy.

We’ll let you know how things turned out.

I am a bitter(s) man: Preamble

I am bitter over the loss of Bitter Lemon.

bittersYears ago I used to be able to buy Schweppes Bitter Lemon.  It was sold in most stores alongside the mixers like Tonic Water or Club Soda, but a lot of people drank it straight as a less sweet, decidedly bitter adult lemonade.   For some obscure reason Schweppes no longer makes or distributes their Bitter Lemon in the U.S.  Apparently it is available in the U.K. and some other markets but not here except as an imported item.

I bemoan the loss of Schweppes Bitter Lemon.  It was a refreshing, pleasantly tart (but not diet) summer beverage.

At some point it occurred to me that I might be able to “hack” an ersatz bitter lemon.  Most carbonated drinks are mostly carbonated water – seltzer or club soda.  The basis for the Schweppes Bitter Lemon is, in fact, tonic water which contains quinine where the bitter component comes from.  The lemon flavor comes from lemon, of course, which contributes tartness.  I like the bitter edge of Bitter Lemon and would welcome a little more (like I said, I’m a bitter man)  So why not add some real bitters, like Angostura – that’s its announced role.  So the juice of a fresh lemon, a half-dozen good shakes of bitters, some ice and top it up with tonic water (yes, Schweppes).  No chance of displacing the original but a pretty easy and quite refreshing hack for a bitter man

bitters_orangNote:  After making this the first time I was a bit disappointed with the color the bitters gave the drink.  But then I remembered that I had once bought a bottle of Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters.  It’s in the citrus family and all but colorless so in subsequent iterations I used Orange Bitters instead.

 

 

 

Sometimes…3: It’s more than a cookbook

As I’ve noted before, we volunteer at our local library sorting books for the semi-annual Friends of the Library book sale. These are books that have been withdrawn from the library collection for various reasons or donated books that citizens have given to our Friends group for our book sale. As we sort the books into one of 46 different categories we occasionally come across something of note; something amusing, maybe shocking or possibly just puzzling.

This is the third in a series of occasional posts about those finds.

recipe.coverSometimes things are more than what they seem.

On its face, this is a composition book popularly used in schools around the country during the first half of the twentieth century.  We found this one interesting because it’s not a school child’s work book but a housewife’s recipe book that also served as a scrapbook and address book.

recipe.INcover

Inside front cover

It first caught my eye because one of the addresses inside bears a surname that we know from my wife’s side of the the family (but no apparent connection to her actual family).  It also held things that spoke to the times.  Meat and potatoes must have ruled the dinner table but sweets ruled the recipe book.  Of 87 hand-written recipes, 67 are for some sort of sweet thing.  Times must have been tough – one recipe is for milk-less, egg-less, butter-less cake.

milklesscake

Milk-less, egg-less and butter-less. Mmmmm-good.

Other recipes of note are one for a poultice made of onions and rye flour to be used for a chest cold, and one for Bug killer which starts with carbolic acid (crude) (black).

BugKiller

Cold remedy, bug killer and birthday notes.

Occasionally there are recipes or newspaper clippings pinned onto the pages with straight pins.

GrayHair

Other items include a remedy for high blood pressure, garden advice and a note of Minie’s birthday.

You might also like Sometimes… Demonic Control or Sometimes …2: South Beach Diet