Oxtail Soup

Oxtail Soup 

At long last I have made the oxtail soup I pledged to make last month! The ingredients are relatively straight forward - oxtail (obviously), onion, carrots, celery, tomatoes (out of a can), parsley, a bay leaf, fresh thyme, flour, butter and dry sherry - but it required some effort to track down oxtails and the soup takes a long time to prepare. You need  to simmer the tails and onion for four hours, then add the other vegetables and herbs before simmering for a further thirty minutes. Eventually the stock is strained and chilled for at least an hour before finishing. Just as well I started cooking before midday in time to have it ready for the evening meal. 

After four hours of simmering (during which time I prepared apple dumplings), I removed the herbs and meat. The meat is taken off the bones and then blended with the vegetables. I used the liquidiser part of my food processor and by the time I'd finished, smoke was rising from that hard-working machine. The final stage of cooking requires a large frying pan, in which you heat the flour, add the butter, then the stock and liquidised meat and vegetable mixture. When these are mixed and heated through, you at last add the dry sherry.

The oxtail after four hours of simmering.
The strained onion, carrots, celery and tomatoes

The liquidised meat and vegetable mix

So we were ready to go. The older offspring was out dining with his rugby team, so missed out on a really good soup with a rich fruity texture. Definitely a soup to warm the cockles of the spouse's and younger offspring's hearts (they had been out in the cold watching the rugby match). The sherry was a good foil to the inherent sweetness of the tomatoes and carrots. The younger offspring, who is to food in this house what Simon Cowell is to The X Factor, pronounced the oxtail soup to be "epic." Enough said.

Apple dumplings and other country fare

Writing this blog over the last eleven months has prompted me to consider what I cook more attentively. It has also caused me to look over the various cookery books the spouse and I have accumulated in almost thirty years (scary thought).  One of our longest retained treasures (we have culled a few occasionally) is Doreen Fulleylove's Country Fare, which was first published in 1970 by Hamlyn.  We bought it in 1982.  The recipes listed within its now yellowing pages include Chipstead churdles, Shropshire fitchett pie, Welsh rarebit, Sussex pond pudding, eggs Victoriana, hopel popel, pan haggerty, pears tansy, poacher's roll, poor knights of Windsor and treacle posset. I have, of course, picked out only the more extraordinary titles, which give very few clues - if any - about their ingredients.

The only recipe I can remember using from this book before now is the one for golden honey cake. For pudding to follow the oxtail soup I decided to make Doreen's apple dumplings. They weren't pretty, but the pastry was nice and light and tasty. Michel le Roux Jr would not be impressed by my presentation.
Apple dumplings ready to go into the oven.

Which reminds me: the spouse was avidly following this year's Master Chef - The Professionals. Great viewing but check out this spoof version of the final.

What's the buzz? 

Not too much buzz about bees and honey this last week, but I did come across a reference to Mileeven honey on televison. Take a look at the Mileeven website

Also, I am reading Room by Emma Donoghue which was shortlisted for this year's Man Booker Prize. It's a story told from the perspective of a little boy (Jack) who was born and raised by his mother in a back garden shed. On page 176, this exchange takes place between Jack, his mother and a nurse following their escape from the shed.

The baked apple dumplings.
A big person rushes up the steps quick like she's flying, but she's not, she's a real human all in white. I put my face on Ma's robe to be not seen. "Oh," says the she, "you should have buzzed --"
Like bees? 
"The buzzer right by your bed?" 
"We managed," Ma tells her. 

I haven't reached the end of it yet, but I'm really enjoying it. Next on my reading list is Jonathan Franzen's Freedom.


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