Calf’s Liver w/Mushroom and Onions, Sauce Poivrade

A mild, tender, rich and savory dish prepared in a classical French meets modern shortcuts manner.

Start with very fresh slices of peeled and deveined calves’ liver obtained from a healthy animal of known origin.  True calves’ liver is paler in color and milder in taste than the much redder baby beef liver typically found in US supermarkets.  If using the latter, it often helps to soak the slices in fresh, whole milk for up to 2 hours to lessen the strong flavor.

“Calf’s liver is less likely to have the accumulations of toxins such as pesticides, hormones and antibiotics found in the liver of older animals. Selecting organic calf’s liver provides the greatest assurance that the liver is free of these toxins. Calf’s liver also is more tender and has better flavor than beef liver (including baby beef liver).”

For the sauce, gather mushrooms, green peppercorns, vinegar, tomato paste, onion, celery, carrot, parsley, butter, lemon, stock and (optionally) demi-glace.

Sauté the mirepoix in butter until well colored, about 10 minutes.  Add a good spoonful of tomato paste and continue to cook until all moisture is evaporated and the tomato begins to brown.  Moisten with a splash of vinegar and a little sherry and stir to combine.

Add stock and a mashed clove of garlic.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until reduced in volume by half, about 45 minutes.  Strain into a clean saucepan and add demi-glace. Simmer until thickened and shiny, about 20 minutes.

Sauté thinly sliced mushrooms and onions in very hot butter until brown and slightly crisp.  Add to the pan with the brown sauce.

Pat the liver dry and lightly dredge in unbleached flour.  Sauté quickly in a generous amount very hot butter, turning only once.  Add chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavor before saucing.

A big thanks to my son-in-law Jeff, whose amazingly delicious liver & onions revived my interest in this classic dish!

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t bake at all, and I always mostly limit the amount of sugar in my diet.  So, of course I felt utterly compelled to make a batch of scratch cookies for the first time in my 117-odd years in the kitchen.  And not just any cookies, mind you..

Adapted from a recipe by Garrett McCord

1 stick unsalted butter
3 medium-sized over-ripe bananas as may be lurking in your freezer
3/4 cup non-refined sugar or other sweetener
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbl coconut oil
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
1 pinch sea salt
1 tsp soda
1 fresh egg
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp unsulphered molasses (optional; I’ll likely leave it out next time)

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add 1 egg and beat with a fork until aerated.

Mash together bananas, soda, peanut butter, molasses and coconut oil.

Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture.

Sift the dry ingredients into the butter/banana mixture and stir until barely combined.

Put the lime in the coconut.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop spoonsful of batter onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper, flatten slightly and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.  Allow to cool before eating.  Yeah, right.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Seared Ahi w/Sushi yo Shoga, Lemon Wasabi and Sweet Rice

Few things in life are as simple and delicious as seared ahi. One of my all-time favorites.

Marinate fresh ahi tuna in a mixture of ginger, soy with citrus, shiro miso, sesame oil and garlic for one hour in the refrigerator.  Because we will be serving this nearly raw, it is important that you choose only the finest, freshest (sashimi grade) tuna.  Due to sustainability concerns, please source your tuna from somewhere other than the Mediterranean Sea.

Remove tuna from refrigerator and coat the perimeter with a combination of black and white sesame seeds, loose toasted tea and cracked pepper.  Set aside.

Prepare sweet rice according to package directions.

Heat stir-fry or another high-heat oil in a heavy skillet until very hot.  Sear tuna 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, then transfer to cutting board to rest for a few moments.

Add thinly-sliced scallions and a little mirin to rice; fluff with a fork.

Serve 1/4 inch slices of tuna over sweet rice accompanied by sushi yo shoga (sliced pickled ginger) and lemon wasabi.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Roast Caribou w/Port Wine Reduction, Cranberries and Gingerbread Muffins

Informed by a recipe from Stein Eriksen Lodge

Butter, bay, coriander, cardamom, juniper berries, non-refined sugar, pepper, paprika, salt and a caribou loin or roast.

Grind spices in a coffee grinder.  Add enough unbleached flour to double the volume and thoroughly dredge the roast.  Brown the roast on all sides in butter in a Dutch oven set over medium heat.  Add port and cook uncovered in 350-degree oven until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees.

Prepare salt & pepper gingerbread muffins and put in oven with roast.

After the roast has been cooking about 20 minutes, slice a potato and season with rosemary, sage, thyme and S&P.  Season green beans with cracked mustard seed and S&P.  Top with raw pine nuts.  Drizzle a little olive oil and melted butter over all, and put pan in oven with roast.

Remove muffins from tin and sprinkle with spiced sugar.

Cook cranberries in the juice and zest of 1 orange and a little sugar until moisture is evaporated.

Remove roast from oven and set on cutting board to rest.

Saute minced shallot, celery, carrot and garlic in butter until soft.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook until moisture is evaporated.  Transfer vegetables to the pot that the caribou was roasted in.  Add additional port wine and stock.  Cook over medium-high heat until reduced in volume by half.

Serve slices of roast with pan gravy and cranberries accompanied by roast potatoes and green beans.

Rating  ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

J.R.’s Receipt for Egg-Nog

From Sara Delano Roosevelt’s Household Book

Put a little powdered sugar into a tumbler
A teaspoonful or more of brandy
The yolk of a pastured egg
1/2 a tumblerful (3/4 cup more-or-less) of fresh, cream-top milk,

then fill up with cracked ice not too fine & shake well together in a shaker (a big tin tumbler & a strong glass tumbler).

Strain it into a clean tumbler & put on top a suspicion of freshly-grated nutmeg.

-James Roosevelt with son Franklin Delano