Archive for March, 2012

The haggis that broke the Scot’s back.

Ok, two quick things:  a) I won’t bother explaining how I got from the Bad Astronomy blog to finding a vegetarian recipe for haggis, but trust me, it was a logical progression even though a bit convoluted.  b)  This is, I believe, my first full blown rant!  Yeah!

I want to say up front that I have absolutely no issue with vegetarians, vegans, (most of) their dishes, etc.  I know quite a few people who fall under the umbrella title of vegetarian and many of them are good friends.  I also enjoy many, many dishes that have no animal products in them whatsoever.  Again this is not what the rant is about.  It is specifically (and only) about what some people choose to call certain vegetarian dishes.

Like I pointed out earlier, I stumbled across a recipe for vegetarian haggis.  What the hell is it with some people having to twist and bend and who knows what else to a recipe to make it into something that it is clearly not and will never be!  I can get behind a veggie burger because here “burger” denotes a shape and style of cooking.  Yes, it clearly derives from a hamburger, which is meat.  But if you just say “burger” to anyone around you, they will automatically assume most of the following three things: 1) something in the shape of a patty, 2) something that is either fried or grilled, and 3) something that is made of meat or meat-substitute.  Even if they automatically go to meat, by saying veggie burger, they know it is not beef, much like the qualifier of bison, ostrich, venison, or whatever else you are making the burger out of.  Two out of the three assumptions have nothing to do with the actual content of the burger.  Hence in my rosy world, it’s fine.  I’m usually ok with the “vegetarian” meatloafs, but I can get cranky about that if I’m not in a decent mood to begin with.  Tofu is by far the biggest violator of pretending to be something that it is not.  Seriously, what the @*^%$^ is tofu bacon???  (I’ve got the same issue with turkey bacon, I’m just singling out tofu here because this rant is about misnamed vegetarian products).  Instead of forcing tofu into whatever meat you desire, why can’t you just celebrate tofu for the wonderful ingredient that it is.  Just to give one example, it adds texture and body to a very large percentage of Asian dishes all on its own merits.  Are there that many vegetarians yearning to have some form of meat in their diet that they have to manufacture fake meat?  You don’t see omnivores going around saying, “You know, with a bit seasoning, I bet I could make this steak taste like a great Greek salad.”  So back to what initially set me off, haggis.  Using the quasi-rubric that I set up with burgers, the only assumption that has nothing to do with meat is the shape.  ALL of it’s primary ingredients are offal!  It’s COOKED inside of a stomach!  How can you possibly turn that into something vegetarian?  Oh, wait, someone did!  Well, they did only in name.  BECAUSE IT’S A *%*&#$%^ HOTDISH!!!  (or if you prefer, casserole).

There is an unbelievable amount of vegetarian dishes out in the world that taste great without even coming close to faking some kind of meat.  So why don’t these people venture outside of their “comfort zone” and try some Asian, or Indian, or Mexican, or whatever type of cuisine you want because they ALL have some purely vegetarian dishes!

Just to leave on a happy note, here is Alton Brown’s haggis recipe.

Categories: rant, vegan Tags:

And the second failure, kinda.

I’m always interested in trying new and often weird things that other people cringe at.  So when Lindsay tasked me with grocery shopping by myself, I couldn’t resist getting in some browsing time.  And, lo!  To my surprise I found that Cub carries beef marrow bones!  For three bucks and some change, I easily rationalized a cooking experiment.  With a little digging on the good ol’ internet, I found a pretty basic recipe with a nice relish accoutrement.  The recipe that I followed was here, and I highly suggest reading it, if for no other reason than she has much better photos.

Roasted Marrow Bones

Adapted from Fergus Henderson’s recipe

4 center-cut beef or veal marrow bones, about 3 inches long
1/2 cup parsley, chopped (I just used 2 Tbs of dried parsley, cuz that’s what I had available)
1 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp. capers
1  Tbls. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
kosher salt, to taste

Thick slices of crusty bread, toasted

Even though the recipe didn’t call for it, I soaked the bones overnight in salted water to remove some of the impurities.  I had to change the water a couple of times.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Stand the bones up on end in a 9 x 9 baking dish.  Put the wider end on the bottom, so they’re less likely to tip over when you move your pan.

I bet you can't wait to dig in, right?

Roast for about 20 minutes, until the marrow is soft and the bones are brown.

"It's in the bone! It's in the bone! It's in the bo-one!" Yup, I went there.

For the parsley salad:  Chop up the parsley.  Peel your shallot and slice it thinly.  Toss the chopped parsley, shallot, and capers into a bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with kosher salt to taste.  Mix with a fork to combine the ingredients.

This concoction has a lot of potential uses in other dishes.

When everything is done, scoop out a little marrow, spread it on a piece of toast, and top with a little parsley salad.

You'll have to trust me that the marrow is under the relish. Not a lot, but it's there.

 I didn’t have any french bread laying about, so I just used some potato bread that I did have.  I was a bit of middle of the road on this dish.  It didn’t overwhelm me with a foodgasm, but it didn’t leave me feel lacking either.  In all honesty, what it reminded me of was when I dip a piece of toast into the grease after I’m done frying up bacon.  Minus the smokey flavor of course.  When I first scooped out some of the marrow, I noticed that an inch down, there was still a definite pink tinge to the marrow.  Even though I’m better about it, I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it because of an old hang-up with under cooked meat (thanks, mom).  So I put the rest of it back into the turned off oven where I unfortunately didn’t check on it in time and everything rendered into the bottom of the pan.  I definitely want to try this again, after  all it is a cheap thing to play around with.  But next time, I’m thinking I’m going to pop the marrow out of the bone and slice it into rondelles and fry it on the stove.  I think I’ll have much better control over everything and give a proper review.
Categories: gluten-free, recipes Tags: ,