Venison and escabeche salad

I´m not very used to eating game, never mind cooking it. Even thouh my father is a keen hunter who feels that Bambi´s mother had it coming, he´s never been allowed to bring back meat that he´s shot.
So the piece of venison I was given yesterday has had me fairly flummoxed all day. Now it´s in the oven, simmering in a basic stewy sauce made the usual way, with bacon fat added. I figure if I can get the meat to go as tender as I like, the sauce will still be pretty terrific, which is good enough. One should never look at a gift of deer, etc.

In the meantime, dinner is done, leftovers from yesterday´s dinner party escabeche: a salad of lamb´s lettuce and avocado, dressed in the escabeche, with pieces of pickled mackerel and salmon, and a smattering of bacon on top. A winner, I feel.
And the pie crust from yesterday´s dried apricot crostata was too big, so I left a piece in the fridge and it´s yielded thirteen cookies (ok, I ate one, so fourteen) that we can have after dinner. Doubly thrifty, as I cooked them as the oven warmed up for the stew. I´m so proud of my green, responsible way with puddings.

The drawing is one I´ve done for a good friend, and has nothing to do with anything much, but I like it.


The Oscar slumber party

Starry starry night of the Oscars for us on this side of the Atlantic really means night. We stay up, in varying stages of wakefulness, and hope that a rush of sugar will make up for the Academy´s upsetting us, as they usually do.

Always on the menu: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and this year also oatmeal-raisin, all done by the new exciting method of the giant squidgy cookie. And by the way, that stuff of letting the dough rest for days: it really works.

And now, fingers crossed for Kate Winslet, and let´s hope we don´t wake up baby Pía with the groans.


Giant cookies

Cookie eaters are divided between the squidgy cookie lovers and the ones who must have a snap.
Cookie bakers fall into two camps: those who have a reliable oven, thick baking sheets, a timer, concentration on the timer and a quick wrist inside the oven mitt - and the others.
Me, I just have the oven mitt. Which hasn´t prevented me from turning out some pretty darn great cookies in my time, but at the expense of years of life, I fear. Stress, burns, carbonized cookies, warped cookie sheets.

All that is over. I have found that if you bake all the dough at once, making one big cookie, you have the maximum squidge for the minimum fuss. No baking in batches, no anxiety. Not much in the way of looks, either, but who cares? These aren´t pretty golden cookies, but wedges of a massive golden cookie. They are crisp and golden only on a small portion of their surface.
I love them.

All you do is take a recipe for a favourite drop cookie, like this, and make one big cookie, 30 cm in diameter or so. You simply let it bake for longer, say, 17 minutes or so, always depending on your own particular oven.
Once it´s out quickly cut it as you would pizza, into triangular wedges. And that´s it.
If you must gild lilies, dribble some icing over it, as is suggested in that wonderful book, Big fat cookies. Otherwise, just go for them. They may not be pretty but they are seriously good.



Yesterday I made a puree of potato, leek, green beans, carrot, squash and chicken breast. No salt. It was bland and uninteresting, but it had deep historical resonance, being as it was Pía´s first ever savoury food.
She´s been happily eating a fruity mush made of apple, pear, orange juice, grapes and banana for a week, but this was the real test.
She spat most of it out, but apparently it´s a huge compliment that she neither cried nor treated us to some exorcist-style projectile vomiting. So it´s all good.
In the drawing, my sister María, Pía´s favourite aunt, and the one who wields the spoon with enough skill to make most of the food get into the baby´s mouth.


Bloody Mary

What´s better than whiling away a snowy Sunday morning with a bunch of friends watching Nadal win the Australian Open? Watching it while sipping a Bloody Mary, that´s what.

I wouldn´t presume to write a recipe for it, because the best Bloody Mary will always be the one you make yourself, just how you like it. I make mine easy on the vodka and strong on the lemon juice, with real celery salt (that´s to say, Maldon salt and celery seeds, crushed in a mortar) and lots of celery leaves peeking over the top of the jug.
And a recently learnt trick, via Nigella Bites: a splash of sherry. Makes perfect sense, if you think about it. Mary Tudor, the original Bloody Mary, was married to the King of Spain, so it´s only right to have something Spanish in the mix. What a wonderful PR turnaround, to go from hated XVI century queen to much-loved XX century cocktail.