Category Archives: Game

Confit Rabbit Ragout

Confit Rabbit Ragout

Confit Rabbit Ragout

After a very long break from blogging, it took a request for a recipe by  a couple of fellow Gourmet Hunters to bring me back in here and post it to share with them.

6 months ago, we travelled across the Nullarbor, back to Victoria, to my son’s home and set up our van. On arrival, he asked if we’d mind having his children for a few days as their mother (his ex) wasn’t coping and needed a rest. He’d be working.

To cut an extremely long and painful (think drugs here) story short, he now has custody of the two boys, she has moved out of town, and we are still here. At the same time he got custody of the two boys, he got a new government job, which requires him to train in Melbourne Monday to Friday for 14 weeks, so we are at home here with our grandsons while he does.

Added to this, our oldest grandson has autism, and hasn’t seen a doctor, speech therapist, occupational therapist-in fact, any professional who could help him in three years- so with son Dan in Melbourne, this has fallen to Russ and I and has been a whirlwind of appointments to get him the care he needs. Both boys went back to school-the youngest for the first time, in February so we had a mix of times and lengths of days for a while-both boys are now doing full days, every day, in preparation for dad starting his new job after training. Then they both started swimming lessons.

It’s been tiring at times (we’re not so young anymore) but really rewarding to see them start and eat new foods and enjoy a constant routine. We all have down days, but on the whole, it’s great.

So there you have my excuse for no blogging for 6 months. And now for the recipe!

Confit Rabitt Ragout

First send son Daniel out to shoot the rabbit, then take your dressed rabbit, pop in a snuggish fitting oven proof dish, cover completely with oil and bake at about 140c for about 3 hours or until the rabbit falls to bits when you try to lift it out of the oil. Allow it to cool a little, then pick the meat from the bones and set aside in the fridge. I used oil we’d confitted another rabbit in recently (cooled and strained). The original oil had herbs and baby leaves and garlic in it.

  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used a mix of bacon fat and confit oil)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced tiny
  • 2 celery sticks, diced tiny
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 rashers bacon, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups stock
  • Handful of good black olives, pitted (not yucky pre pitted ones though)
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped parsley

    Confit Rabbit Ragout

    Confit Rabbit Ragout

Method

  1. Heat the oil and gently cook the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and bacon until all tender-about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until it reduces and the pan ingredients are sizzling and starting to catch.
  4. Add the stock and oregano and cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes, adding in more stock if you need it.
  5. Add the rabbit meat and olives and cook a further 15 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley.
  7. Serve over pasta or mash.

Sicilian sweet and sour rabbit (or my version of it)

Sicilian Sweet and Sour Rabbit

Sicilian Sweet and Sour Rabbit

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been steadily eating our way through our freezers full of pork, fish and beef here at son Daniel’s. We’ve had pork chops on the BBQ, roast pork, pork belly braised in master stock, chilli pork, crumbed fish and delicious organic grain fed steaks. All fantastic, but nothing to blog about.

Tuesday, I decided it was time to use another couple of the rabbits we were given in WA back in October. After watching an episode of Italian Food Safari with Maeve O’meara and Guy Grossi where they made a Sicilian rabbit dish, I decided to check out it and a few more recipes and came up with this:

Sicilian sweet and sour rabbit

  • 2 cloves garlic, bruised
  • 8 rabbit pieces
  • Seasoned plain flour
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 100 g prosciutto (I got one slice, then diced it small)
  • 250 ml red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 150 ml chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries (originally called for currants)
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (I do this in a small dry pan over a low heat, shaking ’til golden)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leafed parsley
    Sicilian Sweet and Sour Rabbit

    Sicilian Sweet and Sour Rabbit

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based heat-proof casserole, add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden, then discard the garlic.
  2. Dust the rabbit in seasoned flour and shake away the excess, then cook in the oil over medium heat until light golden all over-this might need to be done in a couple of batches. Remove all from the pan.
  3. Add the onion and prosciutto and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the onions  are almost soft.
  4. Add the wine, bay leaf rosemary and vinegar and boil for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the stock, then return the rabbit to the pan for about one hour or until tender.
  6. Remove the rabbit from the pan and keep warm.
  7. Add the sugar, cranberries and olives to pan and simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce is syrupy.
  8. Return the rabbit to the pan and stir in the parsley and pine nuts and serve.

I should add, it was excellent and will be made again one day. It wasn’t sweet and sour like Chinese S&S but had just a nice “tang” to it. The rabbit cooked up tender and moist in the sauce too.

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

The original recipe was for beef and didn’t contain coconut milk but I think it needed it. A friend gave my son the venison, Russ cooked it under direction from me. I was busy doing school stuff with our grandson.

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2kg venison (we think ours was rump), cut to about 2cm dice
  • 2 large red onions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch ginger grated or cut fine
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste (or to taste)
  • 2 tins whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 750g sweet potato, cut to about 2cm dice
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • chopped coriander to garnish

Method

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

Slow cooked Thai style venison and sweet potato stew

  1. Heat the oil and brown the venison in batches, putting it aside on a plate as you go.
  2. Add the sliced onion to the pan (you might need a bit more oil) and cook until well softened (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook a couple of minutes. Stir in the curry paste and cook a minute or two more until fragrant.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes, water and fish sauce, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, pop a lid on and cook for a couple of hours until tender.
  5. Add in the diced sweet potato and coconut milk and cook a further 30-45 mins until tender.
  6. Just before serving, season to taste with lime juice, brown sugar and chopped coriander and more fish sauce if you think it needs it.
  7. We ate ours over rice.

Rabbits and Rabbit and Dumpling Stew

Rabbit and dumplings

Rabbit and dumplings

Our stop at Monte Casino with Pam, Carson and the kids saw us leave with 10 rabbits. Carson shot them for us while we were in the UK and Switzerland. We stored our freezer-full of fish in their house for the 10 weeks we were away, and they took a few meals out and put the bunnies back in. It’s a good relationship!

Ten rabbits make me feel rich (like new undies or a full tank of petrol does), so I want to use them well.

Tonight  I turned two of my stash into Rabbit Carbonnade with Parsley Dumplings. Carbonnade is a beef and beer dish often topped with French bread (or baguette) spread with mustard, that’s then pushed under the surface of the stew. The mustard croutons eventually rise and crisp up. I love it. I didn’t have French bread (or baguette) so I decided dumplings would be a good substitute . I added the mustard (and  brown sugar) to the stew. I was forced to use light beer, as once again, that’s what we had on hand! The original also had 10 rashers of bacon in it-I couldn’t justify that, so I modified the whole thing to make it my own.

Rabbit Carbonnade with Parsley Dumplings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 kg rabbit, jointed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 bacon rashers, chopped
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 375 ml beer
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or fresh sprigs if you have it)
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (for serving)

Dumplings

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • ¼ cup (20 g) coarsely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (extra)
  • ¼ cup milkRabbit and dumplings2

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 c
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy-based, flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Cook rabbit in batches for 5 to 6 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Melt butter in dish. Add bacon and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until onion is softened. Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Sprinkle over flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly add beer, stirring constantly. Return rabbit and any juices to dish with stock, mustard, brown sugar, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, cover then place in preheated oven for 1-1.5 hours or until tender-all this depends on the age and size of your rabbit so you be the judge.
  4. Meanwhile, make the parsley dumplings.
  5. When the rabbit is tender, remove dish from oven.  Remove and discard bay leaves. Drop level tablespoons of dumpling mixture, about 2 cm apart, onto top of stew. Cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until dumplings are browned lightly and cooked through.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley to serve

Parsley Dumplings

  1. Place flour in medium bowl; rub in butter.
  2. Stir in egg, cheese, extra parsley, and enough milk to make a soft, sticky dough.

Loch Ness

107 miles from St Fillans to Fort Augustus Loch Ness

107 miles from St Fillans to Fort Augustus Loch Ness

Castle Menzies

Castle Menzies

Saturday we went for a drive along the other side of Loch Tay to look at Castle Menzies at Aberfeldy. It was 5 pound entrance each with a guide book included and a very nice way to spend a couple of hours.
 Castle Menzies

Castle Menzies


It belongs to the Clan Menzie trust (our former prime minister Sir Robert Menzies was a clansman) and is gradually being restored a bit but mostly they are just trying to preserve what it is. I guess we looked at 30 rooms including the kitchens, guard rooms, bedrooms, ball room, family sitting rooms and servants quarters-some furnished, some not. They now own the original walled garden area and are beginning to restore that too.

Dewar Distillery

Dewar Distillery

After our visit to the castle we went to Dewar’s Whiskey distillery. It’s big and impressive, but I guess we’re not whiskey lovers so it wasn’t of much interest to us.

Dinner Saturday night was our roadkill pheasant. We laid bacon over the breast and roasted it, then served it with a caramelised onion, tomato paste and rose sauce. Roast potatoes and carrot and parsnip mas made for a perfect game dinner.

 roadkill

roadkill

Sunday, I woke up about 5.30 and realised if we didn’t go that day, we’d never get to see Glasgow, so we got up (quite a bit later) had some breakfast and headed to Dunblane where we caught a train into the city centre (so much easier than finding and paying for parking).

Glasgow city centre

Glasgow city centre

Glasgow was fairly jumping as all the shops in the CBD were open, the weather was glorious so people were enjoying late lunches outdoors, and lots of big buildings were having an open to the public day. There seemed to be a busker every 100 metres on every street, so lots of music and entertainment going on too. I wanted to see a man in a kilt-not a pretty kilt, but just a kilt and I did-he looked like a man in shorts and a t-shirt would but it was just a kilt. he wasn’t in a pipe band, or being married or busking, he was just enjoying the day in Glasgow (in a kilt).
Glasgow city centre

Glasgow city centre

Glasgow city centre

Glasgow city centre

We had a fairly ordinary lunch in a really lovely spot outdoors in the CBD, then walked all over for the next 4 hours before catching the train back to Dunblane where we’d left the car. 45 minutes we were home in St Fillans 30 minutes after that, we were eating duck and chestnut mushroom risotto on our laps in front of the wood fire on our last night in the cottage.
Duck and chestnut mushroom risotto

Duck and chestnut mushroom risotto

107 miles from St Fillans to Fort Augustus Loch Ness Landrovers for sale in the middle of nowhere

107 miles from St Fillans to Fort Augustus Loch Ness Landrovers for sale in the middle of nowhere

Today we drove the 107 miles from St Fillans to our next weeks accommodation at Fort Augustus on the very south end of Loch Ness. The drive was misty but stunning. We’d travelled some of the road before, but the turn off at Tyndrum took us into another world. All of a sudden, we were amongst the Munro’s (named for a man who documented all the peaks in Scotland over 3000 feet). A great road along rivers and lochs, through the high moors, with the mountains looming all around. We loved it.
107 miles from St Fillans to Fort Augustus Loch Ness

107 miles from St Fillans to Fort Augustus Loch Ness

In Lockerbie, on our first night in Scotland, the publican told us Loch Lomond surrounded by mountains,was beautiful but Loch Ness was quite flat and just a boring expanse of water. In a way he did us a favour underselling it-I was totally amazed by it’s beauty when we arrived.

We are staying at The Highland Club-a group of apartments set in a former abbey at Fort Augustus on the loch. Our apartment in the complex is right on the lawn which is right on the loch so I reckon I’m perfectly situated for some monster spotting. The complex has a pool, poolroom (with stained glass windows in the monks dining room), spa, sauna, gym, tennis courts, bbq, restaurant-it’s gorgeous.

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Perth

Meigle House steading

Meigle House steading

Thursday 18th, while Scotland voted Yes or No on Independence, we drove to Perth to do a bit of shopping. It was raining and miserable, so we stopped at a Tesco supermarket, did our shopping and drove on, not getting a look at the town I imagine gave it’s name to the city of Perth in Western Australia.

At Tesco, we were thrilled to get a fresh duck at a very reasonable price (Aus $14) and hovered over another Guinea fowl but decided against it.

Meigle Church where they found 30 Pict carved stones in the church yardWe drove on in the rain to the small town of Meigle to visit the Pictish Sculptured Stone Museum. The museum houses around 30 stones and fragments (mainly from the church next door) and is really quite interesting. More interesting though to me is the fact that Meigle is the oldest known settlement in Scotland-it’s been inhabited since before Christ was born, and the church graveyard is believed to be the site of Lady Guinevere’s grave.

Pictish Sculptured stone museum

Pictish Sculptured stone museum

On the way out of town, I stopped the car in the rain to take a few photos of a building I noticed on the way in. It was falling down and covered with moss and lichen, grass and shrubs, and looked more like the earth itself than a building. I had to come home and Google to find out it’s the Meigle House steading and no one really knows who built it and when or why they did.

Meigle House steading

Meigle House steading

We were almost home (still raining) when I spied a dead pheasant on the road. It took about a kilometre to find a somewhere to turn around but I did, and we went back to check it out. It’s quite accepted here to pick up roadkill (but you mustn’t be the one who kills it) rather than see it go to waste, and I’d seen that this bird looked good. Russ leaned out and felt it was till warm, so scooped it into a bag and we went off home with our prize. He’s on the menu tomorrow night. It’s pheasant and grouse shooting season here now and the birds are everywhere. We’ve been keeping our eyes peeled for a fresh kill since we got to Scotland!

My pheasant plucker

My pheasant plucker

Dinner Thursday night was pan fried Scottish salmon served on creamed leeks and pea and potato mash and was mighty fine!

Salmon

Salmon

Today, (after a quick check to find out the vote was No) I got onto Tripadvisor to find somewhere to go for a drive. I found a castle in a fairly remote spot on the way to Oban-a town which lies at the end of Loch Evite on the North Atlantic.

We drove to Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe (certainly was Awesome), then through the Pass of Branda, to Aird Bay on one end of Loch Etive, for our lunch.

Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe

Castle Kilchurn on Loch Awe

Castle Kichurn was all the reviews on Tripadvisor promised. Not easy to find, but remote and quite lovely sitting beside the loch. It originally stood on an island but had silted over over the centuries. It’s free, has no gift shop and is still well maintained with quite a bit of info on boards throughout. Some of the stairs were really narrow-if my bum was any bigger I think they’d have needed the jaws of life to extract me in one place! It was a great find!

Airds Bay on Loch Etive the old pier

Airds Bay on Loch Etive the old pier

One of us forgot the bread for our sandwiches (we had all the fillings) but we were able to buy a few bread rolls at a roadhouse along the pass so all was saved. We lunched at the Bay of Aird on a very untouristy part of the pretty Loch Etive. It was so unspoiled and undeveloped it really felt like a step back in time. The grassed pier and (rather old) new jetty beside the rotting remains of the (very) old one were lovely for a few photos.

Airds Bay on Loch Etive

Airds Bay on Loch Etive

After lunch we drove into the very pretty town of Oban and took a walk around the harbour and shops before heading home and cooking our duck.

McCaigs Tower Oban

McCaigs Tower Oban

Ducky was meaty, lean and delicious, and I made an apricot sauce for him with apricot preserves given to me in Switzerland by my dear friend and blogger Adriana. Her preserves were full of fruit, not at all sweet and made the base for an amazing sauce. * Here’s a link to her beautiful blog artandkitchen

Apricot sauce for duck (or chicken or pork)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced onion or shallot
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 cup apricot preserves-best quality you can get
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (add it slowly, tasting, until you like it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken stock powder
  • 1/2 cup rose (or white wine)
Apricot Sauce

Apricot Sauce

Method

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat, then cook the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli a few minutes until softened.
    Add the preserves, vinegar and sugar, stock powder and wine.
  2. Cook a few minutes to reduce, then taste and add more sugar or vinegar if you think it needs it.

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Leeds and on to the Lake District

Boatshed on Esthwaite Water

Boatshed on Esthwaite Water

Wednesday 27th, Iona, Simon and Lucy arrived home from their couple of nights away camping. It was Lucy’s first ever camping experience and I think she really (really) enjoyed it. Todd, Deb and Harry arrived Thursday so we vacated our bed and headed to a nearby Travelodge for the night so we could spend some time with them (it was the first time we’d caught up with Todd). We had lunch at a very posh fish and chip place (chandeliers hanging from the ceilings) then had a light dinner at Iona and Simon’s that night, then breakfast there before we headed to Bowness in the Lake District where we’d booked for a week.

Looking back from Kirkstone Pass to Bowness on WIndemere

Looking back from Kirkstone Pass to Bowness on WIndemere

On Saturday morning, we headed up and over Kirkstone Pass (lucky me got to drive that one) passing Brother’s Water and Ullswater as we made our way to Haddrian’s Wall at Birdoswald Roman Ruins. That part of the wall is one of the most intact and also has the ruins of a Roman fort and a Victorian farmhouse on the same site.It was all really interesting and so easy to visit all three. On the way home, we stopped off at the Lanercost Priory. Quite interesting, but when you’ve seen one priory…….

Standing on Hadrian's Wall

Standing on Hadrian’s Wall

Sunday morning, I woke thinking I might be able to hear drums, they got louder and louder and finally we realised it was a pipe band that had come down the hill from us and gone on by. We did see them later down at the pier here in Bowness, but stopping on impulse and parking is almost impossible around here-parking is at an expensive premium no matter where you go! The band looked amazing-tall bearskin hats, the long beautiful tartans and jackets-like they’d stepped out of an old painting.

The band got us up and going for our day out which started at the Stott Park bobbin mill on a little beck just off Lake Windermere. Another English Heritage property, it was really interesting and it was well worth taking the hour or so guided tour of it. The young bloke that showed us around was really good at his job and brought it alive. The fact that it’s all in working order is great too!

Stott Park Bobbin Mill Lake Windemere

Stott Park Bobbin Mill Lake Windemere

We had lunch at a pub in Ulverstone which turned out to be the worst meal of my stay so far. My first choice of steak and ale pie wasn’t available, and as it was close to end of service, I ordered scampi and chips and salad. No scampi killed, in fact, none were harmed, in the making of my lunch I’m sure, and one cherry tomato quartered, three slices of cuc and some shredded iceberg lettuce do no a summer salad make!

Haverigg Harbour

Haverigg Harbour

On we went to the heavy horses (mostly Clydesdale crosses) riding centre thinking a beach ride on one of these big things would be great. But at 100 pounds each, it wasn’t to be! I almost BOUGHT a miniature pony in Tassie for $350 I wasn’t paying $200 to ride a horse lol. After a drive out to Haverigg harbour on the Irish Sea, we stopped again in Ulverstone to buy some meat for dinner. We were rapt to find a guinea fowl for 5 pounds and some delicious venison and pork sausages as well.

Herring gull by the boat

Herring gull by the boat

On Monday, we spent the morning in Windermere-Russ taking a look around while I used the wi-fi at the library to catch up with e-mails, bills and family and friends on Facebook. In the afternoon we took a boat cruise on Lake Windermere to Ambleside. From there, we took a steam train to Haverthwaite and back, then returned on another boat. What a wonderful way to see the biggest lake in Britain! We had our beautiful guinea fowl for dinner, stuffed with bits and pieces collected along the way (onion bread, craisins, pine nuts and mixed herbs etc). It was probably the best game bird I’ve ever eaten!

Guinea Fowl for dinner

Guinea Fowl for dinner

On Tuesday 2nd, we drove to Ambleside, then on to a number of lakes and waters including Grasmere, Thirlmere, Derwent and Bassenthwaite. Who knew that Derwent pencils were made in Derwent, and the pic on the pencil packet or tin was right there in front of us? I only wish now I’d gone to the pencil museum to find out more.At one of the lakes we were amazed to see jets from the local RAF base performing manoeuvers low over the lake right in front of us. We hear or see the jets and propeller driven fighter planes every day but this was amazing!

By Thirlmere Lake

By Thirlmere Lake

Yesterday, we crossed Lake Windermere on the vehicle ferry to visit Esthwaite water and Gizdale Forest Park (which is about to celebrate 15 years of the Gruffalo in the forest). Gizdale forest Park has an amazing zip line circuit of 7 zips and other various activities that you spend up to 3 hours on. It all comes at a very reasonable cost of 30 pounds but as we’d done it before in Thailand, we decided we didn’t need to do it again. They had an amazing photographic exhibition on display too, so we spent a good deal of time checking it out.

We came home via Coniston and the east (and extremely beautiful) side of Coniston Water and Newby Bridge. We made ourselves roast beef and yorkshire puds for a delicious dinner to end a great day! I should add-for anyone who remembers him, Sir Donald Bradman set his world water speed record on Coniston in Bluebird, then crashed and died there attempting it again. His body and the wreck of Bluebird were recovered from the lake in 2001.

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

Today is computer day. Russ has shopped and is now walking home to our lovely little apartment about 1.5 miles away while I sit here in the library .

Tomorrow we drive back to Manchester then fly to Switzerland for 5 nights to visit our friends there in Basel.

I’m adding a slide show of photos-normally I’d put them in chronological order, but today there are too many and not enough computer battery to do that. Sorry!

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