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Posts Tagged ‘Bowdoinham

Kidneys Aren’t So Offal After All

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Goat and lamb kidneys (I think the smaller grey one is lamb) from Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham. Surprisingly delicious if first soaked in salt water and then alcohol, to remove much of that urine-y essence.

The taste-buds of toddlers, even the most omnivorous of ones, seem to grow pickier near the age of two. That’s certainly been the case with Theo. We depend upon green smoothies, fortified with kale and carrots, to get vegetables into him now. He tends to favor plain starches, bananas and peanut butter, granola and other sweet items these days. So we were delighted to discover he had a taste for lamb kidneys and liver, and tripe soup, at a recent special Greek diner menu at our beloved Trattoria Athena here in Brunswick. I was also happy to discover I had a taste for kidneys, after my unpleasant experience with rabbit ones a while back. And pleased to discover Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham sold delicate lamb and goat kidneys at my Brunswick farmers’ market for an affordable $3 a pound. Apple Creek farmers Jake and Abby said the only other customers who ask for them are mothers inspired by Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.

"Odd bits" such as kidneys are a great farmers' market find for those on a budget.

“Odd bits” such as kidneys are a great farmers’ market find for those on a tight budget.

I’ve bought lamb and goat kidneys twice from them now and found them delicious. I think the goat ones had a more off-putting barnyard aroma, but by eating time, I got confused which was which. To remove the kidneys’ urine flavor (hey, urine is sterile anyway:)), I soaked them in heavily salted water and then some beer the first time and sweet vermouth the second time I made them. For a recipe, I adapted Mark Bittman’s one for breaded veal kidneys sauteed with shallots and sherry, from his How to Cook Everything. I drained the kidneys and discarded their liquid, removed tough white membranes, sliced them into tender medallions, salted and peppered them, then dredged in flour and pan-fried in butter. I kept them warm in a 200 degree oven while I sauteed shallots with more butter in the pan, and then deglazed it with sherry and sweet vermouth and a touch a maple syrup for sweetness. That sauce goes over the kidneys. Serve warm with crusty bread.

A kidney cross-section. I realize not for the faint of heart.

A kidney cross-section. I realize not for the faint of heart.

Unfortunately, now-finicky Theo refused the kidneys both times at home. Mama sure enjoyed them as an appetizer, but their richness, like liver but with a sweeter, less metallic flavor, meant I couldn’t make a meal of them. A little goes a long way with offal. Let’s hope this kid becomes omnivorous again when he turns two in June. What happened to my keen sardine eater?

The pan-fried kidneys. They could be a pricey app at a trendy Portland restaurant. All yours for $3 a pound.

The pan-fried kidneys. They could be a pricey app at a trendy Portland restaurant. All yours for $3 a pound.

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Myopic about Mushrooms

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It looked like a Bolete (porcini), it smelled like a Bolete, but I’m not expert enough to be certain so I won’t eat it. There’s too much potential for error given the 100-some Boletes out there. Black trumpets, however, I can confidently identify. NOTE to readers: I can’t identify this mushroom. CONSULT AN EXPERT BEFORE CONSUMING. Thought I found Chanterelles too, but they were smaller than ones from Pacific Northwest. I’ve lost my confidence.

I’ve decided wild mushroom foraging will be the new foodie thing I throw myself into here in Maine. Many species seem to thrive in the damp, pine needle-carpeted forests here, and I’m eager to learn more about them. I’ve got black trumpets down. They’re easy to identify as long as you keep looking down, as “Mushroom Maineiac” David Spahr advises. Here, they spring up next to green moss and bright pine seedings.

We just settled on truffled eggs with the few black trumpets I found. My Dad is a master in the kitchen! He swears by the more affordable white truffle oil from Micucci’s in Portland.

Now, I’m in hot pursuit on a hike. I understand how hunters and fisherman feel. Even if you have to throw your catch back, there’s still the thrill of that “aha!” moment of discovery. I had that in the woods yesterday, chancing upon what I thought were small Chanterelles and a big Bolete that sure looks like a Porcini. We consulted friends and David Spahr’s book. I had been inspired by a display at this weekend’s MOFGA Common Ground Fair. In some ways, the more I read, the more pictures I viewed, the more doubt crept in. It just isn’t worth the risk unless you’re sure. I’ll think about joining the Maine Mycological Association and going out in the company of experts soon. The nearby Long Branch School in Bowdoinham organizes monthly forays. Trouble is, you get the most bang for your wild mushroom buck if you go out on a secret mission, and lose yourself in the woods alone.

The harvest I’m abandoning due to lack of certainty. One is at least definitely a Chanterelle but the uncertainty about the lot has made me lose interest. Also found coral mushrooms we could eat, but they aren’t culinary gems and can have a laxative effect on some folks.

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