With Hallowe'en today, and Guy Fawkes Night and the Mexican Day of the Dead just around the corner; this time of year calls for a certain type of food: it needs to be warming, probably spicy too (with a nod to Mexico and all things "devilled"); I also like the idea of small, easily made tapas-style dishes and canapés. Perfect to serve up to any friends who drop by for Bonfire Night drinks.
About three years ago, I covered Devilled Kidneys on The Greasy Spoon. I cannot stress how surprisingly delicious these are- utterly wicked. I had the bright idea this morning of serving them as canapés; although bear in mind that you'll need to cut up the kidneys into small, bite-sized pieces and cook them extremely briefly.
First you heat up a bit of oil in a hot pan. Cut your lamb's kidney's into quarters, first trimming away the whitish core, and any white stringy bits. Chop the quarters up into smallish dice. Drop the chopped kidneys into the pan, and sauté them very briefly. Add a dash of dry sherry, bubble it away, and then add a further dash of cider vinegar.
Stir in a spoonful of redcurrant jelly, and allow it to melt. Add a generous slug of Worcestershire sauce, a dollop of yellow English mustard (Colman's is ideal), and ground black pepper.
Season with a decent pinch of sea salt, and mix in a spoonful of so of double cream. Bubble away quickly until glossy.
To serve: take a slice of bread and cut into bite-size crutons or squares (I like them to be reasonably small). Fry in a shallow pan with groundnut oil until golden brown. Spoon the devilled kidneys onto each cruton. Arrange on a plate, season with cayenne pepper and sprinkle over chopped parsley or chives.
Go on, be a devil- you'll love 'em.
Incidentally, the rather haunting photograph at the top of the page is taken from Ossian Clark's "Haunted Air- a collection of anonymous Hallowe'en Photographs from America, c.1875 - 1955", published by Jonathan Cape in 2010. Ossian Clark has collected hundreds of vintage snaps found in flea-markets, car boot sales, junk shops and the like. I haven't bought this book yet, but I'm intrigued. What I've seen so far seems strangely moving (the lives of ordinary suburban and working class American families- now forgotten but captured in time), surreal, weird, and genuinely frightening.