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Category: offal

Ephemeral Time {Calves Liver à la Bordelais + Avocado and Radish Salad}

“This is the first time I’ve known what time it was…” Bree was ignoring both Mrs. Bug’s raptures and the [astrolobe] in her hands. I saw her meet Roger’s eyes, and smile – and after a moment, his own lopsided smile in return. How long had it been for him?

Everyone was squinting up at the setting sun, waving clouds of gnats from their eyes and discussing when they had last known the time. How very odd, I thought, with some amusement. Why this preoccupation with measuring time? And yet, I had it, too.

I laid my hand on [Jamie’s], where it rested on the box [of the astrolobe]. His skin was warm with work and the heat of the day, and he smelt of clean sweat. The hairs on his forearm shone red and gold in the sun, and I understood very well just then, why it is that men measure time. 

They wish to fix a moment, in the vain hope that so doing will keep it from departing.” ~ From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

Time is a precious, ephemeral thing. When you’re in the midst of something, it seems like it will last forever, you have time to say things, do things, and leave things for tomorrow, mañana, mañana…. But when time goes by, you see how quickly it evaporated before your eyes, as if it never existed. It never was.

When we arrived in Connecticut last June, the days were still warm and the evenings long, boat rides were still possible and enjoying the kaleidoscope of purples, reds, oranges, and blues of the setting sun brought memories of our times shared in the past when we all lived here. We had the whole world ahead of us, many dreams and hopes (and possibly some apprehensions). Slowly, but surely Fall inched upon us with its foliage exploding in all possible hues of reds, yellows, oranges and greens. A sight to behold with one’s eyes at least once in life, as nature surpasses all conceivable dreams.

Autumn gave way to the bareness of Winter, that would this year prove to be a long and bitter one, literally and metaphorically. Branches now serving as the framework to nature’s delicate and perfect snow and ice sculptures…Winter seemed endless this year. It was the coldest the North East has experienced in over 30 years. That last winter that all the natives over a certain age can recall and tell you about. They describe in detail how they used to walk across the Mystic River and how cold and raw it was.

And then as the snow reluctantly melted away and we approached the equinox of Spring, time fell silent and still. But only for a moment. A fleeting moment. But a definitive moment it was. Soon we could see patches of grass again, the daffodils timidly peeked up through the ground, the deer finally ventured out on the marshes, and a fox or two skirted by our front porch… everything was coming back to life. Nature’s annual renewal.

The bright yellow flowers of the forsythia came and went so quickly it seemed like a reverie, and the pink blossoms of the magnolias exploded one day and then all of a sudden the ground was covered in a blanket of pink. We are now coming back full circle to azure skies, calm seas, lazy afternoons and welcomed breezes… Summer is almost upon us. But as I write this, time is flying by. It’s slipping away…Where has the past year gone? Have I really spent almost twelve months in Connecticut?

All things must come to an end, and soon I will be departing for Europe to resolve my divorce and soon my father will return home as well. We won’t be leaving as we came. And my family staying here won’t remain as they were. We’ve changed forever, although nature will remind us with the seasons that change is inevitable. Only time will tell us what the future holds for us all. It’s been a tough year behind us, filled with a great, irreparable loss whose emptiness will last until the end of time, and yet we have also been afforded the time to be together as a family again, my father, my late mother, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two lovely nieces and me. To enjoy each other’s company. Share tears, smiles and laughter. To give each other warm hugs that melt the heart. To cook and eat together. To be one.

It may be a long time before we have the chance to be one again. We will see each other separately I know. And technology will keep us connected even in the distance, even as many things will never be as they were. New times are ahead of us. And with hope and new illusions and a prospect of happiness or at least of peace, we go forward, holding on to time.

All the years I was living in Germany and later the two years in London, we travelled to Spain by car and traversed France from corner to corner, sometimes zigzagging, more often than not though in a straight line. I kept insisting we stop, take detours to see the historical towns and castles, but only a couple of times did we have the time. We were mostly on a schedule to get there quickly, squeese out as much time as possible being in the warm sun of Southern Spain, and then make our way back.

We did however, always make time to eat. And yet, with all those lunches and dinners (breakfasts don’t count for this dish), not once did I try calves liver à la Bordelais. Not once! That’s a very strange occurrence for me because whenever I’m travelling or in a new place, one of my first goal is to eat as much of the local cuisine as possible. My other goal is to see and experience as much as I can fit in within the limited time. I tend to exhaust every minute. My motto is that I never know when I’ll be back, and under such a premise, I cannot and will not waste time.

I discovered this recipe in Mimi Thorrison’s A Kitchen in France, A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse. Although I marked a number of recipes and read the book front to back in one evening, I’ve only made this dish, as I’ve not made the time to concentrate on others. I’ve made it now a number of times, changing things here and there and finally adapting it my way. My beautiful mom loved it the first time I made it for her; and my father and I have enjoyed it in the various adaptations I’ve experimented with. This last one, we both find the best. It’s less buttery and lighter.

It’s hard to source a good quality calves liver where we have been living. I find that essential and would suggest procuring organic, pasture-raised from your local butcher to get the full benefits of eating offal. And the type of butter is also important. I love Kerrygold salted (I could eat it with a spoon!).

The avocado-radish salad I put together on a whim because the radishes were so pretty and the avocado perfectly ripe. Add whatever toppings you like. I only used olive oil, lemon juice and salt and some pepper on the plate, as my father likes to keep things simple.

I hope you enjoy! Salud!

Calves Liver à la Bordelais

Ingredients, serves 2

2 filets of calves liver
4 shallots
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgen olive oil, plus some extra
2-4 slices of prosciutto
1/2 cup white wine
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
arrowroot flower for dusting


Rinse the calves liver filets and pat dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper on one side and set aside.

Peel and julienne the shallots and the garlic. In a medium sized skillet, add 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil. Over medium heat, melt the butter and add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes until the shallots are golden and tender. Add the white wine and reduce, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir well. Set aside, covered to keep warm.

In another skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the prosciutto slices and cook, about 1 minute, turning over once. Remove from skillet and place on a plate.

Dust the calves liver filets with some arrowroot powder. And in the same skillet used for the prosciutto, add another drizzle of olive oil. Place the liver filets in the skillet and cook, about 3 minutes on each side.

To serve: place the liver filet on the plate, spoon some of the shallot sauce over each filet, and top with a slice or two of prosciutto. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Avocado + Radish Salad

Ingredients, serves 2

1 ripe avocado
1 radish
sea salt, freshly ground pepper
lemon juice
extra virgen olive oil


Peel and slice the avocado. With a mandolin, slice the radish very thinly. Place the avocado on the serving plate and top with the radish. Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice over top. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve.

Chicken Livers with Apples & Strawberry Coulis Tapas

I love chicken livers. But I cannot make them when my husband is around, since he simply doesn’t like them. So, as he’s travelling now, I have the opportunity to make the things I like and can also experiment with new things.


This recipe is a bit different from the traditional way of making chicken livers, which seems to be with onions and/or garlic, at least in Spain. There are variations from family to family, like adding wine or not, adding some pine nuts and maybe some parsley or other herbs. But when I was discussing the recipe with my mother and sister-in-law both made a funny nose at my mention of adding apples!


However, I loved the combination and hope you will give it a try too, if you haven’t already thought of this… it’s delicious and especially so for kids, if they won’t eat liver otherwise. In addition to the apples, I made my dish into somewhat of a tapa and added some raw spinach and a strawberry coulis as dressing.

Chicken Livers with Apples & Strawberry Coulis Tapas
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 400g chicken livers, rinsed and cut in halves
  • 2 medium onions, chopped or julienne
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish pimenton or paprika
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 apples, peeled and either chopped or cut into slices
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • coconut oil, butter or lard for cooking (I used lard for extra flavour)
  • For the strawberry coulis, optional:
  • 8-10 strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water (if necessary)
  • spinach or other greens, optional
  1. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the oil/butter or lard.
  2. Add the chicken livers, onions and garlic.
  3. Sauté until the chicken livers are browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the apples and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the pimenton, sea salt and wine.
  6. Cook until the wine is reduced, about 10-15 minutes, and the livers are done. (If you prefer them slightly raw, cook less time. I like mine done all the way through with no blood.)
  7. For the strawberry coulis:
  8. In a small saucepan, over low heat, place all of the ingredients and stir.
  9. Cook until the strawberries become “mushy”. Remove from heat and cool.
  10. When the mixture is cool, puree with an immersion blender, food processor or blender.
  11. To eat as a tapa:
  12. Place some spinach or green of preference on the bottom of the serving plate/dish.
  13. Spoon some chicken livers with apples over the greens.
  14. Pour some strawberry coulis overtop as dressing.

Chicken Livers with Sage

Years ago, when I had iron anemia, I was forced to eat chicken and beef livers to increase my iron levels; and fortunately I learned to love them. My mother tried a variety of recipes to make sure I wouldn’t get bored, but by far my favourite way to eat chicken livers is the traditional Spanish style.

And although now I usually prepare them as a pate, every once in a while, I still like to dig into the whole organ meat, prepared just like my mother used to make them for me. (And she still does when we visit my parents.)


It’s simple and easy to make and within minutes, you can be enjoying a delectable dish that is very healthy for you. You can serve them with mashed potatoes or another tuber mash or even cauliflower mash/rice (although I find that the taste of the cauliflower can be overpowering for the chicken livers).


I ate mine as a salad over a bed of raw spinach and wild rocket (arugula). To make them more kid-friendly, try adding some apples, either raw or cooked with the livers.


Chicken Livers – Higadillos de Pollo
Author: The Saffron Girl
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Serves 2-3
  • 350g chicken livers
  • 1 medium red onion, cut julienne style or chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, slivered
  • lard, about 2 tablespoons (you can also use olive oil or fat of preference, however the lard adds a special flavour to this dish)
  • 3 leaves fresh sage, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon Spanish pimenton (or paprika)
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. In a skillet, over low heat, melt the lard.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and livers.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken livers are almost done and almost no blood is left.
  4. Add the thyme, sage, pimenton and sea salt (to taste).
  5. Cook about 1 minute.
  6. Then add the wine and cook until the livers are completely done.
  7. Serve immediately with your favourite side dish or over a bed of greens.
  8. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, if desired.
  9. Garnish with pumpkin seeds for some crunch.


Dairy Free Chicken Liver Pate

Here’s my revised version of chicken liver pate, which is less complicated than the first one I posted. It is pictured with the Rosemary-Coconut Savoury Bread.




  • 350g chicken livers, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, chopped or julienne style
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups coconut milk, full fat
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of gelatine powder (one package)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 125ml Moscatel or another sweet dessert wine (optional) + 2 tablespoons gelatine.


  1. Place the chicken livers, onion, garlic and olive oil in a deep pan. Over low heat and covered, cook until the chicken livers are done, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Once the livers are done, set aside until they cool at room temperature.
  3. In a blender or food processor, add the cooked chicken livers, onion, garlic and 2 cups of coconut milk. Pulse until you have a smooth puree.
  4. Add the additional cup of coconut milk and pulse further to incorporate.
  5. Add the sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  6. Return to the same pan used before and heat, but do not boil.
  7. In the meantime, mix the gelatine with the cold water and allow to sit about 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add to the liver mixture and cook until the gelatine is fully dissolved and blended into the mixture.
  9. Remove from heat and place in ramekins or your preferred glass container, which can also be used to serve.
  10. Refrigerate until set.
  11. Heat the Moscatel or sweet dessert wine. Add the powdered gelatine and dissolve completely.
  12. Pour over the pate ramekins and refrigerate again until set.
  13. If you prefer, the Moscatel or sweet wine can be omitted. I like the contrasting sweetness it provides to the pate, but it’s not a necessary addition.


Homemade Pate (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm… if I may say so myself! This is absolutely delicious! I just can’t get enough of my homemade pate with Moscatel gelatin.

But then again, I’m a pate lover. However, I find it  hard to get good quality pate that has no wheat or strange additives in it at the store or even in restaurants, unless one pays a fortune. And maybe even then, there are things lurking in the pate I would prefer to avoid.

So, I’ve resorted to making my own at home! It’s actually quite easy and it’s very tasty. Did I mention delicious? hmmm… read on and make at home too!


Ingredients, makes about 250ml or 1 cup:

  • 250g chicken livers
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Moscatel wine or wine of preference (optional)
  • 100ml almond milk
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 50ml Moscatel
  • 2 gelatin leaves

In a saucepan over low heat, add 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and poach about 5 minutes. Add the rinsed and cleaned chicken livers and saute 2 minutes. Pour the tablespoon of Moscatel or wine over the livers and continue to cook until all the blood is gone.

In a blender, pulse the livers and onions with the almond milk. Season to taste. Pour into a pot and over low heat, cook 8-10 minutes. In the meantime, place a leaf of gelatin in cold water to soften. When it’s soft, add to the liver mixture and cook until completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Pour the pate into a serving mold and refrigerate until set. Make sure the liver pate is completely set before the next step.

To make the Moscatel gelatin: Place another gelatin leaf in cold water until soft. In the meantime, heat the wine until bubbly. Allow to reduce the alcohol and then add the gelatin leaf. Cook until completely dissolved. Allow to cool at room temperature, then pour over the pate and refrigerate until set.

(You can also make the gelatin with fish tails and bones by cooking the bones with the liquid, such as the almond milk or the wine. I just didn’t have any home to with which to make the gelatin.)

The addition of the Moscatel gelatin is optional, but I like the combination of the sweetness from the wine with the liver flavour.


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