Take the bull-boar sausage by the horns

Blanch sorrel briefly in boiling water then refresh it in ice-cold water to help retain the colour.
Blanch sorrel briefly in boiling water then refresh it in ice-cold water to help retain the colour. Photo: MCT

My only cooking experiences with sorrel have been less than desirable. I tried wilting it like baby spinach and whizzing it into a soup. Both times I wound up with something khaki and oddly flavoured. Although I've had good experiences using it raw and when other people serve it, I have a funny feeling it's me, not the sorrel. B. Puleston-Jones

Khaki is great if you're trying to camouflage armoured vehicles, but not so good for stimulating appetites. As the chlorophyll in the sorrel is broken down by its naturally occurring acidity, it changes from bright to dull green. To help retain the colour, blanch sorrel briefly in boiling water then refresh it in ice-cold water. As for the taste, sorrel is quite high in oxalic acid, which, according to Alan Davidson in The Oxford Companion to Food, tastes both bitter and sour. My experiences working with the ''Professor of Taste'', Russell Keast from Deakin University, have shown me that different people have different reactions to different compounds, and you may always find sorrel ''odd''. Perhaps stick to young, tender sorrel that is less acidic.

Where can I get brown jasmine rice? T. Anderson

Bull-boar sausages.
Bull-boar sausages. Photo: Rodger Cummins

The Randall family in the Murrumbidgee Valley are organic rice growers who process their long-grain jasmine rice leaving some layers of bran on the grain. It is not as fragrant as imported white jasmine rice, but it has a more robust nutty flavour and cooks in a little less than 15 minutes. You can order a few kilograms through farmhousedirect.com.au, where it will cost you $8 a kilogram, plus $8 for delivery of up to four kilograms.

I bought some bull-boar sausages, grilled them and found them way too spicy. What should I do with them? P. Shadwick

Bull-boar sausages first came to prominence in Australia in central Victoria in the mid-1800s, when they were made by gold rush immigrants from Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Made with beef, pork, red wine, sweet spices, such as clove and cinnamon, and garlic, they are little bags of meat that taste like hot-cross buns. They're not exactly what some people expect at a barbecue. Central Victorian food expert Gary Thomas, from Spade to Blade Catering, descended from the original Ticinese immigrants. He suggests cooking bull-boar sausages in cold water brought to the boil then simmered for four minutes. The sausages should then be cooled a little, sliced and fried and enjoyed with red wine. Alternatively, he suggests cooking them in the same way then adding them to a lentil or sweet-potato salad. He also sees merit in removing the meat from the skins and cooking it as one would mince meat to make a ragu for gnocchi. ''There are more than 30 different family recipes for bull-boars and if you don't like one, try another butcher,'' he says.

Where can I buy dried cherries? S. Goodwin.

Look in the baking section of supermarkets or the dried-goods area of good fruit and vegetable stores. Also, try health-food stores, where they are sold as super foods.

Letters

Still following the black-pudding trail, David MacDonald, from David's Larder, wrote: ''In your article (on Tuesday, July 16) someone asked where they could find black pudding. I wanted to let you know I have moved premises. The shop can now be found at 176 Queen Street, St Marys, NSW.''

This email came from ''Noma''. ''Re: your August 13 column on where to buy American corn syrup. I hoped for a concise answer because I use corn syrup to make peanut brittle and sometimes can't find it. Your answer went in circles. Just bashing farming policy in America was no help at all. You also suggested using an alternative, which was not mentioned by brand name. Hopeless really!'' Thanks, Noma. You can buy Karo brand corn syrup from usafoods.com.au.

If you have a query or want to have an anonymous rant, send it to brainfood@richardcornish.com.au.