26 July 2010

Annie, get your gun...

...and go bag yourself a chicken?  Nah, nobody needs to go shoot themselves a chook, not these day (just check out the deli and/or freezer section of the local supy).  Of course, if that's your cup of tea, then who am I to try to dissuade you (I mean heck, you've got a gun!). 

I spent the weekend visiting family which, as I've commented before, is always great - especcially from the food point of view.  Lots of new recipes to look through and new dishes to try.  This weekend continued the theme that seems to have settled in this winter - chicken.  To be precise, chicken, bacon and white wine.  Any complaints?  HELLZ no! 

This is sort of a chicken casserole, but with a sauce rather than a casseroley-liquid (by this I mean there's not as much liquid as one might expect from a trad casserole).  I'm going to be making this again later in the week (Annie cooked it this weekend, not me - I just observed carefully) and will add mushrooms to the mix.  Nom nom nom.  Right, here we go... 

4 chicken breasts
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped bacon (I've picked up a packet of bacon ends from the meat section)
1/2 mushrooms
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock (liquid stock tastes better here than powdered)
about 1 tbsp cornflour (maybe less)

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
  2. Coat chicken in flour, brown in pan, remove (to casserole dish).
  3. Cook onion, bacon, mushrooms in pan, remove (to casserole).
  4. Deglaze pan with wine, stir in stock and thicken with cornflour - sift cornflour in and whisk in small batches, so you don't end up with nasty lumps.  Pour sauce into casserole
    and bake in oven until ready (about an hour - hour and a half).  If the dish is ready before you are simply cover with foil and keep warm. 
  5. Serve with roasted/steamed veges and/or green salad with grated parmasan and balsamic. 

19 July 2010

chicken soup for the soul

There's something about soup in winter that is like a balm to our cold and irritable senses.  If you're feeling a bit under the weather, if you're in late from a busy day, if you're curling up on the couch with a book for a lazy day off, soup with some buttered slices of toast is a winner every time. 

Over the weekend I caught up with some friends.  Cruising by Emma's parents' house at around lunchtime turned out to be fortuitous timing - Mrs Bates had made chicken soup the day before and there was a bowlful left.  Score!  Reheated, with a piece of the aforementioned toast, it was delicious. 

So, a couple of days later and I'm back at home and feeling the effects of a busy weekend.  It's soup time.  Chicken soup time.  It's easy (deceptively easy - I've just finished making a pot and feel like there MUST be more to it) and a pot will feed several people, or last several days.  Move this recipe around, to suit what's in your cupboard, or what you like to eat.  This is just what I threw in the pot, today.  Tomorrow's another day. 

1 chicken (I used a size 16, or medium)
2 carrots
2 parsnips
2 stalks celery
2 onions
1 swede
1 packet soup mix - I used Sun Valley Foods as it had more barley than the others available
salt and pepper, to taste - you can always add more later
1 tsp each of chicken stock powder, cumin seeds, dried thyme, mustard seeds
spring fresh rosemary and parsley
  1. Fill stock pot a little over halfway with hot water, put on stove top to bring to boil. 
  2. Add chicken.  Chop veges and add, along with soup mix and any spices you choose to use. 
  3. Once boiling, reduce temprature and allow to simmer for about an hour or so (until the chicken is well and truly cooked - the legs/wings will be falling away from the body).
  4. Remove chicken to a plate and strip all the meat from the bones and removing the skin.  If you want to make stock from the bones, set them aside.  Add chicken meat back into soup. 
  5. Turn off heat and leave the soup sitting in the covered pot for a few hours, to let the flavours steep and strengthen.  Reheat when it's time to eat.  Serve with bread, or a side of rice. 
NB: Some addition you may like would be to add some pasta, or rice.  Some like to throw a tin of tomatoes in, or a little cream.  If you've curry paste in the fridge (green thai, for example) this would be a tasty addition, and a little coconut milk! 

14 July 2010

Project Pancake

Heidi Klum advertises Dannon Light & Fit yoghurt in the USA.  Smart marketers - most people like yoghurt anyway, Dannon tastes good, and add Heidi into the mix and sorry Yoplait, you are the weakest link. 

I buy Dannon whenever I'm in the US or Europe, 'cause it's so damn good.  Seriously, best yoghurt ever.  Anyway, the latest batch to make it to the home fridge had the following recipe for cornmeal (polenta) pancakes.  Sounded good, so I thought I'd give 'em a try. 

They are slightly odd in texture - a little granular, because of the polenta - but really light and fluffy.  They taste amazing, 'cause of the flavoured yoghurt and the recipe easily serves 5 people - it makes 12 pancakes.  I added a little milk to the batter, as was a bit too thick for pouring.  See how you go - I added less than 1/4 cup. 

1 cup flour
1/2 cup polenta (cornmeal)
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1/3 cup blueberries (optional)
1 1/2 cups light yoghurt (vanilla or strawberry are good!)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
  1. Sift dry ingredients into bowl.  Add other ingredients and whisk into smooth batter. 
  2. Heat pan over medium heat until hot, pour batter into pan to form coaster-sized cakes. 
  3. When wee bubbles appear on top it's tip to flip 'em over.  Cook second side for about 1 minute and serve with maple syrup.  YUM!!!

12 July 2010

♪ take me to the april sun in cuba ♪

Every week I get sent 5 recipes from mindfood.com, most of which I enjoy reading but know I'll likely never make.  However, from time to time a gem shines through that has me almost literally salivating at the computer. 

This morning was such a time.  I received this recipe, for Cuban-style slow-roasted pork which I will definitely be making, just as soon as I can.  The ingredients are pretty standard 'all-in-the-pantry' supplies, excepting perhaps saffron and orange liqueur.  Well, I'd suggest invest in a wee box of saffron, 'cause it lasts ages and most recipes only require a tiny amount, and the liqueur - if you like grand marnier or cointreau, grab some and use a little in this recipe.  If you don't, just leave it out - I will be - and use the juice of one more orange. 

2 oranges, juiced, rind finely grated
3 large limes, juiced, rind finely grated
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup orange-flavoured liqueur, optional
⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp finely ground black pepper
⅓ cup olive oil
1.4 kg pork scotch fillet
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 green capsicum, deseeded, finely diced
1 tsp cumin seeds, extra
½ tsp saffron threads
1 cup long grain rice
2½ cups chicken stock
1 tbsp plain flour
  1. Combine ½ cup orange juice, orange rind, 
½ cup lime juice, lime rind, soy, liqueur, sugar, garlic, cumin, oregano, pepper and 2 tbsp olive oil in a large zip-lock bag. Add pork; seal bag and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 160˚C. Remove pork from marinade and place in a non-stick roasting pan. Reserve marinade. Roast pork for 2½ hours or until meat is very tender. Rest, covered, for 10 minutes before slicing.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, capsicum and extra cumin. Cook for 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in saffron and rice. Add stock and stir until combined. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes or until craters form in the rice. Cover and remove from heat. Stand for 10 minutes or until rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat remaining oil in a saucepan 
over medium heat. Add flour and stir until combined. Slowly add reserved marinade, whisking constantly until combined. Stir until mixture comes to the boil. Reduce 
heat and simmer for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Strain gravy through a fine sieve. Divide rice between serving plates. Place slices of pork over rice and spoon over sauce. Serve.

05 July 2010

Move over, Strawberrry Shortcake

Mum recently acquired a brand-new, heavy-duty, bright-red cake mixer.  Mightn't sound particularly exciting to some, but it was to me.  I knew that that mixer meant the end to trying (usually in vain) to cream butter and sugar with egg beaters.  Using a hand-held mixer (egg beaters) works, but it's laborious and frankly gives less than average results. 

Fired by the zeal of one in command of such an august piece of equipment, I (relatively) quickly whipped up louise cake, cup cakes and shortcake.  Shortcake was something completely new to me - I'd never tasted it, and certainly had never made it - and it has definitely gone to very near the top of my list, for tasty sweets that are stupidly easy to make.  The recipe was one from Alexa Johnston's 'Ladies, A Plate', and called for dried apricots to be used, as the fruit filling.  We had a large amount of fresh peaches to hand, so I used some of those.  I'm going to make another one, once this one's eaten, with fresh blueberries, so it's a pretty versitile recipe. 

One thing I'd recommend to avoid however - the use of jam.  I had a couple of dollops of raspberry jam leftover from the jar used in the louise cake, so (rather than let it waste away, lonely in the cupboard) spread that alongside the peaches.  Too much.  WAY too sweet.  Yikes.  If you like insanely sweet foods, then go for it.  Otherwise, use jams at your own risk.  Other than that - foolproof, go for it!!

115 g butter, softened
160 g cup sugar
1 egg
170 g flour
2 tsp baking powder
c. 1 cup fruit, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in eggs and mix well. 
  3. Add flour and baking powder, mixing into a smooth paste.
  4. Take half the soft dough and press evenly into greased 20cm round tin (recommended that you place baking paper in bottom, too). 
  5. Lay fruit (I used slices of peach, but apple would be really good too, or berries, or a combination - even dried apricots, as in the original recipe, provided they're soaked for a bit before use) in layer across dough base. 
  6. Arrange spoonfuls of remaining dough across top and press together with fingertips.  They'll spread a little in the oven, so don't be too concerned if they don't meet up perfectly. 
  7. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until risen and golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes befire removing from tin.  Sift with icing sugar and serve, warm or cold.