Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cookbook Challenge - Rice - Haitian Chicken with Pumpkin Rice

I didn't even get to my cookbooks for inspiration this week- I was watching Carribean Food Made Easy on the Lifestyle Channel and loved the look of this - and now I think I've stumbled across a dish that may become a firm family favourite- its certainly the best roast cook I've ever made! You take a luscious free range chicken and do a delicious lime tangy bread crumb stuffing, but that goes under the skin- the cavity is filled with tomatoes, keeping the whole fabulously moist and a little cayenne on the outside for extra tang. Levi Roots then flambes the final product in rum- I skipped that bit- felt a bit extravagant for a Sunday night roast, could be a cool dinner party trick though...

We used tomatoes we got from the Collingwood Farmers Market last weekend- check out the colour- and the flavour was divine! We've saved some seeds- hope we can get these up next year!
The rice in the dish is certainly not the main attraction. It goes well with the tangy and tasty chicken, but is a tiny bit bland- don't think I would make it again.
I will definitely do the chook again- and give it old fashioned trimmings- roast potatoes, pumpkin and some nice greens.
For the roast chicken and gravy
1 x 1.6kg/3½lb whole chicken
15g/½oz butter
2 tsp cayenne pepper
350ml/12fl oz chicken stock
4 tbsp rum

For the bread stuffing
50g/1¾oz butter
½ onion, finely chopped
2 spring onions, trimmed, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 slices white bread, crusts removed, made into breadcrumbs ( I used 2 slices of Auction Rooms sour dough bread and left the crusts on and just gave them a whizz- delicious)
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 lime, zest and juice
2 tbsp rum
2 tsp brown sugar

For the tomato and plantain stuffing
15g/½oz butter
2 very ripe plantains, peeled and sliced - (I couldn't get these so didn't use- absolutely optional)
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pumpkin rice
550ml/1 pint cold water
400g/14oz pumpkin flesh, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
450g/1lb basmati rice, rinsed and drained twice to remove excess starch
15g/½oz butter

1. Gently ease the skin around the neck and breast of the chicken away from the meat using your fingers, reaching as far down the legs as possible. Set aside.
2. For the bread stuffing, heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
3. Add the spring onions and garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
4. Add the nutmeg and breadcrumbs and continue to fry until the breadcrumbs are crisp and golden-brown.
5. Add the thyme leaves, lime zest and juice, rum and sugar and stir well until combined. When the ingredients have warmed through and the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

6. When the bread stuffing mixture is cool enough to handle, push small handfuls of it under the loosened skin of the chicken, until all of the bread stuffing mixture has been used up. Tuck any loose neck skin into the cavity of the bird. Set aside.
7. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
8. Meanwhile, for the tomato and plantain stuffing, melt the butter in a separate frying pan over a medium heat. Add the plantain and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.
9. Add the tomatoes and continue to fry for 4-5 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down and the sauce has thickened. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 10. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the tomato and plantain stuffing.
11. For the roast chicken, smear the butter over the skin of the stuffed chicken and sprinkle over the cayenne pepper. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
12. Place the chicken into a large roasting tin, then transfer to the oven and roast for 1½-1¾ hours, or until the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the chicken where the thigh meets the body.
13. Meanwhile, for the pumpkin rice, bring the water, pumpkin, two sprigs of thyme and salt to the boil in a large, covered pan, then reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender.
14. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs, then mash the pumpkin and cooking liquid together using a potato masher, until the pumpkin breaks down. (NB: The mixture does not have to be mashed until smooth.)
15. Add the rice to the pan with the pumpkin mixture in it and stir. The liquid should cover the rice by 2-2½cm/1-1¼in, so add more water as necessary.
16. Add the butter and stir until melted, then cover the pan with the lid and return the mixture to the boil. When the mixture is boiling, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 18-20 minutes, without removing the lid, until the bottom of the rice has browned slightly and all of the rice is tender.
17. When the rice is cooked, add the remaining sprig of thyme, then turn off the heat and leave the pan on the residual heat for a further 3-4 minutes.
18. When the chicken has cooked through, transfer it to a warm plate and cover with aluminium foil.
19. For the gravy, add the chicken stock to the juices that collected in the roasting tray and bring to the boil, scraping up any browned bits up from the bottom of the tray using a wooden spoon. Simmer the gravy until it has thickened, then sieve, reserving the liquid.
20. Heat the rum in a frying pan over a high heat, then remove from the heat and set alight using a match. Allow the flames to flare up, then die down. (NB: keep flammable objects away from the flame.) Pour the rum over the roast chicken.
21. To serve, carve the roast chicken and divide it among six serving plates. Place a portion of the tomato and plantain stuffing on top of each serving. Spoon the pumpkin rice alongside. Drizzle over the gravy.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Gluhwein Jam

This was a total CWA moment for me...entering my jam in a competition- no matter how small. I had a kilo of plums from our last trip to the Yarra Valley and found this lovely recipe on for a jam with lots of spices and soem red wine. I added some peaches and cherries to the mix- and this jam reminds me so much of Gluhwein, that that's what I've decided to call it.
I had some trouble with setting, so had to add in the juice of another lemon and cooked the actual lemon with it for about half an hour over the times stated below. It's turned out very yummy (passed the husband test) and looks beautiful in the Quattro Stagione jars I bought- fingers crossed I win the Langham Masterclass tickets now.

The Recipe
Makes 7 cups
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp anise seeds
6 cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 dried bay leaves, crumbled
2 cups dry red wine
1.25kg white sugar
1 kg plums , quartered, stoned
700g peaches stoned and chopped
300g pitted cherries
(or instead of mixing, just use 2 kg of plums as per the original recipe)
1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice

Place spices, bay leaves, wine and 1 cup sugar in a large, wide, heavy-based saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave to cool. When cool, strain though a sieve over a bowl.
Return strained syrup to pan with 1 cup water and plums. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer over low-medium heat for 35 minutes.
Uncover pan. Add lemon juice and remaining sugar. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, skimming any scum from top, for 45-50 minutes or until jam jells when tested. To test, place a small spoonful on a chilled saucer then return to freezer for 1 minute. Run your finger through chilled jam; it should be the consistency of honey and wrinkle slightly when pushed. Once at this stage, pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.

Cooking Challenge: Noodles

Delicious Laksa
Sorry everyone, this blog post comes without photos- once this dish was ready to eat, there was no stopping for photographs, we just gobbled it up- truly delicious.
Laksa is definitely my favourite noodle dish- it would be a strong contender for my favourite food full stop. So I am very happy to have this recipe to make my own!
This recipe comes from the book "Spicery" by Ian and Elizabeth Hemphill. You may know Herbie's spices- Sydney based spice merchants who stand for great quality spices and often have hard to get spices unavailable elsewhere- well this is their book.
Each chapter is devoted to a different spice and outlines a bit about the plant it comes from and it's history and traditional uses as well as how to prepare, store and use and then around 3 recipes for each spice.
The Laksa recipe is in the Galangal chapter where I learned, for example, that in the Orient, powdered galangal was once used as snuff- so reknowned is it for its perk-me up qualities (maybe that's why I love a laksa as a hangover cure!).
The recipe for the laksa powder makes plenty for at least 3 laksa meals (each being for 2). Once the powder is made, throwing the soup together is super quick and there is no reason you couldn't make this after work.
The base of the laksa powder is a madras curry powder- also delicious- easy to cook up with meat, veges and a tin of tomatoes.

Madra Curry Powder
15 tsp ground coriander
6 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground yellow mustard seed
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground cinammon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground green cardamon seed
1/2 tsp chilli powder

Laksa Spice Mix
12 tsp Madras curry powder
3 tsp ground fennel seed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground galangal
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sugar

(Both these mixes store well in an air tight jar)

Laksa (for 2)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 tsp Laksa Spice Mix
1/2 chopped onion
750ml chicken stock
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
400ml coconut cream
250 g chicken (or tofu or seafood), sliced
100g bean sprouts
200g hokkein noodles (cooked and drained)- warmed
1/2 tbsp. Vietnamese mint leaves
1/2 tbsp coriander leaves

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the Laksa Spice Mix.
Add the onion and stir for 2 minutes.
Add the stock and shrimp paste and bring to the boil.
Add coconut cream and chicken and simmer genly for 10 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked)
Prepare two bowls with half the noodles and bean sprouts.
Divide the soup between the two bowls and top with the mint and coriander.

Enjoy, I thought this was a great recipe!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Melbourne Preserves competition

I shouldn't be putting this up, as it will no doubt diminish my chances of winning, but thought there might be some interest out there...Aesop's Fitzroy store have gone all CWA and are having a competition for Langham Melbourne Masterclass tickets for the best fruit preserves- I love it, though a shame I'm not that good at making jam.

I'm going to give it a crack- I've bought a kilo of plums, now just need a good recipe.

Here the details from their email:
We have four single-day tickets to Langham Melbourne Masterclass at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, and would like to offer these to our customers.To secure a ticket, deliver a jar of your best homemade fruit preserve to Aesop Fitzroy by Tuesday 16 March and our jury of experts will sample your wares. Please be sure to label your jar, including all ingredients and your contact details.We will notify winners by Wednesday 17 March. Masterclasses are held on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 March. Each Masterclass consists of four sessions with some of Melbourne's best chefs. Further details can be found here.All fruit preserves are to be brought to:Aesop Fitzroy242 Gertrude Street Fitzroy 3065Tel: +61 3 9419 8356Open: Monday 11am - 5pm; Tuesday to Friday 10am - 6pm; Saturday 9am - 6pm; Sunday 11am - 5pm"

Good luck!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pluots and other organic goodness

As I mentioned in my muffin post, we were up in Marysville for a bike ride and went to Alexandra, and just on the outskirts of town, there was an amazing shop advertising PLUOTS- which are a cross of plums and apricots. No idea what the place is called, but if you're up that way, they have a small but fabulous range of organic veges (the tomatoes we bought were divine) and stone fruit with pluots, but also a few different plum varieties. If you're up that way, be sure and call in.
And if you're not leaving town this weekend, try the Veg Out Community Market
Where: Chaucer Street , St Kilda (just behind Acland St and Luna Park ) Melways ref 2P B9
Time: 8.30 am – 1.00 pm.
Wondering if anyone's tried the North Melbourne Farmers Market- have seen the sign, but not quite made it there yet...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Black Forest Muffins

The Cookbook Challenge: Muffins

Who knew muffins had this much oil in them? I've never been a huge muffin fan, but will certainly be wary of their oily goodness in future! Very keen to see if anyone has some low fat muffins that still work.
Enough with complaining- on to the muffins- that actually tasted really good and were lovely and light and fluffy. I made these for my bookclub girls and at the end, they were all gone- surely a good sign!

My recipe was based on the rhubarb muffins recipe in Stephanie Alexander's book "The Cook's Companion" which is an absolute stalwart at our house. I don't think I've ever made a dud out of it.
I just substituted the 2/3 cup of rhubarb for plums- as I bought some beautiful plums at a plum farm up near Alexandria last weekend (if you're driving up there, stop in - beautiful plums and other organic produce). Then I added in some grated dark chocolate to give it a little Black Forest feel.
This recipe is also incredibly simple- you could whip it up in a jiffy for unexpected guests!
It worked well- the basic recipe is nice and light and you could substitute in any fruit you have on hand.
220g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
125g sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup of chopped plums (or rhubarb)
2 tbs chopped dark chocolate (optional
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease 12 muffin tins with oil.
Sift flour and baking powder and stir in sugar.
Mix milk, egg and oil together.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and beat in the liquid.
Mix in the plums and chocolate.
Spoon into muffin tins until 2/3 full and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.
If you like this, you might also want to try my plum and ricotta crumble cakes

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cookbook Challenge - Love

For this weeks challenge, everything revolved around Rusty. My first dish was a Black Sticky Rice Pudding, cause he loves it. My second was a Black Forest cake because, well I love him and its favourite cake.

Both dishes were delicious and we ate the whole cake with the help of only one other person. The Black Sticky Rice keeps well in the fridge and we had it for desert a few nights running.

Sticky Rice is from my new Food Safari book- which is brilliant- I've already made a few things out of it. What I quite like about this book is that it seems to often be a bit loose with times and quantities- so it leaves a bit to the imagination. The recipe is wonderfully simple, though grating fresh coconut is a bit of a messy business and involved a whole new kitchen arsenal of a hammer and a screwdriver.

The Black Forest Cake recipe is from Gordon Ramsays Cooking for Friends which I borrowed from a friend. Although this is a rather complicated recipe, it is one of the simplest for Black Forest Cake that I've seen. The only thing I would change about the recipe would be to use normal fresh whipped cream instead of double cream to make it a little bit lighter and fluffier. My other recommendation would be to sprinkle the cherry juice generously to make this moist as!

Black Forest Cake

For the chocolate sponge:
125g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp cocoa powder
5 large eggs, separated
200g unsalted butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp cooled espresso or strong coffee
100g dark chocolate (minimum 65% cocoa solids), melted in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water
For the filling and topping:
500g ripe cherries
60g caster sugar
75ml kirsch or cherry brandy
550ml double cream
1-2 tbsp icing sugar, to taste
4-5 tbsp good-quality cherry compote
Grated chocolate, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 150ÂșC

Butter, line and butter again the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder together and set aside.
In a large grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks using an electric beater. Beat the butter and sugar in another mixing bowl until pale and light.

Beat in the yolks one at a time, then fold the espresso through, followed by the melted chocolate.
In several batches, fold the sifted flour mixture and the beaten egg whites alternately into the butter mixture. Spread the combined batter over the base of the prepared tin and level with a spatula.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake emerges clean. Cool for 5 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment.
Remove the stems and pit three-quarters of the cherries, leaving the stems on the remaining cherries to garnish. Put all the cherries, the sugar and kirsch in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the cherries are just soft, giving them an occasional stir. Tip the cherries and kirsch syrup into a bowl and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, whisk the cream and icing sugar into soft peaks.
Using a long, sharp knife, halve the cake horizontally. Drizzle each half with the kirsch syrup from the cherries to moisten. Place the bottom half on a cake stand and spread over half the whipped cream. Arrange the stemmed and pitted cherries over the cream, then spoon over a layer of cherry compote. Top with the upper half of the cake. Spread the remaining cream on top.

Sprinkle over a little grated chocolate, then garnish with the whole stemmed cherries.

Sticky Rice
Ingredients2 cups black sticky rice (soaked overnight)

5 cups water (this was probably a little too much water, next time I'll try with 3 or 4 cups)

2 cups sugar

Sweet Coconut Cream

1 cup coconut cream

2 tsp rice flour

½ tsp salt
Pinch of sugar

Caramelised Coconut

2 cups grated coconut

1 cup brown sugar


Wash the black sticky rice. Combine in a saucepan with water. Place over medium heat and boil until the rice is cooked through and split. Add the sugar, continue boiling until sugar dissolves.

Sweet Coconut Cream: Mix the coconut cream, rice flour, salt and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat until boiling. Remove from heat.

Caramelised Coconut: Mix the grated coconut and brown sugar in a saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until thick. Remove from heat.

To serve: spoon the black sticky rice into the serving bowl and top with some sweet coconut cream and caramelised coconut.