The Changing face of the Kitchen
Many of you already know that I’m supported by Fisher & Paykel with the cook school at Mills Reef, which is why last Saturday I had the opportunity to look into the future of our cooking spaces at the launch of the Urbis Design Day in Auckland with Fisher & Paykel’s Social Kitchen, and let me tell you as a cook it looks great.
I know that I’m biased, but the fact is that our kitchens have reflected the social and economic changes in our society throughout history. Go back in time and the kitchen was a large space which handled not only the finished meal but also the bakery, butchery and the myriad of tasks related to daily life from preserving to curing.
With the birth of supermarkets and processed food we no longer needed the large workspace and our kitchens became small and hidden from view. Our easy access to pre packaged processed food meant that our homes could be designed around the social areas instead of the functional ones, sadly that also meant that we lost our handed down cooking knowledge and skills.
Its all starting to sound depressing, but wait, things are changing. As kitchen appliances became more designed and less utilitarian we started to place the kitchen in the middle of the house as a design feature, almost a domestic piece of art. We still weren’t bothered about the cooking but at least it was on show.
So what’s next? Well it looks like things are changing again. With the massive growth in the Farmers Market movement and the Celebrity Chef phenomenon it looks like we are starting to care about our food supply again. This means that the kitchen now becomes the hub of the home, where we all come together to cook, eat, socialize and even work. Happy days.
Which bring me to this week’s recipe; I want something classic but unpretentious. Coq au Vin or chicken in red wine is one of those meals that will draw people to the hub of your home with exquisite aromas. A little trick for you is to immerse the chicken pieces in the red wine in a sealed plastic box in the fridge for at least 24 hours to marinate; this will intensify the flavours beautifully
Coq au Vin
1.5kg corn fed chicken, cut into 10 pieces
125g piece of unsmoked streaky bacon, cut into 5mm thick strips, 4cm long
1 tablespoon oil
Plain flour for dusting
1 crushed garlic clove
A fresh bouquet garni of thyme and parsley
½ bottle red wine
10 button onions
Seasoning and beurre manié (butter and flour mixed to a paste) for thickening
Heat half the butter in a flameproof casserole and put in the sticks of bacon. When they start to brown, add the flour dusted pieces of chicken and sauté until they are nicely browned all over. Add the garlic, then after a minute or so the garni, wine and seasoning. Once the casserole is nearly boiling, transfer to a pre-heated oven at 180˚C for ¾ hour. Add onions and mushrooms and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and bacon and reduce the liquid for 5 minutes. Whisk in the beurre manié to thicken the liquid and bring everything back together and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with Rice or steamed vegetables.
Traditionally chicken is partnered with white wines, but in this case since the cooking is in red wine then this is perfect. A quick point to remember is that only ever cook with wines that you like, they don’t have to be expensive but you do need to like them as the flavour is going to run through the whole meal. A bad flavour in the wine is not going to suddenly get better with cooking.
As I travelled around the bay this week I couldn’t help noticing that Autumn is on the way, admittedly daylight saving was a bit of a give away. More than that though is the changes on the land, the leaves starting to change colour and fall and the different foods starting to show themselves.
Which leads me to mushrooms, how come they seem to appear overnight? All over our garden, in every damp shady spot they seem to be flourishing where last week there was nothing and it’s really tempting to give them a taste, however a quick word of warning be very sure that it’s edible and not toxic before you do.
When we had a lodge in Scotland we used to look forward to the autumn when the Chanterelles would start to appear in the woods, as a young chef I’d head off with a basket and pick as many as I could find and pop them on the menu that night, That was until I found out that there were some very similar that were highly poisonous, I guess that was the moment when I realised that research and knowledge were actually quite important and luck maybe should not be relied on The majority of mushroom-forming fungi in New Zealand are not poisonous, but it is difficult to identify some species, and unknown fungi should not be eaten.
That said there are some great mushroom businesses in the bay and if all else fails then there are always dried wild mushrooms available in most speciality food stores and even some supermarkets. Interestingly dried mushrooms will generally give your dish a much more intense mushroomy flavour as mushrooms are mostly water and drying obviously removes that.
Open Ravioli of Wild Mushrooms
1 batch of ravioli pasta:
75g strong plain flour
1 medium egg, beaten
1 tsp olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
200g fresh mushrooms, wiped and sliced
20g dried porcini
½ cup Vermouth or dry white wine
½ cup cream
Pinch fresh thyme
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Mix the flour and semolina in a bowl and add the beaten egg, olive oil and seasoning. Knead to smooth dough. Add a few drops of water, but not too much or the pasta will become brittle. Rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
soak dried porcini mushrooms in cold water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, sweat off fresh mushrooms in butter until soft. Add vermouth/white wine and reduce. Add stock from dried porcini and reduce. Add cream and cook for 5 minutes until it starts to thicken. Add porcini, thyme and season to taste.
If you have a pasta machine, roll pasta dough through three times, the final time at the second thinnest setting. Otherwise use a rolling pin which will do the job as well except that it might not be so neat! Cut the pasta into 7cm diameter circles. Boil a pan with plenty of salted water, and then drop in the circles. They cook almost immediately, certainly within a minute. Drain and lay pasta on a damp cloth or oiled tray side by side and keep warm until serving. Place one circle on plate, spoon over mushroom filling and place a second circle on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and olive oil and serve with warm crusty bread.
For me a Pinot Noir is the best fit for wild mushrooms, that warming spiciness just works so well on an autumn evening. Try the Morton Estate White label Marlborough Pinot Noir, or if your feeling flush splash out on the Ata Rangi from Martinborough, a bit expensive but right up there with the best Pinot Noirs in the world