What can I say it’s national Roast Day (yes I know, who knew?), and frankly what can beat a properly roasted chicken, the original food for the soul.
Roast Chicken with Avocado
Buy a free range, corn-fed, chill-fresh bird. To test if the bird is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer – the juices running out should be golden and clear. Also, you should feel the leg ‘give’ when tugged gently away from the body. To carve a chicken easily and neatly, allow at least 15–20 minutes resting time, preferably longer. This lets the juices, which have welled up to the surface during cooking, to seep back into the flesh to keep it succulent.
2.5 kg chicken
1 stick celery
1 tablespoon standard flour
1 soft avocado
4 tablespoons Lemon Pepper Grove Avocado oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped Parsley
6 rashers fat streaky bacon
500ml chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons verjuice or white wine
- Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Prepare a ‘mire poix’ of vegetables and place in bottom of roasting tin. Sprinkle over flour.
- Crush the soft Avocado with 2 tablespoons of the Lemon Pepper Avocado oil and blend to the consistency of soft butter; mix in the crushed Garlic and Parsley. Loosen the skin by gently sliding your finger between skin and flesh. Smear the Avocado “butter” generously under the skin, remembering the points where the thighs join the body. Brush remaining Avocado oil over the bird and season with salt and pepper, then place the bacon strips in a row, slightly overlapping each other, all along the breast.
- Lay the chicken on its back in a roasting tin on a high shelf in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes per 450g and sometimes 20 minutes over. (This has to be flexible because of the size of the bird and the type of oven.)
- After 1 hour, set aside the crispy bacon for serving later. When chicken is cooked, check the core temperature of the bird has reached 72˚C and rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 10–15 minutes before carving.
- Meanwhile, add verjuice or white wine to cooked ‘mire poix’ and deglaze the roasting tin, stirring with a wooden spoon, once reduced a little add the chicken stock and bring to the simmer. Strain through a sieve and serve with chicken and crispy bacon.
Had a wonderful diner with friends on Saturday night, only problem was that I forgot to take piccies once they all arrived, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say it tasted great.
Don’t quite know why the photos turned out so yellow, although they do take on a vintage look. We had chicken liver and salmon pates to start with followed by fillet of beef with a pickled walnut crust, and finished with swiss meringue roulade with passion fruit and orange, washed down with a spot of Orange;Cello from Deinlein.
There’s something so special having friends around you’re table, only problem is that it was Super15 Rugby Rugby finals night and our local team, the Chiefs, were in the final. So the kids had to borrow my laptop and try to watch on line, never quite a goer.
Anyway the night was a great success, spending quality time with real friends and to top it off the Chiefs won.
Swiss Meringue Roulade
6 egg whites
150g caster sugar
50g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 220˚C. Line a swiss roll tray with baking parchment. Whisk egg whites until very stiff. Gradually add sugar a little at a time. Spread on the lined tray and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for about 10 minutes.
Turn out and cool. Remove baking parchment. Spread with whipped cream, orange segments and passion fruit pulp, or any other fruit you like, e.g. strawberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, etc.
It’s an interesting question isn’t it? Surely all you have to do is look at the label or ask the expert behind the counter, after all it’s our food, the very thing we put in our bodies every day. Well obviously not, as was proved when I visited a supermarket recently and asked the prepubescent teenager masquerading as a butcher wether they had any aged beef, his shocked and immediate answer was “no sir, its all fresh”
Now for the labeling, in NZ we’re covered by the toothless cretins at FSANZ (food standards Australia and New Zealand) who seem to be of the opinion that a food producer can put anything they want on their labels regardless of truth or proof. If anyone has the audacity to challenge a label these protectors of our food standards simply ask the manufacture to provide internal research with no independent corroboration. Recently the behemoth of frankenstein science, Monsanto, tried to introduce a new soy seed that FSANZ just accepted on Monsanto’s research whereas India demanded independent testing which lead to them dumping the project and losing millions of dollars of research in preference to actual scientific verification. When will we learn!!
Isn’t it just right and fair that we know where are food is from and what it contains or do we just allow the corporate thieves to keep making extreme profits from misleading us all?
The deliberately cloudy area of Genetic Modification is yet another classic, the FSANZ laws leave consumers in the dark by allowing a number of GE ingredients to be included in our food without any label:
- Refined ingredients such as oils, cornstarch, soy lecithin and sugars that have been highly processed don’t require labeling
- Any food prepared at the point of sale such as fresh baked bread, takeaways and other fast foods don’t require labeling.
- Dairy, meat, eggs, fish, honey and other foods from animals raised on a diet of GE animal feed don’t require labeling.
- Processing aids and food additives such as vegetarian rennet in some cheese, brewing and baking aids and colourings don’t require labelling.
- Flavourings when they make up less than 0.1% of the final food product don’t require labeling.
This just beggars belief and yet a prominent NZ chicken producer (note producer and not farmer) recently proudly advertised their chicken was GM free, although they obviously forgot to mention that the feed that the chickens had lived their too brief lives on was not. Have these people never heard the old adage that we are what we eat!
Now this argument will rage on with the global corporates muddying the waters by telling us that the human race has been modifying our food supply for thousands of years, which is true but what they don’t mention is that it was always by natural means over time and not by adding a genetic code from a different species (anyone for frog in their corn!!). Or the other little chestnut that is bounced around as the argument killer is that we have to do this as our population has grown so big that we won’t be able to feed the world without GM, if this is true then why have Monsanto developed a suicide gene so that their seeds can only be grown once instead of a proportion of the crop being kept as the seed stock for the next year. To me this is just a cynical moneymaking exercise that should have them barred from a place at the table, this is our food.
So what can we do, tricky really as it would be wonderful to think that we had the politicians with the balls to stand up to these institutions but lets be honest that isn’t going to happen. At a personal level we need to start making choices that can make a difference. Make personal connections with your food suppliers, whether its your local butcher, fishmonger or farmers market, find out what they believe and learn to trust through sharing in their knowledge. Above all support your local farmers and producers, get to know them and encourage them. It’s your food.
200g pasta ‘00’ flour
2 eggs or 4 egg yolks
Sieve flour into a bowl. Add whole egg and combine mixture with finger tips. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead into a dough. If possible, rest in refrigerator for at least half an hour.
Roll out onto floured board into a rectangle. Next, flour surface of pasta and, using both hands, roll rectangle into a ‘swiss roll’ shape. Use a sharp knife to cut into desired thickness, e.g. tagliarini (thin), tagliatelle (medium) or parpadelle (thick).
To cook pasta, use 1 litre of water for each portion pasta and 1 litre for the pan. The water should boil fast while the pasta is cooking. Allow about 150g fresh pasta per person. Add 1 tablespoon salt per 4 litres boiling water. (Olive oil is only really necessary with lasagne sheets to prevent sticking.) Fresh pasta cooks in 2-3 minutes; “al dente” pasta should feel firm but not have a hard, chalky centre. Drain in a colander. Do not rinse or you will lose the precious sauce-catching starch. Quickly add olive oil and garlic to the hot pan, tip the pasta back in with a handful of freshly chopped herbs or some fresh tomato sauce (see below), cooked mussels, clams or fish, olives and capers or hot steamed vegetables.
Tagliatelle with Chicken & Green Beans
1 x 200g chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1½ garlic cloves, finely sliced
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 batch tagliatelle (see ‘speedy pasta’ recipe above)
1 tablespoon olive oil
100g baby green beans, topped (not tailed) and sliced from end to end on the diagonal
65ml (¼ cup) chicken stock
Good quality parmesan cheese, grated
25g basil leaves
Place the chicken, EVO oil and garlic in a bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper. Cook pasta in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until ‘al dente’ and drain well. Meanwhile, 5 minutes before pasta is cooked, place a large frying pan over a high heat until hot. Add olive oil and heat for 5 seconds. Add chicken with marinade and sear quickly for 30 seconds. Add beans and reduce heat to medium. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return heat to high, add the stock and simmer for 30 seconds. Add pasta and toss to combine.
Divide pasta evenly between two bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese, basil and freshly ground black pepper.
Like all families we have a few traditions, in our case they revolve around food. Tonight was pizza night which always gets some healthy debate going, you see I like to be adventurous with the toppings and the rest of the family seem to prefer a plainer approach, added to that Fraser is of the belief that his base is better than mine which I hotly deny even though I secretly agree.
Making Pizzas becomes a family affair, making the dough in the morning and then all of us doing the prep as we chat through the day. My idea of Lamb, spiced red cabbage and Goats cheese has been vetoed in favour of prosciutto and potato, Smoked Salmon and leek, and that old monster the ham and pineapple.
Make lots as what’s left will freeze really well, we always triple the recipe so that we have lots left over for the lunch boxes over the next few days, it sure beats processed food.
Family food is so much more than just slamming something on a plate and eating on the hoof. Make the time to prepare together and eat together and use that time to talk, tonight the prep time was taken up with Alex’s French homework. Listening to Anne delve into her memory and try to extract her schoolgirl French was a joy that even the dog joined in with, Bon appétit.
For the tomato sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
450g ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 dessertspoon chopped fresh basil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
For the base:
1 tsp active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
165ml warm water
250g plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
Place yeast, sugar and water in a bowl. Set aside until bubbles form. Meanwhile, make up tomato sauce by heating olive oil in a saucepan, adding onion and garlic and cooking for 2-3 minutes to soften. Then add chopped tomatoes and basil, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes have reduced.
Add flour, salt and oil to yeast mixture. Mix to form a smooth dough and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover and allow to stand in a warm place for 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
Knead and shape into one large or several small balls. Flatten with back of hand. Place on greased baking tray, add a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce, add toppings (see below) and bake at 180˚C for 20-25 minutes for a large pizza and 10-15 minutes for smaller pizzas.
- Ham, red onion and mozzarella.
- Olives and mozzarella.
- Smoked mushrooms and mozzarella.
- Pancetta and parmesan.
- Red onion and goats’ cheese or feta.