Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spiced Roast Chicken with Cauliflower and Fennel Cream

BBQ spiced chicken, cauliflower and fennel cream

Roast chicken never gets old. Like never ever ever gets old. There are countless variations, flavourings and culinary persuasions to suit almost any cooking requirement. And that’s what I love the most, it can be dressed up and dressed down, there are infinite possibilities and persuasions to this humble concept. Here I’ve incorporated a cauliflower and fennel cream base for a spiced yoghurt marinated chicken; its a hunker down the weather is turning kind of roast chicken. One I’d imagine would go well with a quiet Sunday, a lovely pinot and a Netflix marathon.


Cauliflower and fennel cream
1kg cauliflower, broken into florets
2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
2 small onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves
300ml milk
300ml cream

1 organic chicken, cut into 4 pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
Butter for under the skin
Salt to season

150ml greek style yoghurt
½ onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
15g (3cm piece) ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp each ras el hanout, black lime powder, sumac, onion powder, cayenne pepper
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil

For cauliflower and fennel cream, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook until cauliflower and fennel are tender (12-15 minutes). Using a hand-held blender or food processor, blend mixture until smooth and season to taste. Set aside.

For spiced yoghurt marinade, process ingredients (except oil) in a food processor until a paste forms, then stir in oil. Lift skin of chickens, being careful not to tear and push pieces of butter between skin and flesh. Place chicken in a non-reactive container, rub all over with marinade and refrigerate overnight for flavours to develop.
Preheat oven to 200C. Heat a large cast-iron ovenproof frying pan over high heat, add 2 tbsp oil, then season chicken to taste and cook skin-side down until golden (3-4 minutes). Turn, then transfer to oven and roast until cooked through.

To serve, smear cauliflower and fennel cream at base of plate. Place over chicken pieces. Season with lemon juice. Serve.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A naked burrito bowl

I don't really know why foods become 'naked' just because their transport options to your mouth change vehicles but regardless, the idea of a naked burrito bowl is quite catchy.
And I have never been immune to a bowl of gorgeous fresh foods staring me in the face begging to be eaten. Instead of going down the brown rice route, I made a combination of burghul and whole wheat couscous laden with Mexican spices. Get involved, it's a Mexican holiday for your mouth. And for your insides.
1 chicken breast, poached and meat shredded
1 avocado, hulled, sliced
½ cup grated cheese (I used a smoked aged cheddar)
1 can (about 200g) blackbeans, rinsed
¼ bunch Marjoram, leaves pulled
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, very finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
¼ bunch Coriander, chopped
¼ bunch kale, finely sliced
2 limes
½ cup burghul
½ cup couscous
2 cobs corn
1 knob of butter
Optional: Yoghurt to serve

Spice blend combine:
1/2 tsp each: sweet smoked paprika, onion powder, coriander, cumin, chill powder, garlic powder, oregano

Add the chicken, cheese and avocado to a large serving bowl. Combine the black beans and the marjoram and season generously with salt before adding to the serving bowl. Quickly blanch and refresh the kale then combine with the coriander and add to the serving bowl.
Combine the cherry tomatoes, red onion and the juice of 1 lime then also add this to the bowl.
Cook the burghul and couscous according to packet instructions. While hot combine in a bowl with the spice mix (to taste) and then add to the serving bowl.
Place the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the corn and cook for 1-2 minutes, turning regularly. Remove and hull straight into the serving bowl. Serve with Greek yoghurt and if you have any remaining spice mix, stir this through the yoghurt.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cocoa pop choc chip doughnuts

It almost feels wrong to call Coco Pops a 'cereal', thanks to some strong associated health feels. But then again I am fairly certain its wrong to be adding 'cereal' to a doughnut so lets just leave it there and enjoy this for what it is. A much needed d-nut.
You know, the moment that occurs pretty much every other minute of every other day. These little numbers are baked then covered with a bit more chocolate….because…..and then some textural crunch thanks to some old school cocoa pops.
Baked versus fried. An argument I care little to get involved in. The struggle is not real. I mean it's a doughnut either way right?
2 cups plain flour
150g chocolate chips
¾ cup caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
¾ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tbsp melted butter

½ cup superb quality milk chocolate
cocoa pops (about ½ cup or one of those small 30g boxes)

Super generously grease a doughnut pan. Preheat your oven to about 180C.
Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and stir gently to combine. In another bowl combine the wet ingredients then pour over dry ingredients and stir to incorporate. Be gentle and light handed, you do not want to overwork the dough. Pipe or spoon into the mould. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they spring back to the touch. Turn out to cool completely. Keep an eye on them, depending on the depth of your mould the doughnuts may take less time.
Drizzle with the melted chocolate and top with cocoa pops or cereal of your choice. Set aside for 30 minutes or until the chocolate on top has set and serve.
Best served day of making.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Peach Bellini Sponge

There is something about a simple sponge that says so much about its maker. It is a defining badge for food made by people who like to eat. It is a food that cares less about how it looks than how it tastes. It's cake language for all those things a cup of tea and a hug can do in that hour of need be it emotional, physical or purely gustatory. And this number, laden with a white peach and champagne jam in the vein of my favourite drink the bellini is no exception.
This guy has a coarser, heavier crumb than its CWA counterparts but if like me you tend to be heavy handed with your baking then this is for you as it easily stands up to that kind of beating. And the jam, oh lordy the jam. It has the background sourness of the champagne and the heady musky sweetness of the peaches and it belongs, so completely, to a bit of lightly whipped cream and a slab of this sponge. Truly, go forth and gather the last of the stone fruit for the season and bottle it up as quick as you can, it's the sort of jam that is life changing.
Peach bellini jam
1kg white peaches, hulled
500g caster sugar
2 vanilla bean pods, seeds scraped
juice of 1 lemon
180g self raising flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon custard powder
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
185g caster sugar
50g butter, melted and cooled
300ml cream, whipped
icing sugar to dust (optional)
To make the bellini jam chop the peaches into chunks. Put into a large saucepan with 375ml champagne and the vanilla bean seeds and pods. Simmer slowly over low heat until the peaches are soft and falling apart.
Add the sugar slowly stirring until dissolved> Go slow until desired sweetness is achieved.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a high sided 16cm loose bottom cake tin.
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.
Add the eggs and vanilla to the bowl of an electric whisker and beat for 3-5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and mix until thick.
Fold through the flour mixture and the melted butter until incorporated, being careful not to knock too much air out of your batter. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and the cakes spring back to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out to a wire rack to cool completely.
Carefully slice the cooled sponge into 3 layers horizontally. Layer the base of the sponge with bellini jam and whipped cream then top with the next layer of sponge. Repeat again then top with final piece of sponge and dust over icing sugar if using.
Best served on the day of making.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sticky chinotto and chilli glazed ham

Sticky chinotto and chilli glazed ham
The Christmas ham is like an illicit centerfold – the bit in the middle of your Christmas table that everyone wants whether they like to admit it or not. The obligatory ham only just fits in the fridge, is eaten in sickening proportions to other foods not only on Christmas day but beyond, being enjoyed for several weeks following for pretty much every meal possible from breakfast eggs to sandwiches until the bone is bare or in some rare cases when people can no longer stand the site of it. 
This ham recipe takes inspiration from the southern parts of the US, using soft drink to cook with and add flavour. For something less mouth cloying I’ve used the slightly bitter orange Italian Chinotto with bucketloads of chilli jam and garlic. The result is stupendous, turning the ham exterior into an amazing, jammy, sticky can’t-stop-eating-it mess. Get involved.

1 x 4.5kg ham, bone in

Chilli jam
10-12 red chillies, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
1 ½ cups white wine vinegar
½ cup Chinese black vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
½ tbsp. fish sauce or to taste

2 cups chinotto (Italian soft drink)
500g top quality chilli jam
½ cup brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed
Juice and zest of ½ an orange
Few generous pinches of salt

Preheat the oven to 175C.
Make the chilli jam by combining all the ingredients in a blender and blitzing until a watery paste consistency. Pour the mixture into a medium-sized saucepan then place over low heat, stirring frequently until the mixture takes on a jam consistency. Add the glaze ingredients to the saucepan and continue to simmer until reduced and again the mixture turns to a jam consistency.

Prepare the ham by lifting off skin but leaving the fat. Diamond cut the fat and cut the skin off the bone. Line a large roasting pan with baking paper and place in the ham. Spread two-thirds of the glaze over the ham. Cook for 45 minutes up to an hour basting with remaining glaze from time to time – being careful not to burn – if the ham is taking too much colour cover with foil. Remove from heat, slice and serve warm with your Christmas spread.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A rather epic (and indulgent) spiced Christmas cheesecake with brandy caramel

Cheesecake. Let’s think on that for a moment. Cheese + cake. In other words pure deliciousness. So when PHILLY asked if I would participate in a bloggers cheesecake challenge – to come up with a Christmas inspired cheesecake - you can imagine I couldn’t say yes fast enough*.

Any food obsessed Instagram follower would know there is a huge trend for layered cakes, their tops bursting with edible bits and bobs. They make for a great photo and an even greater eating opportunity but for some reason this hasn’t translated to the good ole cheesecake. So I made it my personal mission to layer up a no bake cheesecake. I thought about this cheesecake adventure long and hard, and here’s what I did. Can I introduce you to the spiced chocolate and hazelnut cheesecake with salted caramel popcorn and brandy caramel. It's delicious any way you slice it.

*In the interests of full disclosure this post isn’t sponsored but thanks to PHILIDELPHIA Australia for supplying me with the cream cheese to make this cake!

Spiced Christmas cheesecake with hazelnut, ginger and brandy caramel


250g gingersnap biscuits
150g butter, melted
1 ½ tbsp. mixed spice
750g PHILADELPHIA block cream cheese aroom temperature
1 cup caster sugar
450ml cream, whipped to soft peak
1 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
4 1/2 tsp gelatine powder
2 tbsp boiling water
10 hazelnut chocolates, roughly crumbled

Brown sugar meringue
40g light brown sugar
2 eggwhites
50g caster sugar

Brandy caramel
320g brown sugar
300ml pouring cream
80g coarsely chopped butter
40g golden syrup
40ml brandy

Caramelised popcorn
Christmas wafers
Gingersnap biscuits
Hazelnut chocolates
Extra dark chocolate, melted, for drizzling

Grease a high sided 25cm-round (base) spring form pan.
Place the biscuits in a food processor and blitz to a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and process until combined. Add the mixture to the tin and press over the base. Cover and refrigerate.
Add the PHILLY cream cheese, mixed spice, caster sugar and vanilla bean seeds to the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until combined and the spices are fully incorporated. Separate a third of the mixture and place in the fridge for later use.
Place 3 teaspoons of the gelatine powder in a small bowl. Top with 1 ½ tablespoons of boiling water and using a fork, whisk briskly until the powder has melted. Working quickly pour this mixture into the cream cheese mixture and mix until combined. Gently fold through the whipped cream then pour the mixture into the tin over the biscuit base. Tap the bottom to release any air bubbles then level top with a spatula. Cover and place cheesecake in the fridge until set, preferably overnight. Remove the remaining cheesecake mixture from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Place in a mixing bowl. Place remaining gelatine powder in a small bowl and top with remaining amount of boiling water, whisking with a fork. Add to the cream cheese mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
Top the set cheesecake section with the crumbled hazelnut chocolates. Scoop the cheesecake mixture over the top and return the cake to the fridge.

Preheat oven to 120C.
For the meringue, beat the eggwhites until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar, gradually beating until the whites are glossy and the sugar has dissolved. With motor still running, slowly add the brown sugar. Line a biscuit tray with baking paper. Spoon a large blob onto the tray and using the back of a spoon smooth the meringue to create a flat layer. This makes more than you need for the cheesecake so with any remaining mixture, make normal meringues for later use. Bake meringue for about 50 minutes or until cooked and when tapped you get a nice hollow sound. Allow to cool before breaking into random sized shards and drizzling over the melted chocolate.

For brandy caramel, stir ingredients in a saucepan until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and cook until thick and syrupy (5-10 minutes). Add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Using a spoon, gently scoop the caramel over the top of the cold cheesecake, using your spoon to push it over the sides to create a drip effect. Immediately return to the fridge to lightly set. With the brandy in the caramel it won’t set as solidly as normal caramel but don’t worry, it layers and pools gloriously round the base of the cheesecake.

Top the cheesecake with the topping ingredients – as much or as little as you like. Best served on the day of making.
Here is the first layer topped with hazelnut chocolates