Eight Bells

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Jerk Chicken

Jerk chicken is about as Jamaican as it gets, hot from the chilli, spicy and aromatic from the allspice, mace and cinnamon, it's the original Caribbean fast food.
There are probably as many jerk recipes as there are people who cook jerk, this is just one of the many, it is very simple to prepare and super delicious.

Jerk Chicken

1 large chicken, spatchcocked, skin on (or chicken pieces)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of freshly ground black peppercorns
1 tablespoon of allspice
1 tablespoon of mace
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of dried thyme
5 bay leaves, torn into small pieces
2 scotch bonnet chillis, finely chopped (we substituted a tablespoon of chilli flakes, if you use scotch bonnets make sure you wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after handling them)
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
3 tablespoons of rice bran oil (or canola)
Juice of four limes
2 tablespoons of butter

Place all the ingredients except the chicken in your food processor and blend to a smooth paste.
Place your chicken in an oven pan and coat all over with the jerk marinade, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
Preheat your oven to 180C.
Line an oven pan with tin foil and place the chicken in the pan skin side down, cover loosely with another sheet of tin foil and bake for one hour. After one hour remove the foil, turn the chicken so the skin is up, make sure there is plenty of jerk marinade on the skin side, return to the oven and bake for another hour. Serve with prawn, pawpaw and avocado curry (see recipe below), rice and grilled corn. Crack open an ice cold Red Stripe lager and enjoy.

Caribbean Prawn, Pawpaw and Avocado Curry.

This dish is a meal in itself but it also makes a great accompaniment to jerk chicken (recipe to follow). It's not a hot Indian style curry, it's fruity and fragrant, just what you would expect from Caribbean cooking, evocative of white sands, sparkling blue seas and tropical fruit. The recipe below will serve two as a main, we halved the recipe to make side dishes for two to go with the jerk chicken.

Caribbean Prawn, Pawpaw and Avocado Curry

450g of peeled prawns
1 small pawpaw (papaya), diced into 1-2cm cubes
1 avocado, diced into 1-2cm cubes
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 hot green chilli, finely chopped
100g of raisins
250g natural yoghurt
Juice of a lime
125ml of chicken stock
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1/4 of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of curry powder
1 teaspoon of ras el hanout (or 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric)
Salt, pepper, sugar.

Heat oil in a frying pan and cook the onion until soft and translucent. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and cook for one minute. Stir in the curry powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, ras el hanout and chopped chilli and cook for one minute.
Add the prawns and cook for two-three minutes.
Pour in the stock and add the yoghurt and stir to combine.
Place the avocado, pawpaw and raisins in a bowl, squeeze lime juce over them and add to the pan. Heat through for a minute or so and then adjust flavours to suit using salt, pepper and sugar. Be careful not to cook the curry too long once the pawpaw and avocado have been added or they will fall apart, be particularly careful with the avocado.

Orange Juice Jelly

We picked the last of the oranges from our little tree today and got 16 oranges, enough for a litre of freshly squeezed juice.

Orange Juice Jelly

1 litre of orange juice
6 leaves of gelatin
3 tablespoons of sugar
Cold water
Spray oil, canola
Jelly mould

Strain your juice and then warm the juice in a pan. Soak gelatin leaves in cold water for five minutes. Add sugar to juice and dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat, gently squeeze excess water from gelatin and add to pan, stir to dissolve. Spray jeely mould lightly with oil and then pour the liquid into it and refrigerate over night. Wobbly, orangey goodness.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thai Beef Salad

With winter seemingly just around the corner it's probably the wrong time of year to be blogging salads however this one is just too delicious to keep from you until next summer. The serving bowl is La Chamba pottery from Columbia, the technique is centuries old and the pottery is still made by hand, in the traditional manner, mainly by the women of La Chamba village in central Columbia. It is really lovely cookware and can be used on the stove top, in the oven or like this, as an elegant and slightly unusual serving dish.

Thai Beef Salad

500g fillet steak
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
Lettuce leaves
3 or 4 spring onions, sliced
1 or 2 fresh red chillies, thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes

Remove any sinew and fat from the meat and cook in a frying pan until rare/medium rare. Remove the steak from the pan and leave until cold.
Crush and peel garlic and place in a food processor with the soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, coriander and mint, process until smooth.
Thinly slice the beef and then toss the beef in the garlic and herb mixture. Arrange lettuce on a platter along with the beef, spring onions, chillies and cherry tomatoes. As you can probably see from the picture we did not use cherry tomatoes and we added green beans.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin is classic French cuisine at its very best and, when served warm with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, my favourite dessert.
The key to the perfect Tarte Tatin is the reduction of the caramel and the choice of apple. The apples should be dessert apples such as Cox or Golden Delicious and must be large, firm and crisp; the caramel should be reduced to a rich, syrupy, golden brown before the tarte goes into the oven. It may take you two or three attempts before you get your caramel and your tart just right but it's well worth the effort.
This recipe is taken from Rick Stein's excellent "French Odyssey".

Tarte Tatin

250g puff pastry (buy sheets but make sure the pastry is wide enough to cover your tart pan).
75g softened butter
175g caster sugar
5 large, firm dessert apples (not cooking apples like Granny Smiths as they tend to turn to mush quite quickly)

The pan pictured is a 20cm cast iron Le Creuset skillet and is perfect for this dish. If you don't have one then use any non-stick cast iron frying pan but of course it must be able to go from the stove top into the oven. You can also buy purpose made tarte tatin dishes.
Roll out your puff pastry and cut a circle of pastry around 4cm larger in diameter than your pan. Chill for 30 minutes (the pastry, not you, get back to work).
Spread the softened butter over the base of your pan and then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top.
Peel, core and quarter (or halve) your apples then pack them neatly into your pan as pictured below.

Place your pan over a medium heat and cook, shaking the pan every now and again, until the butter and sugar have mixed with the apple juices to produce a rich toffee coloured sauce and the apples are just tender. This should take 30-40 minutes. Take care not to take the sauce too far, it is better under done than over and if it burns even a little you should start again or just cry and eat the ice cream on its own.
Preheat your oven to 190C. Lift the pastry on top of the apples and tuck the edges down inside the pan. Prick the pastry five or six times with a sharp knife or fork, transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the pastry is puffed up, crisp and golden.
Remove the tart from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes. Once rested, run a knife around the edge of the tart to free any stuck pastry and then invert it onto a flat round serving plate. Serve warm or cold with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream. Magnifique!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Caramelised Onion and Potato Stacks.

This is the accompaniment to the spatchcock and again it is from the Dec/Jan 2011 edition of "Donna Hay" magazine.
We didn't make individual stacks, we instead used a 20cm x 20cm square dish about 4cm deep. This is so delicious don't wait until the next time you cook spatchcocks to serve it because, let's be honest, that could be never.

Caramelised Onion and Potato Stacks

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large brown onions, thickly sliced (about 1cm slices)
500g floury potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (we used a mandoline on 1.5mm slice setting)
2/3 cup of chicken stock
80g butter, melted
8 sprigs of thyme (we used double this about but removed the leaves from the stalks as they can be a little twiggy)

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion slices in batches and cook for around 3 minutes or until golden. Place an onion slice in the base of each of eight, 1/2 cup capacity (125ml) muffin tins lined with non-stick baking paper. Layer with potato slices and finish with another slice of onion. Divide the stock and butter between the stacks and top with a sprig of thyme. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until the onions and potatoes are golden and cooked through.

Spatchcock with Apple and Pistachio Stuffing

It seems ever so slighty gruesome to be eating baby chickens when our own baby chickens will be arriving in about 5 days but if you're going to make the choice to be a meat eater you can't be too precious about these things. In our defence we only buy free range chicken, pork and eggs and do our best to support local businesses by buying locally grown produce as much as possible.
Don't be scared off this recipe by assuming it's difficult, it's actually very simple and incredibly delicious, it's really just flash roast chicken.
This recipe is taken from the Dec/Jan 2011 edition of "Donna Hay" magazine and serves eight. We only cooked two spatchcocks so we made half the stuffing, wrapped the left over stuffing in bacon, cooked it with the birds and ate it in sandwiches the next day, yum.

Spatchcock with Apple and Pistachio Stuffing

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped
3 cups (210g) fresh breadcrumbs
2 small Granny Smith (green) apples, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
3/4 cup (105g) shelled unsalted pistachios, chopped
50g butter, melted
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
8 x 500g spatchcock (baby chickens), trimmed
8 slices of prosciutto (we used rindless, streaky bacon)

Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Set aside to cool. Place the breadcrumbs, apple, thyme, pistachios, butter, onion, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Spoon the breadrumb mixture into the cavities of the spatchcocks. Wrap each spatchcock in a slice of prosciutto (again, we used bacon) and secure the legs with kitchen string (stops them running away).
Place on a lightly greased roasting tray and roast 40-45 minutes or until golden and cooked through (test the thickest part of the spatchcock with a wooden skewer if unsure, the juices should flow clearly). Reserve the pan juices for gravy or just do what we did and make it from a packet, we used Massel Supreme Gravy Mix, easy peasy.
Cover the birds with foil and rest for 10 minutes, serve with green beans and caramelised onion and potato stacks (recipe to follow).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kumara, Orange and Pomelo Salad

If you've ever been in an asian greengrocers and seen a fruit that looks like a gigantic green grapefruit and you wondered what it was and what you would do with it if you bought it, it's called a pomelo and the following recipe makes the most delicious salad. This salad is a Julia B original and serves around six to eight people. The serving plate is from Nigella Lawson's "classic" range of kitchenware.

Kumara, Orange & Pomelo Salad

1 large golden kumara
1 large white kumara
1 bag of baby spinach
1 red onion
1 orange
1 lemon
1 pomelo
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of turmeric
Salt and pepper

Pre heat your oven to 160C.
Peel and cut the kumara into 2-3 cm square chunks. In a roasting dish toss the kumara chunks in olive oil, cumin, paprika, turmeric and salt and pepper. Roast the kumara, turning occasionally until soft and golden (around 45 minutes).
Peel and halve the onion and cut it finely into half rounds. Place the onion in a small bowl and squeeze over the juice of the lemon, set aside and toss occasionally.
Peel the pomelo with a sharp knife, removing all the thick pith and exposing the segments inside. Cut the segments from the pomelo one by one making sure all the pith and membrane is left behind. Place the pieces in a bowl, do the same thing with the orange and place in the same bowl.
Squeeze the juice from the remaining desegmented pomelo and orange over the orange and pomelo segments.
Rinse spinach and place half of it on a serving platter and the rest in the bowl with the orange and pomelo segments. Add the onion and kumara, toss together and serve on spinach.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A new year and a new kitchen toy

Happy New Year everyone!

I have been looking for a decent 30cm stainless steel frying pan for some time and finally came across this Cuisinart example in the Christmas sales, $130 down to $78! Thank you jesus, you truly are a blessing for all mankind.

What could be better, in the one of the hottest and muggiest summers I can remember, than a classic and fiery Goan fish curry, the signature dish of Goa and one of the best traditional fish curries India has to offer, it's a little cracker.
The recipe is from the fantastic "50 Great Curries of India" put together by Camellia Panjabi, a book that is in constant use at our place and one I cannot recommend highly enough.

Goa Fish Curry

800g fish cut into large pieces (we used blue nose, a good meaty fish that will hold together)
Juice of 1/2 a lime (we used a whole lime)
3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder
8 red chillis, dried Kashmiri type
100g fresh coconut (this was very difficult (impossible) to smoothly blend into the curry paste, next time I make this curry I will try using about 1/4 of a cup of coconut cream instead)
3 teaspoons of coriander seeds
2 small onions, one chopped, one finely sliced
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons of tamarind pulp
2 tablespoons of oil
1 tomato very finely chopped (we used two tomatoes)
3 green chillis, slit lengthways (we finely sliced them)
A few okra (these are optional, we did not use them)

1. Marinate the fish in a mixture of the lime juice, a little of the turmeric powder, a pinch of salt and a little water for about 30 minutes then rinse.

2. Soak the red chillis in 200ml warm water for 15 minutes, strain and reserve the soaking water. In a blender or food processor grind the soaked red chillis, coconut, coriander seeds, chopped onion, cumin seeds, the remaining turmeric powder, the garlic and 1 teaspoon of the tamarind pulp to make a really fine, smooth paste. This is traditionally done using a grinding stone and it can be difficult to achieve a smooth paste in a blender/food processor; just do your best, you will probably be processing for 10 minutes or so. Use some of the left over soaking water from the red chillis to facilitate grinding, don't over heat your appliance.

3. Soak the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of tamarind in 100ml of water for 15 minutes, strain and reserve the soaking water.

4. Heat the oil in a wide, shallow pan and fry the sliced onion on a low-medium heat until lightly coloured (about 5-7 minutes).

5. Add the spice paste and saute over a moderate heat for 6-7 minutes, adding a little water if necessary. When the paste is cooked add 800ml of water.

NOTE: This seems an awful lot of water!
The original recipe says to add the water and then cook for just 6 minutes before adding the fish but if you do this you will end up with a thin tasteless soup and by the time you reduce it your fish will have completely fallen apart.
The curry is traditionally a fairly thick soupy consistency and very strong in flavour and so I believe 800ml is a printing error. Next time I would use 300ml and I suggest you do the same as it took about an hour to reduce the curry to the point where the flavour and thickness were ok and I could add the fish and serve.

After adding the water, add the tomato, the green chillis and the okra if you are using it, salt to taste and adjust the flavour with the tamarind water if necessary.
When you have the right flavour and consistency add the fish and cook turning once, be very careful not to over cook your fish, it should only take five or so minutes at most. Serve with rice, raita and flat bread and sprinkle with fresh chopped coriander as in the photograph below. Have some nice cold beer on hand and enjoy!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

John Torode's Ragu

Ragu is an italian term for a meat based sauce, usually served with pasta. This ragu sauce is taken from John Torode's excellent newish book "Beef" and is his take on the traditional Italian bolognese sauce.
Spaghetti bolognese is a little boring and in his book John presents the sauce with gnocchi so I have chosen to do the same. I won't give you the gnocchi recipe here as you will be able to find it on this blog under my May 24th 2010 post. I'll present the recipe exactly as it appears in John's book and I'll note any slight changes we made.
If you love bolognese sauce but you've never made it from scratch you really should give this a go, it's incredibly easy and is far superior to any of the awful, sugary, pre prepared sauces you will find in the supermarket. This sauce will serve four-six people.

Ragu alla Bolognese

1kg minced beef (avoid supermarket mince, you need a really good mince from a decent butcher. You want a mince with plenty of fat, we got ours from Wholly Cow at the Hamilton farmer's market)
200ml red wine (again, don't skimp here, if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it)
60ml vegetable or olive oil (we used olive oil)
2 large onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper
3 bay leaves
A good shake of dried herbs such as oregano or thyme but not a lot (we used a teaspoon of each)
3 x 400g cans of plum tomatoes
20g tomato paste, about half a tube (we used about 40g of tomato paste)

Take the meat and massage the red wine into it so that the mince absorbs it. Heat a big, heavy pan. Add the oil and onions and cook gently (or sweat) until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, a good amount of ground pepper and a teaspoon of salt. Stir and stir until the garlic starts to give off a fragrant aroma.
Add the meat and herbs and continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes until the meat starts to get a little colour. Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for two hours (we cooked ours for 3 1/2 hours just to intensify the flavour a little more), stirring every half an hour or so. Taste, adjust the seasoning as necessary then serve with any pasta or gnocchi.