A Food & Travel Blog

Surfeited with honey – Honey Orange Chicken with Ras el Hanout

23/09/2011 | By

Blossom by blossom the spring begins”  Swinburne

For quite a lot of Australians the transition between seasons can slip past without a great deal of notice as the climate in large parts of the country is very mild for most of the year.  Here in the Adelaide Hills this is not the case, though.  Summer is still hot here, but the nights are much cooler than down on the plain, and we slide into autumn with a riot of reds, burgundies and browns as the introduced trees which grow so well up here prepare for the coming chills.   Winter is generally cold, wet and foggy, but worth it for the glories of spring.  The blossom trees are breathtaking in their beauty and the dormant gardens start to kick into a life that is teeming with activity.  The slightly warmer weather rouses all sorts of living things, not all of them welcome – brown snakes come to mind, from their repose and the atmosphere comes alive with birdsong and the satisfied buzz of what I like to think of as my own, personal bees as they go about the business of pollination and honey making.

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She’ll be apples?

01/09/2010 | By

Over the last few months there has been a great deal in the press about the threat to our apple growers from the importing of apples from New Zealand and China.  New Zealand is afflicted with the bacterial disease called “Fire Blight” which, at it’s worst, can destroy an entire orchard in one season.  The  Australian government has, so far, resisted the  NZ imports by imposing very strict importing regulations on their fruit, although the WTO may yet force us to revise these decisions.  However, the federal government has not been so tough with other countries, with the result that later this year we will see the first imports of apples from China.

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A Cassoulet for the Tour de France Stage 14

18/07/2010 | By

REVEL TO AX 3 DOMAINES

As the cyclists bravely soldier through the later stages of the famous  bike race, so the intrepid food bloggers cook, eat and write their way through the same stages of the race in the Winos and Foodies food blog Tour de France!  For links to all of the posts on the previous stages of the race, please look here.

My allotted leg of the race takes me through the towns of Revel, Castelnaudry and Mirepoix  to the Ax les Thermes resort of Ax 3 Domaines in the Pyrenees, almost on the Spanish border.

No stranger to the Tour de France, having been a stage town 8 times previously, Revel is a small to moderate sized town, 54 kms  East of Toulouse, with a population of around 8,500.  Located in the Midi Pyrenees Department it is one of the leading organic regions in France today and is noted for it’s cabinet makers, but more famously for it’s weekly market which is held every Saturday under a 14th century roof.

Photo from Wikimedia

From there we travel on to the pretty market town of Castelnaudry, 50 kms South East of Toulouse, and on an ancient route from Toulouse to the Mediterranean.  Castelnaudry is also the self-proclaimed “Capital of Cassoulet” (but more on that later) and the main port on the Canal du Midi.

Photo from Wikimedia

Moving through the small town of Mirepoix – destroyed by fire in 1289, but rebuilt in 1290 – the riders will find themselves climbing through the Pyrenees to reach their final point for the day, Ax les Thermes.  Ax les Thermes is a spa town whose waters were used by the Romans to treat rheumatism and skin diseases.  The springs were then developed in the Middle Ages in order to treat soldiers who were returning from the Crusades with leprosy.  Hence the unfortunately named “Lepers Pond” where, annually, the locals daube themselves with ashes and bathe!  This popular tourist destination boasts a casino, is close enough to Spain for cross-border shopping and is home to the resort which marks the end of the day for the bike racers.

Photo from Wikimedia

It probably won’t come as any surprise that the dish I have prepared is a cassoulet – a slow cooked dish containing meat and white beans and dating from the 14th century.  It is the speciality of this region with, as I mentioned before, Castelnaudry claiming ownership.  There are said to be as many cassoulets as there are cooks and the name comes from the name of the pot in which it was cooked.  There are quite distinct regional variations in the meat used, but it always contains white beans and always has more beans that meat.  The Toulouse dish will generally contain pork and mutton, the Carcassonne variation generally has partridge in it and the Castenaudry dish uses duck confit.  In keeping with tradition, I have modified the recipe from several that I looked at and took the liberty of using canned beans because I’m lazy for the sake of convenience. I also used gourmet Italian pork sausages as I was unable to obtain the Toulouse sausage generally used.  It cooked all afternoon in my slow-combustion oven, making the kitchen warm, cosy and deliciously fragrant!

For the next stage of the race, please check out http://peasepudding.wordpress.com/

Cassoulet
 
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Get into the Tour de France mood with my take on a French classic.
Ingredients
  • 2 rashers bacon, chopped
  • 30 mls olive oil
  • 5 Italian pork sausages
  • 4 legs of duck confit
  • 600 gms tinned white beans
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 400gms tinned tomatoes
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in heavy based, oven-proof pan, brown sausages, remove. Add chopped onion and carrot and saute until onion is soft, add bacon and fry. Cut sausages up into 3-4 pieces and return to pan with onions etc.
  2. Add stock, wine, tomatoes, bouquet garni and beans. Stir.
  3. Push duck legs into bean mix, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cook, covered in slow oven – 150C – for 3 hours.
  4. Check that the top is crusty and brown before serving!
 

 

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WHAT’S IN THE BOX JUNE 16 – Chicken, Broccoli and Pasta Bake

16/06/2010 | By

The list for this weeks boxes is here. As usual, the contents will vary depending upon the size ordered.

The winter veggies are really starting to come in now, with broccoli and cauliflower joining the usual suspects. Cauliflower can be a bit tricky to glam up – although, personally, I really can’t go past dousing it in a nice cheese sauce. However, for something a bit different, Claudia Roden (in “The New Book of Middle Eastern Food”) suggests chopping equal amounts of cauli and fennel bulb into similar sized pieces and boiling (I’d steam them) until just cooked, then dressing them with good olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. I love fennel to bits so I’m keen to give this a go!

Just yesterday I found a scrunched up piece of paper with an old recipe that I tore from a magazine ages ago for a Chicken, Broccoli & Pasta Bake. Too easy if you cheat and buy a cooked chook and easily adapted to take in other veggies. I would also probably add some fresh herbs to this – maybe thyme.

Chicken Broccoli & Pasta Bake
 
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Buy a cooked chook and this is in the oven in no time. I’ve used thyme here, but any fresh herbs you have on hand will be just fine.
Ingredients
  • 250 gms small pasta spirals, cooked
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1/2 cup semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 300gm light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch chopped, fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup each grated mozzarella and parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease large ovenproof dish.
  2. Steam broccoli until just cooked.
  3. Combine pasta, broccoli, chicken, tomatoes and onions in large bowl.
  4. Stir in cream, stock, mustard, garlic and season to taste.
  5. Pour into ovenproof dish. Top with cheese.
  6. Bake approx 20 mins.
 

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One for Julie – Chicken with Almonds and Honey!

05/02/2010 | By

Whilst some among us (not mentioning names, of course!) continue to claim that they are hopeless in the kitchen, producing an easy but stunning dish CAN be achieved by just about anyone! The secret is generally to keep things simple – not trying to mix up too many flavours, using the best possible quality ingredients and keeping prep as uncomplicated as possible. Seriously delicious dishes can be accomplished with the right combination of just a few ingredients and often all it takes is one small step to take a meal from delicious to amazing!

Don’t be reluctant to use spices or ingredients that seem novel or exotic, however, do take care to make sure that they are fresh and top quality. Supermarket spices are often simply not worth using and the dates on the jars need to checked carefully for most spices will lose their flavour and pungency pretty quickly. With some spices it is preferable to buy them whole and grind them yourself – the smell of freshly grated nutmeg bears very little resemblance to the pre-ground popular supermarket brands. Try not to buy your spices in large packets or jars – as, again, they will lose their flavour long before you use up the packet. Shopping in gourmet stores for better quality dried spices is well worth the extra effort and cost – this is what will lift your finished dish to the next level.

I found the original of the following recipe in a wonderful book called “Ottolenghi”, named for the cafe/restaurant in Notting Hill, in London, owned by the authors. I saw the book on a bookshop shelf in Melbourne and promptly fell in love the recipes. They are all bursting with freshness and flavour and have more than a hint of the Middle Eastern background of the two owners.

I have adapted this slightly to suit myself, but this recipe is a classic example of minor additions resulting in a simple, but knock-out dish.

Chicken With Almonds and Honey
 
Author: Amanda McInerney of www.lambsearsandhoney.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Adapted to suit me, from the wonderful book “Ottolenghi”.
Ingredients
  • 1.2 kg chicken thighs on the bone or
  • 1 large chook, jointed into 6 pieces (I always use free range, organic chook)
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 50 ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 120 gm almonds
  • 75 gm honey
  • 2 Tbsp rosewater
Instructions
  1. Mix the oil, spices, saffron, juice, stock and salt and pepper together. Place chicken and onions in a large container, pour over marinade to cover all the bits, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. To roast, preheat oven to 180C, spread chook out over a tray large enough to fit all in a single layer and roast for 40 minutes.
  3. Roast almonds in a pan or in the oven until lightly browned, then chop – not too course, not too fine. Mediumly??
  4. Mix nuts with honey and rosewater to make a paste.
  5. Remove chicken from oven and cover each piece with a generous amount of nut paste, return to oven and cook further 5-10 minutes, until nuts are golden and honey is just beginning to caramelize.
 

 

 

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B’stilla my beating heart!!

25/01/2010 | By

B’stilla – or bisteeya – is a classic Moroccan pie, traditionally made with pigeon or squab, but also with chicken, combining both sweet and savoury elements. It is also something that I have been dying to try ever since I first saw a recipe for it. I thought that I had hit pay-dirt when dining at a new Moroccan restaurant in town just after Christmas, only to be told that it had been so popular they had run out. I sulked for a while, then had a glass of mint tea and bravely soldiered on through the rest of a stunning meal, resigned to the inevitability of cooking it myself.
This recipe is the adapted version that I finally placed with a flourish (and some baked carrots) on the dinner table last night. The ggs are used to thicken the sauce, so take care that the mixture is not too hot when adding them or you may end up with scrambled eggs.   Some may prefer a little more cayenne pepper, but I am a coward at heart.

One doesn’t like to sound immodest, but this pie is to die for. It made me very happy.

B’stilla  
Author: Amanda McInerney
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 30 mins
Total time: 2 hours
Serves: 6
My adaptation on a traditional Moroccan dish which uses eggs to thicken the sauce.
Ingredients
  • 125 gms butter NOT margarine!
  • 700 gms chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (more if you are brave)
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 250 ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads, soaked in the stock
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 80gm finely chopped, roasted almonds
  • 2 Tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pkt filo pastry
Instructions
  1. Melt 1/2 butter in an oven-proof dish and brown chicken, set aside. Add onions and cook gently until golden. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes, add spice and stir, add stock and saffron. Return chicken, turn to coat, cover and bake in oven 160C for 40 minutes.
  2. Remove and discard cinnamon stick, remove chicken, chop up and set aside.
  3. Add lemon juice and herbs to remaining sauce, reduce until thick. Turn heat to very low, add eggs, stir until thickened. Remove from heat and add chicken, taste and season as required.
  4. Mix almonds with icing sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Grease a shallow pie dish with butter and layer 6 sheets of filo pastry in dish, brushing each with melted butter and rotating the sheets with the edges hanging over the dish. Fill with the chicken mix, fold 3 of the sheets over the pie, brush with butter and sprinkle generously with almond mixture. Fold remaining sheets over and tuck around the dish. Brush again with melted butter. I scrunched some extra sheets of buttered filo onto the top to make it look pretty.
  6. Bake at 180C 45 minutes, or until golden. Serve with any extra almond mixture.

 

Sit back and accept all compliments!!

 

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