Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Smoked Chicken Salad

I love chicken, don't you?  Just about every mammal does.  As every pet owner knows, even the most well-behaved dog will rip a piece of roast chicken out of your hands. Counting your fingers afterwards may be a necessity:=).  Interestingly, (well, to me anyway) birds refuse to eat another bird. They will happily devour beef mince and steak but will not touch turkey mince or pieces of chicken.  On the occasions I've tried this, they have turned up their avian noses and hopped away in disgust.    

I found this recipe on a site called Kiwi Faves, by a lady called Sherryn (no relation).  I have adapted it slightly - no papaya for us. She says her family go mad for it each Christmas.  While I think it is very tasty and a good accompaniment to a meal, I'm not sure it would send me to the brink of insanity - but you know, those Kiwis...  Witness their sad struggle to claim pavlova as their own invention.



ready to dress





Serves 4-6


ingredients:


1 smoked chicken - approx 1.2 kg, or 2-3 smoked chicken breast fillets that equal approx. 600-700g.

340g. green or red grapes 

500g. nectarines, peaches or pawpaw

a handful of pecans (optional)

2 tbs chives, snipped finely (optional)

Cos or baby Gem lettuce, to serve



for the dressing:


250g. sour cream

1-2 tbs lemon juice

1-2 tsp grain mustard

salt and pepper to taste

2 spring onions, finely sliced


Method:


Pull the chicken apart and cut into bite-sized chunks, or slice and dice the breasts

Throw into a large serving bowl

Add the grapes and nectarines and stir gently together

Put all the dressing ingredients into a small bowl and mix together

Pour/spoon the dressing into the salad bowl; mix gently

Place into the fridge for a few hours to chill or even overnight

Check for seasoning and add more if needed

Throw on the nuts and chives if using

Place the lettuce leaves on a large platter

Spoon the chicken salad onto the leaves

Delicious on its own or with other salads


Notes:


This makes a very creamy dressing; I think you could get by using a wee bit less sour cream, or maybe subbing a bit of plain yoghurt instead

I did a bit of research on how much flesh you get from a chicken carcass - 70/30 (meat/bones) seems to be the consensus on the Net, but I think it is more likely to be 60/40 after weighing the stripped down skeleton for this dish





ingredients



chop up the chook




and the nectarines




everything goes in the salad bowl 




stir the dressing together





pour the dressing into the salad bowl 




give it a good but gentle stir




Lord N. of The Rocks showing off the dish


Lord N. and Lady J. of The Rocks came to dinner.  He kindly held the platter while I took a photo of the dish ready to eat.  I kindly did not post the photo of his head which strangely ended up looking like the Martian who came to dinner :=)






my nectarine doodle

Friday, 17 February 2017

A - Z Guidebook: Umbrellas

lots of umbrellas just hangin' around


This is what comes of looking up in a shopping arcade in Melbourne CBD.  Mr P. and I were down south a couple of years ago to attend our niece's wedding.  We stayed in town for a few nights to go to the Gallery, Museum and so on.  And oh the shopping! The stores!  The clothes!  The food!  The people watching!  Well, you get the drift.  And in one of the arcades was this wondrous display of umbrellas; something you often need on a Melbourne day.  It is after all known as the city which has 4 seasons in 1 day!


Join in with Tiffin Fiona @ Bite Sized Food Adventures for the monthly travel linkup. Feel free to come along for the ride:=)





TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -


Monday, 13 February 2017

Spicy Gazpacho Soup

Tomatoes - you say a vegetable; I say a fruit:=)  Nah, doesn't matter, call it whatever you like.  Regular readers will know I am not that keen on tomatoes, but I don't mind them whizzed up in a soup or stew.  If you're lucky, it may not taste like tomato at all - yes, joking folks. This is such an easy and flavourful dish for those hot summer nights - crikey, it was 39C today!!

And when it's hot, there's no need to put any clothes on I always feel.  I am (in)famous in the family for being naked at home.  More times than I can tell, I have been found out when visitors pop round to the front door, or when I throw open my bedroom shutters to find the neighbour on his tall ladder doing something like painting his walls or cleaning windows.  Ah well, we have to be famous for something, am I right?




deliciously chilled soup




(Recipe adapted by yours truly)

Serves 6 as an entree:

ingredients:


3-4 slices of thick, white bread like sourdough or pane di casa

5 tbs (100mLs) of red wine or sherry vinegar

1 kg. of ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 medium red capsicum, roughly chopped

1 medium green capsicum, roughly chopped

1 medium red onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 red or green jalapeño chilli, roughly sliced

1 medium cucumber, roughly chopped

1/3 cup almonds or almond meal

1 cup tomato juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

cold water (optional) to thin it out if preferred


To serve:


1 avocado, diced

fresh coriander leaves (optional)

almonds, finely sliced

prosciutto or serrano ham, chopped




Method:


Place the torn-up and de-crusted bread into a medium bowl

Pour the vinegar over the bread and give it a toss

Put aside till ready to blitz the soup

Throw all the veg. into a large food processor -i.e. the tomatoes, capsicums, onion, garlic, chilli, and the cucumber

Add the almonds or almond meal, the tomato juice, olive oil, salt and pepper

Give it a really good blitzing!  It will appear pale pink and creamy

Some recipes suggest to strain it, but I like it the way it is:=)

Pour into a jug or large bowl and place in the fridge to chill

Serve with the avocado, coriander, almonds and prosciutto


Notes:


You will need to blitz this in several batches 'cos nobody makes a processor that big

You may want it a little less thick so add only 2-3 slices of bread if so

Some recipes suggest adding chopped hard boiled egg when serving - your choice





ingredients

hubby doing most of the chopping



squishing the bread and vinegar together 



pouring the tomato juice into the processor
thick and delicious

the accompaniments

chilled, garnished and ready to eat   


I have based this on a few different recipes: one from a Margaret Fulton memoir; one from John Olsen's book - A Recipe For Art, and one from an online site called Slate (recipe author L.V. Anderson).  Hopefully, this is the best version of all 3.


BTW, if you like art and food and drawings of food, you might like the Olsen book.  We were in Melbourne over Christmas, but sadly didn't get to see the exhibition of his works at the NGV.  But I did buy this book which is full of recipes from his travels, and has lots of fun artworks depicting the food he made and ate.  He learned to cook when he moved to Spain in the 1950's, and still cooked even into his 80's.  He is now 89, and still going strong.  Food, cooking, art - what's not to love?




my tomato doodle

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Ploughman Bar Alderley - Review

The heat is really getting to us here in Brisbane at the moment.  We are having endless days and nights of high temps.  The nights stay hot, we swelter under the ceiling fan, and we sleep with the squeak of the pedestal fan at the foot of the bed.  (I call it the stalker fan; sounds so much more fun.) 

So cooking is not much on the radar, except for salads and quick pastas.  It's currently staying at around 33C each day - way too hot for the kitchen - so I suggested to Mr P. that we check out a local bar that opened early last year instead.  The online reviews have been good so I was hoping for a pleasant evening.




the front street entrance of the bar 


I love this old shop entrance.  There are so few of them in Brisbane. I remember to my horror a restaurant that updated theirs to just a plain glass wall, and got rid of the front step entirely.  I have a feeling the Heritage people would not have been happy.  Anyway, I digress.  This one is intact and gorgeous. 

We walked in the back entrance from the carpark.  It was early, it was quiet people-wise, and it was very much plywood heaven - floors, walls and counter.  While it may be "effortlessly cool" as The Weekend Edition has it, it is a wee bit lacking in ambience.  I think we both expected something a bit more traditional with that Olde English-y name. There was some (increasingly) loud music playing, which Mr P. and I found rather nerve-jangling.    

I ordered a glass of rosé, which was very cold and very delicious on a hot summer's evening.  Okay, here's my usual whinge - mean, you guys!  Yep I know a standard drink is 100 mLs, and a standard restaurant drink is 150 mLs (gee, generous), but to me it just seems so mean in a big glass.  I sloshed this down in moments.
  



rosé $10


Guess what Mr P. drank?  Yep you guessed it!  Ginger beer. He said this was a good one.  It had a bit of bite but not too throat-burning. I love the name and the logo.


   
ginger beer $4


Then he had a bottle of blackcurrant sparkling water.  This was so delicious.  It had so much colour and flavour and sparkle.  A bit like Ribena on steroids.



full of flavour and colour  $4


We shared the Ploughman Board, which had cheese, pickles, meats and bread.  Mr P.'s only quibble here was he wished they'd given us an even number of slices of bread; 5 between us meant I had to rip one slice in half:=)  But it was all delicious.  The pickled veg. are house-made, and they taste it. Fresh and tangy and perfect with a drink.




Ploughman Board $22 - perfect with drinks





the slightly phallic sign on the street entrance  


Never fear, I was not standing in the middle of the road; it just looks like it.  Surprisingly, the bar is not overpowered with street noise inside. Mr P. says it is because the old glass is very thick. This building was erected in 1882 and was the old general store/saddlery.  I wish there were more features from those times like pressed metal ceilings as many of the old stores in Brisbane still have.  Perhaps the saddlery didn't have them originally?



cute beehive water jar


I wish I could show you the grilled cheese and ham on sourdough ($12), or the toasted pastrami ($12) or the deluxe cheese board ($13) but we left before we could get around to those.  The music was getting thumpier and more nerve-jangling for us oldies.  I kept telling Mr P. we are not the target demographic here, so this wouldn't bother the average punter.  This place would suit the younger crowd very nicely, (and us if the music was more soothing).

In spite of the small quibbles, this is a pleasant place for an after-work drink.  Come and enjoy the "small batch beer, wine and spirits, paired with pickled veg."  There is also a new outdoor area; they suggest you buy Indian from the restaurant next door and hunker down for a while. Many of the reviews mention the friendliness and welcome here. Sadly we didn't feel the joy!  No one greeted us or said goodbye. The bar lady was efficient but not effusive.  Maybe next time...




Ploughman Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Lettuce And Pea Soup

What do you do when you have bought another lettuce, not realising you already had a couple in the fridge?  You make soup, of course.  Lettuce soup is an old French favourite, as is pea soup, so it seemed wise to throw them together in this one easy and delicious dish.  We ate this hot one night, and cold the next day; equally tasty!




such a beautiful pea green soup 




ingredients:


1 large onion, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 small red chillies, finely sliced (optional)

2 tbs butter

1-2 tbs olive oil

170g. baby Cos or Gem leaves, torn up or shredded with a knife

300g. frozen baby peas - no need to thaw

3 spring onions (aka scallions), sliced thinly - you know, the long skinny things

800 mLs chicken or veg. stock

100 mLs cream 

2 tbs parsley or chives, chopped

black pepper to taste



Method:


Throw the onion, garlic and chillies (if using) into a large pan over a medium-low heat

Add the butter and olive oil

Give it a stir and sweat it down for about 8 minutes till tender - don't let it burn or stick

Tip in the lettuce, peas and spring onions, and stir it all together

Pour in the stock and let it simmer away for about 12-15 minutes, depending on whether the peas are frozen or thawed

Once the veggies are tender, let it cool down for 5-10 mins.

Grab a stick blender and give it a really good whizz; make it very smooth or not so, according to your preference

Now pour in the cream and whizz briefly again

Add the parsley, and grind in some black pepper to taste

Serve hot or chilled, as you wish



Notes:


Cos is known as Romaine in the USA

Play around with the amounts of lettuce and peas as you please

Salt is probably not needed due to the stock, but add if desired





ingredients gathered




sweating down your veggies 




grab your stick and blend:=) 




and blend till smooth




pour in the cream




delicious hot or cold







my pea doodle


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

In My Kitchen - February 2017

Help it's February already!  But you already knew that.  It's lovely to be back with an IMK post this month after a hectic Christmas and January.  I hope everyone had a wonderful festive time of it.  I have picked up a few things lately for my kitchen, so let's have a wee look.  



delicious smoked salt from Canberra


I have an obsession with salt, and I have lots of different kinds in my pantry.  This is one I bought recently; mostly 'cos I couldn't resist that gorgeous little jar.  It has a lovely, smoky taste and adds oomph to any dish.



artwork and recipes from John Olsen  


Sadly due to illness, I missed seeing the exhibition of his works in Melbourne while we were there over Christmas.  But at least I have a copy of this book which highlights some of his art and recipes. Who knew he could cook?  But it is one of his passions apparently.



handy dishcloths made by my crafty sister 


My sis got all the crafty genes in the family, which she has handed down to her kids. Mum tried to teach me to knit and crochet but I'm afraid it didn't stick. :=(



more salt for my pantry  

No idea what this is like yet.  I have too many other salts to try first.  But it sounds interesting, doesn't it?



Holly the hedgehog 


Holly sits on my kitchen dresser, overseeing the culinary happenings.  She is made of cold cast bronze, and is delightful to hold.



I adore this pretty little jug


My cousin gave me this cute jug, to add to my extensive collection. I love it to bits.  I think it is meant to be a VW Kombi van, for which I have a bit of an obsession too.



salad servers from Dinosaur Designs 

I bought these from the NGV store in Melbourne.  I have lusted after them for ages, and finally took the plunge.  As our mate Princess Pia said when she saw the price: I thought they would be expensive, but not that expensive.  Our secret spy nephew said plaintively on viewing them: You say Dinosaur Designs like I should know what that is!


a fab 50's cookbook


My niece gave me this for Christmas.  It appears to be from the 1950's; and it is a trove of lovely, old-fashioned recipes.  You get such an insight into contemporary society when you check out a cookbook from the times.  It has lovely images of 50's housewives holding up various items like Aunt Mary's Baking Powder - the only way to be a successful baker apparently.



a lot of nectarine/peach chutney


I made a big pot of chutney using yellow and white nectarines, and yellow peaches. Hubby says it's the best chutney I have ever made. Now that's a big call, but thanks Mr P., so kind of you to say.



Hobart honey


A friend from Hobart came up this month - let's call her The Piano Teacher, and gave us this lovely jar of local honey.  According to the website, it is a classic honey collected from clandestine hives around Hobart.  I love the sound of that - clandestine hives; how romantic.


Okay, I think I have craved your indulgence enough this month, as Jane Austen may have said.  So you can check in with me next month for further news in my kitchen:=) Do join in with Liz from BizzyLizzysGoodThings in the monthly roundup of global kitchens. It's so much fun to check out kitchens all over the world.


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Pineapple Slice

You may know that people who live in Queensland are called banana benders by those naughty people in southern States.  Apart from bananas, this State is also known for its pineapple farms, and sunshine.  And tropical fruits and macadamia nuts and seafood; well, the list goes on.

When Summer rolls around (not that it ever really leaves), fruit and cool salads are the go.  You could peel and finely dice the pineapple for this recipe yourself, but on a hot summer's day the least amount of time in the kitchen appeals so use tinned like I did. You can also buy already peeled and diced fresh chunks in the supermarkets these days so go for that version if you want it less sweet.





sweet and tangy pineapple slice



I have pretty much used the recipe from The Kitchen Magpie's blog, but tweaked it a bit to suit modern tastes and methods.  It is her grandmum's recipe and uses margarine (eek!) in the crust and filling.  She also melts the margarine for the crust but I have gone the Nigella route and just blitzed softened butter with the biscuits in a processor.  So much quicker and easier.  And then use the same processor bowl (no need to wash) for the filling.  I decided to add lemon zest and juice to cut the sweetness, as the original recipe is very sweet for modern tastes.




ingredients:


Crust:

250g. of Granita or Shredded Wheatmeal biscuits

125g. butter, softened (not melted)

2 tbs almond meal

1 tbs sugar

Filling: 

200-250g. icing sugar, depending on how sweet you like it

120g. butter, softened

125g. Philly cream cheese, softened

zest of half a lemon

1-2 tbs lemon juice


Topping:

1 cup of thickened cream, whipped till soft peaks form

1 tin (440g.) of crushed pineapple, drained very well


Method:

Throw the broken-up biscuits into a large food processor

Add the butter, almond meal and sugar

Blitz well till you have fine crumbs

Press 2/3 of the mixture into a lined baking pan - you can use a 20cm X 20cm square one or a 23cm round tin

Bake for 8-10 mins. at 150C (300F) till golden

Let it cool completely while you make the filling

Wipe the bowl of the processor out with kitchen paper; no need to be too precious if a tiny bit stays in the bowl

Place the icing sugar, butter, cream cheese, lemon zest and juice into the processor and blitz till very smooth

Tip this into the cooled crust and level out with a spatula

Put it into the fridge for half an hour to settle down

Whip the cream and stir in the very well-drained pineapple

Take the pan out of the fridge and spoon on the cream and pineapple topping

Smooth it out and scatter the rest of the buttery crumb mixture over the top

Refrigerate overnight if possible but at least 6 hours


Notes:


Use only 200g. of biscuit crumbs if you like a thinner crust - which I do and did

The filling is very sweet so I suggest using only 200g. icing sugar




gather your ingredients





tip the blitzed biscuits into your lined pan  





levelled out and ready for baking 8-10 mins @150C  





baked and cooling 





now blitz the filling 





blitz till smooth




spread the filling over the biscuit base



smooth over the filling



spread the topping over the filling



scatter the reserved crumb mix over the top and chill overnight  





my pineapple doodle