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The Weekly Cook Up – Roast chicken with the best crispy skin EVER!


As much as we are told that eating chicken skin is bad … isn’t the skin just the yummiest bit?

Provided it’s cooked right and lovely and crispy, the skin is something people fight over – just like really good pork crackling.

But, like crackling, perfectly crispy skin can be a bit of a challenge to achieve.

The trick is to bring the chicken to room temperature before roasting, and to ensure the skin is really dry by patting it with some kitchen towel. Where did I learn this? Neil Perry, of course 🙂 This dish is inspired by a recipe of his on the Rockpool website. The chicken is flavoured with lemon and thyme and served with his beautiful aoli – which you can buy in the fresh food section at the supermarket. YUM! I also roasted potato, parsnip, swede and carrots making this an amazing one-pan dish.

Crispy-skinned roast chicken with lemon, thyme and roast potatoes

  • 1 x 1.6 – 1.8kg chicken
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • A few knobs of butter
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 carrots, washed, cut in half and then sliced lengthways
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into rough pieces
  • 3 potatoes, washed and cut into rough pieces
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes

Method

An hour before you begin cooking take the chicken out of the fridge and pat dry with paper towel. Place the thyme and lemon inside the chicken cavity. Drizzle all over with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat you oven to 220°c.

Heat a roasting pan in the oven. Add enough olive oil to barely cover the tray and a few knobs of butter, then add all of your vegetables except the tomatoes and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, toss well and place the pan in the oven. Cook the vegetables for about 20 minutes – they should be just starting to brown.

Remove the tray from the oven and add the cherry tomatoes and whole garlic cloves. Place the chicken face up into the pan and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. I found I needed to cook my chicken for an extra 10 minutes, as it was still a little pink.

Remove from the oven, lightly cover with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving. This step is really important as it allows all the juices to calm down from the cooking, making it lovely and moist.


Cut the chicken into quarters, and serve with the roasted vegies and Neil Perry’s fresh aoli on top. Some crusty sourdough bread is perfect too 🙂

My dog, Angel, got the leftovers. After a good feed, he was feeling pretty tired 🙂

As for a groovy tune to go with this delicious Sunday roast – I’d suggest this track by the Freelance Whalers. I came across this song on the Offspring soundtrack. I am totally addicted to this show and thought the music was amazing too! It’s kind of chilled and yet has this really cool rhythm to it. I think I love this song too, because it’s called Hannah, which is my favourite name 🙂 Hope you enjoy it as much as I do – although the video clip is a little weird 🙂

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The Weekly Cook Up: Australian fusion food


Aussie food to me is all about fusion. Australia is a multicultural extravaganza of flavours from across the world, reflecting our population – people who have come together from all over the world to call this beautiful country home.

In the 1950s you might have said Australian cuisine was about meat pies, fish and chips, snags on the barbie, the Sunday roast  … and, of course, let’s not forget Vegemite!

But since then our pallets have been wowed by the fabulous flavours of countries like Italy, China, India and more recently, the wonder that is African food.

As you walk down the streets of any of Australia’s beautiful states and territories, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to world cuisine – and then there are those restaurants which classify themselves as “Modern Australian”.

It is this term which I think really encompasses what Aussie food is all about in 2011. It’s about flavours and techniques from across the world coming together to compliment and enhance the things we love and do well here, like seafood, lamb and chicken and an array of fresh produce.

I also think it’s important to embrace indigenous culture and flavours and bush herbs such as lemon myrtle, which is a feature of my recipe, have become really popular.

World famous chef Rick Stein’s pursuit to find Australia’s Top Food Blogger and the country’s ultimate dish inspired me to create this recipe. It embraces our wonderful produce, and the flavours and techniques from all over the world which has influenced our cuisine so much.

Rick Stein Food Odyssey Live On Stage

The chicken in this recipe is succulent and infused with the flavours of basil and lemon myrtle. The potatoes are crispy and delicious, just like you’d expect from a perfectly cooked Sunday roast. The sausages give a really authentic Aussie touch, with a Balkan twist, and the beans don’t only add colour, but a crispy freshness. When brought together, it’s un unpretentious dish that is fragrant, moist and bursting with flavour.

In a nutshell – it’s the kind of food everyone just loves to eat.

BAKED FUSION CHICKEN

Serves 6-8

Marinade:

  • 16 organic chicken drumsticks (you could also use maryland or thighs, if you like)
  • 2 tbs of basil pesto
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of lemon myrtle
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbs of olive oil

Combine all of the marinade ingredients. Massage into the chicken, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 6 small, skinless pork sausages (also called chevaps, which are actually Balkan), broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 mushrooms, halved
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 large handful of beans, trimmed
  • 1/3 of a cup of water
  • 1 tbs of flour

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius (200 for fan forced). In a baking dish, combine the marinated chicken, red onion, potatoes, sausage pieces, mushrooms and garlic with a few good glugs of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss with your hands so the marinade coats all the ingredients.

 Bake for 50 minutes, checking after 35 minutes to see how it’s progressing.

After an hour, add the tomatoes and beans and stir through. Try to ensure the potatoes are mostly at the top, so they don’t go soggy in the juices, letting them to go golden and crispy. Taste the sauce to check for seasoning and add more, if required. Bake for a further 15 minutes – enough to cook the beans and tomatoes, but so the tomatoes hold their shape. 

Serve onto plates, but leave most of the juices in the pan. Place the pan on your stove-top and bring to a gentle boil. Mix the flour and water in a small bowl and add to the simmering juices. Whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Once a good consistency, spoon over the chicken. Garnish with chopped parsley.

I think this dish doesn’t only reflect the flavours that have been brought to Australia over the past 60 years – but it also reflects the kind of food Australians like to eat every day- food packed with flavour, but without fuss and pretension.

I hope this dish is something my Food Hero, Rick Stein would love! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Day 28: The secret to perfect roast potatoes


I have been experimenting with different methods for cooking roast potatoes for many years now and after much trial and error – I’m very proud to say that I have nailed it with a method that works every time.

But it’s been a long road to get to this point and I have tried so many different ways including heating the oil in the pan before adding the potatoes – a method that is quite a hazard with hot oil spitting everywhere.

I have par boiled, not par boiled, microwaved and steamed the potatoes before roasting. I have tried peeling and leaving the skins on. I have even cooked “roast” potatoes in the frying pan hoping this would make them crisper. It kind of worked, but if you fry them, they aren’t really roast potatoes, are they?

I have even tried many different varieties of potato in my pursuit for roasting bliss – Pontiac, sabiago, deseree, coliban – you name it, I’ve tried it!

As a result I’ve had potatoes that have turned out everything from burnt on the outside, but hard in the middle – soft on the inside, but with little colour on the outside etc

Being such a lover of roast potatoes, I knew I had to get it right. I mean I would skip a roast meal all together if I couldn’t have these little golden pieces of deliciousness with them. 

But I’ve found one that gives me a crispy on the outside and soft in the middle result every time – but I won’t keep the secret to myself, especially seeing as Christmas is almost here and most people’s festive table is not complete without this side dish.

So, here goes!

Lisa’s Perfect Roast Potatoes

  • 2 kilos of deseree potatoes
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 whole, unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees (c).

 Peel and cut 2kg of desiree potatoes into 4cm pieces. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and pour over boiling water.

Once the water has come to the boil, cook for 6 minutes over medium heat. Drain.

Return the potatoes to the pan, place a lid on the pan and shake vigorously (this roughs up the surface and is the key to getting nice crispy bits on the finished product. I sometimes also run a fork over the potatoes to rough them up gently.

Place in a roasting tin and season with generous amount of sea salt and pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil over all of the potatoes and them add the garlic and time. Using your hands, toss the potatoes though the olive oil and herbs, ensuring every part of the potatoes are covered. Use a little more olive oil, if required.

Place the roasting tin on the middle shelf of your oven and cook for 40 to 50 mins, turning occasionally.

For the best results, serve the potatoes immediately. If you allow them to sit, they will become soggy.

I promise you, once you try this recipe, you’ll never search for another. Perfect every time!! YAY!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Day 27 – The perfect festive turkey


It’s Day 27 of The Inspiration Challenge and, as it is soon coming to an end,  I thought I’d use this post to inject you with some Christmas culinary inspiration.

Obviously everyone is starting to think about what they are going to cook on the day – and while many chefs throw around ideas of breaking away from tradition – I am one who likes to stick firmly to it.

I have cooked the Christmas lunch for my family pretty much every year since I was about 13 or 14 and I absolutely love it! It’s exhausting, but for me, it’s the most satisfying meal to cook for the year. Everyone comes together, and sits down together for this huge feast. There is nothing I love more than everyone coming together – and I guess that’s why, fundamentally, I love food so much. We all gotta eat – so lets eat together.

This year is going to be a little different as Matt’s family have invited me to spend Christmas lunch with them. His mum is an absolutely fantastic cook and she, like me, always cooks Christmas lunch. I’m really looking forward to spending this special day of the year with them. I haven’t gotten to spend a Christmas with a lot of kids around (Matt has four gorgeous nieces and nephews) – and so I am looking forward to seeing their happy little faces on the day! I also hope Matt’s mum will let me lend a helping hand in the kitchen too!

The night will be spent with my family, relaxing at my mum’s house while we enjoy the Christmas spirit out the front, in the glow of her amazing display of Christmas lights – which are my mum’s passion for the year. She is an amazing lady (and slightly crazy LOL) – the work she puts in to decorating her whole house is truly amazing and spending the night with her, my dad, brother, his girlfriend and Matt, as people from all over Geelong stop by to see the lights, is an incredible treat. Of course, there will be oodles of hams and cold meats for everyone too!

As a traditionalist – I love a good turkey on Christmas day. So, here is the simplest way to cook your turkey for that special day.

The perfect Christmas turkey

 

  • 50gm of unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh Thyme
  • 1 fresh turkey 4 to 5 kg
  • Sea salt to season
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 whole lemon, halved
  • 1  red onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic halved crosswise
Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (c).

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the butter mixture. Set aside.

Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat pat the outside dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting tin. Generously season the outside with salt and pepper, as well as inside the turkey cavity.

Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, halved lemon, onion, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.

Roast the turkey about 2 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil – let rest for 20 minutes.

All that is left to do is present it to your hungry family and friends and enjoy.

Be Inspired this Christmas~

Lisa

Day 14 – Greek-style roast lamb


It always really surprises me how some people think that cooking a roast is a bit of a difficult, time-consuming task.

The truth is, roasting meat is the simplest and most satisfying thing – with a few minutes dedicated to seasoning the raw meat – you just bung it in the oven and out pops a yummy and succulent dish.

However, there is one very important thing to remember when roasting – you MUST rest the meat after you take it out of the oven. It doesn’t matter if it’s, pork, chicken, beef – rest it for 10 to 15 minutes covered in some foil to keep it warm. This allows all the juices to settle within the meat, so that it doesn’t ooze out when you calve it and end up all over your chopping board, leaving the meat dry and flavourless. It’s a simple tip, but an absolutely vital step in cooking the perfect roast.

Lamb is my favourite roasting meat – and I have been cooking it since I was about 11 or 12. I always used to watch mum do it as a child. So, here is my roast lamb recipe, with a greek, lemony twist.

Greek-style lamb

  • 1 leg of lamb
  • 3 lemons
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 onions
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil

Method
– Preheat oven at 180 degrees (Celsius).
– With a sharp knife, stab the lamb (about 5cm deep) about 7 to 10 times evenly all over the top of the roast.
– Drizzle olive oil over the top, season it generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, as well as the dried oregano and rub it, with your hands, all over the lamb.
– Peel and dice 2 large garlic cloves and stuff the garlic into the holes that you have made. Best to use your fingers to do this.
– Put a sprig of fresh rosemary in each hole too. It looks really pretty sticking out of the holes :).
– Peel two large onions and cut them into large pieces and lay then on the bottom of a roasting tray.
– Cut three lemons into wedges and lay them in the bottom of the tray also. This makes a nice bed for the lamb to rest on and ensures the bottom doesn’t burn (don’t serve the onion and lemon, they are just there for flavour, so you discard them after the lamb is cooked)
– Place the lamb on top of the onion and lemons. Drizzle the juice of half a lemon on top of the roast.
– Cook for 30-35 minutes per 500gm of meat. So for a 3 kilo leg, it will take about 3 hours. To check if it’s done, poke it with a skewer and if the juices run out clear (with no blood) it’s cooked through. If you want it medium (so a bit pink), reduce the cooking time to about 2.5 hours.

Helpful tip: If you think the lamb is getting a bit too brown as the cooking time goes along, just cover it with some tin foil to stop it from burning.

Make sure you rest the lamb after it’s cooked, as mentioned above. So take it out of the oven, leave it in the tray and cover it with foil (which keeps it warm) for about 10 to 15 minutes before you calve it.

You can serve this with some roast veg – or, seeing at it’s getting warmer – why not service the meat drizzled with yesterday’s tzatziki recipe – and perhaps a greek side salad of rocket, olives, fetta, cherry tomatoes and a light olive oil and lemon dressing?

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Day 10: Slow roasted pork with chorizo and cannellini beans


It’s day 10 of The Inspiration Challenge and we are getting close to half way through.

With so many recipes in mind, I decided it was’t fair to leave this one out – even though it made an appearence on this blog back when I first started writing it.

The reason is that it has been, by far, the most viewed and rearched for recipe on Uforic Food. Seeing as I have quite a few new followers at the moment, who probably haven’t tralled through the site to find it – I thought it would be good to make it a part of the 30 Recipes in 30 Days Challenge.

So this is slow-roasted pork with chorizo and cannellini beans. It is so delicious and full of flavour. The recipe was originally intended for a slow cooker – I didn’t have one at the time and so I slow roasted it in the oven at about 120C for about 4 to 5 hours. If you are intimidated about the long cooking time – there’s no need to be. I think stress only comes with long preparation times and lots of chopping – this recipe requires neither. Just put everything together, pop it in the oven or slow cooker and you can pretty much forget about it. But do check on it from time to time and give it a baste with the cooking juices and stock from the bottom of the pan. 

Slow-roasted pork with chorizo and cannellini beans.

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg boneless pork let, or shoulder is good too
  • olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) chicken stock – more needed if using an oven
  • 400g can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 apple, cut into wedges

Method

1.      Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and rub the pork with a little olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and cracked black pepper. Cook the pork, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate.

2.      Fry the chorizo in the pan juices, so that they release their flavours and become slightly crispy (but not too much).

3.      Place pork in your slow cooker or a cast-iron casserole dish if using the oven, along with the rosemary, chorizo and stock. Cover and cook according to your slow cooker instructions – or in the oven at about 120c for 4 to 6 hours – basting with pan juices every hour or so. If using a smaller cut, it may not need quite as long.

4.      Twenty minutes before serving, stir in the beans and apple. Cover and continue to cook. Transfer pork to a plate, cover and rest for 10 minutes, then slice. Serve covered with white beans and chorizo.

I served this with some steamed beans and broccoli. The pan juices are very rich – if you find they are a bit strong – just add some more stock, or water. I found in the oven they also dried up pretty quickly, so just add more stock if you think they may be getting a bit low. You don’t want a burnt syrup on the bottom, afterall! The great thing too is if you aren’t a good carver, you probably won’t need to be with this one. It’s so tender, the meat just crumbled.

Just another note too – my pork had the fat for crackling, but because of the nature of the cooking and the basting, it didn’t go crispy. So, when I added the beans and apple, I removed the fat and stuck it under the grill to make it crisp. It was sooo good!

Would love your feedback on this recipe. I hope it’ll be a favourite for you like it is for me 🙂

See you tomorrow!!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

One day left before the month of inspiration begins


Tomorrow is a new month and a new exciting project begins.

Hopefully everyone will enjoy and use some of the recipes I have in store for the The Inspiration Challenge.

I gave you a sneak peek as what kind of recipes you can expect the other day and since then I have come up with even more great ideas.

Day 4 – Basic Pasta Sauce

 

This is an excellent recipe for a basic pasta sauce, which I have used about a million times since I discovered it, as the basis for many dishes. This one will come in handy for some of the other recipes I will share with you throughout the month.

Day 12 – Entertaining

Friday is often the day you are thinking about entertaining for the weekend. This dip trio including tzatziki, hommus and butter bean will leave you wondering why you ever brought the pre-made ones at the supermarket. They are quick, simple and delicious served with my pita chips. Perfect for nibbles before your summer barbecue.

Day 28 – Christmas Inspiration

 

By the time the end of the month draws near we’ll all be thinking up ideas of what to cook for Christmas lunch. Here is a very traditional honey-glazed pork, which has always gone down a treat at my house.

Hope this extra little preview gets you excited about the recipes I have planned for the next 30 days.

See you tomorrow!

P.s. If you would like to sign up for the Inspiration Challenge: 30 recipes in 30 days – please enter your email address in the box on the left of your screen and hit the “subscribe to this blog” tab. You will then be sent an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Thanks for getting involved and hope you get inspired.

Cheers,

Lisa

Uforic Roast Lamb


It always really surprises me how people think that cooking a roast is a really, really difficult task.
I remember the day my brother called me because he had promised to cook a roast – but didn’t know how.
However, after a few instructions over the phone he admitted cooking it was a breeze and his dinner guests were left very impressed with his efforts.

This week I had an email from a wonderful friend of mine saying she had a mammoth task of cooking for 10 people and that she wanted to cook a roast lamb.
Now cooking for 10 people is always going to be tough, unless you’re having a barbecue. But, in this instance, I think roast is a really terrific choice.
The truth is, roasting meat is the simplest and most satisfying thing – with a few minutes dedicated to seasoning the raw meat – you just bung it in the oven and out pops a yummy and succulent dish.

However, there is one very important aspect of roasting that people don’t realise. You MUST rest the meat after you take it out of the oven. It doesn’t matter if it’s, pork, chicken, beef – rest it for 10 to 15 minutes covered in some foil to keep it warm. This allows all the juices to settle within the meat, so that it doesn’t ooze out when you calve it and end up all over your chopping board, leaving the meat dry and flavourless. It’s a simple but absolutely vital step in cooking the perfect roast.

Roast lamb is my favourite meat – and I have been cooking it since I was about 11 or 12. I always used to watch mum do it as a child.
So, here is my roast lamb recipe, with a lemony twist.

The Ultimate Roast Lamb

– 2.5 – 3kg of lamb (this will feed up to 10 people – but feel free to use a smaller cut and just vary the cooking times
– three lemons
– fresh rosemary sprigs
– two onions
– 2 garlic cloves
– olive oil

Method
– Preheat oven at 180 degrees (Celsius).
– With a sharp knife, stab the lamb (about 5cm deep) about 7 to 10 times evenly all over the top of the roast.
– Drizzle olive oil over the top, season it generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and rub it, with your hands, all over the lamb.
– Peel and dice 2 large garlic cloves and stuff the garlic into the holes that you have made. Best to use your fingers to do this.
– Put a sprig of fresh rosemary in each hole too. It looks really pretty sticking out of the holes :).
– Peel two large onions and cut them into large pieces and lay then on the bottom of a roasting tray.
– Cut three lemons into wedges and lay them in the bottom of the tray also. This makes a nice bed for the lamb to rest on and ensures the bottom doesn’t burn (don’t serve the onion and lemon, they are just there for flavour, so you discard them after the lamb is cooked)
– Place the lamb on top of the onion and lemons. Drizzle the juice of half a lemon on top of the roast.
– Cook for 30-35 minutes per 500gm of meat. So for a 3 kilo leg, it will take about 3 hours. To check if it’s done, poke it with a skewer and if the juices run out clear (with no blood) it’s cooked through. If you want it medium (so a bit pink), reduce the cooking time to about 2.5 hours.

Helpful tip: If you think the lamb is getting a bit too brown as the cooking time goes along, just cover it with some tin foil to stop it from burning.

Make sure you rest the lamb after it’s cooked, as mentioned above. So take it out of the oven, leave it in the tray and cover it with foil (which keeps it warm) for about 10 to 15 minutes before you calve it.

I really, really love this recipe and usually service it with roast potatoes, carrots and pumpkin. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does 🙂

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