main dish

Azza Fried Chicken

I do some of my best thinking in the shower. I mentally draft blog posts, mull over problems and ponder recipes for upcoming feasts. The other day I had an “eureka!” moment while showering and thinking about fried chicken. A sudden flash came to me about how Thomas Keller’s fried chicken could be improved:

PANKO PANKO PANKO.

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Thomas Keller’s Fried Chicken

Fried chicken

Update: I’ve revised this recipe to make it even better! Check out Azza fried chicken.

I’m slightly obsessed with fried chicken at the moment.

There was fried chicken on my birthday last month.
There was fried chicken after Christmas thanks to I-Hua and her awesome man.
There was fried chicken at St Katherine’s the other week.
And finally, on Sunday we had a Fried Chicken Party.

Mazzle, Bro and I recently had an email conversation where we sent each other fried chicken recipes that we found online. From there, it was only a small step to planning a Fried Chicken Party. We decided that Maz would make a batch of chicken using the St Katherine’s recipe (KFC) while I decided to follow in the footsteps of I-Hua’s man and use a Thomas Keller recipe from Ad Hoc at Home.

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Pressure cooker butter chicken

Butter chicken

The best kitchen item we’ve bought this year has been a pressure cooker.

It’s fantastic! I can’t believe I resisted one for so long. We purchased an electric one because it also doubles as a slow cooker. It’s a massive beast of a machine, but I keep it out on my kitchen bench because I use it at least once a week. I love being able to throw a stew in there and have it ready in 30 minutes. It is so, so good.

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Beet meatballs

Beet meatballs

Do you like beetroot? I love it any way – fresh, cooked, canned (yes, I know), in burgers, in cakes, in soup, in salads. And after being inspired to create this recipe by Nigel Slater, I now also love it in meatballs.

Sure, beetroot can be a pain in the arse because it stains almost everything, but they’re also rich in vitamins, carbs and proteins. They do have a very high sugar content – about 10% of a beetroot is sugar – but fortunately it’s released slowly into the body.

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Baby chili cheese dogs

For the first International Incident Party for 2011, we’re all about hot dogs. True to form, I’ve left it to the very last minute and was up early this morning to finish cooking, assembling and photographing my dish. However, the cats were super happy to see me so early and lots of purring and head butting ensured. Awwness! (Though they were probably happier that they were being fed early rather than at seeing me!)

International Incident Hot Dog Party

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Asparagus and gruyere tart

Cookbook Challenge: Week 52
Theme: Outdoors
Recipe: Asparagus and gruyere tart
From: AWW Kitchen

Recipe 2: Onion Foccacia
From: AWW Bake

It’s the last week of the Cookbook Challenge! I can’t believe that April, Kat, Shellie and I started it a year ago. 52 themes later, one post and at least one recipe each week, this is the LAST ONE. Amazing! It was a big effort, and I’m quite pleased that I made it right through to the end. :) There will be another one next year, but it’ll be fortnightly, which should be easier to keep up with. More details to come, if anyone is interested in joining!
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Andalusian spiced oxtail casserole & Catalan lemon tart

Spanish lunch

Hola! Welcome, welcome! Come in, take a seat, and get comfy. I would feed you all if I could, but unfortunately because technology hasn’t quite progressed to that point, you’ll just have to read all about the following lunch, and wish you had been there!

The theme for Week 35’s Cookbook Challenge is Spanish, and last Sunday a few bloggers came over for a Spanish themed potluck lunch. At first I really struggled with the Spanish theme and wasn’t sure what to make. I don’t own any Spanish cookbooks, and couldn’t find anything in any of my other cookbooks that wasn’t paella. I didn’t want to make paella, and interesting no one else made it either – we really needed Kat to come and cook it for us!

After a whinge on twitter, I received some good suggestions from @gastromaniac, which helped me decide on one dish – salted wrinkled potatoes with mojo verde. The following day, I went to the library and while I couldn’t find any Spanish cookbooks, I borrowed Saffron and Sunshine which contained assorted recipes from around the Mediterranean. When I flicked through it, I realised it was a goldmine and I came away with four additional recipes I wanted to make. So um, that would be five recipes altogether. Uh oh. I did consider culling my number of recipes but I really wanted to make them all.

So I did! (more…)

Leek, pumpkin and sweet potato frittata

Leek, pumpkin & sweet potato frittata

It was so warm today!

At least, that’s what I heard. During the past couple of weeks, I’ve been very bad and have started not leaving the office during the day.

Today was no different. Even though I could see that it was gorgeous outside, and my colleague asked if I wanted to have lunch in the park, I said no because I didn’t have time.

Fortunately, after I left work it was still warm. I really wanted to have dinner outside this evening and thought that frittata would be a good alfresco meal.

Leek, pumpkin & sweet potato frittata Leek, pumpkin & sweet potato frittata

This recipe from taste.com.au was perfect for what I had in mind. It was chock full of pumpkin, sweet potato and eggy goodness. I’ve no doubt that eating outside made it taste even better.

PS: The recipe asks for brown sugar to be added to the butter before sautéing the leeks. Don’t bother – I thought that there was enough sweetness from the pumpkin and sweet potato.

Dinner at ours: Twice baked cheese soufflé, spinach stuffed chicken roulade and coconut panna cotta

Mr Cauliflower

The other weekend, we invited Benisa, Dany and Dany’s father over for some food and a catch up.

Twice baked cheese souffle

We started with a twice baked cheese soufflé, taken from this month’s issue of Delicious. In the magazine, it’s a goat’s cheese soufflé and served as a main (with salad), but as I’m still unsure about goat’s cheese I substituted with a sharp cheddar. Also, as we were having it as a starter, I made smaller serves.

The recipe instructs you to turn out the soufflé after the first baking. When I turned one out though, it looked terribly unattractive, so I kept them in the ramekins to serve. By the way, you should’ve seen them in the oven! They rose very high but deflated quickly on cooling. It was a shame that they didn’t reach the glorious heights on the second baking, but they were still delicious. And so cheesy.

Spinach stuffed chicken roulade

For the spinach stuffed chicken roulade, I had an idea about what I wanted to cook, so went searching for a recipe that was similar to what I had in my head. I ended up adapting this recipe from Inglewood Farms (see my recipe at the end of this post). And, am I allowed to say that it was rather good? Well, I won’t lie. It was! (Gee, the modesty.)

Coconut panna cotta

And for dessert, we had coconut panna cotta with fresh strawberries. The coconut panna cotta recipe was from taste.com.au and not only was it a cinch to make, but it was delicious – smooth, creamy and fragrant. I was tempted to do some caramelised banana instead of the strawberries, but decided that it would be too rich and sweet. (I tried unmoulding one a few hours before dinner to make sure that I could turn them out okay – and since it was already unmolded it would’ve been a waste not to eat it….).

Mr Onion

Despite the expression on Mr Onion’s face, dinner was a success. Don’t mind him, he’s such a crybaby. After dinner, Mr Onion and Mr Cauliflower came to the table for an impromptu photo shoot. Remember our visit to Blenheim a couple of months ago? I saw these in the window of a souvenir shop when we stopped in Kaikoura for some food. I’m not really a knick knack person, but I was strangely taken by them. Why? I really have no idea. I admit that they are ridiculous and kitsch! But I liked them for some reason, so on our way back down to Christchurch, we stopped in Kaikoura just so I could buy them. There were other fruits and vegetables – strawberries, watermelon, broccoli, but Mr Cauliflower and Mr Onion were my favourites. They’re very silly but they make me laugh!

Twice-baked cheese soufflé

From Delicious magazine September 2008

Serves 6 (or 8 as a starter)

You can bake these in advance and reheat before serving.

60g unsalted butter
60g plain flour
350ml hot milk
100g cheese (I used cheddar, the original recipe had goat’s cheese)
1/2 tsp paprika
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup (125ml) pure (thin( cream
1/2 cup (40g) freshly grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease six 1 cup (250ml) ramekins or eight 1/2 cup ramekins (if serving as a starter). Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for about a minute until foaming. Remove from the heat, then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until well combined. Return pan to medium-low heat and stir constantly for 1 minute until it is a smooth paste.

Gradually add the hot milk, stirring constantly for two minutes, until smooth. Bring to the boil, then pour into a large bowl. Add the cheese and paprika, then season with salt and pepper and stir until smooth.

Using a balloon whisk, beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites with an electric beater to soft peaks. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold one-third of the eggwhites into the cheese mixture (trying not to loose too much volume). Gently fold in another third of the eggwhites, then finally fold in the reminder.

Fill each ramekin with the mixture so that it is three-quarters full. Place in a roasting pan and fill the pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the moulds. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes or until golden and risen, then remove from the pan and cool.

When ready to serve, increase the oven to 220°C. If you don’t want to serve them in the ramekins, line a tray with baking paper. Run a knife around the edges of the soufflé and invert them on to the tray. Pour about 1tbs cream over the top of each one, scatter with parmesan, and bake for 8-10 minutes until the cheese is golden and the cream is bubbling.

Spinach stuffed chicken roulade

Adapted from this recipe here

Serves at least 8

1 bunch english spinach
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
30 grams melted butter
Small handful of basil, chopped
8 chicken breasts, skin on
6 slices prosciutto

Preheat oven to 220ºC.

Wash the fresh spinach well. Place the spinach in a large pan/pot and cook for about 4 minutes, until wilted. Squeeze the excess water from the cooked spinach and chop finely.

Place the spinach in a bowl with the pine nuts, garlic, butter, basil, and season with salt and pepper. Mix together well.

“Butterfly” cut each chicken breast. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over each chicken breast and pound it with a mallet or rolling pin until it is thin and flat.

Place a small amount of the spinach mixture on to the chicken, and roll up tightly. You should be able to roll it so the skin is on the outside. Lay a slice of prosciutto on the chicken where it is not covered by skin, and secure with cooking twine.

Heat some oil in a non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. Sear each parcel on all sides, and then place in an oven-proof dish and finish cooking in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.

When ready to serve, remove the cooking twine and slice into rounds. Serve with vegetables/salad.

Zucchini and feta rice tarts

Zucchini and feta rice tarts

I had some cooked rice left over the other week. Normally, I would make fried rice, which is always quick and tasty. I tried something a bit different though, and tried making rice tarts with an eggy filling (like a quiche).

I mixed up the cold rice with an egg and then pressed it into large muffin moulds, using a glass to press it down nice and flat. However, my largest muffin moulds are silicon, so the rice didn’t really crisp up the way I was expecting/wanting. Actually, the rice that was next to the silicon (ie the sides and the bottom) stayed completely soft. You may notice that the tart in the background, particularly in the photo below, is a bit wonky – that’s because I had trouble getting it out of the mould without damaging it! Oh well, there’s my lesson learned – should’ve used metal moulds/trays.

Despite the soft rice, it tasted okay, although I could’ve been more generous with the salt.

Zucchini and feta rice tarts

Zucchini and feta rice tarts

Makes 6 small tarts or 1 large one

For the rice tarts

2 cups left over cold rice
1 egg
Salt and pepper

For the filling

1 small zucchini
1/2 small capscium
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Feta
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200°C .

Season your rice very well with salt and pepper, then mix in an egg. Lightly oil a large muffin/tart tin. Divide the rice amongst the muffin moulds and press down well, using a glass to get it nice and flat and to help create the sides. Pop it into the oven and cook for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate the zucchini and capscium into a bowl. Add the eggs and mix together. Season well with salt and pepper.

Pour into the baked rice tarts, top with feta and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the egg is set.