Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Raspberry almost instant "ice cream"

I usually make this with raspberries but works well bananas. It is very delicious and made in a matter of minutes. By using frozen fruit the "ice cream"is already well on its way to freezing so all you need to do is pop it in the freezer for as long as it takes for you to prepare the rest of the meal.

This is meant to be eaten soon after it is made as it goes incredibly hard if left in the freezer and needs at least an hour to soften enough to serve.

You will need some sort of food processor or blender for this. I find that one of those handheld blender works fine.

allow yourself about 10 minutes to make this and time in the freezer

200-250 grams raspberries- fresh or frozen
250 grams creme fraiche
2 tablespoons caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon

You can use fresh raspberries but allow a couple of hours in the freezer.

Put the raspberries, creme fraiche, sugar and half the lemon juice into the food processor or whatever you are using to blend. Process until combined and smooth.It will probably be necessary to stop periodically and break up any lumps.

When smooth check the taste and add more lemon juice as it suits you.

Put into a plastic box and pop into the freezer.

If you don't eat it soon after you've made it it will keep, in the freezer, for a couple of days but as I've said will go very hard.

If you want a banana ice cream I suggest you use 4 bananas in place of the raspberries.

I tend to stick bananas into the freezer if they are heading to getting over ripe. Freeze them with skins on. Frozen bananas are great for baking and for this recipe it took about 5 minutes out of the freezer to be able to remove the skins and slice quite finely before adding to the other ingredients to process.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Camembert Stuffed Chicken with Braised Fennel

This roast chicken is the result of a long weekend of excess on a beach in New South Wales. It was Sunday night, little in the fridge and little inclination to cook so we decided to stuff the remaining camembert into the chicken and roast it. We thought the result was delicious and I have been cooking it ever since. I believe there are versions of a camembert chicken around but this is, to my mind, the easiest and probably the tastiest.
The only refinement from those early days is that I now add some shallots (or onions) with the cheese. The cheese adds a great flavour to the chicken and melts into a lovely gooey-ness. The chicken does not taste like the cheese so please do not be put off by the thought of camembert.
The fennel goes very well with chicken but is not an essential accompaniment.

1 roasting chicken (1.5 - 2 kilos)
2 or 3 shallot or a small onion
100 - 250g camembert

None of these ingredients need to be exact- there is nothing at all exacting about this dish - 100g of camembert will flavour the chicken and melt into a real goo- 250g totally fills the cavity of the chicken and may not totally melt but makes a lovely soft cheesey/onion mixture
to be spooned out and served alongside the chicken.
You will soon get the hang of how much you like and however much you use the chicken will take on the special flavour.

an hour and half before dinner

heat the oven to 180 C (375 F gas 5)

peel and chop the shallots into small pieces.
cut the camembert into bits about the size of an apricot - this is just to help you stuff it into the chicken so no need to be precise.

Put some cheese into the chicken- jam it to the end of the cavity and then put in some of the shallots, more camembert, more shallots- until you have used it all, ending with cheese.

Place the prepared chicken into a roasting tin and pop onto a rack in the middle of the hot oven.

The chicken will take about an hour and quarter- maybe more if it is on the large side.
Check if the chicken is cooked by piercing the meat at the thigh joint and look at the colour of the juices that run out. They must be clear if the chicken is cooked.

Braised fennel

Fennel bulbs (probably one per person, depending on the size)
3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil
garlic cloves, peeled (maybe 4 or 5 or more if you like)
Salt & pepper

Chopped parsley (optional)

45 minutes before dinner

Prepare the fennel by removing the green tops, the base of the core and any discoloured outer leaves. Cut the bulb into quarters, lengthways.
Heat the oil in a pan, when hot add the fennel and stir it around. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, occasionally stirring the fennel around in the oil. The fennel will
begin to brown.
Heat some water to the boil.
Add the garlic, continue to cook until the garlic changes colour.
Pour boiling water into the saucepan. Enough to come about halfway up the fennel. Lower the heat and simmer until the fennel is soft which will take about a further 15 minutes. If the water boils away before the fennel is cooked add a little more hot water - be sparing as there shouldn't be any water left by the time the fennel is cooked.
Add sea salt and a good grind of pepper.
If you want to add some colour when serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chilli for Halloween (or anytime)

This weekend was Halloween. We had a party around the outside fire and for me it was the perfect occasion to serve chilli. Although any time you want to feed large numbers, without having too much hassle, chilli is the way to go and a meal in a bowl is very easy to handle when not sitting at a table.

My recipe is very, very straightforward but it does need about 2 hours cooking time. Therefore I suggest you make the chilli in advance of when you want to serve it so at supper time it is merely cooking the rice and preparing the side dishes.

This chilli freezes very well so I think it is a good idea to make more than you need then bagging up the extra and freezing it.

You can also use this sauce in tacos shells and topped with cheese, lettuce etc.

This recipe makes a mild chilli but one with great flavour. Everybody loves it as it is, but if you want to give it a kick- increase the amount of chilli powder or add a hot fresh chilli ( chopped finely).

Serve this with rice.

For 6 people:

1 kg (2 lbs) best quality mince beef
3 tablespoons corn oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 onion- chopped
2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn dried oregano
Tinned tomatoes 475 grams ( 1 lb)
1 1/2 cup beef stock
1/4 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup chopped bacon
1 tbspn of sugar
Red kidney beans - 475g

salt & pepper to taste

For garnish- lime wedges, sour cream, grated cheese, fresh coriander and maybe chopped avocado

two and a half hours before you want to be finished cooking

Heat 2 tbspns of corn oil in a casserole or large saucepan on the stove top. Add garlic, onion, chilli powder, cumin and oregano and cook on a moderate heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the remaining oil. Turn the heat up and brown the meat all over.

Browning meat is achieved by having the oil hot and stirring, or turning in the meat in the hot oil until it changes colour and starts to go from grey to brown.

If necessary do this in batches, removing the already browned meat onto a plate which you do the rest.

Put all the meat back into the saucepan/casserole and stir in the tomatoes, stock, tomato puree, bacon and sugar.

Bring to a simmer over a low heat.

Simmering is when the sauce is blobbing along gently with a few bubbles breaking the surface.

Simmer uncovered for about 2 hours. The idea is for the sauce to thicken however if this happens before the end of the cooking time pop a lid on the pot. If the sauce starts to look too thick and drying out add a tiny amount of water or tomato juice if you have any to hand.

At the end of the cooking time stir in the strained beans and season with pepper & salt to your taste.

if you have cooked this in advance:

three quarters of an hour before eating:

Reheat the chilli, over a medium heat- do this fairly slowly maybe giving it a bit of a stir in case it sticks to the saucepan. Once it come to the boil turn the heat to the absolute minimum to keep warm. Stir it occasionally.

Cook the rice as per instructions.

While the rice cooks prepare the whatever garnishes you like- sour cream, lime, coriander, avocado, grated cheese.

If you have a large number get everyone to help themselves- taking whatever garnish suits them.