Thursday, 18 February 2010

Dinner for One (Me)

Its not often that I get to have a night to myself, but when I do I make the most of it. A DVD that tickles my fancy, usually something B-grade sci-fi, and cook something interesting for myself.
I wondered off to the shops on Carlisle St and came back with a chicken maryland half dozen baby desiree potatoes, some salad leaves, a bottle of white & the B-grade DVD: Lost In Space.
Some rummaging in the fridge revealed fresh tarragon, thyme, garlic & butter.
So here is my dinner for 1: Roast Tarragon chicken with Roast Thyme Potatoes.

1 chicken maryland, skin on
5 or 6 baby potatoes
1/2 tbls tarragon
1 tsp thyme
1 small clove garlic
1 tbls butter
2 tbls olive oil

Pre heat the oven to 230c
Peel & steam the potatoes until they are just cooked, easily pierced by a skewer.
Chop the tarragon roughly & place in a small bowl.
Peel the garlic & finely chop or microplane, add to the tarragon
Add about 1/2 tsp salt, & pepper to taste
Add the butter & combine thouroughly.
Place half the mixture under the skin of the chicken & rub the remainder over the top of the chicken.
Place into an oven proof dish just big enough to hold the chicken, skin side up.
Place the olive oil into a bowl & add the thyme leaves, pepper & salt.
When the potatoes are ready rough up the outsides with a fork and add to the bowl containing the thyme & oil, and toss coating the potatoes.
Place into a separate roasting dish from the chicken & scoop out any remaining oil from the bowl. Add a little more oil to the pan if it looks a bit dry.
Place both dished into the oven for about 30min, basting occasionally. Don't over cook the chicken!
Serve with a nice side salad and a fresh bread roll to soak up the juices.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Paper Chef #49

Everyone has a creative streak in them somewhere, whether its a big streak or just a small gnawing urge to create.
Its there.
Its to be human.
& it needs to be fulfilled.
Otherwise you'll whither away, & you won't grow.
My little bit of creativity is cooking. I like cooking & creating something. Maybe its based on a recipe I read somewhere, or food I tasted somewhere, or in this case, the Paper Chef Challenge.
Not all of my attempts have been successful, tastewise or lookswise, but they have helped satisfy that creative urge.
This month's ingredients were selected Cath from
ShowFood Chef. With the help of her son she selected Prawns, Sweet Pepper, & Fennel randomly from the list, and her fourth ingredient was actually a theme: Passion (I guess its because its almost Valentine's Day....)
As soon as I'd read the ingredients the first though that sprang to mind was "rice paper rolls". From past mistakes I've learnt to go with the first idea, sometimes too much thinking can be your downfall.
So here are my Prawn & Fennel Rice Paper Rolls. My creative streak shone through & I had to use one of my favourite native ingredients, Finger Lime (see here for what they are). I thought they worked in the rolls, but Paul didn't like the bursts of acidity from the popping vesicles. They were served with Kecap Manis, a dark sweet soy like sauce for dipping.

Ingredients: (for 12 rolls)
50g rice vermicelli
1/2 fennel bulb
sweet pepper, peeled & sliced into fine strips
small handful coriander leave
small handful mint leaves
small handful fennel sprigs
6 peeled raw prawns
1 finger lime
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
12 rice paper sheets

Skewer each prawn on a bamboo skewer (this is to keep them straight as they cook).
Place the skewered prawns into a steamer & steam over boiling water until just done (if you over cook the prawns they end up very dry).
Remove from the steamer & allow to cool, then slice each prawn in half lengthwise.
Prepare the vermicelli as per the packet instructions (normally soak in hot water until soft & clear), allow to drain of all water & then place in a bowl.
Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar & lime juice to the noodles & toss to coat them, adjust the balance to taste.
Finely slice the fennel, use a mandolin if you have one.
Roughly chop the herbs & add to the noodles along with the fennel .

Briefly soak each sheet of rice paper in hot water, soak it too long & it becomes a soggy mess.
Lay it out on a kitchen towel.

Place a halved prawn on the power 1/3 of the rice paper and place a couple of pepper strips either side.
Place a generous spoonful of the noodle & fennel mixture on top.
If you wish you can also add a sprinkling of crushed unsalted peanuts.
Fold the sides of the paper in, then fold the bottom up & tightly roll. Don't be upset if the first couple look wrong - it takes practice. The first few that I usually make I end up ripping open & starting again..
Repeat until all have been made.
Place some Kecup Manis in a serving dish. If you wish you can also have sweet chili as a dipping sauce.
Serve & enjoy.


... to be who I am.

Celebrating Melbourne Midsumma Festival & Pride March 2010.