Saturday, August 30, 2008

Paprika lemon chicken wings

Hello everyone, I cooked this recipe for dinner last night and it made me think a lot about old and new and how things change. I don't even know the providence of this recipe - it is a handwritten one out of my own little book of recipes. I suspect that it's one I might have picked up when my mother sent me off to the very popular cooking schools AGL used to run for children and teenagers in the school holidays. I gathered quite a few good recipes from that course which have come in handy over the years.

This dish is something that I used to cook regularly at home, particularly when I was left in charge of my sisters when Mum and Dad went out to dinner. In a sign of changing times, I note in my cook book that I amended the recipe for cooking in the microwave! Weren't they exciting times when microwaves entered our kitchens. I remember that Mum went off to TAFE with a bunch of her friends and they did a whole course in microwave cooking! Suddenly we were cooking everything this new, super-fast way, using the broadband of the kitchen. Of course, now most of us have abandoned our microwaves and only use them for defrosting food and warming up wheat packs to put in bed in winter.

And so it is with these chicken wings. I have gone back to baking them in the oven. I did them last night in a beautiful claypot that I have had for years and pulled out from the back of a cupboard the night before. It cooks beautifully. Another reason why I like making this recipe is the coating of the wings in flour - it reminds me of how my Nana used to cook. And in another sign of the times, I reduced the amount of butter in the recipe quite dramatically. I don't know what they were thinking in the late 70s using the quantities they did!

Have a happy week, love from Jane xx

Paprika lemon chicken wings

Serves four

What you need:
  • 12 chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 20g butter, melted

Lemon sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

What you do:
  1. Combine flour, salt, pepper and paprika in a large bowl.
  2. Toss the wings in the flour to coat evenly.
  3. Arrange wings in a claypot if you have one (soaked in cold water for a few minutes first), or arrange in a flat baking dish.
  4. Pour the melted butter over the wings.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in a 200 oven for 30 minutes.
  6. While the wings are baking combine the ingredients for the lemon sauce. Make sure you zest the lemon while it's still whole as it will be a lot easier that way.
  7. After the first 30 minutes of baking spoon the lemon sauce over the wings and return to the oven for about another 20 minutes, or until cooked through and the tips are nice and crisp.
  8. Serve with boiled rice and a green salad. Or whatever you like really, that is just a suggestion.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My cat Sennen

Hello everyone, today I wanted to tell you about my beautiful cat Sennen.

Sennen came to live with me in about 1993. She had previously been the animal companion of my friend Sue, who named her Sennen for the town in Cornwall in which Sue grew up. Sue was heading overseas for six months, and knowing that I was a cat lover, asked me to take Sennen while she was away.

Sennen wasn't happy at first - she kept walking up to the front door and wailing as if to ask if she could go home now. After a couple of days she accepted that she was living in a new home and spent the next few days buried under the doona on my bed, emerging only for meals. Gradually she settled down with me and over the next fifteen years, lived with me in a further three places. For a while we lived in a first floor flat which fortunately had cars parked underneath the balcony. She used to love launching herself off the balcony on to the roof of a car underneath and from there could make her way out to explore the great outdoors.

Sue eventually returned from overseas after about four years away, but by this time Sennen had definitely become my animal companion and I'm sure she thought of me as her companion too. There was no way she was being returned!

Over the years Sennen has given me so much company and companionship. She has seen me through lots of sad times, like when my Dad was dying, and has been a great friend to come home to every night. Like all cats she has a talent for finding the most comfortable spots in which to sleep all day, and many's the time I have come across her curled up in a patch of sunshine, either in the kitchen or outdoors, contentedly snoozing away the day.

Earlier this year Sennen was diagnosed with kidney failure. Miraculously, the Vet treating her got her on to a drip - to this day I and her colleagues don't know how she did it, as Sennen has a reputation for being a feisty little thing who usually needs to be held down by one person while another treats her. The drip worked wonders and gave Sennen a few more months of quite good health.

Sadly in the past ten days her health has started to fail. She had some blood tests during the week that didn't hold happy news, and in the last few days she has given up all pretence of eating. Thankfully I am now on holidays for two weeks, so can spend time at home with her. I don't know how much more time my darling girl will last, but I know she is really enjoying the sunshiny days that are seeing out Winter.

So, no recipe today I'm sorry as I just want to sneak back to the heater and curl up with Sennen as we probably don't have too many afternoons together left. I am so lucky for all the time that I have had with her.

Jane xx

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Spaghetti with ricotta and radicchio

Hello everyone, I have been lucky enough to go to three really good places in the last two days with three of my favourite people. It has made it an outstanding weekend! On Friday I had a friend here from Victoria and he was staying in Mosman, so what better excuse to take him to Source for a quick lunch. I then met a friend for drinks at The Ivy. It was the first time I had been there and I have to confess with the steamroller of publicity accompanying the opening of this complex I was a little cynical about the whole thing. I have to say though that the bar we chose was lovely, the service was great and the wine delicious. I am now quite intrigued about what else is in The Ivy and want to go back and try out all the bars it contains!

Then last night I went to a restaurant called Rocket, at Chatswood, and it was fantastic! Not a great location as it is right next to the train station and the outlook over the western side of the station uninspiring. But once you are inside you forget where you are. It looks great, the service is very good and the food was divine. I know this is a big call but I think the lamb I had was the most luscious lamb I've ever had! It was a really impressive place.

This week's recipe is something very quick and easy and warming for winter. I adore ricotta so am always keen to use it. I also really like using breadcrumbs with pasta - they add a really nice crunch. Of course, the better your bread, the better the breadcrumbs,so if you can use a nice sourdough you'll get a great result. It comes from one of the SOS books published by Vogue Entertaining that I have quoted before - an endless source of great ideas for the kitchen.

Have a great week, Jane xx

Spaghetti with ricotta and radicchio

Serves four

What you need:
  • 150g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 80ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup stock or water
  • 1 head radicchio, tough outer leaves discarded, remaining leaves torn into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 350g really good, fresh ricotta
  • 150g parmesan, grated

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Spread the breadcrumbs in a baking dish and pour over half the olive oil.
  3. Bake the crumbs for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Keep an eye on them, stirring once of twice, so they don't burn. Allow to cool.
  4. Cook the spaghetti and drain well.
  5. Bring the stock/water and remaining olive oil to a simmer in a large pan.
  6. Toss in the pasta, then the remaining ingredients, and season with salt and pepper if you wish.
  7. When the radicchio is wilted and the mixture hot, remove from the heat and serve sprinkled with the breadcrumbs.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chickpea feta salad

Hello everyone, I was very excited this morning as I had finally earned enough points on my Mastercard to redeem a gift. I had picked out a particular gift voucher, so that I could use it to buy a bottle of my favourite perfume, of which I ran out some time ago. I anticipated a quick turn around, so had hopes of wearing my new perfume by the end of the week.

Silly me, thinking it would be so easy.

As I have never redeemed points before I stumbled at the first block - don't know my pin number. So I had to call the card provider, which is always painful as their call centre is located in the US and their call centre staff are painfully polite - I hate speaking to them so much that I actually considered forgoing the perfume for a few minutes. I really, really want it though so I steeled myself, figuring they could give me the new pin number and assist me to redeem the points over the phone. Again, no such luck. I have to wait a week for my pin number to turn up, then go through the whole palaver of registering and trading in my points. It can then take up to 28 days for my gift voucher to arrive!

So sadly I will remain unperfumed for a while yet.

This week's recipe is so good that I searched my blog twice to make sure I hadn't already supplied it. I can't believe I have held it back all this time! I enjoyed this salad for lunch this week (with the addition of some of my left over bastourma you'll be glad to know), but first made it to accompany some chicken wings over Christmas. It is a Bill Granger recipe - I first saw it in Good Living but it is also in one of his many books. I make it regularly and sometimes add different ingredients to it that I happen to have. If you have really good extra virgin olive oil and a homegrown lemon to make the dressing, you will find it sensational.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Chickpea feta salad

Serves four

What you need:
· 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
· 2 tablespoons lemon juice
· Sea salt
· Freshly ground pepper
· 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
· 15g baby spinach
· 1 lebanese cucumber, sliced into four lengthways and diced
· 100g yellow grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
· 50g goat’s or sheep’s milk feta, crumbled

What you do:
1. Place the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a bowl and whisk until combined.
2. Combine the chickpeas, spinach, cucumber and tomatoes in a bowl.
3. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing and crumble the cheese over the top.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dukkah rolled poached egg with haloumi

Hello everyone, I am so glad to get to the end of this week. We had our annual audit at work this week and it was a very testing and rigorous time! The auditors had me jumping all week. I think we have done well though as everything seemed to match up. It is very good to have these last five days behind me.

I am also convinced that Spring is around the corner with the lovely sunshiny blue sky days we have been having (most days) so that makes me feel much happier.

Today I went to see the most beautiful exhibition of Japanese art from the Art Deco period with my friend Aviva, who is the best eating and shopping companion you could want. The art was absolutely stunning and I wanted to acquire nearly all the pictures and scrolls. I had to satisfy myself with a card displaying one of the pictures from the exhibition instead.

Now this week's recipe is (I think) quite unusual. It is written by my equal favourite cooking writer, Matthew Evans, and comes from one of his columns in the Good Weekend sometime. I have often looked at the recipe and thought I'd try it one day and last night I did. I have to say it was nicer than I had anticipated. There was one drawback: it requires bastourma, a Middle Eastern air dried beef, of which I was hoping I could buy a few slices, but had to buy a packet containing about 50 slices so I'll be eating bastourma till Christmas (I have put packages in the freezer). It also uses dukkah and I thought I'd make my own, which was very easy but again I ended up with enough to keep me going for a very long time. But, it was a quick and easy dish to make, very unusual and very yummy so I thought a good one to share.

Have a happy week, love from Jane xx

Dukkah rolled poached egg with haloumi

Serves two (or four as an entree)

What you need:
  • 8 slices haloumi cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons or thereabouts of dukkah
  • 4 large eggs
  • 12 slices bastourma (buy from a Middle Eastern deli)

What you do:

  1. Arrange the slices of bastourma on serving plates.
  2. Bring water to a simmer for the poached eggs.
  3. Just before it reaches that point, heat a non stick pan and add some olive oil.
  4. Lightly fry the slices of haloumi on both sides until golden.
  5. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  6. When the water is simmering, gently drop in the eggs and poach.
  7. When the eggs are cooked, lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon and carefully roll in the dukkah (this is surprisingly easy).
  8. Lay the slices of haloumi on the bastourma and place the poached eggs on top of the haloumi to serve.