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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Indian Spiced Chicken

Another old family favourite. Great for a do ahead and can be increased. This dish is not hard although it looks time consuming because of the spices, but it isn't. A real crowd pleaser !

You could cook them on the barbecue but the marinade will burn. So place them in  a foil tray and roast them in the barb with the lid closed.

2 whole chickens approx Size 12 or cut up or 2 kilos thigh cutlets
200 gram natural Yoghurt
2 medium onions
4 cloves Garlic crushed
3cm piece of Fresh ginger grated
1 teaspoon ground Cumin
2 teaspoons ground Coriander
2 teaspoons ground Paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground Turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Fry the onions until golden, add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and add all the spices and cook for a further minute, continuing to stir.
Remove from the heat and cool.
When cooled mix into the yoghurt.
This is the marinade.
Spread over the chicken and leave overnight.
If you have chicken pieces you can place them into a plastic bag with the yoghurt mixture, its very easy to mix and cover all the chicken pieces that way.
Roast on a medium heat.
Serve with basmati rice, yoghurt and spicy red lentils or a coriander and cashew nut pesto would make it really special.
Or a coriander and tomato salsa.
1 red onion
2 chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Hue to Hoian and Ho Chi Minh

A great spot on the Mekong for lunch

A couple of days in Hue became a historical awareness . These beautiful gentle people with a wonderful sense of humour, have endured thousands of years of battles and  two major wars in recent history.  The  ancient capitol of Vietnam, the city was under Chinese rule from 111 BC and the history is prevalent. Lots of Chinese influence in their architecture. The French also had control  and there are many French restaurants to be found. I feel though they are finally establishing their own "modern" Vietnamese identity and are very proud of it.
As we travel south, the food becomes spicier and each city claims to have the best pho or noodle soup.
Our cooking class in Hue was in a beautiful garden setting. The markets in Hue and Hoian, also an ancient town were similar, but each offered slightly different produce. Each of the markets are frequented every day by locals so there are also many cooking utensils on offer.
Unfortunately I don't have enough luggage space to bring it all back !
Sophistication is far from every day life, yet these softly spoken humorous people  bring service to a whole new level. Proud and eager to please every dining experience puts western service to shame.
We loved the glamorous, Ly Club and Nam Pham for the food, ambience and architecture.
The Ho Chi Minh cooking school took us to a whole new level. We drove for an hour to the outskirts of the city to a rural farm owned and operated by a Vietnamese chef who also owns a restaurant in Melbourne. We were given a guided tour of the farm and picked our herbs and vegetables for the class. The chef who is also a doctor regaled us with many medicinal remedies, for very herb we collected. All stories were told with a great command of the english language. The lake on the farm is thanks to the Americans who bombed the area in the war and now full of water, the crater provides them with fish.
So they say thank you America !
We ate, we drank,  we shopped,we laughed and learnt.
I am very excited about the next culinary adventure to Vietnam in March 2015
Market ladies with their fresh produce

The beautiful handmade ceramic artwork on the wall leading into our cooking class at Ancient Hue
The garden setting for our cooking class

Ancient woman with her produce

Happy students

Making rice paper sheets for fresh spring rolls

Japanese bridge in Hoian

Picking our produce for Ho Chi Minh cooking class
A final row down the canals of the Mekong

Friday, 10 October 2014

Hanoi Cooking Centre and Street Food Tour

Hanoi is the first stop on the reconnaissance for my Want Food Tours to Vietnam in 2015.
Wonderful food and gorgeous gentle people, with a curiously Western sense of humour all help to make it a memorable experience. The street food tour with one of the chefs from Hanoi Cooking Centre was so informative and amazing. The cooking class also professional, but lots of fun.
An hour in one street, was all the time we needed to find some beautiful embroidered sheets, linen, 
silk shirts. Off to Hue next the Ancient capitol of Vietnam.

Site inspection of our accommodation L'Opera hotel...... perfect spot for afternoon drinks

Don't have a car , not a problem load up your motorbike
Roast dog anyone ? 

Street food delicious pillow cakes for 60 cents
Original homes in the old quarter
Happy chickens lay white eggs, unhappy brown eggs !!!!
Dried mushrooms

Vast array of beautiful kidney beans, mung beans, chick pea, lentils.......... love their display
Fresh produce delivered to your door
Some of the lads having a  local Hanoi beer in a popular beer garden
Chicken anyone ?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Risotto with Sausage and Peas

Last week end we had the pleasure of attending the long Lunch at Rylstone Olive Press.
The growers  and manufacturers of my favourite olive oil.
Rylstone has continued to win awards more recently at The New York International Olive Oil competition. They have won the highest award of any Australian olive oil to date beating over 700 oils from all over the world.
A true credit to the hard work and insight of Jayne and Peter Bentivoglio, and the team.
We were guests of the Bentivoglios an Friday night for a casual dinner in a  purpose built shed overlooking the olive groves. What a divine setting, sipping champagne as the sun went down over the mountains.
The Olive Groves

Self, James Brown( Manager  Rylstone) and Sam McKay

 Michael Want, Matteo, Giovanni, Alice Wood
Barb Sullivan and Prue Puskar (Rylstone)

Saturday we headed out for the lunch in the building that houses the actual press.
 It is little more than a press , it is more like someones very large home with a wonderful ambiance . After a tour  of the press and pre lunch drinks, 80 were seated comfortably to begin our feast.
 We immersed ourselves in the 4 course menu of Giovanni Pilu from Pilu at Freshwater in Sydney.
Of course all the food was cooked with Rylstone Olive Oil and we also got to sample the range with our antipasti.
One of the highlights of the meal for me, besides the dessert was the risotto.
Absolutely sublime, the most delicious risotto I have ever tasted. One of those occasions when you want to keep eating, but know there is more to follow.
Lots of eating and drinking well into the evening, a great day was had by all.
Then on Tuesday I was lucky enough to be asked to attend a cooking demonstration of risotto and olive oil with Giovanni Pilu and Alessandro Pavoni from Ormeggio.
The chefs were at William Blue Hospitality School with Jayne Bentivoligio, the dynamic founder of Rylstone Olive Oil.
We were taught many things about olive oil the good and the bad. A very informative talk from Jayne. I will never buy some of those supermarket oils again !!
Well that risotto did it for me. I had to come home and try to create as well as they did.
One is never too old to learn and I learnt that day that you never serve the risotto piled up in a dish.
It must always be served on a flat plate so the grains aren't on top of each other and continually cooking.
This risotto is a variation of Alessandro Pavoni's and we all thought it was pretty delicious.
The chefs also prefer Canaroli rice to Arborio rice which they feel is better for Arancini. Aquarello rice being the one of choice for the chefs.

2 cups of Canaroli Rice
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
150 mls white wine
 3 litres chicken stock
4 Italian sausages
300 grams of peas
200 grams pecorino cheese
100 grams butter
Rylstone Olive oil

Put the stock into a pot and bring to the boil, then turn down to a rolling simmer.
Also put the wine into a saucepan and heat till nearly boiling.
Remove the sausages from their casings and cook in a little olive oil and chop them as you half cook them, similar to cooking mince. Set aside, leaving the remainder of the cooking to happen with the rice.
Next fry the onions and garlic in a little more olive oil until transparent and also set aside. Be careful not to burn them.
Heat  a spoon of butter in a large pot on top of the stove, with a little olive oil to stop it burning.
Add the rice and stir it thoroughly till it is quite hot and all the grains are coated in the butter and oil.
Don't let it burn.
Add the hot wine and don't stir, just let it absorb the liquid. Shake the pan to move it around.
Next ladle the hot stock ladle at a time until the rice is just covered and leave until the liquid is absorbed.
Add the onion and sausage and start stirring.  Heat 200 grams of the peas and puree them and add
 to the rice . Lastly add the whole peas.
Keep ladling until the rice is cooked, al dente. Stirring the liquid through. Season if needed. Remember the cheese and stock are salty but I feel it needs salt to bring out the flavours.
 It must still have a slight crunch. The mixture mustn't be too dry it actually should be quite wet.
 Let it it sit for a minute.
Then add big knobs of  the remaining butter and the grated pecorino cheese and let sit for 2 minutes.
Shake the pan to mix it, if you can't, give it a light stir. Drizzle with  extra olive oil.
Place onto a flat plate and give it a light tap on the bench to spread it further.
Serve at the table, sprinkle with a little more cheese and let the guests serve themselves. Yum Yum !

I would love to try your favourite risotto recipe !!

Our menu
Early start, drinks in the courtyard of the press

Before Lunch