Food That Rocks

Feb 16

HAMMER HORROR COLLECTION

One of the better movie box sets that has come out recently is the Hammer Horror Collection, featuring heaps of classic horror staples for any serious movie buff. The collection, which came out last year is a celebration of the golden age of British horror movies and includes such classics as The Quartermass Xperiment, Frankenstein Created Woman and Dracula: Prince of Darkness. 

For those of you who are not familiar with this legendary studio and the films it produced, Hammer Films was founded in Great Britain in 1934 and began its life as a studio that produced low budget thrillers and what was then termed as quota-quickies; low budget movies produced to support bigger budget American releases in order to comply with the quota of local content to be played in British cinemas. During the early years of the studio from its founding through to 1955 the studio went bankrupt, had its name changed and went through several managerial changes.

But things changed dramatically for Hammer in 1955 when they adapted a BBC science fiction serial and turned it into a horror movie called The Quartermass Xperiment. The film was a runaway worldwide success, spawned several sequels (including the very popular Quartermass 2 and Quartermass and the Pit) and established Hammer as the leading horror studio in the world.

Riding high on this new horror movie craze Hammer and its regular stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing made a slew of classic movie series including Frankenstein, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes and The Mummy, with each franchise sparking at least four sequels.

One of the movies featured in the collection is probably the quintessential Hammer Horror movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness. It was made in 1966 staring the silently ominous Christopher Lee in the title role, the Queen of British Scream Barbra Shelly as Helen Kent and Peter Cushing in a prologue cameo as Van Helsing.

The movie follows the resurrection of Dracula after he is incinerated by sunlight at the hands of Van Helsing ten years earlier. When the blood of a hapless victim of one of his servants mixes with Draculas ashes the Prince of Darkness rises again and starts chomping his way through anyone silly enough to come and stay at his castle high up in the Carpathian Mountains. This movie remains a classic and has not lost any of its bite almost 50 years after its production.

Now, like Dracula I sometimes drink way too much the night before and wake up from my sleep feeling like the undead and craving blood. I relieve the craving with Blood Sausage, Peppers and Eggs… a great cure to make you feel human again. Now you can of course by the Blood Sausage and Marinated Peppers if you like, but seriously, where would the fun and ridiculous time consumption be in that???

Blood Sausage, Peppers and Eggs

Serves 4 Minions of the Damned

Ingredients

4 Eggs

2 Tbsp. Butter for Frying

Salt

Cracked Black Pepper

For the Blood Sausage

* Makes approx. 2.5 – 3kg kg of Sausage. Make sure you make in advance and store excess in freezer.

3 meters of Salted Sausage Skins (order in advance from butcher… get extra in case you make mistakes!)

2 Litres Pigs Blood (order in advance from butcher)

4 Onions Finely Chopped

1kg Pork Fat (order in advance from butcher)

350g Flour

200g Cooked Pearl Barley

50ml Olive Oil

200g Oatmeal

40g Salt

20g Cracked Black Pepper

20g Smoked Spanish Paprika

20g Ground Marjoram

20g Ground Thyme

20g Ground Celery Seed

20g Ground Mace

**Please note I have used a KitchenAid Stand Mixer with Sausage Stuffer attachment to make the sausages.

For the Marinated Peppers

*Peppers should be made in advance and stored in sterilized Glass Jar with Lid.

6 Red Capsicums

5 Cloves Roughly Chopped Garlic

1 Tbsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Ground Black Pepper

¼ Cup White Wine Vinegar

½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley

1 Tbsp. Chopped Oregano

Method

For the Blood Sausage

  1. Place the Sausage Skins in a large bowl of warm water, press a little bit of water through each entire skin and ensure the ends are left hanging over the lip so you can find later!!!
  2. Heat a large fry pan over a low flame, add the oil and onions and sweat until translucent. Reserve.
  3. Heat a pot of water to boiling and quickly blanch the Pork Fat. Reserve.
  4. In a large bowl mix together the Flour, Oatmeal, Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Marjoram, Thyme, Celery Seed and Mace.
  5. Add the Pork Fat, Barley and Onions and mix.
  6. Add the Pigs Blood and stir together till combined. Place in refrigerator.
  7. Set up your stand mixer and Sausage Stuffing attachment, and roll the skin over the attachment till there is only about 10cm left hanging off the end.
  8. Remove the mixture from the fridge, place into the machine and gently hold the casing with one hand while you switch on with the other.
  9. Press the meat down through the stuffer with an even, firm pressure and after the air is released at the start guide the release of the casing to match the meat coming through to ensure a nice even sausage.
  10. Once the mixer has gone through, tie off one end and start making sausages by pinching the sausage firmly at ten cm intervals and then twisting in opposite directions to create the link. Repeat this way until complete and tie off the remaining end.
  11. Heat a large pot of water to barely a simmer and add the sausages, gently poaching for 10 minutes. Remove from water, hang for approx. 2 hours (an indoor clothes horse will suffice) and then store in freezer till needed.

For the Marinated Peppers

  1. Heat Oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. De-stem and de-seed the Capsicum and place on a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
  3. Cook the Capsicum in the oven for approx. 30-40 min or until skin has blistered and the capsicum is soft.
  4. Place the Capsicum in a clean plastic bag and tie up for approx. 10 minutes allowing the skin to separate.
  5. Take the Capsicum out of the bag and gently remove the skin. Chop into large chunks and place into a medium sized mixing bowl.
  6. Add the Garlic, Salt, Black Pepper, White Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Parsley and Oregano to the bowl and mix well.
  7. Carefully place the mixtures into a sterilized Glass Jar, seal tightly and store in refrigerator. For best results make this a few days before needed so the flavours have a chance to combine. 

To Finish 

  1. Remove Sausages from freezer, remove desired amount of links and defrost.
  2. Cut the Sausage into thick slices and gently pan fry over a medium heat with a dash of olive oil. Be careful with the Sausages as they are pretty delicate. When cooked drain on paper towel.

Cook your eggs however you like them, (I did Sunny Side Up), season with Sea Salt and a couple of cracks of Black Pepper and serve with Marinated Peppers and a slice of Sourdough toast.

Jan 13

Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives is the latest collaboration between Hollywood man of the moment Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn, the pair that brought us Drive, which was arguably one of the best films of 2011. This time we have swapped the neo-noir back streets of L.A. for the neon wonderland that is Bangkok.

The film follows Julian (Ryan Gosling), an American ex-pat who runs a Muay Thai club in Bangkok, which is actually a front for an international drug operation. When his brother sadistically rapes and kills an underage prostitute and is in turn murdered for his crimes, Julian must not only deal with the justice dealt out by the brutal Police Lieutenant Chang (chillingly portrayed by Vithaya Pansringarm) but the vengeance demanded by his mother Crystal (Kristen Scott Thomas).

It is impossible not to draw a comparison between Only God Forgives and Drive with the director and actor collaborating again so soon after the cult hit was released. While they both feature a strong, silent, anti-hero on the wrong side of the law, Drive was universally acclaimed where as Only God Forgives has polarized critics since its premier at The Cannes Film Festival where it simultaneously received a standing ovation and boos from the crowd.

Why you ask?

Well, to be frank, the film is brutal. Really, really brutal. The violence is so intense and confronting that when laid against the candy lit streets of Bangkok it is like getting your teeth knocked out with a neon baseball bat. So I can understand why some people have remarked that it has gone too far.

As with all Winding Refn films it is a feast for the eyes. Each visual is a stylized, fluoro dunked postcard that makes the incredible locations come alive in every frame. The actors are mesmerizing with Gosling channeling Brando and McQueen (as he did in Drive) and delivering yet another strong performance as a silent, resilient but flawed protagonist who says almost nothing throughout the movie but his mere presence seems to fill every frame.

Unlike most of the critics I liked Only God Forgives and I can understand the world that Winding Refn was trying to deliver. One of my favorite parts of the movie is the city of Bangkok itself, a backdrop of extremes, where poverty and desperation live side by side with wealth and privilege and no taboo seems too extreme to have a price. The city to me is almost like another actor on the screen, its untamed and exotic presence providing a palpable tension in every scene. 

I have spent quite a bit of time in Thailand and to me it is one of my favorite places in the world… and the food is incredible. I have had some of the best meals of my life there and its food culture is so distinctive and beautiful that is truly must be experienced to be believed.

The dish below is a dish I ate in a small village about 2 hours north of Bangkok. Its clean and fresh flavors were some of my favorite I experienced over there and while I know I could never do them justice, I have humbly tried my own take on this dish. I am sure only god will forgive me if I have stuffed it up!

Poached Fish Balls in a Ginger, Coriander and Chicken Soup with Rice Noodles and Bok Choy.

Serves 4.

 

Ingredients

For the Fish Balls

450g Firm White Fish (Snapper)

1 Tbsp. Ginger Finely Chopped

1 Tbsp. Coriander Finely Chopped

1 Tbsp. Red Chili Finely Chopped

1 Tbsp. Fish Sauce

1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

1 Tsp. Lime Juice

For the Soup

3 Liters Water

1 kg Chicken Bones (washed)

1 bunch Coriander Stalks

3 Spring Onions

2 Pieces of Ginger roughly chopped

2 Garlic Cloves

Pinch of Salt

200g Dried Rice Noodles

1 Bunch Bok Choy (Washed and Trimmed)

2 Stalks Spring Onions Finely Chopped (Garnish)

Handful of Coriander Leaves (Garnish)

Ginger Finely Shredded (Garnish)

Method

For the Fish Balls

  1. Add the fish to a food processor and mince until smooth.
  2. Add the Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce, Lime Juice and the finely copped Ginger, Coriander and Red Chili and blend briefly until smooth.
  3. Spoon mixture into a bowl and using wet hands roll a spoonful of the mixture into a marble sized ball. Repeat and store fish balls in refrigerator.

For the Soup

  1. Wash the chicken bones, place in large pot and cover with water.
  2. Bring to boil and skim.
  3. Drop to a simmer; add the ginger, garlic, coriander, spring onions and salt.
  4. Simmer for two hours skimming regularly to ensure there is no scum on the top of the soup.
  5. Strain the soup and place in the refrigerator, skimming off the remaining impurities and fat as it cools.

To Finish the Soup

  1. Heat the soup to boil and drop to a simmer.
  2. Add fish balls and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add Rice Noodles and cook until soft, then add the Bok Choy and cook for another 30 seconds.
  4. Place an equal amount of noodles in the bottom of the bowls then ladle the Soup, Fish Balls and Bok Choy on top.
  5. Garnish with Spring Onions, Coriander and Ginger.

Sep 01

GRAND THEFT AUTO V

                       

A collective sigh will be let out by millions of very satisfied gamers in September when the game everyone is waiting for is finally unleashed… Grand Theft Auto 5. That’s right, the relationship killing, job losing, time sucking, reality ignoring, RSI causing, controversy provoking, class cutting, ground breaking granddaddy of all open world games is back and ready to get us to cash in our sick days and sit bug eyed, slack jawed and drooling in front of our screens for the next year or so!

Now for those of you that have been living under a rock and have never heard of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, here’s a quick overview… Grand Theft Auto was released in 1997 to great success and was followed up in 1999 by GTA 2, which met with similar accolades. The series really became a global sensation when the 3D sandbox GTA 3 was released in 2001 and changed the way most gamers played and the way studios designed games. This was followed by the 80’s Scarface inspired GTA Vice City, the 90’s Boyz in the Hood inspired GTA San Andreas and the return to the parody of New York, Liberty City with a new engine and protagonist, Nico Bellic in GTA 4… and after over 15 years of joy riding on stolen school buses, blowing pedestrians up with rocket launchers and general anti-social behaviour comes the biggest and baddest of them all… Grand Theft Auto 5.

When I say biggest and baddest I mean it! The area for the new game is more than Red Dead Redemption, GTA 4 and San Andreas combined… which, if that wasn’t enough to already absolutely boggle the mind, we have also been informed that the ocean floor can now be fully explored which adds a whole new dimension to the game. 

Grand Theft Auto 5 is set in the familiar city of Los Santos (last seen in GTA San Andreas) and is inspired in part by one of the best missions in GTA 4 ‘Three Leaf Clover’, where the player takes part in a heist. This time there are three protagonists instead of one. Michael (a rich retired criminal), Trevor (a backwoods trailer trash psychopath) and Franklin (a repo man and aspiring street hustler) with the player being able to slip between them seamlessly during the gameplay.

The combat and driving mechanics have also had a full overhaul. Think Max Payne and Midnight Club, with a new inventory system and the ability to fully customize cars and weapons. New features include hunting, yoga, tennis, triathlons and even being able to invest in stocks. And then there is the graphics; if the screen shots released so far are anything to go by we are in for a visual smorgasbord with Rockstar taking the current generation of consoles to their absolute limit!

One of the features that sets Grand Theft Auto apart from its imitators is its razor sharp wit, which Rockstar brandishes and slashes at pop culture with gay abandon throughout the series. It’s in the radio stations and product parodies that showcase this the best. The products in the games have always intrigued me; from Burger Shot to Clucks Chicken, I have always enjoyed these little touches. So I was very intrigued when I saw a screen shot of a truck with the logo for a fast food chain called Up-N-Atom Burger on its side.

The logo and name bear a striking similarity to one of my all time favourites, In-n-Out Burger. For the fun of it I decided to create a menu item from this new Grand Theft Auto fast food franchise; I call it the Atomic Double Cheese Burger… and it has a sauce so spicy that it will cause you to cry both tears of joy and pain at the same time. I personally don’t think a Burger should consist of anything more than meat, bread, cheese, pickles and sauce… if you disagree please feel free to add your own little touches. But be warned, this sauce is like a nuclear explosion in your mouth… to tame it omit the Habanero Chillies from the recipe.

I am sure many players are going to take their time and explore all that Los Santos has to offer, perhaps even see if they can go in to Up-N-Atom Burger and get an Atomic Double Cheese Burger…  but if you’re like me, and the millions of sweats on Reddit you will be heading straight to the top of Mt Chiliad and finding out WTF is in the shack on top of the mountain! Hope to see you up there in September… 

Atomic Double Cheese Burger

Serves 2 

Ingredients

For The Double Cheese Burger

500g Pork Veal Mince (Make sure it is not too lean!)

4 Slices Red Leicester Cheese

2 Hamburger Buns

2 Generous Pinches of Salt

1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper

Polskie Ogórki Pickle Thickly Sliced

 

For the Atomic Sauce

Makes approx. 750ml

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Spanish Onion Chopped

5 Cloves Garlic Roasted

2 Tins Whole Peeled Tomatoes

75ml Ketchup

75ml Apple Cider Vinegar

75ml Worcestershire Sauce

110ml Molasses

3 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

5 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

3 Tbsp. Ancho Chilli Powder

3 Tbsp. Pasilla Chilli Powder

2 Chipotle Chillies

2 Dried Habanero Chillies

2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

60ml. Apple Juice

1 Cups Water

Salt

Pepper

 

For the Atomic Sauce

1.    Heat a griddle pan over medium heat, add the Chipotle and Habanero Chillies and cook until fragrant.

2.    Place Chillies in a medium size bowl and weigh down with a heavy object like a tin can and pour over boiling water till immersed. Soak for 30 minutes then remove and reserve.

3.    Heat oil in Pan and cook Onions till Caramelized and reserve.

  1. Roast garlic in a hot pan until skin has blackened and the garlic is soft. Remove from heat, skin and reserve.

5.    Dry roast Ancho and Pasilla Powder in a pan over a low heat until fragrant and reserve.

6.    In a Blender add Garlic, Chilli powders, Onions, Tomatoes, Ketchup, Red Wine Vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, Molasses, Dijon Mustard, Brown Sugar, Chipotle & Habanero Chillies, Soy Sauce, Apple Juice, Water and blend until smooth.

7.    Add to Saucepan, bring to boil and simmer stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick.

8.    Cook until the sauce has reduced by a third and it is nice and thick, approx. 30-45min. Season to taste.

9.    Press sauce through fine mesh strainer and cool, sauce should last a few weeks in the fridge.

 

For The Atomic Double Cheese Burger

1.    In a Medium Mixing Bowl add Pork Veal Mince, salt and pepper and mix together well.

2.    Form Meat into 4 x 125g gram patties.

3.    Heat a large fry pan with a splash of Olive Oil over a medium heat and add the patties. Cook until brown then flip over.

4.    Once cooked, turn off the heat, add a slice of cheese to each Pattie and cover the pan with a lid for approx. 60 seconds to allow cheese to melt.

5.    Stack the Patties onto the base of the Hamburger buns (lightly toast them first if you feel so inclined), add a generous amount of sliced pickles and slather the lid with the Atomic Sauce… serve with onion rings and a fire extinguisher!

HANNIBAL

 

When you think of villains that chill you to your absolute core, Hannibal Lector has to be near the top of most people’s lists. His clinically cold and calculating façade, barely containing the psychopathic beast lurking within ticks almost every box when it comes to what scares us the most. The horribly ironic concept of a doctor trusted with our mental health, who is in fact, actually insane and committing the ultimate in human taboos; cannibalism is almost too much for our poor fragile psyches to bear. Yet for some reason we cannot seem to get enough of him, so much so that he has been bought to life in four novels, five films, a TV series and voted number one in the American Film Institutes 100 Greatest Villains.

It was 1986 in the film Manhunter when most people got their first taste of Hannibal Lector. The character was played by Brian Cox and called “Lecktor” due to copyright issues over the character. The film was praised by the critics but did not fare well at the box office. Things changed very dramatically in 1991 when Silence of the Lambs was released with Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal. He not only owned the role and scared the ever-loving shit out of half the planet but also won the Academy Award for Best Actor among a myriad of others. When asked to describe his characterization of the good doctor he claimed to have used the characteristics of Katherine Hepburn and Hal 9000 from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hopkins would reprise the role again in 2001’s Hannibal and the 2002 Manhunter remake, Red Dragon. The film and book series came to a crashing halt in 2007 when the unbelievably bad Hannibal Rising was released and sounded the death knell for this character. Or at least, that’s what we thought… but this year a TV reboot hit our screens and it’s good. Really, really good.

Hannibal Season 1 is based on some of the characters and events featured or alluded to in the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon and follows the developing relationship between the then highly regarded forensic psychiatrist Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen) and FBI Special Investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Both Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy are superb in their respective roles and the supporting cast in nothing to be sneezed at with Laurence Fishburne as Special Agent-in-Charge Jack Crawford. The series was developed by Bryan Fuller (Heroes) and given a full season of 13 episodes on the strength of the script alone. Fuller plans for the show to run for seven seasons and to cover the books Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. I for one think this is a BRILLIANT idea… here’s hoping that the series makes it through to the end!

 Each episode of Hannibal is named after an element of French cuisine and for the ultimate in culinary creepiness über Chef, José Andrés, has been brought onto the series as a special “culinary cannibal consultant” to advise how Hannibal would prepare his special meals.

                       

Hannibal is visually beautiful yet brutal and extremely stylized with director and Executive Producer David Slade (30 Days of Night) tipping his hat in the first episode to both Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch. One of the most interesting touches is the visual interpretation of Will Graham’s ability to empathize and assume the emotional point of view of the serial killers he is pursuing. This is shown through Graham’s minds eye as he reconstructs the crime with himself in place of the real killer. It is the way this is used throughout the series that makes his ability to make deductive leaps more plausible when you are watching the show.

One of the most memorable quotes made by Hannibal Lector is in Silence of the Lambs when he tells Clarice Starling “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Now if you are going to do a dish based on Hannibal, you really can’t go past this one. Even though I decided to use calves liver instead of human I was still too freaked out to eat it when I was finished cooking…

Calves Liver with Confit Shallots, Fava Beans and a Chianti Sauce.

Serves 2 

Ingredients

2 x 100g Portions of Calves Liver

50g Flour (for dredging the Liver)

25g Butter

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil from Confit Shallots

Salt

Pepper

For the Fava Beans

1 Cup Shelled Fava Beans (Broad Beans)

25g Butter

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Ice

Salt

Pepper

For the Confit Shallots

250ml Olive Oil

4 Shallots peeled and trimmed

1 Sprig Rosemary

1 Sprig Thyme

2 Cloves Garlic

For the Chianti Sauce

100ml Chianti

250ml Veal Stock

1 Shallot

1 Clove Garlic Smashed

1 Tbsp. Butter

Method

For the Confit Shallots

1.    In a small saucepan heat the Olive Oil over a low heat and add the Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic and Shallots.

2.    Cook for approx. 30 minutes then remove the Shallots from the oil and drain on paper towels.

3.    Strain the Oil and reserve 2 Tablespoons to use for the Liver. Keep the rest for future use. 

For the Calves Liver

1.    In a medium fry pan heat Shallot Oil and Butter over high heat.

2.    Dredge the Liver in flour and shake off any excess.

3.    Add to pan and cook for approx. 2min on each side, the Liver should be medium rare.

4.    Remove from pan, season, cover and rest while you make the sauce.

For the Chianti Sauce

1.    Drop temperature to medium. Add Shallots and Garlic and cook for about a minute.

2.    Deglaze the pan with the Chianti scraping all the brown goodness from the bottom of the pan and reduce by half.

3.    Add Veal Stock, bring to boil and reduce by half until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

4.    Season and strain into a small saucepan. Bring to boil then remove from heat and whisk in the butter. Reserve.

For the Fava Beans

1.    Place a handful of ice cubes into a medium size bowl and fill halfway.

2.    In medium saucepan bring water to boil and add a good punch of salt. Add Fava Beans and cook for approx. 2 minutes.

3.    Strain beans and dunk into ice water to refresh and stop the cooking process.

4.    Peel the outer skin from the beans.

5.    Heat a small fry pan over a medium flame and melt together the butter and olive oil. Add Beans and sauté for 2 minutes or longer depending on your preference. Remove from heat, season and reserve. 

To Finish

1.    Spoon a generous serving of the Chianti Sauce in the middle of the plate.

2.    Add the Shallots and Fava Beans then nestle the Liver next to them.

3.     Serve at your next dinner party to unsuspecting Symphony Board members.

Aug 12

Justified Season 4 

Justified is back and we make a welcome return to the Bourbon soaked hollows of Harlan County Kentucky, where the OxyContin is oh-so-chic and the moonshine stills are always on the boil. The series is based on a short story called Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard and it follows US Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant); an always-gets-his-man old west type that shoots first, asks questions later and has a petulance for ice-cream.

After last season’s brutal finale, we follow Raylan as he investigates a 30-year-old unsolved murder while trying to control the feud between the Dixie Mafia and the Crowders that is threatening to boil over into all out war. A new player has also come to Harlan County in the form of a snake handling evangelist preacher. But is he getting the locals hooked on faith or something else?

There are so many reasons to love this show. The first, without doubt, is Timothy Olyphant. He approaches the character with such swagger and cool that you would think he was born a cowboy, and lets face it, not many people can pull off a ten-gallon hat as well as he does. The second is the myriad of supporting characters that inhabit the twisted world of Justified. From the whacked out, inbred meth cooks to the gun touting Aryan Nation nut jobs, the show personifies the trailer trash yokel to perfection. But with all the characters having wild beards, covered head to toe in tattoos and drinking Whiskey out of jars I was sometimes a little confused. Was watching backwoods Hillbillies or inner city Hipsters?

When it came time to think of a dish to cook for Justified I didn’t have to think too long, it had to be Southern Fried Chicken. I was however a little anxious about writing about it because while everyone can agree that they love fried chicken nobody can agree on how to cook it. There are books, blogs and TV debates all to do with this topic and all claiming to have the right recipe. And people can get really passionate about fried chicken; if you don’t believe me go to the comment section of some of the recipes posted on-line… I am pretty sure I saw somebody leave a death threat because the recipe called for using egg in the coating!

There are literally millions of variations on every step in the making of Southern Fried Chicken. From passionate home cooks to professional chefs you can hear debate on weather or not to marinate the chicken first, how it should be coated and with what spices and should it be cooked in an old iron skillet using lard or a pressure fryer using grapeseed oil or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… I am making myself bored just writing about it.

So just to be clear, I for one am not for one moment claiming to have the correct answer to the perfect Southern Fried Chicken. To prove this I have included two variants of the cooking method so as not to add fuel to an already out of control bonfire. But, if you have nothing to do and want to enrage some people on the Internet, please feel free to come up with your own recipe post it online and join this crazy debate.

 Southern Fried Chicken

Ingredients

1 Whole Chicken Jointed

1 Litre Butter Milk

1 Cup Flour

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp. Oregano Dried

1 Tsp. Thyme Dried

1 Tsp. Garlic Powder

1 Tsp. Onion Powder

1 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1 Tsp. Paprika

1 Litre Peanut Oil for Frying 

 Method

Make sure you buy a whole chicken for this recipe and not chicken pieces. You can either buy the chicken from your butcher and ask him to cut it up for you or you take it home and try jointing it yourself. Either way make sure that the thighs have been removed from the legs and the breasts have been cut in half with the wings removed.

Place the pieces skin side up in roasting pan and pour over the Butter Milk so the chicken is submerged. Refrigerate for at least two hours. I prefer to do this the day before and leave it in overnight.

Take the chicken from the fridge about an hour or so before cooking and remove the pieces from the Butter Milk letting stand at room temperature on a plate. Make sure the chicken is not cold… bad things can happen when you combine cold chicken and hot oil!

In a medium bowl add Flour, Salt, Black Pepper, Oregano, Thyme, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper, and Paprika and combine well.

Place the Chicken pieces one at a time into the bowl with the flour, mix and coat well. Remove and repeat until all of the Chicken is dusted.

For Deep Fried- Heat Deep fryer to 180 degrees Celsius, place 3-4 pieces in the basket and cook until the chicken has gone slightly blonde. Remove the basket from the oil; drop the temperature to 140 degrees Celsius and then cook for 12 minutes. Remove from oil and let stand for 15 – 20 minutes on a wire rack.

For Shallow Fried- In a high-sided fry pan add about 3-4 cm of oil ensuring that this is no higher than halfway up the side of the pan. On a high flame heat the oil to 180 degrees Celsius, add the Chicken to the pan then drop the flame to medium-low. Cook for approx. 6 minutes, turn the chicken over and cook for another 6 minutes. Remove from pan and let stand for 15 – 20 minutes on a wire rack.

Serve with mash potato, biscuits and gravy or anything else your heart desires!

 

 

 

Jun 06

Hoppin’ John with Black Beans and Speck with Buttermilk and Duck Fat Cornbread.

Ingredients

For the Hoppin’ John

150g Speck or Bacon cut into Batons

2 Cups of Rice

2 Cups of Chicken Stock

1 Can of Black Beans drained

1 Onion finely diced

1 Stalk of Celery finely diced

1 Capsicum finely diced

Jalapeño Chillies finely diced

3 Cloves of Garlic peeled

3 Tomatoes roughly chopped

3 Spring Onions Chopped

1 Bay Leaf

¾ Tsp. Cumin

1 Tbsp. Salt

¼ Tsp. Garlic Powder

½ Tsp. Paprika

¼ Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

¼ Tsp. Onion Powder

¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper

¼ Tsp. Dried Thyme

¼ Tsp. Dried Oregano

¼ Tsp. Dried Chilli Flakes

40mls Vegetable Oil

 

For the Cornbread

6 Tbsp. Duck Fat

1 ½ Cups Buttermilk

1 Cup of Cornmeal (Polenta)

¾ Cup of Flour

1 ½ Tsp. Baking Powder

½ Tsp. Bicarb Soda

1 ½ Tbsp. Sugar

½ Tsp. Salt

2 Eggs Beaten

30g Butter to grease the pan

 

Method

For the Cornbread

1.    Heat Conventional oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Celsius for Fan Forced.

2.    Grease a Medium Baking Dish or Cast Iron Skillet with the Butter.

3.    Grab two large bowls, in the first add the Cornmeal, Flour, Baking Powder, Bicarb Soda, Sugar and Salt and mix together.

4.    In the second add the Eggs, Duck Fat and Buttermilk and combine.

5.    Add the wet mixture to the dry and fold through ensuring there are no dry bits and the mix stays lumpy.

6.    Pour into Dish or Skillet and put it into the oven for about 20 minutes. The top should be golden and the bread cooked through.

7.    Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes then cut into squares.

For the Hoppin’ John

1.    Add the Cumin, Salt, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Black Pepper, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Dried Oregano, Dried Thyme and Chilli Flakes to a small fry pan over a low heat and roast until fragrant. Remove from heat and reserve.

2.    Add Rice, Chicken Stock, Spice Mix, Garlic and Bay Leaf to a saucepan or rice cooker and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked. Remove Bay Leaf and Garlic cover and reserve.

3.    Add half the oil to a large pan over a low heat and add the Onion, Jalapeño Chillies and Capsicum cooking slowly until soft then add Tomatoes, Black Beans and cook stirring occasionally.

4.    In a separate pan add the remainder of the oil and fry the Speck over a medium heat. When the Speck has browned add the Spring Onions, cook for about a minute and add to the pan with the Tomato mixture.

5.    Add the Rice to the pan and combine well, season and serve while piping hot with a generous splash or three of Hot Sauce and the Cornbread on the side.

May 14

CRAWFISH BOIL

Ingredients

For the Boil

10 Yabbies

2 Mud Crabs

10 Prawns

4 Desiree Potatoes

3 Ears of Corn (Shucked and cut in Half)

6 Andouille Sausages chopped into chunks (or Chorizo if you prefer)

For the Stock

1 Tbsp. White Pepper

1 Tbsp. Black Pepper Corns Whole

1 Tbsp. Coriander Seeds

2 Tbsp. Whole Cloves

2 Tbsp. All Spice

4 Big pinches of Salt

4 Tbsp. Cayenne Pepper

2 Tbsp. Paprika

1 Tbsp. Dried Thyme

1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano

1 Tbsp. Mustard Seeds

1 Tbsp. Dill

2 Bay Leaves

2 Tomatoes Chopped

2 Onions Chopped

2 Celery Stalks Chopped

To Finish  

1 Bottle of Hot Sauce

2 Lemons

Equipment

1 Large Pot with Mesh Strainer (at least 10 liters) or wire mesh scoop.

Method

1.    If the Crab or Yabbies are alive place in a large bowl cover with lots of ice and add water until they are put to sleep.

2.    Fill the Large Pot with water (ensuring you leave enough room not to boil over when you add the ingredients) and bring to boil.

3.    Add all of the ingredients for the stock, put in the Mesh Strainer (if you are using one), drop the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 40 minutes.

4.    Remove lid and increase the heat to a rolling boil. Add the Potatoes and the corn and depending on size cook for approx. 10 minutes.

5.    Add the Mud Crab and the Sausage and cook for five minutes.

6.    Add the Prawns and the Yabbies and cook for a further five minutes.

7.    If you are using a Mesh Strainer, turn off the heat, remove strainer and allow to drain then layout the food out on some newspaper. If you a re using a wire mesh scoop you will have to fish out the Potatoes, Corn, Sausage, Crab, Yabbies and Prawns.

8.    Now the best part… cover everything in Lemon and Hot Sauce, crack those crab claws open and get eating!!!

 

 

Mar 01

Roast Pork Belly with a Fig, Red Apple and Pear Cider Chutney

Ingredients 

For the Roast Pork Belly

1.5 Kg Pork Belly (Unscored)

Salt

1 Disposable Razor (without lubricating strip)

For the Fig, Red Apple and Pear Cider Chutney

750ml Pear Cider

125ml Red Wine Vinegar

150g Brown Sugar

1 Red Onion Diced

1 Knob of Ginger Finely Diced

¼ of a Lemon Zest

1 Cinnamon Stick

3 Tsp. Salt

½ Tsp. Ground Allspice

¼ Tsp. Ground Cloves

350g Figs (Quartered with Stems Removed)

3 Red Apples Diced

1 Tbsp. Leatherwood Honey

 

Method

For the Roast Pork Belly

1.    Place Pork Belly skin side up on a chopping board and shave off any hairs with the disposable razor.

2.    Place Belly into a colander and pour boiling water onto the skin until it shrinks and retracts.

3.    Place Pork Belly back on chopping board and with a small knife or carving fork poke hundreds of holes into the skin, making sure you get a good coverage across the surface.

4.    Grab a handful of Sea Salt and sprinkle over the top of the skin, cover and put in the fridge for at least a couple of hours but if you can leave it over night.

5.     Remove Pork from fridge and place skin side down on a wire rack in a roasting tray.

6.    Heat over to 220 Degrees Celsius and then add the Pork Belly cooking for 25-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat.

7.    Remove tray from the oven and flip the meat over and cook skin side up for 25 minutes.

8.    Remove meat from the oven and crank the grill up to full.

9.    When very hot place the roasting tray underneath and cook until skin in crispy, should take about 5 min.

1 Rest for 15 minutes and cut up into bite size pieces.

 

For the Fig, Red Apple and Pear Cider Chutney

1.    Heat a small frypan over a low heat and gently roast the Allspice, Cloves and Cinnamon stick until fragrant. Remove from heat and reserve.

2.    Heat a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat and add the Apples, Onions, Ginger and Figs cooking until lightly coloured.

3.    Add the Pear Cider, Red Wine Vinegar, Salt, Sugar, Lemon Zest, Spices and honey, stir well and bring to boil.

4.    Drop temperature to low and cover. Cook for approx. 1 hour, stirring every 20 min.

5.    Remove lid and cook for a further 30 minutes or until reduced to Chutney consistency ensuring you stir every few minutes towards the end so it does not catch.

6.    Remove Cinnamon Stick and allow too cool to room temperature.

7.    And now the best bit… grab a piece of the Pork Belly, put a spoonful of Chutney on top and proceed to make a total pig of yourself!

Feb 18

Salt and Pepper Whitebait with Dried Chillies and a Smoked Capsicum Mayonnaise

Ingredients

500g Whitebait

200g Flour

1 Tbsp. Sea Salt

1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper

1 Tbsp. Dried Chilli

1 Litre of Peanut Oil for frying

1 Lime

2 Spring Onion Stalks

 

For the Smoked Capsicum Mayonnaise

1 Egg Yolk

125ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

75ml Red Wine Vinegar

1 Capsicum

1 Tsp. Smoked Paprika

Salt

 

Method

For the Smoked Capsicum Mayonnaise

1.    Heat Oven to 180 Degrees Celsius

2.    Cut Capsicum into quarters and remove stem and seeds

3.    Roast Capsicum until soft and the skin is blackened and peel off the skin

4.    Add the Capsicum and Paprika to a blender and puree until smooth. Reserve.

5.    In a bowl add Egg Yolk, Mustard and Red Wine Vinegar and whisk together.

6.    While whisking slowly add the oil in a thin stream until the mixture is emulsified.

7.    Add the Capsicum Puree and mix together well, season to taste and reserve.

 

For the Salt and Pepper Whitebait with Dried Chillies

 

1.    Using a Mortar and Pestle crush up the Salt, Pepper and Chilli. Reserve.

2.    Thinly slice up Spring Onions. Reserve.

3.    Put the Whitebait into a colander, rise well and pat dry.

4.    Dredge in flour and shake off any excess.

5.    Heat the oil in a pot to approx. 190 degrees Celsius. If you don’t own a thermometer to check the temp put one of the Whitebait in… should take about 90seconds to go golden brown.

6.    When the oil is at the right temperature carefully add the Whitebait and cook for approx. 90 seconds.

7.    Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

8.     To serve add the Smoked Capsicum Mayonnaise to a bowl, season the Whitebait with the Salt Chilli mix and garnish with Spring Onions and a squeeze of Lime Juice.

Pumpkin Pie

My wife is from Canada and this is one of her family’s favourites… I decided to win some points with her parents early on and learn how to make it! Great dessert for the silly season after eating lots of Turkey!

 

For Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 small butternut pumpkin

4 eggs

½ cup white sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 tbsp molasses

1 tsp dried ginger

½ tsp dried cloves

½tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 can of evaporated milk

 

For the Shortcrust Pastry

1 cup (250g) plain flour

125g unsalted butter, chilled and finely chopped

1 egg, chilled

1 tbsp icing sugar

pinch of salt

 

For the Dough

  1. Process flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. In a bowl whisk 1 egg and 1 tbsp chilled water until combined, and then with food processor motor running, add to flour mixture. Process until mixture begins to form large clumps, stopping machine before mixture forms a ball.
  3. Turn pastry out on to a work surface and knead gently to bring together. Form into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

 

For the Filling

  1. Peel and core pumpkin.
  2. Cut up into small pieces and steam until soft.
  3. In a dry fry pan heat the dried ginger, dried cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon until fragrant. Reserve.
  4. Set the pumpkin aside to cool, and then place in a food processor with the dried ginger, dried cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon and process to combined.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together 4 eggs and the white and brown sugar. Then add pumpkin mix, molasses and evaporated milk and whisk together vigorously until combined.
  6. Let sit for 1 hour covered in the fridge, but overnight is even better!

To Finish the Pie

  1. Heat the oven to 220 C.
  2. Grease a pie dish and roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface.
  3. Line the pie dish with the pastry; ensuring it is pressed down in the corners.
  4. Trim away any excess edges and prick the entire bottom of the pastry gently with a fork.
  5. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the pie dish from the fridge and place a sheet of baking paper in the centre of the dish, fill with rice and blind bake for 8 minutes.
  7. Remove the paper and weights, and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the pie from the oven and add the pumpkin mixture to the pie shell ensuring it evenly distributed.
  9. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C and bake for one hour or until the filling is set.
  10. Set aside to cool then indulge in the silly season and dig in!