Food That Rocks

Aug 14

Community Season 4

Six seasons and a movie. 

If you’re a fan of Community you will be very familiar with Abed’s catchcry. If you haven’t seen Community (and judging by the show’s ratings you probably haven’t) you may have missed one of the best comedies seen on TV over the past few years. Sadly like other shows that posses the same self-referential razor sharp wit (I’m talking about you Arrested Development) they have only been able to develop a cult following and struggled to find a wider audience. The problem with having a cult audience is that despite almost universal critical acclaim and industry awards, shows like this become casualties of television rating wars. After five seasons Community lost that fight and was officially cancelled on May 19th 2014. All I can say is that decision was very streets behind!

On the other hand, the great thing about having a cult audience is you have a handful of almost scarily obsessive fans that refuse to to accept the networks decision (Star Trek, Arrested Development) about their beloved program and have raised their extremely loud voices in protest. Since its cancellation a couple of months ago, Community fans have kicked up an almighty stink online, so much so it is rumoured Hulu is in talks with Sony Pictures to do what Netflix did with Arrested Development last year and realize its six seasons and a movie destiny.

Now that idea is streets ahead! 

So, with season four finally being released on DVD in Australia (seriously guys… long time overdue) I am going to catch you up with the show so we can avoid the same thing happening all over again.

Community is a show that is as much about it’s meta-humoured, pop culturally infused stories as it is about the off kilter, denizen of oddball characters and the weird little world that they inhabit. The show follows the bizarre and hilarious adventures of the students and faculty that attend Greendale Community College, a school run by an avid cross dresser, Dean Craig Pelton (Jim Rash), which offers a wide variety of seemingly useless courses, holds a incredible number of school dances and has a school flag modeled on what looks suspiciously like an anus. 

The series focuses on a group of students who are referred to as the Study Group comprising of Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), a silver-tongued, womanizing narcissist ex- lawyer, Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), an outspoken and opinionated activist, Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), a film student who seems almost aware that he is in fact the subject of a TV show, Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), a single mother and vocal Christian, Annie Edison (Alison Brie), a compulsive over-achiever, Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), a former high school star quarterback and Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase), a moist towelette millionaire and casual bigot. 

The fourth season sees some massive changes both on and off the screen and none of them are for the better. The biggest loss is the unfortunate departure of Chevy Chase as a main cast member as well as frequent episode directors and executive producers Anthony and Joe Russo who leave to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What is perhaps the most perplexing change however, is the firing of show creator and runner Dan Harmon, whose real life experiences at a community college is what the show is based on (don’t worry, he will be back for Season 5). Despite all of these changes Season 4 still delivers, all be it sometimes not quite to the level of the seasons before.

The great thing about the show is that you never quite know what you’re going to get with an episode of Community. An innocent game of Paintball spirals out of control into a school wide war and parody of Sergio Leone style Spaghetti Westerns, Abed’s mental breakdown at Christmas turns into a stop motion, musical version of The Polar Express and an argument about the merits of constructing a blanket fort or pillow fort morphs into a parody of American Civil War documentaries while referencing films like Inglorious Basterds and Rambo.

One of the better examples of the show’s crazed Meta referencing of TV and movies is seen best in the Season1 episode, Contemporary American Poultry. It follows the Study Group’s frustration about Chicken Fingers always being sold out at the cafeteria. This simple problem soon becomes an homage to Mafia films with the episode managing to reference Goodfellas, American Gangster, Mean Streets and the Godfather as well as Sixteen Candles, Predator, Knight Rider, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Gate thrown in for good measure. Not bad for a show with a running time of approx. 22 minutes.

 It was a no brainer to recreate this Study Group favorite… they are really easy to cook so make a massive serve, settle in for a 4 series marathon and get ready to channel your inner Greendale Human Being!

Greendale Cafeteria Chicken Fingers

Crispy Chicken Strips with homemade Roast Garlic & Red Wine Ketchup

Serves a hungry Study Group

Ingredients

For the Roast Garlic & Red Wine Vinegar Ketchup

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Knob of Ginger minced

1 Onion

2 Tins of Tomatoes

1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste

1 Red Capsicum

½ Cup Brown Sugar

¾ Cup Red Wine Vinegar

½ Cup Water

1 Tbsp. Sea Salt

1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper

For the Chicken Fingers

2 Chicken Breasts

3 Eggs Beaten

1 Cup Flour

2 Cups Panko Crumbs

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

For the Roast Garlic & Red Wine Vinegar Ketchup

  1. Heat Oven to 180 degrees Celsius
  2. On a greased baking tray place unpeeled Garlic, a peeled Onion cut in half and de-seeded and stemmed Capsicum cut in half.
  3. Roast until Garlic soft, Onions browned and Capsicum blackened and soft. Remove from oven.
  4. Place Capsicum into plastic bag and sweat for 5 minutes. Peel skin.
  5. To a blender add peeled Garlic, Onion, Capsicum, Minced Ginger, Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, Sugar, Red Wine Vinegar, Water Salt and Pepper and blend until ingredients are pureed.
  6. Place a fine mesh strainer over a sauce pan and in small batches pass the Ketchup mixture through, pressing with plastic spatula.
  7. Place saucepan over medium heat until mixture comes to simmer then drop to low stirring every 15 minutes.
  8. Reduce mixture by half or until it becomes thick. Season to taste and reserve in fridge. Ketchup should keep for a week or two if stored properly.

 For the Chicken Fingers

  1. Place the chicken breast on a non-porous cutting board and cut carefully down the long side of the chicken. Cut until halved and then lay out flat. Repeat on second chicken breast.
  2. Place baking paper over the chicken breast and using the flat side of a meat tenderizer gently pound the thicker end of the breast so it has a uniform thickness (this ensures an even cook).
  3. Cut into strips and reserve.
  4. Place three medium bowls on work surface adding Flour to one, Beaten Eggs to the other and Panko Crumbs, Salt, Black Pepper, Oregano, Thyme, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper, and Paprika to the third ensuring the spices and Panko Crumb Mix is combined well.
  5. Place the Chicken pieces one at a time into the bowl with the Flour, mix and coat well, then dunk into the Eggs and then into the Panko Crumb Mix ensuring they are well coated. Repeat with the rest of the Chicken strips and reserve.
  6. 6.   For Deep Fried- Heat Deep fryer to 180 degrees Celsius, place 3-4 pieces in the basket and cook until golden brown. Make sure you test one and check they are cooked through; raw chicken is not good to eat! Remove from oil and let stand for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
  7. 7.   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 and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from oil, check to see if cooked through and let stand for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
  8. Serve with the homemade Ketchup and all 4 seasons of Community!

 

Arrested Development Season 4

One of the great things about shows with fans who border on obsessive compulsive is that when short sighted television executives make bad decisions and cancel their favourite programs their unwavering devotion to the cause will normally right this wrong and get the program back on the air. Thankfully this was the case with Arrested Development.

Like so many other shows, after 3 seasons Arrested Development was axed during it’s its prime in 2006 due to less than stellar ratings. Arrested Development had never been able to crack a large primetime audience but ironically was nominated for dozens of awards and won a slew of trophies including multiple Emmys and a Golden Globe.

Over the years after the cancellation there were fleeting rumours of a reunion circulating around in the ether, based on random comments by cast members or series creator Mitchell Hurwitz. But alas, nothing ever seemed to come to pass and hopes started to fade that a Bluth family reunion would ever happen.

But in 2011 the rumour mill went into overdrive when it was reported that Netflix was looking at commissioning new episodes to air on its video streaming service. And then finally, after 7 long years, the Bluths were back with the long awaited fourth season in 2013.

The question is, was it worth the wait?

 The answer is…. HELL YES! Time has not dulled the razor sharp wit of the show; in fact it has probably honed it.

The strength of Arrested Development has always been its cast and the wonderfully eccentric characters they portray, as the shows detailed universe is the perfect backdrop for its hilariously ludicrous plot lines. It was a great relief to see all of the original cast back, but if you are a novice to Arrested Development here is a quick (albeit slightly complicated) introduction to the shows central family, The Bluths. 

Jason Bateman portrays the perpetual nice guy and straight man Michael Bluth who has an equally nice but slightly sexually confused son George Michael (Michael Cera). Michael has two brothers, one a former Hot Cop stripper and part time Magician named G.O.B. (that’s George Oscar Bluth and pronounced Job… as in the biblical character) who is played by Will Arnett and the other is a sheltered and neurotic “Motherboy” nicknamed Buster (Tony Hale). His sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) is a self-absorbed crusading activist who is unhappily married to her never-nude, psychiatrist come aspiring actor husband, Tobias Fünke (David Cross) and they are parents to a teenage Hollywood movie mogul named Maybe (Alia Shawkat). Michael’s parents are George Snr. (Jeffery Tambor), a corrupt developer and founder of the religious motivation tape series “Caged Wisdom” and Lucille (Jessica Walter) a Machiavellian alcoholic who takes great pride in manipulating the lives of her children. The cast of the show is rounded out by numerous morally questionable characters including Henry Winkler as the incompetent, rest-stop frequenting family attorney, Barry Zuckerkorn, and the show’s narrator, Ron Howard. 

The 15-episode new season is set several years after the conclusion of season three and is a radical departure from the previous seasons’ format. As only the brilliantly meta Arrested Development could do, the show now focuses in on one individual character each episode with every episode in the season happening at the same time within the show’s universe. The story follows a now distant and scattered Bluth family who are all continuing their slide from riches into rags until Michael, who is a failed real estate developer, attempts to reunite the Bluth’s in a movie project based on the families past scandals. The story unfolds through each character’s own thread as the series jumps between seemingly unrelated plot lines that somehow inexplicably intersect… hang on, does that make sense? Anyway, to put it simply Arrested Development season 4 is nothing short of brilliant and definately benefits from a binge watch, so take my advice and strap yourself in for a weekend on the couch.

If you are a fan of the show you will know there are lots of dishes unique to the Arrested Development world that are just crying out to be made including; Anne Veal’s make in your mouth Mayonegg (Jason Bateman’s face in that scene still makes me laugh), the illegal and extremely dangerous Cornballer and the somewhat fatal and totally revolting Chicken in Chicken Sauce (a raw defrosted chicken breast floating in its own juice). Serving uncooked Chicken is probably not the best thing to write about so I decided to play it safe and settled on Lindsay Bluth’s “Hot Ham Water” from the season 3 Episode S.O.B. However, when they make the next season or even better the movie, I am definitely breaking out the Cornballer!

Lindsay Bluth’s Hot Ham Water

Roast Pork Soup with Ham Hock, Bitter Winter Greens and Pickled Mustard Seeds.

Ingredients

For the Stock

3 Litres of Water

2 Carrots

5 Cloves of Garlic

2 Stalks Celery

1 Onion

1 kg Pork Bones

1 tbsp. Fennel Seeds

1 tbsp. Black Pepper Corns

30mls White Wine

Pinch of Salt 

For the Hot Ham Water

1 Ham Hock

1 Bunch of Winter Greens (Spinach, Kale and Mustard Greens are all good)

For the Pickled Mustard Seeds

125g Mustard Seeds

1 tbsp. Salt

2 tbsp. Brown Sugar

1 tbsp. Fish Sauce

1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

¼ Cup White Vinegar

¼ Cup Water

Method

For the Pickled Mustard Seeds

  1. Add the Mustard Seeds, Salt, Brown Sugar, Fish Sauce, Apple Cider Vinegar, White Vinegar and water to a Saucepan and bring to boil over a medium heat.
  2. Once boiled remove from heat and allow the Mustard Seeds to absorb the liquid.
  3. Place the Saucepan back on the heat and bring to boil.
  4. Remove from heat and store in sterilized Jars. Let them sit in the fridge for about a week before using them.

For the Stock

  1. Pre-Heat Oven to 180 degrees Celsius and lightly oil a baking tray.
  2. Roughly chop the Celery, Onion, Carrot
  3. Add the Ham Hock, Water, Celery, Fennel Seeds, Black Peppercorns and Salt to a large Saucepan, cover and place over high heat.
  4. Place the Pork Bones, Onion, Carrot and Garlic onto the baking tray cook for approx. 20 minutes, remove the Garlic and roast for a further 20 minutes.
  5. Add the Onion, Carrot, Pork Bones and Garlic to the Saucepan and deglaze the baking tray with the Wine ensuring you scrape all of the brown from the bottom. Reduce until there is only a couple of tablespoons of liquid left and add to Saucepan.
  6. Bring the Saucepan to boil and then reduce to a simmer and skim the foam that accumulates on the surface then cook covered for one hour.
  7. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid by about a third.
  8. Remove the Ham Hock, discard the skin and fat and reserve the meat.
  9. Strain the Stock through a fine mesh strainer into and large bowl and press through all of the juices with the end of a ladle & reserve the Stock.

For the Hot Ham Water

  1. Break the Ham Hock into bite sized pieces and add to the strained stock.
  2. Bring the Soup to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for a further 40 minutes uncovered.
  3. Add Winter Greens and cook for a further 10 minutes and season with Salt and Pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with a generous amount of Ham Hock and Winter Greens in every bowl and top off with a teaspoon of the Pickled Mustard Seeds.

 

 

Jun 15

It is a wonderful time to be alive if you are a fan of television. The medium that once played second fiddle to cinema, its glitzier, big budget brother, has stepped out of the shadows and into the spotlight these last few years with programming that is nothing short of riveting. You would think with top tier shows like Breaking Bad ending and Mad Men coming to a conclusion this year that choice would be a little on the slim side when it came to quality viewing in TV land. But it is, in fact, just the opposite. TV is going from strength to strength with new shows like House of Cards and Fargo quickly rising to fill the gaps left by their predecessors. And then there is True Detective. What an INCREDIBLE experience. 

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away to anyone who hasn’t seen this show, so in short True Detective follows Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), two Louisiana State Detectives who are both seemingly at odds with the world around them and totally at odds with each other. Thrown together as partners, they investigate a series of gruesome ritualistic killings in what appears to be an open and shut case. But as we follow them through two interconnected timelines, seventeen years apart, they start to unravel a scenario a thousand times more depraved, horrifying and unimaginable than anyone ever thought possible. 

If you haven’t seen True Detective, camp out at your local JB Hi-Fi the night before release so you can get your hands on the first available copy.

Go home and watch every episode back to back, you will thank me, I promise you.

This 8-part, critically acclaimed drama makes perfect use of television’s long form medium, utilizing it to create a truly immersive and engrossing viewing experience; perfectly paced and drawing the viewer in with each reveal and event. The entire show is written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga who both serve as the show’s Executive Producers. It is this unbroken collaboration and vision throughout the season that helps deliver the level of intensity and dramatic tension throughout the show. This can been cited best in the six minute long take at the end of Episode Four, a chase scene so well constructed and executed that it leaves you breathless by its conclusion.

The cast is perfect with deserved praise going to the two lead actors who are nothing short of brilliant. Who would have ever thought that Woody, the dim bartender from Cheers and the pot smoking, high school girl lovin’ Wooderson from Dazed and Confused would end up being so damn incredible!

The show has it roots in detective pulp fiction magazines and Showrunner Nic Pizzolatto cites writing influences as diverse as the 1895 novel The King in Yellow, the works of several well-known nihilistic philosophers and cult horror author Thomas Logotti. The series is planned to run in an anthology format so prepare yourselves for a new cast, city and killer when Season 2 goes into production. 

I was originally going to make a classic Louisiana style dish to go along with the series but I noticed something unusual and totally awesome in one of the final episodes of the season, which changed the direction of the food I was going to cook. In this particular scene, the detectives Hart and Cohle are sitting and arguing about the case while having lunch and a couple of beers in what appears to be a run down highway diner. As the scene progresses however I noticed a bottle of Sriracha Chili Sauce on the table and a tiny, old Vietnamese lady serving the customers what appears to be Vietnamese Pork Rolls. This is not what I would expect to see two cops chomping down on in a highway truck stop in rural Louisiana. This wonderfully random moment was a totally unexpected touch and as the rule goes, once you see somebody eating one of these you must have one straight away! I am sure anyone that has enjoyed one of these to die for gastronomical delights will agree with me, and for those who haven’t had the pleasure… they’re the reason you see lines 50 people deep outside of Vietnamese Bakeries at lunchtime!

Bánh mì pâté ch thịt

Roast Pork Belly Baguette with Pork Liver Pâté, Pickled Carrot, Cucumber, Coriander and Fresh Hot Chilies.

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Feeds 4 True Detectives

Ingredients

For the Roast Pork Belly

800g Pork Belly (Unscored)

Salt

1 Disposable Razor (without lubricating strip)

For the Pickled Carrot

2 Carrots Peeled and Grated

1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

1/3 Cup White Vinegar

4 Tbsp. Fish Sauce 

To Finish

4 White Baguettes from Vietnamese Bakery (No exceptions on this!!!)

4 Red Thai Chillies finely chopped

1 Bunch Coriander

1 Cucumber sliced lengthways into thin strips

Pork Liver Pâté (store bought is fine)

Maggi Seasoning (available at most Asian Grocers)

Mayonnaise

Sriracha Chili Sauce (Optional)

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 oven 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 is crispy, should take about 5 minutes.
  10. Rest for 15 minutes and cut up into bite size pieces.

For the Pickled Carrot

  1. Place Grated Carrot into a heat proof sealable container
  2. In a small saucepan add the sugar, vinegar and fish sauce and heat over a medium flame stirring constantly.
  3. When pickling liquor is almost at boil pour over the carrot, mix well and refrigerate.
  4. Remember to strain before use. Keep any excess pickled carrot in the fridge.

To Finish

  1. Cut the Baguettes in half and slather one side with Mayo and the other with the Pork Liver Pâté.
  2. Add the Cucumber and Pickled Carrot.
  3. Stuff in as much Pork Belly as is humanly possible.
  4. Season generously with the Maggi Seasoning and top with Thai Chillies and Coriander and for those who like it extra hot some Sriracha Chili Sauce.
  5. Now the best bit, enjoy. Try and see if you can stop at one… I bet you can’t!

 

Eastbound & Down Season 4

He’s just an ordinary guy with exceptional hair. 

Yes that’s right, the legend of Kenny Powers comes to a close with this, the fourth and final instalment of the unbelievable series Eastbound and Down.

In case you have been living under a rock and have not taken the time to watch this awesome show let me take a moment to get you up to speed… Danny McBride plays Kenny Powers; a drug fuelled, steroid abusing ex-baseball player with a magnificent curly mullet and the fringe jacket to match. Kenny’s’ arm is like a rocket but his arrogant, slightly racist and totally homophobic attitude sees him fall from the heights of professional Baseball superstardom to the lows of living in his brother’s spare room and taking a temp job as a PE teacher at his old high school.

The first three series are filled with heart warming adventures including Kenny ditching his pregnant high school sweetheart at a gas station, Kenny starting a cock fighting ring in Mexico, Kenny abandoning his new born child to play minor league baseball and Kenny generally acting like a total piece of s*#t. Now, you would not be blamed for thinking that Kenny Powers, who is hardly a likable character, would not be funny to watch. But there is just something that makes you come back for more… like David Brent in the original series of The Office or Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, you cringe along with every one of his horrible social interactions and laugh at every one of his horrible life and wardrobe choices.

Series four sees Kenny Powers giving up his pursuit of the high life and settling down in suburbia with his long suffering love, April (Katy Mixon) and their two children. While many people would be content to live in the warm bubble of domestic bliss, Kenny hates it and soon starts to act out. But when fate comes knocking on the door one last time in the form of a chance to be a guest on a sports chat show panel, Kenny calls up his devoted sidekick, Stevie Janowski (Steve Little), ditches his wife and kids and dusts off his ego for one final shot at Kenny Powers fuelled glory.

The real life adventures and antics of Major League baseball players John Rocker and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams (wouldn’t you be proud to have been them!!!) served as the inspiration for the series which boasts one of the most amazing recurring casts around, including Will Ferrell, John Hawkes, Don Johnson, Adam Scott and Matthew McConaughey. But Eastbound and Down belongs to Danny McBride who owns every on screen moment from the bottom of his G-string tanned ass to the tips of his jerry curled mullet. 

I recently read an interview with Danny McBride where he talks about what Kenny Powers may like to eat. And of course… it was Buffalo Wings. So I decided to take a page out of one of Kenny Powers’ many autobiographies and pull on some cowboy boots, frizz out the mullet, take a step back from being extraordinary and cook me a platter of good ole’ fashion Buffalo Wings…. 

Kenny ‘F*#king’ Powers Awesome as S*#t Buffalo Wings

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Serves Kenny Powers and no one else

Ingredients

For The Wings

1 kg Chicken Wings chopped in half (tips and drumettes)

1 cup Corn Flour

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper

1 tsp. Garlic Powder

1 tsp. Onion Powder

1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1 tsp. Coriander Powder

Peanut Oil for Deep Frying

For the Buffalo Wing Sauce

5 Cloves Roasted Garlic

1 tin Whole Peeled Tomatoes

3 Guajillo Chillies

1 Ancho Chilli

1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

½ tbsp. Cayenne Pepper

1 lime squeezed

2 tbsp. Molasses

½ tsp. Garlic Powder

½ tsp. Onion Powder

1 tbsp. Raw Sugar

1 tsp. Smoked Paprika

Salt & Pepper to taste

To Finish

2 Stalks Celery cut into sticks

Blue Cheese Dressing

Method

For the Buffalo Wing Sauce

  1. Heat a griddle pan over a medium to high heat and roast the Garlic, Ancho and Guajillo Chillies until the Chillies become fragrant.
  2. Remove Chillies from griddle and place into a large bowl. Heat a kettle and pour boiling water over the chillies submerging them with a weight (a large can does nicely). Set a timer for 30 minutes.
  3. Continue cooking the garlic until it becomes soft then remove from heat and peel. Place garlic in blender with the tin of tomatoes, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lime Juice and Molasses
  4. In a small frypan over a low heat add the Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Garlic Powder and Onion powder and cook until fragrant. Remove from heat and add to contents of the blender.
  5. After the Chillies have soaked for 30 minutes remove from the water onto a chopping board and de-stem.
  6. Add Chillies to blender and puree for 10-second intervals until the mixture is combined well.
  7. Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium sauce pan and in small batches strain the mixture into the saucepan pressing through the liquid with a flat rubber spatula. Repeat until all the mixture is through. Discard solids left in the sieve.
  8. Place the saucepan over a medium heat until it starts to boil then reduce to a gentle simmer. Add raw sugar and stir through well. Reduce by approx. ¼ and season to taste. Reserve.

For The Wings 

  1. In a large bowl combine Corn Flour, Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper, and Coriander Powder and mix together well.
  2. Pat the Chicken drumettes and tips dry and place into the bowl in batches ensuring they are well coated with the Corn Flour mixture. Dust off and reserve on a large plate. Repeat until all the Chicken is coated.
  3. Heat oil for frying to 180 Degrees Celsius in a large high walled pan (a Wok works great for deep frying) or a Deep Fryer.
  4. Cook the chicken in small batches for between 7 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the piece. When done remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the Chicken is complete.

To Finish the Buffalo Wings

  1. Using a basting brush coat all of the Chicken in the Wing Sauce and serve with Celery Sticks and Blue Cheese Dressing.

May 06

Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina… or at least that’s what Ron Burgundy would have you believe. Now whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but I like to think it is. 

Yes that’s right, after way too many years between drinks Will Ferrell is back as anchorman Ron Burgundy… the news reading, scotch drinking legend with perfect hair and the suits to match. Picking up from where we left off in the first movie Ron and his ladylove Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are now in New York, living the dream and reading the news. But when Veronica is promoted to anchor the network news and Ron is fired he returns to San Diego to rebuild his life. Things go from bad to worse for Ron but just when he hits rock bottom he gets one more chance at redemption, so he assembles his news team and heads back to New York to read the news on the first 24 hour news station, GNN.

The thing that is great about this movie is the cast and the chemistry they all obviously share. David Koechner returns as the sexually confused sports commentator, Champ Kind. Steve Carell as the sweetly stupid weatherman, Brick Tamland (he loves lamp), and Paul Rudd as investigative journalist and sex panther, Brian Fantana. You can genuinely feel how funny it would have been on set making this movie and how many times they would have had to stop a take because one of them burst into laughter… the ad libs and one liners are side splitting.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or not but if you liked the jokes in the first Anchorman you’re in for a real treat because they are all back again, and I mean all of them. From jazz flute solos, ridiculous warm up phrases (my personal favourite is “The Garden Gnome has a normal sized penis”), Brian Fontana’s’ secret closet of cologne and of course the obligatory news readers’ gang fight. They really went to town on picking out and repeating the best bits of the first movie. 

Now if you know Ron Burgundy you know he loves three things… reading the news, his dog Baxter and Scotch. As cooking a dish about the news seemed a little hard to fathom and I didn’t really feel up to cooking a dog, I decided to create a Scotch based dessert for Ron to enjoy. And remember, if you follow this recipe, 60% of the time, it works all the time!

Ron Burgundy’s’ Butter Scotchy Scotch Scotch Mousse Cake

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Serves an entire Action News Team

Ingredients

For the Scotch Finger Biscuit Crust

250 Scotch Finger Biscuits

100g Unsalted Butter melted

For the Butter Scotchy Scotch Scotch Mousse Cake

2/3 Cup Brown Sugar

1 ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

3 tbsp. Cornflour

½ tsp. Salt

1 ½ Cups Whole Milk

45g Unsalted Butter

1 Cup Thickened Cream

2 tsp. Scotch

2 Egg Yolks

Method

For the Scotch Finger Biscuit Crust

  1. Put the biscuits into a food processor and process until they resemble a fine crumb… similar to what Ron Burgundy might have in his moustache after enjoying a Scotch finger biscuit or two.
  2. Slowly pour in the melted butter and process until combined.
  3. Press mixture firmly into the base of a spring form cake tin and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the Butter Scotchy Scotch Scotch Mousse Cake

  1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, eggs and milk until combined and smooth as one of Brian Fantana’s pick up lines.
  2. Pour mixture into a saucepan and heat over a low to medium flame for approx. 5 minutes stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, ensuring the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the butter, vanilla essence and Scotch until combined. Don’t drink the rest of the Scotch just yet!
  4. Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. Using a hand or stand mixer whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Make sure you are paying attention if you are making this with a stand mixer… you may wander away and return to find butter in the bowl!!!!
  6. Add half the cream to the Butter Scotchy Scotch Scotch mixture and whisk in to loosen it up then fold in the remaining cream until combined and awesome.
  7. Scoop the Butter Scotchy Scotch Scotch Mousseonto the Scotch finger biscuit base and smooth over so it is even.
  8. Place back into the refrigerator for another 2 hours and its ready to serve with some salted caramel, fresh Raspberries and several bottles of Scotch.

Feb 16

HAMMER HORROR COLLECTION

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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.

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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 buy 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

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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.

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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!