Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rotisserie Chicken! It worked!

We rotisseried our own chicken for dinner tonight on the grill. I'm totally thrilled with the way it turned out. I had a 4.76lb "hormone free" chicken and we stuffed it with lemon and thyme and then also put the rest of the thyme under the skin, and sprinkled it with kosher salt. I can't believe how well it turned out. Really moist and tasty. The kids even ate it up!

We had it on the rotisserie for about 1 hour and 50 mins and then rested it under a foil tent for about 10 mins before carving.

I made some roasted potatoes, carrots and onions to go with it, and I have tons left over for sandwiches and maybe another meal!


OK, I helped make this and I want credit! There were a few challenges and resulting ideas associated with cooking a chicken on the rotisserie:

If you can, find a chicken with a pop-up button to let you know when it is done. We used the "juices run clear" method of assessing its doneness, but a pop-up button would have made this truly foolproof.

Remove the grill sections to allow the chicken to turn freely. Use a flat drip pan under the chicken to help speed clean up. Make sure that the skewers are positioned such that the chicken is in front of the rotisserie burner; sounds like common sense, but it is easy to mess this up. In fact, the burner unit is wide enough to cook two five-pound chickens at once.

Make sure the skewers are tightened to the rotisserie spit. You may need to use pliers to tighten the screws to make this happen. If this is not done, the spit turns but the chicken does not, resulting in overcooking on one side and undercooking on the other.

Make sure the spit stays seated in the motorized housing. Because of the way our grill is built, the motor is mounted slightly higher than the side where the spit rests on the grill. This means that every 20 minutes or so, the spit became unseated from the motor assembly and stopped turning. Lucky we caught this! I reseated the spit in the motorized housing to get it moving again while I fabricated a solution. I took a regular washer and bent it in half, forming a semi-circle with an indentation for the spit to rest on while it turned. I then wedged the washer into the spot the spit would have rested on, raising the contact point by about 3/4" (2 cm). This spit-rest raised the angle of the non-motorized end and used the weight of the chicken we were cooking to keep the spit from becoming unseated.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Lemon Custard Cakes

I love anything with lemon, and I've been eyeing this recipe in the Everyday Food since I got the book, and this morning I was in the mood to whip a few up!!

They are so easy to make, and yum (I just ate one for morning tea!)

Unsalted butter at room temperature for custard cups
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoon all purpose flour
2-3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350F. Set a kettle of water to boil. Butter six 6-ounce custard cups, and place m in a roasting pan or baking dish lined with a kitchen towel (I sprayed the cups with Pam and I didn't use the towel and everything was fine - I took the risk of the cups sliding in the baking dish)

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar until the mixture is light; wish in the flour. Gradually whisk in the lemon zest and juice and whisk in the milk.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add to the lemon mixture; gently fold in with a whisk (the batter will be thin)

Divide the batter among the prepared cups. Place the pan in the oven and fill with boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until the puddings are puffed and lightly browned. 20-25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners sugar.

Note: If you don't have individual custard cups, bake the batter in an 8-inch square baking dish(or other shallow 2-quart baking dish) for 30-35 minutes.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It puts a rose in every cheek...

I got it into my head to make some vegemite on toast this morning, the ultimate Australian food!! I used to give it to the kids all the time when they were really little, because it is an aquired taste, eg: from birth. My 5 yr old will eat it, but my 7 yr old won't go near it anymore and he used to love it.

The trick to the perfect vegemite on toast is not to slather it on like peanut butter, but to make sure the toast is very hot, the butter melted and then an nice even thin scraping of the vegemite. Delicious!

Also medicinal. If you have a bit of an upset stomach, nothing cures it like some toast with vegemite.

And just to prove that people actually eat this stuff, here we are eating it!!

And here is the new Vegemite commercial from Australia. I don't really know how new it is because I found it on YouTube, but it's new to me, and it combines the old commercial that I know from when I was a kid!!


Here are the ingredients of Vegemite:

Yeast Extract, Salt, Mineral salt, Malt extract (from barley), Natural colour, vegetable extract, Niacin, thiamine, Riboflavin, folate

Vegemite Web Site

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Vietnamese Steak Sandwiches

We had these for dinner last night. Delicious!! I marinated a flank steak and then we cooked it on the grill. I put it on some fresh Demi Baguettes which I got from Costco and some cilantro, carrot, garlic and scallions that were mixed together with an Asian dressing.

Flank Steak Marinade:

1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

My flank steak was about 1.5lbs.

Combine everything in a ziploc bag and marinate. The recipe from Martha's Everyday Food, Great Food Fast says 30 mins. I did it overnight and it was just right.

We grilled the steak for about 15 mins and it was "medium". Let the steak rest for 10 mins before slicing thinly.

For the Sandwich:

1 large garlic clove, minced (I have a huge jar of minced garlic that I always use)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 carrots, grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed fresh clilantro leaves

Bread rolls.

Mix together the garlic, sugar, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon of water. In another bowl toss together the carrots, scallions, and cilantro, then combine with the vinegar mixture and toss well until everything is coated.

Once the meat is sliced - assemble on the rolls and you'll have a delicious weekend dinner!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

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Coconut Slice

As promised I made the Coconut Slice from the recipe box. I pretty much stuck to what was on the recipe card, and it turned out, but next time I would make a couple of drastic changes. I'm going give you the recipe as is (along with my little tweak) and then I'm going to give you the recipe for how you could do it next time. If anyone can improve on this - I'd love to hear about it!!

Original recipe:

1 cup coconut
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 oz butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup self rising flour
1/8 teaspoon salt.
6 oz dark chocolate (I actually used Bakers Semi-sweet)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Soak coconut with icing sugar and milk. Meanwhile, cream butter and brown sugar, add egg, beat well. Fold in sifted flour and salt. Spread mixture into greased pan (I used 8 x 10). Spread coconut filling over the top. Bake at 350 F for 25 mins. Let Cool completely.

When cooled, melt chocolate and vegetable oil together. Mix well. Let cool slightly and then spread the chocolate over the coconut and then refrigerate until the chocolate has completely hardened, then you can cut it into squares.

New recipe:

2 cups of coconut
2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar
1/4 cup of milk.
1 oz of butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup of self - rising flour
pinch of salt.
6oz dark chocolate (I actually used Bakers Semi-sweet)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil.

Same method as above.

So this is actually going to give a much thinner layer of the cakey base, more coconut and the same amount of chocolate, and I think will make it much more delicious than it already is!!

My husband thinks that I should have made it with a graham cracker crust. All Americans are obsessed with graham cracker crust and I don't think it's the answer for everything. The cakey base is what makes this slice quite unique.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Deviled Egg Boat is Sinking

As promised I'm going to share some of the fab recipes I found in the recipe box. Mmmmmmm, don't these all look enticing?

My personal favourite is the Deviled Egg Boats. Why on earth would you need to put the egg on a slice of toast? All these recipes are pre 1972 because they are in imperial measurements and in Australia we switched over to metric that year. I think that these recipes also look incredibly unappetising because of the photography and their reproduction on cheap magazine paper.

The recipe for the Deviled Egg Boats is 6 hard boiled eggs, 6 slices of bread, 80z of processed cheese shredded, 1/2 cup milk, 3 tablespoons mayo, 1/2 teaspoon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Once you've filled the eggs and toasted the bread "boats" , you have to make some kind of sauce with the milk and the processed cheese. Yum.

And I won't even go into the ingredients for the Layered Salmon Casserole, but if anyone is interested, please email me and I'll be happy to pass it along.

I did find one recipe for Coconut Slice which has a lot of promise. I'm going to make it with a few tweaks and then I'll post it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nana's Sponge Cake

I used my Nana's recipe to make this sponge. She was great at making sponge cake. She never learned to drive a car, but she could whip one of these up no problem.

I came across the recipe for the sponge when I was going through my mothers old recipe cards that she used to use all the time. The delights of entertaining in the 60's and 70's is a whole other post, which I will delight you with next!

So there it is! The simplest recipe in the world!
4 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of self rising flour

Grease and flour two 8" round pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the eggs on High until light and fluffy.(I also added 1 teaspoon of vanilla at this stage) I used the paddle attachment on my mixer and put it on speed 8 until air bubbles formed around the edges of egg mixture. Add the sugar gradually. Then fold in the flour. I put the mixer on speed 2 for this and it only took a few seconds to fold in the flour. Bake at 350F for 25 mins.

I used Trader Joe's Raspberry Preserves between the cake layers and whipped up some cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. I sprinkled the top of the cake with confectioners sugar.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pasta for Dinner

I made the Angel Hair Pasta, Bacon and Peas from the March 2008 Everyday Food. We had it for dinner last night and it was only OK. The sauce was very thin as it was only Half and Half, no cheese mixed in, no egg. The kids even ate the peas and bacon, but picked out the onion, which was a very labour intensive task, so it took them forever to eat their dinner.

This week, Martha Stewart launched her new book "Cookies", and it has 175 cookie recipes. I have a feeling that it is going to contain 100 recipes that I already have from the Dec 2005 Holiday Cookie Magazine. I have only seen Martha show it off on her show the other day, but the whole layout looks excatly the same. I'd love to have the book, but I think I'm going to give it a miss unless I find out that it's 175 completely different and unique cookies from anything else she's published before.

I haven't watched Top Chef yet, but I've heard it's great. Hopefully I'll get to it tomorrow night.

I'm going to make a sponge cake tomorrow, my Nana's recipe, so I'll be posting that as soon as I can.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

TV for Foodies

Tonight Top Chef returns on Bravo at 10:00pm. I love this show! We had never watched before season 3 last summer and we totally got into it. The cooking challenges are great and the personality of the Chefs are wild, and some of the dishes are crazy, but can be relied upon to contain truffle oil for some reason. If you've never seen it before check it out!!

Sadly, Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" ended its season on Monday night with Tony doing a double shift in his old restaurant Les Halles in NYC. It was great. It showed exactly how a restaurant worked and how hard all the line cooks and chefs work. Try and catch it in re-runs on the Travel Channel. The episode title is "Into the Fire". It was by far the best espisode of the season.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My Photo Studio

A couple of people have left comments recently that my photos are nice - thank you!! So I thought I'd share what my photo studio looks like. It's exteremly high tech.

A window that gets the morning sun and a chair. The light is so important for the photographs, so I can only take food photos until about 1:00pm, so I have to be very organised if I know I'm going to take a photo of it. I use the tripod as well and I have a Sony DSC-H2 6mpxl. It's inbetween a point and shoot and a DSLR as far as features go and it has a 12x zoom, which is one of the best things about it. It's the DSLR you have when you're not having a DSLR ( and only Aussies my age will get that joke!)(explanation)

Hopefully when the weather warms up I'll be able to take some photos outside in the shade, which is the best possible light to capture the true colours and textures.

Family Portrait

My five year old got a new set of coloured pencils and a new box of crayons yesterday, and this morning I recieved a beautiful family portrait. Back in my day it was a big deal to get new coloured pencils and there was always a girl at school who had the big metal box with every colour under the sun. Now you can pick up a pack of pencils at Target for $1.75, and it's no big deal at all, which is rather nice. Kids don't get coloured pencil envy anymore, now they have Ipod envy!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

These Cookies Never Fail. Ever

Honestly, these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I have made them a zillion times in the last 5 years and they have never let me down once. This go round I used regular semi-sweet choc drops and the Ghirardelli Bittersweet Choc Chips and the flavour is great. The Bakers Choc Chunks also work really well. You can basically use any choc chips or chunks that you like. (The blue thing in the photo is my silicone baking sheets made by Wilton - they work really well and are a quarter of the price of the Silpat ones)

The recipe is from Ina Gartens Barefoot Parties.

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 extra-large eggs at room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 lbs choc chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and two sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter with the mixer on low speed, mixing only until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 ¾ inch diameter ice cream scoop (I got mine at Target for $4.95) or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for EXACTLY 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.