Sunday, August 21, 2005

My 100th Recipe!

When I invited my friends Adri, Bernard and An over for dinner last night, I knew there would be a few requirements...

No onions, no fried onions, no western-style pork, no lamb, no beef, no "meat that smells", no coriander, no capsicum, no spring onions, no shallots, no "weird Middle-Eastern food", nothing "strange or fancy"

...what on earth was I going to cook for them?

I spent a couple of days reading through my How to Eat, and finally chose the most normal, simple, unadventurous menu I could find.


Tarragon French roast chicken
German leeks and wine, rice, peas and mangetouts
Lemon Pie

I did make a few small adjustments to the menu, mainly because of ingredient sourcing issues... and also scaled everything down (apart from the pie) for 6 people.


French Roast Chicken
German Leeks and Noilly Prat
Sugar Snaps and Peas
Lemon Pie

100. Lemon Pie

I made the pastry for this the night before, and let it sit, glad wrapped in the fridge until Saturday afternoon. The lemon filling also has to be started in advance - zest and slice some lemons, mix with sugar, and leave it in the fridge overnight. When you're ready to bake (and it can be eaten "hot, warm or cold"), you just have to roll out the pastry, add some eggs to the lemons, assemble the pie and shove it in the oven.

Pie filling

You know, this pastry was an absolute nightmare to roll out - it kept cracking on me, and I had to scrunch it up and start again, like, a million times. Maybe it was just too cold. But I persevered, rolled it out as best I could, and roughly mended the few cracks with the excess. During baking, some of the sugary-lemon filling overflowed and dripped down the sides. Luckily I'd anticipated this and had chucked a tray in the oven as well to catch the (rapidly bubbling and blackening) drips.

Lemon Pie - My 100th Recipe, "Well, I'm going for the rustic look, aren't I?"

About the chickens - I went to the supermarket on Saturday afternoon (before baking the pie), only to find that there's no bloody tarragon in the shops!! The grocer said it's been too cold to grow it. But I'd already bought the chickens and everything else! I thought, "Oh fuck it, we'll have the chicken anyway", and brazenly cooked the chickens as stated in the recipe, but without the tarragon. So, you smear a mixture of butter, sherry and pepper onto the breasts of the chickens (this is where you'd add the tarragon), and roast them over stock. As Nigella says, "Pour... stock into the bottom half of a roasting pan which has a grid that fits over, on which you can sit the chickens".

"French Roast Chicken", not "Tarragon French Roast Chicken". (And I'm going to make it again, properly, once I can get my hands on some bloody tarragon).

Now, the side dishes.

101. Foolproof Rice

I know I don't really need a recipe for rice, as I've got a rice cooker. But, a recipe is a recipe, so I was obliged to try rice the Nigella way. Her method's really weird - she says to turn the rice in some melted butter in a pan first, then to add the same volume of water to rice (normally I'd go double), and cook it on a super-low heat for, like, 30 minutes. It turned out fine, but strange. It was that bizzare Western-style rice which is really dry and separate, as opposed to being soft and clumpy, like normal. Anyway, I'm sticking to the rice cooker from now on.

102. German Leeks and Wine

The leeks are easy - you slice them into logs, and turn in butter in a pan. Then you pour some wine over (I used Noilly Prat because I didn't want to break into Dad's wine collection), and simmer until tender.

Nigella also suggests mangetouts and peas, but mangetouts were $12 a kilo. Yeah right!! I used sugar snaps instead, and just boiled them briefly with the ordinary peas.

My friends were running a bit late, so I just started the leeks and peas when they arrived. Everything else was ready, and able to sit around without going bad.

Foolproof rice, peas, German Leeks and Wine

I can't carve, and normally I get Mum to do it, but she was watching Midsummer Murders or something like that, so I had to try it myself. Chicken cooked this way is, in fact, so tender, that it is very easy to clumsily pull apart with a kitchen knife and tongs. And it tastes great! So juicy and tender, with the butter giving a wonderfully crisp skin.

My attempt at carving

An loves chicken fat

So yes, a fab dinner. All the elements (peas, leeks, chicken, rice) go together wonderfully, and are satisfying, but not bloating (which is a danger of menus in Nigella quantities).

And dessert...

Ta Da!

This is a gooooooood pie. The pastry is both crunchy and cakey (which I love!) and the filling is strongly lemony (which Adri loves). It was very sharp, and after taking a bite, we realised we desperately needed cream to go with. I didn't have any, so pulled a carton of Streets Blue Ribbon Vanilla Ice-cream out of the freezer, and dessert was saved. As Nigella says, it is a bit of a mess to cut up and serve, but it's so worth it! It's a damn tasty pie.

Everyone (apart from An, who's not into this sort of thing) had second helpings of my pie. Yay!

Adri & Bernard enjoying Pie



klp66 said...

LOL, I like your comments on "weird western rice"....that is how I like my rice :-) - turn them in oil, add water, cook 12 mins and let stand 10 mins...

The pie looks great!!


klp66 said...

Oh, and congrats on your 100th recipe - cheers!