Monday, September 26, 2011

Home Made Chicken Stock

 Home Made Concentrated Chicken Stock

Home made stocks can often make the difference between a nice meal and a delicious meal. If you've ever made a risotto with home made stock, you'll certainly never make one with powdered stock cubes or even bought liquid stock ever again.

I regularly make chicken stock from the carcass of a cooked chook or with trimmings from thigh cutlets.
Variations can be created through adding different flavourings to the stock as it's simmering. The most common variation that I make is an Asian inspired chicken stock.

Chicken Thigh Cutlets are often available at the supermarket at a great price compared to the more processed skinless boneless thigh meat.

I bought a 1.7kg pack recently at $5.49 per kilo, compared to $12.99 per kilo for boneless thigh meat. Total cost of It is a bit of work to skin and bone the thighs, but I make a nice stock with all the bits I cut off.

When I weighed the chicken meat, I had 930g, making the cost of just the meat $10 per kg. Considering I would normally trim the boneless thighs of fat and sinew, that's a pretty good result. Plus, I have a nice stock brewing with the trimmings.

Basic Chicken Stock
 Carcass of cooked chook, raw carcass or trimmings from thighs
1 carrot, roughly chopped (don't bother peeling)
1 peeled onion, roughly chopped
2 stick celery, roughly chopped
bunch of parsley
2 bay leaves
few sprigs fresh thyme or a sprinkling of dried
salt and pepper

If trimmings and bones are raw, bake in a 200 degree oven for around 3/4 hour. Drain fat away (save it and use to roast potatoes - divine!).
Place bones, skin, fat etc in a pot with other ingredients except seasonings. Cover with water and place on a low flame. Let simmer gently for around 2 - 3 hours. Strain. Test for seasoning and add. Place in fridge to cool.
Good stock will become jelly-like in consistency. Skim off fat when cool. Freeze in ziplock bags or use within a few days. If you don't use it, place back on stove and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or so and place back in fridge.

Once strained, stock can be further concentrated by reducing it. Do this prior to seasoning. Bring to a simmer and allow to reduce by half. 
Freeze in ice cube trays if not using within  a few days

Asian Chicken Stock
Carcass of cooked chook, raw carcass or trimmings from thighs (raw is best for this recipe)
2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp sherry 
1/2 tsp chilli paste (optional)
1 star anise
1 2cm piece cinnamon stick
3 Tbsp brown sugar 
4 white peppercorns

Prepare and cook as above. Test for seasoning.

Thai Chicken Stock
Carcass of cooked chook, raw carcass or trimmings from thighs (raw is best for this recipe)
2 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
3 Tbsp sherry
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce

3 Lime leaves
2 sticks lemongrass
2 tsp Chilli paste (optional)
Use basic stock in soups, risottos, casseroles, gravies and sauces. Use Asian or Thai stock for Asian style soups, curries and stir fries.



Monday, September 19, 2011

Relaxing with a Book

My idea of heaven. Relaxing with a recipe book and a glass of white.

I'm really enjoying this new recipe book. It's Donna Hay's 'Fast, Fresh, Simple'.  I've been watching the series on Foxtel and have become quite enamoured with Ms Hay. She hasn't always been my favourite cooking celebrity, but since watching her TV Show, I've begun to appreciate her no-nonsense approach to food.

She has the quick & luscious approach of Nigella and the freshness of Jamie. I'm loving some of these recipes, though I do feel they're more 'lunch with the girls' dishes rather than family meals. I'm drooling over pretty much everything in there, but mentally cancelling out a lot of the recipes as I know that Dear Husband probably wouldn't be very satisfied with a meal so presented.

I'm so looking forward to summer and all the delicious freshness of salads and tasty barbecues, sitting outside relaxing and chatting after a working day. We entertain a lot in summer - it's so much easier and more relaxed eating outside rather than sitting at a dining table. Hopefully our patio decking will be completed this summer and we'll be able to really utilise our outside area to it's full potential.

Yours in deliciousness,

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Week's Meal Plan

I've been meal planning for about 6 weeks now and am finding it so much easier and so much cheaper.

My fridge and pantry aren't full of bits and pieces that I've bought at the supermarket 'just in case' or 'that looks nice' or 'I might like that'. My shopping list has my menu plan on the back and I don't deviate unless absolutely necessary.

My new fridge is much smaller than my older one and I can't cram as much in to it, which is just as well because things don't get lost at the back like they once did. Cleaning the fridge was like checking the results of a science experiment on various types of mould.

My pantry is still a bit overcrowded as I have all those packages and containers filled with things that I thought I might need. I have so many different types of grains, seeds and flours that I could survive for weeks if we were suddenly overcome by a nuclear meltdown or something.

So, to this week's menu. I usually try to have one beef or lamb, one pork, two chicken, one fish and one vegetarian meal one night is always left overs for when I have meetings or am out for the day and I don't have time to cook.
I usually have a roast on Tuesdays, but this week I'll be in Perth.

MONDAY: Greek Lamb Stew with fried Polenta & steamed green beans

TUESDAY: Left overs

WEDNESDAY: Char Sui Pork Stir Fry and Noodles

THURSDAY: Chicken & Leek Pie with Scrunched Filo Topping (practice for Shire Catering next week), Glazed Carrots and Smashed Potatoes

FRIDAY: Fish (Bronze Whaler from Albany) & homemade Chips with tossed salad & yummy special dressing and broccoli salad

SATURDAY: Left Overs

SUNDAY:  Korean Beef Spare Ribs with Fried Rice

I notice that there's no vegetarian meal this week, but I have to practice my Chicken & Leek Pie to make sure it will be OK for Council. CWA are catering this month and I've revamped their menu with some more interesting options, so I'm putting myself forward to cook since I changed the menu.

I have a First Aid course all weekend, so left overs or maybe a meal from the pub on Saturday night.

I'm off to Perth tomorrow to have a tooth removed. I'm pretty distressed about it, but am hoping that I'll be able to get an implant to replace it. Bad dentistry years ago has caused bone damage in an infected root canal on a tooth that was crowned. I'm paranoid about false teeth and am determined to keep my teeth until the very end! So, all fingers and toes crossed for me, please...


p.s. The Fried Polenta was divine! Easy peasy with the Thermomix too. I'll post the recipe soon. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Orange or Lemon Cake

My Dear Husband has a penchant for Orange Cake, so it's something I make frequently.

Today I went to make it and had no oranges! Rather than make a trip to the local store to buy a couple, I chose to make a Lemon Cake instead. I had plenty of lemons thanks to some generous friends with lemon trees.

I used what I call a Custard Lemon. It's a Meyer Lemon, which is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin and is a native of China.
It has a very thin, smooth skin and is deliciously fragrant. In my opinion the meyer lemon isn't suited to savoury dishes, but is fantastic in cakes and desserts.

Orange (or Lemon) Cake

155g softened butter
3 eggs
2/3 cup (120g) castor sugar
1 cup (160g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp grated rind

Combine butter and sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add an egg and beat again. Repeat. Add the third egg with the flour and baking powder. Beat until combined. Stir in the rind.

Bake at 180C for 35 minutes in a greased lined orange tin. Turn out and ice with orange or lemon icing.

I wanted to make this recently and only had 2 eggs. I modified the recipe and actually liked this one better! Instructions are for the Thermomix, adapt for regular mixers as above.

Orange or Lemon Cake
130g softened butter or Dairy Soft
120g castor sugar
160g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb
Juice and rind of half and orange (or lemon, remainder is used in the icing)

Combine butter and sugar and beat for 2 minutes, speed 4. Add 1 egg and beat again on speed 4 for 30 seconds. Add dry ingredients, juice and remaining egg and beat for 30 - 40 seconds, speed 3 or until incorporated.
Add rind and blend for 10 seconds, speed 2.

Bake in a greased lined loaf tin for 35 minutes on 180C

Make icing with 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, remaining juice and rind and 2 tsp butter. Can ice while still a little warm and top with coconut.