Archive for the ‘Roast’ Category

Bruschetta.jpgJ. and I attempt, but don’t always succeed, to have a date night once a week. We usually head out to a nice restaurant or a movie but last week we were beat and just wanted to stay home. I had baked some wonderful crusty Italian style bread earlier in the day and we had found some beautiful tomatoes at the farmers market… Bruschetta was the answer.

I decided to make 2 different versions and after a quick trip to Wholefoods for some delicious meat we were set to go. I didn’t just want to make an ordinary tomato combination for the top. It was date night after all, I wanted something a little different and unusual. I went with garlic roasted tomatoes on Tomato and basilsoppressata or prosciutto with jalapeno lime white balsamic vinegar to finish it off.

First off I put the tomatoes into the oven to roast. I only wanted them cooked for a very short time with some garlic and olive oil to really bring out the sweetness in these gorgeous tomatoes we found. I wanted them to hold their shape and keep the firm texture, not go all mushy.

ProscuittoWhile the tomatoes were in a 350F degree oven for 10 minutes, I sliced some chunky bits of our Italian crusty bread and smeared them will olive oil. I heated up our grill pan and toasted these on both sides. I tried to get nice crusty grill marks on the bread. I did ok for the most part but there were some slightly crispier parts.Soppressata

Once these were grilled I just rubbed them with some garlic and set them aside to dress. I did a few of each meat for J. and I. Layer 1 being either soppressata or prosciutto. To be honest a few slices of each magically disappeared between the two of us… I love that stuff!

Basil leavesAfter the first layer of meaty goodness I added some fresh basil leaves. We had also picked the basil up at the market since our basil plant hasn’t survived it’s first (and only) Arizonan summer. By this stage the tomatoes were out and cooling down.

I cut the tomatoes in half and put them in a bowl, seasoned them with plenty of salt and pepper and then generously drizzled jalapeno lime white balsamic vinegar over them. I mixed them together and placed them on each piece of bread.

After pouring some wine J. and I sat down to a yummy, simple dinner. I had some goats cheese on the side as well for us to eat with the bruschetta. The creamy rich flavor worked so well with the freshness of the bruschetta. J enjoyed it so much we actually had something similar for dinner the next night. The tomatoes were extremely sweet and juicy. I was happy with how crusty and delicious the bread was as well. Such an easy, quick date night dinner. A good way of keeping my boy J. happy too!

Marinated Lamb.jpgThe center piece of our early Christmas celebration was a de-boned leg of lamb. I wanted to do something different with this rather than my usual lamb roast. Not that there is anything wrong with a roast leg of lamb, it is one of J’s and my favorite roasts to make. However being already de-boned the lamb had me thinking a little out of the box.

On Thursday when the lamb had defrosted I decided I would marinate it for a couple of days and then just roast or grill it on Saturday night. I put the lamb into a ziplock bag and just threw all the marinade ingredients into the bag.

Marinade.jpg

First I peeled and roughly chopped 1 red onion, throwing it into the ziplock bag. Next 5 peeled cloves of garlic and5 sprigs of rosemary went in. I put in some salt and pepper and drizzled in some olive oil. Last thing to go in was 1 cup of red wine and a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. I then just closed the bag and mixed everything around, pressing the marinade into the lamb.

This just sat in the fridge for the next 48 hours and I would turn it and mix it around whenever I opened the fridge.

Saturday afternoon I brought the lamb out of the fridge and let it get to room temperature for cooking in a few hours time. It’s pretty cool in our house so I wasn’t worried about leaving the lamb out.

Grilling lamb.jpgJ. and I discussed how to cook it and since it was raining outside we couldn’t cook it on the bbq/grill so we decided to cook it on our grill pan on the stove. I put J. in charge of this because I was cooking our ridiculously delicious potatoes.

First thing he did was heat the pan until it was nearly smoking hot. He put a little olive oil onto the pan and let that heat for a short time too. While this was happening he removed the lamb from the marinade (setting it aside for gravy later) and used some of the garlic from the marinade to push into the lamb.Carving.jpg

In total he cooked it on the grill pan for 25 minutes, searing each side to create a crust. Doing this on the stove was difficult since the grill pan got way too hot very quickly and we had to turn it off to cool it down. J. did a great job though cooking the lamb and after the 25 minutes we put it into a 350F degree oven for 10 minutes just to finish it off.

We like our lamb medium rare and this came out perfectly. If you like your meat a little more done than we do I suggest leaving it in the oven at least 20 minutes to help cook it through. We however we incredibly happy with the lamb when it came out. J. sliced it up and we were ready to eat out delicious Christmas meal!

Christmas Dinner.jpgWhile J. had been cooking the lamb I had made a gravy out of the leftover marinade, straining the juices first and then heating over a high heat. The only things I added were some freshly ground pepper and some corn starch to thicken it a little. This was a pretty delicious, though slightly strange in colour, gravy.

We served everything up and the lamb was delicious. The flavors from the marinade had really come through in the lamb. Garlic and rosemary were there but the balsamic and red wine added a richness to the meat. The gravy was just a nice little addition.

As you can see above the entire meal looked delicious and tasted pretty amazing too. I know Christmas is still over a week away but J. and I have definitely started our celebrations already! This was a great way to start.

Bacon Potatoes.jpgIn yesterday’s post I wrote about J’s and my early Christmas celebration and how we had decided to do something different with our roast potatoes for dinner. This inspiration had come from my grandmother’s potatoes. Her “roast” potatoes were my favorite thing she would make growing up… always so crunchy on the outside and salty… completely delicious. Of course this is because instead of roasting them she actually had shallow fried them in canola oil in her electric frying pan. Our version was a little different but definitely inspired by Grandma.

This isn’t the healthiest version of potatoes and we will probably never make them this way again (I can here J. crying as he reads this) but oh my were our potatoes on Saturday night the most delicious thing ever!

On Friday night I peeled 3 really large russet potatoes and then cut them into medium sized pieces. After washingRosemary and Garlic in oil.jpg them I put them into an air tight container and covered them in salted water. I wanted to brine them for 24 hours just to make them extra crispy when we cooked them. I am sure an hour would have been enough but I wanted to do some prep Friday night so J. and I didn’t have too much to do come Saturday evening.

Saturday night I took these out and dried them. I then put them into the microwave for 8 minutes to start the cooking process. I didn’t want them to take too long to cook in the oil. While these were in the microwave I prepared the oil… this is where it gets yummy…. We had saved some bacon grease for this very reason and pour it and a similar amount of olive oil into a frying pan. To the oil I added 2 sprigs of rosemary and 2 garlic cloves. I let the oil heat up until the rosemary started bubbling.

When the oil was nice and hot I added half of the potatoes (carefully). The cooking was easy, every two minutes I Turn regularly.jpgturned the potatoes to another side browning and crisping up all sides. Then when they were ready, I just tested them using a fork, I took them out and put them on some paper towel to get off any excess grease. I then put the second half of the potatoes into the oil.

I changed the rosemary and the garlic in the oil with the second half of the potatoes, I didn’t want them taking on a burnt garlic or rosemary flavor. While the second batch were cooking I salted the first batch and put them in the oven to keep warm.

These were so easy to make, you just really need to keep an eye on the oil so that it doesn’t get too hot. I adjusted the temperature a few times throughout this process. J. thought they were quite scrumptious. The bacon flavor wasn’t too evident but as J said, there was a richness to the potatoes not to mention a crispiness.

Surprisingly these weren’t oily or greasy at all. They were delicious and incredibly crispy and crunchy. J was kind of addicted to them and would have eaten them all except I cut him off. He will thank me later when we have the leftovers but he was none too pleased at the time. I enjoyed these for a special occasion, though I can’t see us doing this again anytime soon… they aren’t a potato for everyday.

Roasted tomatoes and mushrooms.jpgJ. and I decided we would have our own little private Christmas celebration yesterday. This way we didn’t have to cart presents to Australia and we get to continue some of our own traditions.

As part of our early Christmas celebration J and I wanted some roasted vegetables with our lamb (post still to come). Usually when were are having a roast dinner, whether it is chicken, pork, beef or lamb we go with the traditional roast veggies, pumpkin, sweet potato and potatoes. We had already decided to do something different with the potatoes (again, stay tuned for that delicious entry!) so I had to come up with something new for our other vegetables.

Now, I love J. and he eats pretty much anything I put in front of him but when it comes to vegetables he hasn’t really progressed in the last thirty years. Sorry, that may be a little unfair, he eats salads now if we drench them in dressing and I have also convinced him sweet potato is delicious when covered in gravy… it’s all about small steps.

So in the endeavour to make something he would happily eat I really had to think. In the end I made Roast Tomatoes with mushrooms and red onion.

First I cut 7 delicious red roma tomatoes in half length way, laying them skin side down in an oven proof dish. I peeled, quartered, and then quartered again a large red onion. While wiping away the tears (I react really badly to cutting onions) I scattered them around the tomatoes. I then washed and dries a small container of button mushrooms and scattered these around the tomatoes and onions.Onions and rosemary on top.jpg

That is all the vegetables so now for some additional flavor. I peeled and halved 4 cloves of garlic and put these into the dish. I broke up 2 large rosemary sprigs and scattered those across too. Lastly I seasoned with salt and pepper, quite generously before drizzling olive oil across everything.

I put these into a 420F degree oven for 30 minutes.

When these came out they smelt delicious. The tomatoes had somehow become sweeter and more tomatoey. The onions though softened had held their shape and taken on the tomato and rosemary flavor. The mushrooms were juicy and delicious. Then it was the critics turn to try them.

J. thought they were excellent and really enjoyed the medley of vegetables. I like this recipe because compared to other vegetables it is quick and doesn’t take hours of peeling… I really hate doing that sometimes. I was happy with the outcome and now have another type of roasted vegetables I can make that J. will love!

I have a confession to make… Turkeys scare me… alive or dead they terrify me. So the last thing I was going to make on Thanksgiving was a turkey! What if it turned out terribly then I would have been responsible ruining Thanksgiving. Roast chicken was the new turkey last week in our house. I am, after all, only afraid of live chickens… not the delicious organic ones we bought plucked, gutted and ready for cooking! By the way, just to explain the title for those not familiar with the term “Chook”, that’s what we down in the Southern Hemisphere will often refer to a chicken as… Now onto roasting the chooks.

I decided to keep this simple and just season the chicken and stuff it with a simple stuffing. The stuffing was a combination of whole wheat bread, 8 slices broken into pieces, chopped fresh thyme, rosemary and sage (about 1 tablespoon of each), 120 grams of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. I mixed all of this together, added some salt and pepper and set it aside.

The chickens themselves I seasoned inside and out with salt and pepper. Then the difficult task of sliding big chunks of butter under the skin and squishing it so it is spread all over the chicken was next… This is so messy but definitely worth it for the quality of skin and the juiciness of the chicken at the end.

Now it was time to stuff them. Into each chicken I put ½ a lemon and squeezed it right down the end. I added 4 smashed garlic cloves to each as well before I halved the stuffing mixture and pressed it in firmly. The stuffing amount was perfect for the two chickens.

Before I finished seasoning the chicken I made two little beds for them to sit on in the roasting pan. First I put down 2 thick slices on lemon for each chicken. I also cut an entire bulb of garlic in half and put that down with the lemons. On top of this I added sprigs of thyme, rosemary and sage. I then just placed the chickens downon each bed, carefully balancing them.

Last thing to do was to finish seasoning the top of each chicken. I just sprinkled a little garlic salt and some paprika on top before drizzling olive oil all over them. I got in there with my hands and rubbed the oil into the skin too just to make sure it was really well covered. Into the oven they went. I had preheated it to 475F degrees but when they went into the oven I dropped it down to 400F degrees.

They were in the oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes and I turned them (as in which way they were facing in the oven) after 40 minutes. I only did this to make sure the top brown evenly all over. For the last 20 minutes I covered the top of the chooks with aluminum foil to stop them burning. When they were ready J. took them out of the oven, he did the heavy lifting because the roasting pan and chickens were too big and awkward for me to lift. We let them rest for 20 minutes.

I was so very pleased with how these turned out. The skin was full of flavor but still nice and crispy and then the chicken itself was moist and perfectly cooked. They were a triumph. J. was incredibly happy with his thanksgiving meal, even if it wasn’t traditional… well we are starting a new tradition of roasting and stuffing chooks for the day instead of those terrifying turkeys!

Yesterday I wrote about the finger food we had for our dinner party Saturday, the delicious Cheesy Bacon Bites. Today I thought I would tell you about the main course, which too starred the magical animal, pig! One of our mates doesn’t like lamb so I decided to do Roast Pork Leg and Veggies with Red wine Gravy and Crackling.

Mmmmm pork… my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I decided to just keep this really simple. I roasted sweet potato and potatoes with some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper along with some tiny red onions. These were prepared well ahead of time and were ready to put in the oven when the pork was half way done.

We had bought an 8 pound piece of pork since it was 4 guys eating and me. I figured they wouldn’t be eating many of the vegetables! I brought the pork to room temperature and sliced diagonally across the skin so it was scored for the cracking. I turned it skin side down and using a knife pushed 1/2 a dozen cloves of garlic deep into the meat. I seasoned this side well with both salt and pepper and a little dried thyme.

Next I heavily salted the skin side, rubbing ridiculous amounts of salt into it. Placing it in my roasting pan skin side up I drizzled with some olive oil and put it into a 500F degree oven for 20 minutes. This high heat helps the skin to crackle.

After the 20 minutes I turned the heat down to 380F degrees and left the pork in for another 2 hours. I also let the smell of the roast permeate through the house so when the boys got home it smelt fantastic and they were ready to eat!

When the pork had around an hour to go I put the vegetables in to cook. I turned these every 20 minutes for the last hour of pork cooking.

After the two hours I took the pork out to let it rest, gently removing the crackling. I put the crackling under the broiler for a few minutes just to crisp up a couple of small parts that weren’t quite crunchy enough for my liking.

While J. carved the rested meat I used the juices from the pan, I put into a pot 1 cup of red wine and a cup of beef stock to make the gravy. I also added some salt and pepper, plus a tablespoon of cornflour to thicken. Gravy made!

I did steam some green beans for myself and anyone else who wanted something a little healthy in there.

I served this all family style and let them all help themselves! The dinner table got pretty quite so I think it was a hit. The pork was cooked well and most importantly the crackling was salty, crunchy and unbelievable! I could seriously eat a plate of that.

A yummy dinner thanks to the wondrous pig!

Stay tuned for dessert!