Thursday, 4 September 2014

Stupendously Simple Sunday Lunch, Greek Philosophy and a rather Good Shop

Simple Roast Chicken
Now I am a chef who loves his Sunday lunch and I cannot place the thinnest spatula between beef, lamb and pork but as a family we have a clear favourite, the great roast chicken. I am picky however and for the best taste I prefer a nice free range, corn fed bird the skin crisp, the meat moist and succulent. In the depths of wet, windy Alderney winters, and now it is officially Autumn those days are drawing close again, I love all the wonderful, traditional accompaniments to go with said roast. Bread sauce, sage and onion stuffing, bacon and chipolata rolls with mounds of fluffy potatoes roasted in duck fat and lashings of gravy

But this glorious summer we looked to our nearest neighbour, remember France is a mere seven miles away and served up the roast chicken with saute potatoes and crisp green salad and ate out on our little roof top patio. Simpler, quicker and much, much cooler, next time I must remember to French wine to serve with it ! I stuffed the cavity with a big handful of fresh herbs from the tubs outside, tarragon, parsley, thyme and lots of oregano, added half a lemon, sprinkled with sea salt and a good twist of fresh black pepper from the mill and then drizzled liberally,with a wonderful addition to my kitchen, some pine honey.


I wouldn't be able to call myself an island chef and hold my head high if at some time I hadn't been Greek island hopping, lots of sunny beaches, glistening white sand, simply grilled fish and squid at the harbour side. But I encountered another side to Greece secluded woody groves, wandering mountain trails, secret coves and inlets, quiet almost undisturbed villages far away from the tourist traps and experienced some real  Xenia or the classic concept of hospitality for those a great distance from home. I ate in tavernas, on boats and more than once around the big family dinning table with new friends. 

One of my most enduring memories is Thassos, the most northern of all the Greek Islands which relies heavily on agriculture for its economy and it's famous marble. There is a great deal of fishing, sheep and goat farming, the production of almonds and walnuts, amazing olives and delicious, fragrant pine honey. Now I have never seen this since my travels over fifteen years ago until I discovered this great little company Urbangrains and now I have two jars in my cupboard. They have some wonderful items, so fantastic that I might have to share a few more recipes they have inspired.

Simple Roast Chicken                                                                                                    serves 4
4 lb free range corn fed chicken from a reputable supplier
A handful of fresh herbs, washed
Half a lemon
Pine honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 f / 220 C / Gas Mark 7. Place your chicken on a tray, fill cavity with herbs and lemon, season skin well, drizzle over two tablespoons of honey. Place in oven and roast for one hour and ten minutes or until the leg juices run clear when pricked with a small sharp knife. Baste two or three times with cooking juices during cooking and if the skin starts to crisp to quickly gently cover with foil. Remove from the oven and cover with foil allowing a vent for steam to escape. Wrap in a T towel and rest for twenty minutes before carving. Simple.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

I like Chinese

So you may have guessed I love Chinese food. When I fly to the mainland or hop to Guernsey or Jersey it is difficult as I want to try every new restaurant  but always hanker for a fantastic Chinese extravaganza , a rather greedy feast I am afraid. I remember a delicious crispy, chilli beef in Oakham, Rutland served in a deep fried potato nest, from nearly fifteen years ago, so I cannot guaranty that even the restaurant exists now, just a fabulous memory. Moist, flavoursome steamed scallop wantons and dumplings from Hakkasan in Hanway Place, London and an awesome crab with ginger and scallions !! ( spring onions fellow English readers ) in East Harbor, New York, with a mind blowing Chinese and Japanese menu.  All in all it is rather sad that I have yet to got to China but it is on my list to do, perhaps one day.

What I have done was an inspiring course in London, equipped myself with numerous books, woks, steamers and ingredients from quaint little Asian speciality suppliers and set to work as only a chef can and chopped, pounded, crushed, fried and ate my way through the Chinese canon. Cantonese, Shandong, Hunan and spicy Szechaun with noodles, rice, black beans, bok choi and lots of seasoning garlic, chilli, cloves and ginger, and wonderfully pungent star anise. All in all giving my little local take away a bit of a run for his money what do you think?

Beef in Black Bean Sauce, Braised Lamb with Onion and Ginger