Roast Chicken with Lemon & Herbs

Roast Chicken with Lemon & Herbs

Photography by Darren Bester

 

In my top 5 favourite meals of all time … Roast Chicken is definitely up there!  I remember as a child, as I’m sure we all do, finding the wish bone and then finding someone to snap it with, the winner received the honour of making a wish.  I took my wish making very seriously.  Still today, very little comes close to a roast chicken just out the oven, with its crispy skin and tender meat, throw in some of my Mom’s famous roast potatoes, some veggies and gravy and I am one happy lady!  I’m a leg & thigh kinda gal … so if you ever round at my house for dinner and I offer you the leg & thigh … you can be sure that I’m a fan of yours. This recipe has served me well for years, the lemon and herb combo bring a freshness to the roast without compromising on the crispy skin.

Yield: 4

Ingredients:

1 large free Range Chicken

2 large handfuls of fresh Rosemary & Parsley, chopped

1 lemon, halved 

2 extra sprigs of Rosemary for the cavity of the chicken

Coarse Salt & Black Pepper

Couple of glugs of olive oil 

Method: 

Remove chicken from the fridge half an hour before cooking & discard packaging.  Pat dry with some carlton towel and set aside in a safe place

Preheat the oven and roasting tray to 190ºc

Pull up the skin at the tip of the chicken breasts, being careful not to tear it.  Separate the skin from the meat of the breast bone by using a sharp knife to cut through the little bit of tissue holding the two together in the middle.  Mix together the mixed herbs with some salt and a small dash of olive oil and then stuff into this pocket you have created, spreading it down and all around this side of the bird.  Pull the skin back to where it was to ensure none of the flesh is exposed as this will dry out during cooking.  Put the lemon halves (removing any visible pips) and the Rosemary sprigs into the cavity of the chicken.   Use cooking string to tie the legs of the chicken together, to help keep the stuffing inside the bird.  Rub the chicken generously with olive oil, salt & black pepper.  Remove the roasting try and add a few glugs of olive oil before adding the bird and roasting for plus minus 70 – 80 minutes. 

Chicken is cooked when the juices from the thigh run clear. 

Cooks Note: Use whatever herbs you have handy – I’ve tried many combinations by simply using what I had available and haven’t had a disappointment yet.   Remember, all ovens are different so start checking your bird from around the 60 minute mark.

 

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Raw Candy – Striped Beet, Baby Marrow, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

Raw Candy – Striped Beet, Baby Marrow, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

With Summer rapidly approaching and the fear of ‘bearing all’ around the swimming pool re-emerging after hibernating all winter long, I decided it was time to start cutting out the carbs to slim down that stubborn waist line.  I was inspired when I saw the beautiful candy-striped beetroots in the veg section at my trusty Mothership and this salad just evolved from there.   I must say, I’m quite pleased with the end result … not only is it super healthy but its eye catchingly vibrant in colour, tasty and not so predicatlbe. 

Ingredients:

3 Candy-Striped Beetroots (washed & scrubbed, top & tailed)

1 Pack Baby Marrow (washed, top & tailed)

1 Pack Snap Peas (washed & halved)

2 or 3 Radishes (washed, top and tailed)

1 Generous Handful of Pomegranates 

1 Generous Handful of Sunflower Seeds 

1 or 2 Rounds of Feta Cheese (Goats Cheese or Buffalo Mozzarella Balls would also work well)

1 Pack Mung Bean Sprouts

1 Packet Rocket 

Juice of 1 or 2 lemons 

For the Lemon Zest Dressing: 

30mls Olive Oil 

15mls Balsamic Vinegar

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

10mls fresh lemon juice 

Pinch Brown Sugar

2 Cloves Garlic, crushed and finely chopped 

Sprinkle of salt & black pepper 

Method: 

Using a mandolin, carefully slice the candy beetroots into thin rounds and submerge in a bowl of lemon juice for 10 minutes.  In the mean time, slice each baby marrow in halve lengthways and run down the mandolin creating thing strips, set aside.  Now run the radishes along the mandolin, creating beautiful thin little rounds, place in a bowl of cold water until required.  

Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together.  Place rocket leaves on platter, coat with some of the dressing & toss.  Remove beets from their lemon bath and scatter over the rocket, togther with the baby marrow slices,snap peas and radishes.  Sprinkle over the pomegranates, feta & sunflower seeds. Give another good toss & garnish with Mung Beans.   Either Pour over the remainder of the dressing just before serving or serve separately, along side the salad. 

Moussaka

Moussaka

Inspired by my recent travels to Greece and coupled with the fact that aubergines are in season and in abundance at the moment, I couldn’t resist cooking up a Moussaka! It was delicious and so easy to make …

Ingredients:

Yield: 4 – 5

1 Finely Chopped Onion

Olive Oil

4 Cloves Crushed Garlic

1 kg Lamb or Beef Mince

250 ml Good Quality Red Wine

800grms Can Chopped Tomatoes

125ml Good Quality Beef Stock

2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

4 Sprigs of Fresh Oregano (or substitute with 2 – 3 tsp dried oregano)

3 or 4 Aubergines / Brinjals

75grms Butter

75grms Flour

500ml Milk (or more if sauce is too thick)

250ml Grated Parmesan

125ml Bread Crumbs

Salt & Pepper   

Method: 

Slice your aubergines into thin rounds and place in a colander or on a cooling rack and sprinkle generously with salt.  Leave for 30 minutes to extract all the bitter juices (the colander / cooling rack will help the juices to drain away from the aubergines).  

In a large saucepan, sweat the onion in 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil, once soft but not coloured, add the crushed garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the mince and fry until nicely browned. Add the wine and stir for a minute before adding the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, oregano and cinnamon. Simmer for approximately 40 minutes and adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper.

Whilst this is simmering, 

Preheat the oven to 180ºc

Prepare the white sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add your milk little by little, whisking the entire time to avoid lumps. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens, if the sauce becomes too thick, add more milk until you achieve the correct consistency (think of the consistency used in a lasagne). Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese and season with salt & pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasoning until you are happy with the flavour.

Turn your attention back to the aubergines, dab with carlton towel to drain away any remaining liquid and excess salt.  Coat the aubergine rounds in olive oil and fry in batches , in a non stick pan over high heat for a minute or two before turning and cooking the other side – you want to achieve a nice charred appearance. (If you have a griddle pan, use it).

Layer your oven proof dish with the mince sauce, white sauce and a layer of aubergines, repeat if necessary and end with a final layer of white sauce. Mix together the remaining parmesan cheese with the breadcrumbs, sprinkle on top and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until bubbling and golden !

Serve with a salad of baby spinach leaves, tomatoes, cucumber and feta and a good bottle of red wine 🙂

 

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

Photography by Darren Bester

 

Yield: 4

Ingredients 

8 Quail eggs

8 slices Parma Ham

Baby Gem Lettuce or Crisp Lettuce or Cos Lettuce

8 Ciabatta Bread Slices

Parmesan Cheese for garnishing

For the dressing: 

1 egg

1 clove garlic

2tsp Dijon Mustard

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 anchovy fillets

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup vegetable oil

Method: 

Cut the ciabatta bread as thinly as possible, place on a baking tray and bake at 100 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, until crisp and golden, remove from the oven and set aside.  Soft boil the quail eggs (2 minutes) and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Peel the eggs carefully and set aside.  Place the Parma Ham on a baking sheet and bake at 140 degrees for 5 – 8 minutes, until crisp, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Shred your lettuce and place on the centre of each plate.  For the dressing – place the egg, garlic, dijon mustard, anchovy, lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend to combine, slowly add the oil, drop by drop until it emulsifies and forms a mayonnaise consistency, season to taste.

Drizzle sauce over your salad leaves generously, top the leaves with the ham and your home made ciabatta croutons, drop your quail eggs into hot water to heat through for 30 seconds, drain, season and plate. Garnish with parmesan shavings & enjoy, with a nice glass of wine !

Notes: If living in Cape Town, you can buy quail eggs and anchovies from Giovanni’s in Green Point.  Soft boiled quail eggs are so tricky to peel, so buy a few extra as you are bound to have a few ‘casualty’s’ like I did.   If making this salad for dinner at home, opt for normal eggs, they provide more sauce for your salad, they easier to peel and more affordable.  You can make your croutons a few days ahead of time and bake your Parma Ham a few hours in advance.  The dressing can also be made a day or 2 in advance.  The dressing was a big hit at my dinner party, the recipe for the dressing was taken from one of my Donna Hay cookbooks.  A great dinner party starter as all the prep is done ahead of time so all you have to do is plate up and serve!

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Bite Sized Caprese Salad Skewers

Bite Sized Caprese Salad Skewers

Photography by Darren Bester

 

Yield: 20 – 24

 Ingredients

12 Mini Rosa Tomatoes, halved

12 Bocconcini halved (fresh bite size mozzarella balls)

4 – 5 Fresh Basil leaves shredded

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cocktail Sized Fork Skewers

Method: 

Marinade the tomato halves and mozzarella balls in a little olive oil with salt & pepper

Remove the tomatoes and pierce each half through a cocktail sized fork skewer

Shred the basil leaves and add to the mozzarella and olive oil mixture, stir well to combine (use your discretion as to how much basil to incorporate)

Pierce the mozzarella, now coated with basil, on top of the tomato skewer

Plate mozzarella side down

Notes: Marinade your tomato & mozzarella ahead of time but no more than 1 hour – any longer and the vibrant colour of the tomato will deteriorate.  I struggled to find the mini bocconcini & eventually found them at Giovanni’s Deli in Greenpoint, Cape Town. 

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