Sunday, February 26, 2012

Plan B

Surprisingly for this time of year, we appear to be having a heat wave! So I am rethinking the Chicken with sauce chasseur, and will make instead a vegetable tagine salad. Some roasting of vegetables is involved, but only 25 minutes worth as opposed to over an hour. Hopefully looks and tastes great, I'll try to get a shot and share. Gotta get moving!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Roast Chicken with sauce chasseur

Picture: Penny Williams
It's the end of another busy, fantastic week. I have a new role (in another department) at the company I work for, and am in the process of transitioning between the old and the new roles. I am working a couple of days (Sunday/Mondays) in my old role, then the new one for the rest of my working week. I have 2 more weeks of this to go then I can finally sink my teeth fully into the new role - so I feel like I am in a holding pattern at the moment. I think my new boss and team are wonderful, but I already miss the camaraderie of the lab. I am more in a "corporate" type role now and it is a whole new world - even though it is only 100 metres away!

My week started out on a high after our team win at the Whaleboat Championships on Sunday. I also managed to break past my "8 minute barrier" when running. It took a while to get past it, but this week I forced myself to not look at the timer on the iPhone app and somehow managed to push through a whole 12 minutes non-stop. I am pretty sure I levitated all the way home after that. I am now dealing with the fact that I actually am starting to enjoy running. (let's try and keep that just between you and I, yes?).

Food Critic Andrew and I are having  a house-guest this weekend! An old friend is doing a yoga retreat at Apollo Bay then will be staying with us for a couple of nights to explore Warrnambool/indulge in some more seaside meditation.   There are no whales to be seen this time of year, but there is a "Dirty angel". Yeah, that's pretty unfortunate!

Pfft, enough digression - let's talk about what we're all here for - the Chicken that gave me my mojo back.For ages, roasting a decent (and tasty) chicken seemed to be a pipe dream but Guillaume Brahimi has saved the day! Late last year I visited his Bistro Guillaume in Melbourne, and Food Critic Andrew and I were hugely impressed by the tastiest ever roasted chicken we ate there.  

So I don't think it was a coincidence that a copy of "Guillaume - Food for friends" landed in my lap recently. Of course it has the recipe for roast chicken with sauce chasseur ("hunter's sauce") within and I have made it 3 times now, each time with wonderful results. I'll faithfully reproduce the exact recipe here -noting that I substituted fresh ground white pepper with fresh ground black pepper. One thing I won't substitute is a free range chicken - it is well worth paying a bit more for all that extra juicy, ethical  goodness.

Roast Chicken with sauce chasseur
from "Guillaume: Food for Friends" by Guillaume Brahimi


3 large bay leaves
1/2 bunch thyme
1 head of garlic (cut in half, across the middle)
1 x 1.6kg free range chicken (Brahimi recommends Barossa Valley Poultry here, but I think that any brand free range chicken will do)
sea salt and fresh ground white pepper
50ml olive oil

Sauce Chasseur

25g unsalted butter
6 Swiss brown mushrooms, stalks removed, sliced
1 golden shallot, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, peeled, seeded and diced (yes, it is totally worth the extra step here, I promise you)
75 ml dry white wine
175 ml chicken stock/jus
1 small sprig tarragon, leaves only
fresh ground white pepper


Firstly, preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius, or 200 fan forced
1. wash your chicken, and place a bay leaf, half the thyme and one half of the garlic in the cavity. Season with salt and pepper
2. tuck the wings and legs in and tie with kitchen twine
3. In a large fry-pan, heat the oil, then brown the chicken on all sides at medium heat
4. Transfer the chicken to a roasting tray (with rack) and add the remaining herbs and garlic to the tray under the chicken
5. Roast for approximately 55 minutes (until juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh)
6. Remove from the oven, and rest the chicken before serving

Whilst resting the chicken, prepare the sauce chasseur as follows

1. melt the butter in the saucepan over medium heat, adding the mushroom and cook for 3 minutes
2. Add the shallot and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until golden brown, then stir through the tomato
3. Pour in the wine to de-glaze and cook until the wine is reduced by half
4. Pour in the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by a third
5. Remove from heat and stir though tarragon and pepper to taste
6. Before serving, pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve with roasted vegetables, (or as Guillaume suggests, paris mash or gratin dauphinois)

If you liked this, you might like:
Roast Duck!

What to do with leftovers?
Chicken Udon noodle soup:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I hope this won't end up as a coffee-centric blog so I won't bore you with the great latte explosion of 2012 (which occurred only yesterday). I am definitely downloading this app later on. It looks pretty awesome if you are after your "optimal caffeine zone". I think it would be handy for exams of you are studying!  Or, just to get you through the day....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Captive audience + espresso machine = price gouging....

I totally get that restaurants/cafes have to pay their staff, pay their utilities and generally try and make a profit in there somewhere, but surely, surely $4.50 is way too much for a large takeaway coffee?

I was at the 2012 Australian Whaleboat Championships today and after the second heat decided to wander over to Proudfoot's (let's clarify before you comment, it is definitely "foot's", not "feet") to order a coffee. The only other food available (without having to physically drive anywhere) was a Rotary sausage sizzle, or the local rowing clubs hot dog stand. I'd already supported these 2 wonderful causes (the mystery meat journey has continued this week) and so ended up at Proudfoots looking for a caffeine hit. 

But humph! $4.50 for a bit of steamed up milk and a couple of shots of espresso - and don't forget the chocolate sprinkles. I am usually a latte drinker, but when I am not familiar with the Barista's work I order a cappuccino in case it is bitter (my theory is that the chocolate might go some way to masking any bitterness). 

It WAS a decent coffee, but price gouging makes me so angry! Just because you have a captive audience doesn't mean you should take them for a ride. 
Kitty Esposito took this awesome picture of the team.
Anyway, the good news of the day is that our team - The Sungold Lab Rats won the day - we are the "back to back" Australian Champion mixed team. That's me sweeping (um...standing up and steering if you're not familiar with that sort of language). We are now working on getting our faces on milk cartons this year - the women's team that won last year got their face on Vegemite jars but we aim to go one better.....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just roasted up some marvellous PNG coffee beans..

I have just roasted some amazing beans, and of course I (my hair! my entire being!) smell like coffee. In fact, no let's just skip that to my entire house smells like coffee. But I'll have some amazing coffee love in the morning. I've pulled out the coffee roaster to take my mind off the Australian Whaleboat Racing championships tomorrow - I am steering the damn boat! I am pretty nervous about over correcting and generally looking like an idiot out there on the water. Captain Giorgio just sent everyone a text reminding us "no booze, no sex!"). Oh, well I guess I could put that (well deserved) glass of temperanillo down, yes?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Late summer in the Repertoire Food garden!

Yeah, there's supposed to be passion-fruit and capsicums somewhere in there.
Photo: Penny Williams
I am an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to gardening, especially in the colder climate we now live in. I grew up in a sub-tropical climate where snails and frost were unheard of and you can grow tomatoes all year round.

So this year (our second here in Warrnambool) I have learnt from last years mistakes and there are all sorts of good looking plants all over the place. We have, thanks to our compost pile, feral tomatoes starting up all over the garden and  I am leaving many of them to grow.

I had put in a passion-fruit plant and surrounded it with compost for a good start. It was promptly decimated by snails (who knew they were such fans?)Then the tomatoes grew all around it and dwarfed the poor thing. It is still hanging in there - at least the tomatoes have given the poor thing a physical barrier from snails. I am hoping it will continue to survive and outlast the tomato harvest.

Mint. Probably should be in a pot!
Photo: Penny Williams
I have planted many more herbs (tarragon, mint, basil) and put in some capsicums and zucchinis (blackjack, I think they are). The capsicums have been well, overwhelmed by the tomatoes and I have so far had a lot of zucchini flowers but no actual fruit. 

I also found that the Silverbeet (Swiss chard) roots that I had composted last year had sprung back into life and now we have 2 lots of it. Which would be great if we actually ate a lot of it....I am cooking up Guillaume Brahimi's Roast Chicken with Sauce Chasseur this evening so perhaps I'll add this as a side. 

Yes, there are more feral tomatoes to the left there....
Photo: Penny Williams

Friday, February 3, 2012

On collecting recipes...and a recipe for Cafe Style Banana Bread

Picture: Penny Williams

One of my favourite things is searching out new and interesting recipes to try. Of course, this means that every time I find one, I bookmark it under "recipes to try". I have these sub folders in my bookmark file: "recipes to try" and "recipe sites" and "food shopping". I find a lot of these ideas at tastespotting as well as the food blogs I read on a regular basis such as notquitenigella and FOODjimoto. It is a wicked spiral of course, because on these sites I find plenty of things to cook and there IS only so much time and so many meals in one's life. Of course, that tally doesn't even begin to include the recipes that are found in magazines or cookbooks! I also seem to collect too many of them. So over my summer holidays had a bit of a cull a few to declutter and make more room. Of course, that made more room for the cook books I received as Christmas of course it is a vicious cycle! One thing is for sure, I need more room in my kitchen.

Anyway, one of these recipes I found recently on the Internet is this wonderful Cafe Style Banana Bread over at Clairekcreations (a fellow Qld'er to boot! I miss my home state sometimes) I just made some this afternoon and it is just delicious. I think you have to be really careful with the banana bread recipes; this one however is lovely and moist -just as it should be. In this lot, I left the walnuts out since I didn't have any and didn't feel like wandering down to the store. I have kept it in the recipe though.  I love the pictures on the recipe -she has so much more patience than me to photograph the whole process!

Cafe Style Banana Bread (from

1 cup mashed banana (this was about 2 and a bit small bananas)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
40g butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup buttermilk (I didn't have any, so I followed Clairek's suggestion and used milk with a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice in it)
1/4 cup treacle or 1/4 cup honey (I actually used a teaspoon of molasses, then topped up to a quarter cup of honey here, for a stronger taste)
1 and 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup SR flour
2 heaped tsp mixed spice
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
heaped quarter cup chopped walnuts (you could also use chopped pecan nuts if you wish)

Decoration (not required, but looks lovely!)
extra banana, thinly sliced lengthways
Sugar crystals, such as CSR Coffee Sugar Crystals 


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, or 160 degrees (fan forced). 

1. Combine the wet ingredients (banana, sugar, eggs, butter, buttermilk, treacle) in a large bowl or mixer. 
2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and then transfer to a greased loaf pan
 *if you would like a bit of decoration put thinly sliced banana diagonally on top, then shake some sugar crystals over that for a bit of crunchiness)
3. Bake for 1 hour. An inserted knife or skewer should come out clean at this stage. If you decide to make these as mini muffins instead, it will take about 20 minutes
4. Let it cool in pan for around 5 minutes then transfer to a rack. 
5. Serve to your adoring masses, toasted (or not!) with butter slathered on liberally.