Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunday Roasts... Now Served on Tuesdays

Public holidays on a Tuesday, while welcome, do kind of mess with your system. It felt decidedly like a Sunday yesterday, so in keeping with the mood (and because it was "Freedom Day" and I was freely avoiding the work I'd brought home) I made roast chicken. There's nothing like a lazy Sunday roast, served with a chilled glass of rose, enjoyed in the sunshine on a breathless autumn day...

This is a recipe I picked up from one of my mum's (The Mother Bird) friends, about a decade ago. Mrs Gardner (yes, incidentally, she does have very green fingers) was my music teacher, and more often than not, there was some delicious smell wafting into the music room during my afternoon classes. On this occasion (which I remember so vividly – it's amazing what your senses absorb) she went to baste the chicken and told me the recipe. Sprinkled with brown onion soup and doused in orange juice (plus fresh oranges are in season now) I've adapted the recipe slightly (adding garlic, which I love with everything), but it's so simple and makes a moist roast and gravy, without using any additional fat.

* whole bird, rinsed and patted dry
* 4 onions, quartered
* 1 orange, halved
* packet brown onion soup mix
* 2 garlic cloves
* orange juice

Place the chicken in a casserole dish. Crush the garlic and spread over the chicken. Quarter one half of the orange, and stuff in the bird's cavity with one or two quarters of onion. Scatter the rest of the onion around the bird. Liberally sprinkle the chicken with about half a packet of brown onion soup and pour orange juice over the chicken and onions, so the onions are covered (this will eventually form your gravy). Slice the other half of the orange into circles, and cover the top of the chicken to keep the skin moist and infuse with orange (completely optional if oranges out of season). Put the lid on and cook for about 40 minutes in 200ºC oven. Take off the lid, baste the bird with the juice and cook without the lid on for about 30 minutes (basting once or twice during that time). Remove from oven and take the orange slices off the chicken, sprinkle with some more soup mix, baste once more and then turn on the grill to crisp the skin. Once it's looking nice and brown, remove from the oven, place on a serving dish with the caramelised onions and strain the gravy through a sieve into a serving jug. Add a little boiling water and the rest of the brown onion soup mix to taste, stirring until thickened and smooth. I served this with gravy-coated rice and steamed marrows and patty pans. Bon appetit!

Basic Yummy Banana Bread

I can't seem to control our bananas! They all ripen at once, going all soft and brown overnight. To make the most of the last disobedient bunch, that seemed to go brown as I unpacked them, I made this delicious banana bread. So we've had something delicious to snack on for tea the whole week. It's a variation on a standard banana bread recipe – I added some bran to give it texture and make it less cake and a little more wholesome (low-GI peace of mind, I guess!)

  • 125g butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4-5 ripe bananas (use more or less to taste – I had quite a few bananas, so I just doubled the recipe)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup bran
  • 2ml/half a tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • 1 tsp baking powder
Cream together butter and brown sugar, until blended and smooth. Add the mashed bananas. Beat in the eggs, one eat a time, combining well after each addition. Sift flour, salt, bicarb and baking powder and add bran. Stir into liquid mixture with a wooden spoon, mixing well.* Pour into a greased loaf pan or muffin tin. Bake for 45 minutes at 180ºC (or 15 to 20 minutes for muffins) until loaf comes away from the sides and is springy to touch. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and turn onto rack to cool completely. TIP Sprinkle the top with brown sugar before baking (or about 10 minutes before getting it out the oven) for a crispy top.

*I always think afterwards that it would taste great with pecan or walnuts, so add some chopped ones here, if you'd like.

If, like me, you can't stand eating oozing, sticky bananas, but you just can't bear throwing things out either, here's a really simple, delicious and low-fat banana smoothie great for breakfast or as an after-dinner sweet drink: blend ice, bananas, milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon until creamy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My LookBook1: Only Boys Wear Blue

I woke to the sound of rain being whipped against the window by gusts of wind. Like most mornings, rain or not, I could think of nothing better than staying in bed all day. And, like most mornings, I attempt to remain under the covers for as long as I possibly can, by planning what I'm going to wear that day, rationalising that it'll save time later.

It normally starts with shoes, which are dictated to by the needs of the day (Meetings? Will I be walking anywhere? Going for a drink after work?) and the weather. I decided today was a brogue day. And so the rest of my outfit was born. I love wearing my boyfriend jeans with brogues; love the combination of blue and tan and love incorporating more masculine clothes into stylish, feminine work looks! Following the emerging theme, the most sensible and natural choice was my boyfriend's light blue shirt, cinched in at the waist with a cream and tan belt. I accessorised with silver bangles, delicate leaf-shaped earrings and one of my favourite hats – a wool, checked fedora in grey, blue and tan – that I picked up in a thrift store in Pennsylvania. It's amazing how an outfit can change your mood. Today, I feel comfortable, confident and in control.

The Beginning of a Beautiful Thing...

Don't you love starting something new? Whether it's a book, a bottle of wine or a romance, there's something beautiful about beginnings. I've been wanting to begin this for a while. Blogging, I mean. I deal with words all day, sitting at my Mac in the corner of the office (follow the dry wall warren as far as you can go and you'll find me there). But they're usually other people's words, that I'm moulding and shaping for the men's magazine I work on.

So I've been torn between wanting to escape into a creative space all of my own, and escape from my computer all together; to get outside and breathe in some fresh air or the pages of a musty book. In my search for balance, however, I strive to fill my life with joyful, interesting, inspiring, stylish, creative, fun and tasty things. Join me as I record the things around me that I love and am passionate about – from fashion to food, wine to words, restaurants to running and making beautiful things to wear, eat and drink. (Mostly to eat!)