Winter is such a sweet sounding word for me down here. I hated winter in England. Those dark, gloomy days were miserable. It's one of the main reasons we moved. Funny how I've spent most of my life eagerly waiting for spring and the hot days that follow. And now I'm happy to ignore the fact that summer is almost upon us... and those wretched bugs. Blurgh!
I guess that's why I wasn't even looking for spring to arrive. I've loved the weather over the past few months. Warm bright days and cool nights. You can do all the summery outdoor stuff in the day, and still have an excuse to cook a hearty stew or a roast for dinner at night when it's cold outside. It's been perfect.
Speaking of roasts, I often get asked what I cook at home. I think everyone somehow imagines that I'm serving up soufflés, making pastry and pounding curry pastes every night of the week. Once upon a time, yes. My food is still very much ingredient- and flavour-driven, but I'm like every other mum out there: I want food on the table pronto.
A favourite that I confess to making a little too often is my mum's shove-it-all-in chicken dish. There's no recipe. It's veg, a nice free-range bird, stock.
Whatever vegetables I have get cut into large chunks and go into a large roasting dish – think potatoes, carrots, courgettes, onions, parsnips. Sit the chicken on top, season well, and add whatever herb takes your fancy – I never miss an opportunity to smother chicken in tarragon. Pour in enough chicken stock so that most of the vegetables are covered (you want some to be poking out to crisp and caramelise) – around a litre does it for me. Then leave it in a hottish oven to do its thing for about an hour and a half, depending on the size of your chook and if your oven, like mine, has two settings: off and hot.
|Crisp, salty, herby chicken skin is what we all fight over – Luca included!|
The day will come again when I massage herb butter over the bird, cradle it on an onion and garlic trivet to flavour the gravy, make roast potatoes (the proper way), Yorkshire pudding and a silly number of vegetables all prepared differently – how much time did I have?? – then lovingly make the gravy adding this and that to get the flavour just right. Yum. I can taste it now.
Until that day, it's one pots, super-quick curries and baked whole fish (something else I do to death).
With spring has come new-season mangoes from the Northern Territory. Very exciting to see them at the greengrocer this week all piled up high and smelling sweet. I bought some along with a bag of passionfruit.
|Luca's dessert was very well received tonight|
Maybe if I just think about the food coming our way, summer won't be so bad after all.
P.S. In case you're wondering how the above can be deemed pronto, I am actually referring to the time spent in the kitchen. I personally don't mind something cooking on its own for hours on end – as long as I can be somewhere else! In fact, I prefer those slow-cook recipes, because they invariably mean there's plenty left over. My boys wouldn't survive without leftovers and as such I plan my meals with leftovers in mind. More on that soon...