Baked Alaskas are a little intimidating. This challenge garnered quite a few comments from those who loved the idea but were too nervous to give it a try. The response, from those of us who gave it a go, is that Baked Alaskas are not as complicated as they seem nor as prone to failure as we worried they’d be. The effort is worth the reward of these magical hot cold desserts.

 

photo

Hannah from Corner Cottage Bakery was the bravest of all of us, I think. Testing her theory of which foods make sense on sticks (in the current cake pops, pie pops style) she created crazy fabulous Coconut Baked Alaska Pops. She added coconut to a Genoise sponge recipe, made a creamy coconut ice cream, sandwiched the two together around a lollipop stick and dipped to coat in a thick layer of Italian meringue. A blow torch finished things off. I’m not usually a pops kind of person, but I think this idea is wonderful!

 

CheatChocCherryBakedAlaska-0195

Suffering from a nasty cold that wouldn’t shift and several weeks of poor sleep, I came up with a Cheat’s Chocolate Cherry Baked Alaska as a way of joining in without making cake or ice cream. I combined shop-bought dense chocolate loaf cake, Morello cherry jam and Belgian chocolate ice cream, smothered them in a regular meringue mix and baked in the oven for a few minutes. To my delight, the meringue browned up and the ice cream stayed frozen inside. Result!

 

raspberrybakedalaska

Back to proper home-made efforts with Julia from Food Blog London’s vibrant Raspberry Almond Baked Alaska. For her base, she made a raspberry almond cake, which she topped with home made raspberry sorbet. Once covered with meringue, she baked in a hot oven. Julia mentioned that her sorbet leaked in a few places, and soaked into the sponge a little and we are wondering whether that was down to sorbet melting faster than ice cream, lack of a layer of jam between cake and sorbet or the need for a thicker insulating layer of meringue? Feedback welcome!

 

claire

Claire from Under The Blue Gum Tree already knows that her honey and ginger combination is a winner, and used it again to great effect in her Honey and Ginger Baked Alaska. She made her delicious sticky gingerbread for the base, topped it with home-made honeycomb ice cream and put on the insulating meringue before a quick stint in a hot oven. Doesn’t it look beautiful?

 

jennie

I think it’s safe to say that most of us who took part this month had never before made a Baked Alaska. But Jennie from Things I Eat had never even eaten one, so her Lemony Baked Alaska was a double first! She used madeira cake for her base, made a condensed milk and yoghurt ice cream with lemon curd swirled through, added more lemon curd between cake and ice cream and topped with Italian meringue. I think it’s safe to say she really enjoyed the sensation of a dessert that was both hot and cold at the same time!

 

IceCreamChallenge mini

Huge thanks to all who participated. I hope you enjoyed your Baked Alaskas!

Look out for May’s #BSFIC challenge, coming soon and with a fantastic prize to be won for the best entry.

 

Kit Kats are a quintessentially British chocolate snack, originally launched in London and South East England by Rowntree’s back in 1935. They quickly spread around the world and are now a popular sweet in many countries. The iconic “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat” advertising slogan appeared in 1958, cementing the brand’s identity.

Although they were initially made in Britain, production and distribution was expanded (into Germany) to meet demand. Rowntree’s also signed agreements with Hershey and Fuijya to market and distribute their products in the USA and Japan respectively. In 1988 Rowntree’s was purchased by Nestlé, who then had global control over the Kit Kat brand everywhere except North America, which Hershey retained. Nestlé created new facilities in Japan, Malaysia, India and China. In 2000, Nestlé also acquired Fujiya’s share of the brand.

Variations in Kat Kat flavours didn’t appear until 1996 when Kit Kat Orange was launched in the UK. In the years since, flavours such as double chocolate, white chocolate, caramel, mint and peanut butter were also released. These flavours have been resolutely mainstream, chosen to appeal to the widest possible demographic and frankly, they add little to the wider confectionery scene.

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But in Japan, the world of Kit Kats is completely different. Indeed, Nestle has released over 200 flavours since 2000 including ginger ale, soy sauce, green tea, banana, and strawberry cheesecake. These are often created as short term limited editions, which presumably gives more scope for the unusual and the outrageous. The other side of the coin is an audience far more receptive to the new and different than us Brits.

Because it sounds so much like the Japanese good luck phrase, kitto katsu, which means “surely win”, Kit Kats have become a popular gift for any occasion that calls for wishing the recipient well. Of course, the constant innovation in new flavours (not to mention packaging designs) also keeps interest keen.

 JapanKitKats-4963

Although we ate as many traditional local specialities as we could during our trip to Japan last year, I was determined to find as many Japanese Kit Kat variations as possible.

We tasted them all in one sitting – here’s our feedback on the 9 flavours I brought home:

 

JapanKitKats-4936
Wa-Ichigo Strawberry

“Quite a good strawberry flavour”, says Pete, but slightly artificial. To me it tastes like cheap strawberry flavoured milkshakes from our childhood, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

 

JapanKitKats-4939
Citrus Golden Blend

Although this smells incredibly sweet, on the palate it actually has an unexpectedly pleasant balance of sharp and sweet. Pete too likes that “bit of acid to it”. This works.

 

JapanKitKats-4940
Strawberry Cheesecake

To me this Kit Kat reeks of blue cheese; to Pete it’s Parmesan he picks up on the nose. I find it has an unpleasant milky flavour (and I mean the dairy product here not milk or white chocolate) as well as an odd hint of coconut. Pete (who has an even sweeter tooth than I do) comments on the extreme sweetness and the coconut and says that whilst he also detects a “faint hint of artificial fruit”, he “can’t tell what it is”. Not a resounding success with either of us, this one.

 

JapanKitKats-4942
Rum Raisin

Wow! It smells right! And it tastes right too. There’s even a hint of alcohol to the taste, though I can’t read the box to confirm whether or not it actually contains any. Pete really likes it too, but comments that he “wouldn’t like to have to take a breathalyser test after eating one!”

 

JapanKitKats-4944
Hojicha Roasted Tea

Oh, this is like a cup of strongly brewed black tea with milk and a rich tea biscuit. It’s fabulous and I absolutely love it! Pete too says it smells and tastes just like cup of tea. He’s not quite as keen as I am but definitely approves.

 

JapanKitKats-4946
Wasabi

Pete gets a hint of wasabi on the nose, but I can’t pick it up at all and wonder whether the taste will be equally faint. So I’m pleasantly surprised to find it has a strong and distinct wasabi flavour but no wasabi heat. Pete declares that it’s “disturbing, very disturbing” in the way that it captures the essence of wasabi but puts it into chocolate.

 

JapanKitKats-4948
Uji-Matcha

Described as Uji-Matcha, after a well-known tea-producing town in Kansai this is one of the more mainstream Kit Kat flavours available in Japan. Matcha (powdered green tea) is used to flavour all manner of sweet and savoury dishes from noodles to ice cream, from cakes to salt mixes for tempura. Given that he’s not at all keen on matcha as a drink or an ingredient, Pete’s understandably not so enamoured of this Kit Kat as I am. For me, it’s a straightforward and fairly successful flavouring though the distinctive bitterness of matcha is a little too tempered by the milk and sugar for my tastes.

 

JapanKitKats-4950
Sakura Matcha

In this Kit Kat, sakura (cherry blossom) is combined with matcha to create a uniquely Japanese treat. I find the matcha is somewhat overwhelmed by the flowers which give a rather strong perfume-like flavour which is very sweet and cloying. Neither of us would seek this out again.

 

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Adult Sweetness

This is the only box which had no English writing at all, so I turn to twitter to ask if anyone could read Japanese. My friend Richard responds with a range of possibilities, eventually concluding that the name roughly translates as “adult sweetness”. We are at a loss to work out whether it means sophisticated and grown up or an altogether ruder interpretation!

In any case, we don’t like it at all. Pete thinks it “smells familiar” but “unpleasant” and tastes “peculiar”. My exact words are that it has “an absolutely horrid smell” and I find it incredibly sickly. If forced to guess I’d say it was based on cookies and cream, but don’t hold me to it.

 

JapanKitKats-0134

Our top three, in no particular order, were Rum Raisin, Hojicha Roasted Tea and Wasabi with a runner up high five to Uji-Matcha.

 

Have you tasted any of the Japanese Kit Kat flavours? If so which ones and what did you think of them? Any you particularly loved or hated?

We’re going back to Japan later this year, so will look out for some different ones during our trip.

 

 

READER GIVEAWAY

I have one set of all 9 flavours above to give away to a Kavey Eats reader. The prize includes 9 individually wrapped mini Kit Kats, which I’ll put into a (non-branded) box for posting. I am happy to deliver anywhere in the UK.

(Note: Japanese mini kit kats are half the size of the usual two fingered ones we get here in the UK.)

 

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me what new flavour you think would be great in a Kit Kat. It can be savoury or sweet.

Entry 2 – Facebook

Like the Kavey Eats Facebook and leave a (separate) comment on this blog post with your Facebook user name.

Entry 3 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a set of 9 mini Japanese Kit Kats from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/LrBDk #KaveyEatsKitKats
(Please do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the hashtag. And don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!”)

 

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 17th May 2013.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • The prize is a hand-assembled set of 9 mini Kit Kats in the flavours listed above and includes free delivery anywhere in the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided directly by Kavey Eats.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Facebook entry per person only. You do not have to enter all three ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Facebook entries, winners must Like the Kavey Eats Facebook page at time of notification.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email, Twitter or Facebook. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

This competition is closed. The winner is Doreen (blog comment entry).

 

 

A nice, fresh but rather small fillet of fresh Norwegian skrei cod we were sent recently necessitated a recipe that could stretch it into a filling meal for two. Pete remembered the cookery book we bought after our day at The Billingsgate Seafood Training School and sure enough, their fish pie, bulked out with eggs and leeks, fit the bill.

Skrei FishPie-5071 Skrei FishPie-5069

The fish is first poached in milk, with a bay leaf. The strained milk is set aside and the skin and any pin bones are removed from the fish. Sliced leek is cooked in butter to soften before flour, cayenne, nutmeg and mustard are added. The reserved milk is added and the sauce cooked until it has thickened. Hard boiled eggs, herbs and the fish (in pieces) are stirred into the sauce and the mixture is transferred into a large oven dish. Potatoes are mashed and blended with butter and milk before being spread over the filling. Some grated cheese is sprinkled over before the pie is baked until golden brown.

Skrei FishPie-5073

This is a great recipe to make a piece of fish go a little further and is a comforting and warming dish.

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Skrei FishPie-5065
 Skrei FishPie-5067 Skrei FishPie-5072
Skrei FishPie-5074

With thanks to the Norwegian Seafood Council for the Norwegian skrei (cod) sample.

 

Like quite a few dishes in Japan, katsu originated elsewhere in the world but, as with many so-called yōshoku (Western) foods, the Japanese made it their own. Based on a European breaded cutlet, it was originally called katsuretsu (a phonetic representation of “cutlet”) but was quickly shorted to katsu. Pork (ton)katsu is the most popular but chicken is also widely enjoyed.

Likewise, another yōshoku dish is curry rice, known in Japanese as karē raisu. This type of curry didn’t come to Japan from India (though Indian style curries can certainly be found in Japan) but from Britain, courtesy of the Royal Navy and is similar to anglicised versions of curry that were popular in Britain a few decades ago.

Indeed, when I started investigating recipes for the curry sauce, thinking to create my own spice mix from scratch, I quickly discovered that the Japanese rely on pre-purchased mixes. Restaurants buy this in powdered form, combining it with tomato, coconut milk and a few other ingredients. Home cooks often opt for the ready made blocks or granules which they simply cook with water, adding carrots and onions if they wish.

ChickenKatsuCurry-4901

Katsu-karē is the combination of both the above imports – breaded pork, chicken or beef are served with rice and a generous puddle of curry sauce.

Japanese rice is different to the varieties I’m most familiar with. It’s short grain and somewhat sticky but not the same as the glutinous varieties used in East Asian sticky rice dishes. When we’ve have none to hand, we’ve substituted fragrant basmati but I think Italian risotto types such as arborio would be closer. More recently we’ve stocked up on some Japanese rice at our local Japanese grocery store.

 

Chicken Katsu Curry Rice

Ingredients
For chicken
400 grams mini breast fillets, or chicken breasts cut into a few pieces
1 to 1.5 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup plain seasoned flour (salt and pepper)
1 large egg (may need a second egg)
For frying
Vegetable oil as per your deep fat fryer
For serving
Japanese rice (or basmati if Japanese rice not available)
Curry sauce made up from mix, available from Japanese grocery shops
Optional: onions and carrots, diced, to add to curry sauce

Note: It’s impossible to give exact measurements for egg, flour and breadcrumbs needed as it will depend on the exact size of your chicken pieces. I buy panko breadcrumbs in large bags so I can easily shake a little more into the bowl if needed.

ChickenKatsuCurry-4889 ChickenKatsuCurry-4888
Panko breadcrumbs and curry sauce nix

Instructions

  • Cook your rice while preparing and frying the chicken.
  • Likewise, make up your curry sauce according to the packet instructions, adding onions and carrots if you like.
  • To prepare the chicken, dip (and turn to coat evenly) a chicken fillet in the seasoned flour then dip (and turn to coat evenly) into beaten egg and then dip (and turn to coat evenly) into panko breadcrumbs.
  • Pre heat oil in fryer to 160 C.
  • Carefully lower chicken pieces into oil – don’t try and do too many together or they’ll clump and shake the basket a couple of times towards the beginning to help them separate.
  • They are ready when the breadcumb coating is a nice golden shade of brown, not too pale (or chicken is undercooked) and not too dark. We’ve found that the mini fillets we buy from our supermarket are just the right size to cook through perfectly in the time it takes the breadcrumbs to colour nicely.
  • Serve with rice and curry sauce.

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ChickenKatsuCurry-4897 ChickenKatsuCurry-4899

Alternatively, you could enjoy your katsu chicken with kewpie mayonnaise (a richer, yolkier Japanese mayonnaise) and tonkatsu sauce, available Japanese grocery shops.

 

You may also enjoy reading my posts about our Japan trip last year.

 

Fellow blogger and food writer Rejina is a friend of mine, and one I’ve long thought deserved a cookery book deal, so I was delighted to be sent a review copy of her first title, Gastrogeek (What to eat when you’re in a hurry, hungry or hard up). Her blog of the same name has been a source of great ideas for the last four years – indeed she launched her blog just weeks before I started mine.

GastrogeekMacCheese-0125

Having talked to Rejina, I can understand why her innovative pitch instantly caught her publisher’s attention – she proposed (and showcased) a photographic comic-book style approach based on her memory of teenage magazines from her childhood. Just as the illustrated stories in those magazines did for teenage love dramas, her aim with this book was to provide solutions to common kitchen dilemmas such as creating restorative meals after shitty days at work, conjuring up meals from the store cupboard when cash is tight, cooking up a storm to impress guests and feeding a hangover in the best possible way.

gastrogeek

There are some disappointments about the book, and I know Rejina will forgive me for being honest about them. In my opinion, the publishers haven’t done a great job on the book design. Too focused on Rejina’s clever theme, they seem to have fallen under the impression that the audience for the book must be the same teenagers those magazines were aimed at and the design feels a bit childish as a result. And whoever thought teal green was the right colour for the cover of a cookery book or that a font suspiciously similar to Comic Sans was right for the text inside ought to be ashamed of themselves. I also found many of the photographs far too dark, especially the black and white ones – I’ve no idea whether the fault lies in the image processing or the printing but it makes the pages look far drabber than they should.

The good news, however, is that the quality of Rejina’s content shines through regardless and is why I recommend you purchase this book even if the appearance puts you off at first glance.

In a few of the dishes, Rejina’s British-Bengali background comes through – she shares her Dahl of Dreams, Curried Roast Bone Marrow (which reminds me of my own bone marrow curry) and Duck Egg, Spinach and Coconut Curry, amongst others. But the majority of the recipes are a wide-ranging and eclectic mix with influences from all around the world – just the way many of us cook these days. Rejina lived in Japan for a while, and her love of umami (and a few key Japanese ingredients) comes through too. I’ve bookmarked Miso Butter Roasted Chicken, Mini Chicken & Mushroom Pies, BBQ Ribs in Dr Pepper and Teriyaki Rice Burgers to name just a few.

Recently Pete and I made her Roasted Aubergine Macaroni Cheese and to say we liked it is an understatement. Not only did the textures and flavours of the dish come together to create a whole that was far more impressive than its simple ingredients suggested, the instructions were also spot on and very straightforward to follow. That last bit should be a given, shouldn’t it, but it’s not uncommon to find yourself adjusting cooking times and amounts to achieve the consistency and results described by the author. In this case, the recipe worked like clockwork.

What made this macaroni cheese shine were the smokey flavours from the smoked paprika, aubergine and smoked cheddar.

 

Gastrogeek’s Amazing Roasted Aubergine Macaroni Cheese

Serves 4 (or 2 very greedy people)

Ingredients
1 aubergine
300 grams dried macaroni
35 grams butter
25 grams plain flour
300 ml whole milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly grated nutmeg, to season
0.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
90 grams smoked Cheddar cheese, grated plus some for sprinkling
100 ml double cream
1 garlic clove, crushed

Method

  • Roast the aubergine in a hot oven (220 C) for 20-25 minutes. Carefully peel and mash the creamy innards.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  • Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions. Drain and transfer to a 25 x 20 cm greased baking dish, reserving a little of the cooking water.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan and stir in the flour. Cook the roux over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly and then gradually add the milk, still stirring constantly.
  • Stir in the mustard, nutmeg, paprika, salt, pepper and cheese and stir until melted.
  • Stir in the aubergine flesh, cream and garlic, along with a little reserved pasta cooking water (to adjust the consistency if required).
  • Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and mix well. Sprinkle generously with extra grated cheese.
  • Bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

GastrogeekMacCheese-0120 GastrogeekMacCheese-0121GastrogeekMacCheese-0122 GastrogeekMacCheese-0123GastrogeekMacCheese-0126

There is absolutely no question whatsoever that we will be making this again, and soon. I recommend that you do too!

 

Gastrogeek by Rejina Sabur-Cross is currently available on Amazon UK for £10.23 (RRP £15.99).

 

When I set April’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge as Baked Alaska I had plans to make everything from scratch. I settled on the idea of individual chocolate cherry versions with a chocolate sponge base, cherry jam and a chocolate cherry ice cream.

Several weeks of poor sleeping and a rather nasty cold left me feeling sapped of energy but determined to find a way of making my Baked Alaska meets Black Forest Gateau.

CheatChocCherryBakedAlaska-0198

I decided on a cheat’s version using shop bought cake, jam and ice cream. Don’t judge me; it worked, it was tasty and we enjoyed it!

For the cake base, I used a chocolate loaf cake. The jam layer was a morello cherry preserve. I couldn’t find any chocolate cherry ice cream so went with a Belgian chocolate ice cream instead.

 

Cheat’s Chocolate Cherry Baked Alaska

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 chocolate loaf cake
4-6 tablespoons cherry jam
1 tub chocolate ice cream (or chocolate cherry if you can find it)
3 medium egg whites
200 grams sugar
Pinch of cream of tartar

Method

  • Preheat oven to 220 C.
  • Carefully slice the loaf cake horizontally.

CheatChocCherryBakedAlaska-0184

  • Use a round cookie cutter to cut 4 circles from the slices. (I had an accident with one slice but did get two perfectly usable circles from the top slice).
  • Spread about a tablespoon of cherry jam evenly over each circle of cake. You’ll need a nice thick layer to be able to detect the flavour, so add a little more if you like.

CheatChocCherryBakedAlaska-0186 CheatChocCherryBakedAlaska-0190

  • Make the meringue: Beat the egg whites to soft peak stage. Add the sugar and cream of tartar and whip to stiff peaks.
  • Use the heat from your hands to warm the surface of the ice cream tub, and slip the ice cream out of the tub and onto a chopping board.
  • Cut the ice cream into four thick slices and use the cookie cutter to cut to size. Work quickly as the ice cream will start to melt fast. I threw the ice cream remnants back into the tub and back into the freezer to eat later.
  • Place a slab of ice cream over each circle of cake and jam.

CheatChocCherryBakedAlaska-0195 CheatChocCherryBakedAlaska-0192

  • If the ice cream is melting, pop the cake, jam and ice cream stacks into the freezer for a few minutes to firm up.
  • Place the stacks onto a baking tray or in an ovenproof dish.
  • Use a spoon and spatula to coat each stack with a thick layer of meringue. Make sure there are no gaps and that the meringue extends al the way down the sides. (I struggled a little as my meringue wasn’t quite stiff enough).

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  • Use your finger to create little spikes over the surface of the meringue.
  • Bake in the hot oven for about 4 minutes, until the surface of the meringue is brown.
  • Remove and serve immediately.

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To my surprise, the ice cream was still properly frozen, though we made such a mess of cutting one in half that it doesn’t look great in the picture. The cherry jam had a nice tartness which was welcome against the sweet cake, ice cream and meringue.

Please note that as the egg white is not cooked through, this recipe is not be suitable for anyone who shouldn’t eat raw eggs.

 

This is my entry for my April BSFIC Baked Alaska challenge.

IceCreamChallenge

If you’ve ever fancied making a Baked Alaska, go on and have a go!

 

ChocTours-0082 ChocTours-0085

My friend Jenn is the founder of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours, a company dedicated to helping people enjoy great chocolate.

She (and a team of dedicated guides) run chocolate-themed walking tours in Mayfair and Chelsea during which they lead the (small) group between a number of carefully picked specialists. During the tour, you learn more about how chocolate is made, the different types available and how to taste chocolate properly. At each shop you are treated to some specialities ranging from hot chocolate to frozen yoghurt, filled chocolates, plain bars and even macarons.

Jenn has also negotiated discounts in many of the shops, so you can buy your favourites for a little less.

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ChocTours-0104 ChocTours-0096
ChocTours-0105 ChocTours-0106ChocTours-0107 ChocTours-0110

A nice extra touch is that as a history enthusiast, Jenn is able to share many fascinating stories about the history of London, as you walk from place to place.

My ticket was a very thoughtful birthday gift and I must say, these tours are a fantastic gift idea for those who enjoy chocolate, especially those who are hard to buy for as they have all the socks, vases, books, games, jumpers, posh chutney they need!

Thanks to Jenn for a wonderful day!

 

A roast chicken is a beautiful thing. The rewards are all out of proportion to the effort. It’s easy to ring the changes (though keeping things plain has a lot going for it too). And the leftovers are the best of any roast dinner.

I often smear a little butter over the skin, as recommended by Simon Hopkinson. That and some salt and pepper is as complicated as it gets much of the time.

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With this corn-fed Goosnargh chicken from Farmison & Co I decided to add sage and lemon, and to cook the chicken on a rack above the potatoes, so that the delicious chicken fat dripped down onto the spuds below.

 

Butter, Sage & Lemon Roast Chicken

Ingredients
1 chicken
Butter
Sage leaves
1 lemon

Method

  • Carefully tease the skin away from the breast meat with your fingers, taking care not to tear any holes in it.
  • Slide several sage leaves under the skin, against the breast meat.
  • Do the same with thin slices of butter, dotted about the breast area and add a little over the top too, if you like.
  • On the legs, it’s difficult to get under the skin, so tuck sage leaves between breast and leg and add the butter on top.
  • Cut the lemon into quarters or halves and push into both cavities with a couple of additional sage leaves.
  • Roast according to the cooking instructions for your chicken. We usually roast at 180 C, for 20 minutes per half kilo plus 20 minutes extra.
  • Check the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into the meat and making sure the juices run clear.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with foil (only loosely, or it will steam and the skin will lose it’s crispiness) and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  • Turn the oven up to give the roast potatoes an extra blast of heat to finish while you cook your vegetables and gravy.
  • Carve and serve.

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Once we’ve finished dinner and the chicken has cooled down, I pick every last tiny scrap of meat off the carcass to use in leftover dishes such as chicken risotto, chicken Savoyarde, chicken croquettes and sandwiches with peri peri mayo.

The carcass (bones, tendons, flaccid skin) go into the slow cooker overnight with water, to make a very simple stock. In the morning, Pete drains it and pops it into the fridge or freezer for a future soup or risotto.

What are your favourite recipes for roasting a whole chicken and how do you use your leftovers?

 

Kavey Eats was sent a selection of meats by Farmison & Co.

 

I’d never heard of Skrei until I was contacted by the Norwegian Seafood Council about it. Apparently it’s “a very special type of cod, line caught, and a much loved Norwegian delicacy”. As far as I can tell, skrei is actually just the Norwegian word for cod, though I can’t work out whether it’s Atlantic Cod, Pacific Cod (unlikely), Greenland Cod or some other species entirely. It doesn’t help that Google Translate tells me that torsk is another Norwegian word for cod, but doesn’t differentiate between it and skrei.

Still, I’m hooked by the information that it’s line caught – which I know has a massively smaller environmental impact than trawling with massive nets, as there is less bycatch (of unwanted species and undersized fish). Of course, I’ve read that cod is one of the species that has been overfished and should therefore be avoided until stocks recover, but I’ve also read that sustainability depends on which region or fishery it comes from and some cod fisheries are alright. It’s confusing and makes it hard to know what the responsible choice is.

The press release also tells me that skrei annually migrate thousands of miles from the Barents Sea to the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway to reproduce, and this long journey through icy waters results in a “lean, bright white firm flesh [that] is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals”.

It goes on to boast that top chefs Mitch Tonks and Michel Roux Junior both love skrei, with the latter featuring it on his menu for the last two years. I complete the unstated suggestion – that if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for me – and accept the kind offer to review a sample.

The cod fillets are firm, plump and a pleasingly subtle shade of ivory. As you’d expect from fresh fish, they have very little smell at all. They’ve not been pin boned very well so we make a slight mess of them trying to pull out a couple of large bones, before cooking.

We make three meals with the fish:

  • An adapted recipe from the Jekka’s Herbs Cookbook which calls for sea bass and garlic chives but tastes fabulous with cod and regular chives.
  • A fish pie recipe from the The Billingsgate Market Cookbook which bulks out a small piece of fish with hard boiled eggs and leeks, and is everything warm and comforting that a good fish pie should be.
  • And lastly, beer battered fish and chips, which we discover is an excellent way to appreciate the texture of the fish, as it stays moist and flaky inside its protective coating.

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Norwegian Cod & Chives Stir Fry

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Beer Battered Norwegian Cod and Chips

Skrei FishPie-5062 Skrei FishPie-5065Skrei FishPie-5073
Norwegian Cod Fish Pie

Whilst we really enjoyed all three meals, I’m not sure whether we would have noticed a huge difference had we used a different white fish such as hake, haddock or pollock.

Of course, as I said above, it’s not as simple as some species being ok and others not, but a case of taking fishing method and area into account too. The Marine Conservation Society’s website, Fish Online, is an excellent resource for anyone keen to eat great fish and protect our marine environment and wildlife.

if you are lucky enough to have access to a quality fishmonger, they should also be able to advise you on which fish you can use for a given recipe or cooking method, and all their produce should be sustainably sourced.

 

Kavey Eats received review samples of Norwegian skrei.

 

Addendum – following my original post, I was sent some additional information about Skrei, which I wanted to share with you. I’ve summarised it below:

Hundreds of millions of Norwegian cod make the migratory journey I described above but only a small percentage of all landed cad meet the standards to be branded as Skrei, which is a registered trademark.

To be classified as Skrei the fish needs to be caught fully grown (approximately five years old), have immaculate skin with no scratches, bruises or injuries, be packaged within 12 hours of being caught, be stored on ice between 0° and 4° Celsius and, if sold whole, have Skrei branding fastened to the dorsal fin.

It is fished in the Barents Sea, which can be classified as the North East Arctic, so not Pacific or Atlantic. All Norwegian cod is sustainable – indeed Norway has had cod quotas increased this year because stocks are so strong.

 

SumacZaatarLamb-4782

Whilst there’s something to be said for leaving well alone when you know the quality of the meat is good, sometimes it’s nice to add a little extra flavour to a roast dinner. I made a very quick and simple za’atar and sumac rub for this beautiful half leg of organic Welsh lamb from Graig Farm. It worked very well, creating a spicy and robustly flavoured crust but allowing the flavour of the lamb to shine.

I still have lots of Abu Kassem’s za’atar from the trip we made to his farm in Lebanon back in 2011. Follow that link to read more about how he selectively bred from wild herbs and how he now produces za’atar that is sold across Lebanon, from his farm in the south of the country. The za’atar mix he sells includes the herb itself, dried sumac berries, toasted sesame seeds and salt.

I’m not sure of the identify of the green plant Abu Kassem calls za’atar. It’s often translated as wild thyme but the term refers to several herbaceous plants including different oreganos, savouries, marjorams and thymes. Of course, all of these herbs work well with lamb.

I added more sumac as I wanted to bring out the lemon-citrus flavour of this element of Abu Kassem’s blend.

 

Za’atar & Sumac Crusted Roast Leg of Lamb

Ingredients
1 kg half leg of lamb
2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend
1 tablespoon powdered sumac
2 tablespoons olive oil

Note: For larger or smaller legs of lamb, adjust the volume of the spice and oil rub accordingly.

Method

  • Combine the za’atar, sumac and oil and mix well.
  • Rub the spice and oil mix all over the surface of the lamb joint.
  • Roast according to your normal temperature times. (I roasted for half an hour per 500 grams in a fan oven pre-heated to 180 C and my lamb was cooked to medium).
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.

SumacZaatarLamb-4783

 

Discount Code

Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) for yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:

KAV222

The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.

If you haven’t decided what to have for your Easter Sunday roast, get an order in fast for a superb joint of lamb. The boned rolled shoulder was gorgeous roasted with garlic and rosemary, and the leftovers made wonderful hoisin lettuce wraps and a delicious ragu with pasta.

 

Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.

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