The Standard Grill’s Million Dollar Chicken – The Best Bread, I mean Chicken, You’ll Ever Eat

Barefoot Contessa Million Dollar Chicken

The Standard Grill is a restaurant in Manhattan but there is nothing “standard” about their signature dish, Million Dollar Chicken. I saw this being made on a recent Barefoot Contessa episode and it looked amazing. On the surface it may look like an ordinary roast chicken but there are a few additions and tweaks that really take this roast chicken to new heights. The first is that the bird is given a liberal smear of creme fraiche towards the end of the cooking time. This glaze gives the chicken a wonderful crust and really boosts the flavour, especially of the skin. The next and most important addition is that the chicken is roasted on thick slices of sour dough bread. The bread soaks up all the juices from the chicken and gets wonderfully crisp on the underside and incredibly luscious and moist on the surface the chicken sits on – we’re talking chicken drippings here people. I could have easily eaten just the bread and left the chicken – it’s very good, very naughty and very rich, hence the name of the dish I presume. Whoever came up with the idea of roasting a whole bird on bread is a genius, and whilst the bread is incredible, the chicken is pretty amazing too. You won’t need anything in the way of carbs to go alongside the chicken as the bread does the job and to be honest even the best roast spuds would pale in comparison to the roasted bread, did I mention I love the bread!

Ingredients    Adapted from Ina Garten and the Standard Grill in NYC

1.8kg whole chicken, preferably organic or free range
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
1 lemon, cut in half
1 bay leaf
5 sprigs fresh thyme
Olive oil
2-3 thick (about 1 inch) cut slices sour dough bread – day old bread is perfect
For the Creme Fraiche Glaze:
½ cup creme fraiche
½ a lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon grated shallots, grated on a fine zester
½ teaspoon paprika

Method

Season the chicken well inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic, the lemon, the bay leaf and thyme. If you can manage to do this the day before, even better. If you like you can truss the chicken but it’s not really necessary.

On the day/night you plan to cook the bird, take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30-45 minutes before you plan to roast it. Preheat the oven to 220C.

In a pan juts large enough to accommodate the chicken, oil the pan lightly with olive oil, place the pieces of sourdough in the center of the pan and then put the chicken on top of the bread (I also poured a little olive oil on the bread before I placed the chicken on top). Try to only have the bread under the chicken, if there is too much poking out then it may burn. Drizzle the bird with olive oil or brush with butter (they use olive oil at the Grill).

 Standard Grill's Million Dollar Roast Chicken Standard Grill's Million Dollar Roast Chicken

Place the pan in the oven and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, basting it every 12 to 15 minutes with the fat and drippings that render from the bird. I didn’t find there was much fat or drippings as happily the bread was soaking it all up. While the chicken roasts, assemble the glaze by combining all of the ingredients and whisking them together.

Standard Grill's Million Dollar Roast Chicken Standard Grill's Million Dollar Roast Chicken

When the chicken is almost done, which should be at around the 45 minute mark, take a pastry brush and slather on a bit of the creme fraiche glaze all over the top of the chicken. Place the chicken back in the oven to let it caramelise. After about 5 minutes brush on another layer and let this last glazing caramelise too for another 5 – 10 minutes. If you find that your skin isn’t caramelising enough you can turn the grill on but watch the chicken carefully to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Standard Grill's Million Dollar Roast Chicken Ina Garten's Million Dollar Chicken Standard Grill's Million Dollar Roast Chicken

At this point the chicken should be cooked through and nicely golden brown. The sourdough underneath the chicken will be brown and crisped on the side in contact with the pan, and moist and juicy on the side in contact with the chicken. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into serving pieces. Cut the sourdough into 2 to 4 pieces and serve with the chicken.

Standard Grill's Million Dollar Roast Chicken

Baghali Polow – Persian Broad Bean & Dill Rice with Braised Lamb Shanks

Persian Dill & Broad Bean Polow with Braised Lamb Shanks

This is a classic Persian meal and one of my all time favourites. Perfectly cooked basmati rice that is flecked with lots of fragrant dill and broad beans. It’s a fantastic combination of flavours and textures which only gets better when paired with slow braised lamb. Some people like to add rose water and other spices to baghali polow but I don’t think it needs any further embellishment. The lamb can also be braised in a variety of different ways and whilst you could certainly use leg or shoulder of lamb, the more traditional cut is lamb shanks. I like to simmer them very simply in just water, salt and lots of whole garlic cloves (not traditional but it tastes wonderful). The end result after four hours of gentle simmering is incredibly tender meat, gorgeous mellow cloves of garlic and a rich jus. I also add a large bunch of coriander, tied up in string for easy removal, which along with the garlic gives the meat a lovely aroma. One thing to note is that baghali polow needs a lot of dill, about two large bunches per cup of rice. Even if you are not a fan of dill I urge you to try this recipe as the fragrance and flavour of the dill becomes very subtle after the long steaming time.

Note: The pictures of the rice above and below are made with only half the dill that is noted in the recipe as that is all I had on hand. If you follow the recipe below, which you should for optional results, your rice will have a lot more dill through it.

Ingredients – Serves 4

2 heaped cups basmati rice
4 large bunches dill
1.2kg frozen broad beans, defrosted – this is the unpodded weight. Once they are skinned the weight will be roughly half
Ghee or neutral flavoured vegetable oil
2 large all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ cm slices
½ teaspoon saffron
Salt

For the Lamb
4-6 lamb shanks – depending on size. I like to use French trimmed lamb shanks
Salt
20 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
1 large bunch coriander, washed well and tied up with cooking string

Method

For the rice: Wash the rice well in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a bowl and cover with enough cold water to cover by an inch. Stir in a heaped tablespoon of salt. Leave the rice to soak for about 3 hours. This is an important step and shouldn’t be missed. Whilst the rice is soaking de-pod the broad beans and set aside. Wash the dill well, remove the dill sprigs from the stem and finely chop, set aside. Place the saffron in a small jar with a screw top lid and cover with about ½ a cup of boiling water. Stir and screw on the lid and set aside to infuse.

Dill & Fava Beans for Baghali Polow  Potatoes for Tah Dig

Once the rice has soaked, fill a very large saucepan with water (I like to use a stock pot and it helps enormously if it’s non- stick). Salt the water as you would for pasta and bring to the boil. When the water is boiling rapidly, drain the rice and add it to the saucepan. Using a large slotted spoon gently stir the rice around. You need to be very gentle to avoid the rice breaking. Bring back to the boil as soon as possible and cook uncovered for about 10-12 minutes or until the rice is almost cooked through but still has a little resistance. When the rice is a few minutes away from reaching this stage add the chopped dill and the broad beans and stir them through the rice. When the rice is ready, drain it in a very fine mesh colander. If your colander is not fine enough you risk losing a lot of the dill. Again be gentle when you are draining the rice. Fill the saucepan up with some tepid water, just a few cupfuls is enough, and gently pour this water over the rice in the colander.

  Baghali Polow - Step by Step Guide    Tah Dig Baghali Polow

Place the saucepan back on the heat and when it is hot add a few tablespoons of ghee or oil and a couple of tablespoons of the infused saffron liquid (if your pot is not non-stick you will need to be more generous with the oil). Swirl the two together and add a single layer of potatoes over the base of the pan. These will cook and become golden and crunchy and are absolutely delicious and much fought over, so fit in as many as you can. If you have any potato slices leftover that won’t fit on the bottom I like to put them around the edges of the pan once the rice has been added – they won’t get crunchy but they will be nice and soft and fragrant. Gently spoon the rice into the pan on top of the potatoes, shaping the rice up into a pyramid. Take a chop stick and poke about 6 holes in the rice, going almost to the bottom, this will help the rice to steam.

Drizzle another couple of tablespoons of ghee or oil over the rice – I like to do it through the holes of a large slotted spoon so as it distributes evenly. Pour the rest of the saffron infused water in a small section at the top of the rice. Turn the heat to medium and place a lid on the pot. Leave to cook for 10 minutes then take the lid off and cover with a clean tea cloth and place the lid back on and reduce the heat to low. Cook the rice for 1½ hours turning the pan around every 20 minutes or so to ensure the bottom of the pan gets evenly heated. If your stove is very fierce, use a simmer pad. When the rice has finished cooking remove the lid and gently remove the section that has the saffron on it and set aside. Spoon the rice onto a platter and surround it with the golden potato slices (tah dig). Scatter the saffron coloured rice over the rest of the rice on the platter and serve with the lamb shanks.

For the lamb: Trim the lamb shanks well of any excess fat and wash throughly. Place in a large saucepan with 2 teaspoons of salt, the garlic cloves and the coriander. Cover with enough cold water to just cover the meat. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil uncovered. You will need to constantly skim any impurities that rise to the surface. When it comes to a boil lower the heat to a gentle simmer and place the lid on slightly askew and cook until all but about ¾ of a cup of the water has evaporated by which time the shanks will be falling off the bone.

Persian Braised Lamb Shanks for Bhagali Polow

This normally takes around 4 hours but it will depend on how high your heat is and how much water is in your pan. You don’t want the water to evaporate too quickly though so moderate your heat accordingly. Half way through the cooking time you can remove the coriander and discard. When the lamb is ready place it on a platter (if the meat has fallen away from the bones, just discard the bones and place the meat on the platter) and pour over the pan juices and garlic cloves, which will be very tender.

baghali Polow - Persian Broad Bean & Dill Rice with Braised Lamb Shanks

Sri Lankan Coconut Roti

Sri Lankan Coconut Roti

I love a good curry and we probably indulge in one a week be it homemade or at one of our local favourite restaurants. I normally pair our homemade Indian curries with rice but that can get a bit boring so when I feel like a change of carb I make these delicious coconut roti. I really enjoy the texture of these roti which are crisper and more chewy than say Malaysian Roti or Indian Naans and are perfect for mopping up sauces.  These roti are quick and easy to make and don’t really take much more effort than cooking rice. The green chilli is optional and you can leave them out if you don’t want any heat at all, or you could divide your dough in half and only put the diced chilli into one portion of the dough which is a good way to please everyone.

Ingredients – makes 6 roti

225g plain flour
85g desiccated coconut
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional, see above)
Salt
150-170ml tepid water
2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil

Method

In a bowl combine the flour, desiccated coconut, a large pinch of salt and the green chilli. Make a well in the centre and add sufficient water to mix into a stiff dough. If the dough seems too stiff to handle, add a little more water. Knead the dough well and divide into six equal portions.

Coconut Roti Dough

Grease your work surface using a little of the coconut oil and place one portion of the roti dough on the greased surface. Use your fingers to flatten the dough out to a circle the size of a small plate. Then use a rolling pin to flatten it out a little more. The thinner you make the dough, the crisper the roti will be. Some people  prefer not using a rolling pin to ensure the dough remains a little thicker but I quite like the slight crispness of a thinner roti.

Rolling Roti Sri Lankan Coconut Roti

Heat a small non stick frypan over a medium heat. Brush a small amount of coconut oil on the bottom and add a roti and cook until lightly browned on the bottom. Turn over and brown the other side, total cooking time will only be a couple of minutes per side. Remove and keep warm under foil until all the rotis are cooked.

Sri Lankan Coconut Roti

Lemongrass Coconut Cake

Rachel Allen's Lemongrass Coconut Cake

This is a lovely moist cake that is wonderful both as a dessert or a coffee cake. The moistness is due in part to the coconut but it’s mainly the lemongrass syrup that is poured over the cake once it’s cooled that makes it super soft and luscious. I love cakes that are doused with syrup, especially when the syrup is infused with some off the cake flavours, which in this case is lemongrass. This is a very simple cake to make. All the ingredients come together in a food processor and the only thing to note is the lemongrass needs to be finely chopped before it goes into the processor and to run your machine for as long as necessary to ensure the lemongrass and sugar form a very fine paste. I always struggle to find desserts to serve after an Asian meal but this cake with its subtle exotic Thai flavours has solved the problem and is new my go to dessert for such occasions.

Ingredients  Adapted from Rachel Allen’s Cake Diaries

4 lemongrass – base and tough upper tops trimmed and outer leaves removed but reserved for the syrup
250 g caster sugar
4 large eggs
200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
125g desiccated coconut
125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
Greek yogurt or crème fraiche, to serve – optional
Coconut shavings to decorate – optional

For the syrup
Reserved trimmings and outer leaves of the lemongrass
75g caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C (not fan forced). Butter the sides of a 22 or 23cm cake tin and dust with flour, then line the base with a disc of baking parchment. Thinly slice the lemongrass stalks into rounds about 3mm thick, then place in a food processor with the caster sugar and whiz until the lemongrass is finely puréed.

Add the eggs, butter and coconut and process again until combined. Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the machine, whizzing very briefly just until the ingredients come together. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Rachel Allen's Lemongrass Coconut Cake

For the syrup: While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Roughly chop the lemongrass trimmings, place in a saucepan with the sugar and 75ml of water and set over a high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil for 2 minutes before removing from the heat and leaving to infuse. When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and let it sit in the tin for 10 minutes. Loosen around the edges using a small, sharp knife and carefully remove the cake from the tin before transferring to a serving plate.  Reheat the syrup, then pierce holes all over the cake with a skewer and pour the hot syrup through a sieve onto the cake, moving the pan and sieve around as you pour so that the syrup covers the top of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.  Decorate with coconut shavings and serve with a dollop of natural Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche if desired.

Rachel Allen's Lemongrass Coconut Cake

Pörkölt – Hungarian Beef Paprika Stew

Paprika Beef Stew with Nokedli & Cucumber Salad

Pörkölt is a Hungarian stew that can be made with veal, pork or beef. It’s very similar to goulash with the only difference being that goulash is more soup like and often has potatoes added. There are versions of this type of paprika stew all over Europe with the other well known ones being from Austria and Germany. The main secret to a good Pörkölt is the amount of onions – you need a lot, and I mean A LOT. For one kilogram of meat you need a minimum of 4-5 large onions. As you can imagine this amount of onions will take a while to cook down so this is not a dish you can make in a hurry but it is one that you can make in advance as it just gets better with time and freezes very well. The other important ingredient is the paprika. You need a fair bit of it and it needs to be fresh and good quality, preferably Hungarian and you want the sweet kind, not the hot. Don’t use that old jar of paprika that’s been sitting in your store cupboard for years as it really will impact the flavour of the finished dish. I made the traditional accompaniments of nokedli (or spaetzle) which are delicious little boiled dumplings and a cucumber salad. I don’t own a spaetzle maker which meant I had to push the nokedli through the holes of a large flat grater which was a tad tedious but worth the effort. If you want a simpler pairing then you can’t go wrong with pasta, mashed potatoes or even rice. This is a totally delicious meal perfect for the cooler months when you want something hearty and comforting.

Ingredients – Serves 4 -6

1.2 kg beef stewing meat, cut into large cubes – I used chuck
4 -5 large onions (which should roughly weigh the same amount as the beef), diced
⅓ cup vegetable oil
3 heaped tablespoons best quality Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 green capsicum/pepper sliced – the long banana shape ones are best if you can find them

To Serve:
Nokedli/Spaetzle recipe can be found here

Method

Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. I like to use a pan that is wide but not too deep. When the oil has heated add the onions along with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring regularly, until they are soft, but you don’t need to caramelise them. Add more oil if you feel the onions are catching.

Onions for Porkolt  

Take the pan off the heat (this is important otherwise you risk the paprika burning and getting bitter) and add the paprika, stir it into the cooked onions until well incorporated. Return to the heat and add the beef and caraway seeds. Stir well again, making sure all the pieces of meat are well coated with the paprika.

Nokedli or Spaetzle Dough Nokedli or Spaetzle Hungarian Porkolt

Add a teaspoon of salt, a good few grindings of black pepper and about half a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for at least 11/2 – 2 hours. Check the pan every now and then to make sure there is enough liquid. If you feel that the pan is too dry add a very small amount of water, only a tablespoon or two. At the end of the cooking time the meat should be fork tender with the sauce thick and just clinging to the meat. When it reaches this point add the green pepper, stir it into the sauce, turn off the heat and a let the Pörkölt sit covered for 15 minutes before serving. In that time the meat relaxes and the pepper softens into the sauce.

Porkolt - Hungarian Beef Paprika Stew

Chocolate & Coffee Semifreddo

Chocolate & Coffee Semifreddo

Semifreddo is an Italian ice cream dessert which literally translates as “half-cold” and is basically a partially frozen ice cream. I really enjoy the texture which is softer and more mousse like than normal ice creams and unlike traditional ice cream, semifreddos have the added advantage of not requiring an ice cream machine. Whilst I do own an ice cream attachment for my Kitchenaid I need to be quite organised to use it as the bowl, which takes up a fair amount of freezer space, needs to be frozen overnight which means traditional ice cream is not something I whip up on the spur of the moment so when I want to make ice cream pronto a semifreddo is what I choose. This is a great dessert for entertaining – it’s a cinch to make, can be prepared in advance and can stand on its own without the need for any extra accompaniments. This particular semifreddo is a favourite. You can’t really go wrong with anything that combines coffee and chocolate but the added crunch of the caramel peanuts (from a Snickers bar – told you it was easy) really makes it pop. If you’re serving this to children who enjoy coffee flavour just use decaffeinated coffee.

Ingredients – Serves 4 -6 

1 egg
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups cream
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon coffee or  chocolate liqueur (optional)
2 Snicker’s bars (you could also use Mars bars or Toblerone)
Grated dark chocolate or chocolate sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Method
Line a loaf tin with cling film. Chop the chocolate bars into small-medium size chunks and set aside. Put the coffee, liqueur (if using), egg, egg yolks and sugar in a heat proof bowl and mix to dissolve. Beat the mixture over a saucepan of gently simmering water until it is pale and thick. You can use a hand held electric whisk if you like. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until thick.


Gently fold in the egg and sugar mixture. Add the chopped chocolate bars and mix to combine. Pour into the prepared loaf tin, and cover carefully with clingfilm before putting it in the freezer for at least 2-3 hours. When ready to serve, turn out the semifreddo on to a suitably sized plate. You need to do this just prior to serving as semifreddos melt pretty quickly. Decorate with chocolate shavings, nuts, chocolate chunks or coffee beans.
Easy Chocolate & Coffee Semifreddo

Vietnamese Duck Braised in Spiced Orange Juice

Rick Stein's Vietnamese Braised Duck in Spiced Orange Juice

There have been times when dishes I’ve cooked have been blog worthy but never get posted because either in the rush of serving I forget to photograph the final dish or the pictures don’t turn out well, as was the case in this instance. But despite the dubious photo quality I decided it was too good a recipe not to share.  This is a great dish for entertaining – not only can it be made ahead of time but it’s also one of those great recipes where you get a lot of bang for very little effort. I saw Rick Stein make this dish on his Far Eastern Odyssey series and he was so enthusiastic about it that I knew it would have to be good. He describes it as a Vietnamese take on the classic French dish Canard à l’Orange and once you’ve tried it this way the original French version pales in comparison. Some people are put off by using duck in a braised dish as it can be quite fatty but if the duck is seared first, as it is here, all the fat is rendered and strained away resulting in a very clean and light sauce. All this needs is some rice and some steamed Asian greens to serve alongside.

Ingredients – Serves 4 – 6   Adapted from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey 

 1 x 2.5kg duck, jointed into 6 pieces – I used 4 duck marylands and 2 breasts
50g garlic cloves, sliced
50g peeled ginger, thinly sliced
1 litre freshly squeezed orange juice – good quality store bought is fine
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
5 star anise
4 red bird’s eye chillies – I found this number made the dish very spicy and will probably only use 2 next time. You could leave them out entirely if you wanted no heat at all
2 fat lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves discarded and bottom third finely chopped
8 spring onions, white part only chopped into 3 inch pieces
½ teaspoon cornflour

Method

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add duck pieces, skin-side down, and cook for 5-6 minutes or until crisp and golden. Turn and cook for a further 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to 
a plate and set aside.

Remove all but two tablespoons of the duck fat from the pan (don’t throw away the rest of the duck fat as it’s great to keep in the fridge for the next time you roast potatoes) turn the heat down slightly and add the garlic and ginger and cook gently for a two minutes or 
until lightly golden.

Add orange juice, fish sauce, sugar, star anise, chillies and lemongrass to pan and season with black pepper. Return duck to pan, increase heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 1½ hours, occasionally turning duck pieces. Add the spring onions to the duck and cook for a further 30 minutes or until duck is meltingly tender.

Vietnamese Duck Braised in Spiced Orange Juice

Transfer duck pieces 
to a warmed serving dish 
and set aside in a warm 
place. Skim excess fat off 
top of remaining liquid 
and simmer vigorously 
over medium-high heat or until reduced and concentrated in flavour. Mix cornflour with 
1 tsp water; stir into 
sauce and simmer for a further 1 minute. Pour 
sauce over duck and serve.

Pistachio & Rosewater Cake

Nigel Slater's Pistachio & Rosewater Cake

A couple of months ago I was looking for a cake to serve for Persian New Year that would have a slight Middle Eastern feel to it and came across this recipe from Nigel Slater which fit the bill perfectly. This is an amazing cake, moist and so flavourful with just a hint of the exotic from the subtle fragrance of the rosewater.  The simple icing with its slight lemon tang is the perfect counterpart for the cake. Whilst the cake is quite dense, as it’s heavy on pistachios and almonds, it’s not overly sweet and can stand on its own as both a coffee cake or a dessert.

Ingredients  Adapted from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries

250g butter
250g sugar
3 eggs
100g shelled pistachio nuts
100g ground almonds/almond flour
1 orange, zest and juice
1 teaspoon rosewater (I used 1 tablespoon as I wanted the rosewater to be a bit more prominent)
60g plain flour
Chopped shelled pistachio nuts to decorate – optional

For the icing:
100g icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 22cm or 23cm round cake tin. Place the pistachios in a mini food processor and blitz until finely ground.

Cream together the butter and sugar using a stand mixer or electric mixer until light and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the almonds and ground pistachios. Beat in the orange juice and zest and the rosewater, mixing only enough to combine. Fold in the flour using a metal spoon.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for around 50 minutes to an hour. Cover the top of the cake with foil after 40 minutes. The cake is ready when a metal skewer inserted into the centre come out mostly clean, with no big clumps of cake clinging to it.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. To make the icing, whisk together the lemon juice and icing sugar to form a paste. Pour this over the cooled cake and top with the some roughly chopped pistachios (if using) then wait for at least 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing and serving.

Nigel Slater's Pistachio & Rosewater Cake

Lime & Red Curry Chicken Wings

Tyler Florence Lime Red Curry Wings

These scrummy chicken wings are similar to Buffalo wings but with a South-East Asian twist. As with buffalo wings the cooked chicken wings, which are baked here instead of deep-fried, are coated in a butter sauce that is enriched with lime juice and Thai red curry paste. They’re sticky, spicy and very addictive. These wings make a great appetiser for an Asian themed dinner or finger food for any occasion. You can prep the butter sauce ahead of time but the wings need to be baked and coated in the sauce just before serving. I like to buy organic chicken wing drummettes, which basically look like little mini drumsticks, but if you can’t find them buy normal wings and cut them into thirds, discarding the wing tips. You’ll want to make more of these wings than you think you need as they disappear fast.

 Ingredients – Serves 4-6  Adapted from Tyler Florence

2kg chicken wings – free range or organic if possible. I like to use wing drummettes but otherwise cut the wing into thirds and discard the wing tips.
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g unsalted butter, softened
1 big, fat rounded tablespoon Thai red curry paste
¼ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
1 lime, halved
Coriander leaves, for garnish

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C. Bring the chicken wings to room temperature and place them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with the seasoning. Then spread the wings out on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes until the skin gets crisp and brown, and the meat is tender.

Baked Chicken Wings
Tyler Florence's Lime & Red Curry Chicken Wings

While you wait, put the butter, red curry paste, honey and soy sauce into a blender or small food processor. Season with salt and puree. Scrape into a big bowl. When the wings come out of the oven add them to the bowl with the curry butter. Squeeze the juice of the lime over the wings and toss the hot wings well in the butter sauce, making sure every wing is well coated. To serve place the wings on a platter and sprinkle over the coriander leaves.

Crispy Lime & Red Curry Chicken Wings

Gina De Palma’s Amazing Hubba Hubba Apple Cake

Best Ever Apple Cake

Gina De Palma is the ex pastry chef of iconic New York restaurant Babbo and the author of a fabulous blog. Gina says this apple cake is one of her all time favourites, hence the name, and that’s high praise from someone whose profession is all things sugary. Apparently the recipe is one that Gina’s mother found many years ago in a magazine and it instantly became a family favourite. This cake not only looks impressive with its tall sides and caramelised apple topping but it can feed a very large group of people. We served this at Easter for morning tea and after serving up 10 slices there was still half a cake leftover – yay! This is not an overly sweet cake which makes it a good choice for morning or afternoon tea, but it would also be fabulous for dessert with maybe the addition of a warm caramel sauce or a creme anglaise. Best thing of all is how easy this cake is to pull together – just one bowl and no heavy machinery in the form of mixers required. I would note though that you really do need to use an angel cake tin for this recipe, you need something with very tall sides (there’s a lot of batter) and for the caramelised apples to be visible on top of the cake which can’t be achieved with a bundt tin or any other tin that requires the cake to be inverted. Happy baking!

Ingredients – Serves at least 12 people generously (leftovers keep well)  Adapted from Gina De Palma

5 large or 8 small apples, such as Granny Smith or Golden Delicious
2¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 160C (I used fan-force and would recommend you increase the temperature to 170C if you are not). Peel and slice apples and put them in a large bowl. Combine ¼ cup of the sugar with the cinnamon and stir well. Toss the apples with 3 tablespoons of this cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat them well, and set aside both the apples and the rest of the cinnamon-sugar.

  

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a very large bowl, then whisk in the rest of the sugar until all of the dry ingredients are thoroughly combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Using a stiff whisk, stir the two mixtures together until you have a smooth batter; you’ll find it easier to start with a whisk and end with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no pockets of unmixed dry ingredients.

Spray an angel food cake (tube) pan very well with non-stick vegetable spray (I also floured the tin). Add half of the batter to the pan, using a spatula to evenly spread it. Distribute half of the apples over the batter evenly, and sprinkle the top with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Layer the remaining batter on top of the apples, smoothing it with the spatula, then top with the remaining apples and the last of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

  Best Ever Apple Cake

Bake the cake on the center rack for 1-1½ hours, or until a cake tester or skewer inserted through the cake comes out clean, with no traces of wet batter. As per the comments below some people have noted that it takes longer to bake than 1½ hours and if you do need to cook it for longer keep a close eye on the top apple layer to ensure they don’t burn, if they are darkening too much cover the tin loosely with foil. Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan, then slide out the cake with the tube. Let the cake cool completely on a rack for 2 hours. The cake is best served the next day if possible.

Best Ever Apple Cake