I recently spent a lovely late Autumn weekend in the company of good friends and quite unintentionally found that everything I wanted to cook was inspired by Maggie Beer. I don’t know anyone interested in food who isn’t a complete fan of Maggie and her recipes are so reliable as well as tasty
In the midst of good conversation and wine, we started with Eggplant and Roasted Walnut Bruschetta with Soft Goats Cheese. This is an adaptation rather than a straight replica of Maggie’s recipe (The original recipe, which came from the MasterChef Live event held in Sydney in December 2010, had the walnuts in a rocket salad which was served with the Bruschetta).
Eggplant and Roasted Walnut Bruschetta with Soft Goat’s Cheese
3 small to medium eggplants, sliced lengthways, salted
Soft Goat’s cheese
Walnuts, roasted and rubbed
Good quality ciabatta, sliced about 1cm thick
10 ml Vino cotto
1g freshly ground black pepper
small parsley leaves for garnish (optional or could substitute herb of choice)
Place the sliced salted eggplant on to a tray and allow to sit for 2 minutes. After 20 minutes rinse the salt and pat dry, cut into strips.
Place the griddle pan over a high heat, once hot toast the slice of ciabatta, and set aside.
Meanwhile place a non stick pan over a high heat, add 20mls over olive oil. When hot add the eggplant in batches, fry off until cooked all the way through then add the verjuice and cook until all of the verjuice has evaporated, season with salt and pepper. Place the eggplant on top of the ciabatta.
Sprinkle chopped walnuts and goat’s cheese (in small pieces) over the eggplant then drizzle with Vino Cotto. Garnish with small parsley leaves and serve.
The main course was Chicken Braised with Figs, Honey and Vinega. Rather than use jointed maryland pieces as in the original recipe, I asked the chicken man to debone the marylands and then at home I rolled them and tied them with string. The recipe below is Maggie’s with a couple of minor alterations. Maggie browns / caramelises the figs and adds them to the chicken for the whole cooking time. I didn’t do this because I still wanted discernible fig pieces, but I might try it that way next time to see which I prefer – I think you would end up with a stickier, slightly thicker sauce using Maggie’s method.
Chicken Braised with Figs, Honey and Vinegar
4 Chicken marylands, deboned, rolled and tied
Lemon peel from 1 lemon – peel and cut into thin strips
2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 red onions chopped
6-8 fresh figs halved lengthways
2 tbs Aged Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp lemon thyme chopped
2 sprigs rosemary
½ stick cinnamon
¼ cup Verjuice
1 cup Chicken Stock
Sea salt to taste
2 tbs honey
Brown the chicken on all sides.
Preheat oven to 180C.
Place a medium non stick frying pan over a medium high heat, add one tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and fry off the chicken until brown on all sides. Remove hickey from pan then add red onion and cook until translucent.
Lay the onions in an ovenproof dish. It is important to cook in a shallow tray so that the honeyed chicken is almost in line with the sides of the dish.
Add half the vinegar then place chicken pieces into the dish along with lemon thyme, 1 sprig rosemary, stripped, and lemon peel. Sprinkle over the rest of the vinegar and add half of a cinnamon quill.
Pour 1/4 cup of Verjuice and 1/2 cup of stock over the chicken. Season with sea salt.
Strip the second sprig of rosemary and distribute over the top and drizzle the honey all over the chicken.
Place into the preheated oven and roast for about 30 minutes at 170C, basting occasionally and adding the figs half way through.
Remove from oven and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes then cut into thick slices and arrange on a platter. Strain off the juices and reduce to a syrupy consistency and pour over the chicken before serving.
Dessert was a Pear Frangipane Tart. I’m holding off on the full recipe for this one because I think I can get it better. Next time I’ll poach the pears before putting on top of Frangipane mix. I used Maggie’s Frangipane recipe which is completely delicious and has the added benefit of making double the quantity required. It freezes perfectly, making it incredibly useful for future time constrained occasions.
Serves 4 – 6
240g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
400g almond meal
Place the butter and caster sugar in to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and creamy – approximately 6 minutes. Then add the eggs, one at a time, then the brandy. Mix for a further 1 minute and then add the flour and the almond meal, mix until well combined. Put the almond frangipane into a container and set aside until ready to use.
Ideas for use: Blind bake your favourite pastry then line the pastry shell with the Frangipane. Top with fruit of choice and cook for 30 – 45 mins.