Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

I really do enjoy roasted vegetables either as a meal in itself or as an accompaniment to another dish.

On this platter I have roasted squash, red onions, red pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergine, parsnips and sweet potato.

The method I used for this was in the roasting pan I placed the squash, the parsnips, red onion and sweet potato with a good splash of olive oil. This was then roasted in the oven for about 15 minutes. I then added the mushrooms, tomatoes, aubergine, courgette, red pepper and another splash of the olive oil. This was then roasted for about 15-20 minutes.

Simple and delicious.

Poached Chicken

Most Sundays we have a traditional roast dinner. This week I onlu had skinless chicken breasts in the fridge and I have always found roasting chicken breasts usually results in dry tough chicken. If using chicken portions, my preference is to use chicken thighs and legs.

So, in the end I sliced into the chicken, added a stuffing consisting of onion, mushrooms and basil. This I then wrapped in foil before poaching for twenty minutes. After cooking, I let them rest for at least five minutes before opening the foil parcels and slicing them.

PotatoesWith them I did some roast potatoes. Firstly you need to use the right kind of potatoes. It’s not as simple as buying any kind, the cheapest or whatever. This time I went with King Edward (as that was all that was available in the shop, well there were other varieties, but no Maris Piper.

After peeling and cutting into chunks the potatoes are blanched in boiling water for about 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the chunks. Now the size if dependent on how you like your roast poatoes and how long you have to cook them. Obviously smaller chunks means a shorter cooking time, whilst larger chunks though take longer are preferred by some people.

While the potatoes are blanched, place the roasting tray into the oven, with a good splash of olive oil and one of sunflower oil. The key here is to heat the pan and the oil. I put the pan into the hot oven (with the oil added) for at least five minutes, not too long though.

After blanching the potatoes, drain and the key here is to let the heat dry the potatoes. If they go into the pan “wet” they won’t crisp up well. The next stage is to slightly “bash” the potatoes by shaking the colander or sieve, this will aid the crisping process too. Then remove the roasting pan from the oven and add the potatoes, turning them and maybe a little more “bashing”.

You should also ensure that the potatoes are not too crowded, in other words they need air to be crisp.

Cooked for thirty to forty minutes (larger potatoes take longer). It is a good idea to turn the potatoes half way through to ensure a more even crispness. The end result should be tasty, crisp potatoes with a fluffy centre.

I also roasted some parsnips, carrots and onions. These I just cut into chunks. Place in a bowl, add some olive oil, mix to ensure the vegetables are well coated before placing in a hot oven for about twenty to thirty minutes.

Ready for roastingIn addition in another roasting pan, I took some diced onion, sliced courgette, mushrooms and halved cherry tomatoes, these I roasted with a good dash of olive oil for ten minutes before adding some cubes of bread that soak up the juices and crisp up. Usually I will add these ingredients to the roasting tray I have roasted the meat in. However as I was poaching I just used a plain tray.

For gravy I made my own with a roux of butter, oil and flour to which I add stock and some red wine. Cook for at least five minutes.

To add colour and freshness I steamed some carrots, green beans and broccoli to serve with the meal.

Quick Roast Chicken

I do enjoy roast chicken, but sometimes I don’t have the time to roast a whole chicken.

ChickenWhen time is against me I will roast legs and thighs, which can be done in under half the time.

I do like to roast my chicken with “stuff”, usually onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and other things I can find in the fridge.

Why legs and thighs?

Well I find that the meat on these cuts of chicken are full of flavour compared to chicken breast.

After the chicken is cooked, I usually remove the chicken from the roasting pan, let it sit for a while. In the meantime I add cubes of bread to the roasting pan. These soak up the juices and crisp up, a great accompaniment to the chicken.

Alongside my roast chicken we had roast potatoes and steamed green vegetables.

Potatoes

The courgette was home grown and tasted great.

Greens

Selezione Classica

A quick lunch at Bella Italia was on the cards and not fancying pizza or pasta I went with a sharing platter all to myself…

Our selection of oven baked lemon & rosemary chicken wings, spiced meatballs, calamari, mini garlic filled calzoni and lightly battered courgettes served with flamed pepper and lemon herb dips.

I have talked before about platters, sometimes they consist of a bundle of stuff that was thrown into a deep fat fryer. This one from Bella Italia was more imaginative than most.

The chicken wings were, as I expected, reheated from cooked, but you could smell and taste the lemon and rosemary. The problem with reheating is that it changes the taste and texture of the chicken. Freshly cooked chicken wings are much more succulent and have more flavour and when you have had freshly cooked, you are always disappointed with the reheated versions. These, though reheated, were very nice, and it was also a nice change not have them covered in a sweet sticky sauce.

The meatballs were nice and spicy and were something I wasn’t expecting to find on the platter. They came in an earthenware tumbler and were covered in a pleasant tomato sauce.

The calamari were typical of the calamari at Bella Italia, covered in flour and deep fried. Slightly overcooked for my liking, but it was proper squid and not just rubbery rings as you find at some places. I do like calamari.

The mini garlic filled calzoni were simply small pizza bases, with garlic butter, folded and baked like a calzone pizza. Soft on the inside, but with crunchy edges, the garlic was subtle and complemented the bread.

The lightly battered courgettes, reminded me of a dish I had ordered on Kefalonia. Chunky strips of courgette, covered in a batter and deep fried. These were crispy on the outside and the courgette was lovely and tender, almost melt in the mouth on the inside. Really nice.

Overall I enjoyed my platter and would be happy to order it again.

Alba Ristorante Part Three

I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends., not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal. Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.

Misto di Verdure alla Griglia Condite al Balsamico

On my second visit for my starter I had the Misto di Verdure alla Griglia Condite al Balsamico or in English, Mixed grilled Italian vegetables balsamic & extra virgin olive oi.

This was very nice, a simple dish which worked very well. There were courgettes, pepper, tomato and aubergine.

Out of the two starters I had, I think I preferred the duck.