Monday, February 7, 2011

The Booker Prize, Bill Granger and Book Club

Bill Granger made an appearance at our book club on Sunday night. Well, not really, but one of his recipes did - baked chicken with lemon, potato and green olives.

It's on page 94 of his Feed Me Now cookbook. As Bill says: "I adore this kind of all-in-one meal that is baked and served in the same dish." And it's full of mouth-watering flavours.

It was a good accompaniment for our discussion on Sonya Hartnet's Butterfly and Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Everyone had something positive to say about the young adult story Butterfly but not all in the group reached the end of Hilary Mantel's 600 and something page book. Wolf Hall is the retelling of Thomas Cromwell's life - the blacksmith boy who became Henry VIII's right-hand man

Most found the novel quite a hard read with Belinda the only book club member to reach the end. At least everyone attempted to read the 2009 Man Booker-prize winning novel - except me. I got my wires crossed and read or rather half-read the 2010 winner, The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

With two Booker prize winners on the table we had an interesting discussion on the types of novels that win this annual fiction award. We now move on to Sydney author Margo Lanagan's award-winning novel, Tender Morsels.  Described by publishers' Allen and Unwin as fiercely poetic, exquisite and unforgettable; fantasy at its heart-wrenching best. I wonder what food will go with this vivid fairytale?

Hope you enjoy making and tasting Bill's great dish which of course is gluten-free.

Bill Granger's baked chicken with lemon, potato and green olives

Ingredients: 1kg roasting potatoes, such as Desiree, 1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges, 75g green olives, 1 lemon, sliced, 50g pancetta, cut into strips, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 120ml chicken stock, 1 x 1.7g chicken, jointed, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional).

Method: Preheat the oven to 180 C. Cut the potatoes into chunks and place in a roasting tin or ovenproof dish. Scatter over the onion, olives, lemon, pancetta and bay leaves. Stir the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar into the chicken stock, then pour over potatoes. Lay the chicken pieces on top, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 minutes or until the chicken is golden.

Transfer the chicken pieces to a warm plate, cover with foil and set aside to rest in a warm place. Increase the oven setting to 220 C and return the roasting tin or dish to the oven for 10 minutes or until the potatoes, onion and lemon slices are well coloured.

Place the chicken back on top of the potatoes, scatter over some chopped parsley, if you like, and serve.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mango and macadamia nut cake at Collector

You don't expect to find gluten-free food at a place called The Daily Pie. Surprisingly I did.

On the way  back from Canberra last Saturday I dropped into The Daily Pie at Collector, just off the Federal Highway, an hour north of Canberra and not far from Goulburn. Apart from needing to 'stop, revive, survive', my main reason for diverting was to see if a new eatery had replaced the Lynwood Cafe, which closed 18 months ago.  The Lynwood Cafe was a bit of an institution in the tiny town for more than 10 years. Its reputation for excellent food lured many drivers to detour for lunch.

There's no new cafe in its place but the people at The Daily Pie tell me that the building was purchased by a Sydney artist who has made the former restaurant her home and studio. It is expected that it will open as a gallery on weekends soon.

But back to The Daily Pie. Serving me that morning were Sarah and Emma De Bruin, who with mother Helen run the cafe. Helen makes all the pies but being coeliac, she has to get other members of the family to taste them.

While I couldn't eat the pies I was pleasantly surprised by the sweet gluten-free options. There was the standard orange and almond cake and a chocolate one too. But I couldn't go past the mango and macadamia cake. It was delicious with a strong mango flavour and crunchy macadamias throughout. 

The cafe also stocks a range of honey and jams and Lynwood Preserves, made by the former owners of the Lynwood Cafe. Lynwood Preserves is a regular exhibitor at Collector's annual pumpkin festival held on Sunday, 1 May.

The Daily Pie will be closed for the month of February for renovations. When it re-opens in March Sarah and Emma said there will be more gluten-free options on the menu. You can find The Daily Pie at  8 Church Street Collector. It's hard to miss as it's housed in a former Golden Fleece and Caltex service station. Open from 10am to 5pm Thursday to Sunday, it certainly beats McDonalds.