Sunday, 22 May 2016

Oven Baked Chicken Wings

A local butcher put out a request on Facebook (yep, he uses Social Media) to gather interest in a special on chicken wings. Who would be interested in wings at the low price of $1.99 a kilo? OK, I’m in. I’m in for four kilos, knowing that I had space in my freezer. When buying them I ran into my friend The Food Marshall, who guess what was buying them too! Nothing like a good special. Glad I ran into her to, as she mentioned that she does her wings the ‘Alton’ way.  Alton Brown that is.  Steam first > then dry off > bake in the oven > then coat in sauce. And that’s exactly what I did, and they turned out sooooo good. So good in fact that next time I have friends around, I’m doing wings.

So, chicken wings = purchased. Now onto making an awesome ranch dressing. It all starts with dried buttermilk powder. You can buy this in Australia at health food stores, look for the Lotus brand one. My recipe is ratio based, so you can make as little, or as much as you like.
Start with equal amounts of dried dill, dried chives, dried oregano, onion powder and garlic powder.  Two parts dried parsley, a sprinkle of both salt and pepper, and four parts buttermilk powder. Mix this together.  When you are ready to make a batch of ranch, add two heaped tablespoons of the mix to one cup of Greek yoghurt, and half a cup of sour cream. Thin out by adding a little milk.

Next, the sauce. I didn’t want a hot sauce (what Alton's recipe calls for), but something sweet and flavoursome. So this was an easy throw-it-together mix using the remnants of a jar of honey (about 1cm or so), three teaspoons of Dijon mustard, and squirt of minced garlic. This mix was quite thin, but worked well coating the chicken.

Chicken Wings
The wings I purchased were whole wings, and are made up of three pieces, the drumette, the wingette, and the tip. Remove the tip by cutting downward into the V join with the wing part. Save these tips for making stock later. Here is a photo courtesy of The Kitchn showing the anatomy of a chicken wing. 

Next, place a steamer basket into a saucepan filled with an inch of simmering water. I placed eight wings into the steamer and cooked for ten minutes. Repeat until all wings are steamed. When done, lay them out onto a metal baking tray, pat them dry to remove as much moisture as you can, then place into the fridge for twenty minutes. This helps to dry them out further and tighten the skin. 

Now you want to separate the drumette from the wingette at the joint. Next, place each piece onto a fresh tray, and bake in a 200 degrees fan forced oven for twenty minutes. Turn each of the pieces over, then cook for a further twenty minutes. They will come out a glorious colour, and will be crunchy to the touch, score! I tossed a few in a bowl with some of the honey mustard sauce. You will want to do this while they are hot so the flavours are absorbed. I kept some wings plain.

Serve with sticks of carrot and celery (for added crunch and colour), and the ranch dressing for dipping.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Canberras Only Red Cross Op Shop

‘Op shop’ or, opportunity shop is a great place to find a bargain, a treasure, or just that something a little different, and provide much needed funds for charities. Over the years I have donated countless items to many op shops around town, and have shopped in many as well. 

One new op shop I discovered recently was right under my nose in Woden! The Red Cross’ only Canberra op shop has been open for nearly 6 months but I was totally unaware. You see, it is tucked on the outside of Westfield Woden, just near the bus interchange. The renovations going at the interchange mean this shop is a little off the main path, but is well worth a visit. 

The store is very well laid out, with racks and racks of colour coordinated clothing, lots of handbags (some brand new), oodles of jewellery pieces, kitchenware and a kids corner filled with lots and lots of books and games.

Come, check them out!

20 Bradley Street, Woden
Ph 02 6282 9978
Monday to Friday 10am-6pm
Saturdays 10am-3pm
Sundays 11am-3pm 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Weekend Escape to the Hunter Valley

A long weekend escape to the Hunter Valley was just what was needed, after several months of craziness at work. How crazy was it? Like being on autopilot, going in day after day, battling tasks, deadlines and problems. Some days I thought ‘did I put on deodorant today??’… see, that kind of crazy.

We have been to the Hunter before, a few years back with family from overseas. That trip, we did a gourmet food and wine tour, so got to see a number of the larger wineries. This trip, it was just the two of us and we stayed at different accommodation, and did our own thing as we wanted to explore more of the boutique wineries.

We arrived at around 11am on the Friday, having endured a relaxing (!!!) drive through Sydney. Half freeways, half surface roads. Thanks GPS, but we’ll just stick to the M7 on the way back.

So Friday was a day of exploring antique wares, wineries, lunching, smoke houses, chocolate factories, cheese factories, and honey sellers. Phew! 

We checked in to our accommodation, the Tuscany Wine Estate Resort, and snapped a picture of the gorgeous vine filled view from our room. 

You know you are in wine country when there are picture postcard vineyards at every turn, and the main road is called Wine Country Drive.

Dinner that night was at the Matilda Bay Brewhouse, just a 2 minute walk from where we were staying, and included beer tasting from a paddle. Some great beers to be had, including one called I.G.P. (itchy green pants) which I will now try and seek out. It was light and refreshing with great flavour.

Saturday morning was a VERY early start. Try 4am! The reason for our early wake up call was there was a larger than life hot air balloon waiting for us. Have you ever seen a basket this big?? The balloon ride was amazing. Such a fantastic way to explore the Hunter, and meet a ton of friendly people. Plus there was a champagne breakfast waiting for us at the end of the ride.

The rest of Saturday saw more wineries, a distillery, gourmet cafes, jam sellers, a local markets (where I bought the best pesto), and yep… more wineries. We dined that night at the bar at the Tuscany Wine Estate, and enjoyed two of the best pizzas in ages.

Sunday saw the loading of the boot of the car. Really a game of tetris, which included finding cosy storage for our bottled babies. Our haul included reds, whites and some local sparkling. Plus some other tasty morsels. 

Tastings (and purchases) of note included a sweet Shiraz from Irongate Estate, the Super Tusker Sangiovese from Piggs Peake, basil pesto from Pure Greed, and a goats cheese with herbs from Binnorie Dairy.

Have you been to the Hunter?