Monday, April 04, 2005

Barbequed chicken Posted by Hello

'Small Saturday Night Dinner at Rick's'
Last Saturday, Rick and i thought we would get together for a quiet 'cooking session' on a Saturday night at his place. He has a cosy little kitchen that looks out to the dining table, ideal for entertaining in small groups. We had a brief conversation on Saturday morning about what we would cook. I said i had wanted to try a roasted vegetable tart i had seen in a magazine for a while now, and he said he wanted to try one of my muffins - banana walnut was his request.
He had just bought a barbeque pit from one of his recent trips back to the US, and was looking forward to experimenting with it.
i invited another girlfriend to join us - so the night involved 3 of us - cosy, no pressure, relaxed enough for us to cook at our own pace.

Rick has this knack of whipping dishes out of nowhere. Often, i would ask 'what are you cooking' -and Rick would breezily say 'oh, i'm not sure yet' and whilst i turn my back to chop the onions, there is suddenly a broccoli soup steaming on the hob, ready to be served. Like magic.

The Menu
So like magic, the menu for our casual 'small' dinner involved the following:
Broccoli Soup topped with chopped spring onions and fried shallots
Green salad with lemon olive oil dressing, sprinkled with shaved parmesan
Barbequed chicken infused with a beer and garlic thingymajig (made on brand new infuser and barbeque pit)
Roasted Vegetable Tart with a pesto base (made in brand new Williams Sonoma tart tin)
Banana and Walnut muffins (i don't have a picture of this!)

The Outcome
With a comparitively minimal amount of mess (compared that is to the mess i normally make in my kitchen) , the dinner fell together beautifully. Rick had purchased this star trek looking contraption (see pic) - i'm attempting to explain what it does, but i can't. I'm going to have to ask him to explain it. basically, you shove the marinated chicken (marinated in a chinese vinegar sauce) over this metal thing, which contains an infusion of garlic and beer - place the whole thing over the barbeque pit, and wait. The result is a chicken that doesn't taste barbequed at all - extremely tender and juicy.

There was a bit of struggle over the vegetable tart, and as usual, i needed a lot of hand holding from Rick, who introduced me to the 2 knife method of cutting the butter into the flour to make the shortcrust pastry (better alternative to rubbing fat into flour with fingers). I used rice as baking weights for the blind baking but forgot to line the pastry with tracing paper first and ended up having to scrape the rice that had embedded itself into the half baked pastry. But after a few mishaps, i dare say the end result was tasty and satisfying. The roasted vegetables included cherry tomatoes, eggplant, red onion, yellow and green peppers. Mozarella cubes were added before the final baking period, together with a generous dose of pesto sauce resulting in a cheesy hearty vegetable pie dish that masquaraded as marginally healthy (but i am most certain was not). Nevertheless, certainly a dish i will attempt again.

Cooking with Rick gives me the confidence to try things i might not normally attempt on my own. Having an 'expert' by my side gives me that much more courage. Not a 'small' dinner by any means, but worth every calorie.