Moar chickin of the preserved lemon variety

It seems like I’m on a roll. A chicken roll. Actually, speaking of which, I could go a chicken roll right now.

Luckily though, this post is not about chicken rolls, notwithstanding their deliciousness. It is about another equally delicious, scrumptious, fulfilling and generally delectable chicken recipes that I stumbled across a little while ago. It involves preserved lemons – not a quick thing to make, but definitely an easy thing to make (don’t be that loser that pays $11 a jar in a gourmet deli!)

Today’s recipe is chicken with preserved lemons! It takes a little while – like a Sunday afternoon project – but do it, it’s worth it 🙂

You will need:
A marinade in which to let your chicken hang out for a while:
– 1 clove of garlic, chopped
– 1/4 of a preserved lemon (see note!), finely sliced and only the rind – ditch the flesh
– 1 onion, chopped
– 2 tsps smokey paprika
– 2 tsps cumin
– 1 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander (you can use the stalks)
– 1 tbsp chopped parsley
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/2 tsp saffron threads that have been soaked in a tiny bit of water (not absolutely necessary, but does impart a nice colour and flavour)
– 50ml olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste

The rest of the meal!
– 500 grams of chicken (I used thigh)
– 1 tomato, sliced
– 1 more onion, chopped)
– a couple of potatoes, chopped in fairly large pieces
– 100g of olives
– a good handful of chopped coriander
– about 100mL of water (maybe more – depending on how dry it’s all looking when it’s all cooking)

A note on preserved lemons:
Preserved lemons are super easy to make, although they take a fair few weeks to make. Get yourself a clean glass jar and enough lemons to fill it. This is harder to estimate than it sounds, so as a guide I went with one of those larger pasta sauce jars that I had lying around and about 4 lemons (maybe it was 5…). You’ll also need a fair few tablespoons of salt. Cut your lemons in quarters and then the idea is to place a lemon quarter in the jar and then squash the hell out of it. I use a rolling pin to really get in there and squash it down. Put a teaspoon of salt in. Then another lemon quarter, squash again. Another teaspoon of salt. Repeat until you’ve filled the jar with some seriously squashed lemons and however many teaspoons of salt the number of lemon quarters equate to. It should end up that the lemon juice covers the lemon quarters; if not, get some extra lemons and squeeze just the juice out until everything is covered. Seal her up and whack at the back of the fridge for the next month. Don’t freak out if it develops a little white mould…it’s all good, just scrape off when you use the lemons.

Now to the recipe:
Step 1 – rate and marinate: chop and mix all of the marinade ingredients. Let the ingredients get to know each other for 20 minutes or so. Phew, that was easy. Now get your chicken ready. Massage it all in and let the chicken sit there for a good coupla hours

Marinate me.

Marinate me.

Step 2 – finger licking good: Tip the chicken and the marinade into a pan on low (…or a tagine if you’re organised). Add the tomatoes, onion and potatoes and mix in with the marinade. Dot the olives around and tip in the water, along with half of the handful of coriander. Cook over a super low heat until the chicken is cooked. Check the water and add more if needed. Estimate that it takes around 1/2 an hour or a little longer. Top with the remaining coriander and serve with whatever you like – quinoa, cous cous, rice, vegies…nothing…anything…

Rahhh I'm going to eat you like a lion

Rahhh I’m going to eat you like a lion

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El Jannah, Granville (aka moar chickin!)

The scent wafted delicately… wait, no no, definitely scrap that. The smoke fell heavily? Engulfed? Was the very definition of ubiquitous? Either way, we got off the train at Granville one Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks back and it smelled pretty bloody charcoaly.

It was one mission and one mission only that we had in mind that day, and that was chicken. Charcoal chicken. Nabbing one of the last free tables at the very busy restaurant we dove straight in, ordering a quarter chicken (approx $9 eat in) and also a serve of three felafel ($4.50).

Served with the again ubiquitous lebanese flat bread, as well as vibrant, almost glowing pink pickles and gherkins…and, of course, that famous garlic sauce (toum, I think it’s called)…it was a dish of high expectation.

The chicken, I have to say, was just a little too charcoaly. Parts of it were a little dry and my carcinogen-fearing mother would have chucked a fit. I don’t know where they’re buying these miniature chickens from, either. The garlic sauce was pretty bloody fantastic. It was kind of an aioli on overdrive – not a place to go on a first date, that’s for sure. But garlicky, rich and creamy, it was all I needed.

Eat moar chickin

Eat moar chickin

The felafel was the surprise hit of the day for me. Three crunchy and – finally – not overly dry and salty – felafel came in somewhat of a theatric form. I had expected, well, three felafel on a plate. Instead, there was lettuce, tomato, a great but liquidy hommus and an onion/parsley salad. Oh, and more pickles.

Fantastic felafel

Fantastic felafel

Of course, lunch ain’t lunch without a spot of dessert. Ok, that’s definitely a lie but with the famous Abla’s Pastries around the corner, why not? Some of the best baklava I’ve ever had, and trust me, I’ve had a fair bit in my time. The plate in the picture cost about $8.50

Brilliant baklava

Brilliant baklava

Overall, a good day and a restaurant worth checking out. It’s been around for more than a couple of years and it’s absolutely packed – how could that many people be wrong?

El Jannah
4-6 South Street
Granville NSW 2142

Abla’s Pastries
48-52 Railway Parade
Granville NSW 2142

The Duck Inn, Chippendale

On a cold drizzly night, a catchup with old friends on the cards, the promise of a warm, lively night at the Duck Inn pub in Chippendale seemed just the ticket.

The pub was packed as we arrived, and our only seating option was in the beer garden outside. A great spot in concept, but not so great as it started drizzling, then bucketing down, after we had taken a big gulp of our first ciders. Using great agility, we hopped, skipped and jumped over to an umbrella-protected table and there proceeded to continue our leisurely chatter until the rain really started bucketing. Luckily a few people had left in the main part of the bar, so we quickly nabbed a table and were thankful for an actual roof.

We started off with a cider and all commented on the slight rancidity involved with sipping a glass of Magners. We all agreed that the taste improves significantly, with rancidity decreasing in inverse proportion to the number of schooners consumed. $7 each.

Dinner is basically pub grub, with the essence of a effort to make things just a little bit fancier than the normal hum drum grub. In our group, one ordered the Classic Oz Beef Burger ($18), one Pork & Fennel Sausages ($17) and two steak sandwiches ($19).

The burger was described as “not the best burger I’ve ever tasted” and it was noted that the bottom half of the bun was cut from a loaf, and was not an individual roll. We reflected on the potentially critical error of this, depending on the sauciness/ juiciness of the burger and the necessity of the crust from a roll to prevent disintegration. We were advised by our resident New Zealander to go to Queenstown’s Fergberger…or the significantly closer Burger Fuel…for a more tasty morsel.

Burgerman

Burgerman

The pork and fennel sausages were described as “amazing”, although the accompanying potato mash was “floury” and “the worst I’ve ever had”.

Sausage king

Sausage king

The steak sandwich, I felt, was slightly on the small size, although the steak was fairly thick. I had a super grissly bit in one corner of mine, which made eating with hands – as any good steak sandwich should be – awkward and with the distinct possibility of ending up with a sizeable bit of steak hanging from my mouth, out in the open. The spiced tomato chutney was described as “pretty tasty”, although I was less optimistic about it. Fairly average and I was not a fan of raw red onion slices – cooked and caramelised is the way to go here.

Steak and bake

Steak and bake

The chips were a good-sized serve, crisp and generously salted. I’m personally less a fan of the french fry style and more a fan of the steak-cut chips style, but that is no criticism of the Duck Inn.

I had pretty significant food envy of the table next door, which had ordered a couple of the Vale Ale battered fish and chips ($18) and the Twice Cooked Pork Belly (about $24, I think)

Another cider (Batlow, $8.50) later, we headed off into the cold, walking past those young things out for a night on King St, and retreated into the warm, warm safety of our apartments.

The Duck Inn
74 Rose St
Chippendale NSW 2008

Food? 6/10. I wanted to like the food so, so much. And I admit my said food envy…but for us, it was average at best! Safe pub grub though, with a few nice hearty touches
Drinks? 8/10 Decent. A few ciders on tap (the boring Magners, the Batlow and then one poured out of an ale pump) and few craft beers
Atmosphere? 9/10 – a cool neighbourhood pub. Lively, packed, a cool beer garden out the back, a dining hall to one side, friendly bar tenders, rushed but nice service. I’d definitely go back for a Sunday afternoon session.
The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Cafe Pacifico, Darlinghurst

So the other day, I made my inaugural purchase of an Entertainment Book, having previously been a little skeptical dog on the concept. I’ve swiftly realised the false economy – that you order to compensate for any discount you’re receiving. Anyway, spotting Cafe Pacifico in said book, I took up the opportunity to check out a cool-looking Mexican restaurant / tequila bar a couple of nights ago.

Skeptical dog

Up a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flight of stairs, we were greeted with smiles and a pulley system attached to the door, which would send a bony skeletal hand flying up and down. Having arrived at the painfully un-hip hour of 6pm on a Friday night (apparently I’m 80 these days), we were seated immediately and plonked upon our table was a serve of complimentary chips and salsa.

Wanna chip bro?

Wanna chip bro?

The chips were…chips, nothing special. The salsa had a surprising kick for what otherwise looked like a soupy saucy bowl of red.

Proceeding to commence the Friday night-unwind, we got stuck into a pitcher (1L-ish) of Mexican Sangria ($34), which seemed to get increasingly strong towards the end of the jug. Fruit was sparse – a little orange here, a little apple there, spice was somewhat uninspiring, but it was decent, and boy did it help us unwind.

Quit yer wining

Quit yer wining

Enough talking. Onto the food. Having been to a chicken abattoir the day before, I went for the beef enchiladas ($22.9) with optional sour cream ($23.9), while my dining friend went for the beef burrito ($22.9).

Is that a burrito in your pocket?

Is that a burrito in your pocket?

I think my dining friend’s comment summed it up succinctly as our mains arrived – “I though we ordered different things”. They just sort of looked same-y. And beige. They were quite tasty – plentiful, tender shredded beef, topped with melty, oozy cheese and the promised sour cream. Both came with refried beans and what I’d usually expect to be a cilantro-lime rice thing (but what was instead a sort of orange-y tasting rice), but it was essentially just the same save for mine coming in the shape of two rolled tortillas, and his coming in one burrito.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a burrito? Is it an enchilada?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a burrito? No, it’s an enchilada

I was probably hoping for something with a little more of an innovative twist; something a little funky. Anything. Cafe Pacifico is in the trendiest of trendy areas, after all. This reminded me more of a local, suburban Mexican dig – definitely not bad, but nothing particularly exciting to speak of. Nevertheless, it was good, hearty fare, which hit the spot on a cold Friday night. And service was fantastic as well.

As we retreated into the night – at the out of control hour of 7:30pm – the bar had begun to fill up, bartenders were yelling and whooping, tequila was being shotted and the party was just getting started.

Cafe Pacifico
95 Riley St,
Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Food? 6/10 – sorry guys! It’s probably not the best value for money – at $24 for a suburban enchiladas, I’ve had better!
Drinks? 7/10 – Sangria was pretty unimaginative, but they did have a wiiiide selection of tequila and were also touting their “famous margarita”
Atmosphere? 9/10 – very cool. It’s set upstairs in what would have once been an old, unloved warehouse. Now decked out with Mexican paraphernalia, posters, candles, beer boxes and a huge bar, it’s lively, quick and a lot of fun.

Cafe Pacifico on Urbanspoon

The yoghurt files: supermarket yoghurts – the good, the bad and the ugly

God I love my little foodie soapbox. Proclaiming what ingredients should be mixed where, which restaurants have satisfied my rampant appetite and now, to put another finger in yet a new pie, my humble (and potentially irrelevant) opinion on supermarket yoghurts: the good, the bad and the ugly.

It was my own Dad that posed this delicious challenge to me, and as one that loves a good spoon of bacterial dairy, I could but jump at the chance. Here goes (and remember, let’s not sue Hannah for defamation – opinions taken at your own peril (or deliciousness)):

Listed in order of deliciousness…

Harris Farm Honey and Almond – 350g – $4

 

Harris Farm honey & almond

Harris Farm honey & almond


– Very creamy – the thickest of the lot
– The yoghurt was fairly sweet, although there was a distinct honey taste (as opposed to just sugary)
– The chopped almonds added a nice textural touch, but this may deter some eaters
– Quite expensive at $4 for a mere 350g
– Only available from Harris Farm
– Overall I thought it was a delicious yoghurt that would actually go well in place of cream for a dessert like an apple pie or similar

Macro Organic Greek-style Yoghurt – 500g – $5

 

Macro Organic Greek-style

Macro Organic Greek-style


– I was definitely impressed with this yoghurt. I’d always had this image that greek yoghurt was this gross sour mess. Macro’s yoghurt is very thick. It has the requisite non-sweetness to it, but I think sometimes that is nice, especially atop some muesli and fruit for breakfast in the morning
– Fairly high in fat
– Developed more of a watery residue after a couple of days, than the Harris Farm yoghurt – but still lasted very well for the week
– Very thick and creamy – a lot more than other greek yoghurts I have had

Gippsland Organic – individual tub – $1.70

Gippsland Organic (vanilla)

Gippsland Organic (vanilla)

– Comes in a range of flavours including vanilla and berry
– Certainly very creamy, not quite as thick as the two above and very, very smooth
– Slightly sour tinges, but in a good way! – the yoghurt wasn’t too sweet

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy Blueberry Fields – individual tub – $1.90

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy

– True to its name, the yoghurt was indeed creamy, although not to the thick, lush levels of the more expensive first two yoghurts
– I noticed that it had quite a lot of sugar (16%), which could trick the average punter, seeing as it claims to be low in fat
– Visible blueberries – a rare feat in the wide world of yoghurt. I wouldn’t necessarily refer to it as a “field” of blueberries…but let’s not be nit-picky

Farmers Union Greek Strained Yoghurt – individual tub – $2

Farmer's Union Greek Strained

Farmer’s Union Greek Strained

– It was a fairly expensive serve at $2 for an individual tub
– There was a noticeable watery residue, but perhaps this was due to the “strained” part. That said, it may turn off the average yoghurt-phobe
– The yoghurt was quite nice and creamy, although you felt that you had to stir it a fair bit to achieve that creaminess
– On that topic, I failed to notice the extent of the layer of honey down the bottom – very much bordering on too much. Pro-tip: you need to stir this so you don’t end up with a painfully sweet ending. I ate about half the tub, then noticed the honey, then prayed that after eating, my teeth wouldn’t fall out from sweetness

Vaalia Passionfruit – 4 pack of individual tubs – $5 (on special)

Vaalia

Vaalia

– This one was on par with the Gippsland Organic in terms of creaminess. It was a lot creamier than a lot of the “non-gourmet” yoghurts (you know the ones…Ski D’lite, I’m looking at you)
– The passionfruit flavour was lightly sweet (and not overly, which was a good thing) and slightly tart
– No actual passionfruit was noted, unfortunately. I like a couple of seeds to know what I’m getting myself into

Danone Activia – pack of 4 smallish individual tubs – $4

Danone Activia

Danone Activia

– Chunks of mango were noticed, although they were kind of firm/hard, which was a little disconcerting
– Slightly acidic aftertaste that hit you in the back of the throat
– Despite being low fat, it was sufficiently creamy, especially compared to the non-gourmet yoghurts
– The tub was noticeably smaller than the other individual tubs of yoghurt. If you really tried, you could knock it off in two decent-sized spoons

Yoplait ForMe – 6 individual tubs – $5 on special

Yoplait ForMe

Yoplait ForMe

– The flavours of black cherry, boysenberry and strawberry in the pack of 6 was nice…has anyone ever actually eaten a boysenberry? In the yoghurt, it sort of just tastes like “generic berry” to me
– Claimed to be low-GI and low in sugar…though perhaps it was this that resulted in the yoghurt being a fairly watery / liquidy consistency
– I did notice a few little bits of fruit, but overall I felt that the flavour was quite fake and that perhaps even some colour had been added

Well there ya have it. My humble opinion on a small variety of various yoghurts. Take it as you will, and if anyone offers you the Harris Farm or the Macro Organic, you take that little tub of bacterial goodness, you grab the nearest, biggest spoon, and you go mental.