Monday, September 13, 2010

The Free Range Cook

The companion cookbook to the TV series of the same name, Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook,
(TV ONE, 7pm Saturday - we are already addicted in our household), shares the secrets to cooking great food in a simple, natural way. In the words of Annabel Langbein: “It’s not about impressing people with culinary acrobatics or turning out complicated plates in the theatre of a restaurant. It’s about having fun and celebrating what nature has so graciously provided for us.”

Photographed at and around Annabel’s lakeside cabin in Central Otago, at the foot of the Southern Alps, The Free Range Cook is really much more than a recipe book. Alongside the photographs of fresh, seasonal dishes, gorgeous images transport the reader into Annabel’s country life - where she cooks on a simple double gas burner and chops wood to fuel an outdoor bread oven.

Recipes are organised according to their source ... From the Garden, From the Farm, From the Oven, From the Larder, From the Orchard, and From Lake and Sea. Interspersed throughout the book are delicious menus taken from the TV series that provide three of four impressive courses to share with friends and family.

Annabel’s signature ‘Fridge Fixings’ – useful flavour bases, rubs, sauces and dressings – are clearly flagged throughout the book and cross-referenced to a multitude of quick, easy recipes. Cooking methods are clearly explained, and handy preparation tips, serving suggestions and storage advice introduce every recipe. Thanks to Annabel’s clever cooking tricks and techniques, home cooks are offered the chance to recreate restaurant-style dishes they might once have thought were too difficult or time consuming.

Annabel has kindly agreed to me sharing a couple of her recipes with visitors to the blog and these appear below.

The Bookman has long been an admirer of Annabel Langbein’s cookbooks. I own all of them but the bible for me has been The Best of Annabel Langbein – Great Food for Busy Lives and over the years I have given away many copies to family and friends as well as always having a copy of the latest edition at both my city home and our cottage at the Bay.

With The Free Range Cook though she has taken her publishing to another level. It is utterly gorgeous with loads and loads of wonderful photographs complementing the many recipes for easy to prepare, delectable home-cooked food.

And with her TV series currently screening on both sides of the Tasman,and soon to screen in a number of European countries, I predict huge sales for this book. Certainly it went straight to number one on the best-seller list in New Zealand on publication a couple of weeks back.
I also predict that Langbein will become NZ’s first international superstar celebrity chef. She may well prove to be New Zealand’s answer to Nigella Lawson.

Here are Annabel's recipes from her new book:

Baked Lemon Grass and Chilli Chicken

This is my go-to meal with time is tight. It takes only a few minutes together and cooks in the oven while you prepare some rice and vegetables and set the table.

Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 30-35 mins
Serves 6

6-8 single boneless chicken breasts, skin on
3 tsp finely grated lemon grass
½ cup sweet chilli sauce
¼ cup water
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped or finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 tbsp lime juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place chicken breasts skin side up in a shallow baking dish. Combine all other ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the chicken.

Bake until chicken is cooked through and golden – about 30-35 minutes. To check whether the chicken is done, insert a clean skewer into the thickest part of one chicken breast. If the juices run clear, it is cooked. If they are pink, return the dish to the oven and cook a little longer before testing again. Serve with jasmine rice and steamed greens.

If you have a jar of my super Chilli Jam in the fridge you can make an even quicker chilli sauce for chicken. Simply mix ½ cup Chilli Jam with ¼ cup water and 2 tbsp lime juice. Pour over the chicken and cook as described.

Chilli Jam

Prep time 10 mins
Cook time 10 mins
Makes 1 jar (2 cups)

1 head garlic, cloves peeled
6-8 long red chillies, roughly chopped
3 thumb-sized pieces (200g) fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 double kaffir lime leaves, deveined (optional)
2½ cups caster sugar
½ cup water
finely grated zest of 4 limes
½ cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce

Sterilise a 2-cup screw top jar and its metal lid.
Purée the garlic, chillies, ginger and kaffir lime leaves, if using, to a coarse paste. Place in a saucepan with the sugar, water, lime zest, rice vinegar, fish sauce and soy sauce.

Stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then boil for about 10 minutes until reduced by a third. It will bubble up like jam.
Spoon the hot chilli jam into the warm sterilised jar until it is filled to within 3mm of the top. Seal with the screw lid. Once opened, store Chilli Jam in the fridge. It will keep for months.

Roasted Chicken Wings or Drumsticks

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Place 16 chicken wings, drumsticks or nibbles in an ovenproof dish. Add about 4 tbsp Chilli Jam (see above) and stir to coat chicken. Spread out in a single layer and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden and cooked. Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander and serve. Serves 4-6.

Enjoy !

Annabel Langbein -
The Free Range Cook
Annabel Langbein Media - $59.99

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