Late Harvest Entertaining
Annabelle White shares her tips and tricks:Cooks get very excited with the end of summer harvest. In comes the new season apples and pumpkins and yet you still have fresh corn and a medley of Italian summer vegetables like aubergine, courgettes and capsicums.
You have such a good supply of so many delights, it just encourages you to cook and serve friends and family yet you want simple ideas to continue that easy summer feeling all year long. If you have a few helpers in the pantry, summer magic can last right through the cooler months.
NZ cooks are great home cooks. We cook from scratch but there are times when a produce ‘taste pointer’ in the fridge or pantry really helps – case in point, Barker’s chutney. Years ago I interviewed top NZ chef Peter Gordon and asked him what makes NZ cooks such great cooks. He said it was those delicious flavour pointers on the plate.
Here’s a few that I’d highly recommend:
Transform a humble ham sandwich: great ham, great bread and cheese but add spoonful of chutney and you create an out-of-body experience. The same opened jar of chutney can be added to a pasta sauce, a gravy and a salad dressing – adding great flavour with no extra work.
When roasting seasonal vegetables for a warm side: add a spoonful of Barker’s chutney to the salad dressing; drizzle over vegetables then top with sprinkled crumbled feta cheese and herbs. It’s a real crowd-pleaser.
Cooking a chicken thigh or breast for dinner?
- Lift the skin gently and smear a spoonful of Barker’s chutney over the meat and close (or if you have a little cream cheese in the fridge, that can go under the skin with the chutney too); wrap in bacon strips.
- Bake chicken breast at 180ºC for 30 minutes and be sure to check as when juices run clear it is ready.
- While that’s baking, put some crème fraiche in a pot and add a slurp of wine or chicken sock and a spoonful of the same chutney that went under the skin. Heat and season and when about to slice up the chicken, add some freshly chopped herbs to your chutney sauce and then drizzle over the chicken very lightly.
Another easy flavour enhancer is to add a spoonful of your favourite Barker’s chutney or relish to the egg and milk/cream mix that goes into a vegetable, or bacon and egg pie. It’s a huge hit and the vegetables enjoy the flavour partnership. The results will impress.
If you are time poor and lacking in energy and you suddenly have to feed a group of children fast, buy a rotisserie chicken or two from the supermarket, a packet chicken gravy mix or two and quickly boil potatoes (if cut small they will soften quickly), drain and mash. Then with lid on the mash pot to keep them warm, make the instant gravy and add a spoonful of your favourite chutney to the ‘instant gravy’. The emergency meal will be transformed and even ‘non-chutney and relish eaters’ will never know what makes that gravy extra good.
Take a pot of boiled carrots, drain well, add a knob of butter and a spoonful of chutney. With lid on shake the pot (a la Jamie Oliver) and you suddenly go from boring to amazing – potato, carrots, pumpkin and aubergine all love that extra flavour burst.
Speaking of aubergine, you can slice and smear with your favourite chutney (after a little drizzle of oil) – try Barker’s Spiced Eggplant Chutney on the fresh eggplant and roast till softened, it’s wonderfully good!
Cook a fresh whole corn cob or frozen corn kernels very lightly; drain. In a bowl mix a spoonful or two of crème fraiche and a spoonful of your favourite Barker’s sauce (Not So Sweet Chilli or Brewer’s Barbecue Beer sauce would be great); generously smother the corn; cover and heat in the microwave and when it comes out add some finely chopped herbs.
You will have the best corn ever! The corn just explodes in your mouth and the flavour so good.