an adventure into my cookbook collection: soul-searching, doing things differently & the truths I learn along the way...

deseeding pomegranates is feminine & erotic, unless you hit them with a wooden spoon...


Monday, 13 August 2012

Beer-can Chicken

The juiciest chicken you will ever have. Fact. This one was a family effort, my main contribution was in the initial inspiration, and the eating. My Mum did the prep, my Dad did the barbequing.

As some of you may know, one of my guilty pleasures is American cookery shows, the trashier the better. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is a current favourite – its basically just watching a loud, fat, bloke eating meat sandwiches, but its riveting. Another one, Hook, line and Dinner has recently blown my mind by showing that Sitka is in fact a real place, and not just a magical Yiddish enclave invented by Michael Chabon. I saw the recipe for Beer-can chicken on one of these similar shows, and it seemed so totally mad that I knew it had to be attempted.

In order to do this you will need a barbeque large enough to fit a chicken standing upright with the lid down.

Method goes like this:

Get a can of beer, give the outside a bit of a clean, and drink about a third of it. Add some flavourings to the beer if you fancy it, like a bit of garlic, some dried herbs and lemon.

Get a chicken, give it a coating of olive oil and salt, and shove it on the can of beer (arse first). If you have the kind of barbeque with a griddle-like non-slotted section, you can place it directly on that, if not, you will need a tray of some kind. Leave it in the barbeque with the lid down for at least an hour before checking to see done-ness.

In order to un-pop the chicken from the beer can, you will need 2 pairs of hands, and probably 2 sets of tongs. Carve, and enjoy.

Beware of widgets 

Please don't be confused by the tray in this picture - the bird wasn't cooked on it, but it seemed like a perfectly sensible recepticle for transferring the chicken from the barbeque to the kitchen for its dismemberment

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Peanut Curry

This recipe is from the ‘soulful grub’ section of Spooning with Rosie by Rosie Lovell, which I wrote about in the Interlude 2 blog post. She writes that this is the dish she makes when she is feeling really blue, and this is something I can really relate to. It is rich, filling and comforting, and really easy to make. It is, “just the thing when you are feeling the effects of a late night or the sudden onset on despondency.” Its just all about the peanut butter. As you may have noticed, I cook with it a lot. I tend to always have 2 jars on the go – a 40oz (over a kilo) jar of crunchy skippy for eating, and something cheaper for cooking with. All of the three peanut butter-based stew/curries are very different, but I think that this one, together with the kale and pineapple one are some of my most successful vegetarian entrees ever. This dish was really delicious and I highly recommend it. Thanks to Vikki for pointing it out to me.

As with any of my recipes, feel free to adjust/change the veggies as you please.


1 small/medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 large onion, diced not too small
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into slightly larger chunks than the squash
1 aubergine cut into chunks, some trimmed okra or whatever else you fancy
2 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
1 fresh chill, finely chopped (she recommends removing half of the seeds – I actually didn’t have one so used 2 small dried chillies, I like it spicy)
2tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp curry powder (I used medium heat)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tins chopped tomatoes
3 generous tbsp peanut butter (preferably crunchy)
1 bag baby spinach
Generous pinch of granulated sugar
Lots of black pepper (freshly ground, not that horrible cigarette-ash powder stuff)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the squash and onion and sweat for about 5 minutes before adding the garlic and chilli. Fry for a few more minutes and add the spices. Coat all the veggies and cook for a few minutes more. Add the tomatoes and the sweet potato and bring to the boil. Put the lid on and let everything simmer for 15-25 minutes, until the veggies are cooked through, but not falling apart.

After the are cooked, skim a ladle of sauce off the top of the pan, and place it in a jug or bowl with the peanut butter. Blend it all together until fully incorporated and then return to the pan and stir into the curry. Fold in the spinach, plus a little water if its too thick and the sugar. Put the lid back no the pan for a few more minutes until the spinach is wilted and the curry has a silky, thick texture. Season with lots of pepper and serve in bowls with rice and/or bread. This is really good with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.