Tastes of the USA

In a short few days that contain two iconic American celebrations, Halloween and Thanksgiving, it seems fitting to talk about the heritage of the USA on the world’s food scene.

Southern Crunchy Fried Chicken
500mls laban
20g Dijon mustard
Pinch salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 kg chicken pieces (trimmed and cut)
250g plain (all-purpose) flour
10g baking powder
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Pinch salt
Frying oil

  • Into a large bowl whisk together the laban, Dijon mustard, salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
  • Add the trimmed and cut chicken pieces to the laban mixture and stir to coat each piece completely.
  • Wrap the bowl and refrigerate overnight; alternatively, put everything into a large plastic zip-lock bag and allow to marinate overnight.
  • Heat the oil for frying.
  • Sieve together the flour and baking powder. Mix into this garlic powder, the cracked black pepper and salt.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and allow to drip dry on a cooling rack for a few minutes.
  • Roll each piece of chicken in the flour mixing. Roll again before removing and shaking off the excess flour.
  • Carefully dip each piece of chicken one piece at a time into the frying oil and cook for 12-14 minutes. Bigger pieces require longer than say a drumstick would.
  • Remove the chicken when cooked and allow to rest on a cooling wire for a few minutes.
  • Keep the pieces warm in the oven until ready to serve with salad or chips and gravy.

Apple Pie

265g butter
225g icing sugar
1tbsp water
2 eggs
450g plain (all-purpose) flour

Pie Filling
8 green apples (peeled, cored and cut into even sized chunks)
100g brown sugar (muscovado sugar)
25g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 lemon (juiced and zested)
1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius 
  • Lightly grease a pie dish with oil or rub with butter 
  • To make the pastry, crumb the cold butter into the icing sugar and flour until it resembles bread crumbs. 
  • Add the egg and water and mix to a dough. 
  • Place the dough between plastic film and refrigerate until firm (2-3 hours)
  • Roll half the dough on a lightly floured board to cover the base of the pie dish. 
  • Place a sheet of parchment paper on top and cover this with rice. 
  • Bake the pastry in the pie dish for 15-20 minutes. 
  • When cool, remove the rice and paper.
  • Roll the second half of the dough to a size just larger than the base, which will cover the top of the pie when it is filled. 
  • Combine in a mixing bowl the apple, brown sugar, caster sugar, flour, lemon juice and lemon zest and the cinnamon powder. 
  •  Toss them all together. 
  •  Press the filling into the pre-baked pie shell and cover with a second layer of pastry. 
  •  Press the edges together and cut away excess pastry from the sides. 
  •  Brush a beaten egg over the top of the pastry and sprinkle with a little caster sugar. Make a small cut into the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape the pie. 
  • Bake until the pie crust is golden brown on top. 
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving with whipped cream or ice-cream.

Pumpkin Pie
250mls cream
4 eggs
500g pumpkin puree (fresh or tinned)
200g brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 pre-baked pie shell (see apple pie)

  • Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend together until completely combined. 
  • Pour into a pre-baked pie shell (18cm-20cm)
  • Bake for about 35-45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or until firm in the centre when touched. 
  • Cool completely or better still, refrigerate overnight and serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Macaroni and Cheese
240g macaroni shells, cooked
80g butter
50g flour
10g mustard powder
250mls milk
250mls cream
400g shredded cheddar cheese
100g fresh bread crumbs
60g unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Drain the cooked pasta shells.
  • Lightly butter a medium sized casserole dish (approximately 10cm deep).
  • Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  • In a small saucepan place the first amount of butter and melt it. Using a long handled spoon, stir in the flour and cook out the roux stirring and cooking for at least a minute.
  • Add the mustard, salt and pepper and slowly start to add the milk a little at a time so as to incorporate it and make a smooth paste. Adding too fast will allow the mixture to become lumpy.
  • Finally, add the cream a little at a time and do the same. Cook until the mixture is smooth and thickened.
  • Add the grated cheese and cook until the cheese is melted.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cheese sauce and the cooked macaroni pasta shells to ensure all the pasta is coated.
  • Pour this into the buttered or oiled casserole dish.
  • In a shallow fry pan, heat the second amount of butter until almost browned and then toss in the fresh bread crumbs. Toss them lightly and coat them with the butter.
  • Remove and sprinkle the buttered bread crumbs on top of the pasta before placing the casserole dish in the oven and baking for 30-35 minutes.
  • Remove and serve immediately.

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