Prior to meeting Night Owl, there was never much of a kerfuffle made about Christmas. When I lived in the family home, I was usually overseas in Taiwan, and after I moved out to live by myself I spent it quietly by myself as my sister was interstate with my brother-in-law’s family for their festivities. My sister and I still kept up our yearly tradition of visiting the Boxing Day sales together, but with the recent surge in online sales being released prior to Boxing Day, it would be foolish to not take advantage of them.
Last year Night Owl and I visited her father’s side of the family up the coast in Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, however this year there is no grand plans of getting the entire family clan together as each family unit have their own plans. We have decided she will go up to visit her father for a day, while in Sydney we would invite her mother over to dinner at our place. Christmas food (other than candy canes and chocolate) has never held as much intrigue for me as it has now, and we now have a big unopened box of choc-chip Panettone in the kitchen that we bought yesterday, as well as a big tin of the Danish butter cookies I loved so much as a child. It was more that my family didn’t eat or enjoy this sort of food, and when I lived alone I saw little point in buying a ham because I wouldn’t be able to finish it all! This will be an amazing adventure as a culinary learning experience..but maybe not so great for my waistline this summer!
I will probably be referring to my new copy of At Our Table by Delicious Magazine in planning dinner for when Night Owl’s mother comes over. A collection of over 120 recipes for every occasion of the year, it’s full of vivid, beautifully photographed dishes and also provides a couple of tips on how to style a dinner setting. From Easter lunch to New Year’s Eve, it covers grand centrepiece dishes, cocktails perfect for entertaining, or potluck dishes perfect for packing up for your way to that birthday beach party.
I have previously making tried the Chargrilled Chicken Skewers for a casual weekend dinner, and even made my own satay sauce for the first time ever, with great results. I had made a zucchini and mozzarella flatbread to go with it, which turned out amazingly fluffy and moreish. Spurred by these positive results, I decided to break out the book again to try something special.
I decided to try making the Roast Spatchcock with Chimichurri, and accompany it with the Zucchini, Hazelnut and Burrata salad also in the book; however during my grocery shop, I didn’t have any luck sourcing burrata and so bought a couple of large rounds of buffalo mozzarella. It certainly was not cheap per mozzarella ball, but it’s a sizeable amount and goes a long way! I also didn’t have any luck in finding zucchini flowers at the farmer’s market or at the shops as they were not in season. As the flowers did not need to be filled or piped with anything, I decided to instead buy some baby zucchini and picked a few nasturtiums from the garden for colour.
The spatchcock I found easily in the Game section of my major supermarket, and to reduce cooking time I butterflied both birds and flattened it just a little.
This is a fresh, vibrant and healthy dinner or lunch meal that is much easier to make than it looks. You can substitute the spatchcocks for a whole chicken should you wish, and mix and match the vegetables in the salad as you wish!
For the Zucchini, Hazelnut and Mozzarella Salad, you will need:
- 200g mixed cherry or baby heirloom tomatoes, halved;
- 4 baby zucchinis, sliced thinly lengthways with a mandoline or vegetable peeler;
- One bunch basil, picked;
- 2 x buffalo mozzarella balls;
- 100g hazelnuts, roasted, skins removed and chopped;
- Flowers and small leaves of nasturtium (optional) – these are edible! Please refrain from eating flowers/plants or adding them to your food if you are not sure what they are; always check first!
For the lemon vinaigrette:
- Grated zest and juice of one lemon;
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar;
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed;
- 1 anchovy in oil, chopped;
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil.
For the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a bowl, season and set aside. Arrange the zucchini ribbons on a platter with the tomatoes, edible flowers, and basil leaves. Add the mozzarella balls to the platter, then drizzle over the vinaigrette and scatter with hazelnuts. This will serve four comfortably.
For the Chimichurri Roast Spatchcock (serves four):
- 4 spatchcocks;
- 1 tbs olive oil;
For the chimichurri:
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked;
- 1/2 bunch oregano, leaves picked;
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin;
- 2 garlic cloves;
- 1 long red chilli, finely chopped;
- Juice of one lemon (reserve the residual empty lemon);
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar;
- 185ml extra virgin olive oil.
To make the chimichurri, whizz all of the ingredients together in a small food processor. Season and pour into a bowl, set aside until needed.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Place the spatchcocks in a baking tray and drizzle with oil. I went a little bit further by putting a few nuggets of butter under the skin as I wanted it to brown nicely. Season well with salt and pepper – salting always helps with the browning. I also sliced up the residual lemon from the chimichurri and shoved it into the spatchcock cavity – it not only keeps it open to allow the hot oven air to circulate in and cook it faster, but cooks it with a lovely citrus fragrance.
Roast for 40 minutes or until golden and juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest.
Drizzle the chimichurri over the top of the spatchcocks and serve in the baking tray!
Enjoy your week lovelies 🙂