“I’ve got to thank my friend Marian for this recipe. She made it for me years ago and ever since I’ve had it on my stand-by list for quick and easy dinners. It even features on my Moroccan catering menu alongside slow-cooked beef with dates and orange almond cake. The best thing about this dish is the combination of flavours and textures. You get the sweet and sour tang from the vinegar and sugar and the caramelised goodness of the chicken with the salty hit from the capers and the olives. Whoops, just drooled on the keyboard thinking about it! Of course as an avid cook I couldn’t quite leave the recipe alone so I’ve tweaked it ever so slightly (Sorry Marian!). You may also notice that this recipe feeds quite a few (Christmas party catering!) so just cut the ingredients in half if you want, or make huge amounts and eat as leftovers. I’ve paired it with a roast pumpkin cous cous salad. Enjoy!”
2kg chicken thighs
1 red onion
8 cloves of garlic
400g pitted prunes
400g dried apricots
300g pitted olives
8 bay leaves
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups light olive oil
2 cups white wine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 tbsn dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Quarter the chicken thighs and mushrooms and place in a large container.
Finely slice the onion into rings and slice the garlic. Add to the chicken.
Add the prunes, apricots, olives, capers and bay leaves.
Combine the vinegars, oil and wine with the sugar and stir into the chicken mixture.
Finally add the oregano, salt and pepper and refrigerate covered for 4 hours or overnight.
Place mixture in an baking dish and cook at 200 degrees c for 40-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Don’t worry if some of the fruit and chicken caramelises (burns!) during the cooking process, this adds to the flavour.
Roast pumpkin and cous cous salad
1 kg pumpkin
2 tbsn ras e hanout (Moroccan spice)
1 cup cous cous
1/2 cup currents
150g pine nuts
1 red onion
Salt and pepper
Cut the pumpkin into 1cm cubes. Coat in olive oil and Ras e hanout and bake in a moderate oven until cooked. Allow to cool.
Place cous cous in a sealed container and cover with boiling water. Place the lid on and let sit for 15 minutes.
Stir with a fork to separate the grains.
In a dry pan roast the pine nuts until they start to turn golden then put in a bowl.
Finely dice the red onion and coriander and add to the cous cous with the other ingredients.
“After a weekend of catering three different events with three completely different and rather complicated menus I thought it would be good to post my favourite simple stand-by recipe. I came up with this recipe years ago when I started making hummus from scratch (when I realised it’s so much better than the store-bought varieties!). I needed a dish that I could prepare in the morning and throw into the oven when I got home. It’s also really easy to modify by substituting different vegetables such and capsicum or eggplant. I sometimes do it in small ramekins for a more formal occasion but usually I just bring it to the table in the baking dish and let everyone dig in! It may not look pretty but the flavours are sensational! Enjoy!”
2 x 400g tins of chick peas
4 garlic cloves
6 tbsp tahini paste
Juice of 2 lemons
Rind of 1 lemon
3 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup light olive oil
Salt and pepper
Heat a small fry pan and add cumin seeds, stirring until they become fragrant. Grind with a mortar and pestle until reduced to a powder.
Add all ingredients to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add a small amount of water if it’s too thick and season to taste.
Hummus chicken ingredients
2 medium potatoes
1 red onion
6 medium mushrooms
1 quantity of hummus
850g chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
Prepare all your ingredients. Finely slice potatoes (I use a mandolin on the thinnest setting). Slice onion into rings. Slice mushrooms. Slice zucchini lengthwise into 4mm strips. Cut chicken thighs into quarters.
Grease a baking dish and put a layer of potato and red onion at the bottom.
Follow this with a layer of mushrooms and cover with the zucchini.
Spread some of the hummus (about a cup) over the zucchini in an even layer.
Spread the chicken on top and cover with another layer of hummus.
Finish with a layer of potato, season with salt and pepper and some Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven at 200 degrees c for 45-60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the topping is golden.
Serve with a green salad, crusty bread to soak up the sauce and vegetables.
“As part of my push to lose weight and get fit and healthy I’ve been redesigning some of my favourite recipes with less fattening ingredients. Obviously I want to do this without losing the flavour hit that comes with high fat foods and cooking techniques so I can confuse my taste-buds into thinking they’re still being spoilt. I have a recipe from my classical music range called “Nutcracker Chicken”. It consists of a chicken breast that’s been filled with a combination of goats cheese, blue vein and pistachios, coated in macadamia and panko crumbs, then fried and baked. I serve it with roast capsicum sauce, roast potatoes, asparagus spears and honeyed pine nuts. YUM! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! …but for now here is a much healthier alternative that packs a huge amount of flavour in the sauce and chicken filling. Enjoy!”
Stuffed chicken breast ingredients
4 garlic cloves
150g sun-dried tomatoes
Splash of white wine
zest and juice from half a lemon
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup basil leaves
6 chicken breasts
12 slices of prosciutto
Clean the leek then quarter and dice. Add to the pan with a small amount of olive oil. Cook until leeks have softened slightly.
Finely dice the garlic and add to the pan for a few minutes.
Dice the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes and add to the pan with the white wine.
When liquid has reduced to almost nothing remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts and diced basil. Set aside to cool.
Cut a cavity in the chicken breast and put stuffing inside.
Wrap 2 slices of prosciutto around chicken to keep the stuffing in and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Heat a small amount of light olive oil in a pan and on medium heat cook the chicken on each side until prosciutto has cooked (about 1 minute per side)
Transfer to a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees c or until chicken is cooked all the way through.
Roast Tomato and Capsicum Sauce
2 red capsicums
Light olive oli
3 tbsp kecap manis
Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove stem end.
Cut capsicums into quarters and remove stem ends and seeds.
Peel and quarter onion.
Place all in a roasting dish and drizzle with light olive oil and some salt
Roast for 30 minutes in a 220 degree c oven or until capsicum skins start to blacken.
Let cool slightly and transfer to a blender adding the kecap manis. Don’t throw out any of the remaining juices from the pan as you will use them later!
Blend on high until smooth. Season to taste. (If you want a smoother sauce pass the mixture through a drum sieve)
12 asparagus spears
Peel and cut carrots into battens and transfer to the roasting dish you cooked the tomatoes in and coat with the juices. Add a little more olive oil and salt in needed.
Bake in a 200 degree c oven for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
Cut asparagus into thirds and steam until cooked.
Plating up the dish
Gently reheat the sauce and put a generous smear on the plate.
Cut the chicken breast into 3 rounds and lay onto of the sauce (You can save the off-cuts for lunch tomorrow!)
Put a pile of asparagus and carrots on the plate and garnish with 2 basil leaves.
Hello, my name is Craig.
Craig Allister Young is a cellist, orchestrator, arranger, singer and song-writer who works with the QLD Symphony Orchestra in Brisbane.
Over the past 20 years he has orchestrated music for most of the major orchestras in Australia, composed music for the Sydney 2000 Olympics,
toured a cabaret ensemble around QLD and for the past three years has been a musical director and cellist for the QLD ballet. His passion for cooking
saw him embark on his latest adventure as a top 24 contestant in the hugely popular TV sensation Australian Masterchef 2011. It is from this that the idea of
"Musical Menus" materialised as a way of combining his love for music with his passion for creating imaginative culinary dishes. Bon Appetite!