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The last Days of Summer
© Sue Courtney
10 March 2004

With daylight saving time finishing mid-March, we are definitely in the last days of summer. But after the dreadful February that hit the whole country, here's hoping that the rest of March and all of April will be a long hoped for 'Indian summer'. As the sun shines hot while I type this, the positive signs are here.

At this is the time of year I'm abounding in later summer and autumn fruit. We've eight pear trees in the back yard. We let the sheep in to gobble up the windfalls. They love it.

This month's recipes include

* Chicken Thighs stuffed with Basil and Pears
* Roasted Kumara and Pear Mash with Coriander infusion
* Potatoes and Peas in a creamy Feta and Garlic Sauce
* A few favourite Marinades
* Summer Fruit in Sweet Late Harvest Wine
* Christine's Mock Riesling

Chicken Thighs stuffed with Basil and Pears
For two people you will need -

- four skinned and boned pieces of chicken thigh meat
- Four heaped teaspoons of spreadable cream cheese
- One 'almost ripe' pear, cut into quarters
- 16 medium to large basil leaves
- 4 rashers of streaky bacon

Wash and dry the chicken thighs
Spread each with a heaped teaspoon of cream cheese
Layer the basil leaves on top.
Cut each quarter of pear in half again if necessary and place of top
Roll the thighs
Wrap with streaky bacon
Secure with toothpicks

Bake in a medium oven for 30 minutes and serve. If you wanted to go for impact, you could slice one of the thighs to show off the contrast of the green basil against the white of the pear and the more creamy colour of the chicken.

This was delicious with the Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Chardonnay 2002 and the Ngatarawa Alwyn Chardonnay 2002, I imagine it would also be excellent with Pinot Gris and perhaps with the basil, even sauvignon Blanc.

Roasted Kumara and Pear Mash with Coriander infusion
For two people you will need:

- 1 kumara
- 1 firm pear – select one that is on the cusp of ripeness
- several cloves of garlic, unpeeled
- 1 teaspoon of runny honey
- 3-4 tablespoons of cream
- a few sprigs of fresh coriander greens
- 1 tablespoon of avocado oil

Peel the kumara and pear. Cut pear into quarters and the kumara into similar sized pieces. Place in a microwave proof dish and microwave on high until they just start to soften.
Moisten the bottom of a small baking dish with the avocado oil. Add the semi-cooked kumara and pear and coat with the oil. Place the dish into a moderate oven and roast for about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the unpeeled cloves of garlic.
Remove the dish from the oven.
Take out the cloves of garlic, snip off the narrow end then squeeze the clove to get the baked pulp. Add this to the roasted kumara and pears and mash them all together with a potato masher. Add the honey and enough cream to get the consistency desired.
Chop up the coriander greens and stir through.
Serve as a side dish.

For a wine choice this is quite versatile. Choice a white such as Pinot Gris and try also with Pinot Noir.

Potatoes and Peas in a creamy Feta and Garlic Sauce
For two people you will need:

- 4 small to medium waxy potatoes
- 12 to 16 snow peas
- 1/4 cup of cream
- 2 tablespoons of Roasted Garlic and Feta Dip (I used the commercially prepared 'Turkish Kitchen' brand)
- 1-2 tablespoons of butter for cooking

Cook whole potatoes with skins on, either boil or microwave. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and cut the potatoes into cubes.
Cook the whole snow peas for 1 minute in boiling water. Refresh in cold water. Remove ends and strings from down the sides of the peas and cut into wide pieces.
Melt the butter in a pan.
Add cubed potatoes and saute until starting to brown and becoming a little crispy.
Add the peas and stir for 30 seconds or so, then add the cream, which will sizzle madly in the heat.
Remove pan from heat and stir in the Roasted Garlic and Feta Dip.
Stir madly again and serve.

This dish makes a lovely colour contrast with the bright green of the pea against the creamy background and it has excellent flavour too. It was the absolutely perfect match for the Alpha Domus AD Semillon 2002.

A few favourite Marinades
I love BBQ's because the men like to take over the cooking, though I still might have to buy the food. While meat can be bought ready marinaded, here are some of my favourite preparations.

Balsamic and Soy
Mix together a tablespoon of good balsamic vinegar with a tablespoon of soy sauce and rub into steaks before placing on the fire. Hat's off to Neil for this one!

Herb Infusion
Crush together some herbs, such as mint, rosemary, thyme and basil with a little garlic and moisten with olive oil. Rub into lamb chops to infuse before cooking.

Orange, Ginger and Honey
Marinade chicken tenderloins or pork for at least an hour in a tablespoon each of sherry, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and honey with crushed garlic, salt, pepper, a teaspoon of ginger and the juice and zest of an orange.

Summer Fruit in Sweet Late Harvest Wine
This is just an idea you could use any fruit you have on hand. I had pears, peaches and tangelos from the trees in the garden. It was the beginning of March, the last days for my peaches and the first days for the pears. The tangelos seem to hang on in there all year round but the poor old tree looks like it is on its last legs. I'll miss it when it goes.

I wanted to poach the fruit whole, especially the pears as they look so splendid standing on a plate, but I would have needed a lot of sweet wine in order to completely cover the fruit, so I halved the pears, quartered the peaches and broke the tangelos into segments.

For the two of us I used:

- 2 pears
- 2 peaches
- 2 sweet tangelo oranges
- 1 cup of sweet late harvest wine, preferably Gewurztraminer but Riesling or Muscat (which is so much cheaper) will do
- ¼ cup of water
- One piece of cinnamon stick
- 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of sugar

Peel the fruit and cut into pieces to suit your fancy. With the tangelos, remove as much pith from the flesh as possible. Pour the wine into the saucepan with the water and add the cinnamon and the fruit. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, removing the peaches after 10 minutes so they don’t overcook, then put aside to cool adding the peaches back to the liquid again. When the liquid has cooled, remove the fruit.
Now add the sugar to the liquid, bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes to reduce the liquid by half. Put the fruit back into the syrup to warm through then serve with marscapone or over icecream. Decorate with candied peel.

Christine's Mock Riesling
My sister Christine made this delicious drink for me when I was miserable and suffering from a head cold in the middle of the cold wet February. It perked me up no end, for it tasted like a bright, fresh zingy Riesling.

Take two apples,
One whole lemon, peeled
One knob of ginger, about 2cm long

Place the lot in a juice extractor and whiz, collecting the juice.
Pour into a glass.
Drink blindfolded and think of riesling.

Next time I'll add a bit of honey to give a botrytis-like effect.


Sue Courtney's recipes are all original creations unless otherwise stated. Recipes are inspired by the season and by the wine matches.

Kia pai te kai

© Sue Courtney
March 2004

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