Monday, 30 April 2012

Double Potato and Halloumi Bake

Let's start with the positives. Steve and I thoroughly enjoyed tonight's dinner. I can't remember the last time I made this dish, but now I've remembered how good it is I'll do it more often. However James refused to eat the meal and opened a tin of tomato soup. Rachel ate it smothered in tomato Ketchup.  When I commented on how I forgotten about this meal for so long Rachel's comment was "Thank God". Not one for the kids then, but don't be put off by that. This is a recipe from Nigella Lawson 'Nigella Bites'. I ended up using 3 smallish sweet potatoes, 3 medium sized maris piper potatoes and 1 red pepper. I didn't use the full amount of garlic and  just roasted it for the flavour then discarded it. I also used a whole block of halloumi cheese because I really love it. 

Serves 2 -3 
1 large sweet potato,
1 large Desiree potato or other red/firm potato
1 red onion
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1/2 head of garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
125g halloumi cheese, sliced as thinly as you can
Ovenproof baking dish, 25 x 15cm

Preheat the oven to 200°C
Cut the sweet potato into rough 4cm cubes and the Desiree slightly smaller (2½cm) as the sweet potato will cook more quickly. Halve the red onion, then cut each half into 4-6 segments, discarding any tough outer skin. De-seed the peppers and cut into 2½cm squares, and separate the cloves of garlic.
Put everything into a large roasting tin or whatever you want to use (it should be big, otherwise use two dishes) and, using your hands, give the vegetables a good coating of olive oil. Season with black pepper, but no salt as the cheese will make it salty (and anyway, the salt will make water leech out).
Cook for 45 minutes, by which time the vegetables should be cooked through and here and there tinged with brown. You'll need to turn the oven up to maximum or light the grill for the end game: so place the thinly sliced cheese on top of the bake, and put it back in the very hot oven or under the grill until the cheese has melted and turned slightly brown on top, about 5-10 minutes. Serve straight out of the roasting tin.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Lemon Polenta Cake

I've had a bit of a lazy weekend as far as cooking goes. Yesterday we headed to the seaside for fish and chips, it was way too cold to eat outside, but at least we enjoyed a view of the sea from the cafe. I worked out it was 6 months since we had last had fish and chips, sitting on a beach in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. There is a fantastic fish and chip shop there, you would find it easily because the queue is all the way down the street during their opening times. They are so worth the wait though. Anyway they are not something we have very often, so when we do have them we enjoy them all the more. My lack of kitchen activity led me to make this delicious cake today. A great cake if you need a gluten free dessert. I asked Rachel what she thought of it, "amazing, light, moist, tangy and sweet", were her words. I think she enjoyed it. I overdid it slightly and the top was a bit burnt, so I just served it upside down and sprinkled it with icing sugar. The inside is a wonderful yellow colour, and warm from the oven it's heavenly. This is from Nigella Lawson "Kitchen".

Serves 16 

For the cake:
200g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
100g fine polenta/cornmeal (I used cornmeal)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
3 eggs
zest 2 lemons (save the juice for the syrup, below)
for the syrup:
juice 2 lemons
125g icing sugar
1 x 23cm springform or other round cake tin

Line the base of your cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.
Mix together the almonds, polenta or cornmeal and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin.
Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a smallish saucepan.
Once the icing sugar’s dissolved into the juice, you’re done.
Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Salmon and dill fish cakes

The only fiddly thing about these fishcakes is taking the skin off the salmon fillets, from then on they are quick and simple to prepare. They make a really nice alternative to just cooking a piece of salmon and also make a change from fishcakes that are mostly made up of potato. My kids love them and although I have made them a few times, it was the first time I made the yoghurt and mustard dressing with them. This went down very well last night. The fishcakes look like they won't stay together when you put them in the pan, but the flour and egg binds holds them together really well and they are easy to turn in the pan. This recipe is taken from Nigel Slater 'Kitchen Diaries', a really wonderful cookbook, even just for the reading.

Serves 3
500g salmon
a large egg white
a small bunch of dill
a tbsp of flour
a tsp of grain mustard
the juice of half a lemon
olive oil 
salt and pepper

To serve:
lemon wedges
thick yoghurt with dill and grain mustard

Remove the skin from the salmon, then chop the flesh finely. Put in a bowl, with the egg white, a couple of tablespoons of the dill, the flour, mustard and lemon juice, then mush together with a generous grinding of salt and pepper. Squash spoonfuls of the mixture together lightly with your hands to make ten small balls. Flatten each one and set aside for a few minutes.
Heat a little oil in a shallow pan. Place the patties in the hot oil for two to three minutes, until they have coloured on the underside. Turn them with a palette knife and colour the other side. Cut one in half to check for doneness. The fish should be lightly cooked within and golden and crisp on the outside,
eat with wedges of lemon and the mustard sauce.
Also good with rice and sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Good food and Red Wellies

If this rain doesn't stop soon I'm going to need a pair of these fabulous wellies from Marks and Spencer. Infact I need a pair anyway.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Easy Thai Green Chicken Curry

This is a bit of a cheats Thai Curry, as it comes in the form of a curry kit. It's very handy to have in for emergencies. I picked up some chicken breasts, fresh coriander and some mange tout today when I remembered I had this kit in the cupboard. It's called 'Easy Thai Green Curry kit', made by Thai Taste. I bought it from Tesco and I would think it will be available in most supermarkets. It comes with green curry paste, coconut milk and Thai herbs and all you have to do is add some chicken. I added the juice of half a lemon, and some fish sauce, just because I had them in. I also added some fresh coriander and mange tout to the curry just before the end of the cooking time. It's really tasty, with out the hassle of having to buy all the individual ingredients.

Serves 2 - 3
300g diced chicken breast 
vegetable oil
Thai curry kit

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a deep frying pan and add 1 tbsp of coconut milk.
Add Thai Taste green curry paste and mix until the aromas are released (3 mins)
Add the diced chicken, stirring to coat the meat with the paste (about 3 mins)
Stir in the rest of the coconut milk and simmer until the meat is cooked (about 5 mins) . The sauce should not be too thick.
Add the sachet of herbs and continue to simmer for a further 3 mins.

You can add chopped coriander and sliced green chillis to finish off the dish.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Pasta with a tomato, bacon and chilli sauce

I very rarely buy jars of ready made tomato sauce, I don't like the flavour of them. There is nothing easier to make than a simple tomato sauce, served  with pasta and some freshly grated parmesan. Tonight I added some bacon and chilli for a quick and satisfying supper. Leave out the bacon for a vegetarian version.

Serves 4
olive oil
1 onion chopped small
1 clove garlic
6 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped into small pieces
a good pinch of dried chilli flakes ( add more for more of a kick)
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a few sundried tomatoes chopped (optional)
freshly ground salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan to serve 

Heat the oil in a small casserole dish and fry the onion and garlic until soft and golden. Add the bacon and fry until cooked. Add the tomatoes and chilli and season. Add the sundried tomatoes if you are using them.  While the sauce is simmering gently, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Mix together the sauce and the pasta and serve sprinkled with fresh parmesan. 

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Cheesy Chilli

I made this chilli for the first time tonight from Nigella Lawson, "Kitchen". I decided not to add the cheese, as I figured there were enough calories in the dish. I did however put a spoonful of half fat creme fraiche on top, which was lovely. I realised when serving the chilli, that there isn't actually any chilli in it. Strange to call it a chilli, but there were so many flavours going on I didn't feel it needed it. If you like a really hot chilli, this isn't the recipe for you. Steve has this funny, sometimes annoying habit of needing to know the ingredients of the meal he is eating.  This is usually when he is really enjoying the meal. Tonight he couldn't believe how simple this was compared to the other chilli I have made recently, as I think he enjoyed it every bit as much. Tonight we had rice, but it would be great with nachos or jacket potatoes. 

Serves 4
110g chorizo, cut into fat coins and halved
500g beef mince
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
15ml tablespoon tomato puree
400g can chopped tomatoes
125ml water, swilled from empty tomato can
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
250g fresh mozzarella, chopped
handful chopped fresh coriander (I didn't have any, so sprinkled on some spring onions)

Put a cast-iron casserole or heavy-based pan (needs to have a lid) on the heat and add the chorizo, cooking just long enough for an orange oil to be released.
Add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. When the meat begins to lose its raw colour, sprinkle with cocoa and oregano, dollop in the puree and give a good stir before adding the canned tomatoes. Swill the empty can with 125ml water, and empty that into the pan, followed by the Worcestershire sauce and kidney beans, then let it come to the boil. Turn the heat down, put the lid on, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove the lid, and let it come to the boil again, then turn off the heat and stir in the mozzarella. Stir and serve immediately.

Classic Fudge Brownie

There are times when only chocolate will do. These brownies weren't a disappointment. Soft and almost chewy in texture, and extremely moreish. They are from a recipe book funnily enough called "Brownies" by Linda Collister.

Makes 20
100g good quality plain chocolate
125 unsalted butter, softened
275g caster sugar
1 teaspoon of real vanilla essesnce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
85g plain flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
50 g good quality plain chocolate roughly chopped or plain choc chips
100g pecan halves (I didn't use nuts)
a brownie tin, greased and base lined.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Break 100g of chocolate into pieces and put in a heatproof bowl. Melt gently over a pan of simmering water, strirring frequently. Remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool.
Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and using either a wooden spoon or electric mixer, beat until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until the mixture is soft and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and the melted chocolate.
Sift the flour and cocoa onto the mixture and stir in. When thoroughly combined add the nuts and the chocolate pieces. Transfer to the prepared tin and spread evenly.

Bake in a preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes until a skewer inserted halfway between the sides and the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool until just warm before removing from the tin and cutting into 20 pieces. Best eaten warm. Once cold store in an air tight container and eat within 5 days.

Yorkshire Puddings

I don't normally make Yorkshire Puddings, I have to confess to buying Aunt Bessie's ready made ones. This is probably a crime in the world of cooking, especially coming from the North East of England. Last night we were having roast chicken and roast vegetables and there was a demand from the children for Yorkshire puddings. My nephew Max was here for the night, so I told them if they wanted them they could make them themselves, which Rachel and Max did. The result was excellent, and I thought worth blogging. 

Serves 6
110g plain flour
2 eggs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300 ml milk
fat from the roasting tin, dripping or vegetable oil

Sift the flour and some salt and pepper into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Break in the eggs and beat well together, gradually working in the flour. Beat in the milk, using a good wrist action to beat in air. Make sure the mixture is well mixed and free of lumps. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Heat your tins. Put about two tablespoons of fat in a large tin, or 1 teaspoon in each of the smaller ones. Put in the oven until the fat smokes. Pour in the batter and bake for 25-30 mins.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Salad with bresaola, apple, goats cheese and roasted marcona almonds

I can't remember where I originally got the recipe from for this lovely salad. I have added to it and varied it each time I have made it. The goats cheese was a new addition today, as I had some in the fridge to use up. Crisp sweet apples work well, and any nuts would be fine. Although I have to say that the marcona almonds are really lovely. I find Aldi great for continental meats, the bresaola came from there. They also seems to be extending their stock and I really rate their goats cheese, halloumi cheese, mozzarella and parmesan. I love that fact that you can be in and out of the shop in half an hour instead of getting lost in aisle after aisle at the larger supermarkets. My mum will be proud of me promoting Aldi, she has always been a big fan of it.

For the salad mix together some green leaves, today I used spinach and rocket. Chop up some apple and some goats cheese (optional). Add a handful of almonds and a few slices of bresaola. Slice some shavings of parmesan on top of the salad. Drizzle with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Sausages with mustard mash and sweet and sour peppers

Ok, so I have given up on the summery theme and gone for something warm and comforting. What better than sausages and mash. This recipe comes from Gordan Ramsay's "Great British Pub Food".

Serves 4
8 good quality pork sausages

Mustard mash
1kg maris piper potatoes
150ml double cream. (I left this out in an effort to be healthy)
75ml of milk
75g butter
a dollop of wholegrain mustard
sea salt and black pepper

Sweet and sour peppers
2 large red peppers, trimmed, deseeded and finely sliced ( I used orange and yellow)
olive oil
few thyme sprigs (I used dried thyme)
little splash of red wine vinegar
pinch of caster sugar (optional)

Either fry the sausages or cook them in the oven. Cook your mashed potatoes and then add the cream, butter, milk, seasoning and the mustard. Cook the peppers in the olive oil with the thyme and some seasoning. After 5 mins add the wine vinegar and cook until the pan is quite dry. Taste and season and add the sugar.
Serve the sausages on a pile of grainy mash with the sweet and sour peppers on the side.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Rigatoni with parma ham and tomatoes

I love it when you happen to have the ingredients at hand to make a recipe you have just found. This was another recipe which I came across while searching on the good food website tonight.  I used penne pasta instead of rigatoni, and although the recipe was for 2 servings, I just added more pasta to serve 4.  I also had two halves of pepper left over from last nights meal, which I sliced and added them at the point of frying the tomatoes. We all really enjoyed this dish and I'll definitely do it again. The more horrible the weather gets the more summery the dishes become. 

Serves 2
150g rigatoni
oil for frying
2 garlic cloves, gently bashed but kept whole
8 slices Parma ham, roughly torn
300g cherry tomatoes, quartered
125g mozzarella, chopped

basil leaves to decorate

Cook the pasta according to pack instructions. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic and Parma ham gently for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they soften and release their juices.

Drain the pasta, keeping a little of the water back and mix with the tomatoes, removing the garlic. Scatter with the mozzarella and basil.
A lovely view from the window last night, the cows have come home.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Roast Peppers with tomatoes, garlic and basil

I really, really love peppers roasted this way. With some crusty bread and some green salad, they make a simple and delicious meal. It's not a meal that I would expect Rachel and James to really enjoy, but Rachel had a little tonight. Her appetite is returning a little, after being poorly for the last couple of days. This is from Delia Smiths Summer collection, listed under the starters section. It would be equally as good as a starter, but I find them filling enough for a main course, accompanied with plenty of bread to mop up the lovely juices. Perfect for a summers day, pity it's really cold and raining then.

Serves 2
2 large red or orange peppers, halved
2 large ripe tomatoes or 4 smaller ones
2 garlic cloves, cut into slithers
salt and pepper
olive oil
fresh basil leaves

Heat the oven to 200C. Cut the peppers in half, leave on the stalks if possible. Lay them in a shallow roasting dish. This will enable them to become nutty and brown on the edges. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and place inside the halved peppers. Put some slithers of garlic inbetween the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and add a couple of basil leaves to each pepper. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the peppers are soft and blackened at the edges. 

You can also place fillets of anchovies on each pepper. The saltiness of the anchovies and the sweetness of the peppers go perfectly together.

Banana Cookies

Here's another way of using up those over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl. They are somewhere between a cookie and a cake. The recipe is from a food blog called "Simply Recipes", I think I remember reading that this was one of the top food blogs last year. The measurements were in cups, so I hope I have converted them properly. They tasted really good, not too sweet.  I added some ground ginger instead of the nutmeg and cloves. I also think that sultanas might have been a good addition.


113g of unsalted butter, room temperature
128g of sugar
1 egg, room temperature
about 2 - 3 large bananas
1 teaspoon of bicarb of soda
256g of plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
pecan nuts (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and bicarb of soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.
Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.
Fold into the mixture the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies depending on the size of the dollops.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Cheddar cheese risotto

We don't see much of James once the nights are lighter for longer. He comes in from school in one door and goes out another door to play until bath time. Tonight he just about sat still enough to eat this risotto. As he left the house with a mouthful of food he did say "thanks mum, that was very nice". This is as Nigella says in Nigella Express, extremely comforting food. It's a lovely risotto to try if you haven't made one before as there really isn't much to it. I followed the recipe below and it fed three of us, we have one poorly child tonight who's not eating and there was more than enough for us.

Serves: 2 as main, 4 as starter
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil
2 baby leeks (or fat spring onions), finely sliced (I used spring onions)
300g risotto rice
125ml white wine
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 litre hot vegetable stock
125g Cheddar, chopped (I prefer to use a mature cheddar)
chopped fresh chives

Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the sliced baby leeks until they have softened.
Add the risotto rice and keep stirring for a minute or so, then turn up the heat and add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed.
Start ladling in the hot stock, letting each ladleful become absorbed as you stir, before adding the next one.
Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes, then add the cheese, stirring it into the rice until it melts.
Take the pan straight off the heat, still stirring as you do so, and spoon the risotto into warmed dishes, sprinkling with some of the chopped chives.

Carrot and ginger soup

Following a couple of weeks of excess eating and drinking over the Easter holidays, I feel the need for a little cutting down. A healthy, yet filling homemade soup seems a good place to start. I had a huge piece of ginger in the fridge which I brought back from holidays and a bag of carrots which needed to be used up. Result, a really tasty soup with a little kick of ginger, just add more ginger if you want the taste a little more fiery. This recipe has made enough to last a couple of days for lunches.

Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1kg of carrots, peeled and chopped
approx 40g root ginger, peeled and chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock

Fry the onion in olive oil in a large pan, until golden and softened. Add the chopped carrots, ginger and the stock and cook until the carrots are soft. Puree with a blender. Add a little milk if you want a thinner consistency.

Carrot and ground coriander
Carrot and red pepper
Carrot and orange

All tried and tested and all delicious.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Baked Smoked Gammon with Parsley Sauce

I actually can't take any credit for this meal apart from placing the ham in the oven. I left our friend Simon to do the cooking while us girles went out shopping. Simon is used to cooking huge hams for large numbers of people so this little piece was a doddle for him. I don't really need to write a recipe. The ham was approx. 2.8kg and cooked in the oven covered in foil for just over 2 hours at 180C. The foil was removed about half an hour before the end of the cooking, or whatever the packet advises. This piece didn't have much fat on, but with a piece with fat on, I would score the meat and brush on some orange marmalade or black treacle. The sauce was a basic b├ęchamel sauce, with fresh parsley added at the end. Leftovers if any, are lovely with fruity chutneys or in sandwiches.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Leek and bacon pasta with cheese sauce

I'm back from my hols. I've missed doing my blog, but have had a relaxing week away with good company and good food. I hope I haven't been too much of a control freak in the kitchen. We planned the meals beforehand and had an online shop delivered to the holiday house. It really makes for a relaxing holiday, not having to think about food shopping when you are away. We really ate well, I've got a couple of new recipes to try from my friend Jane, which I'll do in due course. Last night we had a really old favourite, Delia Smiths, leek and bacon macaroni, from "The complete illustrated cookery course".  It's a great meal when cooking for a large number of people and can be prepared well before hand, and cooked when needed.

Serves 4

350g penne or macaroni
50g butter

olive oil
3 small leeks, thinly sliced 
175g streaky bacon, chopped into strips
For the sauce:
50g butter
50g plain flour
850ml milk
75ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
175g cheddar cheese, grated
For the topping:

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add a few drops of olive oil and cook the penne for exactly 10 minutes  Drain and rinse with cold water, and set aside.

In large, heavy frying pan melt 50g of butter then add the leeks and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until the leeks are browning and the bacon is somewhat crispy.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce by putting the remaining the butter, the flour, and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring gently to a simmer and stir until thick and bubbly. Stir in the cheese and add a generous grinding of black pepper, and some nutmeg.

In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, leek mixture and cheese sauce. Place in one large gratin dish. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, then dust lightly with cayenne pepper.

Bake at 180C for 30-40 minutes until nicely brown and bubbly. If prepared ahead and refrigerated, allow for a few minutes extra cooking time.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Chicken Katsu Curry

I'm looking at the photo of the pea soup and I'm thinking it looks awfully watery. The thing is it was really tasty, don't be put off by it's appearance, it really is worth trying.

Tonight I made Chicken Katsu for the first time. For anyone who has been to Wagamama and tried the chicken Katsu you will know what I'm talking about.  I have tried so many different dishes there, but have always come back to my favourite Chicken Katsu. I bought a sauce recently that claimed to be a katsu sauce and found it  inedible. This sauce tonight was the nearest I have had to the flavour of the sauce in the restaurant. I was very excited to find a version of it in this months Olive Magazine, as even the "Wagamama" cook book does not disclose the recipe. It wasn't the quickest dish to do, it wasn't difficult, just a wee bit time consuming. The sauce could be made in advance and the chicken cooked when needed. We all really enjoyed it, even Rachel who doesn't choose to have the spicy katsu sauce, said it was divine. I'll not be posting for a week or so as I'm on holiday and looking forward to cooking some old favourites.  

Serve 4
Seasoned flour
2 eggs beaten
natural breadcrumbs 200g
4 skinless chicken breasts - sliced in half 
basmati rice 200g
frozen peas 150g
sesame oil
soy sauce
Curry Sauce
1 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
a small chunk of ginger peeled and finely chopped
a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
oil for frying
plain flour, 1 tbsp mixed with
1 tbsp mild curry powder
chicken stock 350 ml
brown sugar,1 tsp

Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate dishes. Dust the chicken in flour, then the egg, then breadcrumbs, Chill for 20 minutes.
To make the curry sauce cook the onion, garlic and ginger (and chilli flakes) if using in a splash of olive oil until softened. Add the flour and curry powder mix, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to stop it catching. Slowly add the chicken stock and sugar and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend the sauce to smooth using a blender or food processor.
Heat the oven to 180C. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Fry the chicken until golden on both sides and then transfer to a rack to finish cooking for 20 minutes.
Boil the rice in lots of salted boiling water and add the peas for the last two minute of cooking. Drain well and toss with a couple of drops of sesame oil and soy.
Slice the chicken and arrange on top of the rice and serve with a drizzle of the katsu sauce.

Happy Easter. The biscuits were a present, I can't take credit for them. 

Pea soup

This is a good standby when the cupboards and fridge are empty, as they are again today. It's made with frozen garden peas and vegetable stock. It's ready in the time it takes to defrost the peas in the stock. The children used to call it "Shrek soup" as it looks like something Shrek would eat, but tastes a lot nicer. It could have done with more peas to make it a little thicker, but I had to make do with what I had. I keep the rinds of parmesan cheese in the freezer, and today I put this in with the soup while it was cooking. It just gives a little more flavour. I had some fresh breadcrumbs in the freezer, so I just fried them until crisp and sprinkled them on top. Not necessary, but a nice accompaniment.

Serves 2
500g frozen peas
500 ml of vegetable stock (I used bouillon)

Put the frozen peas and the stock in a saucepan and heat until the peas are defrosted. Puree with a hand blender until smooth and serve.

Crispy bacon bits would be good sprinkled on top.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Spanish Rice with Prawns and Chorizo

We've just had the most unexpected, glorious lunch in the garden. Unexpected for two reasons. Firstly, that it was warm and sunny enough to eat out and secondly the meal wasn't planned and was just made with ingredients I happened to have in. The fridge is looking really sparse, I'm going away tomorrow so I haven't done a big shop recently. I found a bag of cooked king prawns in the freezer and searched for prawn recipes on BBC Goodfood website. Luckily I also had a chorizo sausage and a packet of paella rice. I try to keep a stock of rice, which includes, arborio rice, paella rice and basmati rice. This was very like a paella without the chicken and far simpler to make. I had no red peppers or parsley and this didn't really affect the flavour, also saffron was not really essential as the chorizo oil coloured the rice. The rice needs to be covered when cooking, so choose a pan with a lid. 

Serves 4
1 onion, sliced
2 red peppers, cut into chunks
olive oil
200g chorizo, chopped into pieces
300g paella rice
pinch saffron
800ml chicken stock , hot
250g cooked prawns
1 lemon, halved
small bunch parsley, chopped

Cook the onion and pepper in 2 tbsp olive oil in a wide, shallow pan until softened. Add the chorizo and cook for a couple of minutes until the oil is released. Stir in the rice until coated in all the oils. Stir the saffron into the stock then add to the pan and stir well. Put on a lid and cook for 15 minutes until the rice is tender and the stock absorbed.
Stir in the prawns until heated through completely, then squeeze over lemon and toss through the parsley.