Category Archives: chicken

Chicken and mushroom pie (Serves: 4 -Preparation time: +1hr)

I suspect that you will be somewhat surprised to hear that the inspiration for this pie recipe was ‘Beef Wellington’- well to be more specific the mushroom duxelle and the pastry elements of it.  There is nothing complicated about this recipe, it is just simple ingredients cooked well and left to speak for themselves.

“Tender chicken in a silky mushroom sauce topped off with crunchy flaky pastry – comfort food at its best!”

The filling can be made up in advance kept in the fridge for 1-2 days until it is needed which makes it a fantastic option for mid-week entertaining or to have in reserve if life is particularly busy – if you are doing this then cover with the pastry just before putting in the oven otherwise the pastry may dry out in the fridge.

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Sticky Asian ‘beer can’ chicken (Serves: 4/6 – Preparation: 1hr)

At home my barbecue is starting to come into its own as it is now being used regularly at the weekends rather than gathering leaves in the corner of the garden.  ‘Beer can chicken’ is something that I cook fairly regularly on the barbecue as it is very easy and keeps the meat moist and succulent.  The only difficulty with this recipe is getting the chicken on and off the barbecue – I would strongly recommend that you have a couple of decent pairs of tongs to hand when you do this…

You can make this recipe in the oven if you don’t have a barbecue, however you won’t get the delicious smoky flavour.  If you are going to use the oven instead then cook at 180°C for 1hr 20 minutes or until the juices run clear.  Don’t forget to stand the chicken on a roasting tray if you do cook it this way otherwise you will have one messy oven to deal with afterwards.

This recipe is definitely worth a go if you are having friends over this weekend, just serve with some barbecued veggies or a couple of big salads. Enjoy!

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Stuffed chicken breast wrapped in streaky bacon

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I think time must have started speeding up as I have no idea where the weeks let alone the days nor hours…   I am very much back in London mode, where you try to fit in as much as possible during the day.  Whilst it couldn’t be any more different to SW France, I am glad to be back and I’m thoroughly enjoying being able to catch up with my friends throughout the week and heading off to go sailing or do something a little bit different at the weekends.   (If you are missing my tales of SW France, check out Mumsy’s blog http://molleslifeinswfrance.wordpress.com/author/mollesquercy/ for French life from a less food orientated perspective!)

Between all the madness I have been able to keep playing in the kitchen and have been making a few different things including a fish pie parcel (that I was really pleased with and I hope to share the recipe over the course of the next week) and two gluten free lemon drizzle cakes.  The gluten free cakes have caused me a little bit of dismay, I am used to my cakes being fairly light and delicate and the gluten free cakes were definitely not that!  Truth be told the first attempt at making the cake was definitely the best, I used almonds in the place of the flour and it tasted OK despite the cake itself feeling like a lead weight that crumbled everywhere.  The second attempt was, umm let’s say interesting, it is the first time in years that I have actually followed a recipe for a cake because it suggested using a combination ground almonds and mashed potato.  Yup, you read it right, mashed potato.  In fairness to the mashed potato, I think it did make the texture of the cake more like a sponge, but the taste, well that had a lot to be desired!  However, I shall persevere and try and find a gluten free recipe that both looks and tastes good.

One meal that I have repeated a couple of times over the last couple of weeks has been stuffed chicken breast wrapped in streaky bacon.  The joy with this recipe is that you can prepare it the day before if you think you are going to be short of time and then simply throw it in the oven and cook it as soon as you get home and 40 minutes later you have a delicious meal on the table.  The chicken is stuffed with Boursin Cheese which along with wrapping the chicken in streaky bacon keeps the chicken breast beautifully moist.  The only fiddly bit in making this meal is wrapping the chicken breast in the streaky bacon, but once you’ve found the technique it couldn’t be easier!  This is definitely a recipe worth trying!

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Stuffed chicken breast wrapped in streaky bacon

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 12-16 slices of streaky bacon (smoked)
  • 1 Boursin cheese
  • olive oil
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan.
  2. Remove any sinew from the chicken breasts then, using a sharp knife create a ‘pocket’ in the chicken breast that you are going to stuff the cheese. (I find the easiest way to do this is to work from the ‘fattest’ side of the chicken breast and work carefully inwards, making sure that the cut runs almost the full length of the chicken breast so that you can pack in as much cheese as possible).
  3. Once you have made the ‘pocket cuts’ in the chicken breast, taking a good wedge of the Boursin cheese stuff  the breasts, packing it in firmly, make sure that you press down on the breast to close the ‘pocket’.
  4. Next lay 3-4 slices of the streaky bacon out on top of a chopping board so that they create a rectangle for the chicken breast to be wrapped in.  Place the chicken breast towards one side of the rectangle and then roll up in the bacon, wrapping it as tightly as possible.
  5. Place the chicken breasts on a baking tray, season with black pepper, drizzle over a little olive oil.
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes.  Serve on a bed of sweet potato mash or couscous with the vegetables of your choice.  Enjoy!

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Starter: Goat’s cheese tartlets – Main: Mediterranean chicken

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I started my new job just over a week ago and I am finding the early mornings a bit of a shock to the system.  That being said I’m slowly getting back into the routine of things. One thing that I can say however is that I have not missed the London commute during my time off; the tube whilst practical is not a pleasant experience in rush hour.   Consequently I am forcing myself to brave the elements and cycle to work 2-3 times a week…

There was one thing that I had been missing whilst I was living in France and that was cooking/going to dinner parties.  This weekend I had the flat to myself and I seized the opportunity to get friends over and spend the evening eating good food and drinking far too much wine!

We started off the evening with a very simple canapé/starter of goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomato tartlets.  I used filo pastry to make them as it is beautifully light and the resulting tartlets look very pretty.  On this occasion I didn’t serve the tartlets with anything, however, a simple rocket salad work well.

For the main I cooked chicken in a Mediterranean style sauce mixing a combination tomatoes, olives and feta.  The resultant dish was fresh and packed full of flavour.  I would recommend serving the chicken on a bed of mashed potato with steamed vegetables.  It is a simple dish to make and is a great option to make if you are having lots of people over!

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Mediterranean Chicken (Serves 5-6)

Ingredients:

  • 5/6 chicken breasts
  • 800g chopped tomatoesDSC_0551 (3)
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes
  • 100-125g black pitted olives
  • 2 large onions (finely sliced)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ glass of red wine (I used a Rioja)
  • 200g feta cheese (cut into cubes)
  • ½ tsp herbs of Provence
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • Seasoning
  • olive oil for cooking with

Steps:

1.  Preheat an oven to 180C fan.

2.  Place the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a little oil and cook on a medium heat until they are soft.

3.  Pour a little oil into a large roasting tray, add the chicken breasts and make sure they are coated with the oil and season well.

4.  Add the softened onions, olives, chopped tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, wine, lemon zest, bay leaf, herbs and mix together.

5.  Cover the roasting tray with tin foil and cook in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

6.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven.  Scatter over the feta cheese and parsley and then serve with some mashed potato and the vegetables of your choice.

 

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Goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomato tartlets

Ingredients: (makes 24)

  • ½ a packet of filo pastry (cut into 2” squares)DSC_0543 (3)
  • 250g goat’s cheese (cut into small pieces)
  • 100-125g sun blushed tomatoes (cut into small pieces)
  • 2tsp freshly chopped parsley
  • olive oil
  • black pepper

Steps:

1. Preheat an oven to 170C fan.

2.  Lightly grease two mince pie trays, place 2 squares of filo pastry into each of the moulds.

3.  Mix together the goat’s cheese and sun blushed tomatoes in a bowl, then put a little of the mixture into the centre of the pastry.

4.  Drizzle over a little olive oil and season with black pepper.

5.  Bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden brown and the cheese has melted.

6.  Remove from the oven and scatter over the chopped parsley just before serving.

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Chicken in breadcrumbs

This is one of my all-time favourite things to eat.  This is my aunt’s recipe which she often cooked for us when we visited her in Italy.  Whilst it may not be the healthiest thing to eat, it is absolutely delicious as most fried foods tend to be…

When I was last in London my brother cooked this for me, however, he broke away from the traditional recipe and used a combination of stuffing mix and parmesan because he couldn’t find any breadcrumbs.  I have to say it worked well, but, my aunt’s recipe will still always be my favourite!

I tend to make my own breadcrumbs these days as a way of using up any stale bread as I hate throwing things away.  Below is a quick guide to make them.

Quick guide to making breadcrumbs

  • Preheat oven to 100C fan.
  • Cut any old or stale loaves/rolls etc. into chunks.
  • Place the chunks onto a roasting tray and bake in oven for 45 minutes to an hour to remove any moisture from the bread.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
  • Place the bread in a food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs.
  • Store in an airtight jar.

 

Chicken in breadcrumbs

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4oz breadcrumbs
  • 1oz parmesan
  • seasoning
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • oil (for cooking with)
  • 1 lemon (cut in quarters for serving)

Steps:

1.  Slice or beat the chicken (using a rolling pin) into thin escalopes.

2.  Dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg (make sure it is well covered).

3.  Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and seasoning together in a bowl.

4.  Place the chicken pieces into the crumb mix and coat thoroughly pressing the crumbs firmly into the chicken.

   

5.  Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan.   Once it is very hot, carefully add the chicken in batches and fry on both sides for 3-4 minutes. (Check to see if the chicken is cooked by cutting into the middle of one of the escalopes).  Place the cooked pieces in an ovenproof dish, keep the warm in the oven at 100C fan

6.  Once all the chicken is cooked serve with a piece of lemon and the vegetables of your choice for example ratatouille and/or mashed potatoes.

 

Asian Chicken Rice

I have been thinking recently about why people try a new recipe – is it because they have heard it tastes delicious or is it because it looks mouth wateringly good.  I know that the main reason I read cookery books is because they are filled today with beautiful pictures of stunningly presented food.  I am sure most of you have heard of the expression “food porn” – the idea of close up images of juicy food that tempts you.  In recent years supermarkets have taken the idea of food porn and applied this concept to their television adverts with great success.  The Guardian wrote the article “M&S drops ‘food porn’ ads” at the end of one of Marks and Spencer’s incredibly advertisement campaigns. (For those of you who haven’t come across a Marks and Spencer’s advert here is a link to one – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHFKE6PD_6U.)  But my question is, has the idea of food porn taken a hold of people to such an extent that they are unwilling to try something new just because it does not look beautiful?

The reason I have been asking myself this question stems from something I cooked yesterday – Asian Chicken Rice.  It is a very simple dish that is flavourful, but does not look particularly attractive.  I knew when I served the dish it would be met with some reproachful looks.  I encouraged my taste-testers to try and overlook the presentation of the dish and just taste it.  They duly tried it and they were pleasantly surprised.  Some of the comments back included, it tasted really good but perhaps it would help if there were more colour in the dish.  This comment puzzled me, why add more ingredients to a dish which already tastes good just to make it more aesthetically pleasing.

Rightly or wrongly, I think today what we eat/choose to cook depends 50% on taste and 50% on looks.  I know I certainly fall into this trap.  At times I have been known to add things with the sole intention to make them look more presentable.  But there have been times were these “finishing touches” have had disastrous consequences on what was originally a nice tasting dish. I made one such error the other day, when I added fresh mint to a fig tart tatin.  The mint leeched into the caramel changing the flavour irreversibly, all I can say is that whilst the tart certainly looked nice it tasted horrible and ended up being fed to the geese.  I hope to learn from my mistake and throw caution to the wind when thinking about adding ingredients to an already lovely meal.

However at the end of the day I suppose I can always aspire to creating amazing tasting food that not only tastes great but also looks appealing day in and day out.  But for now, here is an honest dish without all the frills, Asian Chicken Rice – enjoy!

Asian Chicken Rice

Ingredients:

  • 3 large chicken legs (with the thighs still attached)
  • 2 stock cubes (dissolved in roughly 1 litre of boiling water)
  • 1 small dried chilli (chopped)
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  •  A few sprigs of coriander (chopped)
  • A few stalks of chive (chopped)

Steps:

  1. Place the chicken, stock and chilli in a large saucepan, cover with a lid and poach for roughly 40 minutes.
  2. Remove the chicken from the stock and set to one side.  Add the rice to the stock and cook the rice on a medium/low heat until it has the consistency similar to that of a risotto.
  3. Whilst the rice is cooking, strip the meat off the bone and shred.
  4. Once the rice is almost cooked add the onion, chicken and herbs to the saucepan and allow to heat through for 1-2 minutes before serving.