Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Lemon glazed chicken with chicory, asparagus & spring onion warm salad

This dish is typically a late spring / summer dish. I know its a cardinal sin by posting it now, on the verge of winter, however its too good not to share, and if you can get the ingredients, its a cheeky little uplifting number that wont impact the waistline.

if you're a fan of lemon chicken dishes and are  curbing the calories / carbs then by all means give this a try. It has a lovely balance of protein versus fibre, and also features the wonderful chicory and asparagus. Vitamin power!

As a salad feel free to add many other greens to it such as fennel, baby gem, cos lettuce etc. For more of a larger meal add a couple of bacon rashers to the mix (chopped), or chorizo or salami.

You will need:

1 chicken breast
4 spears asparagus (trimmed). You can keep the ends for soup or similar
1 heart of chicory (washed)
3 spring onions (chopped)
zest and juice 1 lemon
50 ml water
1/2 crumbled chicken stock cube or similar
tsp sweetener or sugar.
2 tbsp olive oil for dressing.


Preheat oven to 200C

In a frying pan add a little oil (or none if the breast has skin on). If there is a skin add it to the pan skin side down first. When one side is coloured flip over the chicken and add the pan to the oven. If the pan doesnt allow oven use, use a baking tray or roasting tin.

While the chicken is cooking seperate the leaves of the chicory and add to mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the spring onions and move gently together until salad has become uniform.  Feel free to add any fresh herbs you wish to the pan along with the chicken (rosemary, sage and thyme are ideal). If you are going to use a deliacte herb such as parsley, dill, basil, or fennel, we will wait and add them later.

In a saucepan combine water and sugar / sweetener and bring to the boil. Allow to reduce to a syrup then add the stock and zest of lemon and juice. Allow to reduce on a simmer to thicken and keep warm.

When the chicken is almost ready add the asparagus to the pan with the chicken and return to the oven. When the chicken is cooked the asparagus should have griddled sufficiently. Check how tender it is. if it needs further development return it to the oven whilst you are busying yourself with the next bit.

Add any delicate herbs you wish to use at this point such as parsley, dill, basil, tarragon etc, then drizzle a bit of the lemon liqour over the leaf and spring onion mix, with the olive oil. Add the asparagus when ready then layer in salad bowl. Serve the chicken on top and drizzle further with the lemon liquid. Serve immediately


Stir fried sesame & ginger pork with roasted pepper & butternut squash (with balsamic glazed plum garnish)

It sounds a bit of a mouthful, and I apologise for that. But to leave out the features that this dish would present, I suppose would be a crime in itself. This dish presents I guess a fusion of influences, from the continental approach of the roast butternut squash and pepper, to the eastern influences of sesame, soy & ginger with plum for added sweetness. It's a colourful dish that spans the sweet and savoury barriers, and nutritionally is quite healthy also. Did I happen to mention its a hearty dish thats perfect for this time of year also? Oh and its phenomenally cheap (He smiles)

So knowing it ticks all the boxes for a hungry and adventurous palate, we begin.


(serves 2)

2 x pork loin steaks (tenderised and cut into strips). If you can get any other pork cheaply by all means do so - but bear in mind the tenderness etc. fattier cuts will take longer to cook.
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
2 peppers cut into same proportions as squash - you choose the colour. I favour red and yellow ones for sweetness, but green ones can balance out the dish.
1 Plum, cut in half
1 clove of garlic, sliced
Soy sauce
sesame oil
1/2 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
200g baby button mushrooms
Ground cinnamon
tbsp balsamic vinegar.


Marinade the pork

In a suitable container combine the pork, ginger, a coating of sesame oil and a few lashings of soy sauce. Cover and allow to marinade for a couple of hours (the longer the better).

Preheat oven to 200C and on an oven tray add the peppers, plum (hole side up) and squash. Give a slight coating of olive oil and a very slight sprinkling of cinnamon. On the half of the plum divide the garlic and put in the hollow where the stone was. Drizzle plum with small amount of balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a little salt and sugar.

Put in oven and check regulary - When the squash has coloured and begins to soften its almost there. If youre cooking this in advance for reheating later the time to take it out is now. Otherwise heat up your wok and add some sesame oil.

When the wok is blisteringly hot, add the mushrooms and cook for a minute. Add the pork and keep moving until cooked.

Remove pepper / squash mix from the oven and plate, adding pork and mushroom mixture on top. Garnish with balsamic plum on the side. Add a sprig of rosemary for theatrical effect if you wish.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Chicken Cacciatora (Hunters Chicken)

Image courtesy of bbc good food

This dish comprises a combination of latin flavours, but in supposition its an ideal dish for hunters to cook in the field, or would have been back in the day. The flavours aren't complex, and complement each other perfectly. Also if you shop around for ingredients you can produce this dish extremely cheaply. Substitutions such as using thigh meat instead of breast, and using generic cream cheese help alot to cut costs, as do using standard red onions instead of shallots. Granted the authenticity may wane, but i suppose not everybody's pockets are deep, and the economic situation at the moment lends favour to saving money wherever possible.

That said the substitutions element will not detract from the enjoyment of this recipe. Its hearty, rustic and suitable year round. Feel free to add mushrooms also if you have them available.

(serves 1)

1 breast of chicken, skin on with wing bone trimmed. (Or thigh).

2 slices of chorizo sausage (You can use salami or pepperoni if you wish).
2 shallots finely diced (or 1 small red onion)
1 clove of garlic crushed
Olive oil
100g cherry tomatoes
75ml of mascarpone cheese (or other full fat cream cheese)
Basil shredded

Tuck under the chicken skin the two slices of sausage, season and seal in a hot pan with a little oil, finish in the oven for 12 minutes

In a sauce pan sweat off the garlic and shallots, do not brown

Add the tomatoes with a little water and cook for 10 minutes

Stir in the mascarpone cheese and the basil leaves, season

Once chicken is cooked pour over the sauce

Serve with new potatoes roasted in olive oil and rosemary. You can quite legitimately serve with other things such as rice, or pasta. I hoever prefer the potato approach.  

Monday, 28 November 2011

Pork Wellington with Redcurrant & Cranberry Sauce

The wellington is a very British dish, as its namesake suggests. A favourite of Sir Winston Churchill amongst others, this dish goes beyond the quaintness of "hearty" and borders of luxurious.

This recipe in particular takes the focus away from beef, and utilises pork instead. I've taken the focus away from expensive ingredients here, and am quietly confident you can feed two people here for less than £10 (shopping around may however be required).

Service thoughts: it goes with pretty much anything, vegetable wise. You can use any of the classic potato dishes also, as they each give a different focus and ideal to the dish when presented. Whether its the glorious fondant potato, dauphinoise, pommes dauphine, croquettes or even champ potato, you're going to enjoy this dish. I'll leave the accompaniment to you.

From a seasonal perspective I suppose its perfectly suited to winter, with the extra filling nature of wellington, the sweetness of "winter" fruits such as redcurrants and cranberries, and the earthy flavours of the pate and mushrooms utilised.

To create this mammoth dish you will need (serves 2)

Puff pastry (when bought from a shop you generally get what you pay for, but if ur on a budget any will do)
Chicken liver pate (you can get this quite cheaply)
1 pork fillet (if you are on a budget you can get the side of a loin by haggling a bit with the butcher)
About 10 chestnut or similar earthy flavour mushrooms. If a bunch of enoki are available, go for them.
2 shallots or 1 small red onion
Chopped fresh rosemary, sage and thyme. Its alot cheaper if you have them growing.
4 pancakes (savoury) (roughly 7in in diameter).. These are I suppose optional but they help the dish greatly. Its up to you.
25g butter for glazing.
1 beaten egg for glaze.
Salt & Pepper for seasoning.


Cut the pork fillet in half and remove any membranes and bits clinging to it. Discard any bitsor put to one side for stock use.

Take your puff pastry and roll out on a cool surface until about 1/2 cm thick. Divide into two equal pieces (these will wrap the fillet etc).

Spread pate on the pastry leaving about 3/4 in breathing gap on all edges.

Finely chop the onion and mushrooms into about 1/2 cm dice. Saute in a pan until soft, then fold in a small amount of butter and the chopped herbs and turn the heat down. When the onion and mushrooms have absorbed the butter take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Layer 1 pancakes on the area covered by the pate, then add the mushroom and onion mix in the same manner as the pastry. Add the last pancake on top of this.

Season with salt and pepper, then sear the pork fillet in a very hot pan until colour shown on all sides. We dont want to cook it fully, just enough for the latent heat to start work, and give a bit of caramelised flavour to the meat.

Allow the meat to rest for a minute or so then wrap the pastry / pancake affair around the meat into what appears to be a sausage roll. Seal the wrapped end with the eggand makes sure you do the same for the ends. One thing we dont want is leakage.

Glaze the ready to oven wellington with butter and the remaining egg. Place on greaseproofed oven tray and put in preheated oven (about 180C) until golden brown .

Devour, mercilessly.

For the sauce:

Handful of fresh cranberries
Tbsp redcurrant jelly
Small glass of red wine or port
tsp balsamic vinegar (white preferred)
1/2 cup of chicken stock.


Add the redcurrant jelly to a pan and allow to melt into a syrup. Add the cranberries and turn the heat down to a simmer. Once the cranberries have begun to soften, add the vinegar. Allow to cook for about a minute then add the wine. Reduce the liquor by half then add the stock. Reduce by half again and the sauce is ready.
Don't worry about the straining, the fruit here is a real feature.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Pan seared chicken with mushroom risotto

Image courtesy of delishdiners

Following request for recipes I was instructed to provide a chicken and mushroom dish - so why not risotto? It is a hearty and comforting dish that is very filling and homely. The use of robust flavours and punchy herbs gives rise to conforting winter fayre also and can be constructed relatively cheaply if on a budget.

This recipe makes about 10 servings, which is good if you're feeding a large family. it also means you can store some of it and reheat it at a later point, makes a convenient lunch to take to work or wherever else also. Feel free to add other punchy ingredients such as lemon zest, herbs such as dill, fennel, tarragon, rosemary or even sage for added punch.


(makes about 10 servings so divide by 2 for a family sized batch)

2 Onions finely diced
1 leek white flesh only finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic crushed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
700g of Arborio rice
500ml of white wine
1500ml of chicken stock (boiling) or even mushroom bouillon
about 15 chestnut mushrooms, or 1 pack of enoki (use porcini if youre feeling more luxurious)
100g smoked bacon (streaky is best for flavour and cheapest) cut into same size as onions and leek
A punch of parmesan shavings


In a heavy based pan sauté off the onions, leeks and garlic, and mushrooms sweat but do not colour too much

Add the rice stir in and wait for the rice to start cracking

Add the liquid little by little stirring frequently until all the liquid has been absorbed

The rice such still have a bite about it and not soft

Remove from the heat and just prior to serving.

For the chicken:

(per serving)

1 Large chicken breast(use thigh deboned if on a budget)
few springs of rosemary & thyme
salt and pepper

Season chicken with salt, pepeper and herbs.Put chicken in a tupperware box wrapped in greaproof paper and leave to marinade for a few hours before cooking.

Upon cooking preheat oven to 200C.
Heat up a pan and add 1/2tsp olive oil.
Sear chicken both sides then place on oven tray and finish in the oven

Serve chicken on top of risotto. Finish with garlic butter if feeling even more adventurous..

Smoked Salmon Risotto

Image provided courtesy of the bbc good food website

Smoked salmon is an interesting ingredient as it adds unexpected depth and dimension in terms of flavour, has a good hit of protein and is also rich in electrolytes, omega 3 oils and other benefical bells and whistles on the nutrition scale.If you're not a fan of smoked fish then by all means use conventional salmon. The best thing about smoked salmon is that for dishes liek this you cna buy smoked salmon trimmings (which are a good deal cheaper also.

Its exceptionally good from late autumn to spring as it provides a hearty meal in those colder months.

This recipe makes about 10 servings, which is good if you're feeding a large family. it also means you can store some of it and reheat it at a later point, makes a convenient lunch to take to work or wherever else also. Feel free to add other punchy ingredients such as lemon zest, herbs such as dill, fennel, tarragon, rosemary or even sage for added punch.


2 Onions finely diced
1 leek white flesh only finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic crushed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
700g of Arborio rice
500ml of white wine
1500ml of fish stock boiling
400g of Smoked Salmon sliced
A punch of parmesan shavings


In a heavy based pan sauté off the onions, leeks and garlic sweat but do not colour too much

Add the rice stir in and wait for the rice to start cracking

Add the liquid little by little stirring frequently until all the liquid has been absorbed

The rice such still have a bite about it and not soft

Remove from the heat and just prior to serving fold in the smoked salmon and parmesan .

Friday, 18 November 2011

Salt & Pepper Chicken

This wonderful oriental dish is frequently served among the orient, inclusive of China, Malaysia, Taiwan, & Japan. Its delightful year round, and can be amended to suit a variety of palates. Chopsticks at the ready... here we go...

Image courtesy of Kats 9 Lives blog. Her recipe can be found here:


Serves: 2
vegetable or sunflower oil
1 to 2 onions, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 green and / or red chillies, sliced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
300g breaded boneless chicken

Preparation method

Prep: 10 mins | Cook: 25 mins

1. Usually the breaded chicken takes about 20 minutes to cook in the oven, so put your chicken in first as it takes about this much time to cook the rest of the ingredients.
2. Put 4 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan or wok and place on a moderate heat. Add the onions and green pepper, and stir fry for a few minutes. Add the garlic and chillies when the onion and pepper have gone soft.
3. Stir until the onions have turned slightly golden, then add the sugar (start with 1/2 teaspoon; you can add more later if needed) 2 pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Continue stirring until chicken is ready and turn down heat if needed; the ingredients in the pan should be a soft golden colour.
4. When the chicken is ready, cut it up into thick slices, place in the pan and stir it all together. The aim here is to get the chicken smothered in the all the other ingredients. Add more oil if you need to. If you don't think it's sweet enough, add more sugar and garlic.
5. Once the chicken has been covered with the mixture, serve up

Monday, 14 November 2011

Winter Lamb Stew with flax focaccia (and dumplings)

It is monday, its cold outside and it feels like winter. Whilst toying with the idea of what to make for dinner later i'm heavily torn towards something hearty, be it a roast dinner, something spicy like a curry or a chilli, and then it hit me - what could be better than a lovely stew?

Upon deciding on a lamb stew (as i could get lamb stewing meat quite cheaply), I incorporated getting various bits and bobs into the days errands. No stew is complete without something to mop up with also, and as a result I decided to try out a recipe for flaxmeal foaccacia. A lovely pan style flatbread :).

The following recipe isn't all that glamourous or complex, in fact it couldn't be simpler in all honesty. They key element is to just do things in stages. it pays abeyance to the french adoption of mirepoix (the holy trinity of onion, carrots and celery) whilst adding sweetness from parsnips and Swedish turnip. You'll need a slow cooker or a cool oven (about 150-C). Slow cooker i would favour here because of their minimal power usage. But if you have other stuff to be going in and out of the oven for the day, you might favour the oven. I just dont favour the high fuel bills.

Note: I was carefully supervised by the feline.

You will need:

About 6 small onions or 3 large ones (red)
3 stalks of celery
5 medium carrots
1 swedish turnip
1 parsnip.
handful of fresh rosemary.
glass of port.
750g stewing lamb
1/4 bulb of fennel
Couple of handfuls of closed cup mushrooms
1.5 litres of beef, chicken, veal or lamb stock (you choose)

For the foccacia please click here for the recipe I followed. It turned out like this:


For the dumplings:

4 oz/ 100g self raising flour
2 oz / 50g shredded suet

In a large baking bowl mix the flour with the suet and a pinch of salt. Add 3 tbsp cold water and stir. If the dough is dry add more water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Divide the dough into 8 and shape into balls with floured hands. Leave to one side.

Chop the onions into a fine dice (about 1/2 cm). Do the same with the carrots, the celery and the fennel. Slice the mushrooms into a julienne thickness.

Saute the vegetables & mushrooms off in a pan until they begin to soften, but leave half of the onions behind. We are going to use them in a little while with the meat.

note that once again the carrot and parsnip peel was much enjoyed by the rabbit - here he is again looking approvingly :)

Peel and chop the swede and the parsnip and add to the slow cooker or casserole dish - they can develop on their own and wont need any coaxing. Add the vegetables to the slow cooker or casserole dish, with the rosemary.

Dice the lamb (if required) then sear in the pan with the remaining onions. Once the onions begin to soften and the lamb has begun to brown add the port and reduce the liquid by half. Add the meat and liquid to the casserole dish or slow cooker.

Add the stock, switch slow cooker on for about 3 hours, the same for a casserole dish at about 140 / 150C.

After the stew has cooked for 3 hours, remove the lid, check the seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste, then add the dumplings, cover with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes. Serve hot.

It should turn out like this:

Enjoy! :D