Monday, 30 January 2012

Turkey and Bean Casserole

You would have thought that as Christmas has not long passed I would want a break from turkey! But I am still on a bit of a health kick and this is a great healthy meal. The turkey is low in fat, the beans high in fibre and the vegetables full of mineral and vitamins.

What is good about this dish is you can use any kind of beans. I am using cannellini and pinto beans, as I had dry versions of these in my cupboard. If you are going to use dried beans, don't forget to soak them overnight and cook them for the length of time required. I added the ingredients listed in the first part of the instructions and cooked for 1 hour 10 minutes as instructed on the cover of the dried bean packet.

I am using turkey thigh meat, because it has more flavour and is not as dry as breast meat.

I am serving this with a mixture of white and wild rice. The wild rice helps give a lovely nutty flavour. Also this recipe serves 6 but there is only 2 of us having it tonight so we will have it again tomorrow evening and what is left I will place in the freezer for another day. This dish’s flavour enhances over night, but the vegetables do get a little mushy.

  • 350g dried beans soaked in water overnight, check packet instructions
  • 2 large onions, peeled
  • 2 small carrots, washed and cut into chunks
  • bouquet garni
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped (I like it spicy so keep in the seeds)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 350g lean turkey meat (thigh is best)
  • 1 large red pepper, cored, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 large orange pepper, cored, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 courgettes, roughly chopped
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tbsp tomato puree (sundried tomato puree is best)
  • salt and pepper to season
  • large handful of basil leaves

Put the soaked beans into a pan of cold water, cut one of the onions in quarters and add to pan. Also add the carrots and bouquet garni. Cook for 1hour 10 minutes or the time as stated on the dried bean packet.

Once the beans are cooked, drain them saving 150ml of the liquid (which you will add to the casserole later).

Put a flameproof casserole dish onto the stove and start to heat it up then add the olive oil. Finely chop the other onion and add to the pot and gently cook for 5 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and chillies and cook for a further minute.

Add the turkey and stir into the onion mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Add the vegetables, mix and cook with the lid on for another 5 minutes or until they are slightly softened.

Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, salt and pepper- cover and bring to the boil.

Add the beans together with the reserved cooking liquid then boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook for around 1 hour. Ensure you stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the casserole dish.

Serve with anything you want. As I said earlier I am serving it with rice. Tomorrow I'll serve with mashed potatoes.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Julia Childs - How to Make An Omelette

Last year I watched the film Julie and Julia, about Julie Powell who cooked all the recipes in Julia Child's first cookery book and blogged her experience. I was very intrigued by the film and actually bought the Julia Child's first book Mastering The Art of French Cooking. A very extensive and detailed book, but not an easy book to follow compared to standard cookery books today, in other words no pretty pictures :-)

I was searching YouTube for a video to blog and I came across this clip on how to cook an omelette. For me this is not an easy thing to do and mine are more a tortilla style rather than an omelette. So next time I make an omelette I am going to try this and see how it works.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Tarragon Fish Cakes

As a kid I hated fishcakes, but then in my day, school and frozen fishcakes were not a very nice combination. Too much potato with cheap fish and even then, too much salt made for a tasteless dish. You couldn't buy fresh fishcakes from shops and my mother never made them.

I changed my mind because they can be very healthy and I have now made them several times before using different kinds of fish. Personally I have found smoked fish the best as it gives a more intense flavour. But on saying that having used plain white fish such as cod and haddock I’ve found they also work well. I have been convinced by people that I should use a fish from a sustainable source. Also I was convinced by the Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall’s programme that other white fish can work, so seeing as I had some pouting in the fridge, I decided to use it up. It is a fairly strong white fish with some very small bones, so be careful to ensure you have removed them.

  • 400ml milk
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 250g white fish
  • 500g potatoes, chopped
  • 1tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 50g bread crumbs
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • (serves 4 as starter and 2 and main)
Put the milk into a frying pan and add the peppercorns, bay leaves and fish and bring up to a gentle boil and poach for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked.

Remove the fish and allow it to cool. Flake the fish fairly finely, removing any bones and skin, then set aside. Reserve the milk the fish was poached in.

Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain, then mash them and add them to a bowl and allow to cool down. Once cool add the fish and tarragon and mix all together adding salt and pepper to season. You may want to add a little of the reserved milk to moisten the mixture.

Put the breadcrumbs onto a large plate. Crack the egg into a bowl and beat it with a fork.

Take the fish mixture and make either 4 large or 8 small fishcakes. Take each fish cake and dip into the beaten egg then place into the breadcrumbs. Turn the cakes making sure the breadcrumbs completely cover each one. Gently tap the cakes to remove any excess breadcrumbs and place to once side.

Put the oil into a frying pan, and gently heat. Add the cakes and fry for 15-20 minutes until hot and golden brown.

Serve with a salad or steam vegetables

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

My Last Supper

I have often spoken to friends over the years what would be your last supper be. For me this would be no competition, roast chicken, with roast potatoes, stuffing, and vegetables, see simple. It was roast chicken that pulled me away from 12 years of vegetarianism. I have stuck to this last supper nearly all my live. For me, it's very difficult to see how a meal could get better. Moist roast chicken with crispy skin,the sage and onion stuffing inside the chicken that has had chicken juices flowing through it. Roast potatoes that have a crispy and crunchy outer layer and soft fluffy inside and served with lashing of gravy and firm vegetables, a perfect last supper.

But, this is now being challenged. I have just made another curried goat (see original entry HERE) and whilst I have been preparing it I realised that this is becoming my favourite meal. I love the meaty flavour from the goat, that has been marinating in Jamaican curry powder, all purpose spices and lime, then cooked for 3-4 hours in the juices which have had added, garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet and vegetable stock, just gorgeous

The roast chicken is just in front, but barely and I think after a few more curried goats it will come out in front I'll just have to cooking a lot more of both meals.

Let me know what your last supper would be and why, as I would love to hear from you.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Giaconda Dining Room

In 2008 I was reading a review by Matthew Norman in The Guardian about a restaurant called The Giaconda Dining Room and he gave it very high praise indeed and marked it 9½ out of 10. I liked the review and loved the sound of the menu, so I gave it a go and fell in love with the place. The hardest part is staying away because I don't want to get complacent with the restaurant but every time I've been it has never disappointed.

Earlier in the week I was reading a posted blog on a great website called Petra Weblog and she wrote a review of the best dishes she had eaten during the year and listed baked eggs with spinach, cream and cheeses. (see blog HERE) She also said Giaconda is a hidden gem, a sentiment I completely agree with. So, yesterday I made my infrequent pilgrimage with three friends after going to the awful Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery, (there were so many people that you couldn't see the drawing and paintings!) Like past experiences we had a great time, with some great food, good wine, wonderful service and great company.

Me and one of my friends started with crab bisque which was silky smooth with a tasty seafood flavour, with the crab meat being fresh and moist. One of my friends had roasted field mushrooms with garlic purée on top, with some roasted cloves of garlic on the side. The mushrooms were fleshy and moist, but there was way too much garlic and my friend was struggling towards the end, although she loved the roasted garlic, which was soft and sweet. My other friend had Danish smoked salmon, which was smoked locally in Denmark Street. He said it was well smoked without being overpowering and was very moist and the celeriac salad that came with it complemented it perfectly. I liked the way it was cooked, (which was medium) so the middle of the smoked salmon steak wasn't as well cooked as the edges, which is very rare in restaurants. When you order steak you have it cooked to how you like it and this works very well for fish too, especially salmon.

I had guinea fowl, with braised chicory, small potatoes and a sweet gravy which really went well with the bitter chicory and the fowl was lightly cooked and juicy. One friend had ham hock hash with braised red cabbage and fried egg, and two of them had the special of brill with saffron risotto. Everyone agreed it was well cooked with lovely flavours. With brill you have to be careful as it has a light and delicate flavour which can be over powered by other flavours, but my two friends said the risotto it came with didn't over power the fish.

None of us could face a dessert, but we did order four home made truffles which had a bitter sweet flavour. My only real moan was the coffee, which was a bit too bitter for my liking and even then I couldn't grumble too much as it went well with the truffles.

The menu doesn't change very often, but they do have a soup of the day and a different fish of the day depending on what fresh ingredients they get at the start of the day.

It is also a pleasure to see that over the years the standards haven't changed, which can so often happen with successful restaurants, plus they haven't moved into bigger premises so it hasn’t lost its charm. Giaconda is not the most stylish or the fanciest restaurant, but it serves honest, well cooked food in a cosy atmosphere, served with polite charm. Long may it continue and I think I might have to break my rule and start visiting it more often.

Heston Blumenthall's Boiled Egg - Attempt Number 2

I tried again to attempt to make a soft boiled eggs based on Heston Blumenthalls version - see original attempt HERE. Instead of letting the egg sit in the boiled water for 6 minutes I did it for 5 minutes and 15 seconds. This attempt was better and the yolk was soft at the top but still hard at the bottom - so maybe third time lucky, I will let you know.

The way Heston says to make an perfect boiled egg is to place the  egg into a pan of cold water, bring to the boil. As soon as the water is boiling take the pan off the heat and let the egg sit for 6 minutes.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Lime Chicken with Sage

I love watching food programmes but get really irritated when the person cooking would say ‘I had this in the cupboard oh and this in the fridge,’ because I never have those things just lying around. But since deciding to do a food blog I can see that I do in fact have things just lying around my cupboard and fridge and this next dish was made with those items.

I was mooching around the house and was wondering what I could do for lunch. I was in the mood for some chicken thighs, (for me the best part of the chicken- much better than the breast as the meat has a lot more flavour and isn’t so dry). I was also checking what else I had; limes and some fresh sage leave so put these together as well. This is a great lunchtime dish, which can be served with salad or some new potatoes.

4 chicken thighs (skinned and boned)
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp sage, finely chopped (fresh is best, but dry would be okay- but only use a teaspoon)
1 lime
Chipotle sauce (I am using Tabasco chipotle sauce)*
Salt and pepper to season

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put the olive oil and chopped sage into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of the lime into the bowl. (Hint: put the lime in a microwave for about 20 seconds to help release more juice). Shake some Tabasco into the bowl (depending on how hot you like it will depend on how much to shake in), then add the salt and pepper to season

Add the chicken to the bowl and stir all the ingredients together. If you have time let it marinate for a minimum for 30 minutes.

Cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked) and serve, pouring any juices over the meat.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Adulis - Eritrean Restaurant Review

It was mine and a friend’s birthday last week and on Saturday (14 January) we and some other friends dragged our tired arses to Clapham Junction to try a new Eritrean Restaurant called Adulis. It was a lovely experience and one that I will try again.

This is their second restaurant (the original being located in Oval, South London which opened in 1996) and as a testament to its success they have been able to open a new branch even in this current financial climate. The restaurant is named after an ancient port city which was located on the Red Sea in Eritrea. It was a thriving city in the first century BC and was a major hub for trade between Yemen and cities of Nubia.

Large Injera Bread
Although I'd never had Eritrean, it is virtually the same as Ethiopian food. You have Injera with Tsebhi. Injera is a sough dough pancake made with Taff flour which gives the pancake a unique tangy flavour. Tsebhi, which is a stew made from either beef, chicken or lamb is placed on top of the Injera along with vegetable and lentil dishes. You are then given some more Injera and you use this to pick up the food, so it's very “hands on!” Also it makes the restaurant's job easier as they don't have to wash up any cutlery. You can have cutlery if you don't want to use your fingers.
Extra Injera Bread
Tsebhi and Vegetable dishes

As most of our group had never had Eitrean or Ethiopian food, the waiter recommended that we go for the meal for 4, but make it for 7. So two large Injera's were brought out and the following was shared between the two pancakes.

Tibsi – Lamb cubes fried in purified ghee with onions, rosemary and green chilli and served with a side salad.
Dorho – Chicken stew slowly cooked in a rich flavour of herbs, spices and chilli.
Adulis Special – Chicken cubes fried in green chilli, spices, olive oil and herbs and served in a charcoal heated clay pan.
Zighni – Spicy hot beef stew slowly cooked to blend with a rich combination of spices and chilli.
Spinach – cooked with garlic, lemon, chilli and olive oil.
Alicha – mild curry dish with carrots, beans and cabbage
Timtmo – Lentils spiced and cooked in olive oil
Tsebhi on the Injera

There were four other dishes but I cannot remember what they were and I couldn't remember what was in all dishes listed above so I lifted the details from the restaurant’s website.

What I personally loved was eating the Injera after we had eaten all the “stews,” because it had soaked up the juices and the vibrant spicy flavours.

The only disappointment was the desserts. These were just frozen and Italian based and lacked any flavour. They were as bad as the main course was good and slightly let the restaurant down. If they could do such a great job with the main courses surely it can't be hard to do the same with desserts?

Coffee Ceremony
They also do a coffee ceremony, which was a little confusing because it says it cost £9, but doesn't say how many it is for. We asked and it made about 6 espresso size cups and was very tasty. On the menu it states that it is a ceremony, but it's done away from the table and so you could actually miss it. It would have been nice to be told what was going on and to ask if we wanted to go over and watch. The actual ceremony is a waiter roasting beans over coals which are then taken away to be groun once ground they are served in a “jug” with popcorn on the side. It also involves a pot that also has some hot coals in it and frankincense is burnt on top, so whilst you drink the coffee you are surrounded by a wonderful aroma. It was nicely done and presented, if just a little disjointed.

The staff were polite and helpful with big smiles and they explained in detail all the dishes. It was just a shame I cannot remember every thing they served but that is years of wine drinking for you.....

As I said earlier this is a new branch and I guess they need time to settle down, but I would recommend this place if you want something different, enjoyable and don't mind getting your hands dirty.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Heston Blumenthall's Boiled Egg

I am a bit odd when it comes to eggs and I really hate it when the yolk gets hard. It is actually very difficult to avoid when cooking egg, but with fried or poached you can at least see what the yolk looks like, but impossible for boiled eggs. So, when I watched Heston Blumenthall's programme last Wednesday, 11 January, (you can watch the programme on 4OD click HERE to watch) he said he can make the perfect boiled egg so my ears pricked up. To make a perfect boiled egg, you put an egg into cold water, bring to the water to boil and as soon as it boils remove from the heat and let stand for 6 minutes. Well I just did it and it was almost completely hard so was very disappointed. I will try again, but only for 5min 30seconds to see if it works.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Irish Stew

I haven't had a lamb stew for a long time and decided that it would good to make an Irish stew and as usual I did some scanning on the internet to see what recipes were out there. Just like, spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne there are a lot of different versions.

So, I spoke to a friend of my mine, Brian, whose mum is Irish, and he said that most things can go into the dish. He mentioned this was a ‘poor dish,’ and whatever was in the house was used. As it's cooked for a long time the cheaper parts such as neck of the lamb was used. I told him about a recipe I found from an Irish cook, who used red wine and my friend almost laughed his head off. As he mentioned no one in his mum’s family would have had or used red wine. He would have understood if a dark ale or Guinness was used but not red wine, but as he said, that is progress.

I am not saying that there is a right or wrong way, but I am not using red wine and trying to keep the recipe as basic as possible.

  • 2tbsp flour
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 500g lamb
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 300g swede, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 large potato, chopped (a waxy potato is best)
  • 1 litre of beef stock

  • 100g self raising flour
  • 50g shredded suet
  • 2-3tbsp of cold water (maybe more depending how you like your dumplings)
  • salt and pepper to season

Put the flour and salt and pepper, in a bowl then mix in the lamb and stir, so that the lamb is coated.

Put the vegetable oil into a pan and bring to a high heat. Dust off the excess flour from the lamb. Add the lamb to the oil, a few pieces at a time and cook until slightly browned. Take out the lamb and put to one side. Continue to brown the lamb in batches.

Once all the lamb has been browned, turn down the heat and add the onions and cook for a few minutes, stirring to ensure the onions do not burn.

Add the swede, carrots, leeks and stir all together. Add the lamb and stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to its lowest setting and simmer gently for 2-3 hours.

For the dumplings put the flour, suet and seasoning into a bowl and add enough water to make a firm dough. Make the dough into balls (about the size of a walnut) and add to the stew. Cook for another 20-30 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked.

Slowcooker - If you are using a slowcooker, brown off the lamb and then place all of the ingredients into the slowcooker and cook on low for 7 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Fish! - Restaurant Review

Just before Christmas I had to go to Borough Market, I was trying to get hold of small onions to pickle, seeing as our local supermarket hadn't had any for ages. It was a nightmare. I found myself fighting through a load of people that were just mooching around and basically getting in my way. I am not known for my patience and so when people do get in my way, I do tend to get a little grumpy :-)...I think that is because I've lived in London too long- well it's a good excuse and I’m sticking to it.

But, there is one great thing about being in Borough Market, and that is Fish. As you may guess it’s a restaurant that serves well, fish! I was really pleased when it came out of administration because they do fish simply and incredibly well. They have a great selection and you can have it steamed or grilled and served with a sauce. It usually comes with some lightly boiled seasonal vegetables. Nothing fancy, just plain and simple. They do have specials and other selections of seafood dishes, which are also very tasty.

For a starter I had a seafood salad with an olive dressing. It was great and very fresh and light, there was a good mixture of seafood, octopus, squid, mussels, prawn and scallop on a bed of salad leaves. I've had seafood salad before but this was far superior to any I’ve tried. My friend had the usual oysters, which he said were tasty, but they looked on the small size to me.

For my main course I ordered grilled halibut with salsa verde. It was well grilled, with a golden brown colour, and it was light fluffy and moist. The salsa verde was okay, but I had never had it before, so I cannot really comment. My friend had monkfish with hollandaise sauce, which like my halibut was moist and firm and the hollandaise was really creamy. Both main courses came with lightly boiled vegetables, and we both agreed it's a great accompaniment with the fish, as it doesn't compete with it and lets the fish shine.

We had a sticky toffee pudding for dessert, which was actually disappointing. The sponge was watery as was sticky toffee sauce, it was more like a soup. The coffee was good and it wasn't burnt.

The service was very good, and the one thing I really love is you can sit at the bar and you can watch the kitchen at work. I was watching as they were making up a smoked swordfish club sandwich and they were adding an ingredient I hadn't seen before. I got the chef’s attention and he said it was fried smoked salmon, which he gave to us to try. I had never thought of deep frying smoked salmon, but I will now as it was great. If you're a “semi” vegetarian and you eat fish, you can easily deep fry smoked salmon and it's like having a bacon sandwich, it was really really crunchy and doesn't lose its smoky flavour when you deep fry it.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Bloomer - White Loaf

As it's been a while I thought it was time to make some bread, but I didn't want to go out of the house because of a bad bout of insomnia the night before. So after scanning my cupboard I had some strong plain white flour and decided to make a bloomer. Like other baking I'd never made a bloomer and actually wasn't sure how to roll it out, so I found some written instructions which I didn't understand, so I managed to find a video to show me. I have included the written instructions but if you still unsure, you can always play the video below and see how to roll the dough out.

  • 700g plain strong flour
  • 2tsp salt
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  • 1½ tsp easy-blend dried yeast
  • 25g butter sliced
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 300ml warm water (approx)
  • 1 egg

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, stir in the sugar and yeast, then rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre and poor in the warm milk and enough water to form a soft dough.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the bread for a minimum of ten minutes. Shape the dough and place into a bowl, cover with a damp towel and place in a warm area and let it rise until doubled in size- this takes between 1 and 2 hours.

Knock back the dough and place on a lightly floured surface and knead again for a few minutes, to take out any holes. Make the dough into a rectangular, then roll up the dough like a Swiss roll, to make a short, thick roll, pinching it together along the seam after each roll. On the final seam, pinch the dough together, then tuck the ends under. Place the loaf on a silicone baking sheet (or non stick baking sheet) seam side down, cover and leave until it has risen and doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 230c/450f/gas 8. In a small bowl beat the egg with a couple of tablespoons of water. Brush the mixture over the top of the dough. Using a sharp knife make 5 or 6 deep slashes diagonally across the top. Brush some more egg in between the slashes.

Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200c/400f/gas 6 and cook for another 25-35 minutes or until the bread has risen and is golden. To ensure the bread has cooked turn upside down and tap the bottom- if it is cooked it should sound hollow. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Moroccan Lamb with Chick Peas

I have a friend, let's call him Fireman Sam, so guess what he does for a living, yep he's a doctor....oopss no he's not he's a fireman! A fireman who doesn't like too many foods, is a fussy eater and whose mum has just bought him a slow cooker. Of course he doesn't know how to use it or know what he can cook in it! This recipe is from a book I have that's all about slow cooking. Now Fireman Sam doesn't like vegetables and he doesn't like spices so I just hope he likes this recipe, because it's just it's basically meat and beans with a few spices.

Although the instructions are for all models of slow cookers, you should check the manufacturers instructions of your slow cooker. As if to highlight this, the instructions for this recipe says cook for 7 hours on medium heat. But after 3 hours, I stirred the lamb mixture and noticed that the food was sticking to the base, so I turned it down to low for the next four hours, keeping an eye on it from time to time.

This recipe comes from the Australian Women's Weekly Slow Cooking book (RRP £16.99), most of which contains recipes using a slow cooker, however there other recipes using a normal oven and the hob. You can purchase this book by clicking on the picture of the book below

As this is a recipe that takes hours to cook you can use the cheapest cuts of meat, but you should remove all excess fat as the low temperature of the slow cooker won't melt it.

  • 1.2kb lamb, roughly chopped
  • 15g plain flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2tbps vegetable oil
  • 1tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 1tsp of ground allspice
  • 375ml beef stock (I use Knorr's liquid stock)
  • 2x5cm piece of orange rind
  • 800g tinned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2tbsp mint, coarsley chopped
  • (serves 4-6)

Put the flour in a bowl and season with some salt and pepper, then add the lamb and toss together.

Place the oil in a frying pan and heat up. Add the lamb in batches, and cook until brown, then place it into a 4.5 litre slow cooker. Repeat until all lamb is browned.

Turn down the heat and add the garlic, onion and ginger, cook for a few minutes then add the beef stock. Stir together, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any meat residue.

Stir the onion mixture into the slow cooker and add the harissa, rind, allspice and chickpeas, season and cook for 7 hours.

Keep an eye on the cooking and stir occasionally. Serve with cous cous with chopped mint.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Chicken and Bacon Pasta

As I've written in my recent blogs, it's time to start eating a little healthier, which I guess most people will do at this time of the year. The hardest part will be sticking to it. I also reckon that I will last as long as most people, before I start pigging out again. But I must really try and get rid of the extra baggage that I put around my stomach in the last three weeks. Even my favourite pair of jeans are beginning to get a little snug!

This is a basic low fat pasta dish, loosely based on the arrabbiatta sauce, which consists of onion, garlic, chilli, tomatoes and parsley. I've just added chicken and bacon.

I am using chicken legs, which If I had known what a pain they are to skin and remove the meat off the bone, plus removing all the sinew, I would have bought skinned and boned chicken thighs. I personally don't use chicken breasts as I think they are too dry, but you can if you want.

  • 2 slices of smoked lean bacon (with rind removed)
  • splash of extra virgin olive oil (if needed)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped (seeds removed if you're a chilli lightweight!)
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 200g chicken meat, chopped
  • 1tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serve 4 Starter - 2 main course)

Add the bacon to a pan and brown. If there is enough fat in the pan add the onion and cook for a few minutes then add the garlic and chilli and cook again for a few minutes more. If there is not enough fat in the pan add the extra virgin olive oil.

Then add the tomatoes, chicken and the parsley and cook until the chicken is cooked (about 15-20 minutes). Add the seasoning according to your personal choice.

Serve with spaghetti or linguine.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Chicken and Cannellini Bean

In a previous post I mentioned a basic tomato sauce – see link HERE and from this recipe I make chicken with cannellini beans. I've made it a few times as it's low in fat and is healthy and just what is needed after the festive blow out.

I have also used a bag of peppery salad which I know you can get from Tesco or Sainsbury's. It's made with spinach, watercress and rocket. If you cannot get the mixed leaf, just choose your favourite. It adds a bit of colour as well as some extra vitamins and minerals, but it is optional.

  • 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • handful of ripped basil leaves
  • 400g cannellini beans
  • 3 chicken thighs, skinned and boned and cut into pieces
  • 100g peppery salad leaves (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to season

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, after a few minutes add the garlic, stirring occasionally.

Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée and the basil leaves and season to taste and cook for as long as possible.

Take half of the cannellini beans and mash them to a pulp and add to the tomato sauce- this will make the sauce thicker.

Add the other half of the beans and chicken and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Serve with any pasta, especially conchiglie (or similar), where the pasta captures the sauce.