Friday, 10 December 2010

Recipe: Lemon & Thyme Roast Chicken, Soya Beans and Cherry Tomato Stuffed Pittas

A sudden flash of inspiration lead me to this whilst I was cooking a completely different dish. I had a more chicken breasts than I needed and came up with this idea to make sure they didn't go to waste

3 Chicken Breasts (Or how ever many you want)
2 Slices of Lemon per Chicken Breast
1 Sprig of Thyme per breast
2 Spring Onions chopped
6 Cherry Tomatoes Sliced
Good Handfull of Frozen soya beans defrosted

Pre-Heat the oven to 180 degrees
Take Each breast and slice open with a sharp knife
Season the cavity with salt and pepper
Inside each breast put two lemon slices and a sprig of thyme
Close up the breast and put onto a piece of foil
Drizzle with olive oil and season a little more
Close the foil around the breast to make an air tight parcel, but with room inside, sort of like a Cornish pasty shape
Put the foil parcels on a baking tray and bake in the center of the oven for 30 mins

Eat Now ?
At this point you can serve them up with some lovely new potatoes or some salad

For the Pitta
Leave the parcels as they are, out of the oven, to cool inside their foil bags
Once cool remove each breast and put to one side careful not to spill the gorgeous juices
Tip all of the juices into a small jar (one with a lid you'll need it later)
Remove the lemon and thyme sprigs from your breast and then break up the meat into pieces.
Put the Chicken pieces, Tomatoes, Soya beans and spring onion in a bowl

Mix the juices with about 2 tablespoons of Rapeseed oil (Good olive oil will do ) add a little salt and pepper , put the lid on the jar and shake well. If you dont have a jar you can whisk up the juices and oil in bowl.
Taste your dressing now and add more oil and seasoning if you want to.

Pour the dressing over your chicken mix , get your hands in and mix everything up so that all the ingredients have a decent covering of the dressing

Open up your Pittas (Perhaps toast them lightly first) and cram full of the good stuff, then you're good to go.

This may work well with wraps instead of Pittas but not tried that, yet!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Recipe: Winter Warmer with Beery Goodness

What with the current cold snap taking forecasters into unparalleled levels of excitement and idiots panic buying bread, I thought it opportune to share with you this cockle warming (No cockles were harmed in the making of this dish), comforting and downright tasty dish with you

Lamb Stew With Dumplings


500g of Lamb cubed (Neck or Shoulder should do)
1 Onion finely chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic Finely chopped
3 Large Carrots cut into big slices
1 Bag of new potatoes halved
500ml Can of your beer of choice (please note beer not lager, I used London Pride this time but I find the creamier beers are better)
300ml Lamb Stock
80g Flour
2 Bay leaves
Sprig of Thyme
Sprig of Rosemary
Large Pinch of Chili flakes

Dumplings (From Leiths Cookery Bible)
200g Plain Flour
3 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Dry English Mustard (powder)
1/4 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Tsp Salt
55g Suet
150ml Iced Water

To Make the stew ....
Pre-Heat the oven to 160 degrees
Put the flour in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper
Dredge the lamb pieces through the flour so all bits are nicely coated

In a flame proof casserole dish add a little olive oil and heat
Shake of excess flour and fry the lamb until nice and brown all over then remove from the pan
Turn down the heat slightly and add the onions and sweat for a couple of mins

Turn the heat back up, add the Garlic and fry for one min.
Chuck in the potatoes and carrots, fry for another min
Put the Lamb back into the pot together with the remaining flour from the bowl
Pour in the lovely beer bring to the boil using a spatual to remove the tasty bits at the bottom
Now add your stock, herbs and chili flakes, season well and place in the oven with the lid on

Cook for around 2-2.5 hours , check every now and then to makes sure it hasn't dried out, if it has add a little water or stock , stir well and put back in the oven oh and don't forget, keep tasting

Sift the flour, baking powder, mustard, cayenne and salt into a large bowl and add the suet
Pour in the water and use a knife to mix together
Once it starts to form a single mass e.g now powder left get your hands in and start to form into a dough.
Divide into 8 even sized pieces and shape each one into a ball
Take your stew out of the oven , gently place the dumplings onto the stew put the lid back on and cook for another 15 mins. The dumplings should be firm to the touch. Put back in the oven uncovered for a further 5 mins to get a nice crust on the dumplings

You can serve with Mash or thick crusty bread, I occasionally use Parmesan mash with this and the flavours matched perfectly

Monday, 6 December 2010

Two Kids, 3 Pizza's and a bottle of wine later ....

You know being a self confessed foodie you tend to take for granted the pleasures that creating you're own grub can bring. It wasn't till the kids and I made pizza that I realised how much fun you can have all mucking in and its a great way to spend time together, whilst each being able to create something simple and to your own liking

I have tried to make pizzas before with a modicum of success but that was back when I had yet to fully explore cooking as a hobby. Ready made pizza bases and jar of sauce really only scratches the surface of what you can achieve with a little investment in time and a few ingredients

If you're feeling brave and want to get the kids involved then be prepared it gets messy, very messy or maybe that's just my kids

The Dough

300g Strong Bread Flour
1 tsp Instant Yeast
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Olive oil

Put the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast and salt. Make a well, pour in 200ml warm water and the olive oil and bring together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, fairly wet dough. 
Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 5 mins until smooth, the kids loved this bit although it took a bit longer to get the desired smoothness, the important thing is not to over work the dough. Cover with cling film and leave to rise slightly. I don't have tried an tested airing cupboard so placed it on a box next to the radiator and that seemed to do the trick

The Sauce
500g Passata
1 Shallot Finely Chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped (Really this is up to you add more or less, it's your pizza)
Handful of basil leaves chopped
Splash of red wine

Gently fry the shallot and garlic with some salt and pepper until nice and soft, add the passata and wine then bring to a boil and the basil leaves stir and then leave to simmer for around 10 mins until the sauce thickens, then season again to taste

Rolling and Saucing
So time to start assembly. Take your dough and knock it back slightly (Gently knock out the air ) then divide into however many pizzas you want to make. Take each piece and roll out to your desired thickness. If you've got a pizza stone , then oooh get you, if you haven't then do what I did and use baking trays, you get some odd shapes and some interesting crusts but then hey it makes yours individual doesn't it?
Place the dough on your tray or stone.
If you're not sure how to shape the dough this guy here shows you how Shaping Pizza Dough
You can get all artisan and try twirling it around above your head, however bits of dough can get stuck to the floor, ceiling, door, dog etc ... so be careful

Top it all off
Here's where you get creative , you know what you like so go with that. This bit really is simple, if you want some inspiration here's what we did.

Heat the oven to about 180 degrees

First of all smear a decent layer of the sauce over your base and then sprinkle with grated Cheddar then let your taste buds guide you

Lisa's Pizza - Chicken, Sweetcorn and Mushroom

1 Chicken breast , chopped into bite size chunks, marinated in olive oil, thyme and seasoning for 30 mins.
2 Mushrooms sliced finely
1 Tin of sweetcorn
Torn Mozzarella 
Grated Cheddar

Quickly fry the chunks of chicken in  pan until golden all over, then liberally distribute across the pizza with mushrooms, sweetcorn and Mozzarella 

Charlotte's Pizza - Fishy Feast

Cooked Prawns
Tinned Tuna

As before just distribute all over the pizza

Mine and Liam's - Man pizza , lots of meat

Salami - I had some wild boar Salami in the fridge but up to you really
Dont think you need me to tell you what to do, do you ?

When you're finished being all creative and stuff simply pop into the oven for 10-20 mins , keep an eye on this as you don't want to overcook your masterpiece.

When done leave to cool slightly , cut into pieces and your ready to go

I can thoroughly recommend  this to anyone who wants to entertain the kids whilst teaching them a useful skill.