Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Chipotle Chicken

Slowww cooked chicken in a sauce that’s full of deep, smoky, almost chocolaty flavours and that delivers a chilli laden punch to excite but not comatose your taste buds ! Wipe that drool from your chin Sir/Madam, if you crave some Mexican variety in your diet and “old el paso” doesn't do it for you, this one pot wonder is for you

A Chipotle chilli, pronounced “Chee-POAT-lay” which when said with a Stoke accent sounds perfect, is a smoked jalapeño. You can buy them in most supermarkets in little sealed pouches, which, when opened, produce a delightfully pungent dark smokey aroma.
 When you couple this with some chicken and add a sweet yet spicy Mexican salsa you get flavour combination to dazzle and excite the most educated of palates

This is another simple and slow cooked dish, the likes of which I’m favouring at the moment. The accompaniments , Salsa, Guacamole etc are also home made and may (if I can be bothered) appear here also

I bought the Chipotles on a whim, opened them up and instantly thought chicken , I don’t know why , it could have easily been pork. Still chicken it was and slow cooking was the obvious choice.

The recipe’s most exotic ingredient is the chillies themselves, so really you've no excuse not to

4 Chicken thighs
1 Onion Finely sliced
2 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped
2 Chipotle Chillies
2 Tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 Tbsp of dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp of malt vinegar
1 Tbsp of dried oregano
1 Large carrot cut into fine ribbons
500 ml chicken stock

Tortillas, Salsa, Guacamole, sour cream, cheese and fresh lettuce and or cucumber to serve

Halve the chillies and de-seed (unless you want face meltingly hot) place them in a bowl, pour on about a cup full of boiling water and leave for 30 mins. Once softened remove from the water and chop finely, keep the water for later.

Pre-heat the oven to 160 Degrees

In a flame proof casserole dish, fry the chicken thighs so that they are brown all over, remove and add the onions, fry, stirring often until softened and brown.
Add the garlic and fry for one minute
Next add the tomatoes and Oregano then fry for a further min
Add the chillies, chilli water, sugar, vinegar and stock, stir until the liquid boils. Add the chicken again. Place in the centre of the oven and cook for about 2.5 hours, stirring every 30 mins or so. Towards the end the chicken should start to fall apart into chicken strings. Add the carrot and cook for a further 30 mins

Serve with Mexican type accompaniments, the pictures show what I chose but really it’s up to you

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Inzimino - Italian Chickpea Stew

I saw this on TV a few weeks ago and couldn't believe how simple it was and had to make it really.
The basic recipe is adapted from Theo Randall’s (it was him on TV cooking it).

This basic Italian stew is perfect as compliment to a meat dish, good on toasted bread or even on its own.

It’s packed full of good stuff and is fairly cheap and incredibly easy to make. The additions of the greens makes it even more healthy

It has simple everyday ingredients and as standalone dish is perfect for your meat free day.

Very tasty, filling and perfect for colder days

OK I could have used some better bread but hey it’s what I had in.

I was really pleased with how it turns out and proves yet again, as it does with a lot of Italian Dishes, that a few good ingredients can make a sumptuous and perfect dish

1 Red Onion Finely Chopped
2 Medium Carrots, finely chopped
400g Tinned Tomatoes
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Two good Handfuls of shredded, Swiss Chard, Spring Greens, Cabbage – Whatever you have really, leave it out if you like
Handful of finely chopped parsley.

2 tbsp of olive oil for cooking
Good extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a large frying pan, add the cooking oil and heat, gently fry the onion and carrot for around 20 mins until tender.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and chilli flakes, stir through and simmer for 10-15 mins until most of the liquid has gone.
Add the Greens and simmer for 5 mins.
Season to taste, add some of the lemon, it should have “Freshened up” the taste, if it hasn’t done so to your liking, add  little more, tasting as you go.
Add the parsley, stir in and your ready to plate, either on bread/toast or as a side dish.
Finish off by drizzling over with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bilberry Vinegar

So first off an admission, when I say I’ve made a vinegar, what I actually mean is I took some white wine vinegar and added some fruit. I could have taken the fruit and made some alcohol then vinegar out of it but I don’t really have the patience for that. This however was very easy to make

Bilberries, in case you’re wondering, are any of several species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae), bearing edible berries. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., but there are several other closely related species. Bilberries are distinct from blueberries but closely related to them. (Wikipedia). They also look like little blueberries and can be seen below.

I’ve had an idea for making a vinegar out of these for ages now. The Woods at Hanchurch are blessed with an abundance of the fruit baring shrub and this year the yield is very good indeed. Armed with a basket, Lisa and I spent a hour or so collecting fruit for this little experiment.

I’d looked around for ideas for making vinegar and settled on white wine vinegar base with the addition of the fruit and sugar.

So the taste, biased slightly, but it’s brilliant, it has a lovely fruity sweet note but with the all important tang that makes a vinegar what it is.

So far I’ve only used in with oil and bread, that said it is really, really good

Before we go any further, an apology from me. As I write this the bilberry season is pretty much over I think, so if you want to have a go, you’ll have to wait until next year

900g of Bilberries
700 ml White Wine Vinegar
350g Caster Sugar

Airtight Jar and/or sealable bottles

Remove and stalks and leaves from the berries, then wash in cold water. Put the washed berries in a large bowl, pour on the vinegar and then mash the berries. You can use a fork or potato masher for this. Once you’re happy that you’ve mashed them enough, pour everything into sealable, sterilised jar. Leave in the jar out of direct sunlight for around 4 weeks. You can, if you wish, about 2 weeks in, give them a further mash with your masher.

After 4 weeks drain the now vivid purple vinegar through some muslin and sieve to remove any bits, this could take a while to do, so you can if you want, squeeze the muslin around the berries to get the last bits of juice out, be warned though it’s wise to wear gloves as the juice is hell to get off your hands.

Once you’ve got all the goodness out, pour the liquid into a large saucepan. Taste it first it should be very tart but with a fruity taste. The Sugar volume above is a guideline, by tasting before you should have an idea as to how sweet it already is. I would start with about half the amount above and add to the pan. Over a medium heat dissolve the sugar into the vinegar and taste, if it’s not sweet enough add more sugar, if you’re happy then stop.

Pour into sterilised bottles or jars, seal and you can use it immediately, it does taste better after a few weeks though

Use it as you would balsamic or fruit vinegars

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Chicken and Green Olive Tagine

It’s been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged. Work has kept me away from the kitchen with exception of old faves or frozen portions of previous cooking sessions, reheated.  When you work away all  week, most of the weekend is dedicated to turning around (washing, iron, pack) to come back and trying desperately to grab some time to relax before another busy week begins.

At last, this weekend allowed me time to think about what I wanted, adapt an idea and that all important spare time, to sit down and blog.

Whilst the weather was still warm I wanted something tasty, fresh, with a little heat and a nod towards North Africa. Although I’m not a big fan of food from that region this ticks all the boxes. Light, yet full of flavour, paprika adds depth and the tang from the lemon is marvellous. The olives give a bite of saltiness whilst all the time there’s a heady combination of tomatoes and cinnamon running through it. Something light like Rice ( in this case laced with cardamom) or couscous goes perfectly

8 Boneless Chicken Thighs
2 Onions Chopped
4 cloves of Garlic Chopped
Thumb size piece of Ginger finely chopped
2 Tbsp of Paprika
1 Tsp Tumeric
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
900 ml Chicken Stock
Juice ½ Lemon
150g Green pitted olives, halved
1 tin of Sainsbury’s Pomodori D’Oro Plum Tomatoes (Normal Plum tomatoes will do)
3 Preserved Lemons, Skin only chopped
1 Cinnamon Stick
Salt and Pepper

Add the dry spices, salt, pepper and 2 tbsps of oil to a large dish add, the chicken pieces, coat the chicken well, cover and leave for an hour, or overnight if possible

Heat the oven to 160 degrees. In a flameproof casserole dish add 2 tbsp of olive oil, place on the heat and fry the chicken, in batches, until golden then remove to a plate

Add the onions to the pan, and fry until soft, stir though the garlic and ginger, fry for one minute more. Pour the stock into the dish the chicken marinated in and stir gently to collect all of the marinade. Pour this into the casserole dish along with the lemon juice and tomatoes.

Add the chicken to the pan along with the cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil, cover and place in the oven for around 2-3 hours. Stir around every 20 mins or so. With about an hour to go and the chopped lemons and Olives, season to taste.

When you’re ready, remove from the oven, taste season if required. If it’s not spicy enough add some chopped chilli, or if its too much the other way serve with plain yoghurt

This goes, with rice, flatbread, bread, couscous, anything really and of course bushels of coriander

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Fresh Tomato and Tarragon Pasta

As a hobbyist cook I'm often on the look out for culinary inspiration and of late it’s been in extremely short supply. Perhaps it’s something to do with the weather or late onset of spring depriving me of fresh vibrant ingredients to work with.

So thank the Deity of your choosing then for Morrisons.
Whoa, wait, Morrisons, the supermarket right? The very same. I'm not sure if you've been in lately but some of their stores have had, what I can only describe as a fruit and Veg make over.

They've started stocking all kinds of fresh produce both typical and unusual from standard Carrots to Fresh Turmeric Root, Curry leaves, fresh herbs and several varieties of tomatoes to name but a few. All displayed well and cooled by some very futuristic looking dry ice affair. Reminds me of a French Supermarket. Well worth a look even if to marvel at some of the oddities in there

If you’re local to the area try Festival Park or Stone to see what I’m on about, it would appear that Newcastle has yet to catch up

So I bought some fresh Tarragon (for a pie, future post I think) at the weekend plus a medley of little toms and last night I was wondering what to do with what I had left

Ahhhh, pasta, good old pasta. So this is what I came up with

Tarragon and Fresh Tomato Pasta

This just sings of spring, bright vibrant colours and fresh tastes abound here. The chilli kick gives it that extra dimension

I did use Linguine but with hindsight spaghetti would probably work better and the chillies are optional I just wanted some heat

As usual with my dished of late this is unbelievably cheap to make, take note, soon to be student daughter.

Also and quite importantly, this is meat free, so it fulfils my aim of at least one veggie meal per week .. Go Me 

Serves Two

Handful of Cherry tomatoes per person, Halved

3 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped
½ Stick of Celery finely chopped
One shallot finely chopped
Chilli finely chopped (optional)
Handful of Tarragon leaves separated from their stalks
Tablespoon of Tarragon Vinegar
Teaspoon of Tomato puree
½ Glass of white wine
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil for cooking
Olive oil for dressing

Linguine/Spaghetti – enough for each person

Put the water on to boil for your pasta
In a large frying pan, gently soften the Shallot and Celery season with Salt and Pepper
Once soft add the Garlic and Chill then fry for a minute
Add the Purée and cook out for a min or two
Add the vinegar and reduce
Add the wine and reduce to about half
Now add the tomatoes and about 2/3rds of the tarragon, season again, lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 mins, stirring occasionally season to taste if required

When the water is boiling, salt well and add your pasta
Once the water starts to go cloudy add about a ladle of the pasta water to the tomatoes and stir
Once the Pasta is cooked spoon into the pan with tomatoes bringing some of the water with you as you go to loosen the sauce
Toss well and ensure all the pasta is covered in the sauce

Serve into pasta bowls
Finish with grind of pepper, drizzle of good olive oil and finally a few leaves of tarragon on top


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Arancini - Deep Fried Risotto Balls

 Now I'm not the world’s biggest risotto fan but on occasion I do like bowl full of the stuff and until now the problem has been that it’s actually quite filling and I invariably make too much. Knowing what to do with the leftovers other than chuck it in the bin has been an ever-present conscience testing dilemma.

However having visited Pesto in Liverpool One, I was fortunate to try their Arancini which gave me the inspiration for this. Yeah I know Pesto is a chain restaurant … blah blah … but I like it there OK

So look, I have to apologise, the recipe predicates that you have previously made some risotto and that in itself is a bit of a labour of love, what with all the stirring and that. That said it really is worth a go. Can I prove this? Yes I bloody well can. You see Lisa, is even less a fan of risotto than me and on top of that saffron is well down her list of must haves. She loved it, which, lets be honest is a massive thumbs up for this little starter

Crunch through the breadcrumbs you’re met with soft flavour-full rice and at its centre deliciously creamy and tangy cheese.  They make a perfect starter or nibble to go with your cold Peroni.

You’ll notice there are no quantities as this depends entirely on how much risotto you have

  • Left over Risotto
  • Grated cheese of choice, I went for Manchego and old Amsterdam, but a good strong cheddar would work just as well
  • Flour
  • Beaten Egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Oil for deep frying

Wet your hands and pinch a chunk of risotto, rolling it in your hands to make ball about 2.5 to 3cm in Diameter, repeat this process until you have rolled out all of your risotto.

Next, using your finger make a hole in each risotto ball, this makes room for the cheese filling.

Now fill each hole with the cheese of your choice

Finish this stage by re-shaping and rolling each ball so that it is spherical and the cheese contained inside

Using the standard breadcrumb method, roll each ball in flour, egg and finally breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in the Pan to 375 degrees and then deep fry around 4 Balls a time (the amount you cook in one batch depends on how big your pan is really) until they are golden brown in colour. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place upon kitchen paper to soak up excess oil. That’s it really, you’re ready to go

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Sausage and Puy Lentil Casserole

These past few weeks I have to admit that I've been feeling more than a little pleased with myself. Whilst the rest of the nation has been recoiling in horror in the discovery that it’s been gleefully consuming unknown quantities of equine off cuts, as direct result of its lust for cheap convenient gastronomic banality, I've been tucking into food that, I have,  as always, cooked from scratch I know exactly how much Dobbin is in my lasagne.

So with that self indulgent “I told you so” opening you’d wonder why I'm eulogising about sausages. Of all the food stuffs they’re the worst aren't they? Full of sawdust, pig’s knuckles and cows face surely. Well, that depends on which sausages you buy. 50 “pork” sausages for £1 then really you can’t complain about the odd bit of kneecap. However if you spend the extra cash on some quality sausages you can still make a satisfying, tasty and in these early parts of the year a  welcome, warming and comforting dish.

I've been trying to perfect the ultimate sausage casserole, using beans etc . but with these meaty Puy lentils, I think I've cracked it

What’s more this is so cheap to make, OK it assumes you have some of the stuff already in , even if you don’t the initial outlay isn't that great

This really does make a satisfying, tasty and warming dish, perfect for this time of year

Sausage and Lentil Casserole - Feeds 6

Total cost (Based on having most of the ingredients in, otherwise the initial outlay will be greater) = £9.27 or £1.55 per Serving, add about another £0.50 per serving if having mash.

12 Good quality Pork Sausages (£5.00)
1 Large Onion Sliced (if halving the recipe use one medium size onion) (£0.35)
2 Cloves of Garlic Finely Chopped (£0.06)
2 Medium Sized Carrots Diced (£0.20)
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds (£0.05)
1 Tablespoon of Tomato Puree (£0.05)
1 400g Tin of Tomatoes (£1.23)
1 Splash of white wine (£0.50)
6 Juniper Berries (Not essential but do add depth of flavour) (£0.25)
1 Apple peeled and finely chopped 
175g Puy Lentils (£0.93)
1 Litre Of Chicken Stock (£0.30)
1 Small Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Fresh Herbs such as Thyme, Parsley and Bay Leaf, Tied together in a bundle (£0.40)
1 Tablespoon of Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 Large Flame proof Casserole Dish
1 Pestle and Mortar

Pre-Heat the oven to 160 degrees

On the hob heat the oil in the casserole dish and then fry the sausages so that they are brown all over, you may have to do this in batches

In a separate pan toast the cumin seeds and the crush to a powder using a pestle and mortar

Once brown, remove the sausages and add the onions to the Pan, Season and fry until soft. The onions should take on the colour and flavour from the sausages

Add the garlic fry for one min, then add the tomato puree and cook out, for 2-3 mins
Next add the carrots, apple and cumin then gently fry for 5 mins

Turn up the heat, add the wine and de-glaze the casserole dish

Reduce the wine, add the lentils and fry, stirring continuously until the lentils are well coated

Add the tomatoes, stock, chilli flakes and juniper berries. Stir until well combined

Bring to the boil, return the sausages, add the herb bundle, cover and place in the oven for around 2 hours

Every 30 mins or so stir through and check the liquid, the lentils may soak up a lot of it so add more water if required and stir through before returning to the oven

The thickness is up to you, I prefer it to have a thick gravy like consistency rather than the thick porridge consistency you can get with lentils.

Serve on its own or with mash, or bread.