Chicken Jalfrezi

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IMG_20150331_214657[1] 31/03/2015

Jalfrezi is a curry that involves frying flavoured meat to produce a thick rich sauce. The whole spices provide subtle layers of flavour and the chillies lend warmth to create a really tasty comfort dish.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 175ml/6fl oz water
  • 1 inch cube ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ajwain or caraway
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 black cardamons, split
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 Tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp tomato purée
  • 1-2 fresh green chillies, sliced lengthways, seeded for a milder flavour
  • 2 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Cut each thigh piece into two. Wash and dry on paper towels.
  2. Put the chicken in a saucepan, add half the chopped onions with all of the water, ginger, garlic and spices. Bring to the boil, stir and mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. In a separate pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the rest of the onions until they are golden brown. Remove each piece of chicken and add to the onions. Fry over medium heat until the chicken is brown (5 minutes).
  4. Now add half the spiced liquid in which the chicken was cooked. Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the rest of the liquid and fry for a further 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add salt, tomato purée, green chillies and coriander leaves. Stir and fry on low heat for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.
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Zesty Chicken Tacos with Guacamole and Roast Vegetable Salsa

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IMG_20150321_190101[1] 21/03/2015

I have included a recipe for homemade corn tortillas using masa harina which is a bit tricky to come by in the UK but is available in some international grocers or online. The flavour from this very fine cornmeal is unrivalled by anything you can buy in the shop and is totally worth a little extra effort. You can of course use shop bought tortillas – corn or flour – if you prefer.

The vegetables in the salsa are grilled to char them before blending which gives a sweetness to the onions and garlic and a deep flavour to the tomatoes.

Then there is the guacamole with creamy avocado and fresh citrus flavours. Splodged on top of zesty, spicy, smoky pulled chicken, what more do you need?

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

For the corn tortillas:

(Makes 12-24 depending on how generous you are)

  • 150g/5½oz masa harina
  • pinch salt
  • 100ml/3½fl oz cold water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. Mix the masa harina and salt in a bowl. Add the water and olive oil and mix until a smooth dough is achieved. (If it’s too sticky add a little more masa harina, or, if it’s too dry, add a drop more water.)
  2. Divide the dough into 24 balls. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  3. Flatten the balls of dough with your hands – alternatively, use a tortilla press or roll them between two layers of cling film. Flatten to approximately 3mm thick.
  4. To cook the tortillas, lightly oil a flat griddle pan or frying pan and place over a hot heat.
  5. Cook the tortillas for approximately one minute on each side, or until lightly coloured.
  6. Cover in foil or with a damp towel until ready to serve.

IMG_20150321_185225[1]

Ingredients:

For the spicy shredded chicken:

  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 limes, zest and juice only
  • 6 chicken thighs, skin removed

For the roasted tomato salsa:

  • 6 tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 fat red or green chillies
  • 2 tsp chipotle chilli paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small bunch coriander
  • 2 limes, juice only
  • salt and pepper

For the guacamole:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 3 tbsp soured cream
  • ½ lime, zest and juice
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • salt and pepper

To serve (optional):

  • soured cream
  • Monterey Jack or strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • spring onions, finely chopped
  • fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh green salad

Method for the fillings:

  1. For the spicy shredded chicken, preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Add all the dry ingredients and the lime juice and zest to a bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Pat dry the chicken thighs using kitchen paper and then place the chicken thighs into the bowl and coat in the spice mix.
  4. Leave the chicken to marinate for at least an hour. Remove the chicken from the bowl, place the coated thighs on a foil lined baking tray and cook for 35 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile make the roasted tomato salsa. Preheat the grill to high. Place the tomatoes, red onion wedges, chillies and garlic onto a baking tray. Lightly brush with oil.
  6. Place under the hot grill and cook until the tomato skins are blackened, approximately 10 minutes.
  7. Place all the charred ingredients into a food processor with the chipotle paste, coriander and lime juice. Pulse until a chunky consistency is achieved. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.
  8. For the guacamole, cut the avocados in half and remove the stone. Remove the flesh from the skin and roughly chop.
  9. Place in a bowl and lightly crush using a fork. Add the soured cream, lemon and lime juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.
  10. For the spicy shredded chicken, once the chicken is cooked set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred.                                                                                             IMG_20150318_220321[1]
  11. To serve, simply place a dollop of whichever fillings you desire (I recommend a bit of everything… yolo) into your corn tortilla and apply to face!

Lemon Bars

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IMG_20150318_145315[1] 18/03/2015

Zesty lemon bars with a fresh and creamy topping and crisp, buttery base. These are so simple to whip up and taste insane. Serve with cream and summer fruits as a dessert or eat on their own with a cuppa. The beautiful zingy lemon cuts through the sweetness of the sugar and the egg and milk create a luxuriously creamy texture against the short, crumbly base.

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ⅓ cups plain flour, sifted

Top:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
  • Icing sugar, for dusting 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 9×9 inch tin. Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Sift in the flour and stir until combined. It will look like crumbs. Press the mix into the base of the tin and bake for 10-15 minutes or until just starting to brown around the edges. Let cool.
  2. Put eggs, sugar, flour, milk, lemon juice and rind into a bowl and whisk well. Pour over the base. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until just set. When cold, cut into squares and dust with icing sugar. Serve with fresh summer berries such as strawberries or raspberries.

IMG_20150318_145822[1]

Rustic Jam Shortbread Tart

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IMG_20150312_141427[1] 14/03/2015

Cut into buttery little pieces, this cross between a tart and a cookie crumbles and then melts away as you eat it.

  • ¼ cup ground almonds
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3oz cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ to ¾ cup jam (I used seeded raspberry jam)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Butter a 9-inch dark-coloured tart tin.
  2. Add the almonds, flour, sugar and salt to a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mix until small crumbs form then add the egg yolk and almond extract. Mix with a metal spoon until the mixture starts to come together in small clumps.
  3. Turn the pastry into the prepared tin. It may look crumbly but this is fine. With your hands pat it out to evenly cover the bottom of the tin. Give the tart a standing rim by nudging the dough up the sides of the pan by 1/2 inch. Don’t worry if it looks a little ragged.
  4. Bake the crust in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes, or until its edges are golden and the centre is starting to colour. The rim will sink down a little which is fine.
  5. Remove the tin from the oven and turn the heat up to 240ºC. Carefully spread the jam over the tart and return it to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the jam is bubbly.
  6. Cool the tart on a wire rack, slice it into wedges and serve.

IMG_20150312_141532[1]

Thai Green Curry Meatballs

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IMG_20150308_154819[1] 10/03/2015

This recipe takes a little while to come together but is totally worth the effort. The fresh, zesty paste is better than anything you will get shop bought and the addition of such flavours as ginger and fish sauce to the meatballs really adds zing while the lemon juice will break down the proteins in the pork for a meltingly tender meatball.

I left the seeds in all the chillies used in this dish and be warned, these meatballs pack some punch so consider removing the seeds if you don’t like spice but with the freshness from the lemongrass and the creaminess from the coconut sauce, the heat is great!

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

Thai green curry paste:

  • 2 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp of ground cumin
  • 2 green chillies, stems removed and chopped
  • 2 medium stalks of lemongrass, finely sliced
  • 1″ chunk of galangal or ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 3 medium shallots, chopped
  • Zest of 1 small lime
  • 8 whole black peppercorn (or equivalent amount of ground black pepper)
  • 2 tsp of Thai shrimp paste
  • 2 tsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tsp of finely minced kaffir lime leaves (about 2 leaves)
  • 1 tsp of yellow mustard
  • 165ml can of coconut milk

This is quite a runny paste because of the amount of coconut milk used. I have increased the amount of coconut milk as I am using a blender to create a upper smooth paste and the liquid content helps to mix and break down the tougher fibres of the lemongrass and galangal.

To make the curry paste:  Dry-toast ground coriander and ground cumin in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, approx 1 min.  Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smoothly pureed.  You may need to stop the blender and press down the ingredients a few times to get it going.  Store the curry paste in an air-tight container in the fridge until needed.

Meatballs:

  • 200g of minced pork
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped coriander
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tsp of cornflour
  • 2 tsp of fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper

To cook the curry:

  • 1 quantity Thai green curry paste
  • 6 – 7 kaffir lime leaves, torn slightly by hand
  • 2 Thai green chillies, chopped
  • 165ml can of coconut milk
  • 200ml of water, approx
  • 1-2 tsp of grated palm sugar or dark brown sugar
  • More fish sauce to adjust seasoning
  • 1 handful of Thai basil or coriander leaves
  • Green beans, peas (optional)

Method:

To prepare the meatballs: Mix the pork mince, chopped coriander, grated ginger, lemon juice, cornflour, fish sauce, ground coriander and ground white pepper together.  Divide and shape the mixture into 8 meatballs then brown the meatballs in a frying pan with a teaspoon of rapeseed oil until golden all over.

To make the green curry:  In the same frying pan or a wok, heat and stir the green curry paste over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, until the moisture evaporates a little.  This process might splatter a bit, so you might want to cover the pan/wok partially with a lid. The mixture will brown slightly be careful not to let it burn.  Add 3 kaffir lime leaves and green chilli, and cook for another minute, then add coconut milk and water.

Add the browned meatballs into the pan/wok with 1 tsp of palm sugar (or dark brown sugar) and 2 tsp of fish sauce.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. If the sauce has thickened too much just add a little more water. Adjust the seasoning with more fish sauce and sugar if needed.  Add green beans or peas if using and cook for 5 more minutes. Add 1 handful of Thai basil and let it wilt. If you cannot find Thai basil you could sprinkle with coriander leaves instead. Serve immediately with hot steamed jasmine rice or rice noodles.

Sunday Roast

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IMG_20150302_203624[1] 08/03/2015

This is not a traditional Sunday roast as my oven is not big enough to fit a whole chicken and all the trimmings in but it is certainly a good hearty British meal that incorporates all the sides we know and love with a bit of a twist.

Opinions are strongly divided when it comes to the perfect British roast.

Beef and horseradish? Pork and apple sauce? Chicken and cranberry? Lamb and mint sauce?

Mashed potatoes? Roast potatoes? Boiled potatoes?

What’s the perfect Yorkshire pudding?

Which vegetables should be served?

What makes the perfect gravy?

Everyone has their favourites and it’s usually their mum’s!

This take on a roast incorporates some of the old favourite sides such as pigs in blankets, stuffing balls and thick beefy gravy with crisp, golden roast potatoes, fresh, steamy greens and perfect homemade Yorkshire puddings. All of this is served with garlic and herb chicken wrapped in bacon and as I’m sure you know, everything is better wrapped in bacon!

What’s even better is that this roast dinner can come together in about 1 hour. No need to spend all day in the kitchen and plenty of time to collapse in a food coma in front of a cheesy afternoon movie after all those trimmings!

Serves 2 generously

Ingredients:

For the chicken: 

  • 2 rashers smoked bacon
  • 2 chicken breast fillets
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 20g butter

For the potatoes:

  • 4 small potatoes
  • Rapeseed oil

For the Yorkshire puddings:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaped Tbsp plain flour
  • Milk

For the stuffing balls:

  • 1 sausage
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 30g dried breadcrumbs
  • Milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A handful fresh parsley, thyme and rosemary, chopped

For the pigs in blankets:

  • 1 sausage
  • 1 rasher smoked bacon

For the cheat’s gravy:

  • 1 heaped Tbsp beef gravy granules (I used Bisto)
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp thyme, finely chopped
  • Boiling water from the vegetable pot

For the greens:

  • A big handful of curly kale
  • ½ mug of frozen peas

Method:

For the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 200C. Add enough rapeseed oil to a baking pan to just coat the bottom and place it in the oven to heat up. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut in half. Place in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes until slightly softened but not completely cooked. Drain the potatoes then shake them in the pan so you roughen up the edges slightly. Allow them to steam dry for a couple of minutes. Do not cover with a lid.

Place the potatoes in the tray with the hot oil and shake to coat. Return to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken and Yorkshire pudding batter.

For the chicken: Butterfly the chicken. Put your chicken breast on a chopping board and, with your hand flat on top of it, use a sharp knife to slice into one side of the breast, starting at the thicker end and ending at the thin point. Be careful not to cut all the way through to the other side. Open out the breast so that it resembles a butterfly. Cover with cling film and pummel with a rolling pin to create an even thickness.

Soften the butter in a small heatproof bowl in the microwave for a few seconds. Add the garlic, parsley and salt and stir to combine. Spread half of the butter mixture on the sliced side of the chicken breast. Roll the chicken breast up and wrap it in a rasher of bacon to secure. Repeat with the remaining chicken breast and place on a foil lined tray. Season and set aside.

Check on the potatoes and give them a turn. Place a 4 whole giant Yorkshire tin in the oven with a little rapeseed oil in each section.

For the stuffing balls and pigs in blankets: Remove the sausage meat from the casing of 1 sausage and mix it together in a bowl with the onion, herbs, breadcrumbs and seasoning. Add a splash of milk to bring the mixture together then shape into four balls and place on a foil lined baking tray.

With the remaining sausage, twist it in half and cut to form two tiny sausages. Cut a rasher of bacon in half and wrap one half around each mini sausage. Place on the same tray as the stuffing balls and place in the oven to cook for 25-30 minutes until cooked through.

For the Yorkshire puddings: Crack the egg into a mixing bowl, add the flour and a splash of milk then stir with a tablespoon until a really thick ‘gloop’ is formed. Add a little milk at a time and beat well between each addition to remove any lumps of flour. Once the lumps have gone, add enough milk to create a loose, pourable batter that is not too runny. Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes.

After about 30 minutes of the potatoes being in the oven, add the chicken to the oven too. The potatoes will need about 1 hour in total and the chicken will need 30 minutes.

Remove the Yorkshire tray from the oven and pour the batter evenly between the four sections. Return to the oven to bake for approximately 25 minutes until golden brown.

Baste the chicken and turn the potatoes again. Note: It is important not to open the oven door straight after the Yorkshire puddings are in there or they will not rise.

For the greens: Add a little water to a pan and bring to the boil. Add the kale for 2 minutes then add the peas for a further 2 minutes.

For the gravy: Unfortunately there are no pan juices from cooking chicken in this way to make a traditional gravy hence the cheat gravy but it is still pretty yummy. Add the granules, cornflour and thyme to a jug. Once the greens are cooked, drain the water into the jug. You just need enough to make a nice thick gravy (approx 300mls). Make sure the vegetables are completely drained even if you don’t need all the water for the gravy. Stir really well.

Divide everything out between two plates with your gravy on the side.

This meal is quite dependent on timing so get ahead by preparing elements such as the Yorkshire pudding batter, chicken and stuffing balls in advance if it helps.

Just to clarify, the timings needed to cook each element are as follows:

Roast potatoes: 50-60 minutes

Chicken: 30-35 minutes

Yorkshire puddings: 25-30 minutes

Pigs in blankets: 25 minutes

Stuffing balls: 25 minutes

Greens: 4 minutes

Gravy: Just add water 😉

Chilli Beef Nacho Stack

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IMG_20150302_152519[1] 02/03/2015

Now what’s wrong with anything in that title? Answer: Nothing!

How much will be left when you serve this up for dinner? Answer: Nothing!

What should be stopping you from making and eating this? Answer: Nothing!

What did the melted cheese say to the unlucky tortilla? Man, it’s nacho day!

Anyway, apologies for the dad jokes but not for the recipe. This dish came about (as many of my creations do) because I needed to use up some vegetables from my fridge. You can use whatever you have. Chuck in some sweetcorn, black beans, tomatoes or whatever you fancy or have to hand.

The chilli is smoky and spicy, the cheese is oozing and the nachos are crisp and crunchy. Winner!

(Serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 6 chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ green and ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • 200g lean beef mince
  • 1 carton black beans
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 x 500g carton passata
  • 1 packet of slightly salted tortilla chips
  • 50-75g cheddar cheese, grated

Method:

  1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, add a little oil and fry the onion, celery, carrot and chilli for 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic and peppers and fry for a further 5-6 minutes until the vegetables have begun to soften and brown. Empty them into a bowl to set aside.
  2. Turn the heat to high and in the same frying pan, add the beef and brown. Add the black beans, herbs, seasoning, Worcester sauce, tomato puree, paprika and chipotle paste and stir everything together to combine. Add the vegetables back to the pan and mix in.
  3. Add the passata to the pan and reduce the heat to medium low and let the chilli simmer away for 30-40 minutes. If the mixture looks quite thick, don’t be tempted to add any water. You want it quite thick so that it doesn’t make the nachos all soggy.
  4. To assemble, heat the oven to 180C. Add a packet of nachos to a deep baking tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
  5. When slightly browned, create a little well in the centre and pour the chilli over the tray. Top with the grated cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
  6. Serve with a green salad, guacamole and sour cream and dig in!