Chicken Paprika

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Screenshot_2016-06-27-20-06-14-1[1] 27/06/2016

A real hearty meal that uses one pan and tastes fantastic. I love cooking dinner in my casserole pan in the oven. All the flavours seem to concentrate and everything cooks evenly into a luxurious dish. This is no exception and incorporates smoky paprika with a sweet tomato and pepper sauce that coats tender chicken pieces.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 Tbsp plain flour
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 400g can plum tomatoes
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 1 red or green pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Brown rice and steamed greens to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  2. Cut each chicken breast into 3 or pieces. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish over a medium heat. Brown the chicken pieces, seasoning in the process, then remove them from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the onions to the pan and gently fry for 8-10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic for a further minute before adding the flour, paprika and cayenne. Stir well to soak up the pan juices then add the can of plum tomatoes. Stir to combine then add the stock and return the chicken to the pan. Stir everything and bring to a simmer. Add the peppers to the casserole then place the lid on and put in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through.
  4. Check the seasoning and add the parsley about 5 minutes before it is ready. Serve with brown rice and steamed greens such as broccoli, beans or asparagus for a wholesome, tasty meal.
  5. If using, add the sour cream to the casserole once you have removed it from the oven and swirl it through the sauce. I didn’t use it in the dish pictured as I didn’t have any but I have tried it in the recipe before and it adds a lovely richness.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

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Screenshot_2016-06-25-13-51-45-1[1] 25/06/2016

Here is a beautiful recipe for a homely, comforting dinner. It is a little hands on and requires a bit of effort and time in the kitchen but that is half of the fun and the resulting meal is satisfying and flavourful. If you are pushed for time or don’t have the patience then you can cut corners such as using ready made lasagne sheets or cannelloni tubes and buying ready made pasta sauce but you WILL be able to tell the difference.

The pasta in my recipe is so easy to make and the touch of wholemeal flour in the recipe not only adds texture and flavour but fibre too.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 200g ricotta
  • 300g fresh spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Fresh basil, a handful, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of sugar

For the wholemeal cannelloni:

  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • A dash of water, optional

For the béchamel sauce:

  • A knob of butter
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • Semi skimmed milk
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • Nutmeg, finely grated
  • Parmesan, finely grated, for topping

Method:

For the spinach and ricotta filling:

  1. Bring a saucepan with 1cm of water to the boil. Add the fresh spinach and wilt it for 30 seconds. Drain all the water and, using a pair of rubber gloves, squeeze the excess water from the spinach.
  2. Roughly chop the spinach and add it to a mixing bowl along with the ricotta, garlic, seasoning and nutmeg. Set aside in the fridge.

For the tomato sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Gently sweat the onions for 8-10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
  2. Add the passata, sugar and seasoning and leave to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally then add the basil before removing from the heat.
  3. Place half of the sauce in the base of a loaf tin or ovenproof dish and set the other half aside.

For the wholemeal cannelloni:

  1. Place the flours and salt into a mixing bowl. Add in the egg and combine with a fork until a dough is formed. You may need a little added water to help combine the dough.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Wrap in cling-film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. When ready, roll the dough into one long sheet. You can do this with a pasta machine if you have one but a rolling pin and good old fashioned elbow grease is just as good if you don’t. Roll the dough as thinly as you can.

For the béchamel:

  1. Heat the butter in a milk pan. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook the flour out over a low-medium heat for a couple of minutes then, away from the heat, add a splash of milk and whisk constantly until thickening. This will happen very quickly. Keep adding small amounts of milk and whisking to incorporate. Keep adding milk until you have a saucy consistency and place back over the gentle heat.
  2. Add the nutmeg and seasoning and keep stirring on the heat until the correct thickness is achieved.

To assemble:

  1. Cut the long sheet of pasta into 8-10 rectangles and fill each with a good dollop of the spinach, ricotta filling. Roll up the rectangles to encase the filling in a cylinder and place each cylinder on top of the tomato sauce in your loaf tin.
  2. Top with the remaining tomato sauce then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the top.
  3. Top with plenty of grated parmesan and bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

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Bread & Butter Pudding

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Screenshot_2016-06-05-20-26-28-1[1] 10/06/2016

Bread and butter pudding is a traditional English pudding that goes easy on the wallet and is a fantastic way to use up your old loaves. It is one of my all-time favourites! Bread that is a couple of days old works best for this as it soaks up the lovely eggy custard so you get a crunchy, golden top and a soft, delicate centre. Don’t use pre-sliced bread. It is nowhere near as nice. You’ve been warned.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 slices white bread
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • approx 2 0z (50 g) caster sugar
  • 1/2 oz (10g) candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped
  • 2 oz (50 g) currants
  • 10 fl oz (275 ml) milk
  • 2½ fl oz (60 ml) double cream
  • 2 oz (50 g) caster sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • demerara sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160 fan.
  2. You will also need a 2 pint (1.2 litre) enamel baking dish (one of the oblong kind), well buttered.
  3. Butter the bread, remove the crusts and cut each slice of buttered bread in half. Now arrange one layer of buttered bread over the base of the baking dish, sprinkle the candied peel and half the currants over, then cover with another layer of the bread slices and the remainder of the currants.
  4. Next, in a glass measuring jug, measure out the milk and add the double cream. Stir in the caster sugar and cinnamon (if using) then whisk the eggs, first on their own in a small basin and then into the milk mixture. Pour the whole lot over the bread, sprinkle over some freshly grated nutmeg and demerara sugar then bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with cream, ice-cream or custard.

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Top tip: To make your pudding boozy, soak the dried fruit in 2 tbsp of brandy, whisky or rum before adding. The liquid will make the fruit really plump and luxurious and infuse your pudding with a subtle boozy, warming flavour.