Dragon Chilli Chicken

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c 02/04/2018

In case you couldn’t tell, I have a bit of a craving for chillies at the moment. Dragon chicken is an Indo-Chinese dish that definitely delivers on this front and consists of battered chicken stir fried in a spicy chilli sauce. The sauce has a lot of flavour from the garlic, ginger and soy sauce while the dried red chillies deliver a fiery kick. You can adjust the amount of chillies and chilli paste based on your taste. If you like a milder dish, you will want to use significantly less but then you won’t really be making dragon chicken.

This is quite a dry dish. The sauce should be just enough to coat the chicken so if you want more then, by all means, double the sauce ingredients. The chilli paste can be bought readymade but is easily made by soaking dried red chillies in hot water and then grinding to a paste. They give the dish an amazing kick. If you are not a spice fan then this recipe is probably not for you. If however, you can’t get enough of it, read on.

serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 500g Boneless Chicken Breast (cut into thin strips)
  • Coriander leaves or Spring Onion for garnishing (finely chopped)
  • Oil for Deep frying

For Marination:

  • 2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Red Chilli Paste (ground dry red chilli)
  • 1 Egg White
  • ¼ – ½ cup Plain Flour
  • ¼ cup Cornflour
  • Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper

For Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 3 Dry Red Chillies
  • 4 Tbsp Cashews, broken into small pieces
  • 1 large Onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 Bell Pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1 Tbsp Red Chilli Paste (ground up dry red chilli)
  • 1 Tbsp Dark Soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Ketchup
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Sugar

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Method:

  1. Take chicken in a bowl and add all the marination ingredients. Mix well and let it marinate for 15 minutes. Now heat some oil for deep-frying. When the oil is hot drop the chicken in oil and fry till golden. Drain and set aside.
  2. Now heat oil in a frying pan. Add in dry red chilli and cashews and fry till the cashew turn golden brown.
  3. Now add in onions and bell peppers and toss well in the oil.
  4. Add in ginger garlic paste and sauté for a min.
  5. Now add in red chilli paste, soy sauce, tomato ketchup, salt, sugar and mix well.
  6. Cook this for a couple of mins till the water evaporates and sauce thickens.
  7. Now add in the fried chicken and toss well in the sauce. Add in chopped coriander or spring onion and mix well.
  8. Serve hot.
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Korean Chicken Nuggets

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b 01/04/2018

Gochugang is a deep red fermented chilli paste that has a nice deep dark flavour (not too much heat, with a little bit of sweetness). It is pretty readily available in Asian grocers and most large supermarkets now.

The sauce is rich and spicy with a hum of garlic and fresh ginger while the drizzle of honey helps to balance the heat and the black sesame seeds and/or peanuts add a nice nutty flavour and crunch. The crispy batter, succulent chicken and deep flavour of the sauce will have you disgracing yourself as you destroy the lot but don’t worry, you won’t be the only one.

If, like Marilyn Monroe and I, you like it hot then add a little gochugaru (Korean chilli powder) to the sauce for extra lip-smacking goodness.

Serves 6

For the spicy Korean bbq sauce:

  • ¼ cup gochugang (Korean Chilli Paste)
  • 5 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon honey or barley malt
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the chicken nuggets:

  • 3 chicken breasts cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1 ¼ cup cold water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying

Directions:
1. Preheat oil to 180°C.
2. For the spicy Korean bbq sauce, place all ingredients into a milk pan and whisk together over a gentle heat for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar and infuse the garlic and ginger. Set aside.
3. Sift together the flour and cornflour into a mixing bowl. Whisk in water until fully incorporated and no lumps remain.
4. Dip each nugget piece into the batter and shake to remove any excess. Carefully drop each battered nugget into the hot oil and fry for 5 to 6 minutes (this will have to be done in batches).
5. Drain onto paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Once all nuggets have been fried, place nuggets back into the fryer and fry a second time (double fry) for 5 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown and crispy. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
6. Pour some of the Korean bbq sauce into a heatproof bowl and thin out with a few drops of water. Add the nuggets and toss together in the sauce to coat them. Transfer them onto a serving plate with a slotted spoon and garnish with black sesame seeds or crushed peanuts and a drizzle of honey or more Korean bbq sauce.

Chicken Cacciatore

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chicken (2) 24/03/2018

For the uninitiated, cacciatore (pronounced catch-chee-ah-tor-ay) refers to a “hunter-style” method of cooking in which the meat, vegetables and herbs slowly simmer in a single pot. This recipe stays true to the Northern Italian tradition of using white wine, but adds passata, because, well, why not? Buon appetito!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary (from about 2 sprigs)
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4oz smoked pancetta, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 2-300ml passata
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine garlic, salt, black pepper, rosemary, and 2 tbsp of the oil; stir to make a paste; rub evenly over chicken pieces. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
  2. Heat remaining oil in a heavy cast iron pot over high heat. Working in batches, cook chicken pieces in a single layer, turning to brown all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  3. Add mushrooms, pancetta and onions to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and pancetta is rendered, about 8 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and stir to loosen browned bits from the bottom of pot. Add the stock cube and passata and bring to a boil. Return chicken pieces to pot, reduce heat to medium heat, partially cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Then uncover pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook 15-20 minutes more (depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Harcha – Moroccan Pan-Fried Semolina Bread

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harcha2 18/03/2018

Harcha is one of the most delicious Moroccan snacks that I came across thanks to my beautiful Moroccan friend, Sarah, who never turns up to a get-together empty handed. So when she arrived for a coffee with a giant harcha fresh from the pan, we wasted no time devouring it with multiple toppings and/or fillings. Harcha is a semolina bread that you can make in any size and fill with savoury fillings such as cheese or sweet such as honey.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) semolina
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 7 tablespoons (100 grams) butter
  • 1/2 cup (100 ml) milk (or as needed)

Directions:

Preparing the Dough:

  1. Place the semolina in a bowl, add the sugar, baking powder and the salt. Mix well. You need semolina for this recipe so do not try to substitute it.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave or a saucepan then add the butter to the semolina and mix with a spoon. When it gets hard with the spoon, mix with your hands, Moroccan style!
  3. Add the milk and mix until you get a smooth dough. Then let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Shaping the Harcha:

  1. Turn on the heat to medium and heat up a heavy cast iron pan!
  2. Back to the dough… you will notice that it is drier as the semolina has absorbed the milk. If it’s too dry, add a little more milk.
  3. To get perfect shapes, use a cookie cutter to make medium sized Harcha. You can make a large one, or mini-ones – whatever you like. The discs should be ¼” thick or a bit thicker. When shaping the disks use parchment paper, so it’s easy to transfer them to the pan.

Cooking the Harcha:

  1. Reduce the heat to low – very important otherwise the harcha will burn from outside and not cook from inside – transfer the harcha to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes on each side. You will see that the surface gets a beautiful golden brown colour and that the discs start to dry. If you try to push on them, they will feel dry. Flip and cook the other side.
  2. Let the harcha cool a bit and cut it in half with a sharp knife. If the harcha is still too hot and the knife not sharp, it will crumble.
  3. Fill with cheese, jam, honey, or anything you like!

Creamy Pesto Turkey Meatballs

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pesto 18/02/2018

Something a bit different from your regular marinara, this meatball dish only takes about 30 minutes to whip up and is comfort food to the max.

Ingredients:

The meatballs:

  • 1 lb (450g) minced turkey
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto (or any pesto you like)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

The sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon basil pesto (or any pesto you like)
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) sour-cream
  • 1 1/4 cup (300ml) chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour mixed with one teaspoon water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

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Method:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, parmesan, pesto, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. With clean hands, gently work the mixture together until it is well combined. Shape into approximately 12 balls and transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the meatballs until golden and cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, sauté minced garlic until fragrant and slowly add the sour cream while whisking. Heat through on medium heat, keep stirring slowly. Add chicken stock, cornflour, basil pesto, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep cooking on medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until smooth.
  4. Put the chicken meatballs back into the skillet and heat through for a couple of minutes, coating with the creamy pesto sauce. Serve with spaghetti and more parmesan and basil for good measure. Enjoy!

Thai Style Peanut Pork & Broccoli

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Capture 17/02/2018

This simple Thai-inspired peanut pork melts in the mouth! Made with peanut butter, spices and coconut milk, it’s easy and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 kg diced pork shoulder
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 300 ml chicken/veg stock
  • 400 ml can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 200 g tenderstem broccoli chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 100 g beansprouts

To Serve:

  • Thai jasmine rice
  • Fresh coriander
  • Chilli flakes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  2. Heat the oil in a large casserole pan on a high heat until hot. Add the pork, and brown on all sides – takes about 6-8 minutes.
  3. Turn down to a medium heat and add the onions. Cook for 5 minutes, moving around the pan regularly, until the onions soften.
  4. Add the coriander, cumin, ginger and garlic and stir.
  5. Add the stock, coconut milk and peanut butter. Stir and bring to a gentle simmer then place a lid on the pan and place in the oven to cook for 2 hours.
  6. Stir in the lime juice then add the broccoli and beansprouts. Stir and place back in the oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and stir. Serve over rice, garnished with fresh coriander. Add some chopped fresh chillies and/or dried chilli flakes if you like a bit of heat.

Camembert Snowflake

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camembert 19/01/2018

I’m a tiny bit obsessed with cheese at the moment. That’s a lie, I’m always obsessed but here is a particularly gooey, overloaded offering containing caramelised onions, bacon, herbs and buttery pastry dunked into melting luxurious cheese.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 baking camembert
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 3 tbsp caramelised onion chutney
  • 75g crispy smoked bacon bits
  • 1 egg whisked
  • Honey
  • Rosemary leaves

Instructions:                                               

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface. Place a large mixing bowl on top of the pastry sheet. Cut around the bowl to form a circle (around 9-10 inch diameter).
  3. Repeat step 2 with the second sheet of pastry.
  4. Place one circle of pastry on the prepared baking sheet. Spread caramelised onion chutney over the pastry, leaving the middle centre clear. Sprinkle bacon bits over the chutney and then cover with the second circle of pastry.
  5. Place the camembert cheese in the centre of the circle of pastry and then cut around to form a circle. Discard the cut pastry and lay the cheese in the open centre.
  6. Cut the circle of pastry into 16 equal segments. You can do this by cutting the circle first into 4 equal segments. Then, cut each segment in half and then in half once more, ending with 16 segments in total.
  7. Lift one segment, twist once to the right and place it down. Then lift the segment next to it and twist once to the left and place it down. Keep going around, alternating the direction of the twist. Finally, bring up edges of two segments with opposite twist and press together.
  8. Brush the pastry with egg wash. Make 3-4 slits on top of the cheese and then drizzle cheese with a little honey. Sprinkle rosemary leaves over the cheese and pastry. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.
  9. Rip off the pastry branches and dunk them in the gooey cheese. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.