24 December 2013

Rosie and Basil have gathered by the Christmas Tree to wish everyone a very happy Christmas time and to thank you all for being the loyal readers that you are.  :D

Here's hoping everyone has a safe, warm, tasty and fun time and that all you cooks are able to enjoy the fruits of your labours, along with some well deserved plaudits for all your hard work.


14 December 2013

BBQ Paprika Chicken with mushroom rice

I dunno - I don't post for ages and then suddenly I'm back with a double recipe post!  Ah well, I like to keep you all on your toes.

This 'ere BBQ paprika chicken with mushroom rice meal was really good.  I had a horrid sinking feeling that the rice was going to be a bit bland and dull - but no.  I think the addition of the ground cumin, turmeric and chilli flakes were sufficient to provide the layers of flavour that made my original mushroom rice recipe (which was good, but not quite there) into something a lot more interesting.

As for the BBQ paprika chicken, well that inspiration came from the brilliant Herbie Likes Spaghetti blog - and you can see the original recipe here : http://www.herbielikesspaghetti.com/2011/05/chicken-paprika.html.

I tweaked the recipe a bit here and there to suit our preferences - such as changing chicken thighs for chicken breasts, plus I used an Indian BBQ spice rub rather than a Cajun one.  However, the biggest change I made was that instead of mixing in some soured cream to the BBQ sauce at the end of the recipe, I served it separately.  Well, the BBQ sauce was so good, it would have been a crime to weaken the intensity of the flavours with the cream.  By serving it separately, it enabled you to add a little to each forkful or not, depending on which you wanted - which worked very well indeed.

I'll admit, I was skeptical as to how so much paprika would work with the BBQ sauce, as a good BBQ sauce has all the flavour you need without anything being added.  However, it blended in there perfectly and added that piquancy - supported by the sweetness of the onion and savouriness of the garlic - that makes this dish a very definite do-again one!

It was just a shame there wasn't any leftover chicken, as I've got leftover rice with no gorgeous BBQ paprika chicken to eat with it!

chicken thighs
2 tablespoons creole seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup paprika
1 cup bar-b-que sauce
2.5 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups sour cream
1/2 cup sliced scallion - See more at: http://www.herbielikesspaghetti.com/2011/05/chicken-paprika.html#sthash.tjqdcYH5.dpuf
chicken thighs
2 tablespoons creole seasoning
1/4 cup olive oil
medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup paprika
1 cup bar-b-que sauce
2.5 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups sour cream
1/2 cup sliced scallion - See more at: http://www.herbielikesspaghetti.com/2011/05/chicken-paprika.html#sthash.tjqdcYH5.dpuf

Ingredients :

3 skinless, boneless breasts of chicken
A spicy chicken dry rub (Cajun or an Indian BBQ rub are great)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 heaped teaspoonfuls paprika
1-200ml BBQ sauce (Bull's Eye BBQ sauce is good)
150ml chicken stock.

Method : 

1.  Take each chicken breast and cut into three pieces.  Place into a bowl and add sufficient dry rub to coat them.  I used approximately 2 tsp of Zaiqa's Al Faham BBQ spice rub, which worked beautifully.

2.  While the chicken marinates briefly, prepare the onions, garlic and other vegetables for accompanying dishes.

3.  Heat the oil in a wok until hot and fry the chicken for 3 minutes or so on each side - sufficient to create a lovely golden colour and a degree of caramelisation, but without any burning.  Remove from the pan to keep warm.

4.  Add the onion to the pan and cook on a medium heat until softened, whereupon you should add the garlic and continue to cook for another few minutes.

5.  Add the paprika to the pan and stir to combine.  Cook for a few minutes - no longer than 5 - and add the chicken to the pan.

6.  Add the BBQ sauce and the chicken stock and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a lively simmer and cook until the sauce has retained its stickiness and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve 3 pieces for each person, with sour cream and the mushroom rice :

MUSHROOM RICE  (serves 3-4)

Ingredients :
2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 x 10g pieces of butter
1 onion, chopped finely
200g basmati rice
1 fat garlic clove, chopped finely
200g mushrooms, diced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
a pinch of dried red chilli flakes
a large handful of frozen peas
a tbsp fresh chopped coriander.

Method :
1.  Fill a large saucepan to 2" or so below the edge, with water.  Add a pinch of salt and place onto a high heat to boil.

2.  Whilst the water is heating, rinse the dry rice in a sieve under running water until the majority of the starch had been removed and the water runs clear.

3.  Place a frying pan onto a medium heat and add the oil and one knob of butter.  Once heated, add the onion plus a pinch of salt and cook until softened and just beginning to caramelise.

4.  The water will boil in the meantime, so add the rice and simmer for 7-10 minutes - then drain and replace into the warm saucepan.

5.  Add the garlic to the frying pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook until softened.

6.   Add a good pinch of freshly ground black pepper, the cumin, turmeric and chilli flakes and stir to combine.  Continue cooking on a gentle heat, until the rice has 2-3 minutes left to go, then add the frozen peas to the mushroom mixture and increase the heat to ensure they defrost and cook properly.

7.  Add the final knob of butter and the chopped coriander and add to the cooked rice.  Stir through and serve immediately.

Printable version

10 December 2013

Kievs, devilment, soup and salads ... meal planning in reverse!

I thought, because I haven't posted much in the way of anything just lately, that I'd give a quick rundown on what has come out of my kitchen recently.  With both successes and failures - sometimes both at once, depending on everyone's preferences - it makes an interesting mix!

So let's start with one which everyone liked at least one part of - my devilled sausages.  I served these little lovelies (see recipe here) with some home made coleslaw (white cabbage, carrot & onion all sliced finely, mixed with some raisins, Greek yoghurt & mayonnaise), beetroot and a really tasty rice salad.  The rice salad was made with a simple mix of cooked cooled white basmati rice, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sweetcorn, chopped rocket and small cubes of cheddar cheese.  Once a lovely dressing had been added, along with seasoning to taste (I used a Suzanne's fat free dressing of blackberry, cardamom & chilli), the whole thing came together beautifully.  You can guarantee that even with a rice salad disliking teenager at the table, the sausages and coleslaw will go - and some rice salad went along with it, so I call that a success.

Travelling back on the school run one morning, hubby and I both were overcome with a mushroom lust.  Fortunately Sainsbury's is en route, so a quick stop for supplies meant we could have mushrooms on toast for brunch upon our return.  Yum.

Cooked until softened in a little butter, then seasoned with salt and pepper and given a quick splosh with a little mushroom ketchup, these little lovelies were gorgeous on some sourdough bread we had left over.  Toasted and buttered, it was simple and delicious.

Many moons ago, we made the mistake of introducing our son to chicken Kiev.  Not home made chicken Kiev, but the supermarkets' own version of chicken Kiev - one which is made of munched up and stuck back together again chicken, made into a dome with a tiny teaspoonful of garlic butter inside the cavernous waste that is each Kiev's centre.  He loved them then and every so often he requests them again.

Now for all that I have described them with an element of disdain, it is fond disdain as I really quite enjoy a Kiev myself.  It takes me back to when I had the horses and would come in at 9pm starving hungry.  I'd throw a couple of Kiev's in the oven and a packet of savoury rice into the microwave and 20-30 minutes later, sit down to a hot dinner.   I thoroughly enjoyed the Kiev dinner that hubby rustled together, as pictured above.  I know - I should be ashamed of myself and somewhere under the "Mmmmnnn...", I am.  Honest.

Surely everyone likes a jacket potato, don't they?  Even my hubby likes a twice baked Jacket Potato (more on those, in another post!).  In this instance, however, I was suddenly overcome with the desire for mackerel and as I had some salad left over, it made sense to combine the lot for lunch.  The mackerel came out of one of these little tins of mackerel fillets, but I'm fairly sure it still qualifies as being good for you!  In fact, if you totted up the inflammatory -v- non-inflammatory points, just putting the mackerel on the plate cancelled out any non-inflammatory points the remainder might have had!  A scrummy lunch.

So, how do you like the look of my thick chicken and vegetable soup?  It was intended to be chicken and dumpling soup, however like Topsy it kind of grew in the making and it seemed to us that dumplings would be overkill.

I basically emptied the vegetable drawer of the fridge onto the tray upon which I carry ingredients about the kitchen - and only put back things like cucumber and beetroot.  Following a quick rummage in the freezer, which gleaned the sweetcorn and peas, I was good to go.

The chicken was pan fried to a light golden colour, then shredded and finished its cooking in the soup stock.  Done this way, you gain flavour from the caramelisation on the chicken, but retain the softness that is inherent with chicken breast.

I included such lovely winter warmers as pearl barley and red lentils for thickeners and of course used the lovely Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock as the stock base.  Making the soup was a simple matter of chopping the vegetables to a suitably small size and putting them into the pot in the right order, depending on how long each took to cook!  I started off with the classic onion and garlic, followed by the celery, carrot and potato, then the stock, barley and lentils - finishing up with the softer vegetables and herbs.  With some crusty sourdough bread, the soup made a lovely hearty meal and it truly is the kind of soup that you can throw just about anything at.

Lastly - for this instalment, anyway - we have the sad case of the Merguez sausage.  Oh dear, what a tale of uncertainties, changes of mind and mistaken identities.  You see, hubby had a risotto in mind.  It involved lamb and possibly preserved lemon.  At this stage, it was just "in mind", you know - evolving.  I suggested to him that Merguez sausage might be good as the lamb component.  I knew that Asda do 4 or 5 Merguez sausages within the right price range and also knew that they were, to a large part, lamb.  However, what I didn't realise then was that Asda's Merguez sausages were, to a large part, beef.  ~rolls eyes~  I suppose they have to keep the price down somehow and there are cuts of beef that are a lot more economical to use than lamb.  However, being this charitable is with the benefit of hindsight.  That wasn't what I was saying once they were in my fridge and I'd read the ingredients list.

Being such a large part beef, made them useless for hubby's risotto.  So there they were, sitting in the fridge with no job to do.  Not only that, but because we'd never had them before and the ingredients list was unexpected, we had no idea how they tasted to be able to include them in a recipe somewhere.  There was only one thing to be done - cook them and eat them for lunch with a salad.

As it turned out, they were entirely wrong for the risotto hubby had evolving in his head - but would be great for another kind of risotto some other day.  They leach a gorgeous spicily flavoured, coloured oil once heated up - in the same way that chorizo does - and have a hint of lambiness in their flavour, but to be honest, I'd have been hard pressed to have told you what meat they tasted of.  They are certainly spicy - but not in a chilli sort of way.  More of a paprika and cumin sort of way that would make them ideal for all sorts of dishes.  So now we know - and I'm sure one day they'll appear in a more creative concept than beside some salad!

So just to whet your appetite, for my next instalment of meal planning in reverse, we've got some BBQ, more mackerel, that risotto and an awesome roast pork dinner amongst other things.  Can't wait!

3 December 2013

The Polish Bakery - I may be a tiny bit in love ...

We've just got back from our usual Tuesday shopping trip to Asda.  Now, for - quite literally - years, I've been eyeing up the bread made by The Polish Bakery and thinking "I must give some of that a go".

In the meantime, I've used various Polish foodstuffs and have been impressed by them all.  I've come to realise that - currently, at any rate - if it's Polish, then you can pretty much guarantee that it won't have any additives, sweeteners or any of the myriad of things that we try to avoid in most processed foods in it.  The same is true of The Polish Bakery's bread.

The loaf I brought home with me is a small round "Grandmother's Bread" or Chleb Babuni.

The ingredients list reads like a shopping basket of all the good things you are advised to get into your diet, where seeds and grains are concerned.  With sesame seeds decorating the top, it not only looks good and has an interesting colour but smells good too. 

However, the real winner is the flavour and texture.  The texture is interestingly stretchy and robust that gives a lovely spring to the slices.  There's none of that collapse which comes when you cut across a slice of commercially produced bread.  This bread holds its own and bounces back.  The flavour is really rich and, well, just bready!  That'll be the sourdough influence, then, I expect.  The additional seeds give such a lovely nuttiness and extra bite to the bread, it really feels as though it's doing you good as you eat it.

I went for a nosey around their website at The Polish Bakery and was hugely interested to see what they say as regards the bread - and I quote "Our products are hand-made freshly every day, and our unique traditional Polish recipes contain nothing but the finest natural ingredients.

Polish bread is a living thing. It is based on Sourdough, which needs to be kept alive to retain the unique flavour of our bread. This is where the love of real baking comes in. Our master baker will not use sourdough kept alive artificially, he tends his sourdough with great care, watching the temperature and balance of all of the key ingredients as only he can. This means his sourdough has years of history which gives the authentic taste and flavour so unique to our bread.

We bake additive free, and that is why all the varieties of the bread we make are healthy options. Many of them are specially made to help our digestive systems, adding to the base of sourdough with a wide range of seeds and grains

I immediately fell a little bit in love with The Polish Bakery, having read that.  :)  The big tester will come within a few hours when I discover whether the Grandmother's Bread makes my tummy bloat - as so many commercially produced breads do.  I couldn't wait for lunchtime and had a couple of slices of Grandmother's Bread as toast, so I'm crossing my fingers for a good reaction.

If you find more of The Polish Bakery's bread appearing on the blog or my Facebook page - you'll know it passed muster!  If you find some, give it a try.  Don't be put off by the fact that it's Polish, on current reckoning, it's an awful lot better than many of our bread offerings!
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