7 December 2014

Turkey Tortilla Bake

I don't remember when I spotted the original recipe on BBC Good Food - which you can find here - but it was some time ago.  I bookmarked it, thinking it bore further investigation and only recently rediscovered it when I was having a bit of an American/Mexican thing going on with the menu plan.

You will, no doubt, have gathered that I tend to gravitate towards simple recipes.  Ones that don't require much "dotting about the kitchen", doing this bit over here and that bit over there - basically, because I just don't have the legs for "dotting about".  So I go for recipes that demand a) some preparation of ingredient activity, i.e. chopping, grating, etc. and b) some "putting in a pan in order, stirring and heating" activity.  Those sorts of recipes are just great for when my legs aren't behaving too well and trundling around the kitchen dragging my perching stool behind me is too much to contemplate.

Sometimes, however, these recipes that are reputed to be "simple" are rather more "dull" than "easy to make".  Once you have a bit of cooking time under your belt - I don't like to think how long I've got racked up now - you can spot these dull recipes before they ever reach the stove.  However, occasionally, one will still slip through the net.  So, when I was reading this recipe through and seriously contemplating cooking it, I was evaluating whether a) I had got the ingredients already, b) how much the required extra ingredients would cost and c) what the end result would be of combining all these ingredients.  Well, a) was good - I'd got almost all of the ingredients already, b) was "eminently affordable" and c) was "could do with a bit of help".

So.  What to do, to help the flavours along and boost this from what appeared to be a potentially mediocre flavoured dish, to something that would deliver a good old flavoursome meal.

Well, for starters, it was billed as being a "chilli con carne" with a tortilla top.  So, if you're making a chilli con carne, where's the garlic?  Got to have garlic!  The chipotle chilli paste they used would deliver quite a strongly smoky flavour, whereas I had just chipotle chillis and not paste.  So to bolster that smokiness - and a chilli has to have paprika in it - I thought I'd add some sweet smoked paprika.  Better to use sweet than hot smoked paprika, I thought, as I didn't want to overdo the peppery heat.  However, if you're into chillis that leave you feeling like one of Daenerys Targaryen's dragons, then by all means step up the chilli effect.

A chilli needs some herbage, in my opinion, so as my herb of choice at the time was oregano, that got included on the ingredients list.  Now thinking about the tomato side of things, tomato puree and tomato ketchup were a given - both of which aide and abet the whole tomato thing that goes on with chilli con carne.  The tomato puree richens the flavour base and tomato ketchup adds that tasty mix of spicy flavours and subtle sweetness.  If you have never put either of them into your chilli con carne, I recommend you give it a go one day.

After that, it was just a simple matter of bolstering the chicken/turkey flavour combo by adding some of Essential Cuisine's yummy chicken stock powder.  A half a low salt stock cube would do at a pinch, or a teaspoonful of chicken bouillion powder - but be careful that the stock you use doesn't taste too much of the stock vegetables and not enough of chicken.  It's the savouriness of the chicken flavour that you're after here.

So having decided to use that lot, the original recipe didn't really bear much resemblance to its new and improved version.

However, do you see how easy it is sometimes, to take what appears to be a jolly good idea of a recipe, but one that might not deliver on flavour - and with a few thoughtful additions and/or changes, upgrade it to something special?  I sincerely hope that is what happens to recipes of mine that you find here.  I'd love it if you took the recipe and did something different with it - and everyone approved.  Let me know if you do, as I'm as open to suggestions as the next person!

The end result of the recipe below, is a richly tomato flavoured, interestingly spiced but not challengingly hot, tasty and satisfying weekday dinner.  We loved it.  I'd have been very happy to have had any leftovers for lunch the following day, but regrettably, we ate the lot.  I really liked the tortilla chip layer on top, with the melted cheese that held it together.  The heat from the chilli layer below stopped the cheese from setting up hard and everything went beautifully with everything else.

I served the Turkey Tortilla Bake with a small garden salad and some gorgeous home made guacamole.  Any excuse to have guacamole always goes down well with hubby and I.  I think any kind of salad would go well with the bake and if you were feeling carbilicious, you could even put some potato wedges with it for an extra fill up.

Remarkable as it may seem, I don't have any Cook's Tips for you with this one!  It really is simplicity itself to make, with very few areas where a novice cook might potentially trip up.


Ingredients :

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
500g turkey mince
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp paprika (unsmoked)
half a chipotle chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp chicken stock powder (or half a stock cube)
100g tinned sweetcorn
220g tinned red kidney beans 
lightly salted tortilla chips
150g mature cheddar cheese, grated (or to taste)
jalapeno chilli slices (if you like them!)
1 tbsp fresh chopped chives for garnish.

Method :

1.  In a deep flameproof casserole dish, cook the onions and garlic in the oil for 8 mins until soft. Stir in the mince and add a bit more oil, if needed. Turn up the heat and cook for 5-10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the mince is browned and just beginning to turn golden where it contacts with the pan.

2.  Stir in the cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle chilli and oregano.

3.  Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato ketchup, chicken stock powder and half a can of water, and simmer until the ingredients have combined nicely. Mix in the beans and sweetcorn, and bring to a lively simmer - stirring regularly - to reduce the liquid until the sauce is thick, piping hot and the mince is cooked.

4.  Heat the grill. Take the pan off the heat and quickly put the tortilla triangles randomly but evenly on top. Scatter over the cheese (and jalapeno slices if you like them) and grill for a few minutes until the tortillas are crisp, taking care that they don’t burn.

Sprinkle with a few chopped chives (which I didn't have, at the time) and serve.

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5 December 2014

Sticky Marmalade Chicken - the one that (almost) got away!

Now, this is a bit of a departure for me where blogging recipes is concerned.  Ordinarily, you see, I would get on with consigning a new recipe to paper almost as soon as I've put my knife and fork down.  However, I first cooked this dish quite literally years ago - when I was blogging on Multiply.  I cooked it again a few times over the years and in the meantime, started Rhubarb & Ginger.  However, when I came to look for the recipe in the Recipe Index, I was astounded to see that I hadn't included it here!

Thank goodness - because I can't remember where I found the original recipe - I still had a copy of all my Multiply pieces and was able to find the recipe.  I copied it over to Rhubarb & Ginger and then real life got in the way and I just didn't get around to blogging it properly.

So here I am fulfilling those good intentions of all those years ago - and getting on with it.  I think that really does take the biscuit for procrastination, but perhaps we should skip lightly over that.

Now because I've cooked the recipe several times, I have had the benefit of trying it with both salad and cooked vegetables.  I think - for all that the photographs are of the cooked vegetables version - my favourite version has to be the white rice and salad one.  The use of the marmalady sauce as a dressing through the salad (so note, not a lettucy salad as the sauce/dressing is warm and will wilt anything less robust than rocket, spinach or watercress far too quickly) is just such a satisfying thing.

This is one of those dishes that you think is going to taste one way - but then it turns out to taste completely different.  When imagining how it would taste, I forgot all about the garlic, chilli and thyme and the effect they would have.  Although, I do think that how it tastes depends entirely upon what marmalade you use.  If you go for a strongly flavoured, not so sweet one like the Oxford Vintage, then you'll wind up with a very strongly flavoured dish.  However, something like Golden Shred will give you a much sweeter end result that you may find requires a dash of lemon juice to add the required acidity and is perhaps better for a younger palate.  So in a way, you can tailor the results depending on what marmalade you use.  I reckon that Rose's Lime Marmalade would be awesome with a dash of lemon juice, lemon zest and a sprinkle of ground ginger - however, I haven't tried that thought yet!

Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed it - and its a 100% definite do-it-again.

If you decide to go with the rice version and want to be totally cheffy, you can make mounds of rice by lightly oiling the inside of a cup and packing the rice into it. Turn it upside down and bingo - cheffy mounds of rice!

The cooked vegetable version is good (and probably better, as we're in December and it's frosty outdoors!) however I'd stick with veggies that are compatible with Chinese style food.  Things such as broccoli, green beans, carrots, peas - you can dress them up however you like, maybe add some chilli to your broccoli or (as I have done in the photographs), sesame seeds and a little butter to your green beans.  However, be sure that your family enjoy citrus flavours with their potatoes!  Not everyone enjoys this combination, although I think it's the proverbial bees knees.

Something else to bear in mind (I suppose these are the Cook's tips!) is the size of the pieces of peel in the marmalade, in relation to everyone's preference.  My friend Marion, for instance, would need a marmalade that was totally bereft of "fishes", as she calls them.  For me, the bigger the pieces, the better! 

So there you are.  Do have a go at this one - it's taken for ever to get to you and it really didn't deserve it!


Ingredients :

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, each cut into 3 similar sized pieces
sea salt & black pepper
2-3 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp olive oil
300ml chicken stock
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
4 tbsp fine-cut well flavoured orange marmalade
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or half a tsp dried
juice of a quarter of a lemon, if necessary, to taste.

Method :

1.  Place the chicken into a bowl and add the seasoning and cornflour.  Toss the chicken until liberally coated.

2.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and when hot, add the chicken pieces.  Fry for 8-10 mins,  until golden on all sides.

3.  Reduce the heat, add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute more.

4.  Add the stock, marmalade and thyme.  Stir through until the marmalade has dissolved, then simmer for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  

5.  Remove the chicken and reserve to keep warm.

6.  Boil the mixture hard to reduce to a syrupy sauce, serve the chicken and pour the sauce over the chicken.

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