Monday, 11 May 2015

Roasted Chicken Breast with Pancetta, Leeks & Thyme

It doesn't happen often in our house that I get to have full control of what we have for dinner. Normally we are both in the kitchen at the same time helping each other with the cooking duties. However last week the girlfriend was at an event in the evening and the cooking was left in my hands.

I decided to search the internet for something simple yet tasty and came across a recipe from Jamie Oliver.


The recipe on Jamies site is for one so I just simply doubled it up.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Pancetta, Leeks & Thyme

Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts
2 - 3 Leeks (Chopped)
Thyme
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
White Wine
1 pack of Pancetta
Olive Oil

Method

Preheat oven to 200 / Gas Mark 6

1. Add the chopped Leeks to a bowl

2. Pour a good amount of Olive Oil in the bowl

3. Add the Salt, Pepper, and Thyme to the bowl

4. Pour a generous amount of White Wine in the bowl

5. Add the chicken and get stuck in with your hands mixing everything together

6. Put the chicken to one side and pour the contents of the bowl in to a foil layered tray

7. Wrap the chick in Pancetta

Roasted Chicken Breast with Pancetta, Leeks & Thyme

8. Place the wrapped chicken on top of the leeks and sprinkle with some more oil and thyme

9. Cook for about 30 minutes


We were both really pleased with the outcome of this dish. It was so simple and fast to prepare that we will be having this again. The result went down very well when the girlfriend returned home that night and maybe she will trust me more often to prepare dinner alone.



Roasted Chicken Breast with Pancetta, Leeks & Thyme







Tuesday, 4 November 2014

American Macaroni Cheese

I had been informed by my Girlfriend that the way I used to make Macaroni Cheese which involved cooking pasta and adding a block of cheese was not the way it should be made. So I decided to search for an American recipe and see how it would come out making it the real way.

The recipe I found was from Food.com but provided the ingredients in cup format, with the metric option to switch not being so clear either. I tested out my theory for converting and it all seemed to work out ok.

The below ingredients provided enough to feed 4 -5 people, especially if you are going to have some garlic bread on the side like we did.

Ingredients

500g Macaroni
30g Butter
2 Onions (chopped)
2 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
30g Flour
700ml Milk
½ teaspoon black pepper
360g Mature Cheddar Cheese (grated)




Method

Preheat oven to 180° / Gas mark 4

1. Cook the macaroni as the packet instructs and set to one side

2. Over a medium heat melt the butter in a saucepan

3. Add the onions and garlic to the butter and stir for a few minutes

4. Add the flour to the mixture and stir until all the flour has been mixed together

5. Pour all the milk in to the saucepan and continually stir until the mixture starts to thicken

6. A handful at a time add the cheese while still stirring, keep doing this until all the cheese has been added and has melted

7. Pour the sauce and macaroni in to an over proof dish

8. Cook for 30 minutes with no lid


While making this the girlfriend was concerned that the sauce was not thick enough before being placed in the oven, but after cooking for 30 minutes and then cooling down for 5 minutes while we waiting for the garlic bread it seemed to turn out great.

It was certainly a change from my usual method of making this dish, but I am happy to say this was just as delicious.


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Chicken and Chorizo Gumbo

Gumbo is a popular dish in the USA and I had never tried it before. So when my girlfriend suggested that we have it for dinner one night I thought sure why not, she normally picks tasty meals.

And I was not wrong to agree as it was so full of flavour and left me wanting more.

The below method is for cooking on a hob, but you can just as easily cook this in a slow cooker for 6-7 hours on a low setting.

Ingredients

1 Can of chopped tomatoes
50g Flour
75ml cooking oil
2 Onions (chopped)
2 Peppers (sliced)
500g Chicken breast (diced)
1 ring of Chorizo (sliced)
3 Garlic cloves (grated)
1 tablespoon Oregano
1 tablespoon Basil
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Cayan pepper
1 teaspoon Cajun spice
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Chilli flakes
1 teaspoon Pepper
1 litre Chicken Stock

Method

1. Mix the flour and the oil together in a pan to make a Roux

2. Add the chicken and chorizo to the roux and fry

3. Set the chicken and Chorizo to one side

4. Add all the spices to the pan and cook for a few minutes stirring constantly

5. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and allow to simmer for 10 minutes

6. Add the chicken and chorizo to the pan

7. Pour over the chicken stock and allow to simmer for 30 minutes

8. Serve with rice or couscous if you prefer


The above provided enough for the two of us to have dinner that night with left overs to have for lucnch the following day. Although I very nearly decided to have my lunch the same night because of how good it was.

If seafood is your thing then you can even add shrimp to this recipe, but we're not huge fans so left it out. Another addition that is essential to traditional Gumbo is Okra, but in the UK we found this really hard to find in the stores. Your best bet if you want to get some Okra though is to try your local corner shop.

 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Spicy Chickpea Curry

Sometimes your budget won't stretch as far as you want but you would still like to have a very nice meal. The Spicy Chickpea Curry is so yummy and definitely will not break the bank. If you did not want to have this as a vegetarian meal then you can always add meat, or substitute the chick peas for your choice of meat.

The other great thing about this recipe is that it is so quick and easy to prepare that it is perfect if you get home late and don't want to be cooking late in to the night.

Ingredients


1 Onion (chopped)
1 Garlic clove (grated)
½ teaspoon Cumin
¼ teaspoon Coriander
¼ teaspoon Turmeric
¼ teaspoon Chilli Powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can Chickpeas
5cm root ginger (grated)
Pinch of Garam Masala
Spinach (optional)
1 Vegetable stock cube




Method


1. Fry the onions in a little oil until soft then add the garlic

2. Add all the spices while stirring continuously

3. Pour in the tomatoes, chickpeas and spinach if using

4. Add the sugar

5. Break up and sprinkle the vegetable stock cube over the mixture and stir

6. Simmer for 20 minutes


7. Serve with your choice of rice or couscous






Such a quick and easy meal to make with plenty left over to take in for lunch the following day. I know when I took some in last time my colleagues were very jealous of the smell.



Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Eton Mess

The shops are full of big juicy strawberries at the moment and just in time as Wimbledon is coming up. But my favourite dessert to make with strawberries is Eton Mess.

The great thing about this recipe is in the name, 'mess' that you just have to get it all mixed together and then top it off with more strawberries.

Ingredients

1 heaped teaspoon of icing sugar
450g Strawberries (chopped)
1 pint Double Cream
2 large meringues

Method

1. Take half the strawberries and blend with the icing sugar to make a pureé

2. Whip the cream until thick

3. Break up the meringues and mix in to the cream

4. Add about 2 tablespoons of the pureé to the mixture to give a marble effect

5. Spoon some mixture in to a bowl / glass and top with strawberries and some more puree





If you are feeling fancy and want to add to the presentation, this dessert looks great served in a martini glass, or any other fancy glassware.


Meringues

I can always remember my mum making meringues when I was younger and they wouldn't last long before I'd eaten them all. So last weekend when we were out food shopping I noticed that the Strawberries are now looking nicer in both looks and price.

So dessert had been decided and it was to be the traditional English dessert of Eton Mess. I was simply going to buy meringues that were in a packet until I was overruled by my lover to make them from scratch instead.

To start with here is the recipe and method for making perfect meringues. The most troublesome part here would be the separating of the egg whites. Our first egg somehow the yolk became punctured so we had to start again. It was a high pressure moment when it came to the third egg and hoping that the same didn't happen with the first egg.

We recommend that you use a good glass bowl for whipping up the mixture, we have a Pyrex bowl.

Ingredients


175g Caster Sugar
3 Large egg whites

Method (pre-heat 150 / Gas Mark 2)


1. Separate the egg whites in to a good quality glass bowl

2. Beat the eggs until they thicken up and start to look foamy

3. Add the caster sugar bit by bit, while beating continuously

4. The mixture should eventually double in size and start to look glossy

5. Once mixture forms stiff peaks it is done. If you want to be brave you should be able to hold the bowl above your head and it won't move.

6. Line a baking tray with baking paper and dollop the mixture evenly

7. Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 140 (Gas Mark 1) for 1 hour

8. When done turn the oven off and leave in the oven to cool down








A tip to stop the meringues spreading out and becoming one big yummy meringue, is to use a lined muffin tray instead of a baking tray. This will help keep the dollops of mixture separate when in the oven. Now you can enjoy them on their own, or head on over to our Eton Mess recipe.



Monday, 9 June 2014

Chinese Takeaway Curry

I love having a Chinese takeaway, and without any hesitation I will always end up going with a Chicken Curry. I have had so many in my life I would say I can tell a good one from a bad.

So when I found out that you could get this delight at home with very little effort I was very eager to try it. So I got the Girlfriend to dig out all the required spices for me, while she got frustrated at my pronunciation of such spices as Cumin and Star Anise and we set about preparing this meal.

We decided to go with Chicken on this occasion, but it also works with other meat, or if you would like a vegetarian option substitute for tofu or a load of veg.

If you like Chinese takeaway and want to save money, then this recipe is a great option.

Ingredients

Chicken (cubed, or other meat / veg)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
400ml chicken stock (change dependent on meat selection / veg)
Dash of Soya sauce
Medium Onion (chopped)
1 clove of Garlic (grated)
2 heaped teaspoons of curry powder
½ teaspoon ground Ginger
½ teaspoon Chilli flakes
½ teaspoon Onion powder
1 Star Anise
Pinch ground Cumin
½ cup Peas

Method

Note: Before proceeding with making the sauce, ensure you have cooked your meat first.

1. Heat the butter until hot then add the Onions and fry for 3 - 4 minutes

2. Turn the heat down and add the Garlic and Chilli flakes

3. Add all the spices and flour

4. Cook over a gentle heat stirring the whole time for about 1 minute

5. Pour over the Chicken stock

6. Add the Soya sauce, Peas and chosen meat / veg.

7. Stir well and leave over a medium heat for 12 - 15 minutes stirring regularly


The above recipe is good to serve 2 people, but we often like to double up so that we can have left overs for lunch the following day