Thursday, 7 December 2017

Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)

I absolutely love this dish. As regular readers will know, anything Spanish tends to be right up my street and this is no exception. I've had a craving for a paella for quite a while now and this is kind of a tomato-based version of that…

I decided to cook the chicken separately as I'm a sucker for crispy chicken skin and there's something about roasting chicken that's fairly impossible to beat. Aside from that, this is a very traditional recipe and the flavour is out of this world. Sweet caramelised onions and pepper, the familiarity of garlic, a kick of chilli and the briny hit of green olives mingle together beautifully with the tomatoes, paprika and comforting rice to create a stunning supper. To finish, I give it all a very generous seasoning and squeeze in the juice of a lemon to cut through everything and leave the palate feeling refreshed and wanting more.

Arroz Con Pollo (Chicken with Rice)
Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 red peppers, sliced lengthways
2 onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
75ml white wine
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
1 tsp paprika
250g short grain rice (Arborio or Spanish bomba)
100g green olives, roughly crushed and stone removed
½ lemon, juice only
Sea salt and ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.

Place the chicken in a bowl and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and a generous seasoning of sea salt, black pepper and the oregano. Roast in the preheated oven, skin side up, for around 45 minutes or until the skin is golden and crisp and the meat cooked through.

In the meantime, heat a casserole pan over a medium high heat and add the remaining oil. Fry the onions and peppers for 6-8 minutes until just tender. Stir through the garlic and chilli flakes and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes until aromatic.

Pour in the wine and simmer for 1-2 minutes before adding the tomatoes, chicken stock, paprika, rice and olives. Bring to a steady simmer, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. Depending on the rice you may need to top up with a little water if it gets too dry before the rice is cooked. Also ensure the rice doesn’t catch at the bottom of the pan by stirring every now and then.

Season the rice with the lemon juice, sea salt and ground black pepper and serve with the roasted chicken thighs.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Sensational South-East Asian Turkey Curry

'Tis the season... to eat turkey! This recipe combines everyone's favourite festive bird with a healthy, delicious curry which won't pile on the pounds before Christmas...

This wonderful curry is packed full of the best flavours from South-East Asia with garlic, ginger, chilli and lemongrass providing the basis for the sauce. What's more, there's plenty of creamy coconut milk and a generous amount of crunchy peanut butter to give it a real silky, indulgent texture (without the guilt!). Finally, the curry is finished off with the juice of a lime to cut through the richness and provide a vibrant finish on the palate.

Sensational South-East Asian Turkey Curry
Serves 4-6

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 small green chillies, finely chopped
2 medium red onions, finely chopped
4 fresh lemongrass stalks, bashed with a rolling pin or suitable blunt instrument!
2 x 400ml tins of coconut milk
2 heaped tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter
6 turkey steaks, diced
2 large handfuls of spinach
Sea salt or pink crystal salt
Juice of 1 lime

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger and lemongrass, along with a generous pinch of salt, in a good drizzle of oil until the onion is nice and soft.

Add the coconut milk, and stir in the peanut butter. Simmer for around 10 minutes until the sauce thickens and the flavour of the lemongrass is really starting to come through. Add the turkey breast and continue to simmer for at least 10 minutes to ensure the meat is fully cooked.

Add the spinach and stir the dish until the it wilts. Squeeze in the juice of the lime. Check the seasoning, then serve with rice or noodles.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Roast Parsnip and Mushroom Winter Salad

This is a really hearty, warm salad which is perfect for this time of year, especially as the recipe uses parsnips, mushrooms, walnuts and brazil nuts which are all at their best in winter.

The dressing is made from the delicious caramelised bits on the roasting tin along with sweet yet sharp balsamic vinegar, apple brandy (or juice, if you like) and a good drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil. The result is a gorgeous, syrupy, rich glaze that really brings this dish to life. This dish is great on its own (especially if you have veggies round for Christmas!) but it's also fantastic as a side for a good rump steak!

Roast Parsnip and Mushroom Winter Salad
Serves 4-6

600g parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
2 medium onions, cut into slim wedges
olive or rapeseed oil
250g mushrooms, roughly chopped
50g walnuts, chopped
50g brazil nuts, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g salad leaves
75ml brandy or calvados or cloudy apply juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, to finish

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.

Put the parsnip chunks and onion wedges into a large roasting tray (suitable for use on the hob). Add 2 tbsp of oil and some salt and pepper then stir well and roast for 30 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, nuts and garlic, stir well and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until all the veg are tender and nicely coloured, and the nuts are well browned.

Heap the salad leaves onto a large serving plate. Spoon the hot, roasted vegetables over the leaves (they'll start to wilt a little with the heat, which is exactly the idea).

Put the roasting tray over a low heat on the hob and pour in the brandy/calvados/apple juice. Let it simmer for a few minutes, using a spatula to stir and scrape up any little bits of caramelised veg from the base of the tray. When it's reduced by about half, take it off the heat. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, then immediately drizzle over the salad to glaze.

Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and serve straight away.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Roast Olives and a Chickpea Stew

So you may have noticed the blog posts have been few and far between as of late and, if I'm honest, that's because I've done an awful lot of eating out.... Well, that fact is starting to catch up with my waistline and with the indulgence of Christmas drawing ever closer, I am trying to eat a bit healthier in between the plethora of Christmas meals I have coming up. Luckily, cooking and eating healthy meals doesn't have to be boring or difficult! 

This recipe is not only full of fibre and protein but it's also very low in carbs and calories. The flavour has a very Mediterranean vibe, with rich tomatoes, salty olives, sweet caramelised onions, sharp lemon and smoky paprika. Most importantly though, it requires very little effort, very little washing up and it's bloody delicious!

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Roast Olives and a Chickpea Stew
Serves 2

olive oil 
½ tbsp smoked paprika 
4 free-range chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on 
handful of olives, drained and de-stoned
1 onion, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
400g tin plum tomatoes 
2 tsp sherry vinegar 
400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lemon, juice only
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 220°C/ fan 200°C/gas 7. Put 1 tbsp of the olive oil, the smoked paprika and the chicken into a bowl, season with salt and pepper and rub to coat. Put the thighs, skin-side up, in a roasting tin with the olives. Roast for 35-40 minutes until the skin is crispy and the meat cooked through. 

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan, then gently fry the onion and garlic for 10 minutes without colouring. Add the vinegar and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring throughout. Add the tomatoes, squishing them with a spatula/wooden spoon to break them up a bit, season well and cook until reduced a little. Add the chickpeas, cook for 5 minutes, then add the parsley and lemon juice. 

When the chicken is golden and crisp, spoon out a few tablespoons of the roasting pan juices into the chickpeas. Serve the chickpeas and olives alongside the chicken.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Pan-Fried Chicken with Garlicky Butterbean Mash, Roast Squash and Rosemary Breadcrumbs

As we head towards Christmas and the cold nights draw in, I really crave comfort food like roast dinners with mash and loads of lovely garlic. This dish is a result of that craving coupled with a need to watch the waistline before the indulgence of Christmas really kicks in...

Butterbean mash may not sound that exciting but, trust me, this stuff is creamy, garlicky heaven. Made with sweet caramelised onions, rich mascarpone and a hint of lemon, the flavour is out of this world. The roast squash cooks alongside whole cloves of garlic as well as plent of salt and pepper, bringing out both the sweet and savoury notes of the vegetable and getting those delicious charred edges that everyone loves.

Alongside I tend to just serve simple pan-fried chicken with a golden, slightly crisp exterior giving way to juicy meat on the inside. Finally, chunky breadcrumbs are scattered over the top with fried rosemary to boot. This feels like such a treat to eat but without any guilt - you have to give it go!

Pan-Fried Chicken with Garlicky Butterbean Mash, Roast Squash and Rosemary Breadcrumbs
Serves 4

1 large butternut squash or 2 small
Olive oil 
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves 
80g dried breadcrumbs 
2 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped 
3 onions, sliced 
3 x 400g tins butter beans 
4 chicken breasts
3 tbsp mascarpone 
Juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Cut the squash into wedges and deseed. Toss with olive oil in a large baking tray, add garlic, then roast for 40 minutes, turning once. 

Meanwhile, heat a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan. Fry the breadcrumbs and rosemary until golden, then tip into a bowl. Heat another glug of oil in the pan. Add the onions, season and fry until soft. Add the butter beans, drained. Add half a tin of water and bubble until it evaporates. 

Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken liberally on both sides then cook in the pan for around 8 minutes on each sides until golden and cooked through.

Once the garlic has had 30 minutes in the oven, remove it and squeeze the flesh into the beans. Whizz in a food processor with the mascarpone and the lemon juice until smooth. Taste and season, then serve with the chicken and squash wedges, scattered with the breadcrumbs.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Sesame Salmon, Crispy Purple Sprouting & Spicy Sweet Potato Smash

I love Asian flavours and they especially lend themselves to meals that are a little lighter and healthier, perfect for this run up to the indulgence of Christmas...

This is a delicious yet simple dish that can be knocked up in a matter of minutes. The fish and broccoli are baked in a marinade packed with flavour - salty soy sauce, nutty toasted sesame oil, fragrant garlic and ginger, as well as the sweetness of honey. The fish cooks gently until it literally flakes apart and the broccoli becomes charred and crispy around the edges. Then the sweet potato is steamed with fresh lime before being infused with more sesame oil and fiery red chilli. This is the perfect balance of flavours and textures - you have to give it a go!

Sesame Salmon, Crispy Purple Sprouting & Spicy Sweet Potato Mash
Serves 2

1 ½ tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp low-salt soy sauce
1 tsp dried ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp honey or maple syrup
2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 boneless salmon fillets
250g purple sprouting broccoli
1 red chilli, finely chopped

Heat oven to 200C/180 fan/ gas 6 and line a baking tray with parchment. Mix together 1/2 tbsp sesame oil, the soy, ginger, garlic and honey/syrup. Put the sweet potato wedges, skin and all, into a glass bowl with the lime wedges. Cover with cling film and microwave on high for 12-14 mins until completely soft.

Meanwhile, spread the broccoli and salmon out, skin side down, on the baking tray. Spoon over the marinade and season. Roast in the oven for 10-12 mins, until the fish is just cooked and the broccoli is slightly charred.

Remove the lime wedges and roughly mash the sweet potato using a fork. Mix in the remaining sesame oil, the chilli and some seasoning. Divide between plates, along with the salmon and broccoli.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Pearl Barley "Risotto" with Squash and Mushrooms

Autumn is well and truly here and with Halloween been and gone, I had a couple of squash and pumpkins in the fridge that needed jazzing up and eating ASAP. Aside from a big pan of my Sensational Squash and Cumin Soup, I made a take on 'risotto' with pearl barley instead of rice and plenty of seasonal mushrooms to boot.

There's something so comforting about the unctuous, creamy texture of risotto and when you add in the autumnal flavours of slightly caramelised squash and earthy mushrooms along with a back note of garlic and the saltiness of Parmesan, you're onto a real winner. This is great midweek as you just leave it in the pan to bubble away whilst you enjoy your evening.

Pearl Barley "Risotto" with Squash and Mushrooms
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g mixed mushrooms, wiped clean and finely sliced
200g squash, peeled and diced
250g pearl barley (or spelt)
½ tsp dried mixed herbs
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
25g Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra Parmesan to serve
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and black pepper
truffle oil (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Gently fry the onion and garlic for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and squash. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are collapsing down and the squash is starting to caramelise around the edges.

Add the barley or spelt, then the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Stir well then pour in the stock and bring it to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently, stirring regularly, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is tender. This should take around 20-30 minutes.

Beat in the Parmesan until the risotto is creamy then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper (and truffle oil, if you like). Serve with a scattering of parsley and more grated Parmesan over the top.