Fennel and Chicken Soup

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A fabulous combination! And a great way to use up left over chicken…oh and one of my very favourite vegetables!

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Ingredients

1 fennel bulb – trimmed and cut roughly into 3 or 4 chunks.

1 tulip shallot – or a small onion if not available

1 litre of chicken stock

A pinch of saffron

A pinch or two of smoked paprika

A clove of garlic crushed

About 100 gm left over chicken meat – no skin

A little olive oil

50 gm unsalted butter

50 ml milk – optional

METHOD

Pop the fennel chunks in a food processor with the shallot and whizz until well shredded. Heat the oil and butter in a pan and when warm add the fennel and onion. Pan fry gently for about ten minutes until the fennel becomes soft. 

Add the garlic. Stir for another minute or two. Pour in the chicken stock and add the saffron and paprika.  

Put a lid on and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Pop the chicken in the food processor and whizz until broken down. Add to the soup. 

Simmer for a further 15 minutes with the lid off.

You could now add the milk – or cream if you want to be remarkably indulgent (!)  – and simmer for another minute – then remove from the heat , and blend down gently with a stick blender.

Serve with warm crusty bread!

I promise you, this is full of fabulous flavours!

 

 

Chicken with peppers

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Pollo con peperoni – chicken at its most supreme

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Supper last night and I was in the mood for chicken…and for pasta…and I had some cream left over and a red pepper…so it had to be this dish…simple and such a refreshing change.

INGREDIENTS

400gm chicken fillet cut into strips

1 large red pepper deseeded and cut into strips

100 ml olive oil

2 small red onions peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic peels and finely chopped

Teaspoon of dried red chillies

100 ml white wine

Salt and black pepper

8 cherry tomatoes quartered

Small bunch of flat leaf parsley finely chopped

150 ml soured cream – single would be fine too

METHOD

Heat half the oil in a large deep pan – a non stick wok with a lid would be dandy – or a stainless steel casserole pan. Add the onion and fry gently over a lowish heat for about 5 minutes until soft. Remove from pan into a bowl and put to one side.

Add the remaining oil – add the chicken – raise the heat to medium and brown the chicken for around 6-8 minutes.

Return the onion to the pan with the garlic and the dried chilli.

Pour in the wine and let it reduce by half. Add the red pepper slices.

Season with salt and black pepper. After 4 minutes stir in the tomatoes. 

Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for around 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Remove the lid and stir in the cream. Add the chopped parsley and after a minute or so – serve with pasta.

A colourful southern Italian dish with more flavours than you could imagine.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Cannellini and Chorizo One Pot

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This is a perfect mid week supper – simple and satisfying with sufficient zing to warm up your engine!

 

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INGREDIENTS for 4

2 tbsp olive oil
500g chicken breast cut into chunks
4 shallots, sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
Splash red wine
275g chorizo, thinly sliced
1 x 400g  can chopped tomatoes
200ml  chicken stock
1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful chopped fresh coriander
Crusty bread or a good warm flat bread, to serve

METHOD

  1. Heat half of the  oil in a large pan. Add the chicken, grind over some black pepper, and fry, turning frequently, until lightly browned all over. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  2.  Add a little more oil to the pan, then fry the chorizo until crispy, add to the warming plate with the chicken.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, celery and chilli and cook for five minutes in the juices left over. Add a splash of red wine and simmer until reduced by half.
  4. Add the can of chopped tomatoes to the pan with the vegetables, stir and bring to the boil. Cook for five minutes, then add the stock and bring back to the boil.
  5. Add the browned chicken, the cannellini beans and the crisp chorizo and half the chopped coriander – simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through –  no lid. Season, to taste, with a tiny bit of salt if needed and a little more ground black pepper.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining chopped coriander and serve with crusty bread.

This went down well last night and was hoovered up very happily by the family.

 

 

Simple Sunday pleasures…

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Nothing fancy today – just good honest fresh ingredients. An organic chicken stuffed with a quartered lime, coriander, spring onions chopped and a knob of butter – placed on a bed of thinly sliced shallots and olive oil. The breast and legs smeared with a Thai red curry paste called Gang Ped and popped in a preheated oven at 220c for 30 minutes then reduced to 180 for another 30 minutes. The paste produces a succulent, slightly smoky jus that is fabulous poured over the veg and meat at the end.

I saved it with roast potato and sweet potato chips and steamed buttered kale that had a waft or two of black pepper and sea salt over it.

That was it – and it was good.

Chicken in Mascarpone Sauce…

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Petti di Pollo con Salsa al Mascarpone

This is a supper dish that is satisfying on so many levels – its sheer simplicity, its warmth of flavours, its alluring aroma and its rich autumnal colours.

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For 6

1 onion peeled and chopped roughly

6 tbsps chilli oil

2 x 400gm tins of tomatoes

1tsp salt 

1tsp sugar

250 gm mascarpone cheese

About 10 basil leaves roughly torn

A boneless chicken breast with skin on, or thigh, skin on and boned, per person

Preheat your oven to 180c. In a medium saucepan, fry the onion for 5 minutes in 4 tbsps of the chilli oil. Pour in the tomatoes with the salt and the sugar, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes with the lid off then 10 minutes with the lid off. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Take the saucepan off the heat and pouter into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the mascarpone and the basil leaves. Season the chicken pieces with salt and black pepper. Heat the remaining oil in a large sauté pan or frying pan and fry the chicken on a highish heat on both sides – skin side first – until golden brown. Pour the sauce into an oven proof dish and then arrange the chicken pieces on top. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes. I served it with tiny roasted apache potatoes in olive oil, rosemary and rock salt with steamed purple broccoli on the side.

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This is another one of the mighty Gino’s recipes and I have merely adapted it a tad. I really, really enjoyed cooking it and those round my table who ate it said it was a terrific new flavour to revel in. Make it soon! P.S. I have a really good recipe coming soon for any left over sauce!

Pollo all’aceto balsamico…

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Chicken with Lardons, Garlic, Thyme and Balsamic Vinegar

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I saw this being cooked on a fabulous t.v. programme by the Italian cook, Gino D’acampo and knew instantly that I had to give it a go. It is simple and the flavours are beyond mere words doing them any justice! I cooked it last Friday, starting at 6.30 pm and we sat down to eat at 8.15pm  – perfect. You could use pancetta instead of lardons. The original recipe calls for asparagus in the salad but it is out of season now, so I went for two greens that complimented each other harmoniously.

For 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
4 chicken drumsticks, bone in and skin on  I just went for the thighs but if you are hungry…do both!
200g smoked lardons, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
A few fresh thyme sprigs
150ml white wine
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the salad

100 gm of young purple sprouting broccoli
100 gm of sliced green beans

200g cherry tomatoes, quartered
A few fresh flat leaf parsley leaves – I used fresh basil leaves instead as I had no parsley!
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with a lid or a casserole dish. Put the chicken pieces in the pan skin-side down and fry for 5–7 minutes until the skin is golden brown and really crispy. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the chicken over, season the skin and add the pancetta. Cook for a minute before adding the garlic and thyme. The lardons should be almost crispy when done.

Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up all the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the alcohol to bubble for a minute, then add the stock. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour, adding more stock if the contents of the pan become dry.

While the chicken is cooking, par boil the beans for 6 minutes and remove from pan and drain – pop the broccoli into boiling water for just about 4 minutes until the stems are al dente – so you can just pierce them with a knife. Drain these too. Rinse beans and broc in cold water. Leave to one side – 20 minutes before the chicken is ready pop the broccoli, beans, tomatoes, basil leaves, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil into a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper then toss everything together. Leave to stand.

When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the heat – the sauce should have reduced and thickened. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, return the pan to the heat for 1 minute to warm the sauce, then serve the chicken and sauce with the scrumptious salad.

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This is simply….fantastico! A dish with a wow factor – the salad is such a marvellous change from usual chicken accompaniments and the delectability of the sauce in the chicken dish is remarkable.

Buon appetito!

Simple Early Summer Sunday Roast…

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Simple Early Summer Sunday Roast...

Hey! No frills here. Nothing fancy. Just blending good quality ingredients that capture early summer sun whilst clinging onto typical English Sunday roast values. First, take a really well sourced organic chicken – stuff it with 6 or 7 garlic cloves, half a lemon and a fair drizzling of olive oil. Rub the skin with oil, then sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and dried crushed chilli seeds.
Then finish off with a swirl or two of balsamic vinegar. Pop in a preheated oven at 220c for 20 minutes. Then turn down to 190c for a further 40 minutes. Boil about 4 or 5 new potatoes halved per person for last twenty minutes of chicken time. Arrange on a large platter a mix to your taste of salad greens plus 12 tasty baby tomatoes halved. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a dash of sea salt. Once the chicken is ready, take the meat off the breast and the legs and arrange on the platter. I also made my own sage stuffing balls, and added them once they had cooled a little. Add another swirl of olive oil, and serve with the jus from the chicken.

This is such a wonderfully tasty Sunday dish, that dispenses with the usual heaviness of an English Sunday roast, and feels light, summery and full of promise. Easy, adaptable and fun.

Oh, and simple!

Chicken Pepper Wrap with Cumin Crisps

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Chicken Pepper Wrap with Cumin Crisps

Speedy supper tonight. 4 left over chicken thighs, cut into thin strips, 3 red pepper halves that had been marinated the previous day with olive oil, garlic, baby tomatoes and basil for a light lunch and had been thankfully left over – cut into strips too and pan fried with two spring onions sliced thinly. Once they had attained a sparkly, gleaming brightness, I pushed them to one side of the pan and added the chicken and pan fried it until it was browning a little. I then stirred it all together and added some fresh coriander. This was now in a state of extreme bliss.

5 or 6 Majorcan new potatoes were sliced thinly – not peeled – and pan fried in hot olive oil with a generous sprinkling of cumin and rock salt.

Just as the chicken was about to be served I ground over some lemon thyme salt. I added a portion of the chicken pepper mix to a wrap, plus some of the fabulous juices along with a few baby salad leaves and some cumin crisps on the side.

Instant satisfaction.

P.S. Dear Mr Jagger – if you still cannot get any of the aforementioned abstract noun – please try these wraps.

A fab fajitas for a wet Wednesday….

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A fab fajitas for a wet Wednesday....

The day began well…pink sun rise, apple soft clouds..then around 2pm the heavens opened and a gentle melancholia set in…could the summer really have fled? Is this the beginning of autumn? Chills ran down my spine for the first time since March…I have already begun dreaming about next summer and where to escape to. Enough! Time to make a culinary mental gear shift…stop with the salads and the ozone infused paellas…time to get the autumnal hard hat on and make with the dishes that will sustain us through until the time when we can emerge from the English winter and sally forth to heat laden lands. But for the time being – let’s start thinking end of summer fare. And this simple supper dish this evening was just right for the frame of mind I found myself in. Memories of the dying summer, coupled with the heat and smoke of the on coming solstice fires.

And it felt healthy too.

Ingredients

4 chicken fillets cut into strips
For the marinade – a tbsp of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, dried thyme and a dash of hot smoky paprika, a little rock salt

A quarter of an iceberg lettuce shredded finely
4 spring onions chopped finely
12 baby plum tomatoes halved
Quarter of a cucumber finely chopped
Red or green jalapeños
4 slices of parma ham
4 tortilla wraps
Olive oil

Pop all the marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl and then add the chicken pieces – coat in the wonderfully unctuous sauce and leave for around 30 minutes to an hour.
Mix the shredded lettuce in a bowl with the spring onions, cucumber and tomatoes.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a wok or large frying pan – add the chicken fillets once the oil is hot and sizzle for a good 10 minutes until cooked. 

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Add the slices of parma ham, whole to the pan, gently. Let them just start to crisp.

Warm the tortillas in a small frying pan and pop one on each plate. Share out the salad mic between each wrap – then add the chicken and top with the parma ham. I then added several slices of red jalapeños because I like the heat….serve open with a range of sauces and chutneys.

This is so simple and yet so mouth-fillingly sumptuous.

And as always, you can play with it how you will…adding other ingredients that are lolling around the fridge or cupboard – be creative!

Old favourite zinged up….

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Old favourite zinged up....

Having been away for so long over the summer, I tend to revisit old favourites for supper in the first few weeks – dishes I have missed. So, tonight it was chicken thighs with lemon – but this time I slit each thigh and inserted several slithers of gorgeous garlic. Then I rubbed them all over with lemon juice and then a dash of olive oil before finishing off with sprinkles of dried red chilli flakes. Into the oven on 200c for 40 minutes whilst I prepared some home made chips. I accompanied this with the jus from the chicken – stunning flavours – plus some sexily smooth spinach wilted in hot butter in a wok with rock salt and black pepper.

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It was good – very good – and reminded me how simple dishes are usually the best. Just remember to baste the chicken thighs once during coking and do not add use too much olive oil. I par boiled my chips first for 5 minutes, then popped them in a tray of preheated vegetable oil for 40 minutes too. And several glasses of Pinotage were happy companions. A great end to a fabulous sunny day in our garden. Oh…and I managed to find time to pick another kilo of blackberries…… so more crumble tomorrow!

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