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Cover: Charlie's Chicken

March, 2012

30Mar 12

Roast Chicken and Cherry Tomato Sandwich

Roast Chicken and Cherry Tomato BaguetteThis very same sandwich reminds me of the time that we trogged down to the river by the old church with our little girl, a picnic hamper, a chequered blanket, and about 8 teddy bears all with rumbling tummies.  We packed the juice, the cava, and the cubes of home-made Spanish omelette which our daughter loves. In our pack we also carried little empty plastic pots, but in our daughter’s eyes, they were all full of honey for the bears.  We spread out the blanket under the shade of an old weeping willow, propped up the teddies and laid out the food.  It was right by the spot where we had walked a few years before on a Winter’s day, thinking about whether to buy the cottage.  It had snowed that day as we walked by the river, and no doubt the romance of the moment was part of our decision to move there.  But on this sunny Summer’s day, we filled the teddies’ tummies full of invisible honey, and we munched on roast chicken and cherry tomato sandwiches made just like this…

Ingredients:

  • A generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cumin seeds
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, each cut into 3 slices
  • 2/3 white baguette
  • 2 roast chicken legs, skin removed and pieces torn from the bone (saved from a previously roasted chicken)
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • Rocket leaves (Arugula)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Lay the cherry tomato slices on a small baking tray (I use a loaf tin), sprinkle on a pinch of salt, drizzle all over with olive oil and shake over the cumin seeds.  Roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Whilst the tomatoes are cooking, cut the baguette into thirds, and then cut two of these pieces in half for the sandwiches. You can store the remaining third for a different occasion.
  4. Fill the baguettes with the mayonnaise, the torn chicken leg meat, the oven roasted tomatoes, and top off with rocket.
  5. Enjoy straight away, or if you’re going to take them on your picnic, allow the tomatoes to cool before putting them in the baguette. Once the sandwiches are made, wrap them in tin foil and pop them in your hamper.  If it’s going to be a while before you eat them, and it’s a hot day, be sure to pack them in a cool bag.

Duration:10 minutes preparation time and 10 minutes cooking time (plus cooling time when appropriate)

Recipe for: 2 generously-filled baguette sandwiches

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29Mar 12

Yellow Thai Chicken Curry

Yellow Thai Chicken CurryThere are such good authentic curry pastes now that my original desire to create them from scratch has rather ebbed away over the years.  Yellow Thai chicken curry works really well with potatoes, and I use chicken thighs because they tend to be more succulent than chicken breast.  The result of all of the combined ingredients is colourful and aromatic.

Thai curriesred, green and yellow were traditionally made from similar ingredients but with each featuring its colour-corresponding chilli, and with each chilli providing different tastes and properties.  Over time the ingredients have evolved to further accentuate the colour aspect of the dishes.  The Indian spice turmeric helps to give yellow curry its beautiful golden colour.

Although coriander is more characteristic of Thai green chicken curry, I like to add it to my yellow curry too because quite simply, it adds colour, and is totally delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 10 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless and cut into chunks
  • 6 shallots (or 1 large onion) peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced lengthwise into fairly thin strips
  • 100g (1/4 tub) Cock Brand Yellow Thai curry paste
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 235ml chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into smallish chunks
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Steps:

  1. Heat the oil and fry the chicken in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat for 7-8 minutes, until the surface is golden brown all over.
  2. Add the shallots and the yellow pepper and continue to fry for 3-4 minutes on a medium heat, until softened.
  3. Add the curry powder and the yellow curry paste, stirring in well so that the chicken is coated in the paste.  Cook like this for a few minutes.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk, the chicken stock and the fish sauce, stir, and bring the mixture up to a very gentle boil.
  5. Add the potatoes, turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until the chicken and potatoes are thoroughly cooked and tender.  Stir the curry occasionally during cooking.
  6. Squeeze in the lime juice, stir in the sugar and the coriander, and serve with fragrant rice.

Duration: 45 minutes

Recipe for 5-6 people

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28Mar 12

Chicken Stir-Fry with Ginger and Cashew Nuts

Chicken Stir-Fry with Ginger and Cashew NutsI recommend using chicken thighs for my chicken stir-fry as this part of the fowl is generally tenderer than the breastStir-frys are renowned for being speedy to cook and healthy to eat.  As long as the vegetables are piping hot throughout, they taste great when they hold on to some of their crunchSesame oil adds a subtle nuttiness, and ginger gives a little zing to this recipe.

In this recipe, I recommend ginger and cashew nuts. However, there are a million flavour combinations. Another particular favourite of mine is a honey and garlic chicken stir-fry.

Ginger was first cultivated in South Asia.  It is used as a delicacy, a medicine and a spice, and is from the same plant family as cardamon, turmeric and galangalCashew nuts are a good source of protein and iron, amongst other nutrients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ pack of beansprouts
  • 200 ml chicken stock
  • Handful of cashew nuts, whole

Steps:

  1. Heat the oils on a high heat, in a wok if you have one, or in a large frying pan if not, and cook the chicken with the garlic until both are golden brown all over – around 5 to 7 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken.
  2. Throw in the yellow pepper and the ginger, and continue to fry for a few more minutes.
  3. Splash in the soy sauce, add the beansprouts and the chicken stock, and keep stir-frying over a medium to high heat for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Once you are sure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked and that the vegetables are piping hot throughout, sprinkle in the cashew nuts, cook for another minute then remove from the heat.
  5. Serve alongside rice or noodles.

Duration: Less than 30 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to cook

Recipe for: 2 people

Note: Remember that small children can have trouble swallowing nuts. When making this dish for them, cut the cashews into small pieces.

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23Mar 12

Hearty Chicken Soup

Hearty chicken soup

Maybe you roasted a chicken the day before and now you fancy a hearty soup?  This recipe makes perfect use of those roast chicken left-overs.  It’s simple to make and is a true winter warmer.  Winter celery adds a distinctive flavour to the dish.  Once you’ve cooked it a couple of times, you could create a variation if you fancy it by swapping the carrot for parsnip or butternut squash, or by swapping the fresh parsley for fresh coriander.  A chicken and corn chowder is also a tasty option. You don’t need to use a blender for this recipe either, just remember to chop the vegetables nice and fine and enjoy the texture of the torn chicken pieces. I often enjoy a glass of Guinness with my Hearty chicken soup for richness of flavour and relaxation.  Chicken is packed full of protein, and did you know that it’s also a good source of selenium?  Ladies and Gents, this is a simple chicken soup for the soul!

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 carrots, washed and chopped into little cubes
  • 3 medium celery sticks, washed and finely sliced
  • 60g butter
  • 30g plain flour
  • 1.2 litres chicken stock
  • 500g cooked, skinless chicken, hand torn into fairly fine shreds
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to taste

Steps:

  1. Take a large heavy-based saucepan and place on medium heat, adding the butter, onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add the flour to the pan, stir it in, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock and stirring the contents constantly, bring the liquid to the boil.  Reduce the heat, season with salt and black pepper and simmer the soup mixture for 10-12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Place the cooked chicken into the soup and continue to cook until the chicken is piping hot throughout.
  5. Sprinkle and stir in the parsley, and serve in bowls with baguette or hunks of granary bread on the side.

Recipe for: 4 people

Duration: 1 hour

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