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Cover: Charlie's Chicken

May, 2012

26May 12

Brandied Chicken Liver Paté

Brandied Chicken Liver PatéAh, good old chicken liver paté, a taste from childhood that I’ve only recently rediscovered.  It was only yesterday, in fact, when my daughter and I went over to a friend’s house to play after school.  She and her buddy drank juice, drew great big pictures on a large sheet of paper in green and yellow, and then watched a movie.  And us two mums spread brandied chicken liver paté onto warm slices of wholemeal pitta bread and sipped on a small glass of good red wine in the kitchen, all the while chatting over life, the universe and everything.  An evening very well spent in good company.

You can do a lot with paté. Try this recipe for a multicultural sarnie called a banh mi, using paté as its main ingredient.

There are plenty of great shop-bought patés, but it’s very rewarding making it at home too, so here’s the recipe of the one my friend and I enjoyed yesterday, for you to try.

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 250g butter + 60g melted
  • 500g chicken livers
  • 4 slices of bacon, rind removed and chopped
  • A couple of pinches of dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 30ml brandy
  • 60ml cream
  • Fresh ground black pepper to season

For the topping:

  • 120g melted butter
  • A handful of scissor-cut chives

Steps:

  1. Using a large heavy-based saucepan, first melt the butter.  Then add the onion, bacon and garlic; coating everything in the butter and sautéing until the bacon is golden and the onion is softened.
  2. Toss in the chicken livers and fry them, moving them about occasionally, for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the herbs, grind over with plenty of pepper, then stir in the brandy, cream and melted butter.
  4. Put the mixture into a blender or food processor and whizz until you obtain a smooth consistency.
  5. Turn the mixture out into a serving dish, or dishes.
  6. To create the topping, simply pour the melted butter over the surface of the paté and then sprinkle over with the snipped chives.
  7. Put the paté in the fridge to cool overnight, removing it from the fridge about half an hour before you are ready to serve it, so that it comes up to room temperature.
  8. Wonderful served with hot, toasted and sliced wholemeal pitta bread.

Duration: 30 minutes to prepare, 30 minutes to cook

Recipe for: 8 servings

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24May 12

Chicken Risotto with Green Peas

Chicken Risotto with Green PeasRisottos are a filling and healthy food to prepare on a budget.  Chicken risotto with green peas is a refreshing blend of spring vegetables, chicken and lemon. (I also recommend this mushroom risotto.)

Ingredients:

  • 600g risotto rice
  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A generous splash or two of Martini, or white wine
  • 6 chicken breasts sliced into diagonal strips about 1.5cm wide, skin removed
  • 1.5L prepared, hot chicken stock
  • 300g peas
  • 300g courgettes, halved then sliced into long, thin strands – or however you prefer them
  • 2-3 tbsp crème fraiche or double cream
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • A generous twist or two of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to season

Steps:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan.  Sauté the onions and courgettes until soft.  Add the minced garlic and the chicken pieces; fry until the chicken is well-browned on all sides and about 2/3 cooked throughout.
  2. Add the rice to the pan, coat it all over with the oil and juices and fry for a couple of minutes.  Splash in the Martini, turn the pan down to a simmer and reduce away all of the Martini.
  3. Spoon in a ladle or two of the hot chicken stock.  Stir it in and with the pan uncovered, simmer the rice until the stock is absorbed.  Continue to add ladlefuls of stock in this way until the rice is fully cooked.  Stir the contents of the pan regularly.  Some of the chicken will fall apart in the cooking process, but this is normal and just contributes to the texture of the dish.
  4. Use your judgement to gauge when the rice is around 10 minutes from being cooked, adding in the peas at this point, and stirring everything together.
  5. Once the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat, season the pan well with salt and pepper, spoon in and combine the crème fraiche, twist over the lemon, and sprinkle over with half of the coriander and all of the parsley.
  6. Serve into pretty bowls and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Duration: 30 minutes to prepare, 40-60 minutes to cook

Recipe for: 6 servings

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19May 12

Roast Chicken Legs with Home-Made Chilli Chips

Roast Chicken Leg and Home Made Chips CollageChicken and chips: a good old British classic, right?  But these are home-made chips, and you’ll eat them fresh, hot, crispy and spicy.  And that’s a real treat!  Roasting chicken always fills the house with a homely, cosy smell; and chips have to be near the top of the list of the ultimate comfort foods – go on, admit it!

Roast chicken legs and home-made chilli chips is a good Sunday roast alternative to throw in to the mix of home cooking once in a while.  Children will love it, though you may want to leave out the chilli powder for them; just pop some chips in a separate bowl before adding the spice.  Sure, those chips are full of calories, but if you enjoy them occasionally and don’t get tempted to make them every other day, that’s fine isn’t it?! (Also, try these lemon and parsley chicken with chips which aren’t as spicy.)

Ingredients:

  • 4 large chicken legs on the bone, with skins on
  • 2 pinches of ground cumin
  • 2 pinches of rock salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 large potatoes
  • Bottle of olive oil
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Lay the chicken thighs on a baking tray, skin side up, and season with the ground cumin, salt and ground black pepper.  Roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken legs.  Check that the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer before serving, and if necessary, return the chicken to the oven.
  3. Whilst the chicken is roasting, wash, peel and cut the potatoes into long, thin chip shapes. Fill a deep frying pan halfway with olive oil (enough to entirely cover the chips).  Bring the oil up to a very high heat, and when the oil begins to bubble, gently lower in all of the potatoes and fry them until they are crispy and golden brown.  This will take between about 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the size of the chips, how crispy you enjoy them and the size of the pan. If the pan is small, you may need to cook the chips in a couple of batches.  Remember never to leave hot oil unattended.
  4. Once cooked, lift the chips out of the pan with a slotted utensil and drain them on kitchen paper in a large bowl.  Sprinkle over the chilli pepper and the cumin seeds to your taste, and season well with salt.

Try serving the chicken and the chips together with a mixed side salad and a great big blob of lemon mayonnaise.

Duration: 15 minutes preparation, around 45 minutes cooking time.

Recipe for: 4 people

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11May 12

Chicken and Avocado Baguette with Pesto Mayonnaise

Chicken and Avocado BaguetteHere’s a delicious sandwich to enjoy at home or out on a picnicChicken and avocado baguette with pesto mayonnaise makes for a simple lunch bursting with flavour.  Chicken is full of protein and is relatively low in fat.  If you are looking for an overall low-fat option, substitute your mayonnaise for a low-calorie version and either leave out the olive oil altogether, or use very little.

Avocado is said to be one of the human super foods.  It contains many different types of nutrients, including potassium, fibre, folic acid, B-vitamins and vitamins E, C and K, amongst other things.  There are more than 80 varieties of avocado, and it is also known as the alligator pear because of the texture of the variety called Haas, which can be used to make baked avocados.  Some avocados have a really smooth skin though, like the Florida variety.

It has been scientifically proven that the antioxidants beta-carotene and lycopene are more effectively absorbed with the help of the monounsaturated fat that is abundant in the avocado.

Ingredients:

  • White baguette
  • 2 chicken breasts (from a previously roasted chicken), sliced through the middle lengthwise
  • 1 avocado, skin and stone removed, and cut into 1 cm slices
  • 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 tsp pesto
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • A few fresh basil leaves

Steps:

  1. Cut the baguette into quarters and slit open with a sharp knife.
  2. Mix the mayonnaise with the pesto in a bowl.
  3. Open up the baguette pieces and drizzle a little olive oil over both inner sides.
  4. Spread the pesto mayonnaise generously onto both inner sides of the baguette.
  5. Fill with the sliced chicken breasts and top with the avocado, finishing off with a twist of black pepper and a few basil leaves.
  6. Enjoy your baguettes straight away or wrap them in tin foil and take them with you on a picnic.  Don’t forget to keep them in a cool bag whilst you’re travelling or walking before you sit down to eat them.

Duration: 10 minutes to prepare. No cooking time.

Recipe for: 4

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08May 12

Chicken Fricassee

Chicken Fricassee 

Chicken fricassee is a bright and colourful dish which combines the meat with a mix of vegetables which are roasted together in a stock.

You can thicken the sauce into a white gravy at the end of the roasting time with cream if you wish, but here is the light version for you.  It’s a great meal for a Sunday to share with family or friends.  Enjoy it with a light and fruity red wine, or a crisp dry, herby white. (For a vegetarian version, try this lentil fricassee.)

Ingredients:

  • 4kg chicken pieces; breasts and legs, skins on, boned
  • 6 cloves garlic whole and with skins left on
  • 90ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 225g shallots, with skins left on and cut into halves
  • 300g courgettes, cut in half lengthwise and then into chunky strips
  • 200g cauliflower, cubed
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into medium-size rounds
  • 900ml chicken stock
  • 10 whole mixed colour peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Salt flakes and fresh ground pepper to season

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. In a large heavy-based frying pan, heat half of the oil on a medium to high heat, and brown the chicken pieces all over as you seal in the juices.  This only takes a few minutes on each side, until the chicken is golden brown.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and put the chicken in a large roasting tray, along with the rosemary, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves.
  4. Now return the frying pan to the heat, add the remaining oil and sauté the chopped vegetables until golden brown on all sides.  Mix them in with the chicken on the roasting tray.
  5. Back to the frying pan now!  Give it a little wipe with a piece of kitchen paper to remove any browned pieces of meat and vegetables, and then pour in the chicken stock.  Bring the liquid up to the boil, season it with salt and pepper and pour it over the chicken and vegetables in the roasting tray.
  6. Roast the fricassee in the oven for between 40 minutes and an hour, or until all of the chicken pieces are cooked throughout.

Duration: 25 minutes to prepare, 40 – 60 minutes to cook

Recipe for: 6 people

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03May 12

Warm Chicken Salad with Garlic and Tomato Bread

Warm Chicken Salad with Garlic & Tomato BreadThis recipe assumes that you have already roasted your chicken (try this spiced roast chicken recipe) and are ready to make up the salad, and the garlic & tomato bread. Sometimes, if I’m pushed for time, I cook the tomato and garlic mixture in the microwave for a few minutes – this is one of the very few times you’ll ever hear a microwave go ping in my house, in fact!

We eat warm chicken salad with garlic & tomato bread at home straight after roasting the chicken: removing the breasts and the wings to use, then storing the legs in the fridge to eat the next day, and the carcass to make a stock.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, roasted, skin removed and sliced into thick diagonal strips
  • 2 chicken wings, roasted with skin left on
  • ½ an iceberg lettuce, washed and cut into large or fine shreds
  • 1 avocado pear
  • 1 wild cucumber or ½ standard cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • Olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar to dress
  • 1 tbsp green pesto
  • 2-3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 wholemeal baguette
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Pinch of cumin powder
  • A very generous slug of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

Steps:

  1. Towards the end of your chicken roasting and resting time, make the garlic and tomato bread.  Cut the tomatoes into small cubes and soften them on a medium heat in a saucepan, along with a little oil, the garlic, the fresh and ground cumin and some salt and pepper to season.  (If I do this stage in the microwave, I don’t add any of the olive oil until the very end when the mixture is soft and cooked.  The benefits of adding the oil at the end are significant; you don’t degrade the oil so it remains vibrantly full of nutrients.)  Softening the tomatoes on the hob will take between 5-10 minutes.  Once soft, mash them with a fork, slug and stir in a good amount of olive oil and leave in the pan to rest.
  2. Cut the baguette in half lengthwise and grill it or pop it in the toaster until crisp.
  3. Stir the pesto and mayonnaise together in a bowl.
  4. When ready to serve, arrange the chicken, the lettuce and cucumber on plates.  Add the dry, toasted baguette to the plate and spoon over with the tomato and oil mixture, being very generous with how much you add.  Add a dollop of your pesto mayonnaise to the side of the plate, and drizzle the entire dish with a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Duration: 20 minutes to prepare (with ready-cooked chicken)

Recipe for: 2 people

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