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09Jul 12

Hot and Zingy Chicken and Rice

Hot and Zingy Chicken and Rice
Here’s a one pot Chinese chicken dish that’s fast to prepare and is full of wonderful oriental flavours. It’s a great mid-week meal which is simply yet beautifully presented; with finely sliced spring onion and plenty of coriander sprinkled over hot and zingy chicken and rice. Sometimes I substitute the ginger for fresh, finely sliced lemongrass to give this dish more of a Thai twist. It is one of our staple recipes that comes out every couple of months.

We had the family over to stay this weekend, and we cooked this dish because it is so tasty, and you can prepare it quickly in the kitchen; leaving more time to catch up with loved ones that you haven’t seen for a while. It was the first time my husband’s parents made the 4 hour drive to come and stay under our roof, and a special time was had by all.  For another spicy chicken dish, try this chicken tikka masala.

Hot and Zingy Chicken and Rice
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Here’s a one pot Chinese chicken dish that’s fast to prepare and is full of wonderful oriental flavours.
Ingredients
  • 1.5L hot chicken stock
  • 2 long green chillies, finely sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 12 thin slices of fresh ginger root
  • 600g jasmine rice
  • 8 chicken thigh fillets
  • 8 spring onions, finely chopped or cut into long shreds
  • 2 handfuls fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Soy Sauce to serve
Instructions
  1. Pour the stock into a deep-sided frying pan.
  2. Add the chilli, garlic and ginger and bring the stock up to the boil.
  3. Add the rice, stirring once to separate it out evenly in the pan.
  4. Bring the stock back up to the boil and then add the chicken thighs.
  5. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for around 20 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and tender; and the stock has been absorbed into the rice.
  6. Sprinkle over the coriander and the finely sliced spring onions; spoon into bowls and serve with soy sauce.
  7. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

 

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03Jul 12

Chestnut Spaghetti with Chicken Livers

Chestnut Spaghetti with chicken liversFresh ribbons of pasta topped off with soft livers, and plenty of crunch; chestnut spaghetti with chicken livers is an unusually satisfying dish.

Let’s face it; chicken livers are not everybody’s favourite; perhaps they’re one of those things, like Marmite, that you either love or hate! If you’re one of the lovers, you’ll enjoy the combination of the soft livers with the crunch of the chestnuts in this dish. If you’re still not convinced, well, what’s the harm in giving it a try? You might just enjoy it, and livers are packed with nutrients, you know.

If livers really don’t float your boat, you could make this prawn and courgette tagliatelle instead. I recommend fresh pasta for this meal; or for the deeply committed pasta lover, you may want to make it yourself for the most delicate of textures and the best of tastes.

Chestnut Spaghetti with Chicken Livers
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
 
Fresh ribbons of pasta topped off with soft livers, and plenty of crunch; chestnut spaghetti with chicken livers is an unusually satisfying dish.
Ingredients
  • 250g fresh chicken livers, each chopped in half
  • 300g fresh spaghetti
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 120ml chicken stock, hot
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced or minced
  • 100g chestnuts, cooked and peeled
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • Crème fraiche to serve
  • Olive oil to drizzle when serving
  • Parmesan shavings to serve
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to season
Instructions
  1. Heat the white wine and chicken stock together in a saucepan, reducing the liquid to about one third.
  2. Melt half of the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan, turning it up to medium-high. Sprinkle salt generously over the chicken livers and flash-fry them in the butter for 1-2 minutes, browning them all over but so that they remain pink in the centres. Then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put to one side.
  3. Now, with the heat turned down a bit, melt the rest of the butter, combine it with the oil in the pan and cook the onions for 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften.
  4. Add the chestnuts and the garlic to the frying pan and fry on until the onions are translucent, at which point add the reduced wine stock. Return the livers to the pan, season well with salt and pepper and stir everything together, including the crème fraiche.
  5. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti for 3-4 minutes until soft.
  6. Stir the flat-leaf parsley into the livers. Serve the pasta with the chicken livers on top, a drizzle of oil and some Parmesan shavings.

 

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25Jun 12

Chicken and Pesto Tart

Chicken and Pesto Tart
Here’s a really lovely midweek meal to put together in no time and leave cooking whilst you relax or get on with other things. Chicken and pesto are always a wonderful combination. Sometimes I make this chicken and pesto open tart with green pesto, as in this recipe – but I also like to vary it with red pesto or aubergine and olive pesto when I can find it.

Another nice variation is to throw over a few walnuts or almond pieces 10 minutes from the end of the cooking time to add a little crunch.

We had friends over at the weekend who are about to go abroad to their homeland to get married (exciting times), and we served up this chicken and pesto open tart and tucked into it together, accompanied by a glass of sparkling white wine – now that we are getting into the warmer season. The tart is also really nice served with this lamb’s lettuce salad with serrano ham and apricots.

Chicken and Pesto Tart
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Here’s a really lovely tart to put together in no time and leave cooking whilst you relax or get on with other things.
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry, defrosted
  • 4 tbsp green or red pesto
  • A little beaten egg or milk for the glaze
  • 225g chicken, skin and boneless, cut into thin strips
  • 60g frozen spinach leaves, thawed
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to season
  • Fresh basil leaves to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. Open out the ready rolled pastry flat onto a baking tray.
  3. Put the chicken pieces into a mixing bowl, spoon in the pesto and stir them together, coating all of the chicken. Spoon the chicken out onto the pastry, leaving a 2.5cm border filling free around each edge.
  4. Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves and arrange them on top of the chicken, with the cut side up.
  5. Arrange the spinach leaves around the tomatoes.
  6. Turn the pastry edges up and press the corners together to create a border casing for the tart.
  7. Beat the egg in a little bowl and brush it around the pastry border.
  8. Bake in the oven for around 20-30 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the pastry is nicely risen and golden brown.

 

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01Jun 12

Lemon and Sesame Chicken Breasts

Lemon and Sesame Chicken BreastsLemon and sesame chicken breasts – a lovely recipe for the height of spring; with plenty of refreshing lemon juice in the sauce.

Lemons are very rich in vitamin C, but did you know that they also contain potassium, iron and vitamin B6, amongst other nutrients? Lemons store for longer in the fridge, but if you take them out and allow them to come up to room temperature before extracting the juice, they are much easier to squeeze, and so the juice comes out more easily.

Lemon has antibacterial properties because of its high acid content. The origin of this wonderful fruit is not entirely certain, but its cultivation can be traced far back to Burma, China and India; spreading from there around the warmer climes of the world. Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola during his voyages in the mid 15th century. Did you know that lemon trees produce fruit all year round? And I’ve heard it said that the fashionable ladies of the European Renaissance used to put lemon juice on their lips to redden them! The humble lemon as a beauty accessory – who would have thought it?

Serve lemon and sesame chicken breasts with these minty jersey royals and a glass of home-made lemonade for an all-round lemony meal. I also like to serve it alongside a fresh spinach and tomato salad, drizzled with just a bit of oil and vinegar.

Lemon and Sesame Chicken Breasts
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Lemon and sesame chicken breasts - a lovely recipe for the height of spring; with plenty of refreshing lemon juice in the sauce.
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless, chopped into thin pieces
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A glass of white wine
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 pinches of flour
  • Salt flakes and fresh ground black pepper to season
  • A few pinches of sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Put the chicken breasts into a clean food bag or between a couple of sheets of clingfilm; then lay them onto a wooden board and pound them with a meat mallet (or rolling pin) to flatten them.
  2. Fry the breasts in a heavy-based saucepan in the olive oil, on a medium/high heat for a few minutes each side; sealing in the juices, and browning them all over.
  3. Season generously with salt and pepper, and then pour in the white wine and lemon juice, reducing it in the pan for a minute or two.
  4. Scatter over with the sesame seeds and fry on until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  5. Roll the butter in the flour, and add it in to the pan, thickening the sauce.
  6. Serve warm.

 

 

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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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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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30Apr 12

Chicken Kievs

Chicken Kiev

A favourite for the whole family, Chicken Kievs made at home taste great!

Ingredients:

For the Herb butter

  • 75g butter, softened
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • A couple of twists of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to season

To make the Kievs

  • 6 chicken breasts, skin removed
  • 150g plain flour
  • 300g breadcrumbs, fine and dry
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Fresh lemon, cut into wedges to serve

Steps:

  1. Make the sauce.  Mix the butter, garlic, lemon, parsley and tarragon in a bowl.   Season well with salt and pepper.  Lay a length of clingfilm on a clean work surface and spread the softened butter mixture thickly over it in a fat log shape.  Roll the film up to create a more defined log shape and cool in the fridge until the butter hardens.
  2. Next prepare the chicken.  Lay the breasts smooth-side down and cut off the mini fillet.  Create a pocket for the sauce:  Slit into the middle of each fillet with a sharp knife.  Take the incision to half-way deep into the breast and to within 4 cm of each side – go carefully here.  On a board, lay a small piece of clingfilm over each breast, and flatten them out a little by batting with a rolling pin.  Do the same with the mini fillets.  Put in the fridge until ready to use.
  3. Remove the hardened butter from the fridge, and cut it into 6 round discs.  Place a disc inside each chicken pocket.  Seal the pocket by tucking the mini fillet just inside the slit and pulling the tops of the fillet just over it.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  5. Lay 3 shallow bowls out on your work surface.  Put the flour in one, the eggs in another and the breadcrumbs in the third. Roll and coat each breast in the contents of each bowl, in this order: flour, egg, breadcrumbs, egg again, breadcrumbs again.
  6. Heat a good amount of oil on high in a large frying pan.  Once hot, reduce the heat to medium, cooking the kievs for a few minutes until golden on both sides.  Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper before placing in a roasting tray and cooking in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until the chicken is firm to the touch at its widest part.  When cooked throughout, serve the kievs hot with mashed potatoes or these Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Lemon Butter.

Duration: 25 minutes to prepare, 25 minutes to cook

Recipe for: 8 servings

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26Apr 12

Basic Roast Chicken

Basic Roast ChickenThe smell of roast chicken wafting through the house on a Sunday when everyone is together but beetling away on their own thing, is one of my true pleasures.  Perhaps it’s because it throws me back to comforting childhood memories or perhaps it’s just the new memories we are creating. Either way, it’s a good feeling.  I can begin to smell that delicious scent now, as I’m doing a basic roast chicken whilst I write this blog.  Once you have roasted your chicken, and if you don’t eat it all in one go, there are so many yummy dishes you can create with the leftovers, such as chicken wraps or sandwiches.  Keep any leftovers wrapped up in the fridge for a couple of days.

There are so many different recipes for a roasting chicken: different herbs, spices, stuffings, and preparation methods.  I want to share the way I do a basic roast chicken with you.  When I know that I am not going to have lots of time to prepare my roast, I buy one ready-made from the butchers or the supermarket, so that I can simply pop it on the tray, cover it with my choice of spices and roast away.  If you can find an organic chicken, that’s even better.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, bought ready to roast
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • A few pinches of salt flakes
  • A couple of pinches of ground paprika
  • A few pinches of ground cumin

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Lay the chicken on a roasting tray.  Rub over with the salt flakes; drizzle over with the olive oil; and sprinkle over with the cumin and the paprika.  Then wash your hands really well.
  3. Loosely cover the chicken with aluminium foil and roast it in the oven for 30 minutes before removing the foil and roasting at a lower temperature of 160-180ºC for another 20 – 30 minutes, depending on the size of the bird.  Always check the label for weights and cooking times and ensure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked before serving.  To check that the chicken is cooked throughout, you can pierce the thigh meat with a sharp knife or skewer.  The juices will run clear when the chicken is cooked.
  4. Once done, turn the oven off and leave the bird in to rest in the cooling heat for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, carve and serve.

Duration: 10 minutes preparation time, 1-2 hours cooking time.

Recipe for: 4 servings

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