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Cover: Charlie's Chicken

Meal for 2 people

21Jul 12

Paprika Garlic Chicken with Beans and Potatoes

Paprika Garlic Chicken with Beans and PotatoesPaprika garlic chicken with beans and potatoes is a meal I cook at least once a month.  It’s a modern twist on a classic meat and two veg dish: simple, wholesome and healthy.  Something for the weekend.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breast fillets, about 1cm in thickness
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and pushed through a garlic press
  • 1-2 tsp smoked ground paprika
  • A couple of pinches of salt
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for marinating and 2 tbsp for sautéing the vegetables
  • 2 medium to large potatoes, skins on, chopped into 1.5cm rounds
  • Pack of fresh runner beans, topped & tailed, then sliced into halves lengthwise before cutting at a shear angle into 4-5 cm lengths
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Steps:

  1. Put the chicken in a bowl, pour over the olive oil, and stir in the garlic and a pinch of salt.  Cover and leave in the fridge to marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes.  You can do this some hours, or even the night before, if you like.
  2. When you are ready to prepare the meal, steam the potatoes for 5 minutes before adding the beans and steaming both together for about another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked and tender.  Try to retain a slightly firm consistency in the potatoes so that they don’t fall apart at the next stage.
  3. Whilst the vegetables are steaming, pour a little of the marinade oil along with the garlic into a frying pan over a fairly hot heat.  Seal one side of each of the chicken fillets in the frying pan.  During the sealing, sprinkle a pinch of paprika over each chicken breast fillet, and when you turn the chicken to seal the other side, sprinkle paprika across the other side of the breast too.  Continue to fry the chicken until cooked throughout.  Remove from the heat.
  4. Heat olive oil in a clean frying pan and sauté the potatoes and the beans for a few minutes.  Sprinkle the vegetables with a pinch of salt and squeeze over the lemon juice.
  5. Serve the chicken and vegetables together on a plate, finishing with a drizzle of cold olive oil and a twist of black pepper across the vegetables.

Duration: 20 minutes preparation time plus a minimum of 20 minutes marinating time.  Cooking time less than 30 minutes.

Recipe for: 2 people

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12Jul 12

Chicken with Almond Sauce

Chicken in Almond SauceHaving lived part of my life in Spain, I am passionately influenced by the flavours of both the Mediterranean and the Continental aspects of Spanish cooking.

March sees much of the countryside come alive with the delicate pink blossom of the almond tree.  Because almonds are so abundant there, they are used in many sweet and savoury recipes.  Chicken with almond sauce is simply delicious. And for dessert, you can follow the almond theme with this flaked almond chocolate cake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 20g wholemeal bread (1/2 to 3/4 of a slice)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 mug of chicken stock

Steps:

  1. In a heavy-based frying pan, fry the garlic cloves whole with the bread for a few minutes, in 2 tbsp of olive oil – until both are golden brown.
  2. Remove them to a mortar and create a pulp with a pestle.  If you don’t have these, put the ingredients in a plastic bowl and gently squash them with the end of a rolling pin, mixing them in well afterwards with a fork – it works just fine.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a clean frying pan and cook the chicken breasts, first sealing in the juices for a few minutes on high both sides, before turning the heat down to medium and frying on until cooked throughout.  If the breasts are very thick, I slice them in half horizontally about 2/3 of the way through cooking so that they are ready within about 10 minutes.
  4. Whilst the chicken is cooking, mix a splash of stock into the bread and garlic pulp. Stir well.
  5. Sprinkle the ground almonds into the same pan in which you fried the bread and garlic, and dry-fry it for a few minutes on a medium heat until golden in colour all over.
  6. Then add the bread, garlic and stock mixture to the almonds, stirring it all in well and keeping it on the heat.  Gradually add the rest of the stock and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes.
  7. The chicken and almond sauces should come together at about the same time.
  8. Place the chicken onto warm plates, spoon over the sauce and garnish with fresh parsley.

This dish is also very tasty served with finely sliced, steamed, then sautéed cabbage, with fried garlic, drizzled all over with olive oil and lemon juice.

Duration: Ready in less than half an hour

Recipe for: 2 people

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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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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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24Apr 12

Grilled Chicken Wings with a Honey and Lime Butter Sauce

Grilled Chicken WingsGrilled chicken wings with a honey and lime butter sauce makes for a crispy and zesty taste experience! (For a spicy variation, try buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce.) What a treat for a spring or summer evening for just the two of you, when you’ve got a few friends round, or for a bigger party.

If you can cook your chicken outside, that’s great!  If not, grill it like me, and it will still be super tasty.  When it comes to this kind of meal, I want to keep things as quick and simple as possible so that I can drink a cold beer, and enjoy the company I’m with, whether that’s my special other, or a whole group of friends.

Ingredients:

  • 6-12 chicken wings, skins on
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh coriander finely chopped (optional)

Steps:

  1. Scatter the chicken wings onto a baking tray and season really well with salt and pepper.  I don’t use any oil.  Grill on a relatively high heat for about 20 minutes, turning the chicken at least once during the process.  If you are cooking outside, you’ll need to turn the chicken regularly.  Grill until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the skins are crispy and golden brown.
  2. Whilst the chicken is grilling, prepare the sauce.  Melt the butter slowly in a pan, squeeze in the juice of the lime and stir in the honey.
  3. Serve the chicken on plates drizzled over with the honey & lime butter sauce. You could also top it with roughly chopped fresh coriander and a sprinkling of lime zest.  Alternatively, if you’re serving this up at a party, place the chicken wings on a large serving plate on the table along with a decorative bowl of the sauce, for dipping or spooning.  And don’t forget a few serviettes for those sticky fingers later.

Also try serving as a meal with steamed asparagus sprinkled with fresh coriander.

Duration: 10 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook.  Ready in half an hour

Recipe for:  2-3 people

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04Apr 12

Chicken Salad with Roast Tomatoes, Almonds and Balsamic Dressing

 

Chicken Salad

This is a really tasty and healthy way to use up chicken leg meat the day after you’ve eaten a spiced roast chicken.  Chicken and avocado are always a good combination, and the softness and subtlety of the lamb’s lettuce contrasts beautifully with the peppery bite of the rocket.  Add the sweetness and spice of my roasted cherry tomatoes, along with good balsamic vinegar and a good extra virgin olive oil, and you’ll round off the dish with extra intensity and flavour.

Ingredients:

  • The meat of 2 chicken legs (from a previously roasted chicken), skin removed and pieces torn from the bones
  • 1 bag of pre-washed and ready-to-eat lamb’s lettuce mixed with rocket
  • 1 avocado, skin and stone removed, halved, then cut into thin wedges lengthwise
  • Handful of blanched whole almonds
  • 8 roasted and cooled sliced cherry tomatoes, or uncooked cherry tomatoes, each sliced into 3 rounds.  Needs oil, salt, and cumin seeds
  • A generous drizzle of good viscous balsamic vinegar
  • A generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Mayonnaise to serve

Steps:

  1. If you are going to oven roast the tomatoes (which does make them very tasty), preheat the oven to 200ºC, slice the tomatoes and place them in a baking tray, drizzled with olive oil, dusted with salt and sprinkled with cumin.  Roast them for 10 minutes, and remove from the tray to a plate for cooling.
  2. Divide the lamb’s lettuce and rocket leaves onto 2 plates, spreading them out across the whole of each plate.
  3. Arrange the torn chicken, avocado, and cherry tomatoes on top of the salad leaves.
  4. Sprinkle over the almonds, then drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil in generous spirals across the whole plate.
  5. Season with a little salt and pepper and serve with a pretty bowl of mayonnaise laid on the table.

Duration: 20 minutes preparation time.  15 minutes cooking and cooling time if you are going to roast the cherry tomatoes.

Recipe for: A light lunch or supper for 2 people

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03Apr 12

Chicken Thighs with a Chilli Chocolate Sauce

Chicken with a Chilli Chocolate SauceHave you ever tried eating chicken with a chocolate sauce? I was looking for a sauce that really used chocolate as a main ingredient, rather than one where a token piece of chocolate was thrown in, and this chicken thighs with a chilli chocolate sauce dish is what I ended up creating.  I’m sure there’s much room for improvement as I experiment with the idea of using chocolate with chicken, but I’ll share this one with you for now, so that you can try it and see what you think.  The combination of flavours is certainly unusual and could well be an acquired taste, but I enjoyed it! Not sure you will? You could also give this versatile sauce for both meats and fish a go.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 small red chillies, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 wine glasses of white wine
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 3-4 shallots, or 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate powder
  • 2-4 tsp good balsamic vinegar, according to your taste
  • 1 tbsp soft dark sugar
  • 1 tbsp sweet natural yoghurt

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC and roast the chicken thighs for around 40-45 minutes or until they are cooked throughout.  As always, check this using a skewer to the thigh to ensure that the juices run clear.
  2. Halfway through the chicken’s roasting time, begin to make the sauce.  Heat the oil and fry the shallots with the cloves and cinnamon in a shallow-based pan on a medium heat until the onions are really soft.
  3. Add the minced garlic and fry for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the white wine, the chocolate powder, the brown sugar and the balsamic vinegar and bring up the heat until the sauce is very close to the boiling point.  Reduce the heat immediately and simmer the mixture to a viscous reduction over about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the yoghurt and stir it in.  Scoop out a little of the sauce onto a teaspoon, let it cool a little and taste it.  Add more yoghurt or sugar to taste if necessary.
  6. Remove the skin from the roast chicken, and drizzle the chocolate sauce over the hot chicken to serve.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Duration: 15 minutes to prepare, 45 minutes to cook

Recipe for: 2 servings

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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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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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