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Cover: Charlie's Chicken

Meal for 4 people

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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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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20Apr 12

Easy Coq Au Vin

Coq au vinI haven’t cooked this French inspired dish for a while, and now I’m wondering why.  I want to share this easy coq au vin recipe with you. I’m ashamed to admit that it has been nestled away in my recipe drawer for some time, gathering a little dust.  I’ve just come across it, looking for a little new inspiration, and so here it is.  And I’m certainly going to get cooking it again as soon as possible now that I’ve rediscovered it. 

Chicken, mushrooms, white wine and garlic are always a winning combination, wouldn’t you say?  That reminds me – I must go looking for my chicken and mushroom pie recipe, which has also been tucked away for a while.  I think it’s time to go hunting for it, and once found, I’ll share it with all of you.

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thighs, with skin and bone removed
  • 112g bacon cubes
  • 6 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 220g oyster mushrooms, roughly torn
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¾ bottle of a decent white wine
  • Small pot of double cream or crème fraiche
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to season
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped to garnish

Steps:

  1. Using a large and high-sided pan, fry the bacon pieces in the olive oil for 5-8 minutes until they are crispy and golden brown.  Add the chopped shallots to the pan and continue to fry until they are soft, perhaps another 3-5 minutes.
  2. Chop the chicken thighs into thirds before adding them to the pan, along with the mushrooms, the wine and the bay leaves, and season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring the contents of the pan up to the boil, before turning down the heat, and simmering, covered, for between 30 and 40 minutes, until the chicken and carrots are thoroughly cooked.
  4. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the cream or crème fraiche.  Sprinkle over with the chopped dill.

Serve with a side of potatoes, a hunk of buttered granary bread or these grilled toast with feta cheese and cherry tomatoes.

Duration: 20 minutes to prepare, 1 hour to cook

Recipe for: 4 people

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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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