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Creamy Madeira Chicken

The inspiration for this dish comes from Nigel Slater who has written a book full of ideas with very few ingredients and lots of flavour.

Wine suggestion: Madeira is a fortified Portuguese which tends to have good levels of acidity and is noted for lasting forever, even when open. This is a wine which is also nice to drink and would pair well with this dish, otherwise we would try a southern white Burgundy for a round, richer touch, or a very good New World Chardonnay where the ripeness and balance is is in great harmony.

Creamy Madeira Chicken – to serve 2

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • a little seasoned flour
  • a thick slice of butter
  • a glass of Madeira
  • 4 tbsp double cream

Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin, or similar weapon, to flatten.

Dust the chicken with the seasoned flour.

Melt the butter in a shallow pan, add the chicken and cook briefly on both sides until golden. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the Madeira to the pan and let it bubble while you scrape any chicken residue from the bottom of the pan. When the liquid has reduced by half, stir in the double cream, then season and simmer briefly.

(Original recipe from Eat: the little book of fast food by Nigel Slater, Fourth Estate, 2013.)

Lemon Curd Ice cream

Delicious, smooth and creamy ice cream.

Lemon curd yoghurt ice cream – to serve 4

For the lemon curd: 

  • 2 small lemons
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs

For the ice cream

  • 400g Greek yoghurt

Finely grate the zest of the lemons and squeeze the juice. Put the juice in a saucepan with the sugar and butter. Beat the eggs to break them up and add them to the pan.

Stir the mixture over a low to medium heat until the sugar and butter have melted, then increase the heat. Bring just to the boil, stirring constantly, them take off the heat. Strain through a sieve into a bowl and stir in the lemon zest. Set aside to cool completely.

Once, cool, stir this lemon curd into the yoghurt and churn using an ice-cream machine. Transfer to a loaf tin lined with cling film, then cover and freeze. Slice with a hot knife as soon as you take it out of the freezer.

(Original recipe from Leiths How to Cook, Quadrille, 2013)

Parmesan Turnip / Swede

We insist on calling swede turnip in Ireland which can lead to confusion. To be clear we mean the large yellow-fleshed sort as opposed to the smaller, white-fleshed turnips.

We like both versions, but particularly the larger ones, and this is a great side dish which makes a change from mash.

Roasted turnip-swede with Parmesan – to serve 4

  • 1 large swede/turnip, peeled and cut into chips
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves
  • knob of butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.

Put the turnip, olive oil, almost all of the Parmesan, and the rosemary leaves into a shallow roasting tin. Season, toss well, and arrange in a single layer.

Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan, dot with butter and add the garlic cloves.

Roast for 35-40 minutes, turning halfway, until golden and cooked through.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

Easy Spanakopita

Inspired by Spanakopita, this is a simple recipe that’s easy to throw together when time is short and requires very little shopping.

Easy Spinach & Feta Pie (Cheat’s Spanakopita) – to serve 4

  • 1kg frozen whole-leaf spinach
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin, fennel or caraway seeds (use what you have)
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100g feta or soft goats cheese, broken into small chunks
  • 35g pine nuts, toasted or roughly chopped cashew nuts (we used a mix of both)
  • 375g all-butter, ready-rolled puff pastry

Heat the oven to 200°C /Gas Mark 6.

Put the frozen spinach into a saucepan with a splash of water. Cover and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until totally defrosted. Drain in a sieve, pressing with a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the spice seeds and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the onion and sauté until soft and golden. Add the thyme.

When the spinach has cooled a bit, squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can with your hands, then roughly chop. Mix with the onion, a squeeze of lemon juice and plenty of seasoning. Keep a few tablespoons of the egg for glazing and stir the rest into the spinach and onion mixture.

Spoon half the spinach mixture into an ovenproof dish (around 25 x 20 cm). Scatter over the cheese and pine nuts or cashews, and top with the remaining spinach. Brush a little beaten egg around the rim of the dish.

Lay the pastry over the dish and trim. Press the edge down on the rim of the dish so that it sticks. Brush with the rest of the beaten egg and bake for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

Roast Chicken with a green peppercorn and cinnamon butter

With Julie not being a massive fan of cinnamon, we were a bit hesitant about trying this recipe, but fear not –  the green pepper and cinnamon butter is fabulous and a great way to jazz up roast chicken. The spice and pepper adds depth and personality but does not dominate in the slightest, rather allowing the succulent chicken to shine. If you’re really not convinced by cinnamon you can replace it with ground coriander, cumin or ginger.

Wine Suggestion: We drank an highly unusual white, Foradori’s Manzoni Bianco, and were blown away by both the delicious taste of the wine and the good match with the chicken. The Manzoni grape is a rare and unusual hybrid of Riesling and Pinot Bianco grown in the North East of Italy. There has been an obvious attention to detail in the vineyards and winery with a very complex yellow fruit flavour with layers of spice, flowers, smoke and an exotic hint of incense. This may sound heavy and cloying but the wine is fresh as a daisy and refreshing.

Chicken Baked with Green Pepper & Cinnamon Butter – to serve 4

  • 1 chicken
  • a few bay leaves
  • 2 tsp green peppercorns
  • a small sliver of garlic
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 45g soft butter
  • salt
  • lemon quarters and watercress, to serve

To make the butter:

Crush the green peppercorns with the garlic and cinnamon in a pestle and mortar. Thoroughly combine the spice paste with the butter, then add 1 tsp of salt.

Lift the skin of the chicken and rub with salt and then some spiced butter. Slash the drumsticks and thick part of the legs before spreading with the butter. Save a little bit of butter and put it inside the chicken. If you have time you can leave the chicken for a couple of hours before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

Put the chicken and bay leaves into a shallow baking dish into which it fits neatly. Cook, uncovered, on the middle shelf, allowing 20 minutes on each side. Continue to cook breast upwards until the juices run clear and the skin is golden and crisp.

Serve with the lemon quarters, watercress and the buttery juices.

(Original recipe from At Elizabeth David’s Table: Her very best everyday recipes, Penguin, 2010.)

Ouefs en cocotte

A simple but indulgent weekend breakfast. Perfect for using up any leftover cream from the night before.

Ouefs en cocotte 

  • butter
  • one egg per person
  • one tbsp of cream per person

You need small oven-proof china dishes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

Get your eggs ready by breaking into separate mugs.

Put a lump of butter into each dish. Place in the oven and remove as soon as the butter has melted.

Slide an egg into each dish.

Pour a tablespoon of cream over each egg, avoiding the yolk, and return to the oven.

You need to watch these carefully but they are likely to take about 4-5 minutes. You want to remove them while you still have a runny yoke. If you practice these a few times you will get to know the perfect timings for your oven.

Serve with buttered toast soldiers.

(Original recipe from At Elizabeth David’s Table: Her very best everyday recipes, Penguin, 2010.)

Gambas al ajillo

This is the same dish as Prawns Pil-Pil which you get in restaurants all over Spain. Ordinary food but absolutely delicious. Don’t forget some crusty bread to mop up the oil.

Wine Suggestion: This is great with a Manzanilla sherry, like the La Gitana by Hidalgo we had with it. The dry and savoury character of the wine makes every component sing and has a great ability to both entice hunger and also sate the palate.

Gambas al ajillo – to serve 4 as a starter 

  • 750g unpeeled prawns
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 5g flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 300ml olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed dried chilli flakes

Peel the prawns but leave the last tail segment in place.

Sprinkle the garlic and parsley with ½ tsp of salt and chop together to form a course mixture.

Pour the oil into a large, deep frying pan over a low heat. When hot, at the chilli flakes and garlic and parsley mixture and cook gently for a few minute or until sizzling and smelling delicious.

Turn the heat up a touch before adding prawns and cooking for a few minutes or until just cooked through. Season with a bit more salt to taste.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Spain, BBC Books, 2011.)

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