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Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Chicken parmigiana

This is an absolute crowd pleaser and should please most children and other fussy eaters. It is easy but there are  a few steps so leave yourself plenty of time. We liked this way more than we expected to! Good with garlic bread and a big salad.

Wine Suggestion: you mustn’t overwhelm this dish with a heavy, powerful wine. It can have character though and the youthful Rocca delle Macie Chianti Vernaiolo was a good match. Unoaked and fruit driven this is a lighter red and all freshness and vitality. Other alternatives that work are light Pinot Noir, Gamay or Barbera.

Chicken Parmigiana – serves 4 (generously)

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chop 2 and peel the other
  • 100ml red wine
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 chicken breasts (ask your butcher to butterfly if possible)
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 75g Parmesan, grated
  • 75g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch sugar (optional)
  • 2 balls mozzarella, sliced
  • handful fresh basil leaves

Start by making the sauce. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until soft and translucent, then add the chopped garlic. Cook for another couple of minutes, then add the red wine. Allow to bubble until the wine is reduced by about half, then add the oregano and tomatoes and season well with salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce at this point and season with a pinch of sugar if necessary, then continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes, without the lid, until the sauce is well reduced – you want it to be fairly thick.

Preheat the oven to 200C Fan/180C/Gas 6.

Butterfly the chicken then put between two sheets of cling film and flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Season the chicken with salt and black pepper. Mix the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs, oregano and a few finely chopped basil leaves. Put half the flour onto a plate and season. Beat one of the eggs in a bowl and spread half the Parmesan mixture on another plate.

Dip each chicken breast in the flour and dust off any excess, then dip into the egg. Coat the eggy chicken in the breadcrumb & Parmesan mixture – pressing it firmly onto the chicken. Repeat this again with the next chicken breast. Now you may need to start the process again with the rest of the ingredients on fresh plates. Arrange the coated chicken on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil, then bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on.

To finish the dish you will need a large shallow oven dish that can take all 4 chicken breasts in a single layer. Cut the remaining garlic clove in half and rub the dish all over with it. Spread the tomato sauce over the base of the dish, place the chicken on top and arrange the mozzarella over the chicken so it’s mostly covered. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and browned. Scatter some basil leaves over the top before serving.

(Original recipe from The Hairy Bikers Chicken & Egg by Si King & Dave Myers, Orion Publishing Co., 2017.)

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Pears poached in bay and balsamic

The classic combination of sweet pears and salty ham. This makes a nice winter starter for entertaining guests and you can poach the pears in advance so there’s not too much to do when they arrive.

Wine Suggestion: with the combination of fruity/sweet pear and the salty ham this choice wasn’t immediately obvious, but an inspired guess lead us to Sparkling Moscato. We had a bottle of the Quady Electra, a Moscato from California that danced with this dish but you may find it easier to get a Moscato d’Asti (the most famous region for this style) or a local equivalent. The Moscato is low alcohol, and refreshingly fruity so perfect to start off a lengthy meal.

Pears poached in bay & balsamic with serrano ham – serves 4 as a starter

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 80ml balsamic vinegar
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 pears
  • 4 large slices of Serrano ham
  • 2 large handfuls of salad leaves
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Put 600ml of water into a saucepan over a medium heat with the sugar, vinegar and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the sugar has dissolved.

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan but keep a careful eye on them as they turn from golden to blackened in the blink of an eye.

Peel the pears and try to leave the stalks intact. Trim the bases a little so they stand up nicely. Add the pears to the liquid and simmer until tender, turning them over in the liquid now and then. This can take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes (depending on the size and ripeness of your pears) so you will need to keep a watchful eye. Remove from the liquid and allow to cool, then wrap each one in a slice of ham.

Season the liquid with salt and plenty of black pepper, then boil until it becomes a thick syrup.

Arrange the salad leaves on 4 serving plates. Put a pear on top of each and scatter over the toasted pine nuts. Mix the balsamic syrup with the tablespoon of olive oil and drizzle over the top.

(Original recipe from Herbs by Judith Hann, Watkins Media Ltd., 2017.)

 

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Festive butternut and stilton pies

Forget nut roast. This pie is packed full of flavour and highly recommended as a festive treat when you’re fed up eating meat, or for a vegetarian friend; they’ll love you for this.

Also conveniently works with all the usual Christmas day trimmings and can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

You need to be fussy about the pie dishes as the filling needs to come to the top (so the pastry sits proud on the top and doesn’t sink). We used two small enamel dishes that hold 450ml water and measure 16cm x 11cm.

Wine Suggestion: If others are eating turkey then the same wine should be work pretty well for both. Given the earthy, savoury porcini and chestnut mushrooms a good choice, though, is a fruitier Pinot Noir. This may be a youthful village Burgundy or a fresh style from a similar region; look to Baden and Alto Adige for a good alternative. If you look elsewhere make sure the alcohol is not too high, as this can unbalance things.

Festive Butternut Squash & Stilton Pies – makes 2 pies (each one will serve 2 generously)

  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 butternut squash, about 800g
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme or rosemary
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 6 tbsp double cream or crème fraîche
  • 50g stilton, broken into chunks
  • 50g walnut pieces
  • 140g puff pastry – we used one sheet of all butter puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten

Soak the porcini in 150ml boiling water for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6/Fan 180C.

Meanwhile, peel the squash, discard the seeds and cut into small chunks.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the oil, and fry the squash over a medium heat for 10 minutes or so – you want it to be caramelising nicely. Stir in the sliced chestnut mushrooms, chilli flakes, garlic & thyme or rosemary, and fry for 5 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the brandy, then remove from the heat.

Drain the dried mushroom and reserve the liquor, then roughly chop. Add to the squash mixture with the soaking liquid (but leave the grit in the bowl) and double cream, then return to the heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat again, season, and stir in the stilton and walnuts. Divide the mixture between two individual pie dishes (see recommended size above). Leave to cool before covering with the pastry.

Cut the puff pastry in half and roll out on a lightly floured surface until slightly bigger than the dishes, the pastry should overhang the edges a bit. Use the scraps to make holly leaves and berries or some other festive motif. Stick to the pastry lids with a little bit of water. You can keep the pies in the fridge now for up to 24 hours.

When ready to cook, get your oven heated and brush the tops with the beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle a large pinch of sea salt and some black pepper over each. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until risen and golden brown.

Serve with seasonal sides – we went for sprouts.

(Original recipe by Rosa Baden-Powell for BBC Good Food Magazine, December 2001. )

 

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Cod with a soy and chive marinade

Judith Hann is a friend and neighbour to Jono’s great uncle Graeme, who we’ve met a number of times without realising she was a great cook and proponent of herbs. To our delight we were sent her new book “Herbs” and promptly tried this fish dish. Superb, and we look forward to trying more of Judith’s recipes and expanding our own little herb garden in the city.

Wine Suggestion: a fresh, vibrant dry Riesling from Pikes in the Clare Valley matched the freshness and zing of this dish.

Cod with a soy and chive marinade – serves 4

  • 4 cod fillets (or use other firm white fish)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp snipped chives
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2.5 cm cube of root ginger, finely sliced or grated

Rub the cod all over with half the sesame oil, then put into a non-metallic dish. Toss with half the soy sauce, half the chives and the bay leaves, then cover and leave in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

Preheat your grill to its highest setting. Heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a frying pan and fry half the scallions with the garlic and ginger until softened – about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the soy sauce and season with pepper, then taste before seasoning with salt.

Meanwhile, grill the fish for 10 to 15 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.

Spoon the marinade over the fish and garnish with the remaining scallions & chives.

Serve with rice and pak choy or other Asian greens.

(Original recipe from Herbs by Judith Hann, Watkins Media Ltd., 2017.)

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Creamy parsnip mash

We’ve no time for Christmas until the first of December and the snow starts falling on our blog. As soon at that happens we’re in a frenzy of Christmas cake baking (meant to do it November but didn’t happen) and experimenting with possible dishes for the big day. We know not everyone is a fan of parsnips but if you’re a parsnip-loving family we highly recommend this easy variation on ordinary mash. The parsnips give the mash a lovely earthy flavour and it tasted great with our wintry beef & Guinness stew. The Northern Irish contingent in this household insists on the obligatory garnish of a generous blob of salted Irish butter.

Creamy parsnip mash – serve 4 (or more if you have lots of other side dishes too)

  • 900g potatoes, quartered (or halved if small)
  • 3 parsnips, chopped
  • 4 tbsp double cream

Boil the potatoes and parsnips until tender, then drain and mash with a large knob of butter and the double cream. Season well with salt and pepper.

 

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Carrot & cumin soup

It seems to be getting more and more difficult to buy a carrot, with supermarkets in particular insisting that you buy a huge bag. Why can’t we be like France and just have troughs of veg for us to pick what we need from? This is a suitable end for almost a whole bag of carrots.

Carrot & Cumin Soup – serves 6

  • 35g butter
  • 600g carrots, chopped
  • 110g onion, chopped
  • 150g potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tsp freshly roasted and crushed cumin seeds
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1.2 litres light chicken or vegetable stock
  • a little creamy milk (optional)
  • crème fraîche or yoghurt (to garnish)
  • coriander leaves, chopped

Melt the butter until foaming, then add the chopped vegetables. Season with salt, pepper and sugar and add the crushed cumin. Cover with a butter paper and a tight fitting lid. Leave to sweat over a low heat for about 10 minutes.

Remove the lid, add the stock and boil until the vegetables or soft – about 5 to 8 minutes, then purée the soup until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve in warm bowls with a swirl of crème fraîche or yoghurt if you like and some freshly chopped coriander.

(Original recipe from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, Kyle Cathie Ltd., 2001.)

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Quince Jam

Quince jam

Not as solid and refined as Membrillo/Quince paste, but with all the taste and flavour. Plus it couldn’t be easier to make – just boil up the quinces and sieve into sterilised jars. Serve with cheese and anything else you fancy.

Quince Jam – makes about 4 jars

  • 1kg quince, chopped into chunks (no need to discard pips/stalks etc)
  • 1kg granulated sugar

Put the chopped quince and sugar into a saucepan. Add water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1½ – 1¾ hours, mashing the fruit after the first 45 minutes. Cook until the liquid has evaporated but keep stirring as it gets close to stop it burning on the bottom of the pan. Push through a sieve into a large bowl, then pour into sterilised jars.

 

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