Monthly Archives: February 2016

Chicken Supremes with Wild Mushrooms and Tarragon Sauce

A lovely supper dish this one, in which the sauce is the absolute star of the show. Having tasted it, I am sure that you could also use this sauce to accompany veal or pork as alternatives to the chicken that I have used here. Essentially, the creamy yet vibrant sauce adds a real zing to fairly plainly roasted or dry-fried meat. A real winner!

What you need…

1 x baking dish (mine is 26 x 18 x 7cms deep) lightly buttered

Good glug and then a splash of rapeseed oil

6 chicken supremes (breasts with the fillet and wing bone attached) with skin on

2 knobs butter

3 shallots, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

500ml water

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

200ml dry white wine

150ml double cream

250g wild or chestnut mushrooms

Handful tarragon sprigs, leaves picked

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Squeeze lemon juice

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 200°c / 400f / gas 6.

Heat your glug of oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and cook the chicken, skin-sides down, for 3-4 minutes until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange snugly, skin-sides up, in your baking dish, cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes or until they are cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. First of all, dissolve the chicken stockpot into a jug containing the 500ml boiling water (from the kettle) – a small balloon whisk is ideal for the job. Set aside.

In your frying pan, add a knob of butter to the remaining chicken juices and melt over a low heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and white wine, turn up the heat to high and cook for 15 minutes, reducing the liquid and cooking off the alcohol. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In another pan, melt your second knob of butter with a splash of oil over a high heat. Tip in the mushrooms and cook over a high heat, stirring, until they are golden.

Return to your sauce and very gradually, stir in the cream. Then, chuck in the cooked mushrooms, tarragon, mustard and lemon juice. Mix together. Taste. Season. Taste. Put the pan back on a very low heat to keep warm, until you are ready to serve.

Pour the sauce all over the cooked chicken breasts and pop your casserole dish in the middle of the table and request that everyone ‘digs in’. Enjoy your delightful chicken supremes with wild mushrooms and tarragon sauce perhaps with a lovely glass of white burgundy – a very nice pairing indeed! Cheers!

Tips…

The sauce can be made in advance and kept chilled until needed. When you reheat it though, do so gently – overheat it and it will go thin (as experience has shown me).

Rather than using fresh garlic and shallots, I replace them with Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients frozen versions – a quick shake of roughly the right amount into the pan is so much easier than all that peeling and chopping!

Inspired by…

Delicious Magazine

How easy…

Very easy, especially as the sauce can be made in advance and the associated cooking pots, washed and put away.

 

 

Parisienne Café (or French Coffee)

A child of the 1970’s, I have memories of many trends and fashions that were introduced, often in bad taste, but this morning I woke up (worryingly) thinking of French coffee, thoughts that instigated a little trip down memory lane. Each Sunday, my dad would cook – usually something from his Supercook cookbook collection – whilst sipping large glasses of homemade wine (another story). After the mid-afternoon lunch, he would retire to HIS chair and snooze whilst mum and I would clear up – her washing and me drying. That done, there would be a return to the dining table for French coffees, a job that was mine as I was particularly good at floating the cream. This little ritual was then followed by another: a few games of Backgammon with my dad –inevitably he won!!!

So this morning, I’ve whipped to Tesco’s for the papers and some double cream and we will have a little history repeated, except it’s Connagh who plays me at Backgammon….he doesn’t always win! Funny old world….

I’ve used cognac here because it’s what we happened to have, but you can of course make liqueur coffees with pretty much any thing you fancy: whisky for an Irish or Highland Coffee (depending on where your whisky hails from), Amaretto for an Italian Classico or rum for Calypso Coffee…the list goes on and the choice is yours! Whichever you choose, liqueur coffees are rather indulgent and have a definite ‘chillax’ affect!

Serves 1

What you need…

1 glass, glamorous if possible (I need to get some!)

2 teaspoons demerara/brown sugar

1 tablespoon cognac/brandy

Strong, hot coffee

Double cream

What to do…

Double up on the ingredients and make two – these should be enjoyed together!

For each one, tip the sugar in the bottom of your glass and then pour over the Cognac. Make up your coffee (I use Taylors Rich Italian ground coffee to make up a cafetiere). Pour the coffee into the glass, leaving about a centimeter at the top. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Gently and slowly pour the double cream in over the back of a dessertspoon and watch with delight as the cream floats on the top! Do not stir!!!

Sip the delicious liqueur-infused hot coffee through the cool double cream – absolutely delightful and soooooo indulgent! Enjoy!

Inspired by…

The 1970’s and increasingly odd thought patterns when I wake up in the mornings – recipes, recipes!

How easy…

You don’t have to ask, really. Just go steady with that cream!

 

Just Gorgeous Beef Casserole with Red Wine and Cinnamon

 

I’ve had this recipe in my ‘to do’ file for years but every time I’ve flicked through, I’ve seen the words ‘prunes’ and ‘cinnamon’ in the ingredients list, hesitated and then….moved on. However, I finally decided to try it and, as a woman who has cooked hundreds of beef casseroles, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest! The eclectic mix of ingredients make for a fabulously rich sauce with beautifully intensified, silky flavours – everyone around the table was agreed – this is the best of all that we’ve tried: why did we wait so long? Try it, you’ll love it!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x ovenproof casserole

600ml boiling water from kettle

2 beef stockpots

1kg braising steak, diced

600ml robust red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon works well)

4 garlic cloves, chopped

4 cinnamon sticks

12 bay leaves

8 slices good quality streaky bacon, chopped

Knob of butter

12 small shallots, chopped

24 baby carrots

16 soft dried prunes

2 tablespoons plain flour

What to do…

The night before! Put the meat, wine, garlic, cinnamon and bay leaves into a large bowl, give them a quick stir and pop in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavours to develop.

The next day, preheat the oven to 150° / 300°f / gas 2.

In a small jug, dissolve the stockpots into the boiling water from the kettle (a small balloon whisk works really well). Set aside.

Drain the meat, reserving the marinade. Then dry the meat on kitchen roll.

Fry the streaky bacon in a large saucepan over a moderate heat until it starts to brown. Add the knob of butter and then the shallots, carrots, prunes and reserved cinnamon and bay leaves. Sauté until the shallots and carrots start to brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove the ingredients to your casserole dish.

To the pan, add the meat and brown. Tip in the flour, stir well and then reintroduce the shallots mixture. Whack up the heat to high and add the stock and the marinade. Bring it to the boil and then tip the whole lot back into the casserole dish, pop on the lid and then stick it in the oven. Cook in the oven for 2½ hours. The smell, as it’s cooking will be amazing! Take the casserole out and check that the meat is succulent by retrieving one piece and trying it – if it’s not quite falling apart in your mouth, pop it back in for another 15 minutes, but it should be done by now.

Once removed from the oven, leave to rest for 15 minutes and then serve with really lovely buttery mashed potato (naughty) or baked potatoes (good) as well as either boiled broccoli or a steamed leek and cabbage mix. Take your first forkful, and sit back and smile – the flavours really are sublime and frankly, you just want to keep eating more!

Inspired by…

Waitrose Food Illustrated from several years ago!

How easy…

Really easy and so worth it!

 

 

Rhubarb and Vodka Love Potion

A deliciously delightful cocktail for Valentine’s day…..and for any other loved up days! Light, fragrant, sweet….but with naughty little kick to it. Having tried it once in the name of this blog, we’ve since had it three or four times!

Serves 2 romantics

What you need….

Cocktail shaker or jug

2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (choose stalks as pink as you can find)

100g caster sugar

120ml water

150ml vodka

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 large orange

½ a cup of ice

What to do…

Pop the rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Allow to boil for a few minutes until the rhubarb has broken down to a mush. Take off the heat and sieve the clear pink juice into a jug, leaving the mush behind. Leave to cool.

When you’re ready to indulge, add the vodka, lime and orange juices to the jug. Have a quick taste to see if you are happy with it or would like a little more of any of the ingredients. Put your ice in a cocktail shaker, chuck the cocktail ingredients in, pop the lid on and shake like mad. (If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, pour into a jug with the ice and stir; then insist that a cocktail shaker is a necessary addition to your kitchen). Pour into two gorgeous glasses, deliver to your soul mate and gaze lovingly over the rim of the glasses as you sip. Drain glass and wish you’d made double the rhubarb sugar syrup so that you could make some more!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Really easy, just remember to allow time for the rhubarb sugar syrup to cool down.

Crêpes Suzette and Other Pancakes

Who can resist? Shrove Tuesday – the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious, naughty pancakes, stacked high and topped traditionally with the sweet and tart marriage that is sugar and lemon or filled with some luscious alternatives. It doesn’t matter, whatever you choose, enjoy your crêpes Suzette and other pancakes!

Makes batter and sauce makes enough for 8 crêpes/pancakes

What you need…

for the crêpe/pancake batter

175g plain flour, sifted

2 large eggs

175ml milk

110ml water

Rapeseed oil

Greaseproof paper

for the classic crêpes suzette sauce

50g unsalted butter

150ml orange juice (3 large oranges)

Grated zest 1 orange

Grated zest and juice 1 lemon

1 tablespoon caster sugar

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

What to do…

To make your crêpe/pancake batter (let’s refer to them as pancakes from hereon in – I’m getting fed up typing ‘crêpe/pancake’) tip the flour into a large jug together with the eggs, milk and water, and using an electric hand whisk, vigorously whisk the ingredients so that they are thoroughly blended, creating your batter.

Put a small frying pan on the highest heat with 1 teaspoon of rapeseed oil. When the oil is just smoking, add 1 ladle of batter and swish it around the pan so that the pan is evenly coated. Cook for about 1 minute. You’ll know when the underside of the pancake is cooked – just shake the frying pan and the pancake will easily move about. At this point – the fun part – remove the pan from the heat and tilt it so that the pancake slips to the furthest edge of the pan. Then, a quick flick of the wrist and flip that pancake…….how high depends on how confident you’re feeling!!!!! Cook for a further minute and then tip it out onto a piece of greaseproof paper.

Repeat this process until all the pancake batter has been used and you have a stack of pancakes, each separated by greaseproof paper.

In a medium-sized frying pan, melt the butter. Then add the sauce and gently warm. Place the first pancake into the pan and gently warm it before folding it in half and then in half again to make a triangle. Slide it to the edge of the pan and then tilt the pan so that the sauce runs back into the centre. Repeat this process until all the pancakes are reheated, folded and drenched in sauce.

Serve these delicious pancakes immediately on warmed plates and thoroughly enjoy this naughty dessert in the name of Shrove Tuesday! Yummy!

Alternative toppings and fillings…

Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice and a Smattering of Caster Sugar

The classic pancake topping. After squeezing and smattering, roll up and indulge. Simple and simply lovely.

Rhubarb and Vanilla

Rhubarb pancake w

To make enough for 4 generous pancake fillings, put 400g trimmed and sliced rhubarb into a lightly buttered ovenproof dish together with 70g caster sugar and a split vanilla pod. Cover with foil and pop into a preheated oven (160°c / 310°f /gas 3) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and discard the vanilla pod. Gently mash the rhubarb and then spoon a ladleful on one half of the pancake, folding the over the half over the top. Indulge. Light, sweet and a lovely change from the normal.

Warmed Balsamic Strawberries

To make enough for 4 generous pancake fillings, hull and quarter 250g sweet, ripe strawberries and pop them in a saucepan over a moderate heat together with 1 teaspoon caster sugar and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the strawberries have been gently warmed and coated in the balsamic glaze. Spoon a ladleful on one half of the pancake, folding the over the half over the top. Just divine although a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the top wouldn’t be inappropriate!

Chocolate Spread

Ugh!!!! But the kids like it. Smother chocolate spread over the top of the pancake, roll up and eat! No comment! Don’t let them near either the knife or the jar of chocolate spread – it’ll get messy!

Inspired by…

A bit of mix really. The batter mix is one of Delia Smith’s, the rhubarb and vanilla filling comes from Lisa Faulkner and the warmed balsamic strawberries from a vanilla cheesecake recipe by Stuart Gillies.

How easy…

Pancakes aren’t hard are they? You’ve just got to decide how naughty you want to be and how high you flip ‘em!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stilton Soup

OK, so the final bit of Stilton remained in the fridge from Christmas. It wasn’t actually opened until a good way through January but, if it wasn’t to be wasted, I needed to do something with it and we’d got to the end of the delightful ‘Stilton and crackers, perhaps with a glass of port’ thing. So, I thought I’d give this a bash, even though I wasn’t overly certain whether it would even be pleasant. It’s absolutely lovely: smooth, rich and really, really flavoursome. Delia reckoned that this recipe would serve 4 – 6 people as a starter but I decided to serve it as an ‘amuse bouche’ (defined as ‘a little bit of food which is served before the meal to stimulate the appetite) in tiny cups, simply because it is sooooo rich. It’s a lovely little taster to kick off a dinner! And there’s no problem with the leftovers – having served four, the rest was divided into two polythene bags and frozen, available for a couple of other dinners!

Serves 12 as an Amuse Bouche

What you need…

Splash rapeseed oil

3 shallots, chopped

1 leek, cleaned and sliced

1 large potato, peeled and chopped into chunks

1 heaped tablespoon plain flour

570ml water, boiled from the kettle

1 chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

150 ml dry still cider

110g Stilton cheese, cut into small chunks

275ml milk

1 tablespoon double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, then add the vegetables and a pinch of salt. Pop the lid on and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using a small balloon whisk, stir the stockpot into the water until it has dissolved. Set aside your stock.

Stir the flour into the vegetables and, when evenly mixed in, gradually add the cider, stirring the whole time. Add the chicken stock, pop the lid back on the pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Add the milk and Stilton and increase the heat to high. Stir until the cheese has melted and the soup is just below boiling point. Taste. Season. Taste. When you’re happy with the seasoning, stir in the cream.

Tip the whole lot into your blender and whizz until your Stilton soup is smooth and creamy. Serve – it really is rather delightful and has a definite indulgent feel to it – enjoy!

Stilton Soup 2 w

Inspired by…

Delia Smith,

How easy…

Really, really easy – no effort at all and I love the fact that you can freeze it, ready for future dinners!

Tiger Prawn Stir Fry

A fabulous little supper dish that you can knock up in no time, this tiger prawn stir fry is really tasty, light and spicy (think gentle tingling lips and tongue, and zinging taste buds). Made it up but got the recipe down. Definitely doing this again!

Serves 2

What you need…

150g medium egg noodles

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Splash of groundnut oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

3 spring onions, trimmed and sliced lengthways

100g wild/speciality mushrooms

Handful mange tout

2 pak choi, leaves torn

300g raw tiger prawns

1 dessertspoon dark brown sugar

1 dessertspoon tamari/soy sauce

Handful coriander, chopped (optional, to garnish)

What to do…

Pop the egg noodles into a saucepan of boiling water and cook as per the packet instructions – mine took 4 minutes. Drain and then toss noodles in sesame oil and set aside.

Heat the groundnut oil in your wok on a high setting. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and spring onions and cook for about 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add the mushrooms and mange tout and stir fry for a further minute. Add the pak choi and prawns and stir fry for 2 minutes or until the prawns have just turned pink. Tip in the sugar and tamari/soy sauce and the noodles. Stir fry, tossing all the ingredients together until they are evenly mixed. Garnish with coriander, if liked. Serve and enjoy this really easy, lovely supper dish!

Tip…

As well as the tiger prawns, you could add scallops and/or squid for further variety.

Inspired by…

Seeing loads of recipes on the TV referencing Chinese New Year and then being unable to order a Chinese take-away because they were all off celebrating!

How easy…

Ridiculously!

 

Torta Di Cappuccino

OMG!!!! This is a totally luscious ‘tart-mousse’ – I’m not sure which category it fits in but I can tell you this – a dark chocolate digestive biscuit base is topped with something in between a cake and a mousse that is richly flavoured with coffee and chocolate – the combination is staggeringly gorgeous, I mean staggeringly!! And somehow, as much as it’s rich, it’s also light: temptation on a plate. If you feel like sharing (I’d urge against) you can make it a day in advance of a dinner party or friends coming for supper.

Serves 8 – 10 (or perhaps just 1!)

What you need…

23cm diameter spring-form cake tin, lightly buttered

for the base

375g dark chocolate digestive biscuits

3 tablespoons double cream

75g butter, melted

for the topping

500g mascarpone

140g caster sugar

3 eggs

100g chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa solids), broken up

3 tablespoons Kahlua

125ml espresso or REALLY strong coffee

Icing sugar, to decorate

Chocolate coffee beans, to decorate

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas 4.

To make the base, whizz your biscuits in a food processor to create crumbs, then mix with the cream and melted butter. Tip the biscuit mix into the cake tin, spread evenly and press down so the mix is good and solid. Pop in the fridge whilst you do the rest.

Put your chocolate into a heatproof bowl and then into a steamer over a pan of simmering water to gently melt.

Using a handheld electric whisk, beat the mascarpone and caster sugar together in a large bowl until soft and light.

Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Gradually add to the mascarpone mixture, whisking the whole time.

Go back to your melted chocolate and mix in the Kahlua and coffee. Then add to the mascarpone mixture, whisking continually to ensure that all the ingredients are evenly blended.

Pour over the biscuit base and bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until the centre is set (no jiggling) and the top is evenly brown.

Leave to cool and when cold, transfer from the cake tin to a pretty serving plate. Decorate with sifted icing sugar and chocolate coffee beans, either scattered haphazardly or in a ring around the edge of the dessert. Take one slice of your Torta di Cappuccino, just to make sure that it’s OK. Enjoy the sheer, delectable enjoyment of that moment and then decide if you like the people you’re with enough to share it with!!!!

Torta Cappuccino 2 w_1_1

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

It’s not difficult at all. I feel that is should have been, given the end result but no, it was very straight forward.

Seared Tuna with Chilli and Coriander Dressing

The first trip to the newly discovered fishmongers in Windsor (O’Driscolls) netted the bounty of fresh tuna steaks. They looked pretty good before I did anything to them but this easy, fast recipe really emphasises the natural flavours of the tuna and then jazzes them up with a zingy, fresh combination brought about by the wonderful combination of chillies, lime and coriander. Great dish for supper or lunch and I do believe it’s healthy too!

Serves 4

What you need…

A good handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Pinch salt

Grated zest of 4 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 x 150g fresh tuna loin steaks (about 1½ cms thick)

for the dressing

6cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Juice from the 4 limes

4 tablespoons olive oil

Another good handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

To make the dressing, put the ginger, chillies and garlic into a bowl and mash into a pulp – if you have a pestle and mortar, that’s perfect; if not, use the end of a rolling pin to bash your ingredients. Add the lime juice and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then the coriander together with salt and pepper. Mix together and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse.

In a separate bowl, mix together the coriander, salt, lime zest and oil to create a loose paste. Brush one side of each tuna steak with the paste.

In a large frying pan, heat the remaining oil over a high heat. Add the tuna steaks, paste-side down and fry for 1 minute. Brush the remaining paste on the tops of the steaks and then flip them, cooking them for a further minute – the tuna will still be rare inside – cooked any more than this and it will lose its flavour and become dry and chewy.

Serve two tuna steaks per person and pour over a tablespoon of the dressing onto each serving. Pour the remaining dressing onto a salad of mixed leaves (iceberg lettuce, chicory, baby spinach and coriander work well).

Enjoy your tasty, zesty seared tuna with chilli and coriander dressing and feel ALIVE!

Inspired by…

No idea! The original recipe was torn from a magazine years ago but my version actually bears very little resemblance anyway.

How easy…

Really, really easy. The key to success is great, fresh tuna.

 

 

Celery Soup

OK, don’t, like I did, dismiss this out of hand – I cannot believe how unexpectedly, stunningly delicious this soup is! Honestly! I was asked to make celery soup by John, following a visit to his acupuncturist – bear with me – it’s worth it. Just so you’re in the loop, he had his gall-bladder removed two years ago and his digestive system has never been right since (another story for another time). The acupuncture is working (again, another story) but the lovely lady he sees recommended celery soup, saying it would help with digestion. I put off making it for several weeks, pronouncing it dreary and was subsequently astonished at how lovely such a basic soup is. Then comes the good bit – I researched the health properties of celery – wow! It’s a super food – it has incredible properties – I’ve included a summary underneath the recipe. But I urge you to try this one – easy, quick, cheap delicious and spectacularly good for you!!!!!

Serves 4

What you need…

Splash olive/rapeseed oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

450g celery, cleaned, trimmed and sliced

400ml boiling water from the kettle

1 chicken stock pot (I use Knorr)

What to do…

Pour the hot water onto the stockpot and, using a small balloon whisk, dissolve to create your stock.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a moderate heat and then tip in the garlic, onion and celery. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, until softened.

Add the chicken stock, bring it to the boil, pop a lid on the pan and then reduce the heat to low, simmering gently for 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup to your blender and whizz until smooth and thick.

Pour into big mugs or soup bowls and enjoy your celery soup, reflecting that in life, it is often the simple things that bring the most satisfaction. Enjoy!

Tip…

I use Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients frozen chopped garlic – a quick shake direct into the pan rather than all that peeling and chopping business.

Serving suggestion…

I like this soup straight up, but if wanted a little variation, try a little swizzle of double cream or perhaps a few drops of truffle oil.

Inspired by…

James Tanner, Ready Steady Cook

How easy…

You can practically do it in your sleep!

Let’s talk about celery…

OK, so clearly it contains loads of water and that’s always good. However, if we look at the vitamins and minerals: A, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, K, potassium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium are amongst the long list associated with this humble vegetable.

 

Moving along more scientifically, celery is a rich source of flavonoids which studies have shown lower inflammation as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, enhancing the immune system and inhibiting the growth of abnormal cancer-causing cells! It also contains something called pectin-based polysaccharides – including apiuman (I’m out of my depth here) which appear to have special importance in producing anti-inflammatory benefits, with studies demonstrating improved integrity of the stomach lining, decreased risk of stomach ulcers and better control of levels of stomach secretions!

Because chronic oxidative stress and excessive inflammation are key risk factors in the development of many cancer types, it’s not surprising that scientists are interested in the potential benefits of celery intake for cancer prevention. While there is speculation about celery benefits for stomach cancer, colon cancer, and bladder cancer, there are as yet no actual human research studies in any of these areas. Hopefully, future research studies will address the potential cancer-related benefits of celery much more closely.

My vote is that it has to be good for you and that this simple soup is a great way to get your quota!