Lemon chicken

9 February 2010

Lemon Chicken

Chicken recipe : Roasted Lemon Chicken with Sumac

What to do with chicken…. that ever versatile white protein. My mother has been trying to disguise it for years while my father throws every curry in the book at it just to ‘add’ some taste.

I was looking for a change, so went sniffing through my cookbooks for an EASY CHICKEN RECIPE when I came across Ottolengi’s ‘Roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon’.

The basis of the recipe looked good but I didn’t have a few of the ingredients on hand  ie) no za’atar (Middle Eastern blend of dried thyme, sesame seeds and salt) or allspice and didn’t feel much like messing around with a whole chicken, so I simplified things.

All you need is a few chicken breasts, fresh lemon, sumac (a spice made of crushed Mediterranean berries), garlic, stock and a few other spices. This makes a delicious, fragrant dish, that is healthy and great served over basmati rice.

See the link ‘lemon chicken’ below for the recipe:

LEMON CHICKEN

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BEEF STROGANOFF

25 January 2010

Beef Stroganoff

BEEF STROGANOFF {Бефстроганов, Befstróganov}

A great Russian beef recipe!

“Don’t always listen to your husband but always listen to your BUTCHER!”

This is what I was told on Saturday after finding Olivier in the butcher shop. He had ventured in with our shopping list and ordered 350g of beef shoulder. The butcher put the meat on the chopping block and with his knife poised asked what we were cooking. “Beef Stroganoff” Olivier replied.

The knife went down and a knowing look came over the butchers face. “My friend” he said, “this is not the meat for you.  For beef stroganoff only beef fillet will do! You want the most tender meat, cut into ‘allumettes‘  (thin strips) and then quickly seared in the pan. It will melt in your mouth”.

And it did. The price was definitely not that of beef shoulder, but worth every penny.

Beef strogi as it’s known in our family comes with many variations on a theme. However I like a simple recipe, made with only beef, onions, paris mushroom and sour cream. A little salt & pepper, garnished with chopped parsley and you have a carnivores bit of heaven.

The name is likely derived from Count Sergei Stroganoff (1794-1881), a Russian official and gourmet! I bet you he was all over the beef fillet.

BEEF STROGANOFF

SP-handmade-sliced-ham

Sliced ham recipe

SLICED HAM RECIPE :  Just back from a great weekend in the English countryside. I was visiting Kip & Elise, my Aunt & Uncle and managed to fit in a spot of cooking. There is something about their kitchen that leads to cullinary experimentation and this time it was trying my hand at making pressed ham for sliced cold meats (luncheon meats).

Kip has made it for us in the past and we agreed that the taste, texture and reduced salt content will convert you in a heart beat. You can really taste the bay leaves, juniper berries and cider in the ham, which shaves perfectly into paper thin slices, just wonderful in a sandwich.

Not only does it taste better but making your own sliced ham is far more economical than buying it at the supermarket or butcher and stays fresh longer without that nasty oxidised taste, as you slice it as needed. Kip even keeps the stock and uses it to make wonderful green split pea soup, which will post in the future.

HAM RECIPE

BROCCOLI BASIL CREAM SOUP

29 September 2009

SP-Broccoli-basil-cream-sou

Broccoli soup

BROCCOLI SOUP with BASIL CREAM

I have been on a green theme lately, avocado, pesto, swiss chard…. it wasn’t conscious I tell you. I take inspiration as it comes. This time it was from the general direction of the fridge, where two broccoli’s & half of a cauliflower were staring me down. Add to that my lack of inspiration for dinner (happens to the best of us right), plus a lonely bouquet of basil and this soup was taking shape.

I have always felt that cream of broccoli soup was missing something, that it needed a little pick me up to tweak the taste buds. Here’s where the basil cream came in. It is not overpowering, in fact you may need a few spoonfuls to put your finger on just what makes this sumptuous soup so much better than the rest.

BROCCOLI SOUP

PESTO

24 September 2009

SP-Pesto

Pesto

PESTO : This will be the shortest post known to man! Ok well not quite, but I was about to post the recipe for an avocado, goats cheese & quinoa salad when it occurred to me that it might be useful to have the Basil Pesto recipe first, as it is one of the main ingredients.

This recipe can be easily adapted to different tastes – more or less garlic, with or without parmesan and I add a dash of lemon juice to help keep the bright green colour, as the outer layer seems to oxidize so quickly!

Marisa told me,that when she was a little girl living in Italy, she was given the odious job of having to chop the basil by hand, into a fine paste using only a knife… authentic yes, time efficient no. So I have opted for using the blender and while less romantic it does get the job done.

PESTO

TOFU & SWISS CHARD Recipe

21 September 2009

SP-Tofu-swiss-chard

Tofu & swiss chard

TOFU & SWISS CHARD

Who wants to eat tofu ???? I mean soya bean curd in a cube, the meat for the non-meat eaters. Appetising….. well actually yes ,very! I think the carnivores have seriously been missing out here – the herbivores are on to  a great thing, that is both nutritious and delicious.  Once you get over the stereotype of ‘tofu burgers’ and ‘tofu dogs’,  it adds great variety to the weekly menu and goes well with Asian inspired sauces and many vegetables, like Swiss chard.

In case you aren’t familiar with Swiss chard, here is a link and there is a photo with my recipe. I make large quantities of this dish which is a delicious blend of the white, crunchy, slightly sweet part of the Swiss chard, with the slightly more bitter leaves, and herb tofu sautéed with black sesame seeds and garlic!

TOFU SWISS CHARD RECIPE

PUMPKIN SOUP

17 September 2009

SP-Pumpkin-soup

PUMPKIN SOUP

It is pumpkin season again! I hadn’t quite realised to what extent until last weekend when we were driving through the Swiss countryside and came across huge stalls of every size, shape and colour of pumpkin imaginable. The food bells went off in my head and after much shrieking I had Olivier turning the car around to make a pit stop.

Here things work on the honour system – you take a pumpkin and leave money in the penny jar. If you forget, the headless horseman will come after you that night to remind you. Kidding! So we loaded up the boot, settled the account and drove home with 5 extra ‘friends’.  Now it was a question of what to do with them – soup seemed like a good start.

The secret to this recipe is the use of two different types of pumpkins:

  1. The potimarron (aka Hokkaido squash or kuri pumpkin) a small, intense orange pumpkin with dense bright orange flesh and sweet taste with a hint of chestnut (marron = chestnut in French).
  2. The muscade of Provence which is a large pumpkin, orange/grey in colour with lighter orange flesh, contains more water and has a less sweet taste.

The mix of the two makes the perfect soup. This recipe will also come in handy for my brother who recently bought a second-hand bicycle in Rotterdam which came with a hand blender (don’t ask)!

PUMPKIN SOUP

TABOULE / Tabbouleh

7 September 2009

SP-Taboule

Taboule (tabbouleh, tabouli ) – is an easy recipe for when you don’t feel like cooking! Or when you don’t have time to cook, or when you have a big group coming over, or if, like my brother, you don’t have an oven! There does not seem to be one single recipe for tabbouleh, but several variations on a theme: Moroccan, Armenian, Turkish, Syrian and Lebanese. The basic dish is a salad of herbs to which you add tomatoes, onions and bulgar wheat (cracked wheat). Traditionally it is eaten as part of a mezze, a selection of small dishes,  using a lettuce leaf.

I prefer this salad when it has a 50:50 balance of herbs (mint /parsley) to bulgar, but what is great is that you can  personalise the dish to your taste. Another reason I was attracted to this salad is that it is budget conscious and in these times that can be nothing but a good thing!

TABOULE