Chicken with Spicy Tomato Sauce

This is a recipe I have borrowed from an excellent blog I follow called Spring Tomorrow.  One of the recipes that caught my eye on there had most of the ingredients that you would associate with an Asian curry but with one exception – it used evaporated milk!  I often use coconut milk when preparing a curry and whilst it is delicious it can be a little too rich and leave you feeling over-full afterwards.

I used chicken thighs as that is what I had in the fridge – the original recipe uses chicken breast. Other than that the only other variation I had was to use parsley as a garnish as our coriander hasn’t grown in the garden yet!  One mistake I made was to add the evaporated milk too early as you might be able to see from the picture that the sauce split slightly (it didn’t affect the taste at all).  It needs to go in at the last minute to prevent this.

Ingredients
One large onion
Three cloves of garlic
Two slices of ginger
One dried chilli
Glug of olive oil
6 chicken thighs
One can (400g) chopped tomatoes
170g can evaporated milk
Salt + Pepper
Fresh parsley

Method

1. Fry the chicken thighs in olive oil on all sides until brown – this took about ten minutes.
2. In a food processor I chopped the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli until it resembled a fine paste. I added this to the frying pan and fried with the chicken for 5 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and let it simmer away for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
4. Turn the heat down low and add the evaporated milk. Stir gently until it is all warmed through and serve immediately.  Garnish with coriander.

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We had this with some plain rice, and it was totally delicious.  Delicately spiced so that you could still taste all the ingredients without any one flavour dominating.  I’d really recommend giving this a go, a great way to introduce kids to curry flavours without being too strong for young mouths.

Thanks Spring Tomorrow!

Leg of Lamb with Lemon and Rosemary

Many of the supermarkets do a deal on roasting meats ahead of the Easter weekend, which is an excellent opportunity to buy a slightly more expensive (or larger!) cut of meat.  It really is worth spending a little more when buying meat as I really think you get what you pay for.  Also, the better the quality of the meat, the less you have to do to make it taste really good (bit of a cliché but it’s true).

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I took the leaves off of a couple of large sprigs of rosemary, sliced a lemon and two cloves of garlic thinly as the picture above.  DSCN1220I then cut the sides of the lamb leg (2.2kg) with a carving knife to make some long slashes in the sides of the meat and posted in the rosemary, lemon and garlic.  I then drizzled some olive oil over the top and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

I then put the lamb into the oven for 1hr45mins at 190oC, taking it out and allowing it to rest for 15 minutes before carving.  We had this with some roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli and some really thick gravy.  Yum!

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Cod wrapped in Prosciutto with Green Lentils

Mrs B sometimes tells me that this is her favourite meal.  If I haven’t cooked it for a while then she will regularly tell me that it is her favourite meal!  As a former vegetarian/pescetarian (and yes, I did spell it correctly first time) she often complains that we eat too much meat.  I sometimes struggle to think of ways to cook fish but this dish has always worked well.  I normally make it with pancetta, but on this occasion the shop had run out so we had prosciutto as a substitution which seemed to taste just as good.

DSCN1153 (2)This, along with dhal, is a pulses recipe I cook regularly and proves that you don’t need to do much with lentils to turn them into a delicious accompaniment to a meal.  I had a meal similar to this in a pub which had fish served with puy lentils.  I have tried this using puy but I find green lentils much easier to cook with.  As well as giving the meal a delicious flavour, the prosciutto also helps to prevent the fish from drying out too much in the oven.

Serves: 2 Adults + 2 kids

Ingredients:
Vegetable oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Tinned tomatoes (400g)
250g green lentils
450mls chicken stock
A chunk of butter (about 30g)
2 pieces of cod loin
6 slices of prosciutto

1. Chop the onion and fry gently in the oil until it starts to brown slightly. Then add the chopped garlic and the tomatoes and give it a bit of a stir.
2. Add in the lentils and the stock (I just made this from a stock cube) and stir. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat so that the lentils are simmering away and leave for 35 minutes. Cover and stir every ten minutes or so to check the lentils aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan (you might need to add a splash of water near to the end if it is looking a bit dry).
3. Whilst the lentils are cooking you can prepare the fish. Cut the loin up into portion sizes (I’m afraid I forgot to weigh the cod, but you can see from the picture how big they are). Wrap the cod in the prosciutto and place it on an oiled foil-lined roasting tin:

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4. I then roasted this in the oven (200oC fan) for 20 minutes – although it might take slightly more or less time depending on the thickness of the cod.
5. Right at the end I stir in the butter to the lentils to provide a little extra richness – after all the rest of the meal is healthy so why not?!

We had this with a nice Sauvignon Blanc (the boys having water of course!) DSCN1174which went really well with the flavours in the lentils.  You could probably cook the lentils for longer if you wanted but I like them to still be a bit firm.  If you are someone that likes the look of all those delicious products on the fish counter but never knows what to do with plain fish then I would say this is a great place to start.

Chicken with Lemon and Thyme

I love to try and get my eldest son AB involved in preparing the dinner as much as possible.  The temptation can often be to think “I’ll just do it myself, it will be easier/quicker/not require the whole kitchen floor to be mopped afterwards!”  However, I believe that the more children are involved in preparing a meal, the more of an interest they will take in food.  Often parents think that the only way a child can help in the kitchen is if they are making cakes and biscuits. Whilst that certainly has its place (and is a huge amount of fun!) it does concern me a little that some children might think that all good food made in the kitchen has sugar, butter, chocolate etc in.  What better way of getting a child to try something that they haven’t had or liked before than by getting them to have a hand in its preparation?

With this chicken recipe I got AB to help me make the marinade that goes on to the chicken (he is still a bit too young to be using a hot oven).  Firstly I got him to take the leaves off of a few sprigs of thyme – probably 10 or so small ones.

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I then quartered a lemon and got him to squeeze all the juice in (doesn’t matter if the pips go in) followed by some salt and pepper.

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I then finished the marinade by adding a good glug of olive oil and two smashed cloves of garlic, skin on.  There is normally an argument as to who gets the garlic after roasting, they taste divine if roasted in their skins!  The 6 chicken thighs then had the skin slashed a few times and placed into the bowl with the marinade.  I gave it a good mix around with my hands and left it for half an hour before roasting in an oven for 45 mins, 200oC fan.  I served this with some potato wedges and some green vegetables, but you could really serve this chicken with almost any accompaniments.  The marinade itself is not set in stone either, again one of those things that you can experiment with by substituting or adding ingredients as you wished.

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Lamb, Gnocchi & Aubergine Moussaka

One of the great things about the supermarket I use (mentioned in a previous post) is that their website is full of recipes, many of which create meals that are ready in minutes.  I often find when I’m doing the online shopping that after I buy all the essential bits I have an entry on my list “Dinner bits”.  This is the point where I look out the room, trying to avoid buying the same things that I did last week.  Maybe even make a cup of tea to see if an excellent idea for dinner will pop into my brain as I am filling the kettle…

This moussaka recipe is taken from the Waitrose website, under the “Meals in minutes” section, and is ready in under 40 minutes.  It uses just a handful of ingredients…OK, you would need a pretty big hand to hold all these things, but you get the idea!

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Firstly I preheated the oven to 200oC fan.  Then, I fried the lamb until it had turned brown, then added the tomato sauce, gnocchi and 100mls of water (not pictured!).  Let this simmer covered for 5 minutes, then take the lid off and allow it to bubble for 3 minutes.

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You then tip the whole mixture into a lasagne dish and place thin slices (about ½cm) of aubergine on top.  Then beat two eggs together and mix with 150mls yoghurt (I might have used a bit more yoghurt than this) and pour over the aubergine.  Then bake it in the oven for 20 minutes.

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This is seriously tasty, the gnocchi absorbs the sauce and the tomatoes help to cut through the richness of the lamb.  This is also a good way to get AB (eldest son) to eat aubergine which often doesn’t appeal to children!

Tandoori-style Chicken

Tandoori chicken is named after the oven, a tandoor, in which the meat is cooked.  It is a cylindrical oven made of clay – funnily enough I don’t have one of those in my kitchen!  It can also be cooked on a barbecue although this would be much harder to do with a whole chicken as it’s difficult to ensure it is cooked through.  Also, it was a chilly afternoon in the middle of March, I wasn’t quite feeling brave enough to get the charcoal out…

So I have named this Tandoori-style chicken as I cooked this in our electric oven.  Again, a nice simple and quick method to enable you to cook this as a midweek roast if you wish.  Preheat the oven to 200oC fan.  I mixed together the following ingredients in a bowl:

• Chopped ginger and garlic (about a tbsp. of each)
• 1 tbsp ground coriander
• 1 tbsp garam masala
• ½ tsp turmeric
• Salt, to taste
• 1 chopped dried chilli
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 3 tbsp veg oil

I then just smeared this mixture all over the chicken:

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I then roasted this for 1hr10mins, taking it out to baste halfway through.  After which time the chicken was cooked so I let it rest for ten minutes or so before carving.

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Again I served this with rice and lentil dhal and a dollop of yoghurt.DSCN1054  I also like some chilli pickle with this as it’s a great way for me to have some heat with my dinner without it being too much chilli for my son’s taste buds!

Lentil dhal

For the first 20 or so years of my life I had dismissed the idea of eating lentils as I simply didn’t know how to cook them and had no desire to order a dish without meat when going out for food!  Then one day when at University I watched my then-flatmate-now-wife make what seemed to be the simplest dish out of these little red lentils.  Surely you have to put loads of ingredients in to make these pulses taste in any way edible?!  I was very wrong…DSCN1065 (2)

Dhal (often called Dal) is a cheap to prepare meal eaten throughout India and the surrounding countries and an excellent source of protein.  It goes well with any curried meat, or in the past when cooking just for myself I would eat it with chapatti or rice.  You can use pretty much any spices you like to this – often I get my eldest son AB to choose what spices to put in!  We sometimes end up with some interesting combinations but as long as you don’t put too much of any one spice in then it will still taste delicious.

Below is the recipe I often use to cook dhal, you can vary the types and quantities of spice you use according to your taste.  The only thing I tend to stay clear of is adding too much, if any, chilli.  You really don’t need any heat with this meal.  A more common method is to boil the lentils and the separately fry the spices in oil before tipping them into the lentils at the last minute.  Personally I prefer the “one pot” approach I use below, I like the idea that you add the spices to start with and then just leave it to bubble away whilst you concentrate on the rest of your meal.

Serves:                                 2 Adults + 2 kids as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 onion
Splash of vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin
Salt, to taste
150g red lentils
400mls boiling water
About 10 curry leaves (optional)

  1. Fry the chopped onion over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the onion has started to turn translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown.
  2. Add the spices, salt and the red lentils and quickly give it a stir to combine everything, then add the water. Add the curry leaves (if using).
  3. Turn the heat down low and let it gently bubble, giving it a stir every ten mins or so. You might need to add a splash of water if the lentils look a bit dry
  4. The lentils should be cooked after half an hour after which time they will start to break down and turn a bit mushy.

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I’d really recommend you have a go with this, and get experimenting with different spice mixtures.  It really is a great way of eating lentils.