Chermoula Chicken

28 Sep

This is an excellent traybake-style recipe from Rosie Sykes new cookbook The Sunday Night Book. With prep that is front ended and could easily be organised in advance the most demanding part is making the aromatic chermoula paste and then you’re ready to rock.

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The North African chermoula is a blend of toasted spices and fresh ingredients which means the end result is fragrant and delicious. I used a pestle and mortar, which is always satisfying, but a food processor would work too. After prepping your paste just combine with chicken thighs (bone in or out), red onions and new potatoes and then leave covered to marinade in the fridge until you’re ready to cook or pop in the oven.

Serve with flatbreads or rice. This recipe gives three good-sized portions and like most marinated meats it is even tastier the next day in a wrap or flatbread.

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You will need;

10 chicken thighs, skin on
12 new potatoes, halved lengthways
2 red onions, cut into wedges
12 baby plum tomatoes, halved
Salt
1 cup of water

Chermoula paste
1 tsp cumin seeds, briefly toasted
Half a lemon
A good handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
A good handful of coriander, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Half a red chilli, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
Half tsp salt
6 tbsp light olive oil

Method

  • If cooking straightaway preheat your oven to 190 oC/ Gas mark 5
  • Allow your toasted cumin seeds to cool and then roughly chop to reduce the size a bit, pre-pestle action
  • Juice the lemon and then finely chop the remaining skin and flesh
  • Now smash/blend all the marinade ingredients together except the chopped lemon.
  • Once it starts to look like a paste add your chopped lemon (keep 1tsp back for later) and the salt
  • Keep bashing/blitzing and slowly adding the olive oil until you have a loose smooth paste.
  • Place your chicken, onions, and potatoes in a roasting tray, sprinkle with salt and the remaining lemon and then massage the paste into the mix making sure the thighs have good coating.
  • Arrange the ingredients so they nestle alongside one another, making sure the chicken thighs are skin side up.
  • Pour a cup of water around your artfully arranged chicken and veg and roast for half an hour.
  • Check what’s happening at this point and move everything about a bit, if it looks a little dry add some more water.
  • Scatter the tomatoes over the mixture and then return to the oven for 20 minutes more.
  • You know you’re done when the chicken is crispy and the potatoes are cooked through and there is a sizzling sauce around everything.
  • Re the sauce, if you want more than is left, remove the chicken and veg to a warm plate and add a little boiling water to your roasting tin. Over a low heat whisk to get all the yummy caramelised bits together to create a delicious sauce to pour over your chicken.
  • Finally scatter a few roughly torn coriander leaves over the top before you scoop up the crisp fragrant chicken, spiced potatoes and sweet onions with a warm flatbread.

 

 

 

 

 

Romanos meet marinade

11 Sep

Sexy Roman peppers are often sweeter than your average pepper and lend themselves brilliantly to roasting and marinating. This simple recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s, Ottolenghi The Cookbook, offers big flavours with just a few ingredients.

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Romanos ready for roasting

Combining fresh herbs, garlic, oil and vinegar the warm peppers bathe in the marinade for a couple of hours resulting in a fantastic lunch or starter. The creamy mozzarella can be omitted to make this a vegan dish. Serve with focaccia or rustic style bread (the crusts are great for soaking up all the herb flavoured juices).

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Allow 1 Romano pepper per person.

This recipe serves 6

You will need

  • 6 Romano peppers
  • 120ml olive oil
  • Small handful of parsley and coriander, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 200g mozzarella
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Preheat your even to 180oC
  • Arrange the peppers in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Roast the peppers for roughly 10 minutes
  • While the peppers roast in the oven prepare your marinade
  • Chop parsley and coriander (reserving a small amount to garnish at the end) add olive oil and vinegar and crushed garlic to a shallow dish
  • When the peppers are cooked place them in the marinade, taking care to spoon the liquid over the peppers
  • Cover the bowl with a plate or cloth and leave to marinade for 1-2 hours
  • When you’re ready to serve them arrange on a plate and roughly tear the mozzarella over the top.
  • Spoon the remaining dressing over the peppers and mozzarella.
  • Sprinkle the remaining herbs over the top and serve with crusty bread, essential for all those delicious juices.

Apple cinnamon compote

9 Sep

Apples are a staple in our house but there always seems to be a few which end up lurking at the bottom of the fruit bowl uneaten. They can’t help it, they just aren’t as pretty as the others. Rather than let them go to apple heaven unfulfilled I slice and bake them (skin on) with a little maple or agave syrup and cinnamon. They don’t take long and with the addition of some dried cranberries, soaked just enough to soften, they are delicious as a topping on yoghurt or porridge. Plus you get two of your five-a-day (or is it eight now?) in before lunch.

If you like, get fancy and add in some toasted nuts or seeds for extra texture but I tend to be a compote purist and don’t like messing with the simplicity of these four ingredients.

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You will need:

  • 3 or 4 apples (don’t worry if they are a little overripe or bruised) cut into wedges and lightly dressed with lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp agave or maple syrup
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • A handful of dried cranberries soaked in a little hot water and drained.

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 160oC
  • Arrange your apple wedges on a small baking tray tray or dish
  • Squeeze the lemon over the apples
  • Combine with the syrup
  • Sprinkle on the cinammon
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes (keep an eye on them so they don’t disintegrate)
  • Whilst they cook soak your cranberries in hot water for 20 minutes
  • Drain you cranberries.
  • Spoon the apples and cranberries over your yoghurt or warm porridge, delicious!

A fish pie for Autumn

8 Sep

There is a change in the air and the apples that were on my tree are now windfalls. With crisp mornings and dark nights coming closer it’s time to pull out the comfort recipes which will cosy up your evenings.

This fish pie, based on a Jamie Oliver recipe, is simple to make and combines both fresh fish, and lots of great vegetables so you can be guilt free. However you could add cream to your béchamel sauce and extra cheese to your topping if you are not worried about the calories!

I used cod, smoked haddock and salmon but whatever you have available works, prawns, pollack, or trout will be delicious in any combo. Some supermarkets sell a fresh fish pie mix which is perfect for this recipe. If time is limited feel free to cheat on the mash and use a pre-prepped root/sweet potato mash.

The beauty of this dish is that it’s choc full of veggies so you don’t need any other accompaniments.

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Salmon and haddock with crumbled feta, spinach, peas and a dill béchamel

Serves 4

You will need:

  • 400/500g mixed fresh fish, chopped into large chunks
  • 300g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 100g fresh or frozen peas (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 75g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 pint milk semi or full fat
  • 25g butter
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 750g mixed root vegetables eg. sweet potato, carrot, peeled, diced, boiled in salted water and mashed
  • salt & pepper

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180 oC
  • Butter your pie dish
  • Peel, dice, and boil your root vegetables in salted water, cook till tender and then mash till smooth, leave to cool
  • Arrange your cubed fish along the bottom of the dish
  • To make your béchamel; melt the butter in a small saucepan, add your flour and, using a wooden spoon, combine to make a roux (this is almost like a dough) keep it moving and cook gently until opaque.
    Gradually stir in your milk, get ready to switch to a whisk as the sauce will thicken quickly and the goal is something smooth and velvety.
    Once you have added all your milk season the sauce and stir in half your dill and the mustard, leave to cool
  • Add the spinach and peas to the béchamel sauce and spoon over your fish
  • Crumble half the feta cheese over your sauce base
  • Carefully spoon on the mash, crumble the remaining feta over the top and then bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top and bubbling at the sides.
  • Garnish with the remaining dill and serve.
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Sweet potato mash fish pie with crumbled feta

Academy Espresso Bar

6 Sep

On the edge of Barry’s growing bayside community, Academy Espresso Bar is the perfect fit for this new district. Housed in the historic Pumphouse it blends eclectic style with the industrial heritage of the building. The space is calm and contemporary, the staff friendly and attentive with their signature t’s stating WORK HARD and be nice to people!

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By day Academy serve excellent coffee and brunch, with the ubiquitous but delicious, sourdough and avocado a menu staple. The crowd are a relaxed mix of dog walkers and gym goers (Snap fitness is on the doorstep), mums, dads, kids and workers.

By night Academy has a very different vibe, more urban bar than suburban coffee house. It hosts a variety of excellent pop-up street food vendors on the terrace to accompany their craft beer and cocktail selection. This collaboration offers an ever-changing menu alongside the artisan platters that Academy’s kitchen serve from Thursday to Saturday night. Rocking an inspiring range of tattoos the night crew are excellent hosts for a top evening. There’s even a regular event for live music fans.

Like many non-central bars and restaurants Academy opens 7 days a week as a coffee house, and as a bar/eatery Thursday to Saturday till 11pm. Academy have managed to get the right blend between coffee shop and bar, with the addition of pop ups their offering is kept fresh, fun and different, worth a visit wherever you are in the capital.

For info on openings and events check out Academy Espresso Bar

 

Orzotto

20 Jun

 

Something between a pasta and a risotto Orzotto is a fab summertime comfort dish when it’s still raining in June!

With baby peas, fresh parsley and pesto it’s light, quick and simple to make and stores well for packed lunches or even picnics (if it ever stops pouring down).

I found this great supper in this month’s Delicious Magazine. It uses store cupboard items, although granted Orzo pasta is not a super common pasta but larger supermarkets have it, but not always in the pasta aisle. I found this brand at Asda and it was pretty good quality (not that I’m an Orzo expert btw).

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To make it vegetarian just omit the pancetta and use veggy stock. You could also make it with dried porcini and chestnut mushrooms which would be equally delicious.

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You will need:

A largish heavy bottomed pan
2tbsp Olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
I clove garlic (optional)
260g Orzo pasta
500ml Chicken or Vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
200g frozen Petit Pois
2 tbsp Classic pesto (either make your own see previous posts or shop bought)
Plenty of flat leaf parsley, chopped

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion (and garlic if including) till soft add the pancetta and fry till it has taken on some colour.
  • Stir in the orzo as you would rice in a risotto and coat with the oil in the pan. After a couple of minutes pour in the stock.
  • Stir and simmer on a lowish heat, keep stirring occasionally. Test regularly until it is just tender (around 8 mins).
  • Add the lemon juice and the frozen peas and simmer a little longer.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the pesto and most of the parsley.
  • Serve with an extra sprinkle of parsley, parmesan shavings and a grind of black pepper.

Baked chicken curry

16 Jun

This is a super easy standby chicken curry from one of Hugh FW’s books.  Its a quick whizz of ingredients followed by a slow bake in the oven to create a deliciously rich and fragrant chicken curry. I’ve used chicken thighs as they carry the spice flavours really well and they’re also pretty cheap. The curry has creamy coconut milk which tempers the spices and makes it family friendly too.

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You will need:

2 heaped tsp cumin seeds
2 heaped tsp coriander seeds
1 heaped tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger or 1inch piece of fresh ginger roughly chopped
1 lge onion roughly chopped
3 lge cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 lge green chilli roughly chopped (remove seeds if you want to take down the heat)
3-4 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil
1.2kg chicken boneless chicken thighs
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin coconut milk
Salt & pepper

Ok so the longest part of this is organising your spices but it’s definitely worth it.

  • First grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder then roast them in a dry frying pan. Tip them out.
  • Next quickly season then sear your chicken thighs in the frying pan. Lay the chicken in an ovenproof dish and lets move on to the sauce.
  • Tip all your spices into the frying pan and cook for a few minutes.
  • While this is happening put your onion, ginger (if using fresh), garlic and chilli in to a food processor and whizz away till they form a rough paste. If it looks a bit cludgy add a small amount of water.
  • Next tip the onion mixture into the pan with the spices combine and cook for a few more minutes the mixture will start to look dryer and come together so it’s more like a traditional curry paste.
  • Now give the tomatoes a whizz in the same food processor pour onto the spice paste and then pour in the coconut milk mix together. Season with a tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper.
  • You should now have a rich creamy sauce ready to pour over your chicken and get baking.

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  • Pop in the oven for about 45mins on 180C. Sprinkle on some fresh coriander leaves and serve with fluffy basmati.

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Barabrith meet Tea Brack

22 Apr

After growing up in Abergavenny, Wales you would think I would be totally au-fait with Barabrith. I am afraid not, in our house we had Tea Brack, and yes it bears a more than a passing resemblance to Barabrith, although I’m sure die-hard Welsh cooks will disagree. Tea Brack has it’s origins in Ireland, so maybe somewhere in my roots there is an Irish granny (since confirmed I do have the blarney in my roots!) who has passed this recipe down through the family, both my mother and grandmother cooked this delicious fruit loaf regularly. Their version did not include whisky which seems to feature frequently in the traditional Irish versions of the recipe. In the Llewellyn family method, the fruit is soaked overnight in cold tea, and then combined with the other ingredients to make a warm fruit bursting loaf. Said loaf could then be sliced and spread with butter and served at Saturday tea time alongside scones with homemade Raspberry jam, Victoria sponges oozing with buttercream and other scrummy, but heart attack inducing fare.

Tea brack

Ingredients

300g mixed dried fruits eg. Sultanas, raisins etc
250g Light brown sugar
300ml Strong, hot tea
300g Self-raising flour
1 egg
Butter for greasing tin
1kg/2lb Loaf tin

  • This is pretty simple as cake recipes go and fairly laid back. Just a few ingredients and a loaf tin.
  • The night before put your sugar and dried fruit in a bowl, make your strong tea and while its hot pour over the sugar and fruit and stir well. The fruit needs 6-8 hours to soak up all the sugary tea so leave overnight.
  • Next day grease your loaf tin and line the base with baking parchment. Preheat your oven to 150C/ gas mark 2.
  • Mix the flour and egg into the fruit mixture which by now has soaked up the sweetened tea.
  • Once mixed scrape into the loaf tin and level the top.
  • Bake in your oven for 1.5hours or until it has risen and is firm to the touch.
  • Leave to cool for 10mins before turning out of the tin and putting onto a wire rack.
  • Delicious sliced and spread with warm salty butter.
  • NB: It is essential to drink a large mug of hot tea preferably poured from a teapot with your Barabrith.

Eating Barcelona…

7 Jul

Sitting at my kitchen table watching the July drizzle (hello?!!) I can’t help feeling more than a small hankering to go straight back to the sunny climes of Barcelona.

Back in the 90’s I was lucky enough to be an EFL teacher in this fabulous city. For two years I explored every nook and cranny of Barcelona often with mixed success. Pickpockets, dodgy dealers and from time to time some very dodgy food made for an interesting life, as with the seediness came a wealth of culture and a unique blend of exoticism that I’ve never found anywhere else. This time sealed my obsession with, and to, all things Spain and over the last 20 years I have been back many times to get my fix.

My latest visit was no exception, the wealth of fabulous homegrown food the Catalans have to offer coupled with some outstanding wines, great art, architecture and even fabulous weather make it an exceptional destination.

Our trip began with the usual bag drop off at our hotel. Normally a lottery when it comes to online booking, the Hotel Market was a pleasant surprise. It’s stylish and laid back with friendly staff. Situated in La Raval, formerly a bit low rent as an area it is now much improved, and has kept its village-like vibe with the bustling if temporary Mercat de Sant Antoni. The original market building along with many others in the city is undergoing extensive renovation at present.

Nearby we found plenty of great bars and cafes. We breakfasted at the excellent Rekon (formerly Granja Contigo) serving great coffee and delicious Napoletanas (tiny pan chocolat) and Palmero (sweet heart-shaped pastries with a sugar glaze) plus the ubiquitous Empanadas (savoury pasties) filled with everything from chorizo to goats cheese and peppers. Drinking a freshly squeezed orange juice in the sun outside, your day is set.

Street life is everything in Barcelona so a great deal of time is passed just soaking up the myriad of  characters and cultures that inhabit the city. This translates to a lot of people watching whilst slurping canyas of Estrella and munching on sweet pimento olives and salted almonds. Perfect for this activity is Marmalade (Carrer Riera Alta), smack on the intersection between 2 small streets it has some very good cocktails, Mojitos are pretty popular here, alongside a good menu of snacks and grown-up burgers.

The cornerstone of Spanish cuisine is tapas, Quimet Quimet is probably the best I’ve found in the city not just for the food but also for the fantastic atmosphere. Be warned it gets very busy and is always standing room only. Located in Carrer de Poeta Cabanyer in the Poble Sec district, it has been in existence for many years and offers unique Montaditos. These small crostini are piled high with inspired combinations from pickled anchovies (Boquerones) with creamy goats cheese to cod’s liver (Higado de bacalao) with roe on a base of sofrito (tomato and pepper sauce). Canned fish are a big deal here and while we may sniff at the thought of opening a can of scallops, in the hands of Quimet Quimet they are elevated to sweet, succulent morsels sipped with a tiny spoon. Fleshy sturgeon is served with roasted red peppers and fine jalapenos, drizzled with the greenest olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Plates of mariscos, clams, razorfish, baby squid, mussels with sweet sea juices that can only be soaked up with pan tomate. The house Cerveza Negra (a dark stout-looking beer) is an excellent accompaniment but that said the house wines are also superb.

When you visit Barcelona don’t miss La Boqueria market just off the La Rambla. La Rambla is rammed with tourists and hawkers and on the whole not a great way to see anything but step off into the market and you are thrown into a bustling hub filled with both tourists and locals jockeying for position. In the centre are stalls loaded with hams, cheeses and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.


Around the edge are several bars, some better than others. One of the best is Bar Pinotxo. Stake your claim on one of the stools that border this corner bar and order whatever they have available. Once it’s gone it’s gone, so don’t leave lunch till too late or you’ll be disappointed. We had fantastic rabbit (conejo) cooked with tiny, dark and delicious mushrooms in a rich, earthy gravy, the flavours were pure rustic catalan cooking. The sweet rabbit flesh could only be extracted by nibbling the tiny bones, which made the experience all the more pleasurable. Griddled gambas (king prawns) in their shells were anointed with just a smattering of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Alongside a paper place mat you are given a hunk of salty sour fresh bread with which to mop up the unwasteable juices. Garbanzos (chickpeas) slow-cooked with thyme, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic elevate this humble pulse from sidekick to hero. My husband barely had a look-in, although he had bagsied the aforementioned rabbit. That day there were also some excellent pimientos de padron, the last of which were snaffled by a pair of chic businessmen at my side who knew the ropes, ordered quickly, and didn’t sit ogling all the dishes like starstruck teenagers as we did. After a feast of dishes and several glasses of cava (it just has to be done) we strode, full-bellied, back into the sunshine to soak up some more culture.

All photographs © Keith Davies

Rachel’s Frozen…

18 Jun

After much complaining from my kids about the lack of ice cream in our freezer I thought I’d whip up a batch of frozen yoghurt, it’s quick and really easy to make but most important of all, it’s scrummy.

Ingredients

1 Ripe mango, pureed
1 small can Condensed milk
1 large (450g) carton of Rachel’s Organic Coconut Yoghurt

With a very ripe mango to hand I whizzed up a quick puree which I combined with the yoghurt and the special addition of one small can of condensed milk. This adds a creamy sweetness and is a good foil to the sharper greek yoghurt.

Using a good quality flavoured yoghurt means most of the work is done for you and one large carton (450g) makes about 6 servings. I used Rachel’s Organic Greek Style Coconut yoghurt which is fab on its own but perfect for this. If you have an ice cream maker, lucky you, now’s the chance to use it, alternatively place the yoghurt mixture in the freezer. After about an hour or two take out the yoghurt and fork through to break up any ice crystals. Repeat this process every hour or so until frozen. To serve let the frozen yoghurt sit at room temp for about 10mins to soften.

This is really simple to make and you can add any fruit puree you fancy, strawberries (almost in season so why not PYO), raspberries anything you like.

If you want to make this a bit more flash as a dessert you could you could serve it with some fresh berry coulis and crumbled meringue. Delish.

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