chicken noodle broth

After a year long hiatus, Cibus Amare returns.

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Ingredients

  • Chicken breast, or two chicken thighs with bones removed
  • One carrot, peeled and cut into thin batons
  • 5-10 Savoy cabbage leaves, halved lengthways
  • One fresh red chili, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 2cm piece of ginger, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Boiling water
  • Dark soy sauce, around 1 tbsp
  • Chinese 5 spice
  • One nest of thin, quick-cook noodles (available at Morrisons and Sainsburys)

Method

  1. Cover the chicken with clingfilm, and then flatten using a rolling pin. Remove the chicken from the clingfilm, and sprinkle over with Chinese 5 spice seasoning. Leave to marinade for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat a little oil in a small frying pan, and seal the chicken on both sides. Aim to colour the chicken breast – it should not be cooked through, but browned on the outside. Achieve this by having a high heat, and pressing the chicken down into the pan with a fish slice.
  3. Heat the grill to high. Transfer the chicken to an ovenproof dish, and place under the grill. Grill for 10 minutes whilst you prepare the noodle broth.
  4. In a wok, heat a little oil. When hot, add the ginger and the sliced carrot. Fry for 5 minutes over a medium heat until slightly softened, then add the garlic and chili.
  5. Continue to fry until the garlic begins to smell aromatic. Crumble the vegetable stock cube over the frying ingredients, and then pour over boiling water. Add the quick-cook noodles and cabbage; the water should cover the noodles, to make a small soup.
  6. Bring to the boil, and then turn down to a low heat. Add the soy sauce, and simmer until the noodles are cooked through. Remove from the heat, and serve in a bowl.
  7. Remove the chicken from the grill, and thinly slice. Place over the broth, and scatter with red chili if desired for extra spice.

 

 

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leek and cannellini bean pie

Inspired by the turkey leftovers pie, I decided to embark on creating a vegetarian equivalent. The way the leeks were prepared in Jamie Oliver’s pie was fantastic. Rather than blanched, the leeks were sauteed in a little olive oil over the course of half an hour, DSCF7035to draw out both their moisture and flavour. Using this little piece of Jamie-wisdom, you get very tender, and very tasty, leeks! So all I needed was a turkey replacement. An obvious choice was Quorn, or another meat substitute. But claiming to develop a recipe to make it veggie-friendly, I couldn’t help feeling that using vegetarian “turkey” pieces was a little bit like cheating!

So instead, I turned to beans.

Ingredients, serves 1.

  • ½ leek, finely sliced
  • ½ 400g tin cannellini beans, rinsed
  • Dried chili flakes
  • Clove of garlic
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Enough hot water to make a sauce, roughly 4-5 tablespoons
  • Dried parsley
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Cold water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Add the finely sliced leeks; reduce the heat to low, and sauté for 25-30 minutes. Ensure that you stir them regularly – although the moisture from the vegetables will come out, it is important to make sure that they do not burn to the bottom of the pan!
  3. Whilst the leeks are cooking, make the pastry. Place the flour and the butter in a bowl. With cold hands, using only your fingertips, gently rub the two ingredients together, until they resemble ‘breadcrumbs’. Do this gently and lightly – with each ‘rub’, lift the flour and butter a little out of the bowl to introduce air.
  4. Once breadcrumbs are achieved, add small amounts of cold water and stir in until a ball is formed. Wrap this in clingfilm or silver foil, and place aside in the fridge until later.DSCF7033
  5. Add the sliced garlic to the leeks, and fry until the garlic begins to emit an aroma. Crumble in a vegetable stock cube, and stir to coat the leeks and garlic. Add the cannellini beans, and stir.
  6. Gradually pour in tablespoons of boiling water, making a sauce. This should not be too runny, but should be enough to bind the ingredients together. The cannellini beans should sit comfortably in the sauce, but should not be fully submerged.
  7. Add the chili flakes and parsley to taste, and remove from the heat. Transfer the pie filling into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry and tuck over the pie filling, then brush with milk and score.
  8. Place in the oven, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

 

twice-stuffed jacket potatoes

On a cold day like today, a jacket potato is greatly comforting. A wonderfully fluffy potato encased in a crispy outer shell, with cracked black pepper and melting butter. Nothing could be better than that! Except, perhaps, a jacket potato that has been twice stuffed: the fluffy inner potato mixed with cheese, herbs and nuts and put DSCF7053back into the oven to bubble and brown. That could be better. A twice-stuffed jacket potato on the whole allows you to create a fuller flavour, that still offers itself as comfort food. Plus the opportunity for variety – simply cheese, tuna, tangy spring onion, colourful Mediterranean vegetables, or a fairly posh thyme and pine nut potato!

The secret to achieving the perfect potato is the cooking method. In days of yore, I used to wrap potatoes in foil, shove them in a hot oven and leave them until they felt soft inside. I was young and foolish then, but now when it comes to baking potatoes, I am content to consider myself only the former. Firstly, wrapping in foil. Don’t do that. I use Delia’s tip, and get brilliantly crisp skin each time – after pricking the skin, rub in olive oil and salt. Your hands definitely will be oily, but that’s nothing a bit of washing up liquid can’t fix, and it’ll all be worth it for that skin! And try to use sea salt rather than table – rather than an overall DSCF7052salty flavour, intermittently crunchy pieces of salt will alter the texture and taste. The heat of the oven and cooking time are also important. I prefer to cook my potatoes on a lower heat, for longer, giving them time to really cook to perfection.

Ingredients

  • 1 large King Edward potato
  • Cheese, grated
  • Pine nuts
  • Thyme, basil or both
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • Cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • A handful of spinach
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Prick the potato skin with a fork, then transfer to a plate. Drizzle over a little olive oil, and massage the oil into the skin of the potato. Sprinkle with salt, and then place in the oven.
  2. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees, and cook the potato for 1 hour 45 minutes – 2 hours, depending on the size of the potato, until its skin is crisp.
  3. Remove from the oven, and slice in half. Scoop out the potato flesh, and place in a bowl. Mix in the grated cheese, herbs, spinach and nuts. Season, and then stir again to ensure all the ingredients are combined with the potato.
  4. Replace the potato ‘flesh’ in the potato skin, and top with the cherry tomatoes. Put back in the oven, and bake for a futher 10-15 minutes, until warmed through, and the potato is crisp and golden on top.
  5. Serve with a tomato and balsamic vinegar side salad.