After a year long hiatus, Cibus Amare returns.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove the chicken from the grill, and thinly slice. Place over the broth, and scatter with red chili if desired for extra spice.
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, to 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
- Cold water
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Place in the oven, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden.
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 back 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 salty 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.
- 1 large King Edward potato
- Cheese, grated
- Pine nuts
- Thyme, basil or both
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Cherry tomatoes, quartered
- A handful of spinach
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve with a tomato and balsamic vinegar side salad.