chicken with bacon, sweet potato and courgette

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A year ago, in January 2012, I began this blog. I have immensely enjoyed compiling recipes, writing reviews and developing ideas wherever I can! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along, and hopefully have successfully made a few dishes. Here’s to another year of culinary experimentation!

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 chicken breast
  • ½ courgette, cubed
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 3 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon
  • 1 chicken stock cube, and 2-4 tablespoons of hot water, depending on the size of the pan!
  • Dried sage
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. In a medium sized frying pan, heat a little olive oil. Fry the chicken breast for roughly 4-6 minutes, until golden brown on each side. Then, transfer to a roasting dish and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender and cooked through.  DSCF7095
  2. Add the bacon to the frying pan, and fry until crisp. Cut into strips with scissors, then add the diced sweet potato. Stir fry for a few minutes, before crumbling over the stock cube.
  3. Pour in a little boiling water, and stir. Add enough water that the cubes of sweet potato are partly submerged, but not so much that they are ‘drowning’ in stock. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and boil until the sweet potato is tender, and the stock has mostly reduced.
  4. Add the courgette, and allow to simmer in the remainder of the stock. Sprinkle in 1sp of dried sage, and season. Add a little more water if necessary, to prevent the vegetables and bacon sticking to the pan.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, and thickly slice. Arrange the vegetables and bacon on a plate, and serve the sliced chicken alongside. Season, and serve!
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turkey leftovers pie

Not everyone is in love with the favoured Christmas turkey. There are those who cannot fathom what the fuss is about at all, and opt for a Christmas beef or gammon joint, bravely straying from tradition! But most people, like myself, are happy to eat it that one day. It’s Christmas, and turkey is the something that makes dinner different from any other, the something that makes it special. It only happens once year, let’s make an effort here! But as much as we’re content to eat it on December 25th, with mounds of crispy potatoes and little sausages wrapped up in bacon, by December 26th, personally I’m done with the novelty.

photoEvery year the days following Christmas are interesting to say the least, as my favourite childhood meals have been changed not-for-the-better with unwelcome surprise appearances from turkey. This year, rather than enduring such a dish simply to reduce the amount of leftovers in the fridge, I tried to find a recipe that I thought I might like! And this was once such recipe – Jamie Oliver’s turkey and sweet leek pie. I didn’t quite have all of the ingredients, so I played about with quantities. It’s a fantastic pie: after softening leeks to tease out their moisture and flavour, the turkey is added, before stock. After simmering it away to give tenderness back to the turkey, it’s strained through a sieve, producing a brilliant creamy homemade gravy separate from the pie filling. And stuffed pastry! I made my own shortcrust rather than puff, and stuffed it with chopped mushrooms over chestnuts, but it was inspired wholly by Jamie Oliver’s recipe. Who knew leftover turkey could be such a treat. It’ll definitely be making an appearance again next year…

Ingredients – serves 4, my modifications in bold. 

  • 2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • Dried thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 3 leeks, washed, trimmed; white end chopped into thin slices
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooked leftover turkey, shredded (either white or dark meat, or both!)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of plain flour, for the gravy
  • 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of natural Greek yoghurt
  • 100g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • Butter, half the amount of plain flour used 
  • Plain flour, for the pastry, double the amount of butter used 
  • Cold water, as necessary, to bind together the butter and flour 
  • Dried sage
  • Splash of cold milk

Method

  1. In a large pan that has an accompanying lid (I used a wok), over a medium heat, add dried thyme. Toast the dried herbs until they become aromatic, and then add the sliced bacon. Add a little olive oil, and fry for a few minutes. Add the finely sliced leeks, and fry them for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Season, then add the lid, turn the heat down to low and let them fry gently for 25-30 minutes. The moisture in the leeks will come out, but make sure you stir them regularly to prevent them sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Whilst the leeks are cooking, make your shortcrust pastry. Placing the flour and the butter in a bowl with cold hands. Using only your fingertips, gently rub the two photo-1ingredients 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.
  4. When the leeks are done, add the shredded turkey and stir. Scatter over the flour, mix it well to coat all the ingredients, then pour in the vegetable stock and stir again.
  5. Add the natural Greek yoghurt, and then bring everything to the boil. Season to taste, then remove from the heat.
  6. Pour the mixture through a sieve or colander over another large empty pan; let the gravy from the mixture drip into the pan while you roll out your pastry.
  7. Get a deep pie dish roughly 22 x 30cm. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with a bit of flour and roll your pastry out so it’s double the size of your dish.
  8. Crumble the chopped mushrooms over one half of the pastry then sprinkle over some dried sage. Fold the other half of pastry on top then roll it out carefully and evenly so it’s the same size as the pie dish. The mushrooms will poke through the surface and you may need a bit more flour, as they will release moisture, making the pastry catch a little on the surface.
  9. Spoon the leek mixture from the sieve into the pie dish and spread it out evenly. Lay your pastry on top, and tuck it down the sides of the dish. Score with a large, sharp knife.
  10. Wash the top of the pastry with milk, and season. Place your pie in the oven for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
  11. When the pie is ready, re-heat the gravy and serve with your pie, along with some fresh green vegetables. Enjoy!

recipe by Jamie Oliver. 

pork, apples, potatoes.

This recipe is another from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Although the shrewder amongst you may have guessed that is not from ‘Veg Everyday’! The inclusion of pork would somewhat contradict the concept of that book.  No, this recipe comes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s newest book, ‘Three Good Things on a plate‘. Generally speaking, what I like most about his recipes books is that they just make sense. They are not always professing to make cooking easier, to specifically reduce methodologies or cost, nor to put a meal on a table in a limited amount of time. They instead offer a simply logical thesis: in the case of this new publication, three items that pair well do not need to be crowded by other fancy main ingredients; as a trio, they make a wholesome assembly that requires no editing. How often is it the case, that when in a restaurant and faced with a mound of food you cannot hope to finish, that you subconsciously eat only the three best components? The three components which most likely from the main staple of the dish; the fancy additions are left behind, unnecessary and to some extent forgotten. But a word of caution, sophistry will undermine the brilliance of this book – three good things do not literally translate to three ingredients alone; seasonings may be added, herbs or spices, or even a store cupboard ingredient such as tinned tomatoes, cream or stock. This is cooking! Seasoning is a given; a splash of milk here or of stock there hardly counts as an ingredient! What is imparted is that when asked to explain a dish, your reply would be “it’s basically, A, B and C” – the fundamental elements of the dish are three, although in reality more ingredients may be present. This book is perfect for those who either want to get back to, or adore the pleasures of, simple cooking. Three Good Things is what it says it is – food that tastes good without an elaborate combination, and accepting the sufficiency of good quality, but numerically low, staples of a dish will put a fantastic meal on the table to undoubtedly be enjoyed by all.

Ingredients

  • One pork chop
  • One ordinary eating apple, cored and cut into wedges
  • A medium sized potato, peeled and roughly cubed
  • Dried sage
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a baking tray, and place in the oven for 5 minutes to heat.
  2. In a medium sized saucepan, bring water to the boil. Add the cubed potatoes, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until tender; drain. Return the potatoes to the pan, and season.
  3. Once heated, add the potatoes to the baking tray, and roast for 20 to 30 minutes. After the allotted time, remove the baking tray from the oven and add the apple wedges. Roast for a further 15 minutes, until the apples have softened and the potatoes are crisp.
  4. Whilst the potatoes and the apples are roasting, prepare the pork chops. In a saucepan, heat a little oil. Rub dried sage, salt and pepper into the pork chop, before frying for 6 to 8 minutes on each side.
  5. Turn the oven off, and remove the baking tray. Nestle the cooked pork chop in between the potatoes and apples, and return to the oven, although off, to warm through for 5 minutes. Serve, and enjoy!recipe taken from Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate (Bloomsbury: 2012), as appearing in ‘delicious.’ magazine, December edition (2012).