Category Archives: Grains

Herby Chicken.


Chicken by itself can be quite tasteless, but if cooked well and packed with other ingredients it is always a hit. I prefer to buy chicken pieces on the bone, or a whole chicken, because these have more flavour and don’t get dry easily, or rather the risk is lessened. However for this chicken and tarragon dish I found on Nigella Kitchen (which I am rediscovering) she uses whole chicken breasts. So I followed her advice, with some variations, and the result was good. If you like delicate recipes or if you want to feel like you’re in a French bistro, and it’s a special occasion you will love this. But for those who like their food to be punchy, then this might not be for you. J is a case in point as he didn’t like it that much. He didn’t say so directly mind you; he just said it needs something more, whatever that was! He could be right btw! Now if you want to try this with less cream you can do so by using half the cream with 3oml of white vermouth. I would leave it as is and serve it with green beans and rice. Serves 4.

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 160ml white wine
  • 1 teaspoon course salt, crushed
  • 120ml double cream
  • pepper, to taste
  • 3 teaspoons dried tarragon (to complete the sauce)

In a shallow pan heat the oil well and add the spring onions, garlic and tarragon. Stir well and let them cook for a bit keeping an eye, or two eyes on them to avoid burning.

Place the chicken breasts (curve side down) into the pan and cook them for around 5 minutes. The onions could start to turn brown on you, so if this happens scrape them with your wooden spoon and put them on the chicken. Once you tackled this, turn the chicken on the other side and add the wine.

Add the salt, cover the pan, turn the heat down and let everything simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. To check this you can cut the thickest part with a knife, but if the juices run clear then they are done. If need be leave them to cook for another 5 minutes. Don’t cook them for too long or they will turn stringy.

Take the chicken pieces out of the pan onto a warm serving dish. Boil the liquid in the pan, add the cream, stir, add the remaining tarragon and some pepper and stir once more. Pour this over the chicken, and serve with green beans and some rice, as this is more delicate in flavour than potatoes.


Rob x

Easy breezy pasta and rice.

Puttanesca Revisited (7034)

The school year has started and with it the gloomy weather. I don’t mind it really – better than the scorching heat. I’m no meteorologist (even though I’m known among friends to be quite the tornado buff), but seems to me that the colder weather is on the way, and this means one thing: baking party! I woke up hellishly early this morning and managed to do quite a few things, including baking some breakfast muffins and devoured one (yes…just one) while pottering about in the kitchen. Lately I’ve been into cupcake mode again so after I write this I’m off to chocolate cupcake heaven. I will not keep any recipes for myself, don’t worry.


In the meantime though I humbly wanted to offer a few tips to busy bees who have no time to cook. If rice and/or pasta is your thing then don’t fret and see if you like either one or both of the following. One is a classic puttanesca sauce. You need anchovies for this so I would give it a miss if they’re not your cup of tea. The other is something quick which you can throw together with some rice. (And no, I won’t go into how-the-pasta-got-its-name topic. It’s a classic story for a classic pasta dish. Some would even say it’s vintage.)

For Pasta alla Puttanesca you need the following ingredients, and will give you 3 to 4 servings.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 30g anchovy fillets, drained from their oil and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or peeled very finely
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed chilli flakes
  • 500g spaghetti (or fettucine, I prefer the latter)
  • 400g polpa di pomodoro
  • 200g olives
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • pepper, to taste
  • about ¼ or so of pasta water
  1. Prepare the pasta water and let it heat up well to almost boiling point, or better still have some boiling water from the kettle to hand. You can cook the pasta while you are preparing the sauce.
  2. In a wide pan pour the olive oil on medium heat, and add the anchovies. Cook for around 2 minutes or until the anchovies have almost disappeared into the oil. Add the garlic and chilli and stir.
  3. Pour the tomatoes, tip the olives and capers and stir until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add pepper to taste. You don’t need salt here – you get plenty of that with the anchovies and capers, so go slow on that if you still think that you really need some!
  4. Reserve a quarter cup full of pasta water before you drain the spaghetti. Before serving, add the water to the sauce to thicken it slightly. Add the sauce to the pasta, toss and enjoy.

The second thing I find most convenient is a plain passata to which you might add some fresh basil and Cumberland or Chorizo Sausages. I don’t add any chilli here because the chorizo is already spicy. I make it a point to add a teaspoon or so of dark brown sugar to the sauce and a touch of Worcestershire (how you pronounce this is up to you – they are still undecided here anyway!) Toss this with rice and you have a heart-warming something after a day’s work. So uncomplicated, you don’t even need a recipe…and please…spare me the jokes!


Rob x

Lemon Risotto


For the past few days I’ve been thinking about how nice it would be to have someone else prepare a meal for me during those few days that I’m either too tired to cook or when I’m less inspired or lack ideas. Yes it happens to all of us…*sigh*. In fact today is one of those days. Thankfully I have dinner ready in the fridge so I don’t have to worry about that now. However even though occasionally I tend to keep ready-made pesto for a quick plate of pasta, there are easy solutions for those instances when only a little stirring is required.


Easy can mean a lot of things; soups, pasta and rice dishes or even a roast would do. Two posts ago I gave you a recipe from James Tanner which is almost too easy to believe, and it beats the usual bread and cheese supper. As for desserts he has a recipe for a Chocolate and Almond Torte which I want to try very soon. This recipe for risotto is slightly adapted from Nigella Bites. You need:

  • 2 spring onions or one small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 60g butter, unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 300g arborio rice
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons grated cheese, parmesan or kefalotiri
  • 60ml cream
  • pepper, to taste

In a wide saucepan, heat the oil, 30g of the butter, onions and celery. Cook this until softened, stirring almost continuously. Add all the rice, again stirring to coat with the onion mixture. Meanwhile prepare the vegetable stock. (I find that using stock powder, like Marigold gives you a more delicate flavour than using a cubes. In an ideal world you would use fresh stock which you can get at the supermarket.)

Pour some stock into the rice and keep stirring till this is absorbed. Repeat this till the rice is cooked. You may need all the stock and add some boiling water from the kettle.

Stir the lemon zest and dried rosemary in the risotto. In a separate small bowl beat the egg, lemon juice, grated cheese, pepper and cream. Remove the risotto from the heat and add this cheesy mixture to the rice and add the remaining butter. You could also add some salt to taste.

Serve on it’s own or with some grilled salmon, which I rub with olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh lemon juice. The risotto serves 2 – 3.


Rob x