Hi everybody! Remember me? I won’t blame any of you if you don’t. Heck, not even my computer could recall where I usually save my recipe files. I don’t even remember the last time I used my desktop to write a piece for my blog. For the record I won’t say that I’m totally back writing on here either, because the thing that scares me still and after a very long sort-of sabbatical, writing an actual blog post feels daunting.
Continue reading Roast Lemon Chicken with a Honey and Lavender Marinade
It’s the second week of December and it’s about time I posted a festive recipe, don’t you think?! Having said that I’d better take the decorations out of their storage boxes before the end of the year. I have been busier than usual for the past few months, to the point where I have neglected C&T. I’m proud though that I have managed to be quite consistent and post something for you at least once twice a week. My dream is to post three days a week but planning good content isn’t easy. The philosophy behind this blog has always been quality over quantity and that has been my game plan for the past five years. It will continue to be that way I promise.
Continue reading Rolled Pork Loin cooked in a wine-based marinade
One of the easiest things for me to cook when I feel as if I’m racing against time is chicken. I know I’m not alone on this; when people ask me for recipes, 99 percent of the time it’s all about cakes or chicken. My favourite chocolate cake recipe? Done. An easy chicken recipe? You’re sorted. And here’s another one.
I don’t normally go for chicken breasts, because I feel edgy cooking them. I prefer something on the bone, like chicken legs. The meat nearest the bones is always more tender and juicier, and almost never goes dry, no matter how long you cook it for. It also reminds me of my mum’s Sunday lunches, and my obsession with drumsticks. They would fall off the bone, and at the end of the meal I would declare that they were the best thing I’ve ever had. (Excluding chocolate and marshmallows, of course.)
Continue reading Grilled Garlic Chicken Breasts
This is my second recipe for fajitas. By all means I am not saying that these are authentic; here you will find my take and of course they are open to changes. For me, the best thing about writing here is learning everyday and sharing everything about my kitchen adventures with everyone. While I appreciate the fact that there’s not many changes you can do with baking recipes, the opposite definitely applies to cooking. Well, I like to think so anyway. If you want to make my day, tell me about how you changed and adapted one or more of the recipes you can find in this blog, and writing about it.
Marinating the beef is easy, but very very important. So for this you will need:
- ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon cumin (or Chinese 5 spice if you want a replacement)
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
- 3 large garlic cloves, mashed or finely chopped (if you don’t like lots then reduce the amount)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Just enough water to thin the marinade, approx. 2 teaspoons
- I don’t bother to drain the marinade before stir-frying so place the whole lot into a very hot wok, or deep frying pan similar to the one above, and let the meat cook for however long you like. As you can see in my photo I cooked it for too long. For me, there’s nothing better than rare beef. If it’s good quality, from a good butcher you trust, then go for it. You will never look back.
- Wrap as much as you like in a tortilla (or two) with lots of fresh veggies and munch away.
I want to give you another list of ingredients for the marinade. It’s one by Tyler Florence. I am including it here because it reminds me of when I started learning how to cook at home in Michigan. I have fond memories of the place; where the TV was on the Food Network all day. You will need:
- 1 orange, juiced
- 2 limes, juiced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3 chipolte chiles, in adobo sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped (also known as Mexican coriander or Chinese parsley)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Puree all the ingredients together with a blender and cover the beef with it. Put the beef in a dish and cover it completely with the marinade.
- Place in the fridge for 2 to 4 hours. Drain the meat and use the grill if you like.
I also love this recipe and there is a place for both, at least in my kitchen. As always, enjoy! R x.
I love it when after a day’s work I can make dinner in one-pot, in the oven. This is just the thing I need when I’m stressed but still want something hearty to eat without resorting to the emergency takeaway stuff. The following recipe is one I have adapted and changed a lot throughout the last few months from Nigella’s Forever Summer. Also, since Nigellissima has hit the shelves earlier this month (my review will follow this post later on this week), I thought this was an appropriate way of celebrating the occasion.
I used chicken pieces for this, mainly because I didn’t want to faff around with a whole chicken. Also smaller pieces make serving easier. But if you want you can use a chicken (or two) and have them butterflied by yourself or your butcher. It’s totally up to you. This recipe also spells convenience. You can scale it up (or down – but this is rare in my house) as you please, or adapt the herbs to your taste. But here’s how I do it.
You will need any number of chickens or chicken pieces as you want. You will be ok with around 2kg worth. Place these in a glass dish. (I use my large Pyrex one – safe for marinating and then into the oven it goes.) On top of the meat, scatter 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon course salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 red onions, quartered or roughly chopped, juice and zest of 1 lemon. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for a few hours when you lack the time, but you can prepare it even a day or two ahead (always keeping it in the fridge) if you want to. The more time, the better. Around an hour or so before you want to cook it (and depending on how long it was in the fridge for), remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220ºC and cook for 1 hour uncovered, skin side up. Remember: chicken needs to be cooked properly so check it by cutting near to the bone (eg. between a thigh and a breast). If the juices run clear it’s ready. Serve with rice or some roast potatoes, with some bread to mop up the lemony gravy. You are in for a treat.
I cannot say enough how much I love chicken. It’s relatively cheap and so easy to cook. I think I got a fondness for it from my mum. She always made a great chicken at home, tender, juicy and never ever stringy. So naturally the first thing I wanted to learn was how to replicate my mum’s dish. I had so many problems feeding this to J when we got married! For him it was either pasta or nothing. In my family pasta was something quick – something to prepare when you’re pressed for time, i.e. like homemade fast food (which is nonetheless good for you in moderation). Ironically I consider almost anything that goes in the oven as quick; it does take it’s time to cook, yes, but you don’t need to do anything else with it once it’s in there. Perhaps that’s why I prefer baking to cooking. And no wonder there are many many variations of the following recipe in almost every book I own: it’s quick and so easy that anyone can do it.
It’s also ideal for feeding a big group – all you have to do is to scale it up and prepare some greens and couscous, and you’re ready to go. You could also start cooking the chicken pieces in the oven for 15 minutes in their oven dish, then chuck them individually on the grill for the rest of the cooking time. The amount of marinade I am giving you will be enough for around 6 to 8 chicken pieces. I’m not talking about chicken wings here – legs, thighs or drumsticks are the business here. But be my guest if you like wings, especially for an informal drinks party with friends. I would never tell you what to do! You will need:
- 3 tablespoons (15ml each) dark soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons chilli flakes (or 1 fresh chilli, chopped)
- 2 cubes or crystallized ginger, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon runny honey
- juice and zest of 1 lime
- 1 star anise
- Place your chicken pieces in a dish, preferably using one with a glass lid like those old fashioned Pyrex ones. (If you don’t have one of those, use anyone that you like and use some kitchen foil as a cover.) Gracefully (or not) pour the above ingredients all over the chicken. Mix everything together using the cleanest hands or a spoon, making sure every bit of meat is covered.
- Cover the dish with its lid or cling film and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/392 F/Gas mark 6 and bake for around 45 minutes. Chicken wings need no more than 20 minutes, so always keep an eye on them.
My idea of a lovely evening would be inviting some friends over for a simple supper, which I can prepare in less than 30 minutes – in less than 10 preferably! I love my kitchen and spend days and days cooking and baking but I do get tired sometimes. So anything that can help me prepare an informal party in no time for and with the people I love spending time the most is always welcome in my book. It takes away the stress and panic, and I think that the simplest meals can be the best meals. These fajitas also take away the assemblage, which in this case is done by others! All you have to do is some prepping – cooking the meat in minutes in a pan and chopping the veggies. Easy stuff.
You can make these fajitas with chicken or beef, or any mixture of veggies you like. If you’re using any kind of meat, the trick is to marinate it well ahead of time to make it moist and tender. Who would want a dry fajita anyway? I had one once and it was stringy and chewy. Not nice. I made this some weeks ago after a very full day when I really didn’t want to spend more time in the kitchen than I had to. There was a little planning beforehand, nothing big – I knew I wanted to cook something quick, simple, and without too much work.
So I bought some rump, cut it into thick strips when I got home and marinated all of it for a couple of hours in the fridge. I then shallow-fried it and left it in the pan till it cooked to medium/rare, keeping an eye on it, as always. You don’t even need any oil if that’s what you prefer, especially if you use a non-stick pan – the marinade has plenty of moisture anyway. But I don’t like burnt meat, so this time I played it safe. All you have to do then is to chop a red pepper, throw in a yellow pepper for luck, dice one or two fresh tomatoes. Place these in individual serving bowls, together with a packet of ready washed rockets leaves and you’re done. Place everything on a corn tortilla, wrap it up and eat. For something extra you can serve it with cornbread for a meze style meal. Perfect for summer. The following is what you need for the marinade:
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed or very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 small cubes or crystallized ginger (or ¼ teaspoon ginger powder)
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cold water
Place the meat in a bowl and pour the marinade over it. Mix it well, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge for an hour or two or until needed. Cook and serve on corn tortillas with greens and other vegetables. Easy!