A not so good picture for a great dish.
- 100ml pernod (or other anisaldehyde licor)
- 4 tbs olive oil
- 3 tbs lemon juice
- 3 tbs orange juice
- 2 tsp grain mustard
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced into wedges
- 1 free range chicken, divided into 8 (see here for help)
- 3 mandarins, unpeeled, sliced horizontally into 1 cm slices
- a good few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- salt and pepper
In a dish combine the first 6 ingredients and mix well. Add the chicken, fennel, mandarins and thyme and let marinate for a few hours. If you’re not super organised (which I wasn’t) you can skip the marinating and just jump straight into the cooking.
Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Transfer the chicken, fennel and all its marinade into an oven proof roasting tray large enough for everything to sit in a single layer. Making sure the chicken is skin side up. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 35-45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked, and its skin is crispy and golden.
This has become one of my favourite dishes to take work for lunch. It is easy to make, healthy and very convenient to eat. It is also comforting… It is probably miles away from the real thing, but it still tastes good enough to pass every foodie standard of deliciousness.
Sweet and sour chicken (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 1 x 425g/15oz can pineapple chunks in natural juice
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into 12 wedges
- 2 peppers, red, green, orange or yellow, deseeded and cut into chunks of about 3cm/1¼in
- 100g of Brazil nuts
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 25g/1oz piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
- freshly ground black pepper
To make the sauce, drain the pineapple in a sieve over a bowl and keep all the juice – you should have about 150ml/5fl oz. Put the cornflour in a large bowl and stir in three tablespoons of the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste. Add the remaining juice and 150ml/5fl oz water, then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
Cut each chicken breast into eight or nine even pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onion and peppers for two minutes over a high heat. Drain the water chestnuts and cut them in half horizontally.
Add the remaining oil and the chicken to the pan and stir-fry for two minutes until coloured on all sides. Add the garlic, ginger, pineapple chunks and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30–60 seconds.
Give the cornflour and pineapple mixture a good stir and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables. Stir well, season with some ground black pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook for 4–6 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the chicken is tender and cooked throughout, turning the chicken and vegetables a few times. Serve with a small portion of rice.
In short, this is such a good chicken pie, it is totally worthwhile to endure cooking process. It is arguably one of the best I have ever had. It is hard to believe this dish actually start from, God forgive, leftovers…
A few shortcuts, though: I used pre-made pastry. I know – home made pastry is not that hard to do. But, I didn’t feel brave enough for it… and, the one in the supermarket is also perfectly fine for this purpose… If you don’t have any chicken leftovers, and need to cook it from scratch, add some herbs and vegetables when boiling it (this recipe work just fine). Everything else is so tasty, it is a crying shame to put in some bland rubbery chicken.
2 sheets of basic pie pastry
Chicken Pie Filling
- 1 cup of potatoes cut in about 6cm pieces
- 1 1/4 of carrots cut diagonally in 6cm pieces
- 12 white pearl onions
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 24 black peppercorns
- 1 1/4 cups of 4-6cm of pieces of celery, cut on the diagonally
- 2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 3 cups of whole milk
- 1 salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1 egg, beaten
Roll out the dough and line the baking tray with one of the sheets. Put the other one a plate. Refrigerate both.
Place the potatoes, carrots and onions in a saucepan with the bay, thyme and peppercorns. Top with cold water to cover. Gently bring to a simmer. Cook until just tender, about 8-10min (the original recipe asked for each vegetable to cooked in individual pans, but I just put everything together in the same one). Once cooked, drain the water and discard bay, thyme, and peppercorns. Cut the onions in 2 and set aside to cool.
Blanch the celery for just over a minute in a large pot of boiling salted water, until they are tender/crispy. Drain and let it cool in a bowl of iced water. Set aside with the other vegetables
You can now start the béchamel. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed so the mixture does not brown. Whisk in the milk, lower the heat to keep the bechamel at a gentle simmer, and cook, whisking ofter to ensure it doesn’t burn. It should take about 30-40minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Season to taste with salt, pepper, parsley, thyme, and cayenne.
Put the oven racks in the lower third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 190 oC (about 375oF).
Remove the pastry sheets rom the refrigerator. Scatter the vegetables and chicken into the pie shell. Pour the béchamel over them. Moisten the rim of pie shell with some of the beaten egg. Cover the filling with the top crust and press the edges of the dough together to seal. Trim away the excess dough that overhangs the rim. Brush the top crust with the egg. Cut a small vent in the center of the dough with the tip of a paring knife to allow the steam to escape.
Bake on the lower oven rack until the crust is a rich golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If necessary, move the pie to the centre rack during the last 10 minutes of baking to brown the crust. On the other hand, if crust is browning too quickly, cover with aluminium foil.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 10 minutes.
Everyday food with low calories… Not sure why Hairy Dieters claim this is a Spanish style, though. Probably is the chorizo and the roasted garlic… In any case, it is cheap and cheerful with delicious flavours, from the sweetness of the baked onion to the spiciness of the chorizo.
Baked chicken with chorizo and roasted vegetables (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 1 medium onion, cut in 8 wedges
- 1 medium red onion, cut in 8 wedges
- 500g new potatoes, quartered lenghways
- 8 whole garlic, unpeeled
- 8 medium tomatoes, quartered
- 75g chorizo, preferably hot and spicy
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken tights
- ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 green pepper, deseed and cut into strips
- salt and pepper
Pre heat the oven to 200oC. Put the onions, potatoes, garlic and tomatoes in a large roasting tin and season with salt and lots of freshly grounded black pepper. Toss everything together lightly and roast for 20min
While the vegetables are roasting, skin the chorizo and cut the meat into thin slices. Put the chickens on a board and carefully slash each one 2 or 3 times with a knife. Season all over with black pepper. Mix the paprika and oregano together and set aside.
Take the roasting tin out of the oven, scatter the chorizo over the vegetables and turn everything a couple of times. Place the chicken on the top of the vegetables and chorizo and sprinkle with paprika and oregano. Return to the oven and adjust the temperature to 220oC. Leave in the oven for another 20min, or until the chicken is golden and crisp. Every now and again, take the tin out of the oven drizzle the juices over the chicken. As you eat, squeeze the garlic out of the skins.
I have promised not to complaint about the weather on Facebook and extended the ban to all other social media outlets I normally hang out. In here, I shall just carry on posting Winter-appropriate dishes until the weather gets finally better, as a sign of protest. It is a good thing I have plenty of unpublished dishes, as it might be a while before we can move to lighter food… This casserole dish says comfort food all over – it is delicious, filling and feels like something my Mother could have done for Sunday lunch. What else would you want to eat while the snow is slowly pilling outside?
Chicken casserole (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 4 chicken thighs, skinned and cut in half
- 2 tsp of olive oil
- 4 smoked bacon stripes, fat cut off and cut cut into 1cm-wide bits
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
- 150g of button mushrooms sliced
- 500mL dry cider
- 300mL low fat chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 large carrots, cut into 2cm slices
- 1 large leek, cut into 2cm slices
- salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180c/Fan 160c/Gas 4
Mix the flour and the thyme with a good pinch of salt and pepper into a large freezer bag or bowl. Place chicken into the bag, a few pieces at a time and shake until evenly coated. Reserve the left over flour.
Heat oil in a non stick frying pan until is piping hot. Add the chicken a few pieces at a time and let it fry until golden brown (saving any remaining flour in bag). Transfer to heat proof casserole, like a le creuset or equivalent.
In the same frying pan you used for the chicken, put the bacon, onions and celery . Sauté for 4-5 mins until lightly browned, stirring often. Add the mushrooms to the frying pan and cook for 2 more min. Tip everything into the casserole with the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with the reserved flour.
Pour half the cider to frying pan and stir well to deglaze and remove all the sediments. Simmer for a few seconds, and add to the casserole. Finally, drop in the remaining cider, the stock, carrots and bay leaves.
Cover with the lid and place in the center of the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and add in the leeks.
Return to the stove and let it cook for about half hour, until the leeks are soft.
An impromptu diner lead to a seriously good roasted chicken – my
poor suffering testers guests still talk about it. For bonus points, combine it with roasted potatoes, onions and romesco sauce.
Roasted chicken (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
Ingredients (6-8 persons)
- 4-6 bay leaves
- 40 g dried rosemary
- 15g dried thyme
- Black pepper corns to tast (about 1 tablespoon)
- Olive oil as needed to brush the chicken
- A total of bout 4 kg whole chickens (I ended up with 3 chickens)
- 3 lemons (1 per chicken)
- 6 unpeeled garlic cloves (2 per chicken)
- 200 mL white wine
Preheat the oven to 220 oC.
Start the herb crust: put in a small blender the bay, rosemary, thyme and peppers. Process until you have a very fine powder.
Prepare the chicken to be roasted – wash, cut the tips of the wings and tail. Season with salt and pepper inside and outside.
Put the chicken on a roasting tray lined some olive oil, breast up. Brush the chicken with olive oil and finely great the lemon zest over it. Stuff it with 1 lemon cut in pieces and 2 garlic cloves.
Roast the chicken, breast up. After 25min, turn it around and let it roast for another 35min, or until golden and cooked through.
Remove the chicken and set aside covered with foil.
Poor the white wine and the water in the cooking tray to deglaze and remove all the sediments.
Collect all the cooking juices in a small pan and put on high heat. Boil the cooking juices until you have a gravy.
Carve the chicken and serve it with the gravy
It seemed like a good idea to cook this dish for the 10th anniversary of my doctoral exam. It is almost finger food, it is somehow Spanish and its recipe seemed straightforward enough. For an extra touch of nerdiness, I could even use the same species of mushrooms I used for my PhD (Pleurotus eryingii, if you really must know).
Then, I realized the recipe called for 30 (thirty) garlic cloves for 6 persons. Cook for twelve, and you’ll end up with 60 (sixty) of them to peel and slice. I.e. at an average of 10 cloves per head, 6 garlic bulbs. Or, if you want to be very precise, at an average of 90g per bulb, about 540g of garlic to slice. In total, it was a 1h long operation that left me with tears in the eyes, redness in the fingers and the taste of garlic in the back of my throat. Needless is to say that after that I just had to had a shower before I find myself ready to face the company of civilized people. It took a good couple of weeks until I felt the need of using garlic, either in major or minor proportions.
At some point, I was getting concerned this dish would actually work. For more drama, after having seen a big bowl of garlic being poured into the concoction, my
suffering testers dinner guests were showing an increasing preoccupation about its palatability. It was a wasted worry. It was indeed a delicious dish. A bit garlicky, but far to be the garlic overdose some catastrophists had anticipated. The white wine just cuts the grease, the thyme added some freshness to it, the chicken wings get soft and tender… Perfection on a small dish cooked with humble ingredients.
Chicken wings with mushrooms (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
Ingredients (for 6)
- 18 chicken wings, tips removed and cut in half through the joint
- 100mL olive oil
- 360g of mushrooms, sliced (it can be button mushrooms, chanterelles, shitake, Pleurotus, all the above, other that is on season. On this occasion, I just got a mixed bag from my local supermarket).
- 30 (thirty) garlic cloves roughly sliced
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 3 fresh thyme springs, leaves pulled out
- 180mL white wine
- 150mL water
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Season the half chicken wings with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan until it is hot and add the chicken wings. Cook them gently for about 30min, turning regularly.
3. When the chicken wings are evenly browned, drop in the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.
4. Add the bay leaves and the thyme and mix.
5. Poor in the white wine, and turn up the heat and let it simmer until the wine has reduced a little.
6. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes until they are well incorporated with the meat, garlic and herbs.
7. Poor in the water and let it simmer until it has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft.
I had done dishes by Mafalda Pinto Leite before (here and here), and I knew she has good hand with combining different tastes and textures. Last time I was in Lisbon, I bought her book Cozinha Para Quem Não Tem Tempo [Cooking for those who have no time], to give it a try. Now that I have a regular office job again, it seemed like a good idea to have a bunch of recipes that are easy, quick and good all together. This was my first dish out of that book, and I have to say it seems I only got the last one right…. It is indeed an excellent combination of flavors and it warms your soul. However, it actually took way longer than she claimed and the recipe was a bit confusing. Nothing a good cook cannot fix, but nevertheless, a bit lame… Still worthwhile redoing and eating for as long as the Winter is here. Mind you, I ate it all and scrapped the Pyrex.
Roasted chicken with sweet potato
- 4 pieces of chicken (either breast or thighs)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup of chopped coriander
- 3 baby leeks, finely sliced (or 2 regular leeks, only white parts)
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons of grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of runny honey
- 1/3 water cup
- 200g sweet potato, peeled and sliced
- Olive oil to brush
Pre-heat the oven griller to medium-high
Put the garlic, coriander, baby leeks, lemon zest, ginger, soy sauce, honey and water in a tall jug or beaker. Blend in with a mixer for about 2 minutes, until is chopped but still with pieces. Poor this sauce on top of the chicken and spread well. Reserve.
Brush the sweet potato with olive oil.
Put the chicken and the sweet potatoes on an oven proof dish and grill until it is golden and cooked.
You can serve this dish with a green salad.
This is not an easy to make soup. But, it is totally worth the effort… It might even be the best pumpkin soup I have had, with the obvious exception of Mrs Caramelized Sr’s creations. Just bumped into the recipe almost by accident on David Leite‘s website. By coincidence, I had all the main ingredients, a lot of time in my hands and the inclement weather was unsuitable for any attempt to try anything outdoors.
Half way through the making of the soup, while struggling with so many elements and details, I took a closer look to the post header. It turned out this dish is authored by Charlie Trotter, better know for its stylish and imaginative cuisine (meaning – a bit too difficult for the rest of us mortals). I probably would have never had the guts to try it if I had realized this earlier. But, once you start doing it, what else can you do but carry on and finish the dish?
A couple of tweaks were made though. The original recipe calls for thyme to be added to the pumpkin roast, and sage to finish the dish. I had none, either dry or alive, and simply omitted it. Also, instead of chicken breasts I had chicken thighs. Ended up doing the same that Yotam Ottholengi does for its chicken and buttermilk cold soup.
Pumpkin Soup with Chicken and Ginger-Braised Leeks
For the preserved ginger
- 6 tablespoons peeled and julienned fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 cups (=300g) sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (=375mL water)
For the soup
- 1 small pumpkin, halved and seeded (I picked already cut pumkin, about 1,5kg)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 cups (=mL water) chicken stock, or enough to cover the chicken thighs
- 2 leeks (white part only), cut into 1 cm inch-thick slices
- 5 tablespoons (=70g) unsalted butter
- 3 cups (= 375mL water) chicken stock (or enough to cover the chicken thighs)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup preserved ginger
- 4 chicken thighs
Place the ginger, 1/2 cup (=100g) of the sugar, and 1/2 (=125mL) cup of the water in a small saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain the liquid, and repeat the process two more times, reserving the final cooking liquid to store the ginger. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Make the soup
Preheat the oven to 350°F (=175°C). Season the flesh of the pumpkin with salt and pepper and rub with the olive oil. Place the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet. Add enough water to have about 1cm water in the oven dish 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender.[the recipe called for thyme sprigs to be put under the pumpkin, but I had none at home.]
In the meanwhile, start the kitchen broth. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic on a low heat for five to 10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the chicken, and the salt and the pepper to taste. Pour in stock just to cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Reserve the broth and shred the chicken off the bones while it is hot . I always discard the skin, but that is entirely up to your taste.
Cook the leeks with 2 tablespoons (= 30g) of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add 1 cup of the stock and the 1 tablespoon ginger and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes, or until the leeks are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Keep warm.
Puree the 1/4 cup ginger and any residual ginger juice, the chicken broth, and the pumpkin pulp until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the soup in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until warm. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons (=40g) butter and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon some of the leeks into the center of each bowl and ladle the soup around the leeks. Arrange some of the shredded chicken in the center of each bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately. [the recipe called for sage leaves to be added, but I had none at home.]
In a couple of weeks, courgettes’s season will be almost over. But, for the time being, we still can find them at the supermarket screaming to be cooked with loads flavors to soak up. For example – garlic, thyme and mint, as in this crushed courgettes dish Yotam Ottolenghi created for The New Vegetarian.
To go with the courgettes, nothing better than a roasted chicken. For this one, I used a very basic recipe I saw on Masterchef Australia (with a couple of tweaks).
- 3 large courgettes (750g), cut in half lengthways and then into 6cm pieces
- 1 whole garlic bulb, separated into unpeeled cloves
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1½ tsp coarse sea salt
- Black pepper
- 70ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1½ tbsp chopped dill
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the courgettes and garlic cloves in a bowl and add the dried mint, thyme, salt, some black pepper and the oil. Mix everything together and transfer to a medium baking dish – make sure the courgette pieces overlap a little, cut side up, and form a single layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the courgettes have softened and taken on some colour.
Transfer everything to a colander, pressing the courgettes so they start to release some of their liquid, and leave to cool for at least 30 minutes.
Transfer the contents of the colander to a mixing bowl, and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins (discard the skins). Mash everything together with a fork (if the courgettes’ skin is on the tough side, you may have to chop them with a knife). Stir in the remaining ingredients and set aside for an hour before serving.
- 1 chicken, broken down into legs & breasts still on the bone
- 8 sprigs of rosemary
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven at 220oC
Cover the bottom of a roasting tray with olive oil. Put the chicken into the tray skin, with the side up in one evenly spread layer.
Pat the chicken skin with a paper towel until it is dry. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Put the rosemary on top of the chicken pieces.
Put the tray into the oven, and cook the chicken for about 35min.