Three simple chicken recipes. Drumsticks, breast & wings

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Summer is upon us!… well almost. Since it’s getting warmer and warmer, you might not want to cook your typical, big, filling, hot dinners. Neither did I, so last few days I took a little bit of ”quick and easy” approach.Here’s what came of it.Three ideas for no fuss dinners, using different cuts of chicken. Wings, breast and drumstick. All ready in about 30 minutes. (marinading time not included,it’s up to you how long you want to marinade it.)

 

1)      Quick cherry tomato & coucous salad, hot&spicy chicken drumsticks+ avocado.

-Marinade your chicken drumsticks in salt,pepper,olive oil(1 tbsp),garlic powder(1tsp),onion powder(1tsp), worcestershire sauce(1tbsp) ,Maggi hot(1tbsp), tabasco or hot sauce( to taste, I like it spicy!), paprika powder (1/2 tsp) and cayenne pepper (1 tsp).

I let the chicken marinade over night, for a fuller,more intense flavour. Then I place the chicken on a baking tray, lined with baking paper and bake in preheated oven, 190C (fan oven) for about 30 min.

-for the couscous salade I use instant couscous. I soak it in hot,salted water according the instructions on the packaging,for 3min, then add some paprika,chili flakes and a tablespoon of butter to it. I fork it through,s o it’s fluffy, add cherry tomatoes which are cut in half, then add spring onions and avocado (at the very end just before serving).

Place couscous and avocado on a plate, then a portion of spicy drumsticks.Simple and delicious 🙂

 

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2)      Super easy chicken tortilla ( inspired by KFC twister wrap)

-Cut your chicken breasts accross and a little bit at an angle, so you get nice long and thick slices.You will get about 5-6 from each breast, including the tenderloin.

-Marinade the chicken in 1 tsp of dried oregano, 1 tsp of dried marjoram, 1tsp of onion powder, 1tsp of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of sugar, 1tbsp of olive oil, 1tbsp of tabasco, salt,pepper to taste. Let it marinade as long as you want.

– Heat up a deep pan ,preferably heavy based and high sided, pour enough oil into it to deep fry the chicken.

-take the bowl you’ve been marinading the chicken in and add 4-5 heaped tablespoons of flour to it. Coat the chicken very well, so all the pieces are evenly covered,and press the flour almost into the chicken, so it sticks well. When the oil is hot enough, fry  in batches until golden. (about 5-6 min).

-while the chicken is frying make the sauce, by combining equal amounts of mayo and yoghurt in a bowl.Season with salt,pepper and garlic powder.You can add other spices if you wish 🙂

-cut your lettuce and your tomatoes , they will make a nice bed for the chicken to rest on, also they’re the traditional veggies they add in a kfc twister wrap. (I remove the seeds from the tomato,so it isn’t too watery).

-when the chicken is cooked and golden,I drain it on some paper towel. I take my tortilla, smear about a tablespoon of sauce over it,place my lettuce and tomatoes, chicken goes on top. 2-3 strips max per wrap.

Wrap away and enjoy 🙂

 

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3)      Sweet & spicy Cajun chicken wings, with oven baked cherry tomatoes and a green salad

-Marinade your chicken wings in 1tbsp of honey, 1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce, 1tsp of tabasco, 1tsp of cajun seasoning mix,1 tsp of brown sugar(optional), 1 tbsp of olive oil, garlic and onion powder,salt pepper to taste. Coat well and leave to marinade.

-Preheat your oven to about 190C(fan), place the wings on a baking tray lined with baking paper.Bake for about 30min,or until nicely golden and a bit charred.

-While the wings are roasting, prepare your salad dressing, tomatoes and lettuce. Place washed lettuce in a bowl,I used a mix of different ones,but feel free to use any kind you like. Leave them for now, as you only want to dress them last minute before serving.

– Place a tablespoon of honey,juice of half a lemon,2 tsp of dijon mustard and 4 tbsp of olive oil in a small jar,season with salt and pepper to taste.Shake the jar, and here’s your dressing.You can also make in a bowl,then add all the ingredients besides olive oil,mix them with a fork and start pouring in the olive oil slowly,while whisking.That way it will emulsify nicely. Put your dressing aside,until you’re ready to use it.

– take some cherry tomatoes,any are fine, I like to use ones that are still on the vine,they’re much easier to handle.I rub them with salt,pepper and olive oil and place them in the oven,with the chicken for the last 5 min of roasting time.You want them to just heat through and the skin tu burst a little,not to cook all the way into oblivion 🙂

-dress your salad and toss it well,serve with a portion of the wings and the tomatoes,still on the vine.Makes for a nice,rustic effect 🙂

enjoy!

 

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Creamy asparagus soup

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This is a very easy soup,like everything I cook basically.This time I mean it though..you almost don’t need a recipe, but I’m going to give it to you anyway! Asparagus is in season now, so we really should take advantage of them while we can 🙂 they’re going to be gone in june already! this is an alternative to your usual buttered asparagus or asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Easy and tasty.

Ingredients (4 servings)

1kg of white asparagus

2 potatoes -about 250g, peeled,finely diced.(or caulliflower,if you’re on a gluten free diet)

about 1l of chicken or vegetable stock(You might need a bit less or more,depending on how thick you like your soup.)

100ml of whipping cream

salt,pepper to taste.

2 slices of cooked ham per person

about 1/2 or a whole, hard boiled egg per person.

optionally: watercress or chives for decoration.

 

1)peel about 1kg (or more if you wish) white asparagus, separate the tips for later. Cut the rest in 2-3cm pieces . Important: don’t throw away the asparagus peels, we will use them to infuse the chicken stock later:)

2) bring the chicken stock to the boil and throw all the asparagus peels into the pot.Let them cook for about 15-20min, on a medium heat.That will provide a big asparagus flavour boost into your stock, which is surely worth the extra step.

3) after the peels have infused the stock you can either fish them out just like that,or give them a quick blitz with a hand blender, just to extract any bit of flavour left in them.I like to that,just a quick blitz,then I strain the stock through a collander and throw the peels out.

4) When we have out amazing asparagus stock ready, we can proceed with the soup itself. Toss in your asparagus (without the tips) and the potatoes. Potatoes will add extra richness,thickness and body to your soup.If you’re gluten free though,you can use the same amount of caulliflower.Cook until the asparagus and the potatoes are tender.(About 15min,I like to have them softer,not really al dente, because let’s face it,it’s a soup,we want them nice and soft.)

5)When everything is nice and soft, take your hand blender and mix everything until smooth.Add the cream,season generously with salt and pepper(or to taste).Your soup is ready.

6) I cook the asparagus tips separately in some salted water,about 2-3 min or just until they’re tender. I strain them, then place a nice portion in the middle of the plate, pour the soup around,place some ham and the egg on top.I decorate it with watercress, as I like the sharp flavour against the sweetness and creamyness of the rich soup 🙂

I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Risotto alla primavera con scampi en piselli – spring risotto with shrimp and peas

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This dish was actually inspired by one of the dishes my mother in law made a few times, a rice pilav with vegetables and small shrimp.

I decided to change it a little bit,by making it into a risotto and using big shrimp,I think it turned out pretty well and I will be making it again for sure. I hope some of you will try it, as it’s pretty easy, you can use deep freeze shrimp, and the rest of the ingredients are really basic, so here’s my risotto alla primavera with shrimp 🙂

serves 4:

500g of raw carrot,peeled and diced very finely

2 large onions, diced finely

4-5 celery stalks, diced very finely

2 cloves of garlic, crushed of diced

250-280g of risotto rice (arborio,carnarolli or other)

2-3 heaped tbsp of cream cheese , f/e mascarpone

around 7 large deep freeze shrimp per person- unfrozen before cooking(more or less 500g)

150g of spring green peas ( deep freeze)

around 1l of hot chicken stock, kept in the pot,on the gas(not boiling)

salt,pepper

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of butter

100ml of white wine-optional

 

1)      melt the butter in a large,deep skiller, preferably with a heavy base, fry off your carrots,celery,onions and garlic until they’re starting to soften(5 min), then add your rice and mix it while it’s toasting off, coating it in the butter and vegetables. (2-3 min)

2)      after the rice is a bit translucent , add the wine and mix, let it evaporate and when it’s almost gone, starting adding the hot chicken stock about 2 ladles at a time,not more. Keep stirring after each portion of the  stock,to release the starch from the rice.Add the next portion of the stock only when the previous one is almost absorbed.

3)      the cooking time may vary , depending on what brand and type of rice you’re using, it’s usually about 20 min, but you need to taste it every now and then. Keep adding the stock and stirring the risotto (you really have to stir it a LOT!) until the rice is cooked yet al dente. Then add the peas and heat them through.

4)      Heat up another pan, add the olive oil to it, season your shrimp with salt and pepper and place in a hot pan, cook until they’re nice and coral in colour , they will also curl up when they’re done (about 3-4min on high heat).

5)      once the rice is cooked ( doesn’t matter if you didn’t use all the stock or you used all of it and need more,then add a bit of hot water instead.) turn the heat off and add the mascarpone,let it melt in and stir it through.

6)      check the seasoning of the risotto for salt and pepper, serve immediately in a deep bowl, then place seven shrimp on top, in a circle.

enjoy! 🙂

 

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Standby brownies

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I can’t take all the credit for this recipe, as a matter of fact, I don’t think I can take ANY credit at all 😉

I found this recipe one time, while looking for a brownie recipe on a cocoa powder base.. as everyone knows chocolate is a girl’s best friend and often I find myself out of dark,cooking chocolate when I need to make chocolate cake or brownies.

Cocoa powder however..I always have on hand. All the ingredients you need, you probably already have on hand, so it’s a great recipe to keep around, it’s done in 35-40minutes start to finish, it’s very versatile, so you can whip it up in no time if you have unexpected guests or you’re just craving something dark,chocolatey,fudgy and rich 🙂

ingredients: (serves 16)

150g of butter

275g of caster sugar(I use half caster sugar half brown sugar , for some extra flavour)

3 eggs

80g of flour

1 tsp of vanilla extract

75g of cocoa powder (not the instand cocoa, cooking/baking cocoa powder type!)

pinch of salt

1)      take your butter,salt,sugar,cocoa and put into a deep , heavy base pan, turn the heat on medium and stir until everything is combined and the butter is melted. You can add a tablespoon or two of water if you have a hard time stirring it because it’s too thick.

2)      once everything is melted,combined and reasonably smooth, let it cool for a few minutes, before whisking the eggs in- do it one by one,to prevent any scrambling. whisk well in between, just to combine everything evenly.

3)      when your eggs are whisked in – add the vanilla and the flour. stir in. pour it into a well greased brownie tin/form, lined with baking paper. bake for 35min in 160C (hot air oven) or until it’s just set. let it cool completely before cutting. cut into 16 even squares, decorate with powdered sugar just for a nice,snowy effect 😉

tips:  use this easy recipe as a base and pimp it out any way you want! add raspberries,blueberries,nuts,chocolate chips or a chocolate topping.  It’s delicious on it’s own, but I’m sure the additions and little tweaks can only make it taste even better! enjoy;)

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Cinnamon Buns/ Cinnabuns

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However you call them-they’re amazing.I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who doesn’t like cinnamon rolls. Not anyone worth meeting anyway.

I know the whole idea of making something yeast-based, that needs the time to be kneaded,the time to rise etc might be a bit much, but once you give it a go,I guarantee it’s going to be one of those recipes you come back to over and over again.

Why? well, they’re cinnamon buns! they’re crispy on the outside,fluffy on the inside,sweet..and yes, you’ve guessed right-cinnamony! (try saying that 5 times really fast :P)

anyway, here’s the recipe, I hope you enjoy it, we certainly have.

makes 16 rolls:

• 10g instant yeast (1,5 regular packet)
• 75g sugar
• 60g butter
• 150ml milk
• 2  eggs
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
• abou 600-650g strong white flour

also: about 75g soft,room temperature butter extra-for the filling, as well as about 3tbsp of brown sugar and 2 tbsp of regular ,white sugar, vanilla extract (optional).

 

1)       melt the butter and reserve 2tbsp for glazing later.

2)      add the milk and 75 of white,regular sugar along with vanilla extract and heat up until fairly warm- NOT BOILING. Just warm.

3)      add half the flour into a large mixing bowl, along with the salt and the yeast. Mix through.

4)      start adding your butter-milk-sugar mixture , little by little- while stirring (I use a big wooden spoon) to incorporate all the liquid. It’s suppose to come to a smooth sort of thick batter.

5)      once you have added all your butter-milk-sugar mixture and acheived a thick,smooth batter-start adding the eggs-one at a time, mixing well in between, just to make sure everything is evenly incorporated.

6)      add the rest of the flour and start mixing -it will seem weird looking in the beginning, but don’t worry, it’s not too dry, the mixture will absorb all the flour while you’re mixing/kneading. If the mixture is too wet- add extra flour. It will not alter the recipe too much, sometimes flour just absorbs flour differently. Depending on the day,weather,temperature and brand of flour- it may absorb more or less flour, don’t freak out 😉 up to about 700g is okay for this recipe.

7)      once the flour is absorbed it’s time to knead, I do it by hand and it takes me about 15min of rather intense kneading to get the dough nice and smooth.  You can do it in a standing mixer, using a dough hook attachment.

8)      once the dough is smooth, place it in a clean , oiled bowl, cover in cling film and let it rise for up to 2 hours, or until it’s doubled in size.

9)      after the dough is doubled, turn it out onto a floured surface and you can either roll it with a rolling pin, but I preffer to just naturally stretch it by hand. It’s a really elastic,forgiving dough,it will not rip easily and it’s really simple to just stretsch it delicately, into a large rectangle, about 3mm thick. (usually it’s better to stretsch it the way so the longer edge is towards you-easier to roll).

10)  take the remaining 75g of butter of smear it onto the rectangle,to cover it evenly,I use my hand to do it.

11)    mix the remaining sugar,brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it all over the dough.

12)   pick up the longer edge of the dough and start rolling it,start off by pressing it pretty tight,just so it sticks together and doesn’t fall apart.

13)   when you’ve rolled the dough into a big snail-sort-of thing, cut the uneven ends off and cut the dough in half, each half in half,and so on, until you reach 16 even pieces.

14)   place the pieces cut side up, into a well-buttered baking dish/tin, lined with baking paper,leaving some spaces in between and on the edges. Then leave them to rise again for about 45 minutes,they will grow more and the edges will touch. I like to leave a bigger space on the outer egde of the tin,this way the buns have the room to grow and they don’t press too tightly against eachother.This way you prevent them bursting,splitting or growing upwards(when the center of the bun pops up and it doesn’t look very pretty).Still tastes great though;)

15)   after the second rise, brush the buns with the remaining melted butter,you’ve saved in the beginning, and bake in a preheated oven, 190C, for 25minutes.

16)   in the end I like to glaze them while they’re still warm- with a simple glaze made from icing sugar and water ( 5 tbsp of icing sugar and 1-1,5 tbsp of water,mixed together).

 

P.S the best one is the one in the middle , 😉 enjoy!

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Quiche Veronique and a simple salade

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Quiche is a timeless,french classic. You can’t argue with the fact that it’s delicious and impressive. For a long time I have been shying away from it, thinking it involves way too many processes and it’s too hard to make, but hey- I was wrong and I stand corrected!

My primary inspiration for this quiche was quiche Lorraine. Which is basically : eggs,cream,gruyere cheese and bacon. Which on it’s own sounds incredibly amazing and almost food-porn like. I have decided to make a bit of a tweaked version of it, by adding some softened leek and onion, as well as some matured Gouda and some hot mustard to the filling.

The end result was indeed amazing, but I couldn’t call it quiche Lorraine anymore, as it differs too much from the original, so I decided to call it quiche Veronique instead 😉 hope you don’t mind.(it’s a bit of an ego boost 😛 )

for 1 quiche(serves  8-10slices)

300g of plain flour

150 g of cold butter, diced into cubes

1 tbsp of salt

2 small eggs(for the pastry)

250g of creme fraiche

150 ml of whipping cream

250 g of smoked bacon

1 small onion- diced

1 small leek- sliced into half-moons

1 heaped teaspoon of hot mustard such as dijon

salt,pepper,nutmeg to season

5 eggs(for the filling)

150g of matured gouda,grated.

quiche form 25-27cm

1)      You need to start by making pastry, pastry seems difficult,but it really isn’t, aspecially not this one. The only thing you need to make sure is to not over-knead it, because you do want it short,crumbly and not tough.

so, put your flour,salt and butter into a bowl,or onto your worktop, work it as if you were making a crumble- rub the butter between your fingers with the flour,until you get sort of oatmeal texture,you don’t have to work all the butter in so well that you can’t see it anymore- roughly is fine as long as you don’t have huge lumps of butter in the flour.

2)      once that is done, make a little well in the center of you mix and crack it one egg(sometimes the flour needs more,up to 2 eggs,but start with one and go from there,if the mixture is too dry, add the other egg). work the dough as you would normally,if it’s too dry add the other egg and mix again,knead until it’s well combined and smooth.  When it’s nice and smooth and not too sticky- wrap it tight in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

3)      while your pastry is resting, you can get on with the filling. fry off your bacon until crispy, then remove it from the pan to cool, remove some of the grease(leaving about 1 tbsp) and fry off your onion and leak in that. season them lightly with salt and pepper, then leave to cool.

4)      whisk your 5 eggs in a bowl, season with salt,pepper,nutmeg and mustard, add the creme fraiche and the cream and once again,mix well until smooth and well combined.

5)      after an hour, remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out onto a floured surface,making sure it’s evenly rolled out, to cover the quiche form you have, you can add some extra flour onto the surface and the rolling pin,to prevent from sticking.

6)      butter your quiche form well , then transfer the pastry into the form.press it down into all the nooks and edges,make sure there are no holes in the pastry. prick the base using a fork ( 10-12 times all over the bottom)it will prevent the pastry from raising too much and any of the trapped air bubbles will burst.

7)      cover the pastry with baking paper and tip some dried beans or rice onto it-to way the pastry down,and to stop it from rising. distribute the beans evenly and  ”blind” bake it for 15min in 190C,preheated oven.

8)      after 15min, remove the beans and the parchment and bake for 5more minutes,so the pastry dries out nicely,before adding the filling.

9)      after the additional 5 minutes take the form out of the oven and sprinkle in your bacon,leek and onion, cheese- then cover it with the egg/cream mixture. sprinkle some extra cheese on top if you want, then pop it carefully back into the oven for 25-35 min, 190C. the time may vary,depending on how big and how deep your dish is-so just keep watching it and when the mixture is set and the top is brown- just take it out.

10)   let it cool to room temperature before serving., then cut and serve with a simple salade of mixed lettuce,cherry tomatoes and a small drizzle of balsamic reduction.

enjoy! 😉

 

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Classic white loaf/bread dough/pizza dough

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Bread and bread dough always seemed very complicated to me. Loads of kneading, hours of rising, then knocking it down etc, seemed a bit too much for my liking.

Only recently , after watching one of the BBC baking shows, I have decided to face my nemesis, and give it another go.

Bread seemed all complicated and time consuming..and in reality it turned out to be a piece of cake..(or a piece of bread,should I say? 😉 )

This recipe is a basic,simple white loaf recipe. It’s very versatile, and you can change it any way you like it, add nuts,seeds,seasonings,herbs, take your pick.

Once you have mastered the white loaf- the world’s your oyster, you can experiment with bread all you like.

Another good thing about this dough-is that you can make it exactly the same as the bread dough,knead,let it rise etc, and then instead of letting it proof in a loaf tin, roll it out and use it as a pizza base. I’ve tried and tested both, and they’re bulletproof.

for a small bread or 2large pizza bases(for a large bread and 3 large pizza bases use 750g of flour,10,5g yeast,double the oil,salt and water as well as the sugar).

500g of plain,white flour

7g of dried active yeast

2 tsp of salt

3 tbsp of oil, vegetable,sunflower etc.

about 300ml of warm water

1 tsp of sugar

1)      put the warm(not too hot,important,as it will kill the yeast if too hot) water into a glass or a bowl,add the sugar and the yeast.Stir and let it stand for about 5min , until it’s foamy and smells very yeasty. The yeast needs to foam up-then you know it’s alive.If the yeast doesn’t foam,it’s still and you can’t hear it hissing when you put your ear to the glass- it’s dead,probably the water was too hot.Start again.

2)      after the yeast is foamed up, mix your flour,salt and oil in a large mixing bowl.You can sift the flour,but I honestly don’t bother with that step. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients, then pour in the water with the foamy yeast. mix with your hand until its starting to come together, then start kneading-about 15min by hand should be enough. You can use a standing mixer with a dough hook as well.

3)      after 15min of kneading in the bowl,the dough should be pretty smooth and elastic. Then tip it out onto a slightly floured surface and knead hard for about 10minutes. This stage is pretty important as you stretch the gluten in the flour while kneading the dough and stretching it on you counter top,so don’t be shy with it. It’s a good workout too, so don’t be afraid to break a sweat;)

4)      after 10min of kneading & stretching, place the dough into a clean,oiled bowl, and wrap with cling film. let the dough rise for about 1,5hours.

5)      after the dough is doubled in size take it out of the bowl gently,tip it onto your counter and gently knock the air out of the dough. this might seem strange,but that’s how it works,so don’t question,just do it 😉 after you’ve knocked the air out (gently) and the dough seems rather flat, take the longer end and roll it into a rugby ball shape,don’t knead anymore,just roll it tightly,tuck the ends in, and place into a greased loaf tin, cover with a cloth and let it proof for another 30min.

6)      preheat the oven to 220C fan, remove the cloth from the bread.it should be slightly risen back up. Now you have a few options-you can just score the top,and leave it as it is,lightly flour it, or brush it with beaten egg white and sprinkle with various seeds-that’s up to you.

7)      place the bread in the middle of the oven, and splash about 100ml of room temperature water into the oven-it will create some steam and the bread will cook better,it won’t dry out. quickly close the oven door and let it back for 30min.

8)      tip the bread out from the tin while still hot,tap the bottom with your fingers-if it sounds hollow-it’s ready 😉 enjoy!

Now,if you want to make pizza-make the dough exactly the same,let it rise until doubled in size, then knock the air down,roll out with a rolling pin or handle in your hands until it’s thin enough,then place onto a baking tray,lined with baking paper form a round shape, top with sauce and your favourite ingredients-bake in 220C until golden- about 15-20min,times may vary depending on the oven,so keep an eye on it.

This dough would also be great for making calzones, so give it a go, hope you like it, here’s some of my results: a traditional scored loaf with sesame seeds,a white,floured loaf and a pizza, enjoy & a very happy new year to you all 😉Image

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