Easy Peasy Supper: Parsi Chicken with Apricots.

Fiesta Friday *3

Time to entertain, but not to slave over an extensive shopping list and hot stove?

Easy Peasy Suppers fit the bill when interesting but non demanding recipes are called for, using ingredients that you don’t need to trawl the back streets to find  🙂

See more quick and easy ideas by searching ‘Easy Peasy’ in the right hand side bar.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots: A delicately spiced ‘Easy Peasy Supper’.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy, I love this dish.

Spiced but not shouting and wonderfully adaptable

(Madhur says her friend ‘puts in a healthy glug of Maderia towards the end of cooking!’)

it’s a delicate, no fuss supper which works well with plain rice or potatoes.

Potato mint and egg salad

New Potato, fresh mint and soft-boiled, freshly laid egg salad.

‘Parsi’ means Persian.

India’s Parsi community were driven out of Persia by muslims around the 8th Century and settled on India’s West Coast.

At first there were concerns from locals that their country was already over populated.

According to tradition, the Parsi’s leader asked for a bowl of milk filled to the brim and a spoonful of sugar.

He carefully blended the sugar into the milk, without spilling a drop.

“We are like the sugar,” he explained, “We will only sweeten your country.”

http://www.parsi.com/parsihistory.html

Parsi spiced Chicken with Apricots.

Parsi Chicken with Apricots: A delicately spiced ‘Easy Peasy Supper’.

This dish is a little sweet, but delicious with it.

I’d recommend a fairly bland accompaniment to complement and not overpower the sweet – sour tones.

I had some new potatoes and mint that needed trimming, so made a quick salad with soft-boiled, freshly laid eggs… perfect!

Serves 4.  

Recipe adapted slightly from Madhur Jeffrey’s Curry Easy.

1.25 Kg Chicken pieces (or use a whole chicken, portioned, as I did)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 dried apricots

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Cinnamon Sticks

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

2 medium onions, sliced

1 Tablespoon tomato puree

3 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 Tbs granulated sugar (I used quince jelly)

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mint - growing apace in the spring rain!

Mint – growing apace in the spring rain!

This is my contribution to Angie’s Fiesta Friday over at The Novice Gardiner

http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

I’ve learnt so much from the other Fiesta-goers,

and am so grateful for the tips and advice I’ve been given.

I’m off to join you all now.

Follow the link above, or on the right hand side bar –

hope you enjoy this dish, and I’m looking forward to trying some of yours!

Half Term ‘Time’ in the garden.

How Does Your Garden Grow *5.

In London, it’s been disappointingly wet for a May Half Term, as everyone seems to be saying.

Last week, the sun shone and the air seemed warmer.

     As I sat in my office at school, glued to the computer for too many hours each day.

Now, the sun has taken a break along with the schools.

Lady's mantle in Spring rain.  May 14.

Lady’s mantle in Spring rain. May 14.

But the Half Term holiday gives precious time nonetheless.

Instead of the bright sunshine that May promises,

raindrops line the edge of leaves and glisten like jewels caught on petals and fringing stems.

Crystal encrusted Alium.  May 14.

Crystal encrusted Alium. May 14.

Dripping from the end of my nose as I pot up seedlings in muddy compost.

Wondering at the amazement of those little pink earthworms who, unaided and in under a year,

have transformed kitchen waste, scrap paper and random discarded garments into a mass of beautiful rich, crumbly compost.

Our pond seems to have turned into a fantastically successful blanket weed incubation centre.  (‘Long String Algae’ in US.)

Despite bales of barley straw, this wretched weed demands regular harvesting and discarding.

Luckily, the worms on the compost heap seem to appreciate it.

As I was clearing, I found myself face to face with this little fellow,

   poised on a lily pad and boldly watching me – as I watched him – throughout the dredging process…

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“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg

* * *

“Is the spring coming?”  He said.  “What is it like?”…

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

– Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.

Alium in the Spring rain.

Alium in the Spring rain.

Washed and dried, now I’m off to see what’s going on with Annie’s How Does Your Garden Grow project.  Take a look at http://mammasaurus.co.uk or follow the pink blossom link on the right hand side bar for wonderful blogs and inspiring pictures.

Silent thoughts on a cold Spring day

Time for thoughts on a cold Spring day

‘Time’ is precious, even if it’s a grey or rainy day.

What do you do when you have ‘time’?

Easy Peasy Supper: Chicken Cacciatora.

Fiesta Friday *2

Delicious, quick and healthy.  I’m presuming that this is the dish Italian ladies had waiting for their hard-working husbands when they came home from a day working in the forest… made with equal love, it’s my healthy contribution to Fiesta Friday this week!

Easy Peasy Supper recipes are perfect for mid-week dinners, or entertaining at the weekend, when you’ve got something more entertaining than cooking to do all day!

Italian Forester's Chicken

Italian Forester’s Chicken

I based the recipe for this dish on Jamie Oliver’s, from Jamie’s Italy.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/hunter-s-chicken-stew-pollo-alla-cacciatora

I omitted anchovies, and cut right down on wine, adding stock and extra tomato juice instead, in line with the tastes of the friend I made it for.  Really delicious – I love recipes that easily adapt to suit availability or taste.

2014-05-08 20.00.08

Serves around 6 people

2 Kg chicken, jointed, or 2 Kg of chicken pieces
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves, slightly crushed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
½ bottle Chianti
flour, for dusting
extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
1 handful green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400 g tinned plum tomatoes

Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl with the bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, crushed clove of garlic and wine. Marinate overnight in the fridge, or for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.

Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dust the chicken pieces with flour and shake off any excess. Heat an ovenproof pan, add a splash of olive oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over and put to one side.

Fry off the sliced garlic gently until golden brown, then add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes (broken up with a wooden spoon) and the chicken pieces with their reserved marinade.

Return to the boil, cover with a lid or foil and bake in the preheated oven for around 1½ hours.

Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, then stir, taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary.

Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, and serve with a salad.

Foresters Chicken - Dairy Free & Deicious.

Foresters Chicken – Dairy Free & Deicious.

– It’s a shame the pictures have all come out so horribly ‘RED’!! Maybe because I took them when the chicken was still hot?

I’d appreciate any advice on the photography front if anyone can help – Thanks ex.

Meantime, I’m off to see other inspiring dishes – with far better photos, no doubt – over at Fiesta Friday – click the link in the right side bar to join in with Angie, the Novice Gardener and her crew  🙂

Pole dancing in the garden!

How Does Your Garden Grow *4

Washing Line Pole

Upcycling in the garden!

Too busy this last weekend to do much gardening… 😦

and surrounded by swaths of laundry after a house-full of guests,

my washing line seems to be the only thing that’s Growing In My Garden this week.

How does a nylon line suddenly get a foot longer, therefore a foot nearer the muddy ground…

Ensuring that the sheets have earthy brown trims after flapping over a wet lawn for a day or so?

My redundant IKEA curtain pole, having lost a ‘finial’ during building work, came to the rescue!

Washing line pole upcycled

Recycling in the garden

I’m suffering from not having ‘my time’ outside this week.

But watching washing dancing on the line,

billowing around such a pretty pole makes up in parts.

Hoping next weekend will be less frantic, and sunnier.

Until then, here’s my curtain call…

2014-05-11 07.05.27-2

Ode To a Washing Line.

There are many funny sights worth witnessing
on blustery days or fine
sights you see in the open air, on a swaying washing line. 
Socks are jovial talkative things, forever wanting to dance
Pyjamas are always so tired it seems, fall asleep if given the chance.
Shirts are ”armless” pathetic clothes
Crying at the merest whim
Briefs and pants are reluctant to talk
(they keep everything in)
Vests go around with mini skirts
they’ve fallen out with the slacks
Bras are so very full of themselves, but seldom have time to relax
T-shirts are ill-used and misshapen, from being too long in the sun
Trousers are extremely frustrated,
never being let-down for fun.

* * *

By John Day  http://www.poetry.com/poems/53248-Ode-to-a-washing-line

* * *

Now, I’m off to see what’s growing in other How Does Your Garden Grow gardens –

follow the Pink flower link on the right hand sidebar to “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

– Annie’s wonderful weekly collection of inspiration and awe at Mammasaurus.

 

Curtains to the old washing pole!

Curtains to the old washing pole!

What have you ‘upcycled for use in your garden?

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Perfect Party Pudding!

Fiesta Friday *1

We have just enjoyed a wonderful sunny Bank Holiday Monday in the UK 🙂

This is my stand by celebration pudding and my first choice for gatherings on such occasions, when I want to make something special, but don’t want it take so long that there’s no time do something special as well!

… it takes ages in the oven, but only minutes of preparation time and always looks great.

Strawberry Pavlova - slice

As an added bonus, if you don’t count any of the white bits, it’s full of vitamins and virtually calorie free too!

Having enjoyed reading Fiesta Friday posts and using some of the recipes, I’ve plucked up my courage to join in, conscious that my photography skills are not comparable with other Fiesta participants.  But I’m hoping that I’ll pick up some tips… (I’m relying on you other fiesta-goers for that!)

* * *

So with thanks to with Angie over at Novice Gardiner,

Here I am, knocking on the door of the party house and looking forward to joining in…

http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

* * *

An easy pre-metric way to remember the quantities for meringue used to be to allow 2 oz sugar per egg white – so when I’m making a pavlova for a party, I use 10 eggs and used to use 20 oz sugar… it’s all a bit more tricky now, with grammes – but that’s the idea!

For example, 4 egg whites and 250g caster sugar.

Line your flat baking tray by lining with good quality baking parchment.

Turn the oven on – I set the shelf in the centre and put the oven to the very lowest setting, and ‘cook’ the pavlova over night – it  slowly dries out this way, but you need to make sure you’re not going to need the oven for a late night roast or anything whilst its cooking!

Whisk egg whites until they form soft peaks (that’s a lot of whisking – best to go electric!)

Whisk in sugar, 1 Tbs at a time as this helps stiffen whites further.

Spread about 1/3 of the meringue in a circle to form the base of your Pavlova.

Either ‘blob’ or pipe remaining meringue around the edge, to form the ‘walls’ for the pavlova.

Let it dry out overnight in the oven.

When dried out, lift from baking sheet and carefully place on your serving board or dish.  Fill with cream and fruit and prepare to dazzle your guests – simple!

Strawberry Pavlova - whole

TIPS:  

Some people recommend adding cornflour – this helps keep the meringue soft in the centre.  I don’t do this, because I like to fill mine a few hours in advance and this means that the moisture from the cream softens the meringue a bit anyway (this allows me to focus on the party and relaxing not finishing off the pudding at the last minute!) If you’d like to try this, add 1 tsp sieved cornflour with the last addition of sugar

Others like to add a tsp of vinegar.  Some believe that this keeps the meringue white (I think it’s pretty white anyway!) and also say that it helps the egg whites increase in volume.  If you’d like to try this, add 1 tsp vinegar with the final addition of eggs.

It’s fun to try making flavoured meringue – add some drops of vanilla or rosewater, depending on fruit used.

You can make darker meringue by substituting some of the caster sugar for brown – but this does make them more gooey too!

Add a drop or two of red food colouring and just marble it in lightly for a pretty pink fleck to your meringue.

Interesting fact –

The Pavlova desert is named after the Russian prima ballerina, Anna Matveyevna Pavlova (1881-1931).  It was said that her dancing was as though she had wings – so light and airy – hence naming the case for this desert after her.

Strawberry Pavlova - wholeWhat is your easy-peasy party pudding?

Follow the Fiesta-Friday link to see more great foodie posts – and thanks for letting me join in, guys!

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

Dainty Dancers!

How Does Your Garden Grow *3.

I love Aquilegia, or Columbine flowers.

Their common name is ‘Granny’s Bonnet’.

But my granny wouldn’t have been seen dead (and certainly not alive!)

in a bonnet like this.

DSCN2250 copy

Granny’s Bonnet on a hazy morning.

They always make me think of light-footed dancers in frilly tutus,

effortlessly drifting over flowerbeds…

Surfacing in new and surprising colours, just where they please the next year!

Here are some of the beautifully dressed acts appearing in my garden, lighting up the shady boarders this Spring…

 From Cecily Mary Barker’s beautiful Flower Fairies book, which my girls and I so enjoyed when they were young,

here is the accompanying poem…

Columbine

The Song of the Columbine Fairy

Who shall the chosen fairy be
For letter C?
There’s Candytuft, and Cornflower blue,
Campanula and Crocus too,
Chrysanthemum so bold and fine,
And the pretty dancing Columbine.

Yes, Columbine! the choice is she;
And with her, see,
An elfin piper, piping sweet
A little tune for those light feet
That dance among the leaves and flowers
In someone’s garden.
(is it ours?)

Peeping through the Trellis as the day begins.

Peeping through the Trellis before the day begins.

Last Sunday was International Dawn Chorus Day.

I was up early as ever (groan) ready to prepare breakfast for guests we had staying.

The bread was finishing baking and the coffee brewing.

I nipped out and took these shots as the sun gently heralded the start of what turned out to be a fantastically sunny Bank Holiday Weekend Sunday…

Thank goodness the weather doesn’t always listen to the forecast!

Good morning gift!

Now I’m off to check out what the other How Does Your Garden Grow participants have been doing in their gardens last week…

Follow the pink HDYGG flower on the right sidebar to join Annie at http://mammasaurus.co.uk and the other inspirational gardeners  🙂

What have you been doing in your garden this week?