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!

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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  🙂

Traffic Light Soups.

We have enjoyed a tasty exploration into the world of vegetables over winter, celebrating a wide array of flavours and combinations.

Home made soups can be so nutritious, packed with flavour, richly smooth or rustically chunky, and versatile.  Simply and quickly made.  Comforting and bursting with natural wonder.

All can be made vegan, wheat and dairy free.  The three shown here are amongst our top tastes for this season.   By varying the amount of stock used, or omitting it altogether, you can make them thicker to serve as a sauce to pep up plain vegetables, fish or poultry.

Tomato Soup, Sweet Potato and Butternut Soup, Pea Soup.

Tomato Soup, Sweet Potato and Butternut Soup, Pea Soup.

The smell of hot soup, cupped in a deep bowl as I sit in front of a dancing fire, is as much part of winter as dark walks to work and chilblains on my toes.  Ouch.

Last night, to start a special evening, we served three soups; chilled rather than hot, in tiny shot glasses as interesting, colourful appetizers.  I love tiny tastes – conversation pieces to break the ice; easy accompaniments to drinks before dinner.

The details below are not so much recipes as guidelines.

I like to make my soups very simply, adding just a few ingredients.  I vary according to the herbs etc that are around at the time so that they totally reflect the seasons… the combinations are as extensive as your own imagination.  But here are the basics; encouragement just to have a go. Cook your veg in good stock, having fried off onions / garlic / spices (bacon bits if you’d like…) then blitz with enough added liquid (more stock / cream…) until you have the consistency you need.  Serve steaming  hot or chilled; garnished or not.

You just need a powerful blender, a big lidded pan, and a wide imagination.

Tomato Soup.

Hot tomato soup.

Hot tomato soup.

This makes a store cupboard tomato soup – you’ll get a livelier flavour by using fresh, ripe, late summer tomatoes when in season.  Looking forward to that  🙂

Gently fry off 1 Onion & 1 plump clove of garlic in just enough olive or sunflower oil.  Sweat with the lid on the pan for a little while.

If you have, you can add: Stick of celery, peeled, chopped carrot, herbs that compliment tomato such as thyme, basil, marjoram, bay… If not vegetarian you may like to add a little bacon / chorizo…  put a lid on so they all gently steam until soft.

Add 2 tins of tomatoes – cook for a while with the lid off, to allow flavours to develop.

Add well-flavoured vegetable stock, depending on how thick you want the soup to be: blitz as you’re doing this so you can judge the finished consistency.  If you want tomato sauce to serve with beans, roasted vegetables, fish or poultry, blitz smooth or chunky and you may want to reduce down rather than adding  extra stock.  Add capers / chopped olives / gherkins / chopped soft herbs such as basil or chervil and seasoning to taste.

Optional: Splash of cream / sprinkle of paprika or black pepper / a drizzle of thick, sticky well matured balsamic vinegar / scoop of avocado sorbet to serve, depending on whether you’re having it hot or chilled.  No limit to the options, really…

Sweet Potato and Butternut Soup.

P1000338

I love this, particularly as a winter warmer – the golden colour and smooth texture are as comforting as this soup is healthy.  Sweet Potatoes are packed with Vitamins B6, C, D, Iron and Magnesium.  Great for skin, healthy bones, heart and energy; they’ve also been linked with cancer toxin reduction.  As a significant added bonus, they apparently promote healthy red and white cell production, which increases immunity to disease and stress.  Wow – who needs vitamin pills?!

Nigella Lawson’s recipe is a great starting point – vary as you like.

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/butternut-and-sweet-potato-soup-66

Green Pea Soup.

Green Pea Soup.

Green Pea Soup.

Again, no rules here.  Fry off some onion in oil (or butter if not dairy free and like the taste).

Add around 200g frozen peas and 200 ml good vegetable stock.  Gently simmer, with herbs if desired, with the lid on for a few minutes.

Blitz in a food processor.  Adjust quantity of stock and seasoning until you have the consistency and taste that you like.

Serve hot or cold – with sour cream and snipped chives, mint (especially good added to chilled pea soup in the summer), or topped with ham lardons for non vegetarians.

Hot Tomato Soup.

I’ve just planted some beetroot seeds, so am looking forward to beautiful deep purple Borsch later in the summer.

Soup thricolour bright

Couldn’t be easier – What’s your favourite soup?

Start the day with Zest – Lime marmelade muffins.

Last year it was all about Cupcakes…

This year, it’s Muffins.

P1000145They’re so very very easy – they could almost be called a convenience food.  But a fun one – and one that you can be sure only contains good things.     And they’re a great subject for experimentation – you can make an unlimited range of flavours quick and easily – and because they’re batter based, there’s no need to soften butter, or for creaming, or any special skills.

Give them a go – you wouldn’t believe the transformation from lumpy, unattractive batter that goes into the oven to the domed little beauties that come out – magic!

Here’s a recipe to give you a tangy lift in the morning – best eaten  still warm from the oven… yum!

Makes 12 muffins.

Preheat oven to 400F, 200C, Gas 6.

1/4 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup marmalade (I use lime marmalade for an extra zing)

2 cups self raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs – lightly beaten

3/4 cup milk

2 tsp lemon or lime zest, and 2 tp orange zest

1.  Line your muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.

2.  Heat butter and 1/3 cup marmalade gently to melt together.  Stir and cool.

3.  In a large bowl, sift self raising flour and baking powder.

4.  Make a well in the centre of the flour.

5.  In a small bowl or jug, combine eggs, milk, zest/s and butter marmalade mixture.

6.  Add liquid to the flour in one go and stir a little – it should stay lumpy – if you over mix it, the muffins will have hard tops.

6.  Fill cases 2/3 full with batter.  Bake until golden brown – around 15 – 20 minutes.

7.  The muffins are ready when a skewer or thin knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

8.  While they are cooking, make the glaze for the muffins – gently heat 1/3 cup marmalade.

9.  Brush glaze over the hot muffins and serve warm, or transfer to a wire rack to cool.

What are your favourite muffins – do you make them yourself, or where do you buy them from?

Apple Cake Experimentation – 3 recipes that came out as winners.

We’ve been experimentating with different apple cake styles and recipes over the winter.

It’s been interesting, made the house smell wonderful and provided us with a great excuse to have the oven on, which has helped the log burner heat up the kitchen – win, win, win!

Here are the recipes for three of our favourites – all very different.

Recipe 1 – 

Chunky Apple & Plum Loaf Cake.           

ImageThis is a great way to use up not only older apples, but also the last bit of jam in the jar (or have a clear out, and finish those last smidgens from lots of pots!)

We made it in a loaf tin… just for a change, but you could use a regular round tin if you prefer – use a 1Kg / 2Lb loaf tin or a 20 cm round tin lined with baking paper.

This recipe is adapted from one found in BBC Good Food Magazine.

We used Plum jam, so ours was an apple and plum cake, but consult with your almost empty jam jars then decide what you’re going to make –

250g / 9oz Self Raising Flour

175g / 6oz butter (I always use butter rather than spread in cakes & pastry as I think it tastes better)

175g / 6 oz Muscovado Sugar (or demerara, or white if you don’t have Muscovado)

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

3 Small Eating Apples – Peeled & cut into medium sized chunks

2 Large Eggs, Beaten

1 tsp Baking Powder

Jam & 2 x Rounded Tbs Demerara Sugar for top

1.   Preheat oven to 170c or Gas 4.  Line loaf or cake tin with baking paper.

2.   Rub the flour, butter and muscovado sugar together to make fine breadcrumbs.  Reserve 5 Tbs of this mixture and mix it with cinnamon and demerara sugar for topping.  Set this reserved mixture aside.

3.   Mix apple chunks and eggs.

4.   Stir baking powder into rubbed in mixture, then quickly and lightly stir in the egg mixture – don’t over mix.

5.   Spoon into the tin – if you have enough jam, you can dollop some jam in as you spoon cake mixture in.

6.   Dollop rest of jam on the top – we made a little rut along the middle of our loaf cake, and put jam along the middle – good idea to keep it away from the sides of the tin as you don’t want the jam to burn

7.   Spoon reserved crumble / sugar over the top, avoiding jam.

8.   Bake in your preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 or 20 minutes – test with a skewer & it’s cooked when skewer comes out clean.  Cover with foil after about 50 minutes.

9.   Once cooked, leave in tin for around 30 minutes then cool on a wire rack (or eat hot!)

Recipe 2 – Apple Cake with Syrup.

ImageThis is a very different cake, made with semolina – higher in protein than flour.  This cake has no added fat and the main sweetener is the maple syrup.  There are different grades of ‘maple syrup’ sold, and as always you get what you pay for – genuine maple syrup has a low GI in contrast to cheaper varieties, which often contain a low element of maple syrup (therefore less taste) and often have a much higher GI.  This is great with greek yougort or vanilla ice cream.

The recipe here was adapted from http://www.weighitup.com.au

Line a 20 – 22 cm cake tin, or make in a flapjack type tin – 32 x 22 cm, lined.

Heat oven to 180c or gas 4.

4 eggs
½ cup  sugar
250g semolina
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
½ cup quick oats
800g stewed Apples
½ cup flaked almonds – optional

Syrup:
1 cup water
¼ cup  sugar
¾ cup  Maple Syrup

1.   Mix eggs and sugar with a whisk until light, creamy and thick.

2.   Add some of the semolina, then some of the water and vanilla.  Add the rest of the semolina, baking powder, water, vanilla and oats. Mix well.

3.   Mix in apples.

4.   Spread into tin. Sprinkle with almonds if using them.

5.   Bake for 20 – 25 minutes if using a flapjack style tin, or longer if using a cake tin – it is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

6.   Allow the cake to cool.  Heat the syrup for a little while in a small saucepan – don’t let it burn, but do let it thicken a little.  Then pour it over the cake – slowly so it soaks in.

Recipe 3 – Apple, Sunflower seed and Honey Cake.

ImageSunflower seeds are great little packets of goodness – they contain lots of vitamin E, which has been said to help to reduce cholsterol.  They also contain a lot of magnesium, which is needed for strong healthy bones and also for regulating the flow of calcium to the blood vessels and muscles.  They also contain  selenium, which has been found in some studies to inhibit cancer cells… and the Vitamin E that they contain is claimed to help prevent UV damage to the skin by the sun.

We made this in a ring tin – one with a hole in the centre.  We greased it well first, and it turned out wonderfully.

Preheat oven to 170c or Gas 5.

1 cup sunflower seeds.

1/4 cup Honey (heat your measuring cup first by pouring boiling water into it, and this will help honey to run out more cleanly)

1 cup sunflower oil

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 cups plain flour mixed with 1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt and 1 tsp ground cinnamon or nutmeg and 1 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups peeled, chopped apple – chop quite small.

Honey to pour over – use a spoon heated by pouring boiling water over it first to help.

1.   Sprinkle some of the sunflower seeds into the greased tin.

2.   Use an electric mixer to beat sugar, honey and oil.

3.   Beat in eggs, one at a time, adding a little flour with the last couple if necessary.

4.   Gently beat in rest of dry ingredients, then fold in vanilla, rest of sunflower seeds & apple.

5.  Cook for 50 – 60 minutes.   Cool in tin for about 10 minutes when taken out of oven.

6.   Turn out onto a wire rack to cool, and very carefully pour over more honey – it helps this absorb better if you heat the honey gently in a pan first.  You may want to prick the cake gently too, to help absorption.

Delicious served with vanilla ice cream, custard, creme fraiche or greek yogurt.

– Do you have any recipes that you’ve found to be family favourites?

Chocolate chip thins.

These crispy chocolate chip biscuits are melt in the mouth, thin and crumbly.

Really quick to make, they’re great as a light delight with a cup of tea!

If you want to have thicker cookie type biscuits, chill the dough well before cooking and add 40 – 50g more flour.

Vary the recipe by adding nuts, rasins, cherries dired apricots, ginger… … experiment.

Makes around 20.

150 g plain flour

Half a teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Half a teaspoon of salt

110g slightly soft butter – if the butter is very soft, you will get very thin cookies, as I did… if you don’t want such thin cookies, see note above.

170g total of white and light brown sugar mixed together

Half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

I egg

100g nuts, if wanted

170g chocolate chips

x2 baking sheets lined with baking parchment

Preheat the oven to 190c / no5 and set the racks to the upper and middle of the oven space.

Stir flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda.

Combine butter, sugars and vanilla and beat with an electric paddle until just combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating in between.  Gently beat in flour mixture.

Very gently beat in nuts and chocolate.

Place mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 7.5cm apart from each other.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 12 – 14 minutes.

Cool slightly on baking tin, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Keep in an airtight container.