Sunday, January 27

Piri Piri Chicken

I was wading through Yottam Ottolenghis's new book 'Jerusalem' in which almost every recipe is accompanied by food images that are so good, they are almost pornographic. The book is bloody fantastic, the man is a genius. I went for the rice with chickpeas, sultanas and herbs and bits (seen in the background here) - but needed something red and spicy to accompany. I am aware that Piri Piri chicken is of Portugese origin, but I am sure there are some Jerusalem-ites out there munching on something like this right now (probably in Nandos!).

This dish will serve four, but I only fed two reserving the remaining chicken and sauce for another dish we ate later in the week - tres frugal! I'll blog in due course.

Free range chicken legs - 4
Red & Yellow peppers - 1 of each, deseeded and cut into 6 
Fat green chillis - 2 or 3, split in half, deseeded if you wish
Red Onion - 1 small, finely sliced
Garlic - 2 fat cloves, crushed
Dried thyme - 1/2 tsp
Dried Oregano - 1 tsp
Sherry Vinegar - 1 tbsp
Lemon juice - 1/2 a lemons worth
Sugar - 1 tsp
Passata - 1 carton
Worcestershire Sauce - 1 tbsp
Smoked paprika - 1 tbsp
Olive Oil - 1 tbsp

Season and fry the chicken legs, skin side down in a little oil until deeply golden. Flip over and colour the flesh side as well, then drain and transfer the legs to the bowl of a slow cooker or a casserole dish. Finely slice the red onion and gently fry in the same pan until soft and starting to colour. Crush and add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and lemon juice. Chuck the lot in with the chicken along with the rest of the ingredients. Lid on, slow cooker on (or into an oven set to 150c), simmer for 2 to 3 hours until the chicken is falling off the bone. Taste and season with salt, pepper, more vinegar and sugar if you think the sauce needs it. Serve with rice.

Friday, January 25

Ham Hock & Split Pea Stew, Parsley Pesto

Packed with flavour, honest, warming...just a cracking plate of food. This dish flies off the menu at the pub.

1 ham hock
4 carrots
1 onion
2 sticks of celery
1 leek, split and well washed
1 small potato, peeled
2 bay leaves
a large bunch of flat leaf parsley
100g yellow split peas
10 black peppercorns
25g parmesan
25g hazelnuts - lightly toasted
1 fat clove of garlic
a splash of olive oil (not extra virgin)
A squeeze of lemon juice

Remove the green part of the leek, the carrot tops and tails, and the ends of the celery and place with the ham hock in a snugly fitting pot with the bay leaves, parsley stalks (save the leaves for later) and the peppercorns. Split two of the carrots in half and add to the pot with half the onion. Cover with water, bring to the simmer, skim regularly and gently blip for 2 hours or so until the bones can easily be pulled from the flesh. Take off the heat and allow the hock to cool in the liquid.

Meanwhile chop all the remaining vegetables into similar sized pieces and add to another more roomy pot with the split peas. Remove the ham hock from the stock. Pass the stock through a sieve to remove the vegetables - discard the vegetables, reserve the stock.

Add the stock to the pan containing the vegetables and split peas and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the split peas are tender and the potato has broken down and thickened the broth. Taste and season with pepper, the broth is unlikely to need salt as the ham hocks will have been brined.

Set a small handful of parsley leaves aside and blitz the rest in a food processor with the parmesan, hazelnuts, garlic, and a pinch of salt. When the parsley is mush, add the oil - you may need to scrape the sides of the processor bowl several times to get an even result. Taste and season with lemon and more salt and pepper if required. 

Separate the lean ham from the bones and fat discarding everything but the lean meat. Return a generous handful of ham per person to the broth and warm through with the remaining finely chopped parsley to add colour. Serve with a good dollop of pesto. Any remaining ham makes for a great breakfast served with poached eggs and English muffins.

Thursday, January 17

Welsh Rarebit Crumpets

It was my son Ethan's 1st birthday today and after the Aquarium visit we held a high tea for the adults and babies to celebrate further. Of course there was all the usual suspects - cake, jelly, ice-cream.....but I also wanted to do something a little more adult. 

It is fair to say that I am a bit of a rarebit addict and slather it on everything from toast to omelettes, smoked haddock and field mushrooms. I've not seen it on crumpets before, however a quick internet search to check my originality revealed that only 2876 people had thought of it before me - ha! 

So here it is folks, possibly the most unoriginal twist with crumpets in human history:

6 crumpets
200g very mature cheddar cheese, grated
25g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
1 heaped tsp dijon
1 heaped tsp grain mustard
100ml real ale
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the flour to make a roux. Add the mustards and beat in using a whisk.  Add the beer and quickly whisk in until all the floury lumps have been incorporated and bring to the simmer beating all the time. The sauce should thicken when boiling, reduce the heat and simmer gently for a few minutes to cook out the flour. Take off the heat and add the cheese, egg yolk and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix well and allow the residual heat of the sauce to melt the cheese. Season well and set aside. 

Toast your crumpets on both sides under a hot grill, top generously with rarebit then toast  again until the topping is golden and bubbling. Allow to cool a little before devouring or risk losing the roof lining of your mouth......!

Wednesday, January 9

Smoked Chicken Massaman Curry

Massaman differs from the ubiquitous Thai green and red curries in that the paste includes some spices more familiar in Burmese or Indian cuisine. Many years ago I ate a fantastic version at a tiny street stall in Bangkok and the curry seemed to carry a smoky flavour, perhaps from the charcoal burners being used to fire the wok? Anyhow this is my version, the smoked chicken introducing that charred flavour I remember so well. Don’t be daunted by the list of ingredients for the paste as I have a fantastic cheat that will work for all Thai curries so read on.....

For two or three:  

Paste Ingredients:
Garlic - 6 fat cloves, peeled
Ground coriander - 2 tsp
Ground cumin - 1 tsp
Whole dried red chilli (the large Indian ones) - 2
Fresh galangal or ginger - 1 thumb sized piece, peeled
Nutmeg - a good grate, maybe 1/8th of a nutmeg
Cinnamon - 1/2 tsp
Clove - 2
Black peppercorns - 10
Cardamon - 6
Roasted peanuts - a small handful
Lemon grass - 2 sticks
Palm sugar - 2 tsp
Coconut milk - 1 tin
Fish sauce - 1 tbsp
Shrimp paste (optional) - 1 tsp

Ingredients - the rest:
Smoked chicken - 2 breasts, skinned
Waxy salad potatoes - 200g, sliced 5mm thick
Spanish onion - 1 large one, finely sliced
Vegetable oil - 25ml
Garnish - toasted peanuts, finely shredded spring onion/cucumber, fresh coriander, lime wedges etc

Blitz all the paste ingredients in the blender with a little water if it is too thick to blend. The term paste might be misleading as really you want an end result that is more like double cream. Blitz until it is as smooth as it will go, then transfer to a saucepan. Bring gently to a simmer and blip away for 5 minutes before pushing the lot through a fine sieve discarding the fibrous mass. You will now have a fantastically flavoured but beautifully smooth sauce with no bits (which I loathe). Adjust the flavour with fish sauce and a little more palm sugar if you think it needs it. Add the potatoes and simmer until cooked but not falling apart. In a separate frying pan gently fry the onion in the veg oil until very soft and golden, drain then add to the curry sauce. Slice the chicken and warm in the curry sauce. Check the flavour again and add a little water if the sauce has reduced to far, then serve topped with the garnishes of your choice and steamed rice.

Wednesday, January 2

Tarte Tatin of Beetroot & Bosworth Ash

Beetroot & goats cheese is a well trodden flavour combination but you don't see it that often as a tarte tatin. Basically a tart assembled upside-down, it is much easier to make that you would expect and this recipe is easily achievable for all but the most ham fisted cook.

Be sure to take full advantage of shop bought all butter puff pastry and ready made balsamic glaze and you will have this tart knocked up with little more than 10 minutes prep effort. For two/three:

2 large red onions
Olive oil - 25ml
Medium sized raw beetroot - 4
All butter puff pastry - 1 packet, ready rolled
Fresh thyme leaves - 2 or 3 sprigs, leaves removed from stems
Balsamic glaze - 2 to 3 tbsp
Quality goats cheese such as Bosworth Ash
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the worst of the dirt off the beetroot, wrap in foil and bake at 160c for 2 hours or until a small knife pierces the vegetable with no resistance. Allow to cool, peel and slice into 5mm rounds.

Peel and slice very thinly the onion. Gently fry for 20 minutes in the olive oil with a little seasoning until the onions are golden and very soft. At the end of cooking, add half the balsamic glaze and taste - you want the onions to taste sweet and sour so add more if necessary. Allow the onions to cool.

Line the base of a 25cm non-stick frying pan with a circle of baking parchment (the pan must have a metal handle as it is going in the oven). Squirt the remaining balsamic glaze over the parchment and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover the base of the pan with a layer of beetroot taking time to overlap the beetroot neatly as this base layer will end up as the presentation face of the tart. Sprinkle with seasoning and thyme then spread the onions over the beetroot. The onions form the cement to hold the beetroot in place when the tart is turned out, so use them to fill any gaps. Sprinkle with a little goats cheese - you can use the soft rind here as it will lend flavour but will not spoil the final appearance.

Cut a circle from the puff pastry just larger than your pan and place over the filling. Tuck the edges in and bake at 210c for 30 minutes until the pastry is puffed, deeply golden and cooked through.  You may need to spin the pan in the oven.

Tip the tart out onto a plate so the pastry is now forms the base, remove the paper while the tart is still warm and drizzle with more olive oil and a crumble of goats cheese. Serve warm.