Archive for August, 2009

Steam-baked lemon & chili chicken

steam-baked lemon chili chicken

To say I learnt nothing at University would not be entirely true. The fact that my paper qualification has been of little benefit to me now is beside the point.

University was the time when I discovered the skill of pairing flavours. I learnt for instance that natural Peanut butter on a crispy-skinned baked potato is perfectly delicious on its own, but add some Marmite and wahey! Now, there is a happy little trio. And that alone, my friends, was quite a feat; considering the kebab-loving, mircrowave-dependent company I kept.

Not discouraged by their lack of culinary prowess, I cooked myself an intricate tasting menu almost every night. (One night a week was reserved for peanuts and a bottle of wine at the pub.) On nights at home I would, for instance take a chicken breast, cut it in three pieces and cook each part in a different way. And of course, if the chicken was unique then so should be its accompaniments.

Making dinner was quite the ordeal. Anything that disrupted this indulgent ritual of mine, such as late running play rehearsals or lectures were sorely frowned upon. I’d spend two to three joyous hours a night preparing dinner for one and on occasion a few uncivilised guests.  It was my personal Yoga, complete with deep breathing and some interesting poses as I danced around the kitchen and my apathetic housemates.

They of course, thought I was nuts and didn’t see the necessity in hogging every flame on the stove and pan in the cupboard.  I ignored it all- I was at peace. Ohmmmmmm.

I didn’t have many cookbooks and at the time the Internet wasn’t the bounty of information that it is now but I picked up magazines and supermarket recipe cards- anything that I could get my hands on- for free, mind.

One of my housemates was on Weight Watchers, (a rather extreme self-monitored version) but she had a couple of cookbooks that I occasionally trawled through. One such recipe I came across was Marmite roast potatoes- which, before you judge I must top you and let you know were divine. Crispy potatoes with a reassuringly salty glaze- rather like Twiglets only with a soft, floury centre beneath the crisp outer shell. Rest assured, one of these days I plan to replicate them.

Somewhere along the line I acquired one of these books and one pre-wedding evening Don cooked from it. He carried with him the smug knowledge that if I questioned how much oil he used or complained about my dress not fitting he could whip out the evidence in book-form to support his healthy meal claim.

It’s the only thing we’ve cooked from the book since- adapting it a little each time to find the perfect balance. It’s what I refer to as a Don-approved meal- one that I can feel at ease about when he’s offered to cook dinner. No surprises.

Steam baked chili chicken

I don’t really know what the technical term is for the way this chicken is cooked, which is why I’ve called it steam-baked. It literally steams in its foil package whilst it bakes in the oven. The result of which I now believe is the one of the best ways to cook a too often dry or bland boneless, skinless chicken breast.  Being that two uninterrupted hours to make dinner are now a rarity, I particular like the fact that you don’t have to wait for the chicken to marinate. It does that all by itself in it’s the oven- whilst also providing a magnificent sauce. I love when food does the works for me- talk about delegation.

This recipe is part of the ‘In the bag’ competition run by the blog A Slice of Cherry Pie. It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the list of ingredients – chicken, garlic and red chillies. You certainly won’t think you’re dieting when you’re eating it. But you may well find you loose a little weight- if you’re counting your points, that is.

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A RECIPE & VIDEO: Lemon ricotta crostini

I am a recipe thief. Beware. You’ll have me for dinner one week, emails from me the next day and the following week your recipe will be poorly photographed up on my blog. It’s like a disease. Is there therapy for this sort of thing? Hi I’m Anna, and I’m a recipe stealer with little remorse and very little desire to be reformed. If any at all.
Lemon ricotta crostini

I should probably refrain from gloating about it. One of these days a friend is going to bop me in the nose and tell me to quit publishing their family’s secret recipes.  And then I’ll probably bop them back, because I’m not such a believer in secret recipes. Secrets are for back alleyways, passion-charged love affairs and early signs of pregnancy. Secrets in the kitchen? Pah! You must just not like to share. I’m not the only one out there who finds fault in secret recipes Molly over at Orangette has a whole chapter in her amazing  book that’s dedicated to it.

lemon ricotta cristini

Which is why I feel justified in sharing this recipe- another of my friend Lish’s. I wish she had a website so you could pop over and tell her how wonderful these little creamy bites  are (once you try them, that is). I suppose I’ll just have to take one for the team and you can shower me with praise instead. Of course I’ll try to remember to pass the message on.  Lish is full of good ideas- which is why I’m friends with her and also why I’m always stealing from her. But I don’t feel too guilty about it because she’s usually already stolen them from somebody else. Lish is a recipe sharer. Although come to think of it she has never had me over for dinner, which seems a bit suspect to me. Perhaps she thinks I pilfer table linen too. Must make note to discuss with her. Because of course, stealing linen would be far too much hassle- recipes I can steal with my head.

lemon ricotta crostini Continue reading ‘A RECIPE & VIDEO: Lemon ricotta crostini’

A RECIPE: Peanut butter & almond granola

peanut butter & almond granolaIt is true I’ve posted something similar to this before. It’s also true that last week I said I would not  be making granola after previous issues with my snacking hand. I’m so bloody fickle.

In my defense, it was my dear husband who demanded the granola.  Of course as a good little wife I didn’t waste any time tying a bow in my apron and tottering off to the kitchen.  At least when he’s around, things don’t last long enough for me to get snacking. In any case I ran out of flour to make my usual Saturday loaf of bread, so really granola was the best I could do for him. And I must say, this is brilliant granola.

Being that I’ve recently gotten involved in the BSI (bloggers secret ingredient challenge) I thought that peanut butter granola might be just the thing to make. The peanut butter makes for a really clumpy granola- or should I say chunky? Am I the only one who picks out the chunks first? The single toasted oats are always the last dregs in the jar to go- generally I’ve lost interest by the time I get to them.  I want a couple of nuts and a few seeds bounded together by cluster of toated and flavourful oats. This provides infinite more satisfaction than flakey granola. Plus it makes less mess when you knock back a fistful before pouring some into a bowl. You also get the added bonus of a healthy cereal tasting of peanut butter for breakfast (my mother would hate this idea).

Be sure to head over to Kim’s ordinary recipes made gourmet to see the other contestants and winner.

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A RECIPE: Summer oatmeal

Summer oatmeal

I’ve had to change my breakfast preference. This hot muggy weather we’ve been having in New York has made eating my usual porridge quite an unbearable exercise.  Whilst I revel in the pleasure of an occasional curry-induced sweat, sweating over breakfast is not a situation that I delight in. Follow a sweaty breakfast with the hairdryer and a long wait on the subway platform and you are in for one sticky day. Pit stains, no charge.

I tried to switch straight to yogurt and fruit- but it just would not suffice. No matter how big the portion, an hour later and my stomach was arguing with my head that it was about bloody time it was fed again. I could not cope with this mind/body disagreement so I went back to the oats. I toyed with the idea of making my granola, but the problem that comes with granola is my right hand. Have I not told you about my right hand? It’s my snacking hand and it takes some serious reprimmanding to set it straight. Put something like granola nearby and it’s like dangling food in front of a dog- my right hand is easily distracted.

Then I remembered the Pukkola (also known as bircher museli) that Jamie Oliver used to make. When I worked on one of his TV series it was always there for crew breakfast- a creamy rich cold oatmeal with grated apple and finely chopped nuts. I put on a few pounds on that shoot and I blame a couple of those extra inches on breakfast alone.

So, this one is lightened up a bit. I prefer to use a skimmed milk or almond milk to soak the oats in- water makes a gloopy mess so don’t even go there. I added some wheat germ and flax seeds and added few nuts and the grated apple after the soaking process to give some more texture. Then, instead of finishing it off with more milk I topped the oats with fruit and Greek yogurt. You don’t have to let the oats soak over night- really an hour will be long enough to absorb all the milk- but most people don’t have that amount of time in the morning. As I’m in the habit of eating the same thing for breakfast day in and day out, the planning in advance thing really hasn’t turned out to be such a problem for me. Plus, I love finishing one meal and planning for the next. A procrastinator, I am not.

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