Sunday, 31 October 2010

Roasted New Potatoes

Not so much a recipe - how can it truly be a recipe with only one ingredient - as a really great and simple side dish. I wasn't going to blog this at all, until I put them on the table alongside the Cajun Chicken in the previous post and my other half exclaimed that they were the best potatoes ever. So I thought I would share.

Ingredients (serves 4-6 as a side dish):
500g baby new potatoes
Olive oil
25g butter
Salt and pepper

Boil the new potatoes for 15-20 minutes, until cooked and soft when you test them with a knife. Drain and leave to cool. Put the oven on at 200°C and bring to temperature. Meanwhile, when the potatoes are cool enough to handle, gently squash them so they crack but don't break (there will be some casualties, but it doesn't matter).

Lay them in a single layer on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, chop up the butter and distribute among the potatoes and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes, turning occasionally. The skins should be cracked and golden like you see in the picture above, and the flesh melt in the mouth soft and flavoursome. This is also really lovely if you roast them with a few extra sprigs of rosemary for flavour.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Cajun Chicken Thighs

My friend's dad makes the most amazing cajun seasoned chicken kebabs, and I thought I would try my hand at them too. Sadly it is no longer barbeque season, but if you have a grill it needn't mean the end of delicious, slightly charred kebabs until next summer. These were lovely served with a simple green salad and new potatoes.

Ingredients (makes 2 kebabs):
6 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon cajun paste
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper

First, mix together the cajun paste, chilli flakes, olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl, then crush and mix in the garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper. Next, cut the chicken thighs into 3cm strips and marinade for up to two hours in the fridge. 

When ready, roll up each slice and add to the skewers until all the chicken is used up. Place under a hot grill and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally. Test the meat before serving - it should be piping hot with no pink flesh and the juices should run clear when a knife is pushed into the meat.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Fig and Goats Cheese Salad

This recipe is small cruelty on my part, I must admit. Mainly because it is the tail end of the fig season and if you want to make this recipe this year, you'll need to move fast! Figs are one of my mother's favourite fruits, and living close to so many wonderful Turkish supermarkets, I have been able to provide her with a steady stream of perfectly ripe figs, though not before keeping a few for myself. Unlike her, I am not a huge fan of them on their own, but i think they are absolutely delicious in salads.

It may look quite fiddly and like it takes a long time to make, but most of that time is taken up with roasting the onions so don't be put off!

Ingredients (serves 4):
For the salad:
4 figs
1 red onion
2 capricorn goats cheeses
1 tbsp pine nuts
100g rocket
100g spinach

For the dressing:
2½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and black pepper

Begin by cutting the onions into wedges, then place in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper then roast at 200°C for 35 minutes or until the onions are soft and slightly caramelised. While the onions are cooling, grill the pine nuts, taking care not to burn them and slice the goats cheese in half width-ways (see photo) ready to grill.

Mix up the vinaigrette and place a small handful of rocket and spinach on each plate, scatter the pint nuts and onion slices over the leaves, cut the figs into quarters and place on the plate. Grill the goats cheese for 3-5 minutes, until runny and slightly golden on top, spoon the vinaigrette over the salad and then place the goats cheese on top. Serve immediately, it is nicest while the goats cheese is still warm.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Chicken Noodle Salad

I couldn't possibly tell you the origins of this recipe. It came from my mother via one of her friends, who had photographed a page of another friend's recipe book. So I cannot entirely call it my own. However, I have added to and tweaked it slightly.

What I do know about the original is that it comes from a famous chef in Sydney, Australia; and is a delicious fusion of Australian and Thai cooking, which the Aussies do so well.

I have also made a vegan version of this, which has been submitted to Siren Magazine, so check there if you're interested.

Ingredients (serves 4):
For the marinade
3 tablespoons fish sauce
freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves
2 large red chillis
2 teaspoons sugar
8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the salad
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons caster sugar
200g rice noodles
1 cucumber
1 ripe mango
10g fresh mint
10g fresh coriander
4 shallots
2 tbsp cashew nuts

Deseed and finely chop the chillis, crush the garlic cloves then whisk the fish sauce, pepper, chillis, garlic and sugar together in a bowl. Chop the chicken thighs into 2cm strips and then place in a separate bowl. Pour half the sauce over and allow to marinade for 20 minutes to two hours in the fridge.

Finely slice the shallots and add them to the remaining marinade. Add the lime juice and caster sugar and mix well. Set aside to allow the sugar to dissolve.

Peel the cucumber, then slice in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds using a teaspoon, then finely slice the cucumber halves into 3mm slices. Peel the mango then slice into similarly thin slithers. Cook the rice noodles - I plunged mine into just-boiled water and let sit for 15 minutes - then rinse and drain thoroughly. Add the dressing to the noodles, crush the cashew nuts and finely chop the mint and coriander. 

Using a griddle (or George Foreman grill, whichever you prefer), cook the chicken for 3 minutes each side, until cooked through.

Add the mint and coriander to the noodles and mix so they are evenly distributed throughout, then serve up the noodles onto plates, sprinkling with a small handfuls of cashews per person, and dividing up the mango and cucumber between the two plates. Place the grilled chicken on top at the end and serve. I found this delicious with a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Spicy Parsnip Soup

One for the sadly cooling weather - a heartwarming, spicy soup. This was made for Siren Magazine and is vegan. Parsnips are one my my favourite winter vegetables and they are in season at the moment. I am most familiar with them as an accompaniment to a Sunday roast, but they make an excellent soup too and they hold their own against an assortment of spices. 

For those less than enamoured with the thought of using soy cream (though I urge you to try it, it works beautifully adding a hint of creaminess to the soup), you can replace it with either single cream or fat free natural yogurt for a healthier alternative.

Ingredients (serves 6):
6 parsnips
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
3cm fresh root ginger
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp Maldon salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1.5 litres vegetable stock
250ml soy single cream
1 fresh red chilli (to garnish)

Turn the oven on to 180°C and bring up to temperature. Meanwhile, chop the parsnips and onion into wedges and transfer to a large roasting dish. Combine all the spices (apart from the fresh ginger) in a bowl and then sprinkle over the parsnips and onions. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables, give them a toss and then place in the oven for 35 minutes, or until the parsnips are soft. 

While the parsnips and onions are roasting, peel and chop the garlic, then peel and chop the ginger. Add them to the roasting vegetables about 10 minutes before they are ready. 

Once done, in batches, transfer the roasted vegetables, along with 2-3 ladles of vegetable stock to a blender.  Blend until you have a purée, then transfer to a large saucepan lined with a sieve. You want to push the soup through a sieve to get rid of any lumps and bumps. Once all the ingredients have been blended and sieved, turn the soup on to a low heat to warm through. Once warm, add the soy cream and stir in. Keep on heating the soup until it is piping hot, but do not allow to boil as the cream will curdle.

Finally, finely chop the fresh red chilli, taking care to discard any seeds. Transfer the soup to bowls and then garnish with a few slices of chilli per bowl.