Chicken with Flageolet Beans, Leeks and Rosemary

I am on a bit of a mission to increase our intake of pulses – they are cheap, filling and with a little magic can be quite delicious.  I love them (now) but one of my children isn’t mad about them so inevitably I make it my mission to think of delicious ways to serve them up.  To be fair I didn’t really like pulses much when younger and would pick them out of a cassoulet or chilli and line them up around my plate.  It was always disappointing then to be asked to finish them, at this point cold and without anything more palatable to help them on their way.

This is a delicious combo then, leeks and beans to please me and crispy skinned chicken to please us all.  Don’t panic that four thighs aren’t enough, this is surprisingly filling and you can always serve another green veg or perhaps a crusty baguette and salad alongside.

The leeks, flageolet and rosemary work particularly well together and this makes a great side dish to roast lamb.  Pop it into an ovenproof dish, top with breadcrumbs and finish in the oven until crispy above and bubbling beneath.

Roast chicken with leeks, flageolet beans and rosemary

You can of course use dried flageolet, just remember to soak and cook them according to pack instructions prior to using them below.

4 chicken thighs

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large or two medium leeks

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 sprig rosemary, leaves finely chopped to yield around 1 teaspoon

1 tin (400g) flageolet beans, drained and rinsed

250ml chicken stock

2-3 tablespoons double cream

Chopped chives or parsley (optional)

Heat the oven to 200, put half a tablespoon of the oil into a roasting tin, turn the chicken in the oil, season with salt and cook for half an hour.  Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and cook the leek gently, without colouring, until soft.  Add the garlic and rosemary, cook for a minute or two then add the beans, stock and cream.  Simmer for about 10 minutes until a little reduced then check for seasoning.   After its 30 minutes remove the chicken from the oven, add the leek mixture to the pan without getting sauce on the now crispy skin and return to the oven for a final 5-10 minutes until gently bubbling and gold skinned. Scatter over the chives or parsley if you are using them.  Serves 4.

 

 

Tarte Tatin

Well this is a proper treat and even better supremely easy to make with only 5 ingredients! That combination of tangy apples bathed in caramel sauce with a crispy, flaky pastry base, just fabulous.  Whilst there are many recipes out there for Tarte Tatin, this one is so simple and delicious that I rarely deviate.  It works like a dream and there is never any left over.   By the way if you are a fan of salted caramel puddings just up the pinch of salt in the ingredients to about 1/2 a teaspoon and voila you will have Salted Caramel Tarte Tatin.

A frying pan with an oven proof or removable handle is ideal but if you don’t have one just cook the apples in a regular frying pan and then transfer to a baking tin before topping with pastry and putting in the oven.  I use a 20cm le creuset that I have had for ever and these amounts work a treat and we easily finish it between the four of us.  I have also used a 30cm saute pan (also le creuset) which make a great big tarte but I did need a little help turning the pan over on to the waiting plate.

Tarte Tatin

I tend to use a pack of ready rolled puff pastry for this.  With a bit of careful cutting out (and patching for the second) I can get two circles of pastry out of one roll so either make another tarte tatin, freeze it or make the Onion Tarte Tatin with Blue Cheese (February 2014)…. just saying.

4 large eating apples, Braeburn are ideal, peeled, cored and quartered

60g butter

50g caster sugar

1 pack ready rolled puff pastry (usually around 375g)

Pinch of salt (see introduction)

Preheat the oven to 200.  Unroll the pastry and measure out a circle using the top of the pan.  Melt the butter with the sugar and add the apples along with a pinch of salt.  Cook for around 20-30 minutes until the apples are tender but not collapsing.  As it bubbles a caramel will form.  Turn the apples a couple of times for even cooking.  Remove from the heat, ensure all the pieces are round side down then extremely carefully place the circle of pastry over the apples and tuck the edges between the side of the pan and the apples.  Put in the oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and puffed up.  Take the pan out remembering of course that the handle will be hot and let it sit for a couple of minutes to settle.  Using a plate with a lip so you don’t lose all the sauce, invert this over the pan and quickly turn both so that the tarte ends up on the plate pastry side down, apple side up.  Adjust any apples that have slipped out of place and serve with cream.  I divide this into quarters for the four of us but reckon I could eat half without much trouble….

 

Baked feta with chilli and herbs (or olives)

 

Tapas, mezze, picnic, however you refer to this style of eating I loved putting a load of different dishes on the table to pick at. Whether as lunch itself or simply a couple of things to whet the appetite before the main event.   You will find many such recipes on these pages Cheese Gougeres (November 2016), Moutabal (February 2017), Artichoke Crostini (March 2013), Grissini with Rosemary (May 2015) are a few.  More often than not the little plates I serve are vegetarian and it has often been a good way to entice my children to try something different.  Rather than being faced with an entire supper of something new and unfamiliar – this is an opportunity for them to try something whilst knowing there is a myriad of old favourites to tuck into at the same time.

I am a little ambivalent about feta.  If it is mild I am happy to tuck in, enjoying its salty edge.  Too strong or mature however and it ventures into that hirsute, goaty thing that I struggle with.  In this recipe use whichever type of feta you prefer – you can even find feta style cheese now that only contains cow’s milk.

This baked feta graced our table on Saturday evening amongst some other goodies.  I served it with homemade little tortilla chips (don’t panic the chips are homemade not the tortillas – find the recipe in Girls’ Night In, February 2014) and this was the first empty plate, it literally disappeared before my eyes. Warm, soft, salty with a bite from the chilli – this could be one of the most moreish things I have eaten.

Now this is a winning get out of jail free card if you need a last minute canapé or snack to go with drinks.  The warm soft feta has a completely different character to the cool white chunks more familiarly seen in Greek salads.  It takes on a delicate squidge that is enormously inviting and along with some chilli flakes and a sprinkling of herbs is the perfect mouthful to scoop onto a pita or tortilla chip. Packs of feta last for ages in the fridge and along with some hardy herbs you may have weathering the winter storms and chilli flakes in your cupboard you are all set.  Sometimes I add olives to the dish before baking, it depends whether I have any to hand and its very good either way.

Feta with Chilli and Herbs (or Olives)

The ingredients that follow are what I tend to have on hand and therefore what makes this a store cupboard saviour.  You can use chopped fresh chilli if you prefer and even pickled chillis for a different but very delicious vibe.

200g pack of feta

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes, depending on how hot you like

A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme

25g black or green olives, pitted (optional)

Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200.  Put the feta in a small ovenproof dish, sprinkle over the chilli and thyme, drizzle with oil and add the olives if you are using them.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until soft but not collapsing.  Serve with homemade pita chips, tortilla chips or whatever you like.

 

 

 

Olive, thyme and chilli soda bread

I made this recently to put out before lunch when friends came over and it was gone in minutes.  Served with a garlicky courgette dip it was just the ticket with some pre lunch drinks and kept the children more than happy.  As luck would have it this takes minutes to make and as such is something I regularly turn to.  Although I love making all kinds of bread and make a loaf of white or sourdough weekly, this is a great one to have up your sleeve when the clock is ticking and there is no time for proving and rising.

Whilst I might not have buttermilk in the fridge at all times, I always have yogurt to hand.  This, let down with a bit of milk, works a treat in place of buttermilk and means a loaf of this moreish bread is never more than about half an hour away.   My daughter adores olives and chilli so can polish off half of this loaf without thinking and it takes the sting out of the veggie soup or salad that often accompanies it.

Essentially a riff on my seedy soda bread, April 2013, I add some punchy flavours to this one.  The chilli is up to you but I think it works a treat with the olives and thyme.  There is a thyme plant outside the kitchen that manages to soldier on whatever the weather so along with some store cupboard olives this one is always a contender for lunch or supper.   Or serve as I did at the weekend with a dip, a herby labneh perhaps or hummus and you will have happy faces all round.

Olive, thyme and chilli soda bread

I make this with a mix of wholemeal and regular white flour but you can go with all white if you prefer or if that is what you have.  Buttermilk sometimes comes in 284ml tubs for some reason so just make this up to 300ml with milk.  If you are using yogurt, use 200ml and make it up to 300ml with milk.

150g wholemeal flour, plus a bit extra

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons soft brown sugar

300ml tub buttermilk (or yogurt, see introduction)

50g olives, I like a mix of green and black, chopped up a bit

1 teaspoon thyme, leaves only

1/2 teaspoon chilli (omit this if you like)

Preheat the oven to 200.  Put the flours, salt, bicarb, sugar, olives, thyme and chilli in a large bowl and mix.  Add the buttermilk and give it a good mix together.  Sprinkle some wholemeal flour on a baking sheet, make the dough into a ball, put on the tin, sprinkle a little more flour over and cut a cross in the top with a sharp knife.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until crusty, golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

 

 

Elderflower and Apple Jelly

I feel jelly has been a fairly regular presence throughout my life.  From children’s parties that frankly weren’t a party if there wasn’t jelly along with the Midget Gems and cocktail sausages (although ideally not in the same mouthful…) to the somewhat more sophisticated Prosecco or Pimms jellies around now.    Although the jelly itself hasn’t really changed over the years I now eat it with a spoon rather than applying it directly to my face as I may have done…

Funny how something so simple still draws the oohs and aahs when brought to the table and goes down equally well with children and grown ups.   Quick to make, cheap and easily zhuzzed up with summer fruits this is real a star to have up your sleeve for entertaining as the warm weather arrives particularly as it has to be made ahead to time.

I often try new flavour ideas for jelly – it is after all simply a liquid and the requisite amount of gelatine – and this is our current favourite.  I’ve made this twice over half term and both times have been left with an empty plate.   On the first occasion I served it with rhubarb fool, rhubarb and elderflower being extremely good friends;  the second time with a few strawberries on top which had macerated for half an hour in a spoonful of sugar (as in the pictures here).

When the weather really warms up you can dispense with the gelatine and pour the apple/elderflower mix direct into ice lollies moulds for super refreshing ice pops.

Elderflower and Apple Jelly

I choose to use apple juice and add elderflower cordial as that way I get the balance of flavour I like but you could probably use a combined apple and elderflower juice if you prefer.  There is a recipe for elderflower cordial here, (June 2016).

850 ml apple juice (the one I buy comes in 1 litre bottles so I just drink 150ml)

150ml elderflower cordial

Juice of half a lemon

11 sheets of gelatine (I use Costa and it always works a treat)

Put approximately 300ml of apple juice in a pan and heat gently but don’t let it boil.  Put the rest into a jug and mix with the elderflower cordial.  Meanwhile soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water.  When the apple juice is hot add the squeezed out gelatine, mix well until it has melted then add to the cold apple and elderflower, stir and pour into a 1 litre jelly mould.  Let it cool then put in the fridge until set, overnight is best.  Sit the mould in hot water for a minute or two and then turn out. Serves 6 easily or more with something else alongside.

 

Chicken with Harissa, Potatoes and Broccolini

A few of you may recognise this as one of my earliest recipes on these pages.  So long ago in fact that it doesn’t even have a photograph.  Although I cook my recipes over and over again this is the first time I’ve duplicated one here.  The reason being I  felt it lacked fanfare originally and is such a reliable and delicious lunch or supper that I thought it deserved a shout out, as they say.  Also and somewhat inevitably, I have tinkered with it adding potatoes to the original to make it a complete one pan meal.

It is this sort of dish that I find an absolute Godsend on weekdays when I’m frazzled and need to think of (yet another) family supper that is quick, easy, undemanding, not too expensive and above all delicious – clean plates after all are what we want to see.  This ticks all those boxes, cooked in one pan which you can bring to the table, incorporates potatoes, meat and veg along with a super easy spice addition by way of the harissa. I refer you here to a comment I made about the original which still stands – “Crisp skinned chicken sliding off the bone in a spicy red jacket with crunchy greens to give verdant vigour!”

Chicken with Harissa and Broccolini

If you like things a little spicier feel free to add more harissa and if you want it a little saucier, add a glug of white wine with the final teaspoon of harissa.

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on

8 waxy potatoes, halved

5 teaspoons harissa paste

1 pack tenderstem broccolini

Chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 190.  Put the potatoes and oil in a large baking pan and turn to coat.  Put half a teaspoon of harissa under the skin of each thigh and squidge a bit to spread.  Put the chicken in with the potatoes, season and roast 30 minutes.  Towards the end of this cooking time blanch the broccolini in boiling water for 1 minute and drain.  Remove the chicken from the oven, stir the last teaspoon of harissa into the cooking juices and then fit the broccoli in and around the chicken and potatoes (put some of the chicken on the potatoes if that helps).  Return to the oven for 10 minutes.  Season, sprinkle with parsley if you like and serve, this is enough for 2 adults and 2 children but you can multiply it at will.

Pasta with Bacon, Garlic, Chilli and Parsley

pasta with bacon garlic chilli and parsley

 

We have had masses of building work done over the summer, hence my silence on these pages.  Some days I had a kitchen to use, other days not so much.  Once the Aga was decommissioned I moved onto a two ring gas hob (no oven) and once that was a goner it was braais or picnics.  There have certainly been some stressful moments and I have deposited more money in the swear box than I care to think about.  My poor husband and children have had to put up with a lot of unusual suppers from a rather mad-eyed cook but it was worth it and we now have a fabulous new kitchen.

The thing about being put on the spot kit wise is that it really focuses the mind.  If all the gadgetry has been boxed up (or just covered in dust) and there is only a pan to hand then one must make do.  One such recipe that came into play was this pasta with bacon, garlic, chilli and parsley.  Comprising of store cupboard and garden ingredients this can be reliably whipped up with the minimum of equipment, time or energy.  On one occasion I also added a pile of halved cherry tomatoes because I had some that needed using up.  It is certainly just as good without and I wouldn’t use tasteless winter (or jetset) tomatoes for the sake of it.

I highly recommend making this whether you are enjoying building works or not – it is cheap, very cheerful and everyone, particularly the children love it – what could be better (apart from a new kitchen).

Pasta with bacon, garlic, chilli and parsley

As with many of my recipes this is open to interpretation – if you adore bacon then add more;  if your children can’t bear chilli then leave it out.  The parsley is very much an ingredient here rather than merely a garnish but if the green stuff horrifies your little ones……

6 good fat rashers of smoked streaky bacon

2 large cloves of garlic

1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1/2 bunch parsley

300g pasta of your choice

Olive oil

Get your pasta cooking in a large pan of generously salted water.   Put a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and snip (I find scissors easiest here) the bacon into it.  Cook until just turning crispy then add the garlic and chilli, stir it around over a gentle heat ensuring the garlic doesn’t brown.  When the pasta is done, drain it retaining a little of the cooking water.  Tumble the pasta into the frying pan and mix well with the bacon, garlic and chilli adding a splash or two of cooking water to keep the whole thing quite slippery.  Chop the parsley over the top, season well and serve with parmesan if you like.  This amount is enough for two adults and two children.

Apple and Raspberry Crumble

Apple and raspberry crumble 4

I can’t tell you how much I love a crumble.  Plum crumble, rhubarb crumble, apple and blackberry crumble, all of them have a place on my table.  Childhood weekend lunches often finished with a fabulous, fruity and crunchy crumble whilst apricot crumble at school was a thing to celebrate, the best pudding of all and something that made other school food worth living through.

All that said however, I hadn’t thought of giving you a crumble recipe here.  Not out of meanness you understand, rather I thought everyone had a good, reliable crumble recipe up their sleeve to be whipped out when required. It was only after being asked for this particular recipe six time in a couple of months that I began to wonder and so I present it to you now.  Soft tangy fruit under a blanket of oaty, sweet and buttery crumble, let me tell you the sum here far, far exceeds the total of its humble parts.

This particular incarnation is my absolutely favourite, the bee’s knees and the vicar’s you know whats.  Although a straightforward apple crumble is still something to sing about, the addition of raspberries lifts it, their fruity tang and fragrance make this wholly lip smacking and satisfying which surely is what a pud is all about.  Can I rave little more?  It is and easy and cheap to make, a perfect way to use up any apples looking a little tired and frozen raspberries are perfect here so regardless of the season this can be on your plate in around an hour, start to finish.

Apple and Raspberry Crumble

Ideally use a combination of cookers and eaters, the bramleys are the ones that cook down to a velvety apple puree whilst the eaters retain a little bite.  I say 7 tablespoons of sugar and water as this is usually about right but depending on the tartness of your apples you may need more sugar and add more water if you think it is required.  You can cook the apples and make the crumble ahead of time but don’t put the crumble onto the fruit until you are ready to cook it as it will get soggy, ideally keep it in the fridge.

1 kg apples (see introduction), peeled, cored and roughly chopped

7 tablespoons golden caster sugar

7 tablespoons water

200g plain flour

100g cold butter, cubed

1/4 teaspoon salt

80g golden caster sugar

40g oats

150g frozen raspberries

Preheat the oven to 190.  Put the apples, the 7 tablespoons of sugar and water in a pan and cook gently until the apples are soft and broken down, about 20-30 minutes.  You may need a little more water once cooked and taste in case you need a little more sugar.  Do keep the apples tart though as the crumble bring sweetness to the party.  Meanwhile either whizz the butter and flour in a processor until it resembles breadcrumbs or do this by hand then add the salt, sugar and oats.  Tip the cooked apples into a suitable oven proof dish, I tend to use an enamel one which is 29x23cm and add the raspberries to this, mixing so they are evenly distributed in the apples, no need to defrost.  Tumble over the crumble and smooth it gently but don’t pack it down.  Cook for around 30 minutes or until bubbling at the edges and just browning on top.  This serves 6 or better still 4 with lots of seconds, I like it with cold cream or custard whilst my children prefer vanilla ice cream.

 

 

Blood Orange, Beetroot and Feta Salad

Blood orange and beetroot salad

We are blessed with a fabulous farm shop just down the road and I find myself there often.  This point was proved, rather tellingly, the other day when my husband went in to collect “an order for Anna” to be told “oh yes I know her, she is in here all the time….”..

I do shop there a lot.  Since foxy got our chickens, the next best thing is to see those at Washingpool strutting, pecking and buy their spanking fresh eggs.  When I can’t be bothered to make bread, theirs is marvellous and when I want tip top, super-fresh fruit and veg that haven’t clocked up air miles I go there.  The problem is that I usually come out with more than I went in for.  Faced with amazing produce I am helpless and unable to resist.  So it was this week when I chanced upon fat globes of beetroot still with their frilly green and pink leaves (perfect in a stir fry) and one of my absolute seasonal favourites, blood oranges.

Once home I decided I wanted to combine the sharp juiciness of the oranges with the sweet earthiness of the beetroot.  I added a little spring onion and rocket for peppery bite and some soft salty feta.  It was a delicious lunch.

Blood Orange, Beetroot and Feta Salad

This is how I made the salad you see, it was enough for one but can easily be doubled or tripled.

1 cooked beetroot, peeled and cut into 8

1 blood orange, peeled and segmented

A handful of rocket

1 spring onion, finely chopped

About 25g feta

2 teaspoons rapeseed oil

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

Mix the oil and vinegar in a small bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.  Put the beetroot, blood orange, spring onion and rocket on a plate, drizzle over the dressing then add the feta at the last minute so it doesn’t all turn Barbie pink.

Blood Orange and Iced Tea Granita 3

For an unbelievable refreshing light pudding after this seasons hearty, cosy stews try my Blood Orange Granita (February 2013) show here in front of another crisp, cleansing number, Iced Tea Granita (July 2013).

Blood oranges

A final point, why have supermarkets started calling Blood Oranges Blush Oranges….?