Wednesday, 27 June 2012

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

I know, a post. 

I'm almost as shocked as you are.

This post was on the site before the makeover, and now it's back (new and improved! with revisions and a picture!) and just as delicious as before.

(I obviously made mine for just me, but all the below amounts are for 8 drumsticks/4 people - of course, it depends on the amount of drumsticks per person you want and how much sauce you like as to how you change the amounts. The more, the merrier, IMO)

One tin plum or chopped tomatoes (400g)
3 garlic cloves
Half a large white onion, finely chopped
Dark soy sauce (about 100ml)
Honey (tbsp)
Black pepper
Olive oil
Chilli powder
8 chicken drumsticks

As usual, use your best judgement when determining how much of something to chuck in if I haven't provided a guide. 


Put everything but the coriander and tarragon in a blender. Blend. (Yes, it is this easy.)
Warning: my blended/uncooked sauce smelled like it was 90% garlic and wasn't hugely tasty when I tried it, but once cooked it was delicious!

Fry each piece of chicken on both sides to seal, and layer in a large over-proof bowl.Pour the sauce all over the chicken, and add coriander and tarragon over the top. Cover the bowl with a lid of some sort and cook at around 180 degrees for about an hour and a quarter.* 

About 20 minutes before they're due to come out, uncover the pot and turn the oven down a bit. 

It's all ready when the chicken juices are running clear when poked, as usual. The chicken/BBQ sauce mix should be stirred every now and then so the herbs mix around and the sauce doesn't form a skin, especially when it's uncovered.

If you just want the sauce, follow the steps but cook in a large saucepan - I can't guarantee it'll be as good without the meaty juices, but I'm sure it'll be just lovely as a dip.

Note - I've cooked this a couple of times, and have softened the onions in a frying pan with a little oil before adding them to mix and blending, or used different types of tinned tomatoes, or forgotten to cover the chicken/sauce mix in the oven, and it's always turned out alright. So don't panic; just enjoy.

*Again, if using more/less drumsticks/sauce, adjust times accordingly. 3 drumsticks with around 1/3 of the sauce the recipe makes took about 40 minutes to cook.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Green Veg Risotto.

Anyone who tells you risotto is difficult is a damn liar. Or in idiot. One of the two.
It is piss easy.
Admittedly, I've only ever made veggie risottos, but one assumes that as long as your chicken/prawns/meaty chunks of choice are thrown in where I've thrown in the veg, and are cooked through before serving, it's all good.

'Green' risotto is a little vague, but there's courgette, spinach, peas and broccoli in here. 
Various other risottos I've made include: mushroom & bacon (I guess that's not veggie, but bacon cooks quickly enough), courgette & aubergine, root veg (carrot, parsnip, a little potato), and beetroot - fresh beetroot, that you have to peel. So far all I've been able to find in the supermarkets here is pickled or preserved 'fresh' beetroot and I don't trust it.

A note: you can use any rice. Arborio is the normal risotto rice because it absorbs the flavours well, but chances are you haven't got any lying around the house, and besides that, it's more expensive than normal rice and we're in a recession, dammit. Plain old long grain is fine, honest. It'll still soak up the stock and the flavours, just not quite as well as arborio. We had some sushi rice lying about - which is also super absorbent - so I used that, but I've used long grain before and it's been just as delicious.

In some places I've put things in brackets because that's what we used (frozen veg etc) but you can use fresh, obviously. 

Serves 2

1/2 a courgette, diced 
A handful of spinach
A handful of (frozen) peas
4 large (frozen) broccoli florets
1/2 (red) onion, diced (you can use yellow onion either)
2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
Large handful of rice

Chicken or veg stock cube (I used chicken)

Splash of white wine (optional)
Splash of single or double cream
Olive oil


Prepare your veg - everything should be ready just to throw in the pan so you can concentrate on stirring once it's on the go. Seriously, this is the only trick to the risotto. If you've got an arm that is capable of stirring, you're good to go.
Meanwhile, in one pan, put the stock cube in a pan with around a litre of water. Bring it to the boil then turn down the heat so it stays hot throughout cooking.

In another (a large, deep frying pan is best), let 2 biggish knobs of butter and a splash of olive oil melt into each other. Add the onion and garlic and fry for a couple of minutes, then throw in the fresh veg. Again, fry for a couple of minutes, until coated in the oil, then add the rice and make sure this is coated in the oil too.
Your frozen veg goes in now, along with the salt, pepper and oregano.

Once everything in the pan has a nice coat of oil on it, get a ladle and spoon the stock into the pan one scoop at a time - you add one scoop to the risotto, and let it soak in, stirring all the time so that all the rice has time to absorb it. When the water is almost completely soaked in, add another scoop until the stock pan is empty. It'll probably take 3 or 4 scoops for the rice to really start to fluff up, so don't worry that your rice isn't cooking, unless you reach the bottom of your stock and it's still not fluffy (in which case, just add more water...)

When you add the last bit of stock, also add the wine and cream, and stir well. In the end, the sauce doesn't need to soak in completely, as the dish should still be rich and creamy, but  also thick.

Add more black pepper to the top to serve.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Chicken & Chickpea Curry, & Saag Aloo

So Jenn and I cooked a curry. A big curry. Seriously, there was enough for 4 people but we destroyed it all anyway! We decided on a basic chicken curry as the main element of the meal, with sides dishes. This is a chicken curry recipe I learnt half of my mum, half of the good old "that spice smells indian-y, stick it in"


2 chicken breasts cut into bitesize pieces
1 red onion
1 tin of chickpeas
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsps coriander seeds
4 tsps garam masala mix
2 tsps dried chillis
salt and pepper

pre heat the oven to 180
Heat up 4 tbsps of oil in a frying fan and add the coriander seeds. gently fry for a couple of minutes then add the chicken.
Fry the Chicken until colored, but not fully cooked. It will finish cooking in the oven later.
Add the diced onion and fry until soft.
At this point add the spices, the garam masala, salt, pepper and dried chillis.
When the spices have coated all the chicken add the can of drained chickpeas, stir until the peas are coated in the spices then add the tomatoes.
Fill the empty tomatoe can up with water, swill it round then add to the curry. Give it a good stir and decant into a oven proof dish. Cook for half an hour.
When it has been in for half an hour serve. However the longer the curry cooks the better the spices will cook, so turn down to around 100 and you can cook it for as long as you need.


1 large potato
1 bag of baby spinach
1 white onion
2 tsps coriander seeds
salt and pepper

Heat up 3 tbsps of oil in a frying pan and gently fry the coriander seeds. Half the onion, then thinly slice. Cut the potatoes into half cm cubes and boil in salted water until soft. Fry the onion with the seeds until they are cooked through and soft. Add the cooked potatoes and the bag of spinach and wilt. Once the spinach has wilted, stir well into the onions and add the salt and pepper.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Onion Bhajis & Raita

We had an Indian FEAST on Friday night. Vidi:

Clockwise from left: Sag Aloo, Onion Bahjis, Chicken & Chickepea Curry, Naans, Cucumber Raita, Rice.

In a fit of laziness, we bought the rice and naans and just warmed them up. I'm going to let Ana fill you in on the Curry and Sag Aloo (and hopefully, some better pics) at a later date, but Bhajis and (delightfully simple) Raita are below, both from a retro-tastic cookbook I found in a charity shop some years ago, simply titled 'Indian Side Dishes' (and apparently published in 1995, though it looks at least 20 years older).

Blurry Bahjis and curry; Sag Aloo; Raita

Onion Bahjis

2 medium white onions, quartered then sliced
1 egg
2 tsps plain or gram flour
1 tsp garam masala

Add the flour to a bowl with the spices. Add the egg and stir to a gluey mixture, then add the onions, salt and coriander and stir. Add more flour if the mixture isn't stiff enough - the recipe says to add breadcrumbs but we had none handy...

Heat the oil in a deep pan until fairly hot, then form the mixture into balls with your hands and carefully drop them into the oil. Cook for around 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, then remove and place on some kitchen roll to drain the excess oil.

We could cook around 3 balls at a time, and made 6 in total (of various sizes, but about a handful of mixture each time). 

The original recipe was for "Bite-sized Bajees"  - curious spelling - and was for 20 nibbles. It also advises that the pan and utensils are properly dried before use, as any contact with water will make the oil spit. Which is good advice and bears repeating. Also, use metal utensils, not plastic ones. Or at least don't leave the plastic ones in the hot oil for any great length of time. Seems obvious, but an old housemate ruined a good slotted spoon that way. Sigh.

Cucumber Raita

Serves... Well we made enough for 3 or 4, really. 
But we ate it all (indeed, we ate most of the food we made, which was probably ill-advised).

200ml (a.k.a. one small pot) natural yoghurt
1/3 cucumber, finely chopped

The book did include mint in its list of ingredients, which I would've definitely put in for an even fresher dish, but again, we didn't have any.

Add all the ingredients to a bowl. Stir together.
Told you it was simple.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Lemon & Mustard Chicken

Yeah yeah, another chicken/potatoes/spring greens recipe. But y'know, spring greens come in big packages so you'll have to do lots of different things with them.
So there.

This recipe comes from here (if you need more spring greens recipes, while 'tis the season) and I pretty much stuck to it, as much as I ever stick to recipes (read the first instruction before I start cooking, then forget the recipe exists and do whatever I feel like.)

For those of you who are disinclined to click links, here's the recipe (+ the tweaks/tips I added).

(Serves 2)

Splash of olive oil
Knob of butter
2 chicken breasts
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
Large handful of spring greens leaves, chopped
Lemon juice
3 tablespoons double cream
Worcester sauce


We served it with creamy mash (rice or couscous also come recommended) - peel and chop the potatoes and set them away to boil before you do this...

Add butter and olive oil to a frying pan (I used a grill pan. 'Cos I like the way the chicken looks when it's cooked in there). Flatten out and score the chicken breasts. Place them score side down in the pan. Cook for around 5 minutes, then turn them over and add the mustard and honey to the cooked sides.
Add the onions, garlic and thyme and cook for another minute or two, then add the spring greens, salt, pepper, and a squirt of lemon juice. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
When the chicken is cooked, take it out of the pan and plate up. Add the cream and  worcester sauce to the pan/rest of the mixture and stir in.
Serve on top of the chicken.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Eastern Grub.

Or more specifically, Eastern European grub.
One of the reasons I'm so horrifically overdrawn now is because I had a week off work just before I left Berlin, and so spent a few days in Poland and Hungary, and tried some local delicacies.
No recipes here, just a little travel/food writing. 

Alright, admittedly I mostly stuck to beverages in Poland . I'm a great believer in the free walking tour (I've been to a lot of European cities and they've all got 'em.) and the one I took in Warsaw included a trip to a vodka bar in the Old Town. 
This is the spread. 
Coloured (and slightly flavoured, I think) vodka, bread with lard (!) and pickles. Erm. Delicious?
I was anticipating that nasty, burning-my-oesophagus feeling from the vodka but NO. Probably something to do with this being good, actual Polish vodka as opposed to Morrisions own brand, or some such, but whatever. The tour guide said the proper way to take Polish vodka was with plenty of the aforementioned lard-y bread and pickles so as to avoid being ill the next day (*raises eyebrow*). I know I'm not a pickle fan so I avoided them but the lard bread? Y'know, when in Warsaw - it was actually delicious. Real pork fat with the occasional meaty chunk. Not healthy in the slightest, but that's never a deterrent for yours truly.

On to Budapest.
Sadly, I didn't get to try 'Langos', which I think is deep fried pizza-y thing the tour guide recommended (someone on Trip Advisor describes it as 'fried dough slathered with your choice of toppings including sour cream, garlic, cheese, onion, etc.' Sounds delish, and about how she described it too.) But we did end the tour at a canteen, which they said was a good, cheap place to get dinner; 'the sort of place the blue-collar workers go on their lunchbreak'.

Carb central.
I had pork in mushroom sauce. With rice. And fried potatoes. And bread. And baked onion rings. And the most disgustingly sweet wine ever (bleurgh).

Hungarian Cuisine actually sounds delicious - all paprika and herbs, and spicy creamy sauces and meat and veg and hearty deliciousness. I'm already itching to go back to Budapest - I only had a day there, and not even a full evening in which to experience the bars, which are supposedly some of the best in the world - so hopefully a return visit occur, and I'll be able to try some more yummy food.
Budapest also has 2 Michelin starred restaurants, at which (according to our tour guide) you can get a 3 course meal for around 15 quid at lunchtime.

And it gets LOADS of sunshine, and it's very picturesque, and the Turkish baths are WONDERFUL. Get thee to Hungary.

PS, for non-food based photos of my trip East, see here!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Creamy Tarragon Chicken (& Spring Greens with Bacon)

(Serves 2)

We have a lot of spring greens in the fridge. I came across the SG&B dish on the BBC Good Food site, so they can take the credit for that (though I'm still typing it out here), but the chicken and potato goodness was one of those 'chuck it in, see what happens' sort of ventures that I enjoy so much.
It turned out well.
My Mam (who is my only customer) said it was delicious and probably the best thing I'd ever cooked for her. So there's a good review for you.

For the Chicken
2 chicken breasts (or 4 goujons, as we used), cut into slithers
5 or 6 new potatos, cut into bitesize chunks
1/3 red onion, sliced
50g Philedelphia
1 chicken stock cube
1 tsb honey (ours has lemon in it, I recommend a few drops of lemon juice if yours is normal honey)
a few drops of worcester sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed

For the side
Half a head(?) spring greens, thinly sliced
2 rashers back bacon - the BBC recommended a smoked, thick cut bacon. But we like/only had normal, unsmoked back bacon. So there.
1/2 veg stock cube*
A knob of butter
Black pepper

*Again, the BBC says to cook the greens in veg stock water for 5 mins but I think this made it a bit soggy. Perhaps it just needs to really drain, for a few minutes even, but if you like your spring greens really crispy, in more of a 'crispy seaweed' sense, then forego the boiling/veg stock part and just hoy 'em in the frying pan with the bacon.


Chuck the chopped chicken and potatoes in an overproof dish with the herbs, salt and pepper and rub the herbs into them. Add the onions to the dish, and put all the other ingredients (except the Philly) into a jug with around 400ml of water until the stock cube dissolves. Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the dish and stick it in the oven on about 200º for about 40 mins (or until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are soft).


Chop the greens and pop them in veg stock water to simmer for 5 mins.
Chop the bacon and add it to the butter in a frying pan. Add the greens and fry away until everything is crispy. Top with black pepper and serve.


When ready, take the dish from the oven and pop it on top of a medium heat hob. Add the Philly and stir it in, leaving it on the heat for a few minutes until it's mixed into the sauce and thickened it.
I had to leave the dish on the hob for quite a while as I found my sauce to be a bit thin, but I had put more water in than I've noted here so hopefully you won't have the same problem!


Saturday, 7 April 2012

Chunky Beef Stew (with Roasted Veg)

We had this on Tuesday night, when it was horribly windy/icy/snowy outside. It's a good winter/random cold snap in early spring warmer-upper.

(Serves 2)

For the stew:
Large handful of Mince
2 mushrooms, diced
6 baby plum tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), halved
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/3 courgette, diced
A handful of Peas

Olive oil
Chilli powder
Gravy granules

1 carrot, finely sliced
1 parsnip, finely sliced
5 or so new potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
Olive oil

Chop up the veg to be roasted, stick them on a baking tray with a couple of small knobs of butter and a sprinkle of the other ingredients, and bake on 180º for about half an hour.

In a big pan, add a knob of butter and a squirt of olive oil, then add the onions and garlic and the herbs and spices. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add all the veg (except the mince and peas - we used these from frozen but even if yours are fresh they shouldn't need as long). Cook these for another couple of mins, THEN add the mince and peas and cook until the mince is browned.

Add a squirt of ketchup and a sprinkle of gravy granules, then a small glass of water. Turn the heat down to simmer for around 15 minutes. Ours was at the perfect consistency at the same time the roasts were done - good timing!

Serve up - as presented above is well recommended, so it's like a bowl of soup with the roasts to dip in the tomato-y gravy. We also crumbled some cheshire cheese on top.

I missed good cheese. I love Cheshire cheese. Germany likes a waxy cheese. I detest waxy cheeses. We did not see eye-to-eye in the cheese aisle.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Parcels.

Ana here!

These little parcels are something I conjured up today when I was staring into the fridge. Also the fact that the smoked salmon was going out of date tomorrow really helped me what to decide what to have for lunch! you'll need some form of ramekin or small bowl around 3 inches deep and 5 inches wide, cling film and the following ingredients:

smoked salmon (around 8 slices per ramekin)
2 tbsps cream cheese
2 tbsps diced red pepper
a handful of raw baby spinach
lemon juice
salt and pepper

(I apologise for the lack of measurements, I forget to weigh everything!)

firstly, line the ramekins with cling film, then line with the salmon, covering the sides and the bottom. leave a couple of cms hanging over the edge. But leave a couple of slices free for the top!

in a bowl, mix the cheese, lemon juice and salt and pepper. start layering the cheese and fillings, starting with the cheese on the bottom of the ramekin. layer on the red pepper and squish them down. Spread on more cheese, the layer on the spinach. Finish off with the remainder of the cheese. Cover the cheese with the remaining salmon. Fold over the excess bits of salmon, press down and put in the fridge for a couple of hours. To turn out the parcel, simply lift them out using the cling film and whack onto a plate!. These are a really good starter, served with a small mixed salad however I was eating mine for lunch so had a pretty big salad!

An Update.

Jenn here.
I'm back from Berlin, as of a week ago.

As you may recall, I spent a lot of time cooking veggie in Germany - I know, veggie and Germany don't usually go hand in hand - and it's really upped my game.
If ever you find yourself in a food rut, I suggest cutting something that you normally eat out - meat, or dairy, or wheat - and cooking becomes a challenge again. I'm back to being more adventurous and trying out new dishes, new recipes. And I've found a load of veg that I'd never liked or possibly even eaten before that I now enjoy (sprouts, fresh beetroot, cabbage. CABBAGE.) and those that I'm still not really a fan of (chicory. *shrug*).

I got a recipe book as a leaving gift, except it's not a cookbook, it's more a notebook where each page has space for a photo, and an ingredients list, and instructions for me to fill in as I go. And I intend to instagram my way through the book. And this blog.

Layout and blog frequency overhaul imminent!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Kitchen Cabinet

A quick note, to alert you to the new BBC Radio 4 programme, The Kitchen Cabinet, in which food personality Jay Rayner and a team of experts answer audience's foodie questions.

It's like Gardener's Question Time but for food - Episode 2 (in which they discuss Indian fusion cooking and 'the perfect tomato sauce' - never put tomatoes in the fridge) is on iPlayer right now (which, I am happy to add, is available to everyone. BBC Radio is internationally available, unlike the TV/TV iPlayer, which I miss every damn day.)