Chicken and Halloumi with Honey and Thyme

Chicken and Halloumi with Honey and Thyme | Selma's TableI have a real aversion to buying chicken breast meat. It’s easy to overcook, bland and expensive. I would much rather buy a whole chicken or those packs of legs and thighs and anyway, I don’t really like to cook in individual portions, and with chicken breast meat, it has to be individual portions, unless you are cutting it up for curries, skewers or goujons. What if someone is really hungry? It doesn’t sit comfortably with my ethos of passing round a generous platters of food for everyone to help themselves from.

A few years ago, I watched Donna Hay on television, cooking and baking hew way to exquisite looking food. I was mesmerised as much by the incredble view of the sea outside her kitchen window as by her effortless styling of the food on the plates.  She cooked some chicken breasts and halloumi together with a drizzle of honey and it stuck in my mind. Despite my reservations about breast meat, I’ve made this a few times with a few tweaks, here and there.

I’ve added shallots and garlic for a deeper flavour and included a dash of pomegranate molasses to balance the sweetness of the honey. You end up with the salty halloumi, the warmth of the thyme, the sweet honey and the sharp pomegranate molasses which are the perfect foil to the breast meat.

I’ve made this with both skin on and skinless chicken breasts and prefer it with the skin left on. It protects the meat from drying out and also adds a crispy note to the textures. The version below is skinless only because that is what I unearthed when rummaging in the freezer, wondering what to cook for dinner later!

It could not be simpler to throw together – all in the one dish that you can also bring to the table. It’s a brilliant mid week family supper, just make extra to make me feel better!

I am taking this over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #51 which this week is being co-hosted by the lovely, bubbly Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook and  supercook Juju @cookingwithauntjuju.

If you are new to blogging, please do join the party, we would love to see you. Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too. Be sure to comment, like and follow – Angie has such a friendly crowd at this party that you will come away with lots of new followers (as long as you interact) as well as a lot of inspiration! Submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention, in your post, to Angie’s   Fiesta Friday #51 post – it’s only polite and also ensures that you can be considered for a feature next week!)  or just take a look at others are up to! If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please do take a minute to read the guidelines.

Right, lets party!

Chicken and Halloumi with Honey & Thyme

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Inspired by Donna Hay

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 chicken breasts, skin on
  • 4 x 1 inch slices of halloumi cheese
  • 2 x banana shallots or 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 10-15 stalks of thyme, leaves stripped
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or lemon juice
  • Black pepper

To serve

  • salad leaves
  • steamed green vegetables like green beans or broccoli.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F and lightly oil a baking dish
  2. Place the chicken breasts and the halloumi in an oven safe dish that will fit everything snugly.
  3. Scatter around the shallots and garlic.
  4. Mix the olive oil, honey and pomegranate molasses with most of the thyme leaves, in a small bowl and spoon it over the chicken, halloumi, shallots and garlic. Scatter over the remaining thyme and black pepper. You won’t need salt as halloumi is quite a salty cheese.
  5. Roast in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the halloumi is golden. Baste with the pan juices once or twice in that time.
  6. Serve on a handful of salad leaves using the pan juices as a salad dressing.
© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken from ‘Slow Cooked’

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableSlow cooking is like waving a culinary magic wand. Cheaper cuts of knife resistant, sinewy meat transform into something silky and tender as they gently burble away in an aromatic bath of your choice. Up until recently, I used my Le Creuset and a low oven to slow cook lamb shanks, stewing beef, brisket and the like. Then a couple of years ago, I spotted a slow cooker in the summer sales and thought how perfect it would be for making dishes overnight or during the day so that there was something gorgeous for dinner to come home to. But truth be told, I haven’t been too adventurous with it; my best thing is making chicken stock in it with the remains of a carcass but that is all set to change with the publication of a new book, “Slow Cooked” by fellow South Londoner and blogger, Miss South, which I was sent to review.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableMiss South has a passion for cooking good food on a very tight budget. She won the Young British Foodies Food Writing award in September 2013 for her blog North/South Food, which she writes with her brother Mister North. She has also written for Observer Food Monthly as well as appearing on The Food Programme on Radio 4. With these sort of credentials, you just know that you are in for a treat when it comes to her book. It is packed full of 200 delicious sounding recipes which cover meat, poultry and fish, soups, vegetables and legumes, cakes, puddings and preserves too, all made in the slow cooker.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableAfter her first few attempts to cook in the slow cooker, Miss South found that the results were watered down as liquid does not get a chance to evaporate so she set about cutting back on the liquid and amping up on the spicing to get the recipes to work.  Recipes like Carbonnade which have mustard croutons pressed into it for the last hour or so; Butter Beans with Chorizo where the dried beans are cooked without soaking. There are some lovely photos at the beginning of the book but none with the recipes themselves, however the recipes sound so good that I didn’t even register the lack of photos.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableHaving tried a few of the recipes in the book, I found that I needed to rev the up seasoning and spicing a little. I’m not sure if that’s a matter of personal taste or if perhaps my herbs and spices lost some of their potency during the extended cooking period but it is just a matter of tasting and adjusting as you go along.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableWe thoroughly enjoyed the results of slow cooking chicken thighs which had been marinated overnight in a mixture of tahini, lemon and garlic. I added a little sumac and paprika to the original recipe to boost it’s flavour and served the juicy shredded chicken in wraps with tzatziki, harissa oil, and shredded lettuce. There are lots of lovely recipes and brilliant ideas as well as some very useful information about the foundations of slow cooking that make this book a must have for anyone who already uses their crock frequently or for those who would like to start. My next stop is the pudding chapter….

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s Table

Do take a look at what a few other bloggers had to say about the book and see what they cooked up too. The reviews are on the Happy Foodie site – http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/articles/the-slow-cooked-challenge

Garlicky Tahini Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Slow Cooked by Miss South who describes this as “a dinner party-friendly take on chicken kebab with garlic sauce.”

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 6 chicken thighs on the bone
  • 4 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 – 6 Tbsp water
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh coriander leaves
To serve
  • Wraps/tortillas
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Greek yoghurt or tzatziki
  • 1 tsp Harissa paste, loosened with some olive oil
  • sliced avocados, chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber – optional but delicious

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the garlic in a small pan of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and when cool enough to handle, slip the skins off.
  2. In the meantime, remove the skin and any fat from the chicken thighs; slash the flesh a couple of times.
  3. The tahini should be the consistency of pouring cream so thin it out with as much of the water as you need to.
  4. Whizz or pound together the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, sumac, paprika and some salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary then spread it over the chicken, getting into the slashes and leave it to marinate, covered, in the fridge for up to 24 hours. I did mine overnight.
  5. When you are ready to cook, place the chicken pieces and the marinade in the crock  and cook on low for 7 hours. The oil from the tahini bastes the chicken and keeps it really tender.
  6. Shred the tender chicken into a serving dish, discarding the bones. Taste the marinade, adjust the seasoning if necessary and pour this over the chicken and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Note – if you don’t have a slow cooker then you can make this in the oven. Place the marinated chicken and the marinade in a roasting tin and cover tightly with foil and cook for 1.5 hours at 160C. Then remove the foil and cook for another 15 mins until tender and falling off the bone.

Serve hot with warm wraps/tortillas and all the fixings.

Any left-overs, re-heat beautifully.

Citrus Chicken with Sage

Citrus Chicken with Sage | Selma's TableA clementine or satsuma is part of our breakfast these days, in the vain hope of keeping at bay, the season’s coughs and colds but a recent purchase of a bag of clementines yielded mouth puckering, lip curling, sour fruit that neither of us can eat. Rather than throwing them away, I have been using them in place of lemons for a similar return in acidity but with a softer more floral flavour.

Duck and orange is a classic combination and as my eyes fell on the bowl full of sour clementines, I didn’t think twice about adding them to the chicken as I rushed to get something ready for dinner the other night. My Citrus Chicken with Sage is an easy, self saucing, one pan dish that looks after itself while you get on with other things; all it really needs is a salad to round it off.

Citrus Chicken with Sage | Selma's TableI placed all the ingredients in a roasting tin – not too large or there won’t be any sauce left, gave them all a good stir, covered the tin with foil which I removed for the final 20 minutes. You can substitute the clementines with an orange or lemon and the sage for rosemary, thyme or oregano. I always add whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic whenever I roast chicken. After cooking you end up with a nugget of  very mellow, gooey garlic paste which squeezes easily from it’s papery shell and is wonderful smeared onto a forkful of chicken. Some of the smaller cloves caramelise and become chewy. They are all such a treat and also very good for you!! Citrus Chicken with Sage is a really delicious meal for very little effort.

Citrus Chicken with Sage | Selma's TableI am sharing my Citrus Chicken with Sage with the Fiesta Friday revellers. Generously hosted by Angie of the Novice Gardener who this week as posted a really delicious looking cake flan – it not only looks spectacular but also magically flips itself over during baking – showcasing how baking really is science!

Our lovely co-hosts (once again) this week are both Canadian! Globe-trotter Julianna whose blog, Foodie on Board is full of the most delicious global recipes and gorgeous photographs too and Hilda of Along the Grapevine who makes foraging and living off the land aspirational and delicious!!  We are in good hands!!

Citrus Chicken with Sage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 skin on, bone in, free range/organic chicken pieces – I use a combination of legs and thighs
  • 4 medium sized carrots
  • 2 large potatoes (or 12 small potatoes)
  • 2 small sour oranges, clementines or lemons
  • 6 unpeeled cloves of garlic
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  • Olive Branch EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • Salt and Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Trim any fatty bits off the chicken and place in a roasting tin that will comfortably hold everything in one layer.
  3. Peel the carrots and cut into three pieces and add to the tin.
  4. Peel the potatoes – cut large ones into 6 pieces and halve small ones. Add to the tin.
  5. Thinly slice one of the citrus fruits and add to the tin along with garlic, sage and a good grinding of peppercorns.
  6. Squeeze over the juice of the second citrus fruit and a tablespoon of olive oil and give it all a really good mixing in the tin. Then arrange the chicken pieces so that they are skin side up and distribute the vegetables and citrus slices evenly too.
  7. Sprinkle over a good pinch of sea salt, cover tightly with foil and place in the oven for half an hour.
  8. Remove foil, sprinkle a little more salt on the chicken skin to help  it crisp up and cook for 15 – 20 minutes more, until the skin is golden brown.
  9. Arrange the chicken and vegetables on a serving platter and cover loosely with foil. Pour the juices into jug, straining off any excess fat and taste – adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve with the chicken.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Greek Inspired Roast Chicken with Bread

Greek Inspired Roast Chicken with Bread | Selma's TableWhen I first moved to London on my own in the early nineties, I worked as a P.A. to a Greek hairdresser. He and his English wife had been crowned London Hairdresser of the Year a couple of times – a reputation which they were really living off at that point. We were paid a pittance for the opportunity to work there and shine in the reflected glory of their name. I learned a great deal about the “show biz” end of hairdressing there – the photo shoots, the big national and international hair shows, the video shoots, the trade events.  When there was an event on, the hours were long and it was expected that everyone that needed to, would pitch in as necessary. I could be typing scripts and cue sheets and the almost daily changes until midnight – this would be for the elaborate hair shows that would be taken, models, wigs, outfits and all to Japan where this company had a big sponsor. For photo shoots it was usually a 6am start to get to the studio and start prepping the girls for hair, make-up and clothes. Themes, storyboarding and clothes styling were my involvement for this sort of thing, though to begin with I would be briefed with the ‘vision’ then make the phone calls to source clothes for the vision and finally bring back what I could scrounge, as hair shoots don’t really come high on any PR or designer’s list of where to loan out clothes to show their lines. Nonetheless, I managed to come back with racks of clothes for the shoots to take to the studio or the trips where his wife would oversee the vision. Eventually I was trusted enough to be invited to these events to help select the clothes and dress the models. It was a far cry from the happy, busy, personal growth and client focused, customer service driven, suburban salon I had worked in before.

Occasionally, the couple would invite the Art Team back to their house for some food (it was never a meal) to brain storm or invite all the staff over for a barbecue if an event had been particularly gruelling with the salon staff having to prop things up while the Art Team were on a punishing schedule, out of the country or working on a trade event. And it is,  of course, the Greek food that is of interest in this case – in those days, I had only eaten Greek food at that wonderful Bayswater institution, Halepi, in West London –  and also another in Claygate that included plate smashing as part of the post-meal entertainment. The barbecues that we were invited to at their house were memorable – some of his family members would be there; the men presiding over a number of small coal grills, tending to  an assortment of meats and Greek sausages as well as half a lamb on a spit. The salads were many and varied too. But the dish I remember the most was that of lemony, oregano scented potatoes – gorgeous waxy Cyprus potatoes that braise slowly in a little stock, lemon juice and oregano.

Greek Inspired Roast Chicken with Bread | Selma's TableThis Greek Inspired Roast Chicken with Bread recipe takes it’s cue from those potatoes, though it is much more than that, of course. It is a another one-pot meal where the flavours and textures all mingle to produce a wonderful dish that is more than just a sum of it’s parts. Some of the bread and vegetables absorb the juices from the chicken and become gooey and soft whilst the rest roast and get crispy and chewy and sharp with the lemon – you can add things like artichoke hearts too if you wish or splash in some stock or wine towards the end for more of a wet roast. It is immensely adaptable to what you have in your pantry and I hope that it acts as a springboard for you – do try it with the bread though – it’s an unusual and fabulous addition!

In the photos you will note a couple of sweet potatoes which I have not included in the recipe below as I wanted to have these for my lunch the next day and not as part of this dish. We love having rocket/arugula with this – the sharp, peppery flavour is another wonderful contrast.

Greek inspired Roast Chicken with Bread

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Aliwaks Roast Chicken with Bread and Garlic

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 kg free range/organic chicken
  • 1 tsp Harissa paste
  • 1 Tbsp Sundried Tomato and Basil Paste
  • Juice of two lemons, separated and plus one whole one
  • 3-4 slices of stale sourdough bread
  • 1 head of garlic – cloves separated but skins left on
  • 2 leeks, cleaned of any sand
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp Green and Black olives stuffed with sundried tomato, garlic and rosemary
  • 8 Sundried tomatoes
  • 700 g waxy potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Sea salt
  • Greek “Olive Branch” EVO oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix the Harissa, sundried tomato paste and the juice of one lemon together to make a runny paste.
  2. Untruss the chicken. Remove as much visible fat as you can from the cavity and discard along with the trussing. If there are giblets, freeze them to make gravy another time.
  3. Smear the paste all over the chicken and inside the cavity and leave to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature.
  4. In the meantime, slice the bread into large cubes, slice the leeks into 1 inch segments and peel and halve the potatoes and arrange in a large roasting dish. Scatter over the garlic cloves, olives and the sundried tomatoes. Squeeze over the juice of the second lemon and sprinkle with oregano and sea salt.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F
  6. Stuff the chicken with a halved lemon
  7. Lubricate the bread and vegetables with some olive oil and arrange the chicken on top, making sure that it is sitting on some of the bread and the potatoes which will absorb the chicken juices. Pour over any remaining marinade that has been left on the plate, back over the chicken.  Drizzle a little oil over the chicken and sprinkle with sea salt to help the skin crisp up.
  8. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes at 220C/425F and then turn down the heat to 180C/350F and give the pan a shake, turning over any bread and vegetables that are not covered by the chicken. Roast for another 40 – 55 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken and until the juices run clear at the leg joint.
  9. Turn off the oven. Remove chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil. Keep the vegetables and the bread warm, also loosely covered, in the residual heat of the oven.
  10. Carve the chicken as you wish but make sure that everyone gets a good mix of crispy chewy, roasted vegetables and bread as well as some which have absorbed the chicken juices – it is a real textural revelation!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Recipe Wheel Challenge – Roast Chicken

the-recipe-wheel-challenge-roast-chickenThe lovely people over at the Happy Foodie asked what I could do with a Roast Chicken – they obviously knew that I am the Queen of cooking roast chickens, every which way – it is something that I make most weeks as I love having left overs to play with for a few days afterwards.

The idea of the challenge comes from Rosie Ramsden, a self described painter, cook and food stylist. Her new book, The Recipe Wheel, published by Random House, takes a core ingredient which sits at the centre of the wheel and then develops this into recipes which fit into different categories. In this case, the categories are Night In, Left Overs, Impress, No Frills, Friends and Creative. I’ve had a quick look at the book on-line and have to say that it is absolutely beautiful. The wheel for fish is made up of beautifully coloured fish shapes just as the chicken wheel shapes could be cockscombs – you can really see how she has cast and applied her painterly eye over the entire concept.

Inspired by Rosie’s beautiful wheels but having a very basic software package to work from, I decided to use eggs in which to place the recipes titles. You can see my wheel above. The links to the six recipes are below, in the titles – I hope that some of them are ones that you may not have seen before but they have all been published on my blog previously. This post , together with a little write-up about me, has been featured in the latest on-line edition of the the Happy Foodies Newsletter, together with posts from other bloggers using the wheel with different core ingredients – take a look at it here – http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/articles/the-recipe-wheel-challenge

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chicken

Impress –  Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken

 summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beans

Creative – Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken and Broad Beans 

 

sticky-spicy-chicken

Night In – Sticky Spicy Chicken 

the-recipe-wheel-challenge-roast-chicken

Left Overs – Warm Chicken Noodle Salad & Spicy Tahini Sauce

the-recipe-wheel-challenge-roast-chicken

Friends – Extraordinary Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Chickpeas

  • This recipe was a contest winner on Food52 – links are in the post

Chicken Mac 'n' Cheese with Rosemary

No Frills – Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Rosemary

 

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken and Broad Beans

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beansI spent a glorious weekend on the stunning and historic South Downs in Sussex. A friend had been planning a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend since January – it was a big one and to say that she pulled it off would be an understatement! How Lucie managed to not blurt out anything and also plan the timing on the Friday so that everyone was at the venue as she walked up (slowly) with Adrian from the pub, (as cars full of late guests whizzed by them) is a testament to her resolve and organisational powers! Factor in no mobile phone signal at the venue, guests arriving late from London on trains who needed collecting and you can imagine some of the problems that needed to be surmounted.

Riverdale House, AlfristonLucie’s parents, Richard and Judy, own and run a beautiful Victorian Bed and Breakfast, Riverdale House, in Alfriston. It’s set in quintessential English gardens and overlooks the South Downs from the front and the Cuckmere Valley to the rear. Beautifully presented with the most comfortable bed I have EVER slept on, crisp white sheets, plenty of  fluffy white towels, lots of toiletries in the bathrooms, tea/coffee making trays in each room, a flat screen TV, a fridge and lots of room to unpack and hang up your clothes – it is a world away from the stereotype of English B and B’s! If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen some of the photos (one of which was liked by Bear Grylls – imagine!!) I was posting when the Wifi kicked in .

IMG_8795Richard and Judy are absolutely lovely – they could not have been more hospitable and welcoming. They left us to it after Richard had cooked the main course on Friday, giving us the run of the house for the weekend.  So on Friday evening, after surprising the the birthday boy, we had few glasses of champagne  on the front lawn, admiring the view and catching up with everyone, before repairing to the dining room which was set up for a sit down dinner for 14 people. I had made a chicken terrine the night before in London, for the first course. The second course was sea bream with seafood pasta, cooked by Richard, which was absolutely gorgeous. Lucie had been to France and brought back wheels of cheese, which she stacked up like a 6 tier cake and lit up with candles. There was this amazing chocolate mousse cake with a hazelnut wafer base from a patisserie in Brighton which is one of the best things I have ever eaten! I normally pass on the pudding course as I prefer cheese but not this time – I missed out the cheese entirely!

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beansA barbecue was planned for Saturday evening for which Catherine and I were making the salads. Catherine had an adorable little helper, Emily who is 5, and they made the most delicious potato salad which Catherine’s grandfather used to make. She also make a couscous salad: a celery, chickpea, feta  and cumin salad; an orzo salad with rocket, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto plus a garlicky tzatziki and  pita chips flavoured with rosemary. I marinated a couple of chickens; boned a leg of lamb, butterflied and marinated it (and was quite proud of my boning efforts which gave rise to plenty of  bawdy comments) and made a pea, spinach and feta salad with a lemon, mustard and garlic dressing as well as a grated courgette and mint salad, dressed with lemon, olive oil and garlic. No danger of vampires that evening!

Alfriston VillageSunday morning was spent pootling around picture perfect Alfriston Village followed by a quick lunch and then very reluctantly we were London bound.

IMG_8937My homecoming was brightened up by the sight of a parcel from Essential Cuisine who have sent me some stock powders to try out and review. A rummage in the fridge and the cupboards provided all the ingredients necessary for a lovely summery pasta salad over which Jake and I caught up on each other’s weekend news and prepared for the week ahead.

I used some of the Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock to season and flavour the pasta salad and have to say that it is absolutely delicious – seriously full of rich, deep chicken flavour and as it is a powder, it dissolves and blends in quickly and perfectly. It is also low in salt, has no artificial additives or preservatives and is  gluten free. Each 96g pot makes about 8 litres of stock so it is really very good value too.  No more sticky, hard, salty stock cubes for me – this stock powder is quite special and I am so looking forward to cooking with it. If  you are in the UK, do take a look at the Essential Cuisine HomeChef website – it is full of really useful tips and recipes and you can also purchase the stock powders directly from them. Their range includes Veal, Fish, Lamb, Beef, Chicken and Vegetable.

(Disclaimer – Although I was sent the stock powders to try out, these views are entirely my own.)

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beans

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beans

Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken and Broad Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • i medium white onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 100 g of spanish chorizo, sliced into ½ cm chunks
  • 1 courgette/zucchini sliced into half moons
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 300 g of dried pasta – I used penne
  • The podded beans from 10 pods of broad beans
  • 1 tsp Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock Powder mixed with 100 ml of hot pasta water
  • 4 Tbsp of olives – I used a mix of green and black
  • 200 g of left over roast chicken, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • A bunch of basil, torn or sliced
  • 1 fresh mozzarella ball, sliced  or torn into chunks

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Fill the kettle and put it on.
  2. Set a large shallow pan over a medium flame and heat up the oil. Add the sliced onion and let this soften for a couple of minutes. Stir in the chorizo and let this cook for a minute or so, just long enough to start releasing those smokey paprika oil. Stir in the courgettes and leave for a couple of minutes to caramelise before stirring to turn them over and caramelise the other side.
  3. Fill a large saucepan with the just boiled water and let it come to a boil again. Add a good measure of salt and tip in the pasta. I like my pasta really, very al dente so for dishes where the pasta will be stirred in to finish cooking with the rest of the ingredients, I normally cook it for 6 minutes. In this case, I set the timer for 3 minutes after the water had come back to a boil once the pasta had been added and then added the broad beans and set the timer for another 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, fish out the broad beans and then drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water.
  4. While the pasta and beans are cooking, stir in the cherry tomatoes, the chicken and the olives to the chorizo and courgettes. Add the stock and give it a good stir.
  5. Add the drained pasta and stir this in to coat with all the lovely pan juices, adding a dash of reserved pasta water to bring it all together.
  6. In the meantime, pinch and squeeze the broad beans out of their skins and stir these into the pan together with the basil.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. There is plenty of flavour in the chorizo and the stock and there is salt in the pasta water so taste before seasoning…
  8. Top with fresh mozzarella cheese and serve.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenA few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend Taste of London’s fabulous food and restaurant event in Regent’s Park. The weather was glorious and the event was well attended but didn’t feel crowded at all. Amongst all the Michelin starred chefs demonstrating on live stages and 5* restaurants selling taster sized portions of  their most loved dishes, were lots of producers, artisans and brands selling their wares. IMK July 2014I blogged about the event in this post  with lots of photos – https://selmastable.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/in-my-kitchen-july-2014/  and promised to post a recipe using the new Black Summer Truffle Pesto which I bought from Sacla who had a stand at the event.

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenThe pesto is amazing (if you like truffle) and I urge you to seek it out while it’s available as it may be a limited edition. Simply spread on toasted sourdough and topped with a poached egg, breakfast the next day was a little bit of  food heaven on a plate…

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chickenI love to spatchcock chicken. Spatchcock is the term used to refer to cutting out the backbone which opens out and flattens the bird – it’s so easy to do, really cuts down on cooking time and makes carving very easy too. It also makes it very easy to separate the skin from the flesh so that seasoning,herbs, pastes or lemon slices can be stuffed under the skin, as the skin is no longer stretched taut over the flesh. My poultry shears have seen better days so I normally use my the heel and point of my sharp chef’s knife to cut out  the backbone. Skewering it is great if you are barbecuing and need to flip the chicken over a few times but when roasting in the oven, it is unnecessary. This is a brilliant video showing how to spatchcock a chicken, presented by the lovely Sarah Cook who also ran the Food Styling course I took at Leith’s a few years ago – http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/technique/how-spatchcock-chicken

Do save the backbone by popping it in a bag and into the freezer – it does make a great stock when you add to the other chicken bones you have been saving. You don’t have to get fancy with a simple basic chicken stock for risottos, pastas or casseroles. I always strip any meat from a roast chicken carcass to save for quick suppers, salads and sandwiches. Then, I snap the leg bones and the carcass so that they will fit in a pot later  and put these in a freezer bag together with any roasted carrots, herbs and sticky bits (but not lemons as these make the stock bitter)  and in the freezer if not making stock straight away. Place (frozen) in a large saucepan with a lid, cover with water, bring to a gentle boil and immediately turn down the heat to as low as you can and simmer for 2 hours – one hour if you are pushed for time. Strain and use straightaway or let it cool and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

black-summer-truffle-pesto-roast-chicken

This is wonderful with some parboiled, crushed and roast new potatoes and a pile of green beans finishing with and a mustardy green salad to mop up the juices on the plate. I apologise for the quality and lack of more photos but it was getting late so the light was low and tummies were rumbling!

Black Summer Truffle Pesto Roast Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Adapted from the Sacla website

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x 1.5 kg chicken – free-range or organic preferably especially if you are going to make a stock with the bones.
  • ½ jar of Sacla’s Black Summer Truffle Pesto (or whizz together some parmesan cheese, pine nuts and truffle oil into a paste)
  • unpeeled cloves from ½ a garlic bulb
  • Lots of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 x lemon, cut in half and one half cut into 4 wedges
  • Salt and pepper
  • wine glass full of dry white wine
  • 50 g of finely grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Get your roasting tin out. and place a good handful of thyme sprigs on it as a bed for the chicken.
  3. Remove ½ of the pesto from the jar and place it in a small bowl or plate – this will stop any contamination – something that I am a little obsessive about. Divide the paste into quarters to make it easy to use once you get going.
  4. Get a good pinch of sea salt onto a small plate and a good grinding of black pepper too – see note 2 about contamination!
  5. Spatchcock the chicken. Remove from packaging, undo the trussing or string and discard. Turn the chicken over onto it’s breast and cut along either side of the backbone, starting at the Parson’s nose (tail). Flip it over, open it out and with the heel of your hand, press onto the breasts, while you lean into it to give it some weight – this will help to flatten it out.
  6. Flip it onto it’s breast again and using your fingers, spread with ¼ of the truffle pesto. Season with a little salt and pepper and place onto the roasting dish.
  7. Starting at the neck/breast end of the chicken, using your fingers and hands, gently, being careful not to tear the skin, separate and ease the skin away from the flesh  – go all the way to the top of the legs. You will have to get your hands right under the skin – not great if you are squeamish!  Place half the truffle pesto on the flesh, under the skin and spread it as evenly as you can, as far as the  tops of  the legs. I find it easier to do one side of the chicken at a time. Pull and adjust the skin so that it is in place and covering the very top of  chicken  and wipe off any excess paste that is clinging onto your hands onto the chicken skin. Squeeze over the juice from half the lemon. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper.
  8. Now go and thoroughly wash your hands. With hot water and soap and get someone to turn the taps on for you – did I mention I was obsessive about contamination?
  9. Scatter the unpeeled garlic cloves around the chicken. Dribble the cloves and the chicken with a little olive oil. Pour in the wine around the edge of the tin. and place in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 180C/350F and continue roasting for another 20 minutes.
  10. Remove tin from the oven and turn up the heat to 200C/400F. Using a spatula, spread the remaining truffle pesto onto the skin and sprinkle over the parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Check to make sure that it is cooked through – no blood running in the section between the leg and the body and remove chicken and garlic to a serving plate, loosely covering with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  11. In the meantime, drain off any oil in the roasting tin leaving behind all the lovely juices. Place tin on the hob/stove top. Bring to a boil then simmer, scraping down the sticky bits from around the sides and bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon. Let this reduce until you have a enough for a little jus or gravy. If you are making green beans, get them on now.
  12. Serve with lemon wedges, parboiled and crushed roasted new potatoes, green beans and a salad. The caramelised garlic just pops out of their skins and is wonderful spread on the potatoes or bits of chicken as you eat.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sticky Spicy Chicken

sticky-spicy-chicken

The other day, I was scrolling through the WP Reader when a recipe for Korean Sticky Chicken by Chandler Tomayko @ The International Poor Chef School Project caught my eye, as I knew that it was the sort of dish that Jake would love. Do go over and say hello to Chandler if you haven’t as yet – brought up in Texas, this young dynamo runs a cooking school, works as a personal chef and also teaches in well known culinary school in Costa Rica. I love her “kitchen hacks” – they are absolutely brilliant!

So with a few tweaks, this is my version of her recipe. I used bone in legs and thighs (wings would be amazing) and oven roasted them rather than frying them – you all must know by now that I have an aversion to frying…I also added some soy sauce and chilli flakes to the glaze. If you partially cook the chicken, you could finish this off on the barbecue, brushing the chicken with the glaze several times.

Jake told me over dinner that the aroma of the chicken cooking had his mouth watering and as he stood up to clear the table he said, “Please can you make that again, Mum? Soon?” So Chandler, thanks for a great recipe and Jake – here it is for you to attempt the next time!

Sticky Spicy Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 of each, free range chicken legs and thighs; skin on, bone in
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

For the glaze:

  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp soy or teriyaki sauce
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes – adjust this amount to your palate

To finish:

  • 2 Tbsp crushed or chopped peanuts (I used pre-roasted and salted ones which I pounded roughly in the mortar and pestle)
  • 3 spring onions finely sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F
  2. Arrange chicken skin side up in a roasting tin.
  3. Squeeze over the lemon juice, drizzle over a little oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes.
  5. While the chicken is roasting, place all the ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan and heat gently. Let it come to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it bubble away for about 2 or 3 minutes, until it is thick and syrupy. It will froth up, so keep an eye on it and take it off the heat to let the bubbles subside if necessary. Take it off the heat and set aside.
  6. When the chicken has had 35 minutes in the oven, pour off the juices from the chicken into the saucepan with the glaze and boil down to reduce  by half, for 3 or 4 minutes.
  7. Pour this evenly over the chicken and return to the oven for 10 minutes or so to finish cooking and set the glaze.
  8. Pile the chicken up in a serving dish, pour over the sauce from the roasting tin then strew with the chopped spring onions and crushed peanuts.

Serve with a steaming bowlful of jasmine rice and a carrot and cucumber ribbon salad dressed with rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Caesar Dressing

caesar-dressingMy lovely 16 year old son has become a salad eating afficiando – he absolutely loves them and has a huge portion after every meal. Yesterday, I didn’t feel like cooking – we had some left over chicken from the night before but I really fancied a herby Greek salad type meal with lots of chopped cucumber, feta and mint. So when Jake came bounding down the stairs and asked what was for dinner as he couldn’t smell anything (!), I replied “A chopped Greek salad” and waited for him to say “Oh great  – how long until we eat?!”  Instead he paused and then said – “Hey Mum, can we have a chicken Caesar salad instead? It’s my new favourite salad.” Well, how could I refuse?

I used to love Caesar Salads when I lived in Canada – crisp salad leaves, crunchy croutons, grainy parmesan cheese and a dreamy, creamy, pungent sauce – I was in! I was also butterfingers yesterday, managing to drop a fresh roll of paper towels into a sink full of dirty water, which really, really annoyed me! That was just before I knocked over a bottle of oil which dripped onto the smooth tiled kitchen floor, ensuring that I had to stop and have a huge clean up and wipe down. At that point, I didn’t like my chances of ending up Humpty-Dumpty-like, on that floor!

caesar-dressing

Chicken Caesar Salad

I know that the dressing traditionally has a raw egg in it but decided that mayonnaise would be a good substitute as it is already egg and oil based and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the result as was Jake. Don’t miss out the anchovies – they add a deep umami flavour that cannot be replicated by salt alone. You could probably substitute with some fish sauce or anchovy paste – you will have to add a little at a time until you get the flavour you like. This makes quite a lot of dressing but it keeps very well and the recipe can easily be halved too.

From the comments below, a few of you have asked about substitutions;

  •  for mayo – I had a google and Jamie Oliver uses Greek yoghurt – it you try it, do come back and let me know and I will update the post with a credit to you and your blog.
  • vegetarian substitute for anchovies – I suggest tamari or soy sauce – start with one teaspoon and see if that adds enough umami – again, do come back and let me know and I will update the post.
  • vegetarian substitute for the chicken – try marinating firm tofu slices in smoky paprika, a little lemon juice and oil, then griddle or barbecue.

caesar-dressing

Caesar Dressing

  • Servings: 300 ml
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise – don’t skimp on the quality here
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of one lemon – about 50 ml or so – see my Tips and Tricks page on how to get the most juice out of a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 anchovies preserved in oil
  • freshly ground black pepper – about ½ tsp
  • 120ml/ ½ cup mild olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp oil from the anchovies – optional but good!
  • 35 g parmesan cheese grated

To serve (for 2 people)

  • 1 large slice of  sourdough or ciabatta bread cubed into croutons
  • a little olive oil
  • Half a romaine lettuce, washed and dried
  • 2 cooked  and sliced chicken breasts – barbecued or cooked on the griddle is the tastiest. Ours was room temperature.
  • grated parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, anchovies and black pepper in the bowl of a small food processor and blitz until smooth.
  2. With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil and the anchovy oil to emulsify the sauce. Add the oil slowly – this is the key to the dressing emulsifying and not splitting – the mustard really helps with this process in any case.
  3. Taste and adjust the flavour (not the salt though as the parmesan goes in next). More garlic? Add another crushed clove. If it’s too sharp from the lemon, add a little more oil but we found that the above measurements were perfect.
  4. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese (or you could carry on blitzing in the food processor but I was using my really small one and didn’t have enough space!)
  5. Taste again and make any final adjustments to the flavour.

To serve

  1. Toss the bread cubes in a little olive oil and either cook them in a dry non-stick frying pan or toast in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  2. Tear up the romaine leaves into manageable pieces and place in a large bowl.
  3. Top with the chicken/tofu and croutons.
  4. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of the dressing and toss well to coat. Add more if you like more dressing on the salad.
  5. Scatter with some grated parmesan cheese, dish up and enjoy, hopefully alfresco with a large glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

‘Tennis’ Turkey

tennis_turkeyWhen my son was much younger, he, like most children these days, had all sorts of after school activities to attend; Mad Science on a Monday, swimming on a Tuesday, football on a Wednesday and tennis on a Thursday. I would make him an after school snack – usually Vogel seeded bread with either hommous and cucumber or peanut butter and banana –  to keep him going until dinner. We would get home and I would get something cooked  and on the table in record breaking time. ‘Tennis’ Turkey came about when we stopped at the Sainsbury’s Local near the tennis club on the way home and picked up a pack of turkey breast steaks. I got home, took a look at what I had in the cupboards and this dish came together.

It was so tasty, with a depth of flavour which belied it’s short cooking time, that I wrote down what I had done whilst Jake cleared away (he has been setting the table and clearing the dishes for a very long time now – just wish he would show some interest in cooking rather than just eating!). I asked him what he thought the dish should be called and without hesitation, he said ‘Tennis Turkey” and the name has stuck.

tennis_turkeyIt is one of those dishes where prep and cooking harmoniously segue into each other. I start by washing and putting some rice on to cook. Then as the oil in the frypan heats up, I slice the onion and toss that in, with a pinch of salt to help it along. As that cooks, I thump the cumin in the pestle and mortar, slice the turkey into long strips, mince the garlic and chop some herbs.

tennis_turkeyOnce the onions have had about 10 minutes – and cooking them long and slow is what give the dish such a great depth of flavour- I stir in the garlic and then spread the turkey strips out in a layer. While those are cooking on one side, I get the peas, creme fraiche and bouillon out and slice the lemon. Then I  give the strips a stir, add the cumin and cook for a minute or so until there is very little pink visible in the meat.

tennis_turkeyThen I yell up the stairs at Jake to set the table, add the bouillon powder, the creme fraiche and a little water, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any caramelisation and let that bubble and thicken, stir in the peas, squeeze over some lemon and it’s done!

tennis_turkey

Of course you can substitute chicken breasts if you don’t like or can’t find turkey. Both cook really quickly and are ideal for this sort of cooking. Can I also mention this time saving flavour booster?

tennis_turkeyI love these tubs of crispy fried onions – a little sprinkle  adds crunch and a savoury note to things like egg salads, noodle soups and rice – a very short ingredient list (onions,  vegetable oil, wheat flour and salt) and a real time saver…I have seen them in bags in the Indian grocery stores too.

tennis_turkey

Tennis Turkey

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 large onion or 4 shallots
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 500g (or 4 x) turkey breast steaks
  • 2 tsp dry roasted cumin seeds, separated
  • 1 tsp Marigold bouillon powder or a vegetable stock cube, crumbled
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp  ½ fat creme fraiche or double cream
  • ¼ of a lemon
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • crispy fried onions (optional)
  • red peppercorns (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Halve and slice onion in half moons and sauté gently  on a medium low heat, in the olive oil with a pinch of salt, until floppy and pale gold. This should take about 10 minutes. If the onions start to catch, stir in a little water and lower the heat
  2. While the onions are cooking, slice the turkey across the grain into 1 cm thick strips, chop the garlic and pound 1 tsp of the cumin seed in a mortar and pestle.
  3. Then stir the garlic into the onions and let this cook for a minute or so.
  4. Add the turkey strips, spreading them out in one layer and let them cook on one side, browning slightly, before stirring to cook on the other side.
  5. Sprinkle on the ground and whole cumin and stir for a minute.
  6. Sprinkle on the bouillon power stir, then add the water and the creme fraiche. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken a little. Squeeze in a little lemon to taste.
  7. Stir in the peas and cook for a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the parsley just before serving.
  8. Top with a few crispy fried onions and a few red peppercorns if using.

Serve with rice.

Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Rosemary

chicken-mac-n-cheeseI suffered with fairly severe eczema and asthma as a child and of course, it was ALL triggered by food. The list of foods I could not eat included ice-cream (the cold set off my wheezing – imagine living in Nairobi and not being able to enjoy the icy creations from  Snow Queen!), cold drinks, fish, shellfish, oranges and passion fruit. I am not sure how scientific any of this was but it was what my mother and I felt set off a bout of up-all-night-wheezing or scratching. While she sat up with me holding my hand through another breathless night, we would discuss what I had eaten that could have triggered it off.  The list grew quite lengthy. For some reason, left-overs were deemed to be a culprit too, so all my food was freshly prepared.

Today, left-overs are something that I practically plan for – they speed up after-work cooking and stretch the food budget without any hint of parsimony. My favourite is left-over roast chicken. No matter how I have cooked it, I always strip what is left on the carcass while it is still warm as this yields the most flesh. I also break up the bones for a simple stock that I start for an hour or two on the Sunday evening or pop the bones into a freezer bag for another time. And I save all the cooking juices, gravy and vegetables. Favourite left-over chicken meals include risotto with any left-overs being made into oven baked  arancini the following day which we have with a spicy tomato sauce and a rocket salad; there are pot pies in the winter and pasta salads in the summer, also soups, green curries and stir fries. Left over roast chicken is one of my favourite ingredients!!  (And just in case you are wondering – when we moved to Winnipeg all my allergies disappeared completely, only to return when I moved to London. Today if anything flares up it is usually due to stress or damp.)

chicken-mac-n-cheese

At the weekend I made my version of this braised spatchcock chicken which left me with a lot of gorgeous pan  juices as well as about half a chicken. For quite some time, I have been meaning to try  this chicken lasagne recipe. But when I read it through again, it seemed very heavy on the cheese and in any case, I didn’t have any lasagne sheets but I did have a packet of macaroni pasta. So my Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese evolved and I have to say that it was absolutely lovely; total comfort food with not too much fuss.

chicken-mac-n-cheese

If you are starting from scratch, without any pre-cooked chicken or pan juices, I would suggest braise roasting  3 or 4 chicken thighs while you make the béchamel. All instructions below.

chicken-mac-n-cheese

Chicken Mac 'n' Cheese with Rosemary

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the braise roasted chicken:

  • 3 or 4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • 2 banana shallots
  • 4 whole peeled garlic cloves
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • ¼ c of  black olives – I leave the pits in and warn everyone
  • 150ml of a dry white wine
  • 250ml stock or water with a stock cube mixed in (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper

Or if you are using left-overs:

  • 250 g cooked and shredded chicken
  • 200 ml of pan juices  

Plus:

  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 cup of frozen spinach, thawed
  • 250 g macaroni or elbow pasta
  • 20g grated parmesan cheese.

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 60g butter
  • 60 g flour
  • 700ml/3 cups milk
  • ⅓ of a nutmeg
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 heaped Tbsp finely chopped rosemary needles
  • 200g grated cheddar cheese separated into 150g and 50g – just eyeball it!
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F.

MAKE THE BRAISE ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS

  1. Slice shallots into long half moons and sauté gently in a pan with a little olive oil for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the whole garlic cloves, the chicken thighs, the anchovies and the olives; stir it around, letting it all get a little caramelised – about 7 or 8 minutes. The anchovies will dissolve and add a deep savoury note to the pan juices. Remove the chicken to a plate. Deglaze pan with the wine, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom.
  2. Place rosemary stalks in a snug fitting roasting dish and scrape in the savoury shallot/garlic/anchovy/olive mix over them. Nestle the chicken thighs on top and squeeze over the lemon juice and pour round the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Pop in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove rosemary stalks and discard. Remove chicken from the pan juices and leave on plate until cool enough to handle; shred the meat and mix it back into the pan juices.

MAKE THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

  1. Make béchamel by melting the butter over a medium heat. Sprinkle over the chopped rosemary and the flour and cook, stirring madly for about 5 minutes.
  2. Take off the heat and slowly add in the first cup of milk, stirring all the time to avoid lumps and then add the other two cups, stirring well after each one. Pop in the bay leaf and grate in the nutmeg.
  3. Let this just come to the boil (scald) and then turn down the heat and keep it on a low flame, to thicken which should take about 5-10 minutes. You will have to keep stirring to stop the bottom from catching.
  4. Once it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, stir in 150g of the cheddar cheese and the mustard.
  5. Take it off the heat and set aside to cool a little, stirring occasionally to stop a skin from forming – it will thicken even more as it cools.

COOK THE PASTA

  1. Cook the macaroni pasta in lots of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. It will carry on cooking in the sauce in the oven so resist the urge to cook it any further otherwise you will end up with pasta the texture of baby food in the finished dish.

ASSEMBLE THE DISH

  1. Place the cooked chicken, the pan juices, including the shallots, garlic and olives; the spinach and peas in a mixing bowl (or even the dish you are going to bake this in) and mix well to combine. Check on the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, ladle the pasta and some of the water that will be clinging to it, into the chicken mix. Stir in just over half the béchamel and mix well. It will be quite sloppy which is what you need to finish cooking the pasta. Check on the seasoning and adjust.
  3. Spread the pasta mixture out evenly in your baking dish.
  4. Using a tablespoon, dot the remaining béchamel evenly over the pasta mix and smooth out.
  5. Scatter over the grated cheddar and  parmesan and bake in the oven for about 30 – 40 min. It should be bubbly and golden when it is ready.
  6. Leave it to rest and settle for about 10minutes before digging in.

Perfect with a salad.

Extraordinary Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Chickpeas

Extraordinary-Marinated-Chicken-Potatoes-and-Chickpeas

My 16 year old son, Jake,  has been in Demark visiting friends over the holidays. He is due back later today, having braved an overnight ferry crossing in this hideous weather we have been having. I am really hoping that the weather will have calmed down otherwise the experience will put him off boats and ferries for life. Which would be such a shame. I am also hoping that he has managed to revise for his mock GCSEs which commence this week. I am expecting that he minded his manners, helped out without being asked and didn’t sleep in to the extent he does at home during the holidays.

Well, I am sure that all will be revealed, probably just as soon as he has watched the new, much anticipated BBC drama, Sherlock Holmes – The Empty Hearse. Did I mention that I have already watched it twice? One of my favourite New Years Day tweets was from a good friend who wished everyone a “Happy New Year also known as Happy Sherlock Day!” I think that just about sums it up. I read somewhere that 10 million people tuned in to watch it – that is quite staggering don’t you think? Follow Selma’s Table on Facebook as I will post the update on his trip there.

In the week before Jake left, I discovered Elaine Boddy’s lovely blog, foodbod. Her recipe for Lebanese inspired marinated and roasted chickpeas and potatoes really caught my eye (well it did have chickpeas and potatoes in it – my two favourite food groups) and I actually went out to buy some chicken just so that I could make it.

Oh. My. Goodness.

It is a completely and UTTERLY gorgeous dish. Jake polished off half of it – the recipe serves 4! After it’s stint in the oven, the marinade cooks down to this incredible sticky savouriness around the potatoes and chicken, which when combined with the crispy bits of chickpeas, tender chicken with crispy skin and fluffy, marinade-sodden potatoes, just becomes food heaven on a plate.

I entered the recipe into “Your Best One Pot Meal” contest over on Food52 and was surprised and rather excited to get an email from them saying that I was one of two finalists (out of nearly 200 entries). Voting then started and I was and am, over the moon to have WON!!! Thank you to every one who voted – and a huge thanks to Elaine who inspired it. It’s such a fabulous recipe – I do hope you try it.

This is the link to my  Winners Q & A on the site – http://food52.com/blog/9696-winner-of-your-best-one-pot-meal

This is the link to the recipe on the site where lots of people have tried it and left comments – http://food52.com/recipes/25866-extraordinary-marinated-and-roasted-chicken-potatoes-and-chickpeas

Extraordinary-Marinated-Chicken-Potatoes-and-Chickpeas

This recipe is so easy to make – mix up the marinade; peel and chop the potatoes; rinse and drain the chickpeas and leave it all in the fridge to marinate for a day.

Extraordinary-Marinated-Chicken-Potatoes-and-Chickpeas

Then arrange in a roasting dish, cover and pop into an oven for about an hour. Rustic,  flavourful and  charming enough to be served to supper guests.

Extraordinary-Marinated-Chicken-Potatoes-and-Chickpeas

Elaine cooks it without chicken so I have adapted her recipe to account for this (less oil and the inclusion of buttermilk to further tenderise the chicken) and tweaked the spicing a little too. I think it would be amazing with lamb as well.  I have made it again for Jake’s homecoming.

Extraordinary-Marinated-Chicken-Potatoes-and-Chickpeas

It needs a day to marinate so what are you waiting for?

Extraordinary Roasted Chicken, Potatoes and Chickpeas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from  Lebanese inspired marinated and roasted Chickpeas and Potatoes by Elaine Boddy

INGREDIENTS

  • 1  can of chickpeas (400g)
  • 800g floury potatoes  – I used King Edwards the first time and Maris Piper this time – both with excellent results but I preferred the King Edwards
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (organic/free range preferably)

Marinade

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1 ½  tsp sugar (brown has a better flavour)
  • 1 Tbsp buttermilk/yoghurt
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Harissa paste (or adjust this to your taste)
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To finish

  • 2 tsp dry roasted cumin seeds
  • a pack of  coriander leaves, chopped
  • Greek yoghurt or a Tzatziki

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2 inch chunks – the size of roast potatoes.
  3. Give the lemons 30 seconds or so in the microwave to help release more juice. Roll, applying a little pressure;  then slice in half and squeeze out as much juice as you can.
  4. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  5. Place the chicken, chickpeas, potatoes and garlic in a large freezer bag and pour in the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Flop it around a bit to make sure that the marinade gets everywhere. Place on a plate, in a bowl etc. and pop in the fridge to marinade for a day. Turn the bag over whenever you open the fridge over the next 24 hours.
  6. An hour and a half before you are ready to eat; pre-heat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ 375 F. Remove the bag from the fridge and tumble the contents into a large roasting dish – large enough for everything to be spread out so that there is a lot of exposed food surface area. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the dish tightly with foil and cook for 1 hour.  Remove the foil and cook for another 15 minutes or so, until the chicken skin and potatoes are crispy and cooked through and the chickpeas get a little crunchy too. Watch like a hawk that the marinade does not go from gooey and delicious to a burnt crisp. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving platter/dish and scatter over the roasted cumin seeds and chopped coriander.
  7. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or Tzatziki on the side and prepare to be worshipped.

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