Tag Archives: chicken

Camping, with asparagus

Asparagus

Camping. The great divider. It’s a bit like liver, in that as many people hate it as love it (and it’s best not overdone). But either way, If you’re going to do it, then there’s really only one way to do it (apart from briefly) and that’s to steer totally clear of organised campsites, teepees, yurts and any other half-arsed modern equivalent of the form.
A tent, a fire, food and drink – that’s really all you need.

In la la land.

Sadly, in the real world and with three kids you need a car full of crap including, but not limited to, iPods, iPads, iPhones, chargers, crisps, chocolates, books, magazines, pillows, sleeping bags, bags full of clothes (enough for a week in my daughter’s case), a barbeque, coals, lighter fluid, torches, kitchen roll, about four plastic bags (the ones that take 1,000 years to decompose) of food from the supermarket, waterproofs and plenty of beer, wine and any other alcohol you can get your hands on to get you through hour upon hour of cold, dark nighttime.

And if that doesn’t put you off, and you still plan on doing it, at least make sure you eat well when you’re sitting in your fold-up chairs that you picked up at the service station and that will just about last the weekend if you’re lucky. Here are a few ideas that seemed to go down pretty well:

Char grilled asparagus

Get a bunch of asparagus, rub generously with salt, pepper and lots of olive oil. Stick it on the barbeque. Cook it.

Spicy chicken

Get a load of chicken pieces, rub generously with a mixture of the following (that you can make in advance and bring with you in a jar): three cardamom pods, two star anise, two tablespoons of cumin seeds, coriander seeds and sea salt, one tablespoon of peppercorns, fennel seeds, and half a cinnamon stick, all ground into a powder. Stick them on the barbeque. Cook them.

Grilled pineapple

Get a pineapple. Peel it and cut it into thick slices. Stick them on the barbeque. Cook them.

Eynsham Lock

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Chick and Dal

We might not have left the house for more than a couple of hours but that’s not to say that we sat on our arses all weekend watching 35 episodes of The Office. Far from it. In fact, we sat on our arses most of the weekend watching 35 episodes of The Office and then we got up and did a little cooking. Next week I’m going to get on the bike if it kills me, but in the meantime here’s a really good curry to keep you warm over the winter months…

Chicken curry and Dal

First, a disclaimer – I don’t pretend any of the following dishes are done in the correct way. All I can say is that I think they taste good – so if you read this and you start to become irate because I’ve missed something, or I have used the wrong spices then I apologise – I really am truly sorry that you feel that way. And do feel free to tell me about it.

Let’s start with the Dal – take about 250g of red split lentils and put them in a saucepan with plenty of cold water and put it on the heat. As the water starts to boil, spoon away the frothy scum that forms on the top – let it boil gently for about 15 minutes, ensuring the pan doesn’t boil dry. Now chop an onion, a thumb of ginger, four fat cloves of garlic and half a red and half a green chilli (seeds removed) – fry them all in oil along with the following, all pounded in a pestle and mortar: a quarter of a cinnamon stick, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, a tablespoon of salt, garam masala and turmeric. Once the onions, garlic et al are soft, add them to the cooked lentils with a little more oil, a knob of butter and a large handful of chopped coriander leaves. If at this point it’s a little too gloopy, just add a little water.

Now for the curry – the base of the curry is pretty much the same as the dal, just with more chilli (and with the seeds) – so start with the spices, heated in a dry frying pan, then put them into you casserole dish with a tin of tomatoes and a little water. Then as with the Dal, fry onions, garlic, chilli and ginger and add to the casserole. Then take 6 chicken thighs, pare away the flesh and fry in batches until golden brown and add to the curry sauce. Add  a handful of chopped coriander leaves and let it cook slowly for about 35 minutes. Just before serving, add another handful of chopped coriander leaves (and do the same with the Dal).

For the rice, follow my Iranian rice recipe – works every time…

Not for lily-livered chickens

I’ve done this before, but it was a long time ago and in the spirit of keeping up this Christmas food thing, I think it’s worth including again –

Sadly though, it seems to be another one of those foods that divides people – mention chicken liver pate in passing conversation and you can bet that someone will pull the same sort of face that you would expect them to reserve for bee stings and treading in particularly squidgy dog turds. I understand that we all have different tastes, I really do, but I will never understand how people can have such a violent reaction to foods that millions of other people are perfectly happy to put in their mouths and enjoy? You’re just a bunch of chickens – give it a try and see. It won’t poison you. You won’t spend a week on the loo. And you may just find that you like it. As long as you open your mind and give it a chance.

For those that don’t need convincing, do give this a go – it’s very quick, it freezes well and it’s another great thing to have on the table at Christmas.

Chicken liver pate

Roughly chop an onion, a few cloves of garlic and a little chopped red chilli and fry in a pan with butter. After a few minutes add about 250g of chicken livers to the pan and continue to fry on a moderate heat. Next add half a glass of white wine and a good splash of brandy, plenty of seasoning and cook for about five minutes allowing the wine to reduce and the livers to cook through.

In a blender, add a handful of chopped parsley and few tablespoons of cream cheese then add the liver mixture and blend to a smooth paste.
Turn in out into a bowl and top with  a large nob of butter which will melt and form a seal over the pate.

Leave it in the fridge – if you can bear to wait then give it a day before cracking it open…

For all you meat lovers…

It seems I’m getting into some sort of rhythm with DATW (it must suggest too much free time, which can’t be a good sign) so I’m going to try to keep the momentum going. I’m still a country mile away from the 500 views in one day that I set out to achieve back in January, but it’s been fun failing to get there.

Anyway – the other day my friend Eve told me that I should put up a few things for Christmas, which I think is a great idea. So I’m going to start with something that I did a few years ago and I think works really well in the lead-up to Christmas, or as an antidote to cold turkey. One thing though – you do need to have a lot of hefty meat eaters in the vicinity – this isn’t something you can get through on your own in a hurry…

Winter terrine with duck and chicken

This takes a little work, but it’s so good and certainly worth it if you’re a full-on carnivore.

Start with the duck, as this takes the longest time: take four duck legs, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and then cook them in a warm oven (150c) for two hours covered in foil – this will essentially confit them, making them beautifully tender. Once done, pull the duck meat from the legs with your fingers – leaving them in little pieces, and put them aside.

While the duck is cooking, you can do the rest. Firstly, make the forcemeat (which helps bind the terrine while keeping the duck and chicken from drying out) by taking a bowl and putting in 500g good quality sausagemeat, a few chicken livers (chopped), two handfuls of white breadcrumbs, half a red chilli and two cloves of garlic, finely chopped, a good glug of olive oil, vermouth and brandy, an egg and a handful each of parsley and thyme along with 4 juniper berries ground down with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Next fry four chicken thighs (skin removed) in butter and oil until golden brown, and almost cooked, and as with the duck, remove them from the bone, cut into strips and set aside.

Now, take a rectangular loaf tin and line the bottom and sides with slices of good streaky bacon so that they will wrap around the terrine. Into the bottom of the tin put a layer of the forcemeat, then a layer of the duck (with some of the juices from the roasting tin, but not too much of the fat), then another layer of forcemeat, then a layer of the chicken thighs (again with their juices), then a final layer of forcemeat and then finally wrap around the edges of the bacon strips. now press it all down and place foil over the top.

Cook the terrine in a bain marie (roasting tin half filled with water) in a warm oven (160c) for 2 hours. Then take it out and let it cool fully before putting it in the fridge. There are loads of juices in there which will set into a lovely jelly, but you have to let them cool fully – I made the mistake of taking the terrine out too soon and they went everywhere – precious precious juices…

That’s it – take the terrine out of the tin and serve with a really good chutney, bread, salad, cheese, etc.

(by the way, If you wish, you can substitute the chicken and duck for any game you like – rabbit, pheasant, partridge etc)

Chilli fig chutney

I did this is Spain earlier in the year with figs from my mothers garden and it goes perfectly with cheese and cold meats and especially the terrine. Start by cutting about 20 figs into quarters, or eighths (keeping the skins on). Then take two large onions, five cloves of garlic, an inch of fresh ginger and a whole red chilli (or two if you’re in a dangerous mood), chop them and fry them just for a few minutes in olive oil. Put them in a saucepan with the figs along with about 200-300g sugar, 500ml of red wine vinegar, seasoning and a sprinkling of (freshly) ground coriander and cumin seeds. Let it boil away for 5-7 minutes until the figs are just cooked, then remove the figs and continue to reduce the liquid for another 10 minutes or so, until it takes on the thickness of double cream. While you’re doing this, taste the liquid and adjust for sweetness and seasoning. Replace the figs, and then decant the whole lot into sterilised jars. You can use it pretty much straight away, but of course it gets better with age.

Thai chick

OK – the prophecy has been fulfilled and the house is a bomb site. Smashed glasses, marbles in every corner of the room (don’t give your five year old access to kerplunk unless you want to be picking little glass balls out of every orifice for the next week) and yes I am in the corner, not weeping, but trembling – they know exactly which buttons to push…

We ate well though – two dishes for the record, neither of which I can take credit for – both of these came from Nigel Slater, who may be a little annoying on the tv but he is a great writer and his food is always brilliant (if you buy any cookery book, buy Good Food – you’ll thank me for it)

Thai Chicken Wings

Easy one this and the best chicken wings I’ve made for a while. Take the wings and put them in a freezer bag with a few finely chopped cloves of garlic, a few seeded red chillies, a few tablespoons of Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce) and of sesame oil, the juice of a lime and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Give it a good jiggle about and leave it for as long as you can (an hour is enough, but a few hours is better).

Heat the oven to about 200 c and roast the wings on a baking tray for about 35 minutes, turning once or twice throughout.

When you take them out, sprinkle them with some fresh coriander and serve with a chilli dipping sauce, made with a simple mix of rice wine vinegar, lime juice, dark soy sauce, sugar, finely chopped red chillies (again seeded) and fresh coriander…

Thai Green Curry

I think this one is probably more strenuous to write than to cook, so here goes…

You start by making the curry paste. Take a blender and put the following in it, all roughly chopped: four seeded green chillies, three cloves of garlic, two lemongrass stems, a big thumb of ginger, two small onions or shallots and a handful of fresh coriander. Then get a pestle and mortar and grind a teaspoon each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns. pop them in the mixer along with the zest and juice of a lime and a glug of Nam Pla. Blend it. That’s it.

You will only need about four tablespoons of this for the curry so you’ll probably have some spare. In order to keep the vibrant green colour, put the remainder in an ice cube mould and freeze – you can then store in the freezer for ages…

Now, about half an hour before you want to eat, take a saucepan and pour into it a 400ml can of coconut milk, half a pint of chicken stock, 8 lime leaves, more Nam Pla, a tablespoon of green peppercorns and a handful of chopped coriander. At this point, I also added the leftover dipping sauce from the wings (which really worked – so if you haven’t done the wings, just add a nice glug of rice wine vinegar – adds a lovely sourness to the dish).

Take a few breasts of chicken cut into thin strips and fry them until golden brown in small batches in a wok, and them pop them into the saucepan. Do the same with  a couple of handfuls of chestnuts mushrooms.

Now cook it all together for about 10 minutes and you’re done…

You can serve this with rice (see the Iranian rice recipe in my archives – I know, I should have done sticky fragrant Thai rice, but I didn’t so you’ll have to make do. Or go to a proper food blog and get the recipe there…). Alternatively, do what I did and serve with rice noodles, boiled and then fried in the wok you used for the chicken and mushrooms, with a little butter and sesame oil.

Oh, and chuck another handful of chopped coriander over the lot just before serving.

A chicken in the oven

Going to get the shorts later so I’m preparing myself for another weekend of mayhem. The house is in perfect order and quaking in its boots because it knows that it’s only going to last a few more hours before it’s systematically taken apart piece by piece. I’m going to sound ocd here but it’s an unshakable fact that tidiness and order are the first (and most badly injured) casualties of parenthood. I’m trying to think of a good image here – I’m picturing hyenas ripping apart the carcass of a barely breathing and once majestic zebra, or better, crazed looters storming through a post-apocalytic Selfridges, the hitherto paragon of order and style now reduced to a crumbling wreck with ripped-apart agent provocateur undies, butchered chloe bags, smashed bottles of italian black truffle oil and shredded prada strewn about the place and, in the corner, a small perfectly-clad shop assistant hunched up and quietly weeping behind her counter…
I’m the shop assistant I think. Well, a male version of her. It’s not making huge sense really, but hopefully you get the idea..

Anyway, on to food. This is an old one that I just saw a picture of and it’s a good crowd pleaser – especially for the house wrecking entourage. It’s also really easy to do, so well worth a try…

Roast chicken, in a casserole dish, with some onions and garlic.

Start with a whole chicken (splash out and get a decent one – it makes a big difference especially with this recipe) and cut it into pieces (wings, breasts, legs and thighs), putting them all in the dish with the skin facing up. Next, take some small onions or shallots, peel and cut in half, and a few bulbs of garlic also cut in half. Now pour over half a bottle of half decent white wine (with a large spoonful of wholegrain mustard) and some good olive oil –  covering the onions, chicken and garlic. Season it very well with lots of salt and pepper and loads of tarragon.



Shove it in a hot (220 degrees) oven for 40 minutes and you’re done (for the avoidance of doubt this is before it went into the oven…)

In the meantime make whatever veg you like – this time I made mash (with milk and cream and wholegrain mustard), and steamed green beans tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and chopped garlic – my favourite…

Actually, you can see a mushroom in the pic (you can’t any more because I removed the picture from the post) – I must have added a few half way through the cooking – makes sense – give it a try…

As I think about it, I really need to get some decent lighting for these photos. And a decent camera. And maybe some photography lessons, because they really are quite crap…


Corny

So it’s less dad at the weekend, more lad at the weekend this time with a bunch of old friends on the Cornish coast.
This place is just fantastic – it’s cold but the swell is small and perfectly formed – half a day in the water is exactly what we needed to build up a decent appetite.
Straight out of the sea and Dev cooks up a fantastically simple Asian broth with chicken
Heat a litre of chicken stock (preferably home made) and pan fry a couple of chicken breasts (or salmon fillets if your prefer). In the meantime, chop up some lovely vegetables – my favourites are pak choi, spring onions, mushrooms (doesn’t matter which, but chanterelle are really good), red chillies (without the seeds unless you like it really spicy) – really whatever you like as long as it’s delicate and cooks easily in boiling water. Now add a handful of udon noodles to the stock, along with some rice wine vinegar.
When the chicken is ready (nicely browned on both sides) let it rest and then slice it thinly. Add the veggies to the stock and let them cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken and a good glug of soy sauce.
That’s it!