Monthly Archives: November 2010

Moroccan spiced chicken with carrots & chickpeas

A favourite with SavvyCook clients because it’s an easy to prepare, fragrant and satisfying meal.

Chicken is an excellent source of protein and provides useful amounts of B vitamins, particularly B1 and niacin. Carrots are a valuable source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene which gives carrots their bright orange colour. Unlike most vegetables, which are more nutritious when eaten raw, carrots have more nutritional value when cooked. Cooking breaks down the tough cell walls, enabling the beta-carotene to be more easily absorbed and converted into vitamin A.

Nutritional analysis

Energy

(kcal)

Protein

(g)

Fat

(g)

Of which saturates

(g)

Carbo-

hydrate (g)

Of which  sugars (g) Fibre

(g)

Sodium

(mg)

Salt

(g)

516   38  9  1  73  10  5  160  0.4

Left-over roast chicken or lamb works really well too in this recipe too: just add along with the tomatoes and carrots at step 4.

Serves 4

This is what you need:

1 onion, sliced into 8 half moons

1 clove of garlic, chopped finely

1 tbsp olive oil

4 carrots, topped, tailed and thickly sliced

3 tsp Ras El Hanout spice mix

400g can chopped tomatoes

400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

300ml water

8 chicken thighs, each cut into half

small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

This is what you do:

  1. heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat
  2. add the onion and garlic and sweat for 5 minutes
  3. increase the heat, add the chicken and spice mix and fry until the chicken pieces are lightly browned
  4. add the tomatoes and carrots and pour in the water
  5. bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes, covered
  6. in the meantime, prepare the bulghur wheat according instructions on the packet
  7. when ready to serve, check the seasoning, stir in the coriander and serve with bulghur wheat

Enjoy – and let me know what you think!

Monique

 

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Dinner menu w/c 29th of November

Monday

Stir-fried chilli tofu, sweet potato and broccoli in coconut noodle broth

Tuesday

Griddled salmon fillets with spicy lentils, wilted spinach and minty yoghurt

Wednesday

Baked buttermilk chicken with a herb crust, honey & mustard sauce, spring onion mash

Thursday

Ricotta & mushroom cannelloni, chunky tomato sauce, rocket & Parmesan salad

Friday

Aromatic tilapia baked on curried leeks, served with basmati rice and toasted almonds

Saturday

Harissa chicken thighs, baked butternut squash and Savoy cabbage

Sunday

Griddled lamb leg steaks with roast red onion and tomato bulghur wheat

A delicious way of preparing … Brussels sprouts

Let’s be honest:

Tt can be difficult to get charged up about cruciferous vegetables

BROCCOLI, CAULIFLOWER, CURLY KALE, CAVOLO NERO, CABBAGE, GREENS and even much less BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Which is a shame because vegetables of the Brassica family, particularly when prepared with care, are packed with antioxidants and typically contain a powerful arsenal of cancer-prevention compounds.

Cruciferous vegetables contain substances called sulphurophanes, which have been shown to help remove liver toxins and support the immune system.

And even if you enjoy eating these vegetables, it can be even tougher to get other people excited about them!

I understand that, so …

Here is a different, easy and delicious way of preparing nutrient rich Brussels sprouts.

Look for sprouts that are on the small side and tightly closed.

Instead of Parmesan you can use the very similar light, dry + salty Pecorino or choose a heavier cheese such as a  mature Cheddar or Gouda.

Golden-crusted Brussels sprouts

Serves 2 -3

This is what you need:

35og sprouts, ends trimmed, loose outer leaves removed

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp grated Parmesan

finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon

sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

This is what you do:

  1. cut the sprouts in half from stem to top
  2. heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat
  3. place the sprouts, cut side down, in the pan
  4. sprinkle with pepper and salt (go easy with the salt – the cheese is already quite salty)
  5. cook for 4 minutes or until the bottoms of the sprouts are starting to brown and the sprouts are almost tender
  6. check this by tasting one; if they are still a bit hard, cover the pan with a lid and given the sprouts another minute or so
  7. turn up the heat
  8. sprinkle over the cheese and shake the pan to cover the sprouts in the cheese
  9. grate over the lemon zest and serve immediately

I think Brussels sprouts done this way are delicious … but let me know what you think.

If I can convert one sprout hater into a sprout lover this season I’ll be happy!

Bon appetit,

Monique x

Frangipane quince tarlets

 
Quinces & quince meat

LOVE quinces!

Partly because they are such an ancient fruit, partly because they are pretty hard to get hold of (they are really only around in November) which makes them a much-anticipated treat.

And then their scent is divine: a mixture of honey, musk and roses. When I am able to buy quinces, the first thing I do is fill a large bowl with them and just enjoy their colour and fragrance for a week or so.

Quinces do need quite a bit of work: their acidic, hard flesh needs to be cooked long and slowly until the pale flesh takes on a pinky hue. 

Luckily, because they are so perfumed you don’t need to do anything complicated with them. Poach them like pears, only longer.  Just add a splash of water and dollop of honey to peeled, cored and quartered quinces, with a pinch of cinnamon if you like.

The flavour of cooked quince is powerful enough to take on rosemary, cinnamon, cloves even star anise, bay and even saffron.

Frangipane quince tartlets

 

For the recipe below you want a dry-ish compote with some of the quinces poached to a pulp and some still retaining their shape so you can chop the flesh up roughly.

The frangipane quince tartlets I made are inspired by a quince Bakewell tart I spotted in Lawson’s delicatessen www.lawsonsdelicatessen.co.uk  in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, a few weeks ago.

I have since also come across a recipe by Sam & Sam Clarke, chef-owners of Moro www.moro.co.uk , for Tarta de Santiago which reads like a Spanish version of the Bakewell tart made with membrillo (quince paste).

These frangipane quince tartlets are a delicious, almondy mouthfuls. Their butteriness balanced by the slightly astringent quince compote.

I find the texture very pleasing too: crunchy almonds, soft frangipane and the soft, slightly grainy texture of the quinces.

And not too much pastry which can feel like a “sandy mouthful”: the balance between filling, topping and pastry shell is just right.

I like this ratio of pastry shell-filling-topping

The recipe below makes about 20-24 tartlets. You will 2 x 12-hole, non-stick jam-tart tins.

Make your own short crust pastry or take a short-cut. You can buy very decent ready-made pastry. Look out for “all-butter”: Dorset Pastry’s organic short crust pastry is good as is Waitrose’s own label short crust pastry sheets (no rolling out necessary).

To make frangipane quince pies for Christmas: simply replace the filling with 1/2 mince meat and 1/2 poached, very finely chopped quinces. Really delicious, much fruitier and with a more interesting texture I think, they beat traditional mince pies hands down!

Ready for the oven

This is what you need:

275g short crust pastry

100g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

100g ground almonds

25g plain flour

1 large egg

1 tbsp brandy

chopped, poached, cooled flesh of about 3-4 medium quinces (see above)

4 tbsp flaked, toasted almonds

icing sugar to dust

This is what you do:

  1. pre-heat the oven to 180C
  2. roll out the pasty on a very lightly floured surface until quite thin
  3. using a pastry cutter (or glass/cup) cut out thin rounds marginally larger than the holes in the baking tin
  4. press a round very  gently into each hole then put the tins in the fridge for 30 minutes; this helps to “relax” the pastry and stops it from shrinking in the oven
  5. for the frangipane, beat together the butter and sugar until pale, then gradually add the ground almonds, mix in the flour, followed by the egg and finally the brandy
  6. 3/4 fill the pasty cases with poached quince; I find this easiest with two teaspoons where I use one spoon to scoop up the quince and the other to scrape the fruit into the pasty case
  7. spoon a heaped teaspoon of frangipane over the top of each one
  8. sprinkle with the toasted, flaked almonds
  9. bake for 25 minutes until slightly puffed and golden brown
  10. cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack
  11. dust with icing sugar before serving if you like

18 little beauties minus 1 ... (quality control!)

Enjoy – really good in the afternoon with a strong cup of Oolong tea or glass of chilled sweet wine! 

Monique x

 

Those Chianti baked meatballs

This is a fabulous dish: easy to make, satisfying and economical too. A small amount of good quality minced beef goes a long way.

And … it’ll make the kitchen smell gorgeous!

One for the weekend.

If you are feeding kids, go easy on the chilli. The alcohol in the wine evaporates during cooking and just gives a lovely deep flavour to the tomato sauce.

Serve with pasta, soft polenta or rice and a nice green salad.

One of  the favourite meals with SavvyCook clients – and rightly so!

Lean beef is a great source of easily absorbed iron. Iron is needed to keep the blood healthy and oxygenated and to prevent iron-deficiency anaemia. Beef is also a great source of protein. Tinned tomatoes are an excellent source of an antioxidant called lycopene, cooking the tomatoes means the lycopene is released from the tomato cells and more easily absorbed. Lycopene can help protect against eye disease and cancer. The pasta, rice or polenta provide complex carbohydrates needed for energy.

Nutritional analysis

Energy

(kcal)

Protein

(g)

Fat

(g)

Of which saturates

(g)

Carbo-

hydrate (g)

Of which  sugars (g) Fibre

(g)

Sodium

(mg)

Salt

(g)

 

466

 

33

 

9

 

2.7

 

68

 

8

 

4

 

144

 

0.3

The quantities below serve 2, so the recipe is easy to scale up if you arte feeding more eaters.

This is what you  need:

300g minced beef (I use lean Aberdeen Angus)

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 shallot or 1/2 onion finely chopped

5 black olives, stone removed + finely chopped

3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

1 tsp dried thyme

3 tbsp breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1/2 tsp ground paprika

1  (400g) tin of chopped tomatoes

half a glass (125ml) of Chianti (or other red wine)

1/2  tbsp olive oil

This is what you do:

  1. pre-heat the oven to 200C
  2. in a large bowl, mix the mince with all the other ingredients apart from the chopped tomatoes and wine
  3. coat a baking tray with the olive oil
  4. divide the mixture into 10-12 portions and roll into small balls
  5. place the meatballs in the baking tray and gently roll around in the oil until evenly coated
  6. bake for 10 minutes
  7. add the Chianti and return to the oven for another 10 minutes
  8. add the chopped tomatoes and bake for 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and thickened
  9. sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve

I’m thinking “yum” as I write. Let me know if you agree.

Bon appetit!

Monique

Supper menu w/c 22nd of November

Monday

Creamy risotto style barley with watercress, orange zest & toasted walnuts, green salad

Tuesday

Smoked haddock gratin with wilted spinach & Charlotte potatoes

Wednesday

Moroccan spiced chicken with chickpeas and carrots, served with bulghur wheat

Thursday

Butternut squash, tomato and spinach curry, wholegrain basmati rice & toasted almonds

Friday

Italian baked fish fillets with tomatoes, potatoes and olives, served with tenderstem broccoli

Saturday

Gnocchi alla Romana with sun-dried tomatoes, rocket salad

Sunday

Chinese style noodles with stir-fried lamb, oyster mushrooms, sugar snap peas and sesame seeds

Suppers w/c 15 November

Monday

Fragrant chickpea & spinach curry, basmati rice with toasted almonds

Tuesday

Rose harissa baked salmon fillets, Persian spiced pilaf, sugar snap peas and minted yoghurt

Wednesday

Coconut chicken with chilli & thyme roasted butternut squash, tenderstem broccoli

Thursday

Chianti baked beef steak meatballs with penne, griddled courgette + Parmesan salad

Friday

Pollack fillets baked with a spicy tomato sauce, pumpkin and rice

Saturday

Griddled chicken with lemony lentils and green beans

Sunday

Trout fillets baked on rosemary roast potatoes, beetroot salad with walnut-horseradish creme fraiche