Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

Summer holidays are finally over, children back at school and reality sets in that the beach will become a weekend activity for the next few weeks whilst the September sun still entices us with hot, summer days and balmy evenings.

It’s too hot to turn the oven on and no one fancies heavy, comforting, autumnal fare just yet but just because we’ve changed our spades for satchels and sandals for suits doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a bit more sunshine in the kitchen.

The BBQ grill is still our friend and these tangy, spicy jerk chicken and pineapple skewers are the ideal thing to make and just as easy to eat!!

Jerk seasoning, a spicy blend of ingredients such as chillies, thyme, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg originates from Jamaica and you can make it as hot as you can take, from merely hot to incendiary. If you want to make the recipe from scratch you can (jerk mix) or just buy a Jerk Seasoning spice mix from the shops. Whatever suits you.

Ingredients – all quantities given for 1 chicken breast per person

1 chicken breast per person

1 small pineapple cut into large chunks or 1/2 tub of fresh pineapple chunks

1/2 tsp of jerk seasoning

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp of olive oil

Method

1st: Cut the chicken breast into chunks. Place in a bowl.

2nd: Mix the jerk seasoning, lime juice & olive oil and pour over the chicken breast chunks. Make sure the chicken is coated in the marinade and leave to marinate for anything from 30mins to overnight.

3rd: Light the BBQ and prepare the chicken skewers. Once the coals are glowing white hot put the skewers on the grill and allow to colour before turning over.

4th: Serve with Creole-style rice and black beans, a sprinkling of coriander leaves and wedges of lime to squeeze over.

The juicy pineapple has a cooling effect on the spicy jerk chicken and the combination of sweet and spicy plays with the taste buds. If you’re preparing this for children or as part of a family dinner, make individual skewers hotter with a few drops of Tabasco sauce or a shower of dried chilli flakes.

Any leftovers can be eaten cold the following day with more Creole-style rice and green leaves.

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Over the past few days it has been impossible to go to sleep comfortably due to the searing heat and high temperatures. Sitting, sweltering in humid, airless evenings has been unbearable. The thought of having to turn an oven on and subsequently heat up the house is quite frankly the last thing I’d want to do. ¬†Alas, even the ubiquitous summer staple; the BBQ, is making me want to jettison off to cooler parts. But one must eat and one must eat well.

So inspired by the shimmering evening heat and the colour of summer, I offer you a simple yet stunning 2 course supper that bring all the colours and smells of the souk to your doorstep: cinnamon and lemon chicken pilaf followed by a refreshing lemon syllabub.

IMG_3513Cinnamon and lemon chicken pilaf

Pilaf, from Persian origins, is basically a rice dish with any vegetables, meat or shellfish added. When cooking anything Middle-Eastern, I cannot avoid adding toasted nuts to the dish, nor do I want to, as this adds to the resiny earthiness of the dish as well as a touch of exoticism.  Feel free to add dry fruits or even rose petals as this can only enhance its intended decadence.

The beautiful aromas and earthy colours make everything golden; as if a Sultan were to be joining you for dinner.

1st: Marinade chicken pieces (I used breast but have used boneless thighs before) in Greek yogurt, the juice of a lemon and a teaspoon of cinnamon (or alternative aromatics e.g. cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, mixed spice) for one hour or longer.

2nd: Prepare your chicken stock (add a glug of rosewater) with saffron strands to relinquish their warm ochre dye.

3rd: After an hour, drain the excess marinade off the chicken pieces and fry in batches to colour them.  Once all the chicken is fried set aside and tend to the rice.

4th: I cook rice using the 2:1 method. 2 parts warm stock: 1 part basmati rice. Toss a couple of cardamon pods into the stock to release their spicy aromas as well as a good squeeze of lemon juice.

5th: In a dry pan, fry pistachios, flaked almonds and pine nuts until golden.

6th: Once the rice is cooked, mix everything together with freshly chopped parsley.  I usually do this in the large frying pan I used to fry the chicken in so that all the charred-black marinade bits around the pan make their way into the final dish.

Lemon syllabub

20130824-011437.jpgA Tudor creation, the syllabub is a cloud-light yet aromatic dessert that is more a visual delight than a full blown pudding.

Very easy to make (no cooking; merely pouring and whisking)

And can be made with several flavour combinations. Basically think of it as scented cream that occupies a notional territory between solid and liquid:

1st: Whisk a 254ml tub of cream with 4 tablespoons of icing sugar until it forms soft peaks.

2nd: Add a splosh (more if you want!) of limoncello liqueur and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Fold this in gently, try not to make the cream any thicker.

3rd: Add a couple of tablespoons of lemon curd and ripple this in with the handle of a spoon.

4th: In a dry pan, fry flaked almonds with icing sugar until golden.

5th: Serve in chilled glasses, sprinkled with the flaked almonds.  Provide biscotti or alternative biccies to scoop the cool cream into your mouth!

Not even, Sheharezade, would be able to pull Aladdin away from the table with this feast!

Enjoy.

As I savour the last bite of my Pesto Chicken Quesadilla with its melted cheese oozing around white chicken breast pieces, I look back at an inspired menu where the leftovers played the starring role.

After Sunday’s lamb roast I could not face red meat again on Monday. ¬†There is something about lamb that even though delicious at the time of consumption has a lingering fatty richness that can put me off eating red meat again too soon.

“So still needing to satisfy my carnivore cravings it was chicken that ticked all the boxes.”

I bought two large chicken breasts and asked my butcher to slice them into thin fillets as I was planning on coating them in breadcrumbs and frying them. ¬†There is nothing more rapturous than a pile of golden crisp gallina empanada (scalloped chicken) dipped in mayonnaise or dare I say it again – Chilli jam! ¬†But I digress…

…So with 0.5Kg of chicken fillets (way too much for one meal) I decided to alternatively make my own pesto sauce and have Italian-influenced pesto chicken.

Pesto Chicken

Into a food processor add toasted pine nuts, the juice and zest of a lemon, a chunk of parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, basil leaves and olive oil.  Blitz until you form a smooth paste.  Alternatively use a jar of shop bought pesto!

Place the chicken fillets into an oven dish and pour the pesto over.  Cook in an oven until cooked through and golden.

Monday dinner – Pesto Chicken with potatoes and vegetables.

Tuesday lunch – leftover Pesto Chicken with cauliflower and green beens.

Wednesday lunch – leftover Pesto Chicken wrap

Thursday dinner – leftover Pesto Chicken Quesadillas

Quesadillas

1st: Place a flour tortilla in a dry frying pan.

2nd: Add grated cheese to cover the tortilla.

3rd: Chop the leftover, cooked chicken breasts and add spread over the tortilla.

4th: Just because I had in the cupboard, I also added piquillo peppers before placing the tortilla lid and turning the quesadilla over.

Please excuse the globe trotting ¬†from Italy to Mexico but I couldn’t resist it

Andele! Andele! Arriba! Arriba! Epa! Epa! Epa! Yeehaw!

Enjoy