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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chicken Pasta Greek Style

I am one of those weird people that loves antipasto type foods, artichoke hearts, olives, feta, sun dried tomatoes, any of those sorts of foods get my taste buds going and an intense urge to pick takes control - it's a wonder any of it made it as far as the recipe. With all of my favourite things this was always going to be a winner for me - my poor husband on the other hand, hates artichokes and isn't a fan of olives, as for feta and sun dried tomatoes, he doesn't mind either way. Oh well, this is what I wanted to make, rather selfishly I suppose.... Maybe he won't notice the artichoke and olives if I don't tell him they are in there? Yeah right, the poor man spent  more time fishing out the artichokes than eating it. At least I didn't put the devils food in it as well (sweetcorn) that really would have been incredibly cruel. Although amusing for me.

Chicken Pasta Greek Style 
 
2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1/4 cup cubed butter
1 large roughly chopped onion
1 tbsp flour
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 cup crumbled fete cheese
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced Greek olives
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
 
1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Melt the butter in a large oven proof skillet, saute the onion until tender, stir in the flour and gradually add the stock, bring to a boil continuously stirring until thickened, then stir in the chicken, artichokes, cheese, tomatoes and olives.
 
2. Drain pasta, stir into the chicken mixture, grill/broil for about 5 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top, sprinkle with parsley.
 
 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sweet and Sour Lime Chicken

On my continous pursuit for new chicken recipes, I came across this one and it seemed perfect for what I had in mind. After my citrus escapade in the summer of 2010 - which I will get to in a later blog - I haven't really made anything which required citrusy flavours, unless we are talking about a few drops of lemon concentrate here and there, or a glass of orange juice. One mishap with an ingredient is no real reason to stop using it altogether, but I decided baby steps was the way forward. The original recipe said to use two limes but  I only used one. I suppose that citrus fear is still there. Like I said baby steps. To be honest I think maybe this was the right move to make, it was a very nice dish and encouraged me to be brave with the use of citrus fruits again - boy I sound like such a coward.

Sweet and Sour Lime Chicken
 
 
4 skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp honey
juice and rind of 1 lime
2 tsp tomato puree
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
serve with rice and garnish with spring onions
 
 
1. Slice the chicken into long thick strips, heat the oil in a large frying pan or skillet. Add the chicken, season and stir-fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
 
2. Mix together the honey, lime, tomato puree and soy sauce. Add to the frying pan and simmer with the chicken for a few minutes, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened. Serve on a bed of rice and garnish.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

This one is really good, the original recipe said to use foccacia bread - I know what that is, but I hadn't had any before and I couldn't find any in the German shop. I do have a few recipes for it, but if I am honest despite some recent successes, my baking is still pretty pityful. Since I had no idea what it's meant to taste like or what kind of texture it has I decided to give it a miss and opt for pita bread instead. At this point I wasn't too fussed - I could have easily choosen ciabatta bread - burger buns or wraps. I don't know which would have been a better subsitute, but what I do know is, I will be doing these with pita breads again. We really enjoy pita bread though, especially as a late night boozy snack. In such cases I normally shred some lettuce and stick it in a mixing bowl then finely chop tomato, shred either ham, turkey or chicken - sometimes if I have any smoked fish I will use that, it entirely depends what's in the fridge at the time - I used shrimp and crayfish once, that was yummy - salt and pepper and dollop of mayo and give it a good mix, in the meantime toast the pita and then stuff them full of the mixture... So for us pitas were always going to be a winner. 

Grilled Chicken Sandwich
 
2 Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
25g butter softened
zest of half a lemon
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 chopped garlic cloves
2 pitta breads
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp cream cheese
50g watercress
1/2 tomato
mixed leaf salad
 
1. Using a rolling pin batter the chicken breasts until it is about a cm thick. In a bowl mix together the butter, lemon zest, thyme, and garlic. Using the herby butter season the chicken.
 
2. Place the chicken on a foil lined tray and grill the chicken under a medium heat grill for about 5-10 minutes on each side, until golden and cooked through, use the juices and bast every now and again during cooking. Meanwhile warm the pita breads.
 
3. Split the pita's and spread mustard on the bottom half and cream cheese on the top, divide the water cress, tomato and mixed leaf  salad between the bases, and top with the chicken and the other half of the pita.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Shrimp Stirfry (Issues with being a cooking newbie)

I'm including this recipe because it is quintessential. Despite my now obvious mistakes and ingredient changes, mostly because I couldn't get what I needed. I have since discovered that I can get the ingredients - I just didn't know what I was looking for in the German shops. I do know now though, not that I am in Germany anymore. I'm not saying that Germany doesn't have the ingredients, but I am saying that I am a cooking newbie - Bok Choy and Sprouting Broccoli confuse me, add German to the mix and confused.com doesn't even begin to cover, how difficult it can be - even using google translate doesn't really help. Bok Choy for example came up as Bok Choy, only that's not what it is called in German. I wandered around that vegetable aisle for ages looking for Bok Choy and couldn't find it anywhere - so I decided to look for something similar - great, but what is similar to Bok Choy? At that point I wasn't even 100% sure, what it looked like or tasted like so how was I supposed to find something similar? I was certainly wishing that instead of assuming I would be able to get it, that I had done some research before leaving home. On this occasion I used savoy cabbage instead. I didn't give up though and on a later shopping trip I did find Bok Choy, I still didn't know what it was called, but at this point after having looked in my ingredients reference book that my husband had bought me for my birthday, I had a rough idea of what I was looking for. I had almost given up hope of finding it, when I picked this green leafy vegetable up and decided that, that was about as close as I was going to get - I got home and pulled that ingredients book out again and would you believe it, I had only gone and found the all illusive Bok Choy in German it is called Mari Gold or something like that, don't quote me on it though because I can't check. 


Shrimp Stirfry
 
11/2tsp cornflour/cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 small savoy cabbage
1lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
 
 
1. In a small bowl combine the cornflour/cornstarch, stock and soy sauce until smooth. Set aside, thinly slice the cabbage and set aside.
 
2. In a large, skillet or wok, stir-fry shrimp in 1 tbsp of the oil, until the shrimpp turn pink, remove and keep warm.
 
3. Stir-fry the garlic and the chilli flakes in the remaining oil for about a minute the add the onion, mushrooms and  cabbage stir-fry for 4 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp tender.
 
4. Stir in the cornflour/cornstarch mixture and add to the pan, bring to a boil; cook and stir for a few minutes or until thickened add the shrimp and heat through, serve with chinese noodles.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Diet Food - Broccoli and Shrimp Soup


Briefly last year, by briefly I mean one recipe. I was on a healthy eating kick - it's always my intention to eat healthily, but despite my best intentions when looking for recipes I tend to skip over the really healthy 'diet' ones. I mean diet just sounds boring, tasteless and drab - am I right? In reality this doesn't have to be the case, it's just my silly mind set. For example this next recipe is low fat low everything soup. To be honest it's not bad either - I still don't like the idea of a diet, I am not massively over weight although a few lost pounds wouldn't hurt, but I am enjoying my 'Kitchen Antics' too much to quit now.... I'm going to have to 'research' diet recipes a bit more before I take the diet plunge.

 
Broccoli and Shrimp Soup
Serves 1
 
50g broccoli
1/4 litre vegetable broth
2 tbsp sour cream
salt, cayenne pepper
50g Shrimp
Dill
 
1. Wash the broccoli and seperate into two florets, blanche in the vegetable broth for about 15 minutes. Half the broccoli and set aside. Puree the broccoli and the vegetable borth, stir in the sour cream and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Add the rest of the broccoli, the shrimp and heat through, just before serving sprinkle with dill.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tarragon and Apple Chicken

Sometimes I'll be going through my recipe books/magazine folders and something will catch my eye and I can almost taste what it will be like, or i'll see the picture with it and think it looks fantastic. I am easilly pleased if it sounds good and looks good or I can imagine the flavours teasing my taste buds, it gets included on that months menu. Chicken is a regular on our dinner table, laps at the moment to be honest, we don't have a dinner table or the room for one. I am always on the look out for new chicken recipes. I have to be careful with the timing though because I only use chicken breast. I have bought chicken thighs, although a slightly pointless exercise really - I can't eat the meat near the bone, which doesn't leave very much I can eat and an awful lot of waste.

 
Tarragon and Apple Roast Chicken
 
 
4 Chicken breast halves
salt and pepper to taste
6 tbsp olive oil
4 tarragon sprigs
10 whole garlic cloves
3 red apples, cored and quartered
2 tbsp cidar vinegar
200 ml chicken stock
 
1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C, Place the chicken into a roasting tin, season with salt and pepper and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then add the tarragon, garlic and apples and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, until Golden and cooked through, juices should run clear.
 
2. Remove the chicken from the roasting tin and keep warm, place the roasting tin over a low heat, add the vinegar and the chicken stock, bring to a boil and then pour over the chicken, Garnish with tarragon.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bacon and Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers

I've said it before and I'll say it again and again. You can't beat a good burger, I love them and the more the better, cheese, bacon, mushrooms, jalapenos, yummy! I stack mine - gunk dripping down your elbows, unless you have managed to adopted the Guy Fieri method of eating a burger? Melted cheese and mayo dripping down your chin and onto your top are all perfect indications of a perfect burger (in my opinion) and you can't forget your fully loaded filling falling out of the back of your burger and onto your palms and then needing to be poked back in.

I would certainly avoid eating this sort of burger in public - it would be bound to turn out rather messy and embarassing experience - however at home, when the doors are locked and the curtains are drawn what do you have to lose? Dignity? I think not - so get in that kitchen and make your messy burger as tall as you can possibly manage to eat. Cram it full of all your favourite things.


Bacon and Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers
 
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup bacon bits
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp water
1tbsp dijon mustard
4 wholewheat hambuger rolls split
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 romaine leaves
1 medium tomato, sliced
 
1. Combine the cream cheese, blue cheese and bacon bits, make 8 thin burgers out of the beef, divide the cream chesse mixture onto the middle of four of the burgers, and top with the remaining burgers, press the edges to seal the burgers. Mix together the garlic powder, salt and pepper and use to season the tops of the burgers.
 
2. Grill the burgers for about 5-7 minutes on each side or until the thermometer read 160F and the juices run clear.
 
3. While the burgers are cooking, in a large skillet, saute the mushrooms, until they are tender, and stir in the water and mustard.
 
4. Serve the burgers on the buns, top with mayonnaise, romaine, tomato and mushrooom mixture.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Little Magazine Gem - Mushroom Ragot with Spatzle

Over the years I have collected hundreds of magazine recipes, just over a year ago now I put them all in those plastic sleeves, seperated them into chapters and filed them. I then indexed each recipe, written totally by hand. I get some freaky satisfaction out of writting by hand, just as each of my blogs is first carefully thought out and written by hand first, then typed up, saved and proof read (normally, not always) before being posted. This is a recipe which came out of one of my German magazines called "Meine Famillie und Ich" I think they have changed the name of the magazine now to Genuss but I'm not 100% sure on that one. 


Mushroom Ragout with Spatzle
 
500g mixed mushrooms
500g button mushrooms
500g spatzle
50g onion
2 tbsp olive oil
bacon bits
2 tbsp creme fraiche
3 tbsp parsley
3 garlic cloves
pepper
 
1. Peel and finely chop the onion and the garlic,  then gently saute them with the bacon bits.
 
2. Add all the mushrooms and saute for a further 10 minutes then season with pepper, parsley and creme fraiche.
 
3.Cook the spatzle for about 3 minutes in boiling water and serve with the ragout. 

Friday lazy evening sandwich..... Open tuna melt variation

Another Friday sandwich recipe, I love these because I don't feel hugely guilty when I eat them and they take such little effort to make, it's shameless but absolutely perfect for those lazy Friday afternoons after a busy week when all you really want to do is sit and do nothing infront of the T.V - 20 minutes and your supper is ready. Not that I am encouraging alcohol drinking, but it happens to be perfect pre-drinks food.

 
Open Tuna Melts
 
black olive ciabatta
400g tuna in brine
3 tbsp rinsed capers
1/2 lemon
5 tbsp flat leafed parsley
black pepper
6 tbsp mayonnaise
150g grated cheese
 
1. Heat the ready to bake ciabatta, as per package instructions. In a large in mixing bowl place the tuna, capers, zest and juice of the lemon and the parsley, season with black pepper and stir in the mayonnaise.
 
2. Preheat your grill to a medium setting, split the warmed loaf horizontally and then in half, top each 1/4 with the tuna and grated cheese and bake under the grill for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbling and golden. Serve with a crisp green salad.
 

The Guilty Pleasure Of Stuffed Mushrooms

I have mentioned before that we love stuffed mushrooms, a guilty pleasure, at it's best, especially these. I realise that not everyone likes blue cheese and it could quite easily be replaed with somekind of other cheese, personally if I was to replace the blue cheese I would you some equally as strong tasting cheese, but as I've said before, cooking is all about personal taste. There is no point using a strong cheese, like epoisses de bourgogne which is a French soft cheese like brie but with an intense pungent spicy aroma, which I find intensifies when melted (that could just be me) if  you don't like that, you could use a milder brie type cheese such as Brillat-Savarin which is also a French cheese with a very high fat content, it's creamy and soft.. If you don't like the rind you can always scoop out that yummy middle, or if brie totally isn't your gig you could use something like grated/shredded havarti instead, it's sweet, mellow and creamy. I'm certain whatever cheese you decide to use it will be totally delicious.

These can be served as an appetiser or as a main dish with large portobellos instead with a salad and crusty warm bread. The choices are limitless - so go wild and do what you want.

 
Blue Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
 
 
12 large fresh mushrooms
1/2 tub of chive and onion cream cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 spring onions/scallions
1 minced garlic clove
1/3 cup bacon bits, divided
 
1. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and discard the stems (Or save them for something else). In a bowl combine the cream cheese, blue cheese, onions and garlic and just under 1/2 of the bacon bits, a third of your 1/3 cup, then stuff all your mushroom caps with about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture.
 
2. Place the mushrooms caps on a greased baking pan, sprinkle with the remaining bacon bits, and bake uncovered at 375F/190C. for about 20 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.
 
Alternatively you could use a couple of portobello mushrooms and top with grated cheese.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wild Mushroom Pie

This is another magazine recipe, at the time I made this I had only just broken my favourite pie dish that I had bought in America, it had broken into pieces while it was in the oven. I hadn't gotten round to buying a new one at this point. I have since bought a set of three retro looking dishes, white, metal with a thin blue trim, I love them to bits, and can't wait for them to get that naturally battered look that comes with age. I also bought the ceramic pie beans so I can blind bake properly.

So at the time of making this dish, I was using a pyrex dish for my pies and some rice to blind bake, in fairness the rice did work. It was far from perfect but I liked the quirkiness of it, I am not much of a conformist, I like the ideas I get from other people and all of my recipes, but I also like the way I do things too much to change that much, I would like to be able to present my food better, half my photo's don't even come close to giving my dishes justice.
My pies had a funny shape at this point but that didn't negate from the taste at all.



Cheese, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Pie
 
3 Garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp. Canola oil
4 bacon rashers/strips cut into 1/2" pieces
1lb Sliced assorted mushrooms
1/2 finely chopped onion
3 eggs
8oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
shortcrust pastry, 125g plain flour, 60g butter, 2 tbsp water or store bought pie crust
110g cheddar cheese
2tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp paprika
 
1. Wrap the garlic with a drizzle of the oil in a double layer of tin foil, bake in the oven at 425F/220C for 15-20 minutes, until softened. Allow to cool.
 
 
2. In a large skillet/frying pan, cook the bacon until it's crisp, then drain on paper towels. Keeping 2 tsp of the remaining fat in the frying pan. Use the fat to saute the mushrooms and onions, until tender.
 
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until foamy, add softened cream cheese, and beat together. Stir in the salt, pepper, mushroom mixture and the garlic.
 
4. Line a fluted pie dish with the pastry, neatly trimming the edges, place in the cheddar cheese, bacon and the egg mixture over the top, sprinkle with the parmesan and paprika.
 
5. Bake for about 30 minutes at 375F/190C, until golden on top and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean, allow to rest for a little while before serving. 
 


Monday, March 4, 2013

Pan Fried Scallops

We went shopping in our local store and Glen is normally in charge of the frozen fish section, fresh fish off the fish counter is actually frozen first - so although bought off the fish counter it's not really fresh at all. Occasionally depending on what I am doing I will buy frozen fish off the fish counter (I had to ask for the frozen stuff especially). I begruged doing it though because frozen fish weighs more and a I pay more for water retention, but needs must I suppose. Anyway with my anal retentive ways and my lists upon lists of ingredients for recipes I want to make, it rarely leaves much room for Glen to make much choice, for what he wants for dinner. By letting him loose in the fish section he gets some say and I get a challenge of a random ingredient to work with - this is what I did with the scallops he picked up.

I got this recipe out of Jamie Olivers, 30 minute meals (excellent book) written much better than I have posted. He's done it in order of what to do when to get it on the table in 30 minutes! He also added a vegetable side to this but I just boiled some broccoli to go with it! I highly recommend all his books!

Pan Fried Scallops with Chilli Rice
Rice
1/2 mug of rice
small spring onions/scallions
2 eggs
1tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 lemon
sweet chili sauce
Scallops
200g fresh scallops, shelled and trimmed
olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lemon
Chinese five spice
sesame oil
1/4 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
runny honey
2  knobs butter
1. Put the rice into a small saucepan with a couple of pinches of salt and with the same mug you used to measure the rice, pour a whole mug of boiling water onto the rice. Put the lid on the saucepan and cook the rice. It should take about 10 minutes.
2. Finely slice the spring onions/scallions and put into a mixing bowl, add the eggs, soy sauce and sesame oil, whisk. Fluff the rice and then add the egg mixture. Add the lemon juice, and a little pepper, replace the lid and turn down the heat to the lowest setting and leave for a further 5 minutes.
3. Score crosses on top the scallops about half way through, drizzle over some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, grated lemon zest and the chinese five spice, finally pour a little sesame oil over the top and gently toss to coat the scallops. Set to one side.
4. Put a skillet on the highest heat and leave it to get really, hot. Now add the olive oil and quickly add the scallops scored side down, leave them for 2-3 minutes, shake the pan a little every now and again. Once they are golden brown on the bottom, quickly turn them over, they only need about 30 seconds now, so quickly scatter the garlic and chilli, squeeze over the lemon juice, a little honey, and the butter then remove from the heat.
5. Pour a healthy amount of sweet chilli sauce over the rice, stir and serve with the scallops on top. 



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Raviloi

I love fresh raviloi.I buy it in the store because I haven't gotten round to attempting, to make my own, and I am not sure my husband would stretch for a pasta gadget either, it could be one of those gadgets you buy and use once, for that reason all my buys are thought out and considered carefully. So if anyone is wondering what to get me for my birthday, mother, hint, hint, wink, wink! Anyway this is one of those pasta dishes which begs for seconds. Eat it on it's own or make it a little posher with a crisp green leafed salad and some lovely hot crusty bread. However you decide to eat it, it won't let you down.

 
Lovely Ravioli
 
1 packet ravioli
1 cup baby portobello mushrooms
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 slices of proscuitto or similar ham
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh chopped sage
1 cup single cream
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
 
1. Cook the pasta according the package directions, in the meantime in a large skillet, saute the mushrooms, onion and proscuitto in oil until the vegetables are tender. Add the sage, cook for a minute longer then stir in the cream. Bring to a boil over a medium heat simmer, for about 10 minutes until it has thickened slightly.
 
2. Stir in the peas, cheese salt and papper, and heat through. Drain the pasta and then toss with the sauce making sure to get a good even coating over the pasta.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lemony Mushroom Chicken

This is a good chicken recipe for when guests are coming for dinner, in my opinion, it's easy to make and doesn't take too long. It's a little bit special without being too showy. Perfect for a midweek invite, with a bottle of chardonnay? Now don't get me wrong, I am no wine connoisseur and I don't like chardonnay - much more of a reisling girl myself, a German wine from the Rhein region, I much prefer the semi-sweet flowery, fruity aroma'd wine, again this is my choice and I'd drink it with anything, the ignoramus that I am. Nope in all honesty I used google and my 'dated' wine book, which is actually a folder, but not a bad read, to find out what kind of wine would work best with this dish. Chardonnay was the answer, headache juice for me.

 
Lemony Mushroom Chicken
 
 
1 cup of plain flour (all-purpose)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp dried basil
1tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic glove finely minced
4 chicken breast halves
1/2 cup butter
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1cup (250ml) chicken broth
1/4 cup (about 65ml) white wine
Juice of one lemon plus the zest
1tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2tbsp capers
 
1. In a bowl combine the first seven ingredients, then roll your chicken breasts in the mixture, using your hands pat off any excess mixture.
 
2. In a large skillet/frying pan (it needs a lid as you are going to cover it later) melt the butter over a medium heat and saute the chicken for about 10 minutes, you want it so that it is no longer translucent.
 
3. In another bowl mix together the mushroom soup, broth, wine and the lemon juice and then pour over the chicken, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink. Garnish with the parsley, capers and lemon zest.