Chicken Bouillabaise

Serves: 4

This is a classic, classic French dish and this version is superb.

It is from my mother and it is one I had as a child and have then cooked as an adult.

It is pretty impossible not to love and served with the aioli-buttered toasts and the boiled baby potatoes, this is a warm, rich dinner in.

I sometimes substitute chicken thigh for a jointed chicken, though this isn’t a substitute you should make in this instance. Cutting the chicken off the bone is half the romance of the dish, if that can in anyway be a romantic thing.

If you’re after a French theme, you can do a whole lot worse than a Bouillabaise.

Get jointing.

Ingredients

1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup chopped fennel
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups peeled and finely chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup Pernod (we used Ouzo)
6 sprigs thyme
Sea salt
Good pinch of cayenne
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp saffron threads
Chicken pieces from jointed chicken (including skin)
Olive oil
Baby potatoes, boiled
Toasted baguette slices
Aioli

Method

  1. Bring the stock to a simmer, remove from the heat, add the saffron and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, auté the chicken in a little olive oil over a medium heat until golden all over; remove and set aside.
  3. Pour off the fat, lower the heat and sauté the leeks, fennel and garlic until soft. Add the stock and saffron and deglaze the pan.
  4. Add the tomatoes, wine, Pernod and thyme, bring to a fast simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan together with any juices and simmer for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Lower the heat, season with salt and cayenne; add a little olive oil.
  7. Serve with the potatoes, baguette slices and aioli.

Nigella’s Chocolate Cloud Cake

Serves: 8

I haven’t watched much Nigella, though the impression I get from the snippets I have seen is that when it comes to desserts, Nigella is all in.

Melted chocolate being poured into more chocolate, whipped cream being folded into egg yolks, zoom in, zoom out, chocolate.

This cake therefore perfectly embodies Nigella and it really couldn’t be any easier a dessert, qualified for a dinner party.

Cook the base in the afternoon, whip the cream and refrigerate and prep just when you’re ready to serve.

Ingredients

250gm dark chocolate
125gm unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs, 2 whole, 4 separated
175gm caster sugar
500ml cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cocoa powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c and butter and line a 23cm springform pan with paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate and stir through the butter until it melts.
  3. Beat the two whole eggs and 4 yolks with 75gm of the caster sugar and then gradually add the chocolate mixture.
  4. Beat the 4 egg whites until foamy and then gradually add the remaining 100gm of sugar and continue beating until the whites hold their shape but are not too stiff.
  5. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the cake has risen and cracked and the top is no longer wobbly.
  6. Beat the cream until soft and then add rather vanilla and continue beating until the cream is firm but not stiff.
  7. Fill the crater of the cake with the cream and then dust the top with cocoa powder.

Matt Preston’s World’s Best Rissoles

Serves: 4

I get the feeling that rissoles are back in vogue.

And thank you for that!

They still have the stigma of being a daggy, lazy dinner – left behind in the wave of MasterChef and salmon-three-ways – though it is the nostalgia and honesty of the rissole that now makes it on trend.

These Matt Preston rissoles are really good and served with a puréed mash and buttered peas, they closed off a weekend of cooking perfectly.

For lunch, Nat made Thomas Keller’s Cauliflower Panna Cotta with an Oyster Jelly and Bulgar Caviar; the night before, we made handmade noodles for a fusion Chinese/Middle Eastern dish.

Which is exactly why we needed these rissoles and why rissoles are what you need to hold back the endless waves of culinary complexity and sous videing. Enough is enough!

Enjoy.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 zucchini, coarsely grated
800gm lamb mince
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 heaped tbsp of whatever European herbs you have: basil, oregano, parsley, coriander, tarragon or majoram, though not sage or mint
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 egg
Sea salty and freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup mint jelly
2 tbsp malt vinegar (we used black vinegar)
Mash (into which we mixed two finely chopped raw French onions)
Buttered peas

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat; add the onions, carrot and zucchini, and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until everything softens. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add the mince, tomato sauce, herbs, oats and egg to the vegetable mixture and season. Mix well using your (clean) hands until well combined. Shape into 12 rissoles.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add the rissoles in batches a cook for 5 minutes each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add the mint jelly and vinegar to the pan and stir over a medium heat until the jelly melts. Return the rissoles and toss in the liquid for 2 minutes until coasted, sticky and glossy.
  5. Serve with mash and peas.

(Simple) Greek Chicken Gyros

(Simple) Greek Chicken Gyros

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a great lunch, so simple, fresh and healthy.

Marinate the chicken overnight and heat up the grill; a glass of cold white and a bowl of the salad on the side. By the pool, the boys loved it; everyone loved it.

A totally no-complaints lunch.

In fact, whatever the opposite of no-complaints is.

Ingredients

1 kg chicken breast fillets cut into strips
(Toasted) pita bread

Marinade

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp low fat Greek yoghurt
1 ½ tbsp dried oregano

Tzatziki

2 Lebanese cucumbers
2 cups low fat Greek yoghurt
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salad

3 tomatoes diced
3 Lebanese cucumbers, diced
½ red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves roughly chopped

Method

  1. Mix the marinade in a bowl, combine with the chicken in a ziplock bag and marinate for 2 – 24 hours.
  2. Heat your grill/BBQ over a high heat, thread the chicken on skewers, drizzle with a little oil and grill-until cooked.
    Toast the pita bread on the grill, basted with some oil.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the tzatziki ingredients in a bowl and the salad ingredients in another bowl.
  4. To serve, place chicken and salad in the center of the pita bread, top with the tzatziki and roll up tightly.

Sambhar (Indian lentil-stew)

Sambhar (Indian lentil-stew)

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a very popular Southern Indian lentil-stew, especially as an accompaniment to dosai.

It is dead easy to prepare (once you have prepared your Sambhar powder), incredibly healthy and a great way to use up the lentils you probably have left over from winter soups.

Let it simmer and double the recipe so you have plenty leftover for lunch.

Yum.

Ingredients

100gm Yellow lentils or Tour Dal
¼ tsp Turmeric
1 cup Tomato puree (passata)
1 medium-size onion, diced
1 tbsp Sambhar powder*
¼ tbsp Tamarind concentrate
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Salt to taste

*Sambhar powder (makes plenty; stores for 6-months)

1 ½ cups coriander seeds
1 cup dried red chillis, broken into small pieces
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ inch cinnamon stick
⅓ cup unsweetened dried coconut, shredded
¼ cup firmly packed fresh curry leaves
1 tsp asafoetida powder**

Method

For the Sambhar

  1. Cook the lentils with the turmeric in approximately 2 litres of water until soft and mushy.
  2. Add the tomatoes and onions and cook until they are soft.
  3. Add the Sambhar powder, tamarind concentrate, fresh curry leaves and salt to taste and bring to the boil. Simmer for a bit.
  4. Check the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.

Sambhar powder

  1. Heat small saucepan over low heat. Separately dry-roast coriander, chilli peppers, fenugreek, mustard, cumin and cinnamon until fragrant and only lightly coloured. Place in a bowl.
  2. Toast coconut in pan, stirring, until lightly browned. Add to spices.
  3. Dry-roast curry leaves, tossing often, until crisp. Add to spices with asafoetida. Mix well and let cool.
  4. Place mixture in airtight container until ready to use. (Will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.) Just before using, grind to a powder in spice grinder and use as recipe indicates.

** Enhances colour and flavour and settles the stomach; unless you have it or feel inclined to get it, you can live without.

(Not) Butter chicken

(Not) Butter chicken

Serves: 4

The last ‘generic’ curry I I typed up, I commented that I had always steered clear of the Indian take-away favourites – Rogan Josh, Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken – because, well, they’re the sold-out, hardly Indian curries. 

In fact, butter chicken was the worst of the lot.

Often a flavourless, nuclear yellow/orange goop, I literally only entertain it because the boys will eat it: validation that it must be bland. (Sorry boys).

So by typing this up, you must have guessed it.

This is a seriously good curry. A seriously good, rich, flavoursome, moorish butter chicken, so much so, that you’d say it isn’t butter chicken.

So maybe after-all I haven’t cooked butter chicken.

Either way, you will love it. Just tell them it’s not butter chicken.

Ingredients

1 kg chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 bsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stems, curry leaves
1 red chilli, chopped including seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 x 400gm can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
165ml coconut cream
1 tsp golden syrup
½ concentrated chicken stock cube

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Season the chicken thighs well and add to the pan; cook until golden brown. Set aside.
  3. Add the butter to the pan and when heated, add the onion and cook cover a medium heat until softened. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the curry leaves, chilli and spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and coconut cream; add the golden syrup and stock cube and stir to dissolve.
  5. Return the chicken and cook on a low heat for at least an hour; several more if you have the time.
  6. Check the seasoning and serve garnished with the fresh coriander and steamed white rice.

Chinese Egg Noodles with Chicken

Serves: 4

Yum!

This easy to prep, easy to cook noodle dish is the perfect degree of difficulty you want after a long-weekend.

There isn’t anything about it not to love and the lime adds a beautiful zing.

Ingredients

12 stems broccolini
250gm medium egg noodles
Vegetable oil
50gm unsalted peanuts
2 chicken breasts, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 fresh red chilli, sliced
4 spring onions, sliced
1 – 2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
⅓ cup coriander leaves
1 lime, quartered

Method

  1. Halve broccolini length-ways.
  2. Cook the noodles and drain; toss in a little oil and set aside.
  3. Lightly toast peanuts in a dry frying pan; cool and roughly chop.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok, add the chicken and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and half of the chilli and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Add 1tbsp oil to wok and stir-fry the spring onions and broccolini for 2 minutes, then add the cooked noodles and chicken; stir-fry until noodles are warm and the chicken cooked through.Stir through the soy and fish sauces
  6. Divide between 4 bowls, sprinkle over nuts, remaining sliced chili and coriander. Serve with the lime wedges.