Wednesday, February 9, 2011

2 for 1 Italian Style

Free-range chicken can be a bit pricey so I try to make as much of one chicken as I can.  As there are only 3 of us, even a 4lb chicken ends up with leftovers.

I bought Gino D'Acampo's iDiet a couple of weeks ago when Bonzo and I had the day off for his birthday.  It all looked great so I'm having a Gino week.  On Saturday, the Wrigglebottom and I cooked pizza which is one of her favourite things.  The verdict was "not as good as Pepe's" but she still ate quite a bit.  To be honest that's as much about the fact that Pepe lets her help cook her own pizza when we go to his pizzeria (Bella's in St Peter Port) as Signor D'Acampo's recipe.

On Sunday, I did Gino's roasted chicken with rosemary and courgettes (The Italian Diet, p147;  The chicken was delicious and very quick to cook as it's cut in half and then slashed but I'd probably do the vegetables separately as the potatoes weren't quite crispy enough and the other veg were over done.

On Monday I stripped the chicken carcass bare and made chicken & pea risotto (p125, which scored a 9 all round and only took 35 mins to make including said chicken stripping.

1)  Strip your chicken and cut into 1cm chunks.

2)  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.

3)  Chop an onion finely.

4)  Fry the onion gently for 4 mins.  At this stage you would normally add the rosemary but as our chicken had already been cooked with rosemary, I didn't bother.

5)  Put 300ml of chicken stock or a mix of stock and water (ie 1 packet of Knorr stock plus enough water to make up the difference) on to heat through in a separate pan.

6)  Add 90g of risotto rice per person to the onions and fry for 3 minutes stirring continuously.

7)  Add 50ml white wine per person to the rice and onions and cook for 3 minutes until it has almost evaporated.

8)  Add a little of the warm stock and stir occasionally until it has been absorbed by the rice.

9)  Continue adding the stock a little at a time until you've used it all.  Season well.

10)  After about 15 mins add 35g peas per person and the chicken and cook for a further 5 inutes over a low heat until the rice is thoroughly cooked and the chicken is hot.

11)  Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in about 25g butter (for 4 people) ubntil creamy.

12)  Finally, add 10g parmesan per person and serve immediately.

Heaven on a plate.  Grazie, Gino.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sausage casserole

My friend Pat has pointed out that mentioning sausage casserole and then not writing about it is a bit off so here it is...
1)  Heat oil in an oven proof casserole and brown enough good pork sausages for the diners (in our case that's 8).
2)  Heat the oven to 180C
3)  Meanwhile chop up a red onion and a couple of sticks of celery plus whatever stew veg you like if you want to bulk it out a bit.
4)  Remove the sausages to a warm plate and sweat the veg in the oil & fat for about 5 minutes.
5)  Add a tablespoon of plain flour,stir and cook for 1 minute.
6)  Pour in a pint of cider or if you live in canada where I'm guessing it's a bit hard to come by, use apple juice (we had apple juice on Friday and it was great).  Stir to make sure you get all the brown bits off the bottom of the casserole.
7)  Tip the sausages back in and bring to the boil.
8)  Put a lid on the casserole (or tin foil if the casserole doesn't have a lid) and put in the oven.  Leave there for about 30 minutes.
9)  If you like fruit with your meat (Bonzo doesn't), you can core, peel and slice a couple of ripe apples,fry gently in a little butter until brown around the edges and pop them on top of the casserole when you dish it out.

While it's cooking, make Marvellous Mash potato (see previous recipe).

Bon appetit!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Marvellous Mash

When I was a child I was a really fussy eater - fussier than Bonzo and the Wrigglebottom put together. I didn't like potatoes much and once went a whole year without eating them.  Well I was a teenager...The thing I hated most was my mum's mashed potatoes.  They were tasteless and full of lumps.  A few years ago I discovered the secret to great mashed potato and as I'm about to make some  to go with sausage casserole, I'll let you in on it.

1)  Use the right potatoes. I always use Maris Piper but any floury potato would work almost as well.
2)  Peel them and cut them small then boil in water for about 20 minutes or until they are really soft.
3)  Drain and give a bit of a shake to get rid of as much water as possible.
4)  Use a potato ricer to mash them.  This is the real secret as it means you get no lumps.
5)  Add a good knob of butter, salt and white or black pepper plus a dollop of Dijon mustard.
6)  Grate about a handful of strong cheddar into the potato.
7)  Stir hard with a wooden spoon until smooth.

That's all there is to it. Absolutely foolproof.  Best go and boil the spuds now...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Best breakfast pancakes

Every morning, except when we're on holiday, Bonzo has a large bowl with 4 types of cereal - weetabix on top, cornflakes and one other flaky type thing int he middle and something a bit more substantial on the bottom, full cream Guernsey milk and a very large mug of sweet black freshly brewed coffee.  The Wrigglebottom and I like to mix it up a bit more.  One of our favourites is breakfast pancakes, originally Nigella's recipe (How to be a Domestic Goddess, p77, but now much adapted as I think are all recipes that you do often.  We like them with real maple syrup or blueberries poached in a little water and sugar.

1) Melt 30g of butter in a small pan on a low heat;
2)  Measure out 225g plain flour and add 1 dessertspoon of baking powder (Nigella's tablespoon is way too much), a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar.  If you leave the pan on the scales you save washing up another bowl;
3)  In a wide necked measuring jug, break 2 large eggs & beat a little;
4)  Add 300ml of milk (any kind) to the eggs;
5)  By this time your butter should be melted so take it off the heat and let it rest for about a minute;
6)  Pour the butter into the eggs & milk and mix;
7)  Add the flour mixture and mix until most of the lumps have disappeared.  Leave it to stand for about 5 mins whilst you make the rest of the breakfast;
8)  Heat a heavy based non-stick pan over a high heat with no butter or oil.  The melted butter in the mix will provide all the lubrication that you need and means you don't end up with greasy pancakes;
9)  Using a tablespoon, spoon the mixture in dollops into the pan.  I usually do 3 at a time as this gives room for manoeuvre.
10)  When bubbles start appearing on the upper side, flip them over.  This should take about a minute but keep an eye on them and turn down the heat if they're cooking really quickly.
11) Leave for about another 30 seconds and remove to a warm plate. Cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm.
12)  Continue until you have as many as you think you'll need.  The mixture makes about 20 pancakes but if you don't need that many either halve the ingredients or leave the rest in the fridge for the following day (which is what I did yesterday).
13)  If you're using the mixture the next day you may need to add a little milk to loosen it.

A real breakfast treat and less than 15 mins between bed and breakfast!