Pollo alla Cacciatora

2014-01-25 19.07.42

I hadn’t bought a cook book for a very long time and it was only because I was feeling sorry for Jamie, seeing his cook books on the shelf of a shop in town, going for a very low price, that I didn’t want to see him falling on hard times 😉

It was then a case of what am I going to cook first from it? It was cold and wet and I didn’t exactly want to go out for hours shopping just cook something for supper. So after returning from a local butcher and off licence with the chicken and wine, I was able to get back home in the warm to start preparing. Setting up the chicken to marinade in the wine etc. was good but I think I would have preferred to leave it in the fridge overnight to really infuse the flavours.

When it came to cooking this finally, the kitchen looked like a bomb site, with the amount of bowls and pans used to prepare and cook this recipe but it was well worth it 🙂 I made enough to last the following day and it was well worth letting it reheat again slowly, as I reckon it tasted even better second time round!

According to Jamie Oliver in his Italian book,

Chicken cacciatora seems to be reasonably well known in Britain because it’s the classic pre-packed dish you find in Italian food ranges in supermarkets (which, to be honest, never taste of much). When you get the real deal cooked at home with love and passion it’s a totally different experience. It’s a simple combination of flavours that just works really well. Cacciatore means ‘hunter’, so this is obviously the type of food that a hunter’s wife cooks for her fella when he gets home from a hard morning spent in the countryside. This is also a great dish for big parties, as it looks after itself in the oven.

Ingredients:
2 kg higher-welfare chicken, jointed, or use the equivalent amount of chicken pieces
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
½ bottle Chianti
flour, for dusting (gluten free or plain)
extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
1 handful green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes

1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl. Add the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and the crushed clove of garlic and cover with the wine. Leave to marinate for at least an hour, but preferably overnight in the fridge.

2. Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dust the chicken pieces with flour and shake off any excess. Heat an ovenproof pan, add a splash of olive oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over and put to one side.

3. Place the pan back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Fry gently until golden brown, then add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes (broken up with a wooden spoon) and the chicken pieces with their reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or a double thickness layer of foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1½ hours.

4. Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, then stir, taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, and serve with a salad and plenty of Chianti.

Enjoy!

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Baked Paprika Eggs

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After the arrival of my online supermarket shopping the other evening, I discovered a freebie magazine buried at the bottom of a bag. Just before throwing it into the recycling, I noticed this recipe mentioned on the front cover, so dived in for a look. I am always looking for simple suppers at weekends, especially having walked to a pub for a good old fashioned Sunday lunch 🙂 This Spanish treat was spot on!

The great thing about this recipe was the simplicity, especially as the only ingredients I needed to pick up (on the way back from the pub) were some basil leaves and chives. Everything else I had in the fridge or the store cupboards.

I reckon this could also be cooked in a large pan, adding the eggs together and then putting it in the oven to cook. Would be a great way of serving it up on the table for guests.

Ingredients:
4 medium eggs
100g chorizo, skin removed and roughly chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 slice red pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 mild red chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
800g chopped tomatoes
½ tsp sugar
4 spring onions, sliced
2 tbsp basil leaves
1 tbsp chives, chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry for 4-5 minutes.

2. Add the pepper and fry for 4-5 minutes, until golden at the edges.

2. Add the garlic, chilli and paprika and fry for 1 minute, until fragrant.

3. Add the tinned tomatoes, breaking up a little and simmer for 5 minutes. until slightly thickened and reduced.

4. Stir through the sugar and season to taste.

5. Divide the sauce between four ramekins and create a well in the centre of of each.

6. Crack an egg into each ramekin, transfer to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 8-10 until the egg white has set and the yolk is cooked to your liking.

Serve scattered with the spring onions, herbs and chilli flakes (if using) with sourdough bread to dip.

Enjoy!

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Baked Pappardelle with Pancetta and Porcini

2014-01-12 20.20.53

After receiving a pot of Porcini Mushrooms for Xmas (Santa has good taste), I knew they would come into good use at some point soon. So while sat watching morning TV, full of a cold and feeling thoroughly miserable, ‘The Good Cook’ with Simon Hopkinson came on and after a few minutes he started cooking this dish. It was just the recipe I was after and something that would make me feel a whole lot better after eating it 🙂

Now, after family praise for the Seafood Curry, the reaction to this dish was even better! I got a “now you really must cook this again soon – really yummy” comment. I have to agree and it is definitely my kind of comfort food and so simple to make. What was really nice was the contrast in flavours between the earthy nutty taste of the porcini and the cured sweeter taste of the pancetta along with the pasta, sauce and salty parmesan – perfect combination.

Ingredients:
500ml/18fl oz milk
20g/¾oz dried porcini mushrooms
40g/1½oz butter
25g/1oz plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g/4oz pappardelle
50g/2oz pancetta, cut into 2cm/1in pieces
4-5 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

2. Warm the milk in a saucepan, add the porcini mushrooms, remove from the heat and soak for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve suspended over a bowl, pressing lightly on the mushrooms with the back of ladle to extract all the milk.

3. Heat the butter in a clean saucepan, add the flour and stir over a low heat for 2-3 minutes without colouring the roux.

4. Pour in the porcini-flavoured milk all in one go and whisk together vigorously until smooth. Cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

5. Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain in a colander, tip into a roomy bowl and carefully stir in the sauce, porcini and pancetta until well combined.

6. Place the pasta into a lightly buttered oven-proof dish. Smooth the surface and cover with two tablespoons of the parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges and golden-brown.

7. Serve the dish piping hot at the dinner table and have extra cheese at the ready.

Enjoy!

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Seafood Curry

2014-01-11 21.07.47

Is it really 2014 already?

I started writing this post on the 14th July 2012 – not sure it was meant to take this long to write. Doesn’t time fly! What a roller-coaster 18 months…

Needless to say, with some gentle persuasion, getting back to this, was getting back to something I love and enjoy doing, and sharing with others. Life was so down and up, that I have missed all my old blogger friends on twitter etc. I wonder what the likes of Karen, Choclette, Dominic, Jack and Fiona and many others have all been up to? A lot of reading and catching up to come, me thinks…

So anyway, am I back? Is this just a passing phase? I hope not 🙂 I have already got another post to follow shortly 😉 I just hope the world of food blogging hasn’t changed too much and that I am not stuck in the old world of ‘2012 style’ posts!

I think this recipe originally came from a BBC email I received way back when, while I was going through a spicy fish phase in my life, having previously done the Spicy Seafood Stew.

So seeing this half-finished post sat in my draft pile, I decided to re-try the recipe. I was surprised that this had not been cooked again in the last 18 months, it was that good! With the availability of social media and sharing images real-time, it meant I was now able to send photos to family members as I was making it, with replies such as ‘yumm’ and ‘can you save me some pls?”

The best part of this recipe is the curry sauce – this is something that took very little time creating and can be cooked up long in advance and potentially used with any accompaniment of your choosing. And of course, if you like it hotter, just add more chillies 🙂

Ingredients:
75g ghee (you can substitute with margarine)
300g skinless white fish like pollack, cut into large chunks
200g skinless salmon , cut into large chunks
200g raw peeled prawns
100g mussels (optional), cleaned and de-bearded

For The Curry Sauce:
1 onion , roughly chopped
100g ginger , chopped
50ml vegetable oil
2 tsp garam masala
½ tsp asafoetida (if you have it)
1 tsp turmeric
1 red chilli , deseeded and finely chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it really hot)
400g can chopped tomatoes
good handful coriander leaves

1. For the curry sauce, whizz the onion and ginger together to a purée. Heat the oil in a large pan until smoking. Add the garam marsala and sizzle for 30 secs, then add the onion and ginger purée, reduce the heat and slowly cook for 5 mins. Add the remaining spices, fry for 1 min, stir in the chilli and fry for another min, then add the tomatoes and a good pinch of salt and grind of pepper, and stir well. You can do this way in advance, then just throw the curry together on the night – the sauce will freeze or keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

2. To make the curry, melt a third of the ghee in a large pan. Cook the white fish for 2-3 mins until lightly browned, then set aside on a plate. Repeat this process with the salmon and prawns, adding another third of ghee each time. For the mussels, heat a medium-sized saucepan on a high heat. Add the mussels with 2 tbsp of water, cover tightly with a lid, and steam for 3-4 mins, shaking the pan every so often. Drain and set aside with the other seafood.

3. Bring the sauce to the boil, stir the fish and mussels in gently, bring to the boil again, then remove from the heat and leave for 3-4 mins – the fish will finish cooking in the heat from the sauce. If you like, add some coriander leaves and serve with rice!

Enjoy!

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