The Reluctant Cook turned 1 today!
We lived in Bahrain for the best part of 5 years and it was a lovely peaceful place to be in those days. We swam every day and the children all entered the ‘mile race’ each year, which was 64 lengths of the British Club swimming pool. They were all given badges to sew onto their swimmers (swimming costumes), but most of the mums sewed them onto the towels as the kids out-grew the swimmers within 6 months or so! The first time the Boy swam his mile he was 5½ years old and did it in 59 mins., a feat we’d all be hard pushed to match these days! The schools were good, the lifestyle better than in UK for most ex-pats and the fresh fruit was always delicious and ripe whether you bought it in the super-market or from the fruit stalls. The Boy wouldn’t eat any fruit or vegetables with ‘bits’ in except strawberries, and he even drew the line at nectarines and pineapple, only developing a taste for them once they were difficult to get hold of in UK! On our return to Europe after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, we spent about 6 months with my parents and as my mother always made cakes for the week-end, this was no hardship. The Lemon Drizzle was a firm favorite closely followed by the Strawberry Sponge. This is a slight variation on my mother’s recipe with Polenta added to the mix and these cupcakes are little portions of perfection and are great to share with friends.
For the cake:
140g Unsalted Butter , softened
140g Golden Caster Sugar
Zest ½ Lemon grated
3 Eggs, beaten
140g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Milk
140g Strawberries, hulled and chopped into chunks
For the Icing:
140g icing sugar
3 Strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped,
lemon juice, I use the bottled longlife juice, unless I’ve used the rind for zesting
6/9 Strawberries halved, for decoration
1. Line a 12/18 hole patty tins, some people call them muffin or cupcake tins, with paper cases and heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the Butter, Sugar and Lemon Zest until pale and fluffy. Add the Polenta and continue to whisk until combined.
3. Beat in the Eggs, a little at a time.Sift in Flour and Baking Powder, and beat until just mixed or until you have a thick batter (the mixture may look lumpy because of the polenta).
4. Stir in the Milk to loosen, then gently fold in the chopped Strawberries. Divide the mixture between the paper cases, then bake for 15/20 mins (depending on the size of the cakes) or until golden, risen and springy to touch.
5. Cool for a few mins, then place the cakes on a wire rack to cool completely. The cakes can now be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.
6. If you are serving these at a party then carefully peel the cases off the cakes. It’s best to leave the cases on if the cakes are travelling. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Place the chopped strawberries in a bowl with 1 tsp lemon juice and mash with a fork until pulpy. Push through a sieve over the icing sugar (you only need a few drops of juice to colour the icing a rosy pink). Stir in more lemon juice, a dribble at a time, until you have a thick yet fluid paste. Dip the top of each cake into the icing, or you can drop a little of the icing on top of the cake, then top immediately with a strawberry half. Leave to set, then serve.
Makes 12 large or 18 small
Or make one large cake; It’ll taste the same but you can have bigger portions!
Preparation and cooking times
Prep 15 mins
Cook 20 mins
This August I attended a 6 week course for people with long-term health issues, and found it to be really quite useful. Altogether there were about 14 of us with a vast range of problems, but we also had one thing in common – stagnation! After distress and anger at our situations we had all accepted our conditions and with that had come resignation which meant we had allowed ourselves to become stuck in a rut. Amongst other things, on this course, we were encouraged to meet challenges and introduce action plans into our everyday life. These action plans could be as mundane as drinking extra water on 2 days a week or as exciting as we wanted. One of us even set themselves a challenge to run a marathon next year………….! This coincided with the Great Apple Picking event at the Hobbit House, so I decided that my action plan should incorporate our apples in some way.
Apple pickers extrordinare.
¼ of the apples they picked!
So off to my trusty laptop I went and collected a whole load of apple preserve recipes! First I made Apple Butter which was great and easy to make and I have a fridge full of jars of the stuff now, but it didn’t really feel as though I had risen to any kind of challenge, and I still had shed loads of apples left. I then tried to make an apple & mint jelly which was an unmitigated dis-ars-ster!
Cooking the Apple Butter in my slow cooker.
Then came a Tomato & Apple Chutney closely followed by a Christmas Chutney! I then found a recipe which I had to adapt as I didn’t have all the right ingredients and couldn’t get to the shop to replenish my store cupboard This is a basic apple chutney, and is a great favourite in the family now. So here it is:
Home Grown Apple Chutney
4lbs (1.8kg) Apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks. Any apple can be used, including windfalls. I used my Bramleys.
1½lb (675g) Sultanas/Raisins. These quantities of dried fruit are interchangeable and adaptable.
½ lb. (225g) Dates/Dried Figs/Dried Cranberries or whatever other dried fruits you have in the cupboard.
3lbs (1.36kg) Sugar, Demerara or Golden Granulated are best, but White Granulated would do just as well.
2lbs (900g) Shallots or Onions, peeled and chopped (chop them quite small or you’ll end up with large lumps in your chutney!)
2oz (60g) Mustard Seed. I said to the family that as Mustard Seed starts with a ‘Must’ it can’t be left out.
4oz (12g) or less, of Salt
¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper, again more or less depending on individual taste
3 pints (1.7 litres) Vinegar. I used a mixture of Apple Cider Vinegar and Malt Vinegar which I had by me
1. Chop apples and shallots and combine with all the other ingredients in preserving pan or large saucepan. Lucky me, I have an old preserving pan given to me by my lovely Mum.
2. Bring it to a rapid boil then reduce heat so it is simmering nicely, stirring occasionally (to prevent sticking) for about two hours until it is thick. Make sure you give the bottom of the chutney a good stir too.
3. If you recycle jars like me, wash them well in hot soapy water, removing labels if necessary. Rinse in hot water and stand upside down to drain. Place in warm oven just before you are ready to bottle the chutney. The heat within the oven will be enough to sterilise them. 4. You can use waxed paper with cellophane lids secured with a rubber band, or, as I did, carefully clean and use the original jar lids, preferably ones with the dimple security seal, which pop as they cool down.
5. Let the mixture cool slightly, and then pour into the warm jars, leaving minimal space between the chutney and the lid. I did have a jam funnel (but can’t think where it is!) which would have helped a great deal to avoid making a mess of the outside of the jars. If you do spill chutney down the side of the jars it is best, and easier, to wipe them down thoroughly while the jars are still warm, otherwise the chutney sets and is difficult to remove.
6. Finally, it is important to label and date, with product details, ideally making them yourself, or getting children involved. Have fun.
My own label for the chutney. Though it isn’t a secret recipe any more now!
The chutney can be eaten immediately, but is best matured for a minimum of three months – mine will be just in time for Christmas!
PS We love to eat this chutney with bread and mature cheese, cold meats and curries
Most people regard ‘diets’ as a way of losing weight and to do with self image, so much so that ‘Diets’ have become such an emotive subject, that it is almost taboo to discuss them. But as a nurse and having been used to the medical terminology the word diet means so much more. Health preserving and life saving are how I regard them, but what of diets eaten because of a certain way of life or beliefs? Nutritionally there’s nothing wrong with being a fruitarian or having some other diet based beliefs, so long as the balance is right to maintain one’s health. I have five nieces 2 of which are vegetarians and have been since they were very small. Not because of their mothers’ wishes or beliefs but because they genuinely didn’t like to eat meat. And no, they aren’t sisters, but cousins. My mother never did understand vegetarianism and once told these two granddaughters of hers that they could eat the flan she had made as there was only a tiny little bit of chicken in it! I used to think that vegetarian meals were really time consuming or lentil based, and like most omnivores found most vegetarian recipes uninspiring. My 3 step-daughters are also vegetarians and I used to cheat with their meals by either making the Man cook some kind of pasta or rice or getting a ready-made veggie meal from the super market. I always felt that I had short changed them so when I got all cookery interested I found these 2 easy peasy recipes, which have been really well received.
2 medium eggs
250g(9oz) crème fraiche
150g(5oz) soya beans, frozen. My lot aren’t keen on soya beans so I substitute with whatever I have in the freezer such as peas or broad beans.
100g(3½ oz) broccoli, cut into small florets
75g(3oz) sunblush tomatoes(posh name for dried ones!), chopped
75g(3oz) feta cheese, crumbled
Small handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped quite small
6 sheets filo pastry (270g pack).
Oil to brush.
1. Heat oven to 180C(160C fan assisted oven) Gas mark 4.
2. In a large bowl beat together the eggs, crème fraiche, and seasoning (salt & pepper). In a separate bowl, lightly mix together the beans, broccoli, tomatoes, feta and mint. Add ¾ of this mixture to the eggs and crème fraiche.
3. Brush the top of one of the filo sheets with oil, and then lay it on a 20.5cm (8in) round loose bottomed cake tin, letting the excess hang over the sides. Repeat with remaining sheets, overlapping the sheets slightly each time (there should be no gaps).
4. Pour in the egg mix and scatter the remaining veggi mix over the top. Brush the pastry again with oil. Cook for about 35 – 40 mins or until filling is set and pastry is golden.
5. Serve warm or at room temperature with a green salad.
Cuts into 8 slices
Preparation and cooking times
Prep 20 mins
Cook 40 mins.
If you want an even easier pastry, just use a 375g pack of frozen ready rolled puff pastry sheet (needs to be thawed out first!) and use a fairly deep dish instead of the cake tin*. I have various sizes of the Spanish terracotta dishes which I use for this, and I don’t even bother to trim the corners off! *However you will have to raise the heat of the oven to 220C/200C fan assisted/gas mark 7 and maybe cook for a little less time.
Another easy flan is this one
An Easy Tart
375g pack of frozen ready rolled puff pastry sheet
4tbsp basil pesto
8 anchovy fillets in oil, halved lengthways, making 16 strips.
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp black olives
200g(7oz) mozzarella cheese. The best and most authentic tasting are the buffalo milk balls, but as you will be cooking this the Danish square blocks will do as well as a substitute
1 egg, beaten
Small handful fresh basil leaves , chopped
1. Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan assisted/gas mark 7
2. Lay the puff pastry on a baking tray and score a 1.5cm(2/3in) border in from the edge of the pastry. This will allow the boarder to rise and crisp while the middle remains flat.
3. Spread the pesto over the inner section of the tart and criss-cross the anchovies over the top. Scatter the olives and capers over the top and then dollop pieces of the mozzarella over these. Brush the pastry border with the beaten egg.
4. Cook for about 10-15 mins or until the border rises and is golden brown.
Cuts into 6-8 slices
Preparation and cooking times
Prep 10 mins
Cook 15 mins.
Flaming June is almost over and we’ve only had a few days without the dreaded ‘R’ word. My darling mum’s birthday was at the beginning of June and I well remember celebrating with her in the pouring rain or being swept away by the wind. In fact several times I would have no roses in the garden to give her, but nothing daunted she always celebrated with a lunchtime party on or as near to the proper date as she could. Friends were invited to ‘Lunch on the lawn’ and often we had to be inside, and on one memorable occasion it was a beautifully sunny day but the ground was so sodden from the previous week’s rain, that the lawn was a squelchy morass. So as not to miss out on the lovely weather, we set up the tables and chairs on the drive and re-titled the party ‘Gravy on the gravel’!
Although it has stopped raining tis still a bit chilly, so a bit of comfort food is in order!
Maple Pecan Cake
Comfort food at its most indulgent. As real maple syrup is really expensive you can substitute it with maple-flavoured syrup. Golden syrup is not the same!
Butter or cooking-oil spray
1 cup (100g) Pecans, the halves are best, as they are the most decorative
1/3 cup (80ml) Maple syrup. Lucky me, I have a cousin living in Canada, so can get hold of the real stuff!
1¼cups (310mls) Boiling water
1¼cups (235g) Dried Figs - coarsely chopped
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
¾ cup (150g) firmly packed Brown Sugar
1cup (150g) Self-rising Flour
1.Preheat the oven to a moderate heat (180C/160C fan assisted). Grease a deep 20cm (8 inch) round cake tin; line the base with baking paper, and coat with the butter/spray. You really mustn’t skimp on this as you don’t want half the pecans left behind when you turn out the cake.
2. Arrange the Pecan nuts over the base of the prepared tin and drizzle the maple syrup over them. As the cake will be upside down when you turn it out you might like to make a pattern with the nuts and place them upside-down to give the finished cake a lovely look.
3. Combine the Water, Figs and Bicarbonate of Soda in a bowl of a food processor. Cover with the lid and let it stand for 5 mins., add the butter and sugar and whiz until almost smooth. Add the Eggs and Flour and process until just combined. (If you don’t have a processer then put the water and figs in a liquidiser and purée, cream the butter and sugar in an ordinary mixer, till well beaten, as you would an ordinary cake. Add fig purée till well mixed, then add the eggs, flour and bicarbonate of soda till just combined).
4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for about 55 mins., or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean . When cooked take out of the oven and stand for about 5 mins. then turn out onto a wire rack.
5. Serve cake hot or cold with sauce and even ice-cream!
Maple Butterscotch sauce:
1 cup (250mls) Maple syrup
½ cup (125mls) cream. (There are cream substitutes for vegetarians, one very good one is ‘Elmlea’.)
100g Butter/vegetable spread
Put all the ingredients together into a small saucepan (preferably non-stick) and stir over the heat bringing to the boil. Cook for about 2 mins., or until mixture thickens. Job done!
Cuts into 10 slices
Preparation and cooking times
Prep 15 mins
Cook 1 hr
I got this recipe from one of my favourite recipe books: The Australian Woman’s Weekly; The Complete Book of Modern Classics, Published in 2005
Well it’s Mid-summer’s Day and it’s pouring with rain! But just by looking at what is in my garden has cheered me up.
So I thought I’d do a ‘How To Do’ post.
How to make ‘proper’ gravy: Loads of people use gravy granules/liquid, like Bisto, to make gravy as they think it’s easier than making gravy from scratch, but I don’t think it’s a patch on Home Made Gravy. One of my early successes on the cooking front is that I can ‘do’ a traditional roast, with roast potatoes and vegetables and all the extras. I think that this is because once the roast is prepared and in the oven I can sit down and have a glass of wine or two. I do like to experiment with various recipes for roast meat as well as doing the traditional Sunday Roast, but I always like to make home made gravy. Meats you roast, like whole chicken, whole turkey, pork loin roast, or beef roast such as rump roast or lamb roast will make the juice you want to make gravy. Sometimes, depending on how much is in the pan, you can make a little gravy by using the little brown bits left over if you have fried chicken or pork chops. You can use flour or cornstarch/cornflour to thicken your gravy.
1. Once the roast is cooked remove the meat from the roasting pan and sit it on a serving dish. All recipes tell you to allow the meat to ‘rest’ for 5 mins. or so, don’t ask me why, but I do this and I don’t worry about the meat getting cold as it keeps hot for quite a while.
2. You will now have a roasting pan full of meat juices and fat/oil. Drain off as much of the fat/oil as you can, you may have to use a spoon to remove all but 1-2tbsp of fat (if you tilt the tin to one side, then juices will gather under a layer of clear fat). You will need to keep a small amount of fat to bind with the flour. My aunt has a brilliant jug which separates the juices from the fat and I envy her this as it can be quite a chore doing it by hand, and not losing too much of the juices.
3. Put the pan on the hob over a medium heat then add about 2tbsp of plain flour to the juices and mix well, cook for a couple of mins. to make a paste.
4. Then start adding stock* or the water from cooking the veg (if you don’t have either then just plain water will do, but you may need extra of the stock cube) and stir and scrape the pan until all the ‘stock’ is added (I think I use about a pint-ish), then bubble away until it’s the consistency you like.
*I don’t make a giblet stock as I can’t stand the smell of them boiling so I use a stock cube added to the liquid. Taste and season if necessary and add a splash of wine or some cranberry sauce if you like.
a. Put 1½ tbsp spoons of cornstarch/cornflour into a glass and slowly add about ½ - ¾ cups cold water while mixing with a spoon until you have all the cornstarch dissolved.
b. After you remove the meat and most of the fat from the pan, see step 1 & 2 above, add a little water and use a metal spoon (unless it is a non-stick pan) to scrape the cooked bits off the pan.
c. Bring the meat juices to a rolling boil and then very slowly stir in the cornstarch/cornflour mixture, stirring constantly until the desired thickness is reached.
The key to making it less lumpy is to make sure the meat juices are boiling fully and slowly stir in the thickening while constantly stirring.
If you like, you can also make vegetarian gravy, using either method, to go with veggie sausages or veggie burgers, etc.. I know this sounds weird and like a contradiction in terms, but all you have to do is use a good vegetable spread and marmite, which is yeast extract, to replace the meat juices and stock cubes, and follow the recipe above.
The great thing about home made gravy is that you can make it as thick or thin, and as tasty as you like! There really are no rules and no-one to judge the end result, except your taste buds!
There’s a crisis in our household! One of our matching posh planters at the front of the house is dying a slow death.
This is how it should be looking in all it’s glory.
The concrete is crumbling and has left a gaping void in the side, where there shouldn’t be one.
This is how the poorly sick and ill planter looks.
Can concrete rot away? Anyway, I’m hiking off to B&Q to use my diamond card (how topical this year!) to buy something to mend it with. So tonight we’ll be having Mexican Rice. This is one of those easy peasy recipes that no-one thinks to write down and I’m sure that loads of families have their own version and give it their own name, maybe Caribbean Rice or Spanish Rice. This recipe has come to me via the Man, via his Mama, via her Father-in-law!
Rice - most recipes give you a guide of about 50-75g in weight of dried uncooked rice per person, but my lot are such gannets that I put in 2½ of my handfuls per person. I’ve measured this and it works out at 85g.
Butter- I hate it when recipes call for a knob of butter, so I would suggest you need as much as about ½ the size of a hens egg.
400g Tin of Tomatoes
2 tbsp Olive Oil – substitute this with an oil or fat of your choice if you prefer
4 whole Birds Eye Chillies
Garlic – 2 cloves finely sliced
1 Bay Leaf
200g Tin of Sweet Corn
Eggs – 1 or 2 for each person
1. Heat the Oil in a frying pan and fry the Chillies for a minute or two, add the Garlic and cook for a further 2 mins., till the garlic starts to brown. Take off the heat and cool slightly, tip in the whole tin of Tomatoes adding Salt and a Bay Leaf to taste. If you don’t cool the oil before adding the tomatoes it will spit horribly which hurts if it lands on you and makes a mess of the kitchen. Bring back to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 30 mins. This will cook the tomatoes thoroughly and reduce the liquid enough to make quite a thick sauce. Drain off the liquid from the tinned Sweet Corn and then add the corn to the sauce and cook to warm through, about 5 -10 mins. Spice it up or down to suit your taste and you can leave out the sweet corn or substitute it with peas (frozen are best) if you like.
2. Meanwhile bring a pan of salted water to the boil then add the Rice. Cook for about 15 mins. until almost cooked. Drain off the water from the rice (I use a sieve) and place the Butter in the bottom of the pan, put the drained rice on top, and cover with a close fitting lid. Turn the heat right down and cook the rice for another 10 mins or so, but don’t let it catch on the bottom of the pan. This will give you a nice crusty buttery layer which some of my family would kill for! If you don’t like this idea then just cook rice as you would do normally.
3. Fry 1 or 2 eggs per person. I always sprinkle a little salt on mine for taste, but you can add black pepper and even crushed garlic (use a garlic press this time!). However I will only use salt today as the sauce is tasty enough without the pepper and garlic.
4. On each plate, layer the Rice then Tomato Sauce and place the Egg/s on top.
Preparation and cooking times
Prep 5 mins
Cook 40 mins
A couple of the good things I learnt about when working in the hotel, was how to make pastry and also to follow a recipe exactly. The chef was a miniature woman with an ego as big as the Gherkin in London and woe betide anyone who, after the first introduction to a recipe, got it wrong on subsequent use. I have also loved baking cakes since I was a child, most especially celebration cakes. My mother, who was also a reluctant cook, was taught the rudimentarys by my Dad (e.g. how to boil an egg “No, not in the kettle. Dear!”), but learnt the secret of a decent Victoria Sponge off her grandmother’s helper, Lucy. Lucy used to put the fear of God into me when I was a child! Poor woman had a squint in the days before correctional surgery, and I never knew which eye was looking at me. However her wisdom has helped me create many a successful birthday/anniversary/special occasion cake. A basic sponge recipe requires butter, sugar, eggs, flour and flavouring. No matter how big or small the cake is to be, the trick is to weigh the eggs and match that in equal weights of the butter, sugar and flour, but don’t forget to also follow the recipe for flavour and cooking times etc.!
A friend of the Boy’s did us a favour the other day and as a reward/payment I agreed to bake him a cake. Like my father and the Man he is a fruitcake fan so this is the one I made for him.
Hot Toddy Fruitcake
This is easy and is good at any time of the year – Not just for Christmas.
200ml hot, strong black tea (use any type)
3 tbsp whisky
3 tbsp good-quality orange marmalade , thin or medium shred
700g mixed dried fruits
100g mixed peel
100g glacé cherries (natural colour)
225g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Grated zest 1 lemon. The original recipe calls for it to be finely grated but roughly grated would be ok as long as the chunks aren’t too big
2 tsp caster sugar
50ml hot black tea
1 tbsp whisky (or use orange juice if you prefer)
1. Mix the Hot Tea, Whisky and Marmalade in a large bowl until the marmalade melts. Stir in all of the Dried Fruit, Peel and Cherries, then cover and leave to soak overnight. If your family, like mine, don’t like candied peel or glacé cherries substitute them with dried figs, dates, cranberries or prunes or even a mixture of them all.Soaking in whisky, tea and marmalade makes for the juiciest fruit and a rich, but not overpowering, cake. If you use Orange Juice instead of whisky, the result will still be good.
2. Next day, heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3 and grease and double-line a 20cm (8 inch) round or 18cm (7inch) square, deep cake tin with non-stick baking paper. I have a giant roll of grease-proof paper which I use, and it comes in handy for craft work patterns and tracing too.
3. Using electric beaters cream together the Butter and Sugar until fluffy. Add the Eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition, then fold in the Flour and Spices, followed by the Lemon Zest and Soaked Fruit. This is quite a heavy mix and there is no way a domestic mixer will cope, so the only answer is to do it with a big metal spoon and elbow grease! Add any liquid that hasn’t been absorbed by the fruit, too.
4. Spoon into the prepared tin, level the top, then bake for 1½ hrs. Turn the oven down to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1 and bake for another 1½ hrs or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack in the tin.
5. While the cake is still warm, use the skewer to pepper the cake with holes, poking it all the way down. Dissolve the Sugar in the Tea, add the Whisky or Orange Juice, and then spoon over the surface. If you’re making the cake ahead of time, feed it with a fresh swig of hot toddy every week, but take care not to make the cake soggy. Can be kept for a month well-wrapped in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If short on time, the cake can be made the same day that you decorate it.
Cuts into 12 slices
Preparation and cooking times
Prep 20 mins
Cook 3 hrs
Plus overnight soaking
Greg was a little disappointed when I said he could have it without icing!
So I iced it and wrote him a message, which delighted him and he drove his cake home very carefully in a bright orange metallic sprayed Subaru Legacy B4, Bi-Turbo, 4WD, 300BHP, Flat 4 Boxer Engine!
When I was first married I used to tell people that I married the Man because he could cook! Some thought I was joking & some were just scandalised! Several years later he told people that the only reason we were still married was because he could cook. He thought that I would either poison him or starve him by producing inedible meals. Fair enough I thought, and I left the cooking to him. Having left school at 16 with only 2 ‘O’ levels to my name, there weren’t many options open so I worked in an hotel for 11 months as chambermaid, cook, barmaid, cleaner and this was enough to put me off housework and cooking for life. So imagine to everyone’s surprise (not least my own) when last September – just after my 61st birthday, I got the cooking bug. And I’ve been at it ever since.
Recipes have to have one of 2 criteria
1) Easy peazy without too much faff
2) Tasty enough to warrant the rigmarole
Most of the meals I cook now are of the 2nd criteria with the easy ones filling in the gaps when I’m busy or not up to it. So here is an easy one to start with.
Sunday Roast Chicken with roast potatoes and stir-fry cabbage.
1 Chicken - approx 1350 g
Large Onion - Optional
Olive Oil – substitute this with an oil or fat of your choice if you prefer
Potatoes – enough for each person, I use whatever is at hand and mix and match if necessary, i.e. Today I’m using Maris Piper 1/4ed and some new potatoes that have lingered too long on the shelf.
Cabbage - I used ½ of a Savoy which I had by me
Garlic – 2 cloves finely chopped – no need to crush in a garlic press unless you must
Ginger – finely chopped too like the garlic and making the same amount
1. Heat the oven up to 180C. Make sure the chicken is clean and then if you are using an onion pop it – skinned but whole – inside the giblet cavity. Place the chicken in a baking tin drizzle some Olive Oil over it and sprinkle some Salt on top so it sticks to the oil. Most supermarket chickens are ready to use, but if you get one from the butcher make sure he guts it for you and it’s up to you if you keep the giblets or not, I don’t usually bother. Cook the chicken for roughly 20 mins. for each 450g of weight, plus 20 mins. So my chicken was cooked for 1hr. and 20 mins. If you think the chicken is cooking too fast turn down the oven to 160C. Chickens need to be cooked through thoroughly, so don’t worry if the flesh falls off – it means it’s cooked!
2. Meanwhile prepare the potatoes. I don’t always skin mine but if the skin looks a bit thick or blemished, then I do, as they look better that way. Cut them so that they are approx the size of a hen’s egg, and boil in salted water for about 15 mins., so that they are almost cooked. Drain off the water and transfer to a baking tin, or add to the chicken if there’s room. Drizzle Olive Oil over them and sprinkle with Salt to you own taste, and then cook in the oven under the chicken (if they are in their own tin) till the bird is ready to come out of the oven.
3. Preparing the Cabbage is easy – finely slice it, then finely chop the Garlic and Ginger – if you prefer the cabbage to be more spiced up, you can add more ginger. Heat a little Vegetable Oil in a wok, or large frying pan if you don’t have a wok, then fry the garlic and ginger for about a minute then add the cabbage and fry until beginning to brown.
Serve all together. Don’t forget that the bird and the potatoes will stay hot for quite a while so if you want, you can make some gravy with the chicken juices, before frying the cabbage.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Man and Boy munched through this meal in silence – not sure if it was due to the tasty cooking or to the Euro 2012 football match on the TV.
Feeds up to 4 hungry people
Preparation and cooking times
Prep 20 mins