Thursday, 26 March 2015

Chicken in cream and tarragon


When we used to visit my family in France, this was a great signature dish that my Auntie Sophie used to do. And the great thing is, it is really easy to double up ingredients if you have more mouths to feed.

Ingredients (to feed 4)

4 chicken legs
1 pint of chicken stock
A decent hand full of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
10 baby button mushrooms
50-80g of peas (up to you really)
1 teaspoon of mustard
4 tablespoons of creme fraiche
2 table spoons of finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon of corn flour
25g of unsalted butter
Half a glass of white wine
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

The Cooking:

Start by melting the butter over a medium heat in a large, deep frying pan. Once it is foaming, lay your chicken legs in and fry in butter on all sides until the skin is brown and starting to crisp. Approximately 6-7 minutes on each side. Increase the heat and before the butter gets a chance to burn, add your white wine and let the liquid reduce down to about half its original content. Then transfer everything to an oven proof dish. Add in the flour, thyme and bay leaf, pour over the liquid from your frying pan and your chicken stock (just enough to cover the chicken), then cover with a lid and place into an oven, preheated to 180 degrees C. Cook for approximately 2 hours, so that the chicken is virtually falling off the bone. Check it every 20 minutes or so, to make sure that the stock is not drying out (if it is add more wine or stock). Give it all a good stir every time. 30 minutes before the end of your cooking time, take your casserole dish out of the oven. Lift out the chicken legs and place them on a baking tray or roasting tin and return them into the oven.

Gently fry your button mushrooms in butter. Be generous with plenty of ground pepper. While they are browning, add the creme fraiche and the tarragon to the liquid in the casserole dish and with a  wooden spoon, give it all a good stir until all the liquids are combined into one smooth sauce. If you are using a heavy dish like mine (rather than a glass one) best results are achieved if you do this bit over a hob on  a low heat, as it thickens the sauce nicely. Add the mushrooms and the peas into the sauce. Retrieve the chicken legs and put them back in the dish with everything else, season with salt and pepper, pop the lid back on and return to the oven for the final 30 minutes of cooking. Giving you the perfect amount of time to do any accompaniment you may fancy.

Serve up on a bed of rice and may be some vegetables Julienne.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tuna Steak Salad with Chili Jam

Tuna Steak Salad with Chili Jam

A super lunch or light supper. Really tasty, very healthy and no carbs.

Ingredients (for 2)

2 Fresh Tuna Steaks
1 Teaspoon of Paprika
1 Little Gem Lettuce, shredded
2 Spring Onions, peeled and chopped
6 Whole Cherry Tomatoes
A Handful of Black Pitted Olives
4 Artichoke Hearts (You can buy jars of them on the Antipasti shelf of most supermarkets)
Roughly 3 inches of cucumber, peeled and diced (rather than sliced)
1 Red Pepper Chopped
A few chunks of feta cheese
1 Table Spoon of Dried Oregano
Olive Oil,
A Small Jar of Chili Jam

The cooking

Start with the salad as that takes the most time. Wash everything you are going to use in cold water, and peel and chop to your heart's desire. Then in a bowl mix your lettuce, red pepper, spring onion, artichoke hearts, cucumber, olives and feta cheese. Sprinkle over it the oregano, season with salt and pepper then drizzle generously with sweet, extra virgin olive oil. Make sure its all been mixed thoroughly so all the leaves have a coating of herbs and oil.

Warm a skillet (or small frying pan) over a medium to high heat. Lay out your raw tuna steaks, rub olive oil into both sides, season with salt, pepper and paprika on both sides and then pop into your frying pan. When the steaks have been frying for 1 minute, turn them over. After both sides have had their minute, remove from the heat and place on a chopping board.

Dish up your mixed salad onto 2 plates, slice your tuna steaks (hopefully revealing a pink interior) and lay on top of the salad. To give it some sweet heat, serve with a dollop of chili jam on each. Enjoy with a crisp white wine (eg pinot grigio)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Salsa Verde - The Perfect Accompaniment For White Fish

Salsa Verde - The Perfect Accompaniment For Any White Fish

I first came across this on a holiday in the Canary Islands. This was 1991 so way before the one we were on had been developed. The place we ate in was in a village at the end of an unmade up road. Just a few fisherman's cottages and a restaurant. You ate what ever had been caught that day. This is one of their sauces and with fish that fresh, it tastes absolutely incredible. Hopefully, like everything on this blog, this is a great example of how to create the most amazing taste with very little time or effort.

Ingredients (enough to accompany 2 fillets of fish) :

The yolk of 1 fresh egg
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of powdered mustard
100ml of olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
A hand full of the following fresh herbs in equal proportion; Chives, Dill and Parsley (Chervil if you can get it)
2 fillets of fresh fish cooked your way. 

The work:

Start by separating the yolk from the whites in an egg. Put the yolk into a mixing bowl. Add your lemon juice and mustard and whisk gently together until combined. Step up the pace with your whisking, and while doing it, pour a thin, steady stream of the olive oil. Make sure it is all being thoroughly combined as you go. If need be, pause your pouring to allow you to catch up. You do not want globules of oil in the middle of this. You will find the consistency will begin to thicken. Congratulations! You have just made mayonnaise!

To finish its transformation into Salsa Verde, rinse your fresh herbs in some cold water and finely chop them up. Stir the herbs and the finely chopped garlic into the mayonnaise and it's done. You can refrigerate it and it will keep for up to a day if you want to prepare it in advance of using it. If you do this and find when you come back to it the oil has started to separate from the egg, that's nothing a brisk stir with a fork can't put right.

Dish up a big dollop of it on some pan fried or baked cod loins or salmon steaks. Or a nice fillet of mullet, sea bass or monk fish. Just a salad and some new potatoes on the side. That is all you need.