Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Curried Baked Chicken and Pineapple

Curried chicken breasts are baked with pineapple and served with turmeric spiced boiled potatoes

Chicken and pineapple is a very popular combination in many Asian dishes but it is perhaps more commonly combined as part of a stir fry rather than baked this way in the oven. The idea is a simple one however - with few ingredients and little work - and worked really well, with the chicken coming out of the oven super tender and delicious and the pineapple rings entirely holding their shape.

Ingredients (Serves 1)

2 chicken breast fillets
2 teaspoons medium hot curry powder
Salt and pepper
2 pineapple rings (canned in own juice)
7 or 8 baby new potatoes
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Curry powder and seasonings are added to chicken breast


Put the chicken breast fillets in to a casserole dish. Scatter over the curry powder and further season with salt and black pepper. Use your fingers to gently rub the seasonings over and in to the breasts, not forgetting the undersides. Cover and leave to dry marinate for a minimum half hour.

Pineapple rings are laid on marinated chicken breasts

Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. When the oven is heated, take the lid from the casserole dish and lay a pineapple ring on top of each chicken fillet. Replace the lid and put the dish in to the oven for twenty-five minutes.

Turmeric and seasonings are added to baby potatoes

When the chicken has been in the oven for ten minutes, wash the potatoes, cut them in half and add them to a pot. Season with the turmeric and some salt and pepper. Pour enough water in to the pot that the potatoes are comfortably covered and bring to a simmer for twenty minutes.

When the chicken comes out of the oven, use a skewer to ensure the juices run clear then set aside to rest for ten minutes while the potatoes complete cooking. Drain the cooked potatoes through a colander or sieve at your sink and plate up the ingredients.

Curry breasts and pineapple are plated with potatoes

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Homemade Pie, Mash and Mushy Peas

Homemade beef and vegetable pie with mashed potatoes and mushy peas

Pie, mash and mushy peas is a classic British dish, often associated with the sadly now largely gone pie and mash houses of the East End of London. The concept varies slightly depending upon location and interpretation and in the previously referred to retail outlets, the pie and mash was (and in a small few places still is) often served with jellied eels and liquor. The pie in this instance was filled with shin beef and vegetable stew which must be firstly prepared and then left to cool before the pie can be assembled. It may be a good idea therefore to plan this dish in advance, make the stew one night, leave it to cool and refrigerate it overnight in preparation for making and serving the pie the following evening for dinner.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1/2 pound (225g) shin beef
2 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
Salt and black pepper
1 medium carrot
1 stick of celery
1/2 medium white onion
1 pint fresh beef stock
10 ounces (250g) puff pastry
Flour for rolling pastry
1 large egg
3 medium to large baking potatoes
14 ounce (400g) can of mushy peas*
Malt vinegar

*You can of course make the mushy peas yourself but I personally find steeping the dried peas and the whole process more trouble than it is generally worth and almost always go for the canned option

Diced shin beef ready for browning


It may be that you buy your beef already diced. If not, you want to chop it to around three-quarter inch (2cm) chunks. Pour the vegetable oil in to a large saucepan, add the beef and season with salt and pepper. Put the pan on to a medium heat and brown/seal the beef, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. This should take two to three minutes.

Vegetables are added to browned beef

Scrub, top, tail and dice moderately finely dice the carrot. Wash the celery stick, trim and chop to pieces around the same size as the carrot. Peel the onion half and slice fairly thinly. Add the prepared vegetables to the brown beef and stir well before pouring in the beef stock. Turn the heat up until the stock reaches a simmer then cover the pan and adjust the heat to achieve as gentle a simmer as possible for two to two and a half hours until the beef is super tender. Do check it every so often just to ensure the liquid level is not getting too low. In the unlikely event this should happen, simply add a little boiling water from your kettle.

Beef stew must be left to cool

When the beef stew is ready, it is imperative it be allowed to cool completely before the pies are assembled. If the stew is hot - or even warm - when it is added to the assembly, it will soak in to the pastry and the pies will collapse.
One third of the pastry is used to make the pie lid

Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

The pies should be assembled one at a time, using 5 ounces (125g) pastry in each instance. Lay the first portion of pastry on a chopping board and cut one third of it to roll the lid with the remaining two-thirds to be used to form the base/body of the pie.

Pie dish is used as template for cutting lid

The small ceramic dishes used for assembling these pies are about 3 inches (7.5cm) in diameter and one inch (2.5cm) deep. It is important that you measure the diameter and depth as it will determine the size of the template required for cutting the pastry circle that forms the main body of each pie.

Start by rolling out the lid portion of pastry on a floured board to an approximate square just slightly larger than the upper diameter of the pie dish. The dish can then be used as a template to cut the lid for the pie.

Suitable larger utensil is used to cut pie base and body

You may have to rake through your kitchen cupboards/closets to find a suitable template for cutting the body portion of each pie. You want a circular item around one inch (2.5cm) larger in diameter than the sum of the diameter plus twice the depth of the pie dish.

Roll out the body portion of the pastry to a square just larger than the template you will be using then cut the circle from the pastry in the same way as before.

Pastry discs ready for assembling pie

The inside of the pie dishes require to be greased with some butter. This is to ensure the pies can easily be removed when cooked.

Pie body pastry disc is fitted in to pie dish

The larger circle should be placed in the pie dish and carefully pressed in place to ensure it touches the edges of the dish all round. There should be a slight, regular overhang all the way around.

Cooled beef stew filling is spooned in to pie dish

Spoon enough of the cooled stew in to the dish to almost but not quite reach the brim. Do be sure to include a little gravy to keep the meat moist but not so much that the pastry will become soggy. A tablespoon or so per pie is about right.

Lid is fitted on to pie and glazed with beaten egg

Lay the lid on the pie, tuck it in carefully around the edges and glaze with beaten egg.

Crimped and glazed pie is ready for the oven

Carefully fold over and crimp the pie edges around the perimeter of the lid. Glaze with more beaten egg and cut a small steam vent in the centre with the tip of a sharp knife. Place the pies on a baking tray and in to the oven for thirty to thirty-five minutes until the pastry is beautifully golden.

When the pies are around half way through their cooking time, peel the potatoes and chop to around one and a half inch (4cm) chunks. Do not cut them too small or they will absorb too much water and you will have soggy mash. Place in a large pot of cold water, season with salt and bring to a simmer for twenty to twenty-five minutes until just softened.

Mushy peas are re-heated in a small saucepan

When the pies are ready, take them from the oven and set them aside (still in the dishes) to rest while you finish the preparation of the mash and mushy peas.

Drain the potatoes when they are softened through a colander at your sink and leave them to steam off for a few minutes. This gets rid of the excess moisture and is a further means of preventing soggy mash.

Pour the mushy peas in to a saucepan and gently heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. They will only take a few minutes. Season with black pepper and malt vinegar.

Potatoes are hand mashed with butter

Put the potatoes back in to the empty pot and add some butter. Mash with a hand masher.

Mash and mushy peas are plated

Divide the mash and the mushy peas between two serving plates. Carefully loosen the pies around the edges with a blunt edged knife before tipping them carefully out of the dishes in to your hand (protected by a cloth). Lay a pie on each plate and serve immediately.

Pie is plated with mash and mushy peas

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Roast Chicken Thighs on Conchiglie Pasta in Balsamic Tomato Sauce

Roast chicken thighs on conchiglie pasta in balsamic sauce

Roast chicken is probably not something often associated with being served on pasta but this combination does work very well. The chicken thighs are roasted simply in the oven with some seasoning before being served on a bed of conchiglie pasta in a rich balsamic and tomato sauce. 

Prepared sauce ingredients

Ingredients (Serves 1)

2 whole chicken thighs (skin on)
Salt and black pepper
4 baby plum tomatoes
1/4 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 large garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Generous pinch dried basil
Generous pinch dried oregano
1 cup dried conchiglie pasta shells
Freshly chopped parsley to garnish


Put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Season the chicken thighs on the under/flesh side with salt and pepper and with salt only on the skin sides. Lay them skin sides up on a lightly oiled roasting tray and place the tray in to the oven for thirty minutes, or thirty-five minutes for especially large thighs. After this time, pierce the thickest part of each thigh with a skewer (or fork) and ensure the juices run clear. If not, return to the oven for five further minutes and test again. Lift to a heated plate, cover with tinfoil and allow to rest for ten minutes.

Combining balsamic sauce ingredients

When the chicken thighs have been in the oven for about fifteen minutes, pour the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar in to a small saucepan. Wash and dry the tomatoes before cutting them in half down through the centre. Add to the saucepan along with the onion slices before grating in the peeled garlic clove. Add the dried herbs and season with salt and pepper. Stir well with a wooden spoon and place the pot on a low heat until the liquid just starts to simmer. Maintain as low a simmer as possible for about fifteen minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have broken down and a thick sauce is formed.

Drained conchiglie pasta

The pasta will take eight to ten minutes to cook, depending upon how al dente you wish it to be when it is served. It should be added to a large pot of heavily salted, boiling water, stirred briefly and left to cook for the desired period of time. It should then be drained through a colander or sieve and allowed to steam off and dry out for a couple of minutes.

Balsamic pasta sauce

When the sauce is ready, it will have changed colour, be really thick and gooey and the onion strings will be super soft.

Pasta is added to balsamic sauce

Tip the pasta in to the sauce and stir fold very carefully with a wooden spoon, so as not to break up the soft shells.

Pasta in balsamic sauce

Spoon the pasta in to a deep plate and spread out to form a serving bed for the rested chicken thighs.

Chicken thighs are laid on pasta in balsamic sauce

Lay the chicken thighs on top of the pasta and sauce, garnish with the chopped parsley and serve.

Enjoying roast chicken thighs on balsamic pasta sauce

Monday, 17 April 2017

Spicy Griddled Chicken on Roasted Veg

Paprika spiced griddled chicken breast on roasted vegetables

Griddling (grilling) meats of many different types indoors is an excellent way of ensuring your meal is served tender, juicy and attractive on the plate. Yes, it requires extensive ventilation of one type or another in your kitchen due to the smoke but the many benefits of cooking in this way far outweigh that one minor inconvenience. While beef steak is probably the most common meat cooked on a griddle or grill pan of this type, a simple bit of careful experimentation can bring wonderful dividends.

Vegetables are oiled and seasoned for roasting

Ingredients (Serves 1)

1 12 ounce tray of mixed Mediterranean style roasting vegetables*
1 large garlic clove
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of dried basil
1 skinless chicken breast fillet
2 teaspoons (approximately) smoked paprika
Vegetable oil for grilling

*You can assemble your own choice of similar vegetables in a small roasting tray if your local supermarket does not stock oven ready trays like the one used in this recipe


Put your oven on to preheat to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8.

While you're waiting for the oven to preheat, lay the chicken breast fillet flat on a chopping board and very carefully cut it in half horizontally with a cleaver or chef's knife. This is not difficult but obviously does require great care. It is best done by laying your free hand flat on top of the chicken as you slowly slice through it.

Sliced chicken breast fillet

Lay the chicken pieces on a large plate and scatter with the smoked paprika on both sides. Rub the paprika in to the flesh gently with your hands. Do not salt at this stage as the salt will draw some of the moisture from the chicken as it marinates and lead to it perhaps being served tougher than it should be. Cover the plate and set briefly aside.

Chicken is seasoned with smoked paprika

Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the tray of vegetables. Season with the salt, pepper and dried herbs before drizzling with a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Stir carefully with a wooden spoon and place it on a roasting tray and in to the heated oven for half an hour.

Marinated chicken is oiled for griddling

When the vegetables are half way through their cooking process, start your cast iron griddle pan heating on the highest heat on your stove. It will take a few minutes to get smoking hot. Drizzle the chicken fillets with a little vegetable oil and ensure they are evenly coated all over but not excessively so. Remember always to oil the food when cooking in this way and never the pan. Season on both sides with a little salt and pepper.

Chicken slices are laid in smoking hot griddle pan

Lay the chicken fillets carefully in to the hot pan. They will take about three minutes each side to cook, depending upon their thickness.

Chicken is turned to cook on second side

Heavy duty cooking tongs are best used to turn the chicken. Never use anything made of plastic, such as a spatula, when cooking in a pan of this type.

Cooked chicken is briefly left to rest

Lift the chicken fillets to a heated clean plate when done, cover with tinfoil and leave them for a few minutes to rest until the vegetables are ready.

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables

Lift the roasted vegetables with a slotted spoon on to your serving plate and arrange the griddled chicken pieces on top.

Tucking in to super tender spicy chicken

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Curried Swordfish Steak on Turmeric Rice

Curried swordfish and sauteed bell peppers on turmeric herb rice

Swordfish was at one time only available in very specific parts of the world where the fish could be caught fresh. In modern times, however, with vacuum packing and freezing techniques, it can often and very easily be purchased online for delivery right to your door. The swordfish steak used in this recipe was bought in just such a way as part of a larger exotic meats and fish package.

The swordfish steak should be defrosted completely in the fridge overnight before being cooked.

Swordfish fillet is patted in curry powder and seasonings

Ingredients (Serves 1)

6 ounce skinless and boneless swordfish steak
2 teaspoons medium curry powder
Salt and pepper
4 ounces (half cup) or as desired basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Vegetable oil for frying
2 teaspoons freshly chopped coriander leaf (cilantro) plus extra to garnish
1 garlic clove
Small handful mixed bell pepper slices

Seasoned swordfish is left to dry marinate


Spoon the curry powder in to a flat bottomed bowl or on to a small plate. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pat the swordfish carefully all over in the powder to evenly coat, cover and leave to dry marinade for at least half an hour.

Rice is simmered in turmeric water

Put the turmeric in to a large pot and add around half a teaspoon of salt. Pour in plenty of boiling water and bring back to a simmer. Wash the  rice thoroughly through a sieve under running cold water at your sink and add to the simmering water. Stir briefly but well and bring back to a simmer for ten minutes.

Swordfish fillet is laid in frying pan

When the rice simmering time is almost up, pour a couple of tablespoons of oil in to a frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Add the swordfish to fry for an initial three minutes.

Swordfish fillet is turned to fry on second side

Drain the rice through the sieve at your sink and set it aside to steam off for a few minutes. Turn the swordfish steak to fry for three further minutes on the second side.

Garlic and seasonings are added to drained rice

Tip the rice back in to the empty pot and add the chopped coriander (cilantro). Peel the garlic clove and grate it in to the rice. Season with black pepper and stir well to combine the seasonings evenly.

Bell pepper strips are quickly sauteed in hot frying pan

Lift the swordfish steak to a heated plate to rest for a couple of minutes while you stir fry the peppers (seasoned with a little more salt and pepper) in the vacated pan for a couple of minutes.

Swordfish fillet is laid on rice bed

Arrange the rice on a suitable plate to form a bed for the fish and lay the swordfish steak on top.

Sauteed peppers are made to top swordfish

Lift the pepper slices on to the swordfish with cooking tongs, garnish with the last of the coriander and serve immediately.

Cutting in to curried swordfish steak