Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Bacon with Garlic Mushrooms

Chicken is unquestionably a very versatile cooking ingredient. We can cook it in so many different ways and so many incredibly simple and healthy chicken recipes are also incredibly delicious. This easy recipe simply involves baking the chicken breasts wrapped in bacon and serving them with some equally simply prepared garlic mushrooms, on a bed of fresh rocket leaves.

Ingredients (Per person)

1 chicken breast fillet
2 slices of unsmoked bacon
8 small button mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1/2 tsp of dried sage
1 tbsp olive oil
Generous handful of fresh rocket leaves


Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas mark 6. Place a large sheet of aluminium foil on a baking tray. Wrap the bacon slices carefully around the chicken breasts, encasing them as much as posssible and then lay them on the foil. Fold the foil to form a loose but sealed parcel.

Place the tray in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked by sticking it with a fork or skewer and ensuring the juices run clear. Leave to rest while you prepare the mushrooms.

Gently heat the olive oil in a non-stick saucepan and add the garlic and the sage. After about a minute, add the mushrooms and stir well for a couple of minutes with a wooden spoon to evenly heat them through.

Add the rocket to each plate, sit the wrapped chicken breasts on top and surround with the mushrooms. I promise you that this will provide a very tasty dinner tonight or any night.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Beef and Green Pepper Puff Pastry Tart

This recipe is simply one variation of a theme I have employed for many years. I have made Prawn (Shrimp) and Pineapple Puff Pastry Tarts, Chicken and Mushroom and even all vegetable variations. The concept is infinitely variable, just like with an omelette or pizza, and this beef and Green Pepper Puff Pastry Tart recipe should therefore be viewed in a certain sense as an example for developing similar dishes to suit your own tastes and those of your family.


8oz puff pastry
1/2lb stewing steak
1 green bell pepper
1 pint of fresh beef stock
Pinch of dried or fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


The first step is to cook the stewing steak. Brown it quickly in a large saucepan before adding the thyme, black pepper and hot beef stock. Note that salt should never be added to meat at this stage as it draws the moisture and will probably make it tough. Add salt if desired only at the stage of serving the dish.

Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently for one hour.

If you are perhaps one who fancies yourself as something of a pastry chef, it is of course entirely possible and acceptable to make your own puff pastry. I am afraid, however, that I tend to buy it from the supermarket or butcher's shop when I buy my beef.

After the beef has been simmering for around three-quarters of an hour, put your oven on to preheat to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6. Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of about an eight of an inch, in as close to a rectangular shape as possible. Trim the edges at the end, if required.

Grease a non-stick baking tray very lightly with some butter and sit the pastry on it. Leaving a border of about one inch all the way round, prick the centre of the pastry extensively with a fork. This is to ensure that the border will rise much more than the centre where we will place the beef and pepper. Glaze the unpricked border area with a little milk.

By the time the oven is heated, the beef should be cooked. Place the pastry in the oven and add the chopped pepper to the beef mixture. Cook for five more minutes simply to heat the pepper through and then drain well.

When the pastry has been in the oven for about ten minutes, remove it and very quickly add the beef and pepper to the central well before putting it back in the oven for ten more minutes. This will dry out and darken the surface of the beef only to some small extent but the centre will stay luscious and juicy in what is this short cooking time.

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