Monday, 27 June 2011

Roast Chicken Leg Quarters and Mozzarella Toast

About a week to ten days ago, I was working on a project featuring Good Food Ideas for Fishing Trips. As most fishermen will know, there are certain food types which are simply not practical to take along with you to eat for your lunch or dinner on a fishing trip, especially where you happen to be bait and/or sea fishing. For example, sandwiches which ooze mayo or any other type of filling over your hands when you bite in to them would not be a good idea. One of the suggestions I did come up with in this respect was to have a whole roast chicken the night before a fishing trip and reserve the leg portions for lunch the next day. Alternatively, I suggested that chicken leg portions could be bought individually for this purpose. With this in mind, this recipe is a combination of a really easy dinner for two people and a tasty lunch box idea for a fishing trip the following day.


4 chicken leg quarters (incorporating leg and thigh)
2 1" thick slices from a large white loaf
4oz (approx.) pizza mozzarella
1 tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and white pepper


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

Arrange the chicken leg quarters on a roasting tray. Season with salt and white pepper. No butter, no oil - that's it. Place the tray in the oven for forty-five minutes.

When you remove your chicken leg quarters from the oven, it is of course imperative to ensure that they are fully cooked. This is done by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a metal skewer and pressing down gently over the puncture mark with the edge of the skewer. Check that the juices are running clear. If any trace of red or pink can be seen in the juices, put the legs back in to the oven for a further seven or eight minutes and repeat this test. It is advisable to test each leg portion individually in this way. Cover the tray with tinfoil and allow the chicken legs to rest for fifteen to twenty minutes.

The bread slices which I have used here are taken from a large white bloomer. I have cut them at an angle to make them larger. I have allowed only one slice per portion but this is of course entirely down to preference. Begin by toasting the bread on one side only under a hot, overhead grill until golden.

Please note that the mozzarella cheese used here is the type used on pizzas. The softer type of mozzarella, usually sold in ball shapes and in brine would not be suitable. Slice the mozzarella to a thickness of about 1/4" and arrange it on the untoasted side of the bread. Break up the slices as required to evenly cover the bread. Place back under the grill until the mozzarella is melted and just beginning to bubble.

When your mozzarella toast is ready, transfer it to a chopping board and scatter the chopped parsley over the top. Cut each slice in half at an angle and plate along with a chicken leg quarter in each instance. Allow the two remaining chicken leg quarters to cool completely before putting them in a plastic container and refrigerating them overnight. Do not forget to take them with you on your fishing trip the next day!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Easy Beef Curry - Beef Bhuna

Curries are in most instances fairly easy to make at home and require only the use of one pot, pan or karahi. One reason why many people are put off making authentic Indian curries is that the ingredients list can be fairly lengthy and when all the spices have to be bought at one time, this can represent quite a substantial financial outlay. There are two quick ways in which you can address this problem. You could consider buying your spices in bulk at what may represent a discounted price, or you could consider improvisation.

Bhuna is a curry which is usually made from a number of different spices. This was therefore an experiment, in order to determine how authentic I could make a beef bhuna taste without using an excessive number of ingredients. I was delighted with this first time result and hope you will give it a try. It can be served with boiled or fried rice, chapatis or - as in this instance - naan bread, which I bought premade from my local supermarket.

The cooking time for this dish is probably longer than you would wish to spend after a long, hard day. The good news is, however, that this beef bhuna can be made the night before you wish to eat it, cooled and refrigerated in a glass or stone covered dish. You may even find that when it is simply reheated (thoroughly) the next night for dinner, the extra infusion time it has been granted makes it all the more delicious!

Ingredients for Two People

1/2lb shin of beef
1 large white onion
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
1 pint of fresh beef stock
1 green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
1" fresh ginger root
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaf/cilantro
1 tsp tandoori curry powder
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp garam masalla
1oz butter
Salt to taste

4 small slices of cucumber to garnish

2 small supermarket naan breads


Peel your onion, half it and finely slice it. Melt the butter in a large pot and add the onion. Cook it over a low heat for about five minutes until transluscent, stirring frequently.

Peel and finely chop the garlic and peel and grate the ginger root. Add them next to the onions and fry for a further minute. Add the curry powder and chilli powder and stir well.

The green bell pepper should be de-seeded and roughly chopped. The shin of beef should be diced to around 1", or simply bite sized. Add the beef and brown. This should take a couple of minutes. Add the green bell pepper, tomatoes and beef stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer as gently as possible for two hours, stirring occasionally. If the curry is becoming too thick, add a little boiling water as required.

After two hours, add the garam masalla and the chopped coriander/cilantro. Stir well and simmer for a further ten minutes. Divide between two serving plates.

The naan breads which I bought required simply to be sprinkled on both sides with cold water and heated under a hot, overhead grill for one minute each side. You should of course follow the instructions on the packet of the ones which you purchase.

Lay each cucumber slice flat on a chopping board and cut it almost in half, stopping just before you reach the final edge. Simply twist the cucumber halves in opposite direction and use two slices to garnish the two bowls of plated beef bhuna.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Turkey Schnitzel with Homemade Onion Rings and Chips

Don't you find it incredible, the prices that some fast food outlets charge for onion rings, given how inexpensive and easy they are to make at home? It was a TV advert for a fast food outlet, quoting such unbelievable prices, that partly inspired today's recipe and post. I hope that you'll give particularly the onion rings a try. You may save considerable money in the long term by discovering how easy these are to prepare!

Ingredients per Serving

1 6oz turkey breast steak
1 medium sized floury potato
8 to 10, 1/4" thick, large onion rings
2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tbsp self-raising flour
Chilled tonic or soda water as required
Salt and pepper
3 slices of tomato
Couple of fresh basil leaves

Sunflower oil for frying


The chips for this dish can be made by any standard method but the way in which I like to prepare homemade chips requires that they be cooked in three stages. This means starting them a couple of hours prior to service.

Peel the potato and slice and chop in to chips. Add the chips to a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer for five minutes. Carefully drain through a colander and submerge in cold water for ten minutes. Drain again, place them in a tupperware dish and in to the refrigerator for at least half an hour.

Take the chips from the refrigerator and gently pat them dry in a clean tea towel. Deep fry for four to five minutes on a medium heat. Remove from the oil, drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool completely before refrigerating for a further half hour.

The turkey steak should take around ten minutes to cook, five on each side. Beat the egg in a flat bottomed bowl and season with salt and pepper. Spread the breadcrumbs on a dinner plate. Add a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil to a non-stick frying pan and bring up to a medium heat. Draw the turkey steak firstly through the beaten egg on both sides and then pat in the breadcrumbs. Fry gently until the breadcrumbs are golden and the turkey is cooked.

The onion rings can be fried in a deep frier but I prefer to fry them in a deep frying pan, so that I may watch them cook and turn them when required. First of all, put the self-raising flour in to a plastic dish with a lid and season with salt and pepper. Add the onion rings, put the lid on securely and gently shake to coat the onion rings in flour. Remove the onion rings to a plate, one by one, shaking off the excess flour as you do so. Slowly begin adding the tonic/soda water to the flour, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth batter which is the consistency of thick paint or cream.

Depending upon the number of onion rings you are frying and the size of your pan, you may have to fry them in batches. Adjust when you begin cooking your turkey steaks and giving your chips their final fry accordingly. The chips will require to be removed from the refrigerator and deep fried for a further five to six minutes.

Fill your frying pan with sunflower oil to a depth of about 1". Bring it up to a fairly high heat. Dip your onion rings in the batter one by one, gently shake off the excess and carefully place them in the hot oil. Do not overfill your pan. Fry for two minutes, then turn them over and fry for a further two minutes on the second side.

Drain the chips and onion rings on kitchen paper. Plate up your meal and lay the tomato rings and basil atop the turkey schnitzel as a final garnish, if desired.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Sweet and Spicy Pork and Pineapple Pasty with Homemade French Fries

Pasties have historically formed a huge part of the British food culture. From the Forfar Bridie here in Scotland, to the Cornish Pasty of the South-West of England, local pasty recipes exist in many parts of the land. This, however, is not a traditional British pasty. This leg of pork and pineapple pasty also contains garlic and chilli, as well as a few other less than traditional ingredients, in the name of both exprimentation and variety. I came up with the idea this afternoon, cooked it tonight and thoroughly enjoyed it - I hope you will give it a try.


8oz puff pastry
8oz leg of pork (diced)
1/2 small white onion
1 slice of pineapple (canned in own juice)
1 garlic clove
1 small birds' eye red chilli
1 pint of fresh chicken stock
1 pint of apple cider
1 large floury potato
1 egg for glazing
Salt, white pepper and malt vinegar
1/2 tomato and sprig of basil for garnish (if desired)


Add the diced leg of pork to a medium sized pot. Put on to a fairly high heat and seal the meat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When the pork has turned white/opaque, add the finely sliced half onion and the finely chopped garlic clove and red chilli. Season with salt and white pepper. Stir well before pouring in the stock and cider. Increase the heat to achieve a boil then reduce the heat to simmer the mixture as gently as possible for one hour. Turn off the heat, cover and allow to cool for at least a further hour.

Put your oven on to preheat to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork and other solid ingredients to a small bowl. Roughly chop the pineapple ring and mix it in.

Lightly flour a clean and dry work surface. Roll out the puff pastry large enough that a 10" dinner plate may be used as a template to cut a circle. Carefully fill half of the pastry with the pork and pineapple mixture, leaving a gap of approximately 1" around the edge.

Break the egg in to a small bowl and lightly beat. Use a pastry brush to dampen the half circle border of the pastry around the pork and pineapple. Fold the other half of the pastry over the meat and crimp carefully around the edges to seal. Make two or three slits in the top to allow steam to escape during cooking. Grease a baking tray with butter and place the pasty on to it before glazing liberally with more beaten egg. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden.

When the pasty is in the oven, peel the potato and slice and chop in to French fry sticks. Deep fry in oil for four minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen towel. Cover and leave to cool.

Take the cooked pasty from the oven and leave to rest for ten minutes. While the pasty is resting, fry the French fries for a further five or six minutes until crisp and golden. Drain again on fresh kitchen towel and season with salt, white pepper and malt vinegar.

Plate the pork and pineapple pasty. Slice the tomato and add alongside, along with the basil sprig. Add the French fries and serve.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Roast Duck Pizza with Hoisin Sauce and Pineapple

Fusion cooking is something which is widely ridiculed by a number of top chefs and food industry professionals in modern times. At best, it is considered by its critics to be nothing but an outdated relic of the 1970's. While there can be no doubt that some of the creations born of fusion cooking sound ridiculous and taste unusual at best, that does not mean to say that the practice can not on occasion pay handsome dividends. I believe that this particular fusion of Italian and Chinese cuisine is one instance where the concept works extremely well.

Ingredients per 12" Pizza

6oz plain/all purpose flour
1 tsp active dried yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 fl oz lukewarm water

4oz leftover roast duck
2 tbsp thick consistency, hoisin sauce
1 ring of pineapple (canned in own juice)
2oz pizza mozzarella cheese
2oz cheddar cheese
2 to three basil leaves for garnish (optional)


The dough for the pizza base will require to be made first of all, as it requires resting for approximately an hour. Put the flour, yeast and salt in to a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon. Form a well in the centre and pour in the water and olive oil. Stir until a dough starts to form then set the spoon aside and use your hands to finish combining the ingredients.

Rather than try to describe the pizza dough kneading process in words, I have instead included a short video below which demonstrates the process. This may not be an authentic Italian method of preparing pizza dough - with no throwing it around your head involved - but it is more than effective. It is highly recommended that you watch this clip if you are unfamiliar with the process. To play the video, simply click on the arrow in the centre of the screen.

Put your oven on to preheat to 450F/230C.

If you are using a pizza pan, rather than a pizza stone, very lightly grease it with olive oil. When you have rolled the dough to the approximate size of your pan, place it inside and use your fingers to gently stretch it to the dimensions of the pan, careful not to tear it.

You could at this stage simply spread the hoisin sauce over the pizza dough and place the duck on top. I prefer, however, to firstly stir the duck pieces in to the hoisin sauce and then carefully spread the mixture on the dough, leaving a crust border of about 1/2" all the way around. I think this helps to protect the duck and keep it moist during cooking, as it has after all already been cooked.

Cut the pineapple ring in to fairly small pieces and scatter it over the duck and sauce mixture.

The mozzarella should be sliced and chopped in to half inch strips. The cheddar should be grated. Mix them together and scatter them over the pizza last of all.

Place the pizza in to the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until the cheese has begun to bubble and the crust has started to brown.

Remove the pizza from the oven and leave it to rest for a couple of minutes. Lift it carefully from the pan with a spatula and place it on a cutting board. Tear and scatter the basil leaves on top, if desired. Use a pizza cutter to cut the pizza in to the desired number of slices and serve. (Important: Never cut the pizza while it is still in the pan, as this is likely to damage the pan.)

I hope that you will give this pizza recipe a try. As some people can find hoisin sauce to be a little bit on the sweet and cloying side, you may wish to consider adding mushrooms, or even slices of green bell pepper, to give your pizza some extra savoury bite. Alternatively, if you fancy making a more traditional style pizza, with tomato sauce, or even wholewheat dough, you may find the site linked to below to be of interest.

Pizza Recipes: How to Make Pizza Dough and Homemade Pizza Sauce

Friday, 3 June 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Red Wine Sauce

Spaghetti Bolognaise, Spag Bol, Spaghetti and Meatballs - all these variations on a common theme are very popular around the world. Unfortunately, none of them bear much resemblance to the simple pasta dish from the Italian city of Bologna which provided the initial inspiration. In Italy, the sauce for pasta is very much incidental and is intended merely to complement the pasta itself. In this recipe, I have tried to go some way towards the traditional, while still catering to the wider appeal of a rich, accompanying sauce for pasta.

Ingredients per Portion

8oz can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
2fl oz red wine
1 clove of garlic
Generous pinch of dried oregano
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4lb minced/ground beef
1/2 small onion
5oz dried spaghetti
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves to garnish (optional)


Pour one tablespoon only of the olive oil in to a small saucepan. Bring it gently up to a medium heat. Grate in the peeled garlic clove and add the oregano. Stir around for a minute or so before adding the chopped tomatoes and the red wine. Season with salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and leave to reduce for twenty minutes, stirring frequently, while the remainder of the dish is prepared.

Very finely dice the half onion. Put it in to a mixing bowl with the beef and season. Use your hand to squeeze the beef and onion together, rather than simply mix them together. There is no need for egg or breadcrumbs. It is important only to achieve almost a paste like consistency before splitting the mixture in to four equal portions and rolling each one in to a ball about the size of a golf ball.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add the spaghetti. When the water returns to the boil, reduce the heat to achieve a simmer for ten minutes.

Add the remaining olive oil to a non-stick frying pan and put it on a moderate heat. Gently fry the meatballs while the spaghetti simmers, turning them around in the pan frequently to ensure even cooking.

Drain the spaghetti and return it to the empty pot. Pour in the tomato and red wine sauce and stir carefully around to coat the spaghetti evenly with the sauce. Pour on to the serving plate and sit the meatballs on top. Garnish with the basil leaves (if desired) and serve immediately.