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Chicken & Mushroom Pie

I’m really rather fond of pies, especially when the weather is as wet and gloomy as it’s been today. There is something oh so comforting about pie, whether it’s steak, chicken or apple… you just can’t beat the deliciousness of buttery flaky pastry on a cold day.

Chicken Pie

Given that today has been rather horrid on the weather front, I thought I’d share one of these recipes with you to really get you in the autumnal spirit of things. I’m feeling rather autumnal myself, I’ve spent the entire day cleaning my home (yes it’s that bloody nesting instinct as baby still hasn’t arrived), I figured that there wasn’t anything else to do seeing as it was so wet outside.

I digress, here is my delicious home-made chicken and mushroom pie recipe made using left over roast chicken, so it makes a perfect Monday night treat that’s really cheap to make.

Chicken & Mushroom Pie
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: British
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Chicken & Mushroom Pie
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Left over roast chicken, pulled off the bone and shredded
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 400g shortcrust pastry (either home-made or store bought - I won't judge!)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish and add the onion, cook until translucent. Add the other vegetables and thyme, stir well to coat the vegetables with the oil and cook for 10 minutes until they have softened.
  2. Add the flour and stir well to coat the vegetables, then immediately add the tomato purée and chicken stock. Season generously then add the shredded chicken. Turn the heat to medium and simmer for about an hour until the pie mixture has thickened.
  3. Once the pie mixture is cooked remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for about half an hour.
  4. If you are making pie with a base you'll need to blind bake the pastry crust first (see notes below). However, you may only wish to add the pastry on top, in which case follow the steps below.
  5. Fill your dish with the pie mixture and pop the sheet of rolled pastry on top allowing about 2cm of pastry to over-hang the dish. Use cutters to decorate the top.
  6. Brush with egg wash, poke a few small holes in to let the steam out and bake for 40 minutes.

Instructions for Blind Baking a Pastry Crust

If you wish to make a pie crust (which I think is best), roll out your pastry to the desired size, depending on the size of your dish. Use a small ball of pastry to push the corners into place so you don’t tear the pastry.

Ensure that you roll the pastry out so that you have about a 2cm overlap on the dish (sometimes the pastry shrinks in the oven). Place a sheet of baking paper over the pastry and fill the dish with ceramic baking beans. Pop into a pre-heated oven (180oC fan) for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans and baking paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Once you have blind baked your pie crust allow it to cool slightly before adding the chicken mixture and complete the recipe from step five above.

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Lemon & Chicken Risotto

I’m back! Now, you may, or may not, have been wondering what happened to me. Hopefully some of you have missed me anyway. The truth be told, I’ve been on Slimming World for some time now, obviously I had a break over Christmas (who in their right mind would diet over Christmas?). Not me!

The good news is that I’ve lost a total of nine pounds, and only have five more to go until I reach my goal of loosing a whole stone. Woo hoo me! This being a food blogger thing doesn’t half make you gain a bit of weight. It’s not rocket science, we all know it’s impossible to remain slim and eat all of the foods you like. If only hey! But enough was enough, I realised that it was impossible for me to stick to my regular blogging schedule and not keep gaining weight at the alarming rate that I have been.

I’m not about to embark on sharing a million Slimming World recipes with you, that’s there thing. This is a dish I made a while back, but I just had to share with you, the flavours are so fresh and vibrant, and just look at the wonderful sunny colour of the puffed up lemon infused rice. It will certainly brighten up any cold January night. So just to clarify, this is definitely a non Slimming World friendly recipe. Having said that, if you swapped the oil and butter for low calorie cooking spray, omitted the wine and parmesan you’d be good to go.

Making risotto doesn’t need to be hard work, yes okay there is a fair bit of stirring involved, but otherwise it’s actually not that difficult, more time consuming really, having said that it only takes about 20 minutes.

It’s not often that I use ingredients that are hard to get hold of. I don’t like the idea that someone wouldn’t be able to re-create the dish at home, or have a nightmare trying to find where to buy them, but then sometimes things are just too delicious not to share. I bought this lemon risotto rice in Sorrento when I visited back in November and have been dying to use it. I’m sure you could find some online, I’ll certainly be looking out for some more. I wish I’d bought more home, but then again we all know how difficult it can be with one tiny piece of hand luggage, trying to stuff all of your things into it, let alone bringing back various foodie bits and bobs.

The flavours in this risotto are wonderful, they remind me so much of the busy afternoons I spent in Sorrento and Naples, dashing about all afternoon before sitting down to some delicious, lovingly prepared Italian cuisine.

Richard doesn’t like risotto. I know, weirdo right? He says that it’s pudding rice and shouldn’t be used in a savoury recipe, but I’m sure the 59 million strong population of Italy would wholeheartedly disagree with him! I just adore risotto, so if you have a delicious recipe leave the link in the comments below. I’d love some new recipes to try out.

Lemon Risotto

Lemon & Chicken Risotto
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
If you really struggle to find lemon risotto rice, just use the juice of a whole lemon and a little more zest after adding the liquid.
Ingredients
  • 2 large free range chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 white onion, peeled and diced
  • 220g lemon risotto rice
  • 400ml hot chicken stock
  • 200ml white wine
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 30-40g parmesan, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the chicken strips in an oven proof dish, cover with the lemon juice and season well, cook for 20 minutes, or until tender and cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and garlic stir well and cook for a couple of minutes, add the rice, and stir to coat the grains with the oil and butter.
  3. Add the wine 100ml at a time, stirring continuously until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Continue by adding the chicken stock one ladle at a time until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Finish by adding the lemon zest, parsley and parmesan, stir well until the parmesan had melted and slightly thickened the rice.
  5. Serve immediately

 

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Black ‘n’ Blue Penne Pasta with Cajun Chicken

I am possibly the most flippant person I know; I change my mind like the wind. I’ve decided to quit Slimming World after just 8 weeks – I admit I felt too deprived! To be fair, I had lost half a stone, which is half the weight I really wanted to, but I’ve resided to the fact that I’d rather be fat and satisfied.

Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, I’m not exactly fat, at 9 stone 9 pounds I’m perhaps a few pounds off my ideal. It’s quite possible that if you don’t have the type of relationship I do with food you’d be okay with Slimming World, but I’m a food blogger and limiting myself to certain types of foods was never going to work. What is it they say, “It’s better to have tried” and all that…?

I have times when I feel like being super healthy and I admit I’m one of those people who feels smug with myself when I decide to have a salad for dinner or go for an impromptu run. But with the festive season pretty much upon us getting into shape and fitting into my summer clothes isn’t on my agenda right now.

So, keeping in theme with my ‘eating what I god damn like’ attitude, I made the most delicious supper tonight. It was inspired by a dish I had at Frankie and Benny’s of all places; I went for lunch with my colleague Jade the other day and had a delicious black and blue pasta dish. It’s a dish they only have on the lunch menu for some bazaar reason, it’s delicious and definitely deserves a place on their regular menu. So I decided to copy the dish, as best I could anyway. I’m sure that those in the know would argue it’s nothing like the real dish, but it really hit the spot and tasted just as good, if not better. That’s right, better!

Black ‘n’ Blue Penne Pasta with Cajun Chicken

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Black 'n' Blue Penne Pasta with Cajan Chicken
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp cajun spice mix
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 150ml white wine
  • 150ml single cream
  • 125g Stilton, or similar blue cheese, crumbled
  • 250g penne pasta
Instructions
  1. Start by placing the chicken strips onto a baking sheet and sprinkling evenly with the cajun spice mix, place into a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees.
  2. Heat the butter oil in a pan over a high heat and fry the shallots and garlic until translucent, add the flour and stir well. Then immediately add the wine and simmer for a few minutes before adding the cream. At this point you will need to whisk the sauce well to ensure the flour is well combined and not lumpy.
  3. Meanwhile, boil the pasta - this will need about 12 minutes, or 11 for al dente.
  4. Crumble the blue cheese into the pan and allow to simmer until the pasta is cooked.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the water (about 60ml), add this pasta water and the pasta to the sauce and stir well to combine.
  6. By this time the chicken will be cooked through, remove from the oven and stir into the pasta.
  7. Serve immediately in warmed bowls with a little parmesan if required.

 

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Why I’ve Joined Slimming World

I’ve decided that enough is enough, my poor waistline can no longer cope with all the indulgence I can’t seem to help myself from eating. I’ve always loved food, but since starting this blog that love of food has turned into an obsession, mostly an unhealthy one. It’s true, I love butter… but it’s time I had a break from cakes and creamy pasta dishes. I’ve gained a stone in weight since I moved in with my boyfriend a year ago – that’s contentment for you, but I’m not happy that my jeans are tight and I feel sluggish and lethargic sometimes.
I’d been thinking about joining Slimming World for a while, so I finally got round to making the plunge. I was very nervous walking into that village hall full of slimming ladies, who all seemed to know each other. The ‘newbie’ feeling, we’ve all had it at one point or another, but it doesn’t get any easier does it? That feeling that everyone is staring at you. But, honestly the group is so lovely, the ladies are so welcoming and two weeks in I already feel completely at ease.
I’d built up an idea in my head that slimming or dieting was going to be so difficult, but the SW plan makes it feel fuss free and like you are not depriving yourself of the foods you love, just cutting down and making healthier more informed choices. Never in my life have I felt the need to diet before, but at 10st 1.5lbs and only 5ft 2inches tall it’s quite necessary. My BMI suggests that I’m verging on being overweight, a scary thought! All in all, I have 1st 1.5lbs to loose, which is pretty much 10% of my body weight! 
I made the rather silly decision to start SW the week of my Birthday, so as anticipated I didn’t do so well the first week, I over indulged on fish and chips and far too much alcohol. I went to the group weigh in fearing the worst – but I’d actually lost 1lb. Harrah! Okay, so it’s only 1 measly pound, but a loss is a loss, and I’ll take that! This week I’ve been much better than last so I’m hoping I’ll have lost a bit more.
I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, but essentially SW is about food optimising, having lots of healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and lean meats, potatoes, rice and pasta. Yes pasta! And cutting back on your wheat (bread) and dairy (milk and cheese), then there are your syns, the things like chocolate and wine, which you can have, but in moderation.
Being the avid cook that I am, I’ve purchased a few of the recipe books to ensure I stay on track and find it easy to make the right choices. So far I’ve cooked a whole host of dishes that have been very delicious. Trust me I was surprised, who knew curry without cream and spag bol without parmesan could taste so good. To show you just how delicious the SW meals are I wanted to share some snaps with you. For Slimming World recipes you can visit their website.
The recipe is from the SW A Taste of Asia book and it got huge thumbs up from the boyfriend, who was more than sceptical about a ‘healthy’ version of a special fried rice. “It’s better than take-away” he confessed!

Egg Fried Rice

Chinese Lemon Chicken
 
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Jamie Oliver’s Steamed Asian Chicken & Cabbage Parcels

 
 
I have a slight obsession with recipe books; in fact I’m running out of space for them in my kitchen. I’ve discovered that the only place to buy them is a charity shop. Indeed, all of the charity shops in my town sell 3 books for £1 –even large hardback recipe books. I’ve recently found various Jamie Oliver books lurking amongst the shelves. Why someone would get rid of a Jamie book is beyond me. I’ve always found his recipes to be so inspirational. I love the different elements he brings to them, nothing is served without an accompanying salad or side dish, and it’s really creative.
This recipe is from Jamie’s Kitchen – one of his earlier books – I can tell this by the young, fresh faced lad with a cheeky grin on the cover (sorry Jamie). The book is brimming with recipes that look delicious; I can’t wait to test more of them.
This recipe really appealed to me, those of you who read my blog often enough will know this is because of the pungent Asian flavours. I love the idea of little parcels that can be dipped in the sweet chilli sauce – for me that is food that is fun – and totally delicious.
 

A Totally Delicious Asian Treat

Click here for the recipe!

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Paprika Chicken – Hairy Biker’s Style

 
 
In keeping with my healthy theme for January, I thought I’d call upon the help of my old friends the Hairy Bikers and one of their recipes that’s become such a go-to in my kitchen. This recipe is great because it’s not only healthy, it’s cheap and super quick to prepare when you find yourself in the midweek rush. Grab yourself some chicken drumsticks and thighs (skin on) from the supermarket, or even a whole chicken that you can joint yourself if you are okay with that, this is usually an even cheaper way of cooking a recipe like this and is perfect for a family meal. I often buy a whole chicken and have Richard joint it when we have his children at weekends as we love making a delicious chicken tikka masala, it works out great value for money. The kids can’t get enough; I think it’s the sweet red onions and the fact that I purée the sauce until it’s smooth and thick.
Whatever I’m cooking I like to have leftovers for my lunches at work, so I often make more than I need, and this recipe is perfect for that, it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. The recipe suggests using a blend of sweet and hot paprika, but if you’ve only one kind, such as smoked that’s fine, you will still get that rich red, beautiful paprika hit that that is oh so good with the sweet vibrant red peppers. The bright sunny colours in this dish remind me of the Mediterranean, perfect for warming your heart and belly on a winter’s night. And, you’ll certainly not feel as if you’re having a healthy meal when cooking up this gorgeous stew, the sweetness and spice work wonderfully together and you can still have a small fluffy mound of mashed potato to mop up the rich tomato paprika sauce; just go easy on the butter!

Click here for the Hairy Bikers Paprika Chicken Recipe!


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Authentic Tuscan Ragú


The best Italian food is simple, rustic and colourful

There must be a million ragú recipes out there, but this wonderfully versatile sauce plays such a big part in authentic Italian cookery, so one more won’t hurt. Made with the freshest ingredients and slow cooked to perfection, there is no doubt that a huge pot of rich, mahogany ragú bubbling away on the stove will set your taste buds tingling. The red wine and mix of different meats, beef and lamb mince and chicken livers really set this recipe apart from the rest and creates the most wonderful depth of flavour.
The versatility of this ragú is what I love the most; enjoy it with freshly made pasta or in a lasagne. But, for me its best served on toasted ciabatta bread, topped and vine tomatoes, freshly chopped basil and a few shavings of parmesan, all washed down with a delicious Italian red wine. Make a big batch and freeze it for delicious, but quick, weeknight meals.

I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve recently discovered a love of authentic Italian cookery, so I was delighted when I received an email from the folks at To Tuscany, explaining that they were running a foodie blogger competition, and they wanted me to enter. The idea is to post a Tuscan inspired recipe, which is something I was only too pleased to set about making. Having thought about the basics of Italian cookery, and the simplistic approach Italian’s seem to adopt when cooking, I knew the recipe had to encompass three things, fresh ingredients, good preparation and enjoyment. There is nothing the Italian’s love more that sitting down to enjoy a lovingly prepared meal over a lazy afternoon. And, given that seasonality plays such an important part in Italian cookery, only the freshest ingredients would do.
I’m excited at the prospect of a foodie competition, mostly because it allows me to put my thinking cap on and get creative, but also because I want to win a week in one of your Tuscany villas. Really I do! Imagine sitting in the warm Tuscan sunshine enjoying a glass of the finest Italian wine and munching your way through some delicious bruschetta, knowing you’ve earned your way there by creating a delicious Tuscan recipe. Fingers crossed!
Given that ragú is probably one of the most common Italian recipes, and one that is showcased in various different versions all across Italy, it may seem an obvious choice. But, ragú is all too often ruined by people mistaking it for a simple flavour combination; it’s a far cry from simple, dull or boring. Made with the best quality ingredients and just the right about of love your ragú will have the most wonderful depth of flavour, making you feel as if you’re enjoying an authentic Italian dish on a hill-top hamlet in Tuscany. We can but dream…

Authentic Tuscan Ragú Recipe

Recipe makes a large batch for freezing

250g Beef mince
250g lamb mince
200g Chicken livers, finely chopped
5 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil (such as De Cecco Il Classico)
800g chopped tomatoes
5 tbsp tomato purée
200ml of red wine
Salt and black pepper
Handful of freshly chopped basil
10 vine tomatoes, halved
4 tbsp parmesan shavings
A combination of the following ingredients finely chopped is what the Italian’s call Soffritto, which forms the basis of many authentic Italian meals:
2 Red onions
2 Carrots
2 Celery sticks
1 sprig of rosemary (optional in most Soffritto recipes)
2 bay leaves (optional in most Soffritto recipes)

Start by heating the oil in a pan and gently frying the red onion, carrots and celery. Add the rosemary and bay leaves. Cook until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the rosemary and bay leaves and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the meats to the pan and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes. Once browned add the wine and stir well. Cook until the wine and fat from the meats has evaporated.
Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée and season to taste.
Serve with toasted ciabatta, topped with a generous spoonful or ragú, a few chopped vine tomatoes, freshly chopped basil and parmesan shavings.

Bon appétit!

 Wine Paring – Piccini Super Tuscan – medium bodied, it’s a blend of Sagiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, particularly good with red meat, pasta and rich tomato sauce – Perfect indeed!


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Fish vs Chicken – and a healthy curry recipe to boot



I’ve been eating an awful lot of fish lately; partly because I love it, but also because I’m trying to trim up a little. Heck, I even went running last night (for the first time in ages), and my poor legs are feeling it today. But it felt great, and I always find when I’m exercising I don’t want unhealthy food, perhaps it’s because I know how hard it is to run off a two finger Kit-Kat – that’s the equivalent of running a mile. Yep, that’s right a whole mile. However, as much as I strive to be good and eat the right foods, I’m never going to be able to stop eating curry, that’s a fact. So, how do I make curry healthy? Humm… this is certainly a difficult one, but a few swaps here and there all help to lessen the calories. This fish curry was absolutely sublime and so healthy; I’ll definitely be making it again, and again.

Whilst chicken may be higher in protein than most types of fish, the fat and calorie quantities speak for themselves. A typical portion of fish will contain half the calories of the same portion of chicken. I’ve done my research you see, the following comparison was taken from Two Foods, which is an amazing website I’ve recently discovered. The site allows you to compare the calorie, carb, fat and protein levels of two different foods, so making the right (healthy) choice is easy.

Another option would be to make a vegetable curry; there are so many wonderful vegetables that can transform a curry into an array of flavour and colours. Swap the fatty double cream for low fat natural yoghurt and avoid using butter or ghee. I know they are tasty, but they also make you fat and honestly you probably won’t even notice the difference.

Having decided that fish is the best way forward, I’ve since been experimenting with various fishy dishes and you can expect to see more over the coming weeks, as long as I don’t fall of the wagon and find myself gorging on pasta. It’s a possibility; I’m only human after all. 

Serves 2

1 small white fish fillet (cod or haddock), roughly chopped
Handful of peeled cooked prawns, frozen
200g chopped tomatoes
1 white onion, quartered
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2cm piece of ginger, minced
1tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
150g natural yoghurt
400ml fish stock
Handful freshly shopped coriander to garnish

Toast the mustard seeds in an oil free pan for about 30 seconds. Set aside. Using one tablespoon of vegetable oil fry the onion and pepper pieces until soft, the onion should have some colour. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the garlic and ginger to the pan, with a little more oil, if required, cook until lightly coloured, then add the mustard seeds, chilli flakes, cumin, ground coriander, garam masala and turmeric. Allow the spices to cook until fragrant; do not allow them to burn or the curry will taste bitter.

Add the pepper, onions, chopped tomatoes and the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice and the fish and prawns and continue to cook for about 3-4 minutes. Once the fish is cooked add the yoghurt and stir well. Serve immediately garnished with freshly chopped coriander. 


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Camping Paella for a Crowd



The weather is supposed to be warming up for summer, and you’ll be thinking about going on your holidays, perhaps a weekends camping in Wales? This recipe has been waiting in the realms since the Easter break when I totted off to Nolfolk for a weekends camping with the extended family. There were about 20 of us all told, so this is certainly a recipe for a crowd (although I’ve adapted it to serve 10), and it’s not your typical Spanish paella either. I mean there are certainly Spanish influences and ingredients in the dish, but also ingredients you wouldn’t expect, such as green beans and butter beans. My uncle (that’s right, the one with the pizza oven) tells me that this is an Italian version of paella, but I think we adapted it from various recipes, as you do when you’re camping and you’ve drunk too many glasses of red wine. What starts out to be a gallant effort to stick to the recipe inevitably ends up with many alterations and variations from the original recipe, but one thing that’s for sure is that this paella won’t fail to impress a hungry camping crowd.
I simply love the colours in this dish; it almost shouts festivities with the green beans and red peppers set amongst the pearly butter beans and rosemary. It’s certainly a different take on paella, which is what I think makes it so special. Using chicken thighs and drum sticks means it’s a very budget friendly meal, which is ideal when you’ve 20 people to cater for. Not the simplest of tasks I tell you. For me, camping is a great opportunity to get creative cooking something you wouldn’t normally have time to attempt. Having plenty of willing helpers will make this an easier task, someone to chop vegetables, someone to boil kettles for stock, someone to top up your wine and of course your head chef.

Paella can be tricky, but if you get the basic process right and keep an eye on it you’ll be fine. The cooking process is via a combination of absorption and evaporation, which means that when you add the liquid (stock) to the rice you have to be patient in waiting for the rice to absorb all of the liquid, and make sure that you add more if needed. Once you’ve added the rice refrain from touching it, don’t be tempted to stir it, poke it or fiddle around with it otherwise you’ll end up with a starchy mess.
We started out making this paella in one 20 inch paella pan, but it very quickly became apparent that this was far too small for the amount we were making. Luckily Martin had another big pan, roughly the same size, so this recipe was enough to fill two 20 inch paella pans. I figured that a recipe for 20 people was far more than most people will want to feed, so decided to be more rational and write the recipe quantities to serve 10 people.





I thought I’d share this photograph with you, my uncle’s way of making sure the pan is straight on the hob, I mean is this really necessary? And, who brings a spirit level camping with them anyway? He’s had this pan for 20 years, no word of a lie. So having prepped your ingredients, set up your cooking apparatus and, of course, made sure your pan is precisely in the position you want it your ready to get cracking. 


16 chicken pieces (thighs and drum sticks)
Olive oil
500g paella rice
2 litres chicken stock, hot
2 large pinches saffron
250g spicy chorizo, sliced
2 red sweet pointed peppers, roughly chopped
2 long red chillies (fairly mild ones), finely chopped
250g fine green beans, trimmed and halved
400g tin of butter beans, drained
800g chopped tomatoes
1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika
1 small bunch rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 6 table spoons of olive oil in a paella pan. Place the chicken pieces in the pan, once they are browned on all sides remove them and keep warm.
Add the chorizo, green beans, butter beans, peppers, chilli and rosemary to the pan, allow to cook for about 4 minutes, add the chopped tomatoes and paprika, season and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the chicken is almost cooked through. 
Pour in a litre and a half of hot chicken stock and 2 large pinches of saffron. Bring everything up to a simmer and then thoroughly stir in the paella rice. Do not stir again, but leave to cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover with a tea towel; this helps the final swelling of the rice and will also absorb excess steam. Serve immediately.

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Delicious Chicken Curry in a Hurry

I know, I know, before you say it, does the world really need another chicken curry recipe? Well yes, you can never have enough curry recipes, and there is nothing I like more than experimenting with spices; a little less garam masala, a little more chilli… you get the picture.
This recipe is one that I have developed over time; having read literally heaps of curry cookbooks and tested out many variations this is perhaps my favourite so far, and the reason is twofold. Firstly, you could chuck this together in less time it would take you to order and pick up a takeaway, and secondly it won’t even set you back at half the cost – not to mention it’s delicious. Okay that’s three reasons.
If thick creamy curries are not your thing, but quick convenient food is, give this a go. The fact that you use yoghurt instead of cream means you don’t get that ghastly heavy, creamy texture that so many Indian restaurants serve. This is a tomato based curry so it’s actually fairly light as curries go.  Essentially, all good curries start out the same; the basics are, of course, onions, garlic and spices, followed by liquid (water or stock) and meat, or indeed vegetables and perhaps a little cream or yoghurt. Once you have the concept and measurements right, you are ready to start experimenting yourself. Fundamentally, there are no rules here, by all means make this a fish, vegetable or meat curry if it suits you better, and up the spice according to your own taste. Served with plain boiled rice it’s perfect, or try out some of my more exciting rice and Indian side dish recipes.


300g diced chicken breast
2 tbsp butter or ghee
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large white onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 ½ inch piece of ginger, minced
2 red finger chillies
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tbsp garam masala
½ tsp turmeric
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp caster sugar
300ml water
100g low fat natural yoghurt
Heat the butter and oil in a large non-stick pan, add the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies, cook for about 6 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the spices and fry for a further 2 minutes. Do not let the spices burn. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and water, stir well and add the chicken. Cook for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile boil the rice. Once the chicken has had 12 minutes, add the yoghurt and stir well. It may look as though it is separating a little at first, but continue to stir and the sauce will come back together.
If you do prefer a thicker curry, mix a tbsp of corn flour with a tbsp of water and stir into the curry. Serve immediately with the boiled rice.