Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A Traditional British Sunday meal

Photo by Adrian Burke

I have been a bit neglectful with the blog in this past week, as the amount of work doubled and left me with no spare time to play in the kitchen. My husband, Dean, is away for 2 weeks, and that means that on top of my own work, I am solo with the household chores and child care. All the meals in our house, at the moment, are the same old easy-and-quick-to-make stuff.

At the weekend, I had no energy left to even think about what to cook. It was then that I was rescued by  our neighbours and very close friends Alistair and Michelle (the Hallam family), who invited us for a traditional Sunday roast chicken. What bliss!  I’ve then decided to share with you the beauty of that wholesome meal.

Not satisfied with cooking a beautiful lunch, Alistair decided to bake some scones for us to have with clotted cream and jam for the afternoon tea. I can’t stress enough how delicious they were.

The whole day was sensational! The meal, the weather, the company, the drinks, the children playing happily in the garden, and the very short walk home after an afternoon of indulgence. Thanks Az, Mich, Jaz and Max!

I have another week of hectic schedule ahead of me. While I still can’t play in my kitchen, I will leave here some of the tips and tricks Alistair uses to make a lovely and juicy roast chicken.

I promise to be back in full swing, with our regular posts, in two weeks time.

After leaving the chicken marinating overnight, time to
wrap it in tinfoil and put in the oven
Baste the chicken
Root vegetables ready to go in the oven
Turn the vegetables over once
Stale brown bread to make the stuffing...
Now baked and ready to be eaten
Roasted vegetables on the way to the table
Az proudly presenting his delicious roast chicken and stuffing
Not only beautiful to look at




To the beginning of an enjoyable Summer!
Roast Chicken by Az Hallam

The day before he cooked the dish, Alistair put some butter with garlic between the skin and the breast of the chicken. He then drizzled the chicken with olive oil and seasoned well with salt and pepper, rubbing it all over the bird. He would normally add sprigs of rosemary and some lemon, but had run out this time.

The next day, he cooked the chicken wrapped in tin foil for about 1h10min at 180º C – basting about three times during the cooking. He then removed  the foil  separated the juice to make gravy,  basted the chicken one more time and left it to brown for ½ hour.

Stuffing

For the stuffing, he used 5 thick slices of stale brown bread (approx. 200g). He sautéed shallots with garlic and red pepper in olive oil. He then added the crumbled bread and sundried tomatoes and seasoned with salt, pepper and dry herbs, like thyme and mixed herbs. He then added water to it (100ml), stirred and baked the mixture in the oven for ½ hour.

Alistair served the chicken with roasted vegetables and bread sauce.
Simple and flavoursome. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.

The main ingredient and its functional properties 


Chicken (Gallus domesticus): You can read the functional properties of chicken on my previous posts: here , here and here.


The beautiful scones, clotted cream and jam
yum!

The children had a ball



Till after Easter!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Wild For Garlic

A "sea" of wild garlic


The first signs that the end of the Winter is nigh came to me last weekend in the farmers market. My regular organic vegetable stall was selling wild garlic. Wild garlic can start to appear in the woods as early as February, but at that point the leaves aren’t quite big yet. You can find them especially in shaded areas and this  is the best time of the year to harvest them.

Wild garlic can be eaten raw or cooked. All parts of the plant are edible. Although they have a very noticeable garlicky flavour, of course, they are milder than garlic cloves. You can add them to soups, make risotto, eat them raw, sautée them and make an aromatic pesto.

If you are eating wild garlic for the  first time, here is a useful tip: do not eat lots of leaves at once, as your body needs to get used to it gradually. Otherwise, you may get diarrhoea.

Caution: As wild garlic is very similar to Lily of the Valley (Lily of the Valley is lethal!), one needs to be careful if one decides to find some in the wild. To make sure you are picking the right plant, check the following: the young plant has a matt green colour as opposed to a shiny glossy colour; the leaves  are a bit stretchy, when you pull them out: and, once you have a leaf in your hand, it should have a very strong smell of garlic.

I have compiled here 3 easy recipes using wild garlic. Hope you enjoy them!

The ingredients
Put all ingredients into a food processor and blitz.
My wild garlic pesto! Very aromatic.
Add a tablespoon into a pan of cooked pasta

and have it as a light, aromatic and
flavoursome lunch

Wild garlic pesto
Makes approx. 350g

INGREDIENTS

100g wild garlic, washed
50g pine nuts (or any other nut of your choice i.e. walnuts, almonds)
Juice of ½ lemon
150ml extra virgin organic olive oil
50g hard goat’s cheese (or parmesan)
Sea salt to taste

METHOD

Put it all in a food processor and blitz it up.

Add it to your pasta, use as a spread on your toasted slice of bread, in omelettes, potato salad or even added to soups or casseroles for that extra flavour.

It keeps on the fridge for up to 3 weeks or it can be frozen.

The ingredients
Sautee leeks and potatoes. Add stock to the pan and let it
simmer until is cooked
Line the soup bowl with some leaves of wild garlic
My potato, leek and wild garlic soup!

Wild garlic, leek and potato soup
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, finely sliced
4 large (about 800g) floury potatoes, diced
600ml hot homemade chicken or vegetable stock
About 100g stale sourdough or any wholemeal bread, torn into pieces
3-4 handfuls wild garlic, washed but whole
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
1 dried red chilli, sliced, to serve (optional)
METHOD
Gently heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and season, cover and reduce the heat to low. Sweat it for 15 minutes, stirring a few times.

Add the stock to the pan, increase the heat slightly and bring the soup up to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are really soft (approx. 8 minutes). Add the pieces of bread and mash them gently into the soup.

Season. Remove from the heat, line the soup bowls with the wild garlic, then pour in the soup (or, if you prefer, just add the wild garlic into the pan to wilt).

Put the extra-virgin olive oil and the chilli, if using.


halve or quarter potatoes, put them in a pan with water and
let them boil
Slice and chopp the rest of the ingredients,
put into a bowl and mix
When the potatoes are cooked, add the mixed ingredients
into the pan and stir gently
My potato salad with organic venison sausages! A lovely
lunch
Wild garlic potato salad

INGREDIENTS

800g Fir apple potatoes (or Charlotte), halved
20 wild garlic leaves, finely sliced
A bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely sliced
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp wholegrain mustard
2tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Put the potatoes in a large pan with salted water and boil for approximately 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, add all the other ingredients together and mix. Drain the potatoes and add in the dressing.

Some of the ingredients and their functional properties

Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum): also known as Ramsons or Bear’s garlic. Wild garlic has similar healing properties to the cultivated garlic. It is very good for your digestive system, immune system and the cardiovascular system. It helps to control  blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels (it helps to reduce blood stickyness). Wild garlic has antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. It also prevents colds and flus. Wild garlic is known to ease stomach pain and acts as a digestive tonic. It can be used in the treatment of diarrhoea, wind and colic.

Till next week!

Monday, 5 March 2012

A brief version of a Keralan fish curry

                         Keralan fishing boat      ® Off Exploring

I love Indian food! Give me an Indian meal any day and I will be happy.
Last Thursday, I bought a beautiful piece of line-caught haddock because the previous night I had watched a food programme in which a gorgeous South Indian homestay lady (Anju George) cooked a traditional Keralan dish curry. My mouth watered the whole program.
I didn’t have all the ingredients at home, but I made sure I got at least the fish to kill my craving. After some adaptations, I cooked the Keralan Fish curry my way and, even though it was quite a short cut, it was delish! I can’t wait now to cook the full recipe given by the Indian cook. In the meantime, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this version.
The ingredients! In the middle of making the dish I decided to leave
green beans out. 
Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan, fry the mustard seeds
till they start to pop. Add the onions, garlic and ginger...
...green chilli, curry leaves and turmeric. Cook until soft.
Add the coconut milk,
then add the fish and tamarind sauce. Season.
My Keralan fish curry!
Keralan Fish curry
Serves 6-8

 A nutrient dense and flavoursome dish.
INGREDIENTS
Organic extra-virgin coconut oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
A generous pinch of curry leaves 
2 onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2.5cm piece of ginger, grated
1 green chilli, finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric
700g firm white fish cut into chunks
1 x 400ml tin organic coconut milk
1 tbsp of tamarind sauce
Chopped coriander

METHOD

Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan, fry the mustard seeds till they start to pop.
Add the onion, garlic, ginger, green chilli and turmeric, and cook until softened. Add a splash of water if the mix looks too grainy. Add the fish, coconut milk and tamarind sauce and season.

Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked. Add the coriander leaves and mix. Serve it sprinkled with some more chopped coriander and fine slices of green chilli, and basmati rice on the side. Enjoy!
Some of the ingredients and their functional properties
Green Chilli (Capsicum annum, C. frutescens ): It contains capsaicin, a compound well known in scientific research as a pain reliever and digestive aid, which also has cardiovascular benefits. Capsaicin has the ability to lower blood temperature (it may induce perspiration in cases of fever). It stimulates the metabolic rate,  burning fat. It contains very good levels of vitamin A and C. Chilli is a great source of iron and potassium.
White Fish: As well as being a very good source of protein, white fish contains B vitamins such as B3 and B6, which promote healthy cells (like skin and blood cells) and keep the nervous system healthy. White fish also contains small amounts of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D and E. It is rich in iron, phosphorus, selenium and iodine.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale): It reduces fever and eases asthma symptoms. It also helps to lower blood pressure. Plus, it reduces cholesterol and aids circulation. Ginger contains fibre, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and folic acid.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa): It has anti-inflammatory properties, protects the liver from toxins, has high levels of antioxidant, lowers cholesterol and has been shown to inhibit the replication of HIV-1. Some research has shown that a supplement of turmeric has improved flexibility and reduced joint swelling in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. It improves protein digestion, reduces uterine tumours, dissolves gallstone and reduces period pain. According to Paul Pitchford (Healing with Wholefoods), a good dosage of turmeric, ¼ -1/2 teaspoon daily, can be used as spice or taken in capsules.
 Till next week!