Recipe: Simple Chicken Chowder

This recipe we got from my Father-In-Law. Its a really simple, filling meal and the great part is that you can recycle any leftovers to work as a base for other meals afterwards.

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Ingredients:

  • 1lb Potatoes, diced (Waxy are better than floury for this recipe)
  • 150g Sweetcorn (Defrost if using frozen)
  • 2 medium onions roughly chopped (I actually used 3 small ones)
  • 2 large chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 pint of veg stock made up
  • 200ml of milk (I use skimmed, but whatever)
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • a tbsp of oil (So stuff doesn’t stick to the pan)

Method:

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Using a large, thick bottomed pan with a lid (I used my old pressure cooker) throw in the oil, chicken and onions and gently fry off for a couple of minutes until the chicken is sealed. Try not to cook it so the chicken goes brown.

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Add in the flour with the salt and pepper to taste, and mix while cooking for a couple of minutes so all the onions and chicken are coated. It will start to look dry, don’t worry, this is normal, just keep moving it all around so nothing sticks to the bottom. You want the flour to start to break down so it thickens the stock later.

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Add in the potatoes. No need to mix and coat the potatoes with the flour.

 

Add the made up stock to the mix and gently stir. You may find that some of the flour has stuck to the bottom of the pan. You want to scrape that up and get it mixing.
Bring the stock back to a gentle simmer with the lid on for 8 mins.
Add in the sweetcorn and continue to simmer for another 2 mins.

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After the 2 mins (10 mins total) lift the lid and slowly add in the milk stirring all the time. Bring the mixture back to the barest of simmers and then turn off the heat. You don’t want the milk to boil.

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Serve with freshly baked, still warm, crusty bread!

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A few options for you.
Ham and bacon work REALLY well in this recipe. Just be careful that you don’t put too much salt into it. Salt brings out the flavours but it can quickly turn if you are not careful!

If you like your chicken seared then you will need to put the chicken in first, on it’s own, fry it as you like it then add in the onions and carry on with the recipe as normal.

Swapping out potatoes for sweet potatoes or butternut squash can make for a really nice alternative. Just note that cooking times will likely need to be altered a little.

Avoid using butter when frying off the meat. For some reason butter leaves a film of grease on top that I was never able to get rid of. If anyone knows how to avoid that, please let me know. Using butter gave a much better taste but the film was annoying.

Mushrooms make a great addition to this recipe. Add them in at the beginning if you want them to break down a little, or fry them off separately and add in with the sweetcorn if you want them with more substance.

How I Make Potato Wedges

If given a choice of chips or wedges I will always go for wedges. And even better I will pick my own wedges over shop bought ones. B-)

How do I make them, you ask? Dead easy!

First off… Preheat your oven to 200C (390F).

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Get some potatoes, enough to feed all your hungry mouths! I generally go for more floury potatoes (Good for mashing) but these were waxy Maris Peers. Not quite as good.

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Leaving the skins on, cut your potatoes in half and then thirds. If your potatoes are a little bigger you can cut the potato into 8’s rather than 6’s.

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Drop your wedges into a bowl with about a tablespoon of oil and flick the contents around so they all get coated evenly.

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Add in enough plain flour that it coats the wedges. Judging the amount of flour you need can be tricky. I used about a tablespoon for this amount. you may want to judge this for yourself.
Once you have the flour in there you can add in any herbs or spices you want. We like Jajita, Tex Mex, cayenne pepper, a mild curry or even the ‘Chips’ spice Shwartz makes!

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Once you have it all prepared you need to place them on a baking tray, skin side down.
Once you have filled the tray pop them into the oven for about 20 mins. After 10 mins you may want to turn them to ensure even cooking.
After 20 mins check to see if they are cooked. If they are still solid check again after 5 mins. Note that larger wedges will take longer to cook!

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Once happy remove from the oven and eat with a selection of dips!

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I suppose you could cook them in a deep fat fryer… I wouldn’t know because we don’t have one and there is no way on this planet I’m going to use a chip pan.
Besides, roasting in the oven is better for you than frying… Less oil.

Enjoy!

Baking French Baguettes

Today I decided to make some French bread, or Baguettes as they are often known. I also thought I would document it because I am a masochist, but mainly because I have no idea what else to do today. B-)

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Ingredients

  • 1 Cup of warm water
  • 2 1/2 Cups of flour (Bread flour is better but I use plain or general use flour)
  • 1 tbsp white sugar (I used Caster)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast or  1 pkt quick yeast
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp water

Method

Place the warm water, sugar and yeast into a large bowl, gently mix and leave for about 10 mins. When you return the yeast should have started to activate and will have frothed up a little. If it hasn’t frothed after 10 mins your yeast is likely dead and your bread won’t rise.

Once it is frothed up you can add in the flour and bring it all together into a dough. Once you have a dough tip it out onto a lightly floured top and kneed for about 10 mins until it springs back into shape when pulled.

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Add a half teaspoon of oil to the bowl you just used and coat the sides. You really won’t need much oil here! Put the dough back into the bowl and roll the dough ball around to coat the outside, place a damp towel over the top and move to a warm area to rise for about an hour or when it has doubled in size.

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Tip the dough out into a surface. If the oil has worked you shouldn’t need to flour it in order to do the next bit. If the dough is sticking then you may want to use a little flour.
Beat down the dough to knock out any air pockets and to loosen it up. This should only take a couple of minutes.

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Roll out the dough into a 16 x 12 inch square. A hint for you. Many rolling pins are roughly 16 inches in length… You can use that as a rough guide if you don’t have anything else.

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Make a cut laterally to give you two 8 x 12 inch pieces. Then roll up the dough from the longest side. Make the roll tight as you don’t want to catch any air pockets in here. When you are done it should look something like this.

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Now place the batons on your baking sheets. You may want to make sure that the rolled edge in on the bottom so you keep a nicer edge to the baton. My problem here is that my sheets are not as big as the batons so I have to use 2 sheets and place them corner to corner! >.<

Once they are on the sheets you want to make a series of diagonal slashes along the batons. Then cover them with your cloth again and leave in a warm place to bulk up again for an hour. When they are done they will look like the pic below left.

 

Preheat your oven to 190C (375F)
Next you want to mix your egg yolk in a cup with a tablespoon of water and baste the whole of your batons. Don’t be shy with the egg, just get it all covered! B-)

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Place them in the oven and bake for about 20 mins or until they are nicely golden.

I’m not going to lie. I have no real idea how long these will keep. For us they rarely make it to the end of the day! Case in point, somebody has already eaten half of one in the time I typed this. B-)
If I were to make a guess I would say no more than 3 days if kept in an air tight container. *shrug*

This recipe can be altered slightly to make them cinnamon bread just by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dough when knocking it back after allowing it to rise for the first time. Adding cinnamon makes a nice bread REALLY nice!

If you want to make these for soup you only have to cut the 2 batons into 3rds before leaving to rise. Bare in mind that smaller rolls will cook quicker than batons.

 

 

 

Simple Veggie Bake

This is one of my fall back recipes I found a long time ago. It’s rather simple to put together and needs no super special ingredients and yet another of meals that can be messed around with to fit peoples tastes.

Serves 6 (or 4 Good servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 A good size Butternut Squash
  • One red sweet pepper (Capsicum)
  • Half a bunch of Spring Onions (4 or 5 stalks)
  • 100g Sweetcorn (Defrost fully if using Frozen)
  • 6 Eggs (Lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 (118 ml) Cup of Oil
  • 1 Cup (125 grams) plain flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to top

Method

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F)

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Cut off the skin and then dice your squash into about 1/2 inch cubes and place them into an oven proof dish.

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Measure out, defrost and generally prepare the rest of the ingredients. The spring onions and pepper can be roughly chopped. no finesse needed here!

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Place the now defrosted sweetcorn, red pepper and spring onions into the bowl with the Squash and then add the oil. Mix and coat well.

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Add in the lightly beaten eggs and then the salt and pepper to taste, I personally go for less salt and more pepper but you are free to suit yourself. Then add in the flour and carefully mix all the ingredients together to ensure they are all well coated and that there are no pockets of dry flour anywhere.

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Once it has been mixed sprinkle with Cayenne pepper. If Cayenne is too much, or not enough of a bite, feel free to substitute for something more to your own taste. Ghost chillies are a thing, BTW!

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Put the dish, uncovered, into the preheated oven for an hour. Once the hour is up it will need 5 minutes resting time out of the oven before serving… This is important!

Serve with home-made potato wedges like we usually do or perhaps a salad?

The meal will keep after cooking but will need to be kept in an airtight box in the fridge for no more than 3 days.

This recipe goes very well with the addition of bacon. But if you do add any meat it will need to be at least partially cooked before adding to the mix. Not only that but you may need to adjust the amount of oil as some meats are naturally oily.

 

Recipe: Potato Salad

Well now. This is no ordinary recipe… This will be the first actual recipe where I will be using the majority of items from either my own garden or a friends.

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First off I will be using the potatoes and spring onions I cropped from my garden yesterday. I will also be using 2 eggs that we get from one of the guys at the wife’s work. He has a dozen or so chickens and sells the eggs.

The only other things to be used will be a few drops of oil and a couple of spoons of mayonnaise. So….

The Recipe.

2lbs of Potatoes
3 Spring onions (If shop bought you may well need more)
2 large eggs (It works out at about 1 egg per pound of potatoes)
2 Tbsp of oil (Extra virgin is best but anything will work)
2 Tbsp of Mayonnaise

The Method

Clean and chop the potatoes into half inch cubes

Clean the spring onions, removing the dried parts. Using both the green and white of the onion, chop into pieces as small or large as you like. I personally prefer smaller pieces but there you go. B-)

Place the chopped potatoes and 2 eggs in a large pan and fill with enough water to just cover them. Bring the water to a boil and gently simmer for 10 mins.

Drain the eggs and potatoes and allow them to cool. You can place the 2 eggs in a bowl of cold water to cool them so you can shell them both.

When cool you can use the potatoes at their current size or you can cut them up if preferred.

Put the potatoes and add in the oil and gently stir to coat them evenly.

Next add in the chopped onions to the bowl.

Now take the two now shelled eggs and grate them into the bowl.

 

Next add in the mayo a spoonful at a time until you are happy. I personally go for 2 spoonfuls. I prefer it drier than wet. *shrugs*

Done.

You now have two choices. Chill it in the fridge or eat it warm!

I really like it warm on that first day but it has to be the original warm, if you reheat it it’s horrid! After that initial heat is gone it MUST be kept in the fridge if you want to keep it.

So that is how I made my first near fully home made meal! \0/

There are many ways to alter this recipe. A really good idea is for adding surf and turf! just fry off some beef and a little fish and add it on the side!
just be aware that a dryer salad would work better than a wetter one.

Is It Really Cheating?

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Can you tell what I did for tea last night? B-)

There has long been a kind of snobbery in the culinary world. It seems to be lessening off of late, but it’s still there. People that use packets to make up meals are lazy and should feel bad for themselves… Not only that but if you don’t use the super expensive brands you are not only lazy, you are cheap!

Personally I think it’s bollocks.

In the meal I made there was fresh veg and the sausages were 100% pork. (I could have spent serious cash and bought expensive sausages, but these are the cheaper ones) No bad things in there. The packet was just a mix of herbs, spices, corn starch and a few other things. No menacing E-numbers or tons of sugar and salt. Salt was in there but near the bottom of the list.

So where does this blithe dislike of packets and those that use them come from? I really don’t understand it. It’s not that I am a lazy cook… But why should I spend time blending my own mix when this packet does it all for me? It’s not as though it really costs any more than the ingredients individually, but the time saved is WELL worth the 60p I spent on it. Also, it was really nice eating too.

I blended my own Garam Masala the other week, but then I already had all the ingredients anyway and I am likely to use it often now that I know I have it made up already.

In the end I think the important fact was that I used fresh veg in a meal we all enjoyed. In time I’m hoping that not only will I be buying fresh fruit and veg, I will be GROWING my own veg to use with that packet sauce.

Cooking – Seared Chicken

This is one of my favourite things to cook. The wife and minion are not as keen as I am so I don’t do it too often. This one is very much a ‘Spanish teaspoon’ kind of recipe. Erm… As in you make it up as you go, so no specific ingredients list as such.

You will need a large frying pan, or skillet for this. Something you can get VERY hot.

  • You will need enough chicken for however people you are feeding. I generally go for 1 breast per person.
  • vegetable oil for coating (Or any oil you like really)
  • Plain flour for coating
  • Spices for the flour if desired (I use a mild fajita seasoning)
  • Can of puréed tomatoes, chopped tomatoes or passata. Whichever consistency you prefer
  • 2 medium onions

Oil kept on hand for frying. This needs to be an oil with a high smoking point. Sunflower oil is a good choice for this.

Pasta, rice, noodles, potatoes or a salad to serve it with (I mainly use tagliatelle)

Method

Cut the chicken into thin-ish strips no bigger than finger… Please don’t cut your fingers off to check. >.>

Slice the onions into thin rounded strips.

Put the sliced meat into a bowl, add the oil and toss to make sure it is completely covered.

Pour some flour on to a plate or into a bowl, adding in any spices as desired. Mix well. Coat the chicken making sure you evenly coat each piece.
Be warned! You are going to make a mess here.

Put the pan you are using on a hot flame and add in some oil. Heat it up as high as you dare and then place in the coated chicken.
NOTE… PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL…. Hot oil may well spit when you add the chicken!

The flour will soak up a LOT of the oil in pan. You likely will need to add in some more, this is fine. Just only add in enough to keep it from sticking and to keep it moist.

Cook through, turning the meat over frequently to cook evenly both sides. When the chicken is nearly done add in the onions and gently mix in with the meat. I have found that even when some of the onion is left on top you are cooking at such a high heat even those will soften! This should take no more than 5 mins depending on how thick the chicken is.

I personally like the onions to still have a little crunch to them, this is simply a preference, you can cook them as soft as you like.

When you are happy the chicken is cooked and the onions are softening a little you can add in the tomatoes. You only want enough tomatoes to… well… Coat everything and leave a small amount of liquid in the pan. You don’t want the meat swimming in the sauce!

When the tomato sauce thickens off you are done. Remove from the heat and serve with whatever side you like.

This recipe is ripe for changing to suit your tastes! I will sometimes add in sweetcorn with the tomatoes near the end or I will change the chicken for pork (Note that pork will need a little less oil). You can also use beef if you like. 

You can also add in green leaf near the end. Spinach will go very well in this meal!

The onions can be dropped in favour of garlic.

This recipe also does very well if you want to heat it up with chillies or various Indian spices designed to light a bonfire in your mouth and strip the walls of your throat as it goes down. This is all up to you. B-)

The only issue I can see is that I don’t think it will work as a vegetarian dish. I just can’t see how you would get the same thing out of a meat substitute. If anyone knows better PLEASE let me know!