Recipe: Jerk Chicken, Rice & Beans, Zingy Chopped Salad

A.K.A a delicious meal.

In fact, one of the nicest meals I’ve cooked in a long time. And, amazingly, one of the first meals I’ve cooked entirely by myself for W ever. In the whole almost-six years we’ve been together, I’ve rarely cooked solo for him. He’s always helped out, chopping things, cooking an element, with me being more the sous chef. I’m a lucky girl really!

 photo Jerk Chicken Dinner_zpsiqbauwv4.jpg photo Jerk Chicken Recipe 3_zpso2ziiiep.jpgThe entire meal here was influenced by one of Jamie’s Thirty Minute Meals. Let me tell you this, half an hour is a lie. This took me well over an hour, although having said that it was relatively stress free, didn’t take too much washing up, and I reckon with practice should be easily done on a work night. And it was certainly special enough to make for guests too – it looked great, and it was damn yummy.

This does have, however, one of the longest ingredient lists of any of my recipes. Generally I’m not hugely comfortable with such meals, as I find them expensive and fiddly. This one isn’t too bad as there’s no specialty ingredients, and we actually had everything minus the chilli and fresh salad ingredients. If you don’t have everything, particularly the spices, do what I did during my first year of university – build up my spice cupboard gradually by buying one with each (or every other) shop.

 photo Jerk Chicken Recipe 5_zpsmnxh10eo.jpgIngredients for 2 (Chicken & Rice)

  • Two skin-on boneless chicken breasts – or thighs to make it cheaper, as I will be doing next time!
  • 1 tbsp runny honey – or a big squeeze from a squeeze tub
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 150g rice, we used Basmati
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 1 tin black beans

Ingredients for 2 (Sauce)

  • 4 spring onions
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme (use some for the chicken)
  • 1tsp each of ground cloves nutmeg and allspice
  • 2 tablespoons golden rum
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli
  • 3 cloves of garlic

Ingredients for Lots (Salad & Yoghurt, served 2 for dinner, then lunch the next day)

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 red chicory
  • 1 romaine lettuce
  • 1.5 limes
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 250g natural yoghurt
  • few sprigs of fresh coriander
  • Half a lime

 

 photo Jerk Chicken Recipe 6_zpsnbdu4rve.jpg photo Jerk Chicken Recipe 1_zpsjyl9bmkl.jpgMAKE THE JERK SAUCE Trim and roughly chop the onions and put into a mini chopper with the leaves from most of the bunch of thyme. Add the spices, rum, vinegar, honey and 2 teaspoons of salt. Remove the stalks and seeds from the Scotch bonnet chilli and add to the chopper with the garlic and blitz to a smooth paste. Mine was more liquid than paste, so I have reduced the liquid quantities in my recipe.

FRY THE CHICKEN Meanwhile put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and halve each one, leaving them joined at the top of the breast. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then rub all over both sides of the chicken. Put into the hot griddle pan, skin side down, and leave to cook. Once the undersides are golden, turn the chicken over. Pour the jerk sauce into a  baking dish and lay the chicken on top, skin side up. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of runny honey and scatter over  the remaining thyme sprigs. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 15minutes, at 220C.

RICE & BEANS Put a saucepan with a lid on a medium heat. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and put in the saucepan with the cinnamon stick, a good tbsp of olive oil and a big pinch of salt & pepper. Stir and let soften for a minute or so, then add the rice and stock. Drain and rinse the beans, add to the pan and stir gently. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Pop the lid on and leave for 12 minutes.

YOGHURT Tip the yoghurt into a small serving bowl. Finely chop a few sprigs of coriander and add to the bowl with a pinch of salt and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil. Finely grate over the zest of 1/2 the lime and squeeze in the juice. Stir in.

SALAD Deseed and roughly chop the red pepper. Pop the chicory and lettuce on top and keep chopping until everything is fairly fine.  Pour in a few lugs of extra virgin olive oil and squeeze in the juice of the limes. Finely slice the onions, season to taste, then toss everything together. Tear over the coriander to finish.

 photo Jerk Chicken Recipe 4_zps2s5wxjvi.jpgTO SERVE Take the lid off the rice after 12 minutes and give it a stir. All the liquid should have been absorbed. Taste and season if necessary. Take the chicken out of the oven, and sprinkle over some coriander if there’s any left. Plate up, spoon over the jerk sauce from the bottom of the baking dish.

The chicken was tender, the skin crisp, coated in the most delicious sauce. Said sauce was spicy, spicy enough to make your nose run, but not inedible, and combined with complex flavours and a good whack of herbs. The rice and beans were so, so simple, yet we both loved them. Such an easy was to add plenty of flavour to a side of rice, I’ll definitely be making them again. And the salad was also lovely, zingy, hot from fresh chilli, sharp from coriander, crunchy with pepper. All finished off with a lime and coriander yoghurt (gratefully received to take away some of the heat), this was a dinner I was proud of.
 photo Jerk Chicken Recipe 2_zpslriujq3e.jpg

Have you cooked anything particularly good lately?

Recipe: Chicken Chowder (& Homemade Stock)

Yes, I made stock. Yes, it was the most boring hour of my life. No, I’m not about to do it again in a hurry. This person does not have the time or the patience to stand over a pan skimming scum from my stock. This chowder, however, is definitely worth the time and effort. It doesn’t need much, really just a stir here and there, and I’m willing to bet it would be fine with just a stock cube. Having said that, I did like the intense chicken-y flavour of the stock, and if I wanted to cook something really special I would make it again. The real star of the show here is the Chicken Chowder.

 photo Chicken Chowder9_zpsqvvlab4u.jpgA really simple recipe, this Chicken Chowder is a hug in a bowl. It’s creamy and comforting, slightly spicy and a little sweet, full of interesting textures. It really is a meal in a bowl, and it’s become one of my favourite ways of using up leftover chicken.

Based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe, the quantities below made me four generous servings of this Chicken Chowder. I’ve lightened it up a little by reducing the cream and the bacon, and added a little heat by grating in some fresh chilli at the end.

 photo Chicken Chowder10_zpspq5d8mhi.jpgIngredients

  • Chicken carcass – see last week’s post for my Roast Chicken recipe
  • 2 rashers of bacon
  • Half a bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 onions
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 1 large potato (around 250g)
  • Leftover chicken (I used around two handfuls – i.e. a small roasted chicken, minus two lunchtime salads)
  • Small tin of sweetcorn
  • A splash of double cream
  • Cream crackers, to serve – it’s well worth splurging on some nicer ones here, I highly recommend Doria Doriano Crackers* (so moreish!)
  • Red chilli, to serve

To make the stock, simply roughly chop one onion, 2 carrots (peel, but add the peelings too), and 2 celery sticks and throw into a large pan. Break up the chicken carcass and add that, then top with plenty of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for as long as possible, skimming scum off the surface every ten or so minutes. Strain into another saucepan, and then reduce down until you have around a litre of stock.

 photo Chicken Chowder12_zpszkrvinct.jpgFor the chowder, chop the bacon and fry in a little oil until crisp. Remove and set aside. Dice the remaining onion, carrots and celery, then fry in the bacon fat along with the potato (peeled and cubed into 1cm dice) and parley stalks (finely chopped) until soft and caramelised. Keep stirring to stop the veg burning, but try not to rush this stage.

Add the stock to the veg, along with the sweetcorn and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes until reduced slightly, then whizz with a handblender. Add a splash of cream, season well and serve with parsley leaves, bacon pieces and some crushed crackers. I like to grate some fresh red chilli over at the end for a bit of a kick!
 photo Chicken Chowder11_zpsutwqtjjy.jpgServed with the crackers, this doesn’t need anything else. The contrast in textures and flavours makes this super yummy, and it also freezes really well (though I’d add the cream after reheating!). The perfect use for leftover chicken!

What’s your favourite way of using up leftover chicken? Have you ever made a chowder?

 

 

Recipe: Paprika Chicken

One of my new favourite meals, this is slightly spicy, healthy, warming. Whilst it’s quick to make, it’s also slightly more special than just throwing something in the oven. And it freezes well made up too, so in the end it can become a throw-in-the-oven-and-shower meal.

 photo 1caec8db-29b0-4680-88ee-d0cb5e2d2ee5_zps73842900.jpgRoasted red peppers are something I’ve become a little addicted to in recent months. I’m slightly ashamed to admit I buy jars as I’m sure it would be cheaper to buy my own, but the jarred stuff just tastes so, so good. Perfect blitzed up into a sauce for pasta, or chopped into a salad. And wonderful in this.

I adapted this recipe from Sunrise Senior Living, and I’ve got to say if they eat like this I’d be happy to go stay! You can download the original recipe here. I made mine more saucy, a little cheaper and easier to make. I don’t bother using spoons when making gravy, so I wasn’t about to measure 17g of granules. I cut down the oil, and didn’t bother searing the chicken. So whilst this doesn’t bear too much in relation to the original recipe, the idea and flavours are pretty similar. Trust your instinct in whether you want it to be more saucy or not!

 photo cf4b1c47-36da-40ee-b820-d03a9043fe6d_zps3a9f8528.jpgIngredients (to serve 1)

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, sliced
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 teaspoon of chicken gravy granules
  • A splash of red wine, or sherry, or anything similar if it’s open. The first time I made it I didn’t use any alcohol because I simply didn’t have any
  • Sprinkle of dried herbs, I used thyme

Heat the olive oil, and fry the onions until soft and slightly golden. Add the pepper and herbs, and fry until fragrant. Add the alcohol, if using, and bubble until dry.

 photo 982cbf64-00f9-4a4b-be75-2c8c63715bf9_zpsd40bf28c.jpgMake up the sauce by adding boiling water to the stock and gravy. Add to the pan and reduce to the required consistency.

 photo 74a8e807-e517-4eb9-84b6-6e20fc76ed5c_zps749b6346.jpgPlace the chicken in a baking dish, pour over the sauce, and bake at 200C for 35-45 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked.

 photo 2014-12-07204312_zpsd5363bb1.jpgI served mine pretty simply, loads of sauce, broccoli and a small garlic bread. It goes well with new potatoes, and I’m also guessing rice would be good. Such a versatile dish, and one that I’ll definitely use to stock up the freezer!

Have you tried anything new recently? How do you liven up chicken breasts?

Recipe: Chicken & Chorizo Pie

Irrational it may be, I do love Pi…

 photo 04c6c159-9943-4bd2-8ecc-cdd621bcd520_zps32c5ee0b.jpgSorry, you can take a girl away from her maths lectures, but she’ll always be a maths geek at heart. Seriously though, I do love pies. They are filling, comforting, relatively healthy (I serve them with loads of veg and nothing else – hence they are superhealthy), freeze well and aren’t as time consuming as you’d first think. I do admit to grabbing ready-made pastry most of the time (I’m sorry, I don’t have time to make puff pastry!), but even whipping up a quick shortcrust isn’t too horrendous.

This recipe was originally inspired by a recipe in GoodFood. I’ve simplified it, making it quicker, and a lot cheaper. It would also be a great use of leftover roast chicken, and you could up the veg content by throwing in peppers if you felt like it. Either way, it’s a summery switch up of the classic pie.

Ingredients (serves 4, including two greedy men)

  • 1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • around 15cm chorizo sausage, casing removed, chopped into slices then halved
  •  3-4 chicken breasts (5oog-ish)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of cream

 photo f33df65f-841d-42eb-9758-a64491b9be47_zps4920a5a0.jpgFry the onion in a little oil until softened, then add the chorizo. Fry until it smells yummy and has released plenty of its oils.

 photo fedef7e7-3df2-4b8c-be60-7328476edbff_zps2f713bfa.jpgTip in the chicken, and seal quickly until golden brown. Stir in the flour, cook (stirring all the time) for around two minutes, then gradually add the stock. Stir to avoid the sauce going lumpy.

 photo fd1126a3-2059-493e-b07d-0ed47e1407ce_zpsdd297e34.jpgSimmer and reduce for about 15 minutes, until thickened. Stir through the cream.

 photo 76bcd6b4-295c-4377-91bb-8eb4beea7b5d_zps121e4743.jpgTip into a pie dish, and top with your pastry. Bake at 200C for about 30 minutes. Serve with plenty of green vegetables.

 photo 45e045f7-f991-4055-a9b5-b4be2f468a51_zpsf529b307.jpgSunshine flavours under a crisp pastry crust, just enough cream to be comforting, but light enough not to need a nap afterwards. Perfect in my book!  And a great excuse to use up Stanley Pie Bird* from Cath Kidston too!

What’s your favourite pie filling?

Review: Flava-It With Meat Lust (& THE Crispiest Wings)

 photo 2014-09-22182550_zps73fc0616.jpgI love chicken wings. If I wasn’t so self-conscious about making a mess they would be my go-to order in Nandos, and I’m desperate to try some of the London-based wing restaurants too (damn you allergy!). When Meat Lust got in touch about sending me over some marinades, a quick check revealed they’d advise against me having them, but would my family like a try. Fine. I was hugely jealous, until I got the parcel and read the packet. Turns out only the Original BBQ flavour contained tomato, with the three other flavours I was sent being Chloe-safe. I was over the moon, my parents not so as I promptly snuck them back to my Surrey hideaway.

 photo 2014-09-22182613_zps30cd5dea.jpg photo 2014-09-22193827_zps8790a955.jpgBuffalo wings* were the first to be tried out, and I think this was my favourite flavour. Not too sweet, not too spicy, but still a flavourful kick. These marinades are super simple. Scatter the powder over the meat (I rubbed it in slightly) and leave for 10 minutes. That’s it. I would recommend leaving for longer if you have time, but 10 minutes is perfectly fine if that’s all you’ve got. Now for crispy wings here’s a tip I’ve stolen from good ole’Jamie Oliver (probably one of my favourite chefs, as I just love his recipes). A tablespoon of medium ground polenta over your wings before they go in the oven, and they will be crispy, with a texture almost as though they have been deep-fried. I’ve recently been using some Maizemeal* from Real Foods (an amazing site for health foods and a whole range of toiletries and other exciting things. I like to browse it on a Sunday afternoon over cake and tea…). Super quality, crunch and flavour, superior to any I’ve bought from a supermarket. Bake the wings for 30 minutes, turn and bake for another 20. Super crispy skin, moist flesh. The may look a little black in my photo, but they weren’t far from burnt. Utter perfection, although the tray was a bugger to clean.

Louisiana BBQ was my least favourite flavour, far too sweet for my liking, although it did go pretty well with the pork ribs. Ghost Chilli was exceptionally hot, but really good too. I think I would have loved this flavour had the wings been cooked a little better – the lack of polenta made them a little greasy (sorry dad!). No pictures of these two as I was nearly too ill to eat, let alone photograph my food. But despite my general disease, the food still tasted good. I’ll definitely be picking up a few more of these marinades for next summer! I will say however that the photos on the packets aren’t really representative of what you end up with – they definitely weren’t any sauces produced, but delicious all the same.

Disclaimer: I was sent four marinades to review (one of which has killer tomato in, and has been left with family to trial), but this doesn’t alter my opinions at all. I was also (separately) sent the polenta/maizemeal from Real Foods, and again my opinion is unbiased.

What’s your favourite flavour to marinade meat in? Will you be trying any Meat Lust products?

Student Summer: Simple Sunday Chicken

One of the things I missed most when I moved to university was a good Sunday lunch. Well, a roast dinner – they aren’t just for Sundays really! Sure you could go to your nearest ‘Spoons (or as I did – the local cafe that did roast dinner baguettes) but it wasn’t quite the same. In the end I turned to my own oven, and after nearly two years of experimenting I’ve come up with a basic Sunday Roast Chicken that doesn’t break the bank, and doesn’t take an awful lot of skill. Perfect for students really!

 photo 2014-08-09203043_zpsf27a197c.jpgThe best thing about this is that it is completely and utterly adaptable. Sausages going spare? Throw them in! Fancy something more summery? Add tomatoes and some lemon juice. In the mood for spice? Rub spice mix into the chicken. If you want more traditional roast potatoes then you’ll probably want to use a large dish so they aren’t covered by the chicken – but I think they are pretty great as they are. Another great bonus is that pretty much everything is ready at the same time – all you need to do is cook some green vegetables, and you can do that whilst things are resting. Exactly as the title says, simple!

On a savvy-spendy note, chicken thighs are super cheap compared to breasts, and I’ve actually started really liking them now I appreciate crispy skin. They are also really difficult to dry out, so a bonus if you forget about them in the oven!

 photo 2014-08-09203447_zpsad055189.jpgIngredients

  • Chicken thighs – 1-2 per person depending on appetite. You can use any leftover meat the day after, or freeze it for a bit.
  • New potatoes – chopped into bitesized chunks
  • Garlic – 2 cloves per person
  • Salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you fancy
  • Olive oil

 photo 2014-08-09175130_zps5643c4ed.jpg photo 2014-08-09181122_zps80ba6ee8.jpgTo start off, par boil your potatoes in salted water for five minutes. Drain and toss with the garlic (don’t bother to peel) and olive oil. Season.

 photo 2014-08-09195552_zps1f0caab7.jpg photo 2014-08-09195645_zps99b0fcd4.jpgPlace the chicken skinside up ontop of the potatoes, and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Use your hands to rub the olive oil over the skin, then season again.

 photo 2014-08-09203054_zps0e474cd6.jpgPop in a pre-heated oven (200C) for 45 minutes – the chicken skin should be golden and crisp. To check – remove a piece of chicken and place on a plate, then piece the thickest part and press down. Juices should run clear without any pink; if not your chicken isn’t quite cooked. Cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes whilst you prep and cook any other veg, then serve up.

This recipe is so quick and easy, plus so tasty and reminiscent of home. It’d be a perfect dish to make if you and housemates joined up for meals – my second year house tried to do Sunday dinner together, although we rarely did a full roast, and it was definitely a highlight of the week! When Currys asked me to produce a recipe for their student cookbook this was the first thing I thought of – so I had to share!

Are you a lover of the Sunday roast?

Recipe: Chicken Thighs in White Wine & Garlic

 photo 2014-06-13204501_zpsa817025e.jpgI’m slowly coming round to chicken thighs. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate that they have so much more flavour than breast, and they are far more tender too. Not to mention that they are considerably better for my budget. But I just hate eating chicken with the bone in, particularly in stews. Instead I decided to make a lighter dish with them, and whilst its not changed my mind 100% I’ll happily make this again, so I’m getting there!

Now, I’m not going to claim this dish is particularly thrifty, but it didn’t cost an awful lot,  it was extremely simple, and for a Friday night would make a perfect romantic dinner for two. We used one of the cheapest white wines we found (£4 a bottle) and it was actually a very nice wine, we really enjoyed drinking it too. Served with vegetables and some fresh bread, it really doesn’t need much on the side so I’d say its on the pricey side of thrifty – not a splash out meal, but not one for when you’re scrambling down the backs of sofas for every spare penny. Anyway, its delicious and I highly recommend you try it.

 photo 2014-06-13180100_zps2a00a5c4.jpgIngredients (Serves 2 generously, 3 with some potatoes)

  • 1 pack of chicken thighs (6)
  • Oil/butter for frying
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 300ml white wine
  • Splash of cream
  • 1 handful fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt & pepper

 photo 2014-06-13181134_zpse7a81a94.jpg photo 2014-06-13183049_zpse7e49589.jpgFirstly, fry the chicken over a high heat in the oil until golden. Best to do this in batches. I’m pretty terrified of spitting oil, so this bit was stressful for me, but wearing oven gloves and using long tongs helped. I would advise frying the skin side down first. Keep the chicken warm whilst you prepare the sauce.

 photo 2014-06-13183101_zpse35614da.jpgTurn the heat to low, and fry the garlic for a minute or two. Don’t let it brown or it will be bitter. Add a little butter to the pan if it is dry. Add the wine, and bubble until halved – this gets rid of the alcohol content and stops the dish tasting entirely of wine.

 photo 2014-06-13183545_zps02d6f72b.jpgAdd the cream, followed by the time, and stir in some seasoning.

 photo 2014-06-13183749_zpsdc4a30fe.jpgNestle the chicken back into the sauce, making sure the skin is above the surface.

 photo 2014-06-13204154_zpsad49d30f.jpgCook uncovered at 200C for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked (pierce the thickest part; juices should run clear).

 photo 2014-06-13185052_zpsec956f5e.jpgWhilst the chicken is cooking, prepare any accompaniments. We went for broccoli and baby corn, and some freshly baked bread – it was all the two of us needed, and along with a glass of wine each it was a lovely summery meal.
 photo 2014-06-13204621_zpsae7a4627.jpg

I have entered this recipe into the #TuscanyNowCookOff – you can find more details here. Thank you for inviting me to enter!

What’s your favourite summer dinner?

Recipe: Chicken’n’Chips

 photo 2014-04-05194427_zpsa27c8742.jpgAs a student I can’t afford takeaways, and whilst I’m generally not into them (what with allergies it’s often easier to cook for myself!) I do get cravings for a good KFC occasionally. A few weeks ago I was running down the contents of my freezer in preparation for my Easter holiday and found a chicken breast, so decided to make my own fakeaway style chicken and chips.

I made up my recipe as I went, not really expecting it to taste as good as it did. When it turned out to be one of the best meals I’d had in a while I knew I had to share it with you, so here it is! Its relatively quick and very easy, and it cuts out the flour-egg-breadcrumbs faff of most breaded chicken recipes, so its a definite winner if like me you dislike handling raw chicken. You can also completely adjust the seasonings to your taste – I went for spicy chicken here, but it would be equally good with something milder, or you could even go down the BBQ seasoning route…I’ve even made sure there’s something resembling a serving of vegetables on the side!

 photo 2014-04-05193251_zps5537c7e5.jpgFor The Chips

  • One large potato, skin on, cut into wedges/slices/chips
  • Seasoning – I went for salt, pepper, mixed herbs and some Cajun seasoning

For The Chicken

  • One chicken breast, cut into strips or chunks
  • A splash of sauce – you could use ketchup, pesto or something similar, but I used Wahaca’s Chipotle Sauce
  • Breadcrumbs – I used ones from a tub

And For The Concession to ‘Healthiness’ – Coleslaw

  • A handful of red cabbage, sliced finely
  • 1 large carrot, sliced finely or peeled using a julienne peeler (I love mine!)
  • 1/4 of an onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • A splash of lemon juice

Let’s Get Faking our Chicken’n’Chips!

 photo 2014-04-05185308_zps2bfd4384.jpg

 photo 2014-04-05185653_zpsa017ea19.jpg

 photo 2014-04-05185940_zpsf38de7a4.jpg

 photo 2014-04-05192512_zps74277bcf.jpg

 photo 2014-04-05192655_zpsf9c45755.jpg

  1. Heat your oven to 220C. Cover a tray with foil, spray with a little oil, and place in the oven to heat up.
  2. First, boil the sliced potatoes in salted water for 5-8 minutes. Drain, then tip onto a plate and sprinkle with plenty of your chosen seasoning, and toss together. Place on the hot tray (remember to leave room for the chicken).
  3. Now prep your chicken. Cover the chicken in your chosen sauce, then cover with breadcrumbs. Make sure the chicken is covered all over.
  4. After the potatoes have been cooking for 10 minutes, turn them, add the chicken to the tray, and spray the chicken with a little more oil.
  5. Cook for 15-20 more minutes, until the chicken is cooking through. You may want to shake the pan in the middle of cooking in case the chicken starts to stick to the foil.
  6. Whilst the chicken is covering, make the coleslaw. Put all the veg on a plate, add the mayo and lemon juice, and mix together. I find using my hands is the easiest way to do this. Transfer to a bowl and keep in the fridge until everything is ready.
  7. Serve, preferably in front of a film or some cheesy Saturday night TV.

 photo 2014-04-05194432_zpsef4b9bf9.jpgI find this makes the chicken incredibly well flavoured, and you can adjust the seasoning for your own tastes. Its such an easy way to create crispy chicken and spiced wedges, so I highly suggest giving it a go!

Do you cook fakeaways?

“Restaurant” Review: Chicken Pie at The Goods Shed, Canterbury

 photo IMAG1026_zpsycplbblv.jpgAnother pie-related post for National Pie Week! If you missed my recipe for Shortcrust pastry then you can read it here. This post is a review of the pie I ate a few weeks ago, when I finally visited the Goods Shed in Canterbury. I’ve been aiming to visit the place since I moved here nearly 18 months ago and finally went for a cute ‘date’ on Valentine’s Weekend (prior to going to the Lego Movie in which everything is awesome…)

We were immediately out-priced by the main restaurant, though we’re definitely aiming to go back there for a proper date before I graduate in 2016. After a nice wander round (its not as big as I imagined, but definitely enough to keep my eyes occupied for far longer than the hour we spent there in total!) we decided to give Patrick’s Kitchen a try.

I was really tempted by the Short-Rib Beef Stew (something about short ribs is really, really appealing to me!) but as it contained tomato puree it was a no-go for me! In the end we both went for the chicken pie…

 photo IMAG1027_zpsoqhfbwsk.jpgIt ended up being an amazing chicken pie – rivalling the one from my local butchers (which is a pie I really MUST review for you sometime!). Our pies came with a generous portion of mustard mash, and the most thick and flavoursome gravy I personally have ever eaten. I’d happily eat a bowl of that gravy with some bread!

Now the pie itself! The pastry was very crisp and flaky, but without being dry. It was also spectacularly flavoured, being buttery and well-seasoned.  The filling was wonderful. Great big bits of chicken (you can see them in the photo!) in a herby sauce that was creamy but light. Again well-seasoned – just a fabulous pie. Although the portion looked a little stingy for the (ouch!) £7 each it was deceptively huge, and there were definite “I’m full” groans from both of us afterwards.

 photo IMAG1028_zps9iycwcfp.jpgI’m planning on going back to the Goods Shed very soon to try out the Jonny Sandwich stall (pork belly, onion and caramelised pear sounds good to me!) so please let me know if you want a dedicated post. And if you do visit there at any point, I recommend the pie!

Recipe: Shortcrust Pastry for National Pie Week

 photo IMAG1026_zpsycplbblv.jpgIt’s national Pie Week this week (as I found out walking into Tesco’s to shelves of special buy pastry) and I couldn’t be more excited. I love pies, they form some of my favourite meals. They are just so filling, so versatile, and also pretty quick to make – they freeze really well, so whether you make your own or buy them in you can just throw one in the oven, then come back in a hour and cook some veg. Delicious meal with very little effort.

I prefer to make my own pie (although the Chicken & Ham Pie from the butchers nearby is hard to beat!) filling and then top with ready-rolled puff pastry. I’ve never had the time to make puff pastry from scratch, although I aim to give rough puff a go in the next few weeks. I can, however, make a pretty decent shortcrust. As most students will know, I suffer from a lack of freezer space and often its impossible to freeze fully made-up pies. Its easier and more space-efficient to spoon the filling into a bag, seal, and squeeze in the tiny gaps available. When I do this I really need to make my own pastry, and that’s where this recipe comes in!

I’ve managed to devise the perfect amount to cover my ‘individual pie dish’ – ie the smallest rectangle dish Le Creuset make (I buy mine discounted – and couldn’t recommend the brand enough!). It covers the filling, and leaves just enough to double round the edges to make a thicker, crunchier crust. Not only this but it is extremely quick to make (I can make it in five minutes, before a 9am lectures, then just roll out, cover and bake when I get in) but it is relatively flaky and buttery, and extremely flavoursome from the seasoning. Not quite as good as puff pastry, but a good second-best!

Pastry Ingredients (for a big one-person pie – I am greedy, and I also like lots of pie and no other carbs!)

  • 25g butter
  • 50g flour
  • Seasoning
  • Ice-cold water

How to Make Pastry (also, it’s easy to double/triple/quadruple the quantities if you’re feeding more than yourself – just keep the ratio of half-fat-to-flour!)

Add the flour to a mixing bowl, and season well. My preferred seasoning is a little salt, plenty of ground pepper and a little dried thyme. Tip the butter into the flour. The butter should be cubed, and straight from the fridge.

 photo 2014-03-05100024_zpsf5da3c2c.jpgRub the butter into the flour with your fingers until  its all breadcrumby. No, that’s not a word, but its a good description of what you’re aiming for!

 photo 2014-03-05100357_zpsc69ecc89.jpgNow get some cold water in a glass, and add a drop at a tip to the mix. Stir vigorously with a knife to combine, and only add enough water so that the pastry just comes together.

 photo 2014-03-05100651_zps24e1fe4c.jpgTip the pastry onto clingfilm, and put in the fridge for at least an hour, or until its nearly dinner time! Then you want to roll it out until it’s about the thickness of a £1 coin.

 photo 2014-03-05182806_zpsca95a734.jpgTypically the day I make this pastry for photographing is the day it fails and decides to stick to my marble surface, and then sink into my pie filling. It was still lovely and crisp though!

 photo 2014-03-05192706_zpsb5cad7ba.jpgYou want to bake your pie for about 45 minutes at 180C, until it’s crisp and golden. Brush with melted butter, milk or egg if you want it shiny, though I don’t usually bother.

This pie filling was something quick I knocked up – I sweated down an onion and some garlic, added chicken breast and sealed, then fried some mushrooms off. I then added half (soya) cream and half chicken stock, some lemon juice and seasoning, then simmered for a bit. I find this kind of sauce freezes really well and is so adaptable!

So that’s how to make my version of a simple shortcrust pastry. Let me know if you try it out! Its also a pretty cheap recipe too – far cheaper than buying ready made pastry.

What’s your favourite type of pie?