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Thai red chicken curry – mild and delicious

17 Oct

DSCI0063If you like spicy food but don’t like the heat then this curry is perfect for you.  It is mild and creamy and full of wonderful flavours.

The recipe uses rapeseed or vegetable oil and I thought, it would be good to find out a bit more about ‘fats’.

All fats are high in calories, so it’s important to bear this in mind if you are watching your weight. However, your body does need to have some fats.  The most common concern, after weight gain, about eating fats is the effect they have on your heart. Here is what the British Heart  Foundation has to say on the matter.

‘In terms of your heart, it’s important to think about the type of fat you are eating.

Swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats

Butter, lard, ghee, palm oil and coconut oil are all high in saturated fat.  Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Where possible replace saturated fats with small amounts of monounsaturated  and polyunsaturated fats.

Avoid trans fats

Avoid these wherever possible. These fats are most likely to be found in foods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries and deep-fried foods.  Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in dairy foods and meat, however it is the industrially produced trans fats which have a similar effect to saturated fat, as they can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood.

Have monounsaturated fats in small amounts

Olive oil, rapeseed oil and spreads which are made from these oils, as well as some nuts and seeds, are all high in monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Have polyunsaturated fats in small amounts

Soya, vegetable and sunflower oils, spreads made from these oils, nuts and seeds like walnuts and sesame seeds, and oily fish all contain polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and provide essential fatty acids.

Top tips to help you reduce your saturated fat

  • Swap butter, lard, ghee and coconut and palm oils with small amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive, rapeseed or sunflower oils and spreads.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat and make sure you trim any excess fat and remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Instead of pouring oils straight from the bottle, use a spray oil or measure out your oils with ateaspoon.
  • Read food labels to help you make choices that are lower in saturated fat.
  • Opt to grillbakesteamboil or poach your foods.
  • Make your own salad dressings using ingredients like balsamic vinegar, low-fat yoghurt, lemon juice, and herbs, with a dash of olive oil.
  • Use semi-skimmed1% or skimmed milk rather than whole or condensed milk.
  • Cottage cheesericotta and extra light soft cheese are examples of low-fat cheese options. Remember that many cheeses are high in saturated fat so keep your portions small – matchbox sized. Opt for strongly flavoured varieties and grate it to make a little go a long way.’

http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/healthy-eating/saturated-fat.aspx

It looks like eating healthily will also help us lose weight.  Bonus!

Here is the recipe.

Thai red Chicken curry                             Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp rapreseed oil
  • 2 banana shallots, sliced
  • 3 – 4 chicken breasts, skin removed and cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp red thai curry paste
  • 1 x 400g can coconut milk
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 1.5 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • juice of half a lime
  • small bunch of basil, leaves torn
  • small bunch coriander, chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the shallots for a couple of minutes until softened.  add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes or until lightly brown all over.
  2. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute then add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce and sugar. Stir then add the red pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. You can freeze the curry at this stage if you want, in rigid containers.  Defrost thoroughly and ensure it is heated through then continue with stage four.
  4. Add the spinach, lime juice and herbs, mix to combine then cook for 1 minute.  Serve with boiled rice.

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Chicken fricassee with cider and mushrooms

9 Oct

DSCI0120If you look through the chicken dishes in this blog you will find a number of recipes that include tarragon. That is because chicken and tarragon are a match made in heaven.  This dish is no exception and tastes absolutely delicious. I have used cider to make a sauce for pork before but I think this is the first time I have used it to make one for chicken.  It really does give the dish a fantastic lift. Here are a few facts and trivia on tarragon.

  • The word “tarragon” comes from the French word “estragon” meaning “little dragon,” hence the nickname “dragon’s-wort.”
  • It is the leaves of the herb Artemisia dracunculus. The slender dark-green leaves have a pleasant anise-like flavor and aroma.
  • Tarragon blends well with other spices. It is used in sauces, especially Bearnaise sauce and tarragon vinegar. In French cuisine it is an integral part of fines herbes and dijon mustard.
  • Tarragon was used by the Greeks as early as 500 BC. Like the French, the Arabs named it “turkhum” which means dragon probably because they found the taste to be exceptionally strong or because of its serpentine shaped roots.
  • Tarragon came to France from the plains of Siberia in the 15th century by the Arabs who had been using it since the 13th century
  • Tarragon leaves are rich in iodine, mineral salts and vitamins A and C. In the past tarragon was used to prevent scurvy. It is also used as an appetite stimulant and digestive tonic by naturalists.

Here is the recipe. I found it in a Good Food Magazine, the link to it on their website is below. I didn’t make the parsley croutons as I preferred to serve mine with mashed potato to soak up the wonderful sauce.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/chicken-cider-fricassee-parsley-croutes

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Chicken and vegetables with Soy Noodles

30 Sep

DSCI0104   I know I have said this before but I love Chinese food. It is quick, easy, healthy and, usually, cooked in one pan so saves on the washing up.  This recipe was a little unusual as it contained some spices I would normally associate with Indian food rather than chinese. Does that make it a fusion dish? I wouldn’t like to say as this terminology still confuses me. Regardless of whether it is fusion or not it tastes absolutely wonderful.

I found the original recipe on the Kikkoman web site but have changed it quite a bit to use ingredients I had to hand. It still tasted absolutely wonderful and is one dish I will be making again and again.

Here is the recipe.

Chicken and vegetables with soy noodles       Serves 2 -3

  • 150g thin or medium egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 pack of tender stem broccoli and asparagus tips
  • 1 orange pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 tbsp raw peanuts, toasted
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp kikkoman Less Salt Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  1. Cook the noodles as per pack instructions, drain and keep warm.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wok, add the pepper, broccoli, asparagus and spring onions. Stir fry over a brisk heat for 5 minutes. Add the peanuts, stir fry for 1 minute then remove from wok and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the wok , heat and stir fry the chicken for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander and chilli powder and stir fry for another minute.
  4. return the vegetables to the wok and toss with the chicken. Add the noodles, soy sauce and rice wine. Toss everything together until piping hot then serve in warmed bowls.

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Chicken cacciatore

2 Sep

imageI love rustic food and this is one of my favourites.  I like to serve it with either mashed potatoes or pasta but my favourite is krithiraki (Greek version of Orzo).  I made this the other night for my Brother and Sister-in-law. It is so easy to make and you can prepare well in advance and warm up when you are ready so ideal for entertaining.

Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine.  The dish is originally from Central Italy, but like so much Italian cuisine, every region has put its own twist on the recipe.  This one, with tomatoes, is probably the most widely travelled.

Chicken Cacciatore                                              Serves 6

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic (4 if small) crushed
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 250g pancetta, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 200g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 chicken thighs, skinned but bone in
  • 130 ml dry white wine
  • 3 tins chopped tomatoes
  • Good pinch sugar
  • 1 oregano sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Heat half the oil in a large pan or casserole. Add the onion, garlic and celery and fry over a moderate heat for 10 minutes until golden and softened. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
  2. Add the pancetta and mushrooms. Increase the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until starting to brown. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the oil and fry the chicken in batches over a high heat to brown all over. Season as you go with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Spoon off any excess fat then add the wine and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated.
  5. Add the tomatoes, sugar and herbs with 125 ml of cold water. Bring to the boil the stir in the reserved pancetta mix.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender but remains on the bone.
  6. If you like a thicker sauce, remove the chicken pieces and keep warm then boil the sauce until thickened. Season to taste. return the chicken to the sauce and heat thoroughly then serve with pasta or mashed potato.

 

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Chicken and Roquefort salad

25 Aug

imageI am always looking for interesting salad recipes to eat during the summer. This recipe is an absolute delight. I found it in a Sainsburys Magazine but, even with an extensive search, could not find a link on their website so I have written it out in full below.

I would never have dreamt of putting chicken, blue cheese, pecans and peaches together in one salad, although I have made salads with a combination of some of these flavours. This is also the first time I used honey in a salad dressing and I was very nervous that the overall effect would be too sweet. I need not have worried. The saltiness of the cheese was a perfect complement to the peaches and dressing and the pecans and chicken made for a great variation in textures. My husband loved it so I am sure we will be having this again. Be sure that the peaches are ripe as the hard ones have little flavour and will not be sweet enough for the overall effect.  If you measure the honey after the oil it will slide off the spoon easily.

Chicken and Roquefort Salad                        Serves 2

  • 2 ripe peaches, stone removed and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 2 small chicken breasts, cooked (I braised mine in chicken stock for 15 minutes before slicing and cooling)
  • 100g Roquefort cheese
  • 1 romaine lettuce heart, leaves washed and shredded
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp clear honey
  • handful of pecans, halved
  1. Divide the lettuce between two plates and scatter with the peaches. Crumble over the cheese and scatter with the chicken (cold) and pecans.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the thyme, vinegar, oil and honey. Season with salt and black pepper the drizzle liberally over the salad.
  3. Serve immediately.

 

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Thai Green Chicken and Asparagus curry

11 Jul

DSCI0311I have always been a bit nervous about Thai curry. I suppose it is because I imagine them to be ferociously hot as there are often a lot of chillies in Thai food.  This curry proved me wrong. I enjoyed every mouthful and, for once, could actually have had seconds if there was any left to have!  The other thing I liked about this recipe is that it is so healthy.

The recipe uses coconut milk so here are a few bits of trivia on coconuts.

  • There is some disagreement on where coconuts originated.  Some think it was around New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean whilst others think it was in the American tropics. Unfortunately neither can support their argument with real proof.
  • Near Port Royal, Jamaica a stone monument on the Palisadoes commemorates the planting of the first coconut tree on the island on March 4, 1869.  Over the next 20 years, 20,000 coconut trees had been planted but most of these eventually died through disease.
  • Falling coconuts kill 150 people every year – 10 times the number of people killed by sharks.
  • Coconut oil was the world’s leading vegetable oil until soybean oil took over in the 1960s.
  • There are more than 20 billion coconuts produced each year.
  • Coconut juice or coconut water is the liquid inside a coconut.
  • Coconut milk is produced by steeping grated coconut in hot water then straining; coconut cream is coconut milk cooked down until it thickens, or grated coconut steeped in hot milk instead of water.

Well, here is the recipe. It is quick and very easy but unfortunately you can’t freeze.

Thai Green Chicken and Asparagus Curry          Serves 2 – 3

  • 1 tsp groundnut oil
  • 2 large skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1.5 tbsp Thai green curry paste
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 200 ml light coconut milk (make sure to shake can well before opening)
  • 200g asparagus, woody end removed and sliced into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsps of mixed chopped basil and coriander leaves
  1. Heat oil in a wok over a high heat and stir fry the chicken until starting to go brown all over.
  2. Add the curry paste and stir until the chicken is coated then fry for another minute.
  3. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce and shallots then pour over the coconut milk. Mix well then bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add about 50 ml of water to the sauce to loosen then add the asparagus. Cover the wok and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the asparagus is tender and the chicken cooked through.
  5. Mix in the herbs then serve immediately with boiled rice.

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Mini chicken pies, ideal for a packed lunch, buffet or, in the summer, a picnic

9 Jul

Here we are again with leftover roast chicken.  I thought, this time, I would make a chicken pie.  I wasn’t sure what to put in the filling but I know leeks go well with chicken, as does tarragon, so I decided to include those in the ingredients.  The other consideration was the calorie content.  As you may remember, I am trying to watch what I eat in a hopeless attempt to lose weight, or at least not to put any more on!  If I make a large pie I know we will keep eating it until it is all gone.  So I decided to make small individual pies.  I was so pleased with the end result.  I’m sure these would freeze well, uncooked, but I made the mistake of putting them all in one muffin pan so I’m going to try freezing them cooked and see how they turn out.  That is if I can stop my husband, Terry, from eating them!

These are perfect for a picnic.  There is something so very English about picnics.  Mrs Beeton certainly thought so, although I think you would need a lorry to carry her idea of a picnic ie it should contain no less than 35 different dishes.  I’m not sure how many guests she had invited. 

Picnics have been quoted in literature for centuries but, perhaps the most famous quote is from the Wind in the Willows:

“The Rat brought the boat alongside the bank, tied it up, helped awkward Mole safely ashore and swung out the picnic basket. The Mole begged to be allowed to unpack it all by himself. He took out all the mysterious packages one by one and arranged their contents, gasping ‘Oh my! Oh my!’ At each fresh surprise”.

Anyway, here is my recipe.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Mini Chicken Pies   Makes about 12

  • 1lb shortcrust pastry (homemade is great or bought is fine)
  • 25g/1oz unsalted butter
  • 1 leek, washed well and chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 500 ml/1 pt semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 250g/1/2lb cooked chicken, cut into small pieces (about 1/2 inch)
  • 50g/2oz frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 beaten egg
  1. Preheat an oven to 190c/180c fan/gas 5.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the leeks and saute gently for about 10 minutes until soft but not discoloured.
  3. Stir in the flour and cook for about 1 minute over a low heat.
  4. Gradually add the milk, stirring between each addition to prevent curdling.  Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the sauce is thickened.  Add the tarragon, and season with salt and black pepper.  Mix well.
  5. Add the chicken and peas, stir so they are evenly distributed.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Roll out the pastry and cut out circles large enough to fill a muffin tin with a little overhang.  Fill the pastry case to just below the top.  Brush edges with beaten egg.  Place lid on top and tuck in around the edge.  Bring over the overhanging pastry to ensure the contents are secure.
  7. Brush tops with the beaten egg.
  8. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and leave in tin for a few minutes.  Remove to a wire tray.  Serve immediately for hot or leave to cool.  Good either way.

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