Curry Fried Chicken Salad with Yogurt Dressing

Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring is beginning to reluctantly make itself visible here in England. After weeks of rain and threats that May could very well be the coldest the country has seen in 100 years, the hope of having an actual spring was pretty grim. The cherry trees came out, but late snows killed off most of the buds and what the snow didn't get, the pigeons have devoured.

Spring is one of my favorite seasons and when the weather isn't cooperating, the best way to get a makeshift spring, (short of jetsetting off to some tropical island) is to have one for dinner!

This curry fried chicken salad and yogurt dressing is a recipe adapted from Slimming World. The adaptations have been made to capitalize on in-season veggies, to alter the taste and to provide a little bit of spring during a seemingly endless winter. What's even better, if you're a Slimming Worlder, this recipe is completely syn free! Syn free and springtime on your plate? Yeah, I'll take that.
groceries...

For the curry fried chicken:
 2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tsp ground ginger or a few slivers of Very Lazy Ginger
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1 1/2 tbsp mild curry powder
1 red onion, sliced
Low calorie cooking spray

For the salald:
8 sweet cherry tomatoes, quartered
10g cucumber, quartered
100g baby spinach
300g Fusili pasta

For the yogurt dressing: 
300g fat free natural yogurt
2tbsp fat free vanilla yogurt
1 1/2tbsp dried mint
1tbsp dried coriander
1tbsp soy sauce
alright, let's cook:

For the yogurt dressing, combine both types of yogurt in a bowl with the soy sauce, mint, coriander and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

For the curry fried chicken, dice the chicken and place in a bowl. Coat with curry powder, garlic, ginger and the zest and juice of one lime. Finish with a pinch of salt and leave to marinade for 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature. Caramelize the red onions in the low calorie cooking spray. When mostly caramelized, add the marinated chicken to the pan and saute until cooked through.

For the salad, boil the pasta until cooked. Should be about 10 to 12 minutes. When cooked and drained, toss with the spinach, tomatoes and cucumbers. Top with the cooked chicken and onions, serve with the dressing on the side.  
nutrition...

Servings: 4
Amount Per Serving 
Calories: 433.7 Total Fat: 2.7 g Cholesterol: 45.0 mg Sodium: 260.8 mg Total Carbs: 73.4 g Dietary Fiber: 4.8 g  Protein: 31.4 g

Grande Conchiglie Carbonara

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Before I started Slimming World, I was apprehensive. I had never done an organized weightloss program before and didn't know much of what to expect.

What I did expect, though, was to have to say goodbye to my beloved pasta. Fortunately, I was wrong! Slimming World embraces pasta, in fact, as long as it's dried pasta and not fresh, you can eat as much of it as you want!

In celebration of this, here's my take on a Slimming World favorite. It's loaded with vegetables, big soft jumbo pasta shells, bacon and cheese! Who knew diet food could taste so good? This dish is super quick to make and can be easily manipulated to suit what you already have in the cupboards. You can also swap out any vegetables you want, increase some, decrease others. Whatever you want and it's completely Syn-free!
groceries...


For the grande conchiglie carbonara:
500g grande conchiglie pasta
175g bacon (all visible fat removed) or leave out the bacon for a great veggie meal
2 garlic cloves or 2 cubes from the Dorot garlic tray
1tsp to 1tbsp red pepper flakes
200g wild mushrooms
200g frozen peas
1 small Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
8 sugardrop or cherry tomatoes, halved
3 large egg yolks
100g Quark or other fat-free, natural cottage cheese
salt and pepper
1tsp dried basil

alright, let's cook:


For the grande conchiglie carbonara, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Salt generously and add the pasta.

While the pasta cooks, cook the bacon over medium to high heat for about 4 minutes in a large skillet or wok. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes mushrooms and cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the basil, peas and tomatoes, reduce the heat and let simmer for a few minutes.

Combine the egg yolks with the Quark by whisking. Whisk in salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and put back into the pan. Add the vegetable and bacon mixture to the pasta and stir, followed by the egg and cheese mixture.

Roasted Quarter Thighs with Beurre Blanc

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I'd heard it said a million times before; "The good thing about having a basic knowledge of sauces is that you can whip one up at a moment's notice."

It's actually, true, though. This dish was one of those mid-week I'm too exhausted to cook anything proper but I want something comforting and fulfilling dishes.

It's rustic and hearty and finished with a velvety, sexy beurre blanc sauce. Thankfully, it's quick, simple and tasty and makes for superb leftovers. What more could you ask for?



groceries...


For the roasted quarter thighs: 
2 skin-on quarter thighs
1 tbsp dried thyme + 1 pinch
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp olive oil + a bit more if necessary
salt & white pepper

For the vegetable medley:
3 or 4 good-sized, good quality potatoes, cubed
2 or 3 large carrots, cubed
1 onion, diced (see tutorial)
1 tbsp butter

For the beurre blanc:
1 small shallot, diced
4 tbsp dry white wine
8 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
few drops lemon juice
salt


alright, let's cook:


For the vegetable medley, prepare the vegetables as stated and place in a heavy-bottomed casserole dish.

For the roasted quarter thighs, heat a stainless steel pan and add the olive oil. Once the oil is heated, rub a little salt and a pinch of thyme onto the skin, pan fry the quarter thighs skin-side down for about 3 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. Pan fry the opposite side for a further 3 minutes and place on top of the vegetables skin side up.

Sprinkle the entire dish with the remaining thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Douse the dish with a bit more olive oil if it looks like it needs it. Roast on 200C/400F for 20 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are soft.

For the beurre blanc, place the shallot into the pan along with any bits and juices left over from cooking. Add the wine and simmer, allowing the liquid to reduce by two-thirds. Once the wine has reduced, decrease the heat to the lowest setting and whisk in the butter, one cube at a time. This forms the emulsion. After all of the butter has bee dissolved, season with salt and a few drops lemon juice. 


Open Faced Red Pepper Omelette

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

No two omelettes are alike, from the eggs to the ingredients used to fill them, there always seems to be something different with every omelette I make.

Whether I'm flipping and folding the eggs back on themselves to make a light and wispy French omelette, bulking it up with potatoes and fiery Chorizo a Espanol or ramming it full of goodies and folding it in half like some eggy breakfast calzone, it's always different.

It doesn't matter what type of omelette you make; nothing can beat a perfect, unscorched omelette and the secret to achieving this is to finish off the omelette under a grill (UK ovens) or under a broiler (US ovens).

This omelette was borne out of the need for a quick, Slimming World breakfast over the weekend. Slimming Worlders note, if you use the cheese as part of your A choices, this is syn free on Extra Easy!
groceries...


For the omelette:
3 eggs
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 triangle Dairylea light soft cheese (or any soft cheese)
fresh chives, chopped
sea salt


alright, let's cook:


For the omelette, scramble the eggs in a small bowl while a good metal-handed pan, greased with low-calorie cooking spray heats on medium on the stove.

While the pan heats, allow the grill/broiler to heat. Deseed and slice one medium sized bell pepper and a few sprigs of fresh chives. Set aside. Roughly tear one triangle of Dairylea light soft cheese and set aside as well.

Your pan should be nice and warm now, pour the eggs into the pan and reduce the heat. After about a minute and a half begin to tease the edges of the egg away from the pan. When the edges of the egg can easily separate from the pan, the omelette has set at the bottom and is ready for the onslaught of ingredients. Note, the top of the omelette will still be quite liquidy and you need to work quickly at this stage to prevent the omelette from burning on the bottom.

Switch off the heat, tumble in your ingredients: peppers, cheese then chives. Then place under the pre-warmed grill/broiler for one to two minutes to finish off cooking the top of the omelette. Keep an eye on it, as it won't take long to finish cooking.

Remove from the oven and, if you're using a good non-stick pan or a well-oiled stainless steel pan, the omelette should easily slide onto the plate with no trouble. Finish off with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Black Forest Gateau Two Ways

Thursday, April 12, 2012


My husband's favorite dessert is black forest gateau. The only problem is that black forest gateau tends to only come in huge portions, namely an entire cake, and since (save for Cadbury Caramel Dairymilk) I am not a chocolate fan, it's a pretty daunting task trying to eat an entire cake on one's own. Not to mention it's not the most healthy dessert option.

With that the case, I'm always on the look out for black forest gateau things for him. That's how this entry was born. The idea for black forest gateau cupcakes came from passing a shelf of box cupcake kits and the brownie idea was borne from that. According to him, both of these are very close to an actual black forest gateau cake, but, he says, the brownies hold the trump card!

Portabello Risotto with Sage Dressing & Parmesan Crisp

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My ultimate comfort food will always be potatoes, cooked any way, but risotto is up there for a close second. With potatoes, you either chuck them in a pan of boiling water or in a hot oven and leave them to do the work. The only time you spend with them, handling them and loving them is during prep: getting them scrubbed and undressed and sliced or diced (recipe permitting).

But with risotto, you're there from the beginning to the end, nurturing it and coaxing it to perfection. It's a true labor of love, whipping up a bowl of risotto. Although, the idea that one could simply "whip up" risotto is in itself farcical, for a perfect dish of risotto takes at least 20 minutes. But, you get my drift.

For me, standing at the stove, ladling in spoonful after spoonful of stock and the methodical stirring of the rice is definitely relaxing. With each stir, tensions seem to melt away, yielding a pleasant heap of risotto. This risotto dish, an adaptation of Masterchef contestant James Perry's mushroom and truffle risotto, is full of surprising elements and flavors. You've got that woody sage, ringed around the rice in a shimmering gold halo of extra virgin olive oil; the crunch of the parmesan crisp, the tender flesh of the baby portabellos ... ahhhh.
groceries...  


For the portabello risotto: 
300g arborio rice
200g baby portabello mushrooms, quartered
25g butter
3tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
5tbsp dry white wine
1tbsp parmesan
1 liter vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

For the sage dressing:
a handful of fresh sage leaves
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
1/4tsp black pepper

For the parmesan crisp:
4tbsp parmesan cheese, finely grated

alright, let's cook:

A top tip for perfect risotto is mise en place! Meaning, "everything in its place"; before you begin, go ahead and prepare all of your ingredients. Have them measured out and at the ready.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

For the portabellos, arrange them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for about five minutes before removing and setting aside.While the portabellos are roasting, begin the sage dressing.

For the sage dressing, bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the sage and blanche for about 10 seconds. Refresh by running under cold water. Dry off and tear the sage leaves into bite sized pieces, mix with the extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl and add the salt and pepper.

For the parmesan crips, place the cheese on a wax (greaseproof) paper lined cookie sheet, ready to be put in the oven later. Ensure that each parmesan mound roughly forms a circle.


For the risotto, in a large pan, heat the remaining 2tbsp olive oil and butter. Once the butter is beginning to melt, add the onion and sweat to soften. When the onion is nice and softened, add the rice. Be sure to coat every grain of rice in the oil. Listen for the rice to make small popping noises (think of the sound Rice Krispies make when milk is added to them). You'll also notice that the ends of each grain of rice have gone slightly translucent. Once this begins, add the wine and allow to reduce. When the wine is mostly reduced, add the first ladle of stock, stirring continuously. Here's the labor of love: continue to add the stock one ladle at a time, stirring to absorb. Do this until all or most of the stock is used (I generally have about 1/2 a tablespoon of stock leftover). This usually takes about 20 minutes. You'll notice that the rice has fattened up and the translucent ends have now gone back to white.

When you add the penultimate ladle of stock, stir in the roasted portabellos and tablespoon of parmesan as well and coat thoroughly with the rice. While the rice absorbs the stock, put the parmesan into the oven for about 3 minutes. When you remove from the oven, allow to cool and crisp up.

To serve, create a ring of dressing around the risotto and top with a parmesan crisp. Buon Appetito!

Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Last week, illness plagued my house. It started with me catching a cold from a friend and passing it onto the baby who, while lovingly showering his daddy with kisses peppered with sneezes, passed it on to my husband. We were all ill-- three pathetic peas in a pod.

I am a huge believer in medicating and when we were all maxed out on the Beechams and the Lemsip, there was only one solution: homemade chicken noodle soup. A few years ago, I remember reading an article discounting the benefits of chicken noodle soup on illness. The author and some doctor were theorizing that gulping down ladlefuls of warm and delicious chicken noodle soup did not alleviate illness. Well, certainly not if you're downing that from-a-can crap!

I theorize that they didn't consider homemade chicken noodle soup made with big chunks of vegetables, pasta so engorged with stock that it's nearly unraveling from its spiral, meaty chunks of boiled chicken and a hint of whiskey and wine. This chicken noodle soup is easy to make and tasty!

Naked Plum Tart with Drunken Strawberry Conserve

Monday, April 2, 2012

After making a plum sauce for roasted duck breast, I had some left over plums and wanted a way to use them up.

Plum tarts are simple, quick desserts that can be bunged together in 10 minutes and popped into the oven, at the tart of dinner, ready to be smothered in mounds of ice cream or whipped cream come dessert time.

This recipe is quick and easy; it uses up leftovers and it's tasty. Nothing in this was bought new; it was composed of a  collection of leftover ingredients just sitting in my fridge or freezer. That's midweek cooking at its best!

groceries...

a handful of ripe plums, sliced into wedges
strawberry conserve with champagne or non-alcoholic strawberry jam
store bought puff pastry
egg
vanilla sugar (optional)
caster (superfine) sugar
vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to serve

alright, let's cook:


For the tart, unroll your store bought puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half or fours, depending on the size of the tarts you want. Spoon a portion of conserve or jam onto the center of the pastry. Arrange the plums to form a circle with one end resting against the conserve. Fold the excess pastry over the plums and squeeze the end to form sort of a rim. Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with vanilla sugar and caster sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the plums are soft but not disintegrating at 400F (200C). Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream.