I’ll admit that the main reason that that I attempted this Sichuan dish is because, conceptually and aesthetically, it looked really interesting to me. It’s essentially a cold pile of noodles, poached & shredded chicken, spring onions and cucumber, with sauce poured on top. That sauce was going to have to be pretty damn good. And it is – it’s packed full of flavour.

You may need to pop down to your local asian supermarket to pick up the sichuan chilli oil & chinese black vinegar.

The name ‘bang bang apparently comes from the fact that the meat was tenderized by hitting it with a stick, or hammer. This is meant to be served as a starter, but we ate as a light dinner and it was lovely.

IMG_4247

Recipe from Kok Robin – served 2

450 gr poached & shredded chicken breast

For the sauce, first mix together
1 T white sugar
1 T light soy sauce
1 T black chinese vinegar
pinch of salt

When  the sugar has dissolved add
3 T sesame paste
1 T sesame oil
2 T Sichuan Chili Oil

Prepare individual servings, by composing the following layers
warm rice or cold rice noodles
1 cucumber each, cut julienne
shredded chicken
spring onion
sesame sauce
ground roasted sichuan pepper (optional, because it’s already in the Sichuan Chili Oil )
toasted sesame seeds
roasted peanuts (optional)

I love laksa. It’s a fusion dish that incorporates indian spices and southern chinese cuisine – I like it quite spicy, but if chilli is not your thing, it would be just as delicious if you cut the chilli content.

This is also a great dish if you should eat wheat free (like me!) as it contains rice noodles.

The paste does take a bit of effort and a lot of ingredients, so if you wanted to make this as a quick work night dinner you might want to either make the paste in advance (it will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days), or buy it pre-made. Obviously, anything made fresh at home is going to taste much better.

This is Ching-he Huang’s version of this dish, which was in BBC Good Food magazine.

Chicken laksa

Chicken laksa

Serves 2

For the paste:

  • 1tbsp veg oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed, stalks smashes and roughly chopped
  • 2.5cm piece ginger, sliced
  • 3 large chillis, deseeded. 2 roughly chopped, 1 sliced to serve
  • 3tbsp shrimp paste
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 50ml coconut milk (taken from the 400ml can listed below)

For the chicken laksa

  • 1tbsp veg oil
  • 450g chicken thighs, skinned, deboned and chopped into 2.5 cm cubes
  • 800ml chicken stock
  • 400ml can coconut milk (minus the 50ml for the paste)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice 1 lime
  • 1tsp light soy sauce
  • 1tsp light muscovado sugar
  • 200g dried vermicelli rice noodles, or wide flat rice noodles
  • 2 small bulbs pak choi, quartered
  • 100g beansprouts
  • 2 pinches chilli powder, or flakes
  1. To make the laksa paste, put the ingredients in a mini blender and blend to a smooth paste.
  2. For the laksa, heat the oil in a wok or large non stick pan and stir fry the chicken pieces for 3 mins.
  3. When it starts to brown, add the laksa paste. (Use about 100ml for spicy and 150ml for very spicy. Obviously, add to taste for less heat) and stir for 2-3 mins
  4. Stir in the chicken stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, soy and sugar.
  5. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook for 5 mins.
  6. Stir in the rice noodles and cook for about 3 mins until cooked through.
  7. Stir in the pak choi for the last minute until cooked through.
  8. Add the beansprouts.
  9. The broth should have a creamy soup consistency, so adjust with more stock if necessary.
  10. Divide the noodle between two bowls and ladle the chicken and broth over the top.
  11. Garnish with sliced chilli, chopped coriander and and thai basil if you like.

Chicken Kiev is a retro classic that has made somewhat of a comeback – and so it should, as the combination of chicken, garlic and crispy breadcrumbs is a winner.

This version, however, is a little different. It’s a combination of two recipes – one for chicken kiev and the other for a chicken breast stuffed with goat’s cheese and tarragon. I think it turned out rather well!

Because it is baked in breadcrumbs, the chicken was incredibly moist.  Because it is only fried for a few minutes, then transferred to the oven, this is also a lighter version of a chicken kiev. This is great for a midweek meal. I served with colcannon, but would also be lovely with a salad.

Chicken kiev, stuffed with goat's cheese and tarragon

Chicken kiev, stuffed with goat’s cheese and tarragon

Recipe inspired by this and this

Ingredients

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
4 tbsp light cream cheese (such as Philadelphia Light), chilled
4 x 175g free-range chicken breasts, trimmed, skin removed (see tip)
50g flour, well seasoned
2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
75g Japanese panko or dried breadcrumbs
3 tbsp groundnut oil
100g soft goat’s cheese

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan180°C/gas 6. Mix the garlic, lemon juice, parsley, tarragon, cream cheese, goat’s cheese and seasoning in a bowl to make the filling.
2. Butterfly the chicken breasts by slicing them part of the way through with a sharp knife, then opening the breasts out like a book. Wrap in cling film and gently pound flat with a rolling pin, being careful not to tear the flesh.
3. Place a quarter of the filling into the centre of each flattened breast and fold over one side of the chicken, then the other (like folding a sheet of paper to fit in an envelope). Cover the seal with the flattened small piece of chicken fillet, if you have it (see tip). Roll each breast tightly in cling film and chill for 30 minutes to firm up.
4. When firm, remove from the cling film and dust in the seasoned flour. Dip in the beaten egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat completely, shaking off any excess.
5. Heat an ovenproof frying pan, then add the oil. Fry the kievs on all sides until lightly browned, then transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden and cooked through. Serve immediately.

I was having a friend over for dinner after work and generally favour recipes that will easily feed a few people that  I can either spoon out of a slow cooker or pull out of the oven. This recipe works because it takes about 20 minutes to assemble it, then you can just leave it for an hour or so while it cooks and you entertain.

This lasagne is obviously not a classic recipe. Instead of layers of meat ragu and bechamel, the pasta is instead layered with chicken, squash and pesto. You really have to be a fan of pesto to like this dish – it just so happens that I am, so that’s fine.

The sweetness of the squash is really nice with the pesto. I was hesitant about cooking the squash in the microwave, since I usually just use it to defrost things, but it turned out well. I especially like the pine nuts on top, which add some crunch that you don’t usually get in a lasagne.

Chicken, squash and pesto lasagne

Chicken, squash and pesto lasagne

Recipe from BBC Good Food

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 500g tub mascarpone
  • 190g jar pesto
  • bunch basil, leaves picked and chopped, save a few small whole leaves to serve
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • good grating of nutmeg
  • 12 lasagne sheets ( I use gluten free lasagne)
  • 85g Parmesan, grated
  • splash of milk
  • 50g pine nuts
  1. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Add the onions and cook until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a few mins more. Push the onions and garlic to the edge of the pan, add the chicken breasts and cook for a few mins each side to brown. Sprinkle over the flour and stir it into the onion mixture. Tip in the stock and season. Cover and simmer for 10 mins – or until the chicken is cooked through. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Add half the mascarpone and the pesto, stirring until the mascarpone has melted into the sauce, bubble for a few mins to thicken a little, then remove from the heat and stir in the basil.
  2. Meanwhile, place the squash in a large bowl with 2tbsp of water, cover with cling film and microwave on High for 12-15 mins, until really soft. Season the squash with a little of the nutmeg and some salt and pepper, and mash lightly with a fork.
  3. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Spoon half the chicken mixture into the bottom of a 20 x 30cm ovenproof dish. Cover with 4 lasagne sheets, then the butternut squash and half the Parmesan. Top with another 4 lasagne sheets, the remaining chicken mixture, then a final layer of lasagne. Mix enough milk into the remaining mascarpone to make a smooth sauce – you need to aim for a consistency similar to white sauce. Season with remaining nutmeg, salt and pepper, then pour over the lasagne. Scatter over the remaining Parmesan and the pine nuts. Bake for 40 mins until piping hot in the centre and crunchy and golden on top. Scatter with a few extra basil leaves before serving.

I’ve really been getting into recipes that I can throw in a pot/pan and forget about for an hour.

I’ve been getting home from work later and later and have recently started going to the gym, so I have less time to prepare weekday meals now.

Don’t worry, I’m still going nowhere near a frozen pizza or a ready meal.

Citrus chicken with carrots and cashews

Citrus chicken with carrots and cashews

There’s no need with recipes like this. This couldn’t be easier to assemble and tastes amazing – the chinese flavours work really well and it’s so much better than an MSG-filled sweet and sour chicken from a takeaway.  It’s got stem ginger in it, so was always going to work for me. The nuts add really great texture too.

Recipe from BBC Good Food. Serves 4 (or two hungry people)

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 300-400g baby carrots
  • 2 onions, cut into thick round slices
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 50g roasted cashews
  • small pack coriander leaves, to serve
  • boiled jasmine rice, to serve

For the glaze

  • 100g clear honey
  • 4 tbsp hot chilli sauce
  • zest 1 lime, plus 4 tbsp juice (about 2 limes)
  • zest ½ orange, plus 2 tbsp juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 balls stem ginger, finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp syrup
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the chicken thighs, carrots, onions and oil in a big, shallow roasting tin with some seasoning. Roast for 30 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Drizzle all over the chicken and veg, then roast for another 15 mins.
  3. Scatter over the cashews, mix everything together well, then roast for a further 15 mins until the chicken is browned, tender and sticky. Scatter over some coriander and serve with the boiled rice.
Serve with rice

Serve with rice

A great meal to make in the slow cooker is a curry.

Throw in your meat and spices and the meat will soften beautifully, while the flavours and spices develop throughout the day, leaving you a truly great meal to eat at the end of a long day.

A thai green curry is great for this. However, I thought I’d try something new and make a yellow curry instead. The addition of potatoes makes this different from a green/red curry.

The finished article

The finished article

If you want, you can buy a yellow curry paste and use that, but I made my own, using this recipe.

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 small shallots , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves , peeled and roughly chopped
  • a small chunk ginger , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2  long yellow or red chilli , roughly chopped
  • coriander root from a small bunch
  • 1/2 to 1 stalk lemongrass, minced, OR 2-3 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores)
  • 1/3 tsp. white pepper (available in the spice section)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar (or palm sugar if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice

Combine all these ingredients into a food processor, to make a paste. Add 3 tbsp of this paste to the slow cooker.

Next, add portions of chicken. I used about 6 frozen chicken drunksticks/thighs. I didn’t bother to defrost them, but put them right in the slow cooker with the paste.  Next, add some new potatoes sliced into halves or thirds. You don’t want them to be too small, otherwise they will just turn to mush. Add a can of coconut milk and then enough chicken stock to cover the chicken.

Not too appetizing looking before you switch the slow cooker on.

Not too appetizing looking before you switch the slow cooker on.

Then, switch the slow cooker on low and leave for 8 hours or until you’re ready for it.

Serve with sticky rice. Before you serve, add a table spoon of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. I also prefer to shred the chicken into the sauce (as my boyfriend doesn’t love eating chicken on the bone), but you can just serve as is.

 

Wow, I am busy at the moment. I feel like I’m going to work, cooking, falling asleep then starting again. As I’m getting home from work quite late at the moment, the last thing I want to be doing is making something laborious, or with a long cooking time.

This recipe works well when you want something tasty in a rush and its recipes like these that have so far prevented me from being one of those people who buy ready meals from Marks and Spencer’s on their way home from work. I used to scoff at them. Now I empathise, but I still don’t want to be one of them!

Mango chicken with spiced pilau

Mango chicken with spiced pilau

Recipe from BBC Good Food.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 tbsp chunky mango chutney (I like Aldi’s spicy chutney)
  • 1 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp sunflower oil
  • 2 small onions , thinly sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander
  • lime wedges, to serve (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and line a baking tray with foil. Cut a horizontal pocket in each chicken breast, taking care not to cut all the way through to the other side. Stuff with the mango chutney, then seal the pocket closed around the chutney with a cocktail stick.
  2. Mix the curry powder and 2 tsp cumin seeds with 3 tsp oil, then brush all over the chicken. Place on the baking tray and roast for 25-30 mins until cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil and fry the onions for 6-8 mins until golden. Add remaining cumin, bay and cinnamon then cook, stirring, for 1 min. Stir in the rice. Pour over 450ml boiling water, add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, stir and cover. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 mins.
  4. Remove bay and cinnamon, stir in coriander and serve with the chicken.

 

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