Tag Archives: Herbs

Creamy Tarragon Chicken

Creamy Tarragon Chicken

Creamy Tarragon Chicken

I can’t really claim ownership or inspiration for this recipe, I mean, it is a classic.  Chicken, tarragon, mushrooms, cream – that’s your base, but what my contribution has been is tailoring it to my own taste and probably simplifying it a little.  Another diversion from the classic I’ve allowed myself is from most standard recipes is I like to use a bit of the old Noilly Prat, most others use white wine, which of course you are free to do, I wouldn’t expect you to go out and buy a bottle of Noilly just for this dish.  This is a great warming supper for a cold night, hearty and filling.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves 4 to 6
1 x tbsp of olive oil
2 x tsps. unsalted butter
2 x medium sized leeks, chopped finely
4 x large garlic cloves, chopped finely
8 x chicken thighs
50ml / 1.7 fl. oz. Noilly Prat (if you don’t have this you can use white wine)
10 x sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped finely
400ml / 13.5 fl. oz.  x good quality chicken stock (no cubes, please)
250gr / 9 oz. chestnut mushrooms, chopped roughly
125gr / 4.5 oz. cubed bacon
50ml / 1.7 fl. oz.  single cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Creamy Tarragon Chicken

Method

  1. Heat the oil and butter and add the chicken to the pan to brown. If you move the meat too soon once it’s in the pan it will stick, so resist the temptation and leave it a good few minutes on each side.  You may need to do this in batches as all the surface of the meat will need to touch the bottom of the pan so it can turn golden brown.
  2. Remove the chicken and set it aside on a plate.
  3. Add the bacon to brown, without cleaning the pan. This should take a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the leeks garlic and about 80% of the tarragon. Turn the heat down a little and allow the leeks to soften, this should take about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Put the chicken back into the pan.
  6. Turn the heat back up and add the Noilly Prat – it should hit the heat of the pan with a good sizzle.
  7. Add the stock and a little salt and pepper – err on the side of caution with the salt as the amount you need will depend on the saltiness of your stock.
  8. Cover with a close fitting lid and allow to simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through. This will take about 20 minutes.  You can check when the chicken is ready by inserting a knife into the thickest part of the meat close to the bone and if the juice runs clear, it’s cooked.
  9. Add the mushrooms, the rest of the tarragon and the cream. Stir through and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes until the mushrooms are ready.
  10. Check the seasoning and serve.

Tips and Variations

  • I like to serve this with some boiled white rice or potatoes and maybe some broccoli.

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  Creamy Tarragon Chicken

Manchego Cheese with Thyme and Honey


Manchego Cheese with Honey and Thyme

Manchego Cheese with Thyme and Honey:

I can’t really claim this to be a recipe, it’s more  an idea for something to serve with drinks or just to nibble on.  This is one of my go to snacks on hot summer days – days when turning the heat up in the kitchen can be a slightly unbearable thought, so, dinner ends up being a succession of nibbles and salads.  Nothing wrong with that, in fact, I love to eat this way, I love to spend summer evenings pottering about in a cool kitchen and presenting plate after plate of little delicious things that people think I’ve spent ages working on.

This works best with a salty cheese, I mostly use Manchego, but pecorino is a really good one too.  You can also try it with blue cheese, roquefort or calabres would be where I’d go with this.  I that a goats’ milk or ewes’ milk cheese offers an extra silty quality that contrasts best with the sweetness of the honey and the earthy thyme taste.   If you want to make a more decadent version, try pecorino flavoured with truffle.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Serves 4
12 to 16 slices of mature manchego cheese
2 x tsps of honey
1 x tbsp of fresh thyme chopped finely

Method

  1. Lay the slices of cheese on your serving dish, drizzle with honey and then sprinkle the thyme over your plate.

Tips and Variations

  • Serve with a crisp glass of white Rioja or Albariño
  • Works really well with pecorino cheese too.

 

Mint Chutney

Mint Chutney

Mint Chutney:

This is a great little recipe for a curry night.  Something fresh and aromatically spiced to go along with your breads or papadum for dipping.  Super easy too, just whizz everything up and your done.  I ate it every day on my trip to India, they serve it with or at the beginning of it seems, every meal.  In the photo above you can see that I’ve served the mint chutney with some spiced griddled paneer.

This is one of those recipes that you can adjust to your own taste.  You can make it hot and spicy or cool and mild.  Try it as is at first and then go for it.

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
1 or 2 green chili’s
200ml full fat natural yogurt
The fresh mint leaves from about 10 stalks
A handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
50gr / 1.7 oz. of fresh ginger, peeled
1 x shallot
2 x tsps coriander powder
3 x tsps cardamom powder
1 x tsp mango powder
2 x tsp cumin powder
Salt to taste

Method 

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz up until everything is completely smooth, check for seasoning and flavour balance before serving.

Tips and Variations

  • This is served as a dip with all kinds of breads or cracker style snacks in India.
  • I serve it with some spiced, griddled paneer cheese as a nibble before a curry night.
  • You can use buttermilk or a mix of buttermilk and yogurt for a thinner mix.
  • The amount of chili you use depends on how hot you want your chutney.

Sausage and Pumpkin Stew

Sausage and Pumpkin Stew

Sausage and Pumpkin Stew:

I’m a great fan of a one pot meal, especially for during the week.  This is one of my current favourites for a dark winter’s evening.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4
1 x tbsp olive oil
100gr / 3.5 oz. bacon chopped up quite small or cubed depending on how you buy it.
750gr /  1.6 lb. sausages.  I like to stick to a neutral flavour like a breakfast sausage or bratwurst.  Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces.
2 x tsps honey.
2 x large onion chopped roughly
2 x large garlic cloves chopped roughly
5 or 6 sage leaves chopped finely
2 x tsps fresh thyme leaves chopped finely
About a kilo / 2.2 lb of pumpkin flesh chopped into large bite sized pieces (slightly larger than you cut the sausages).
500ml / 1 pt. (US) / 0.8 pt. (UK) of chicken stock
400gr / 14 oz. tin of chopped tomatoes.
400gr / 14 oz. tin of butterbeans (drained and rinsed)
A handful of fresh parsley chopped finely.
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat the oil and add the onion and garlic in a heavy bottomed pan, cooking them for about a minute on a medium high heat.
  2. Add the bacon and sausage, allow the meat to colour. In order to get colour you need to let the meat touch the base of the pan and also not move it around too much.
  3. Add the, sage, thyme, tomatoes, stock, a little salt and pepper and the honey. Stir through and cover with a close fitting lid.  Allow to cook on a low heat, making sure that the stew is bubbling gently, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Then add the pumpkin and cook for further 15 to 20 minutes or until the sausage and pumpkin have cooked through.
  5. Add the butterbeans and the parsley, stir through to warm. Check for seasoning and serve.

Tips and Variations

  • Although this is easily a meal in itself, I like to serve some savoy cabbage on the side.
  • Err on the side of caution with seasoning during cooking as the bacon will contain salt as well as the stock.

Sausage and Pumpkin Stew

Roast Rosemary Potatoes

Roast Rosemary Potatoes
Roast Rosemary Potatoes

Sometimes I forget how good these simple recipes are.  I hadn’t made my rosemary potatoes for ages until I realised that my rosemary plant on the balcony had sprung into life and I had loads of the stuff.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that I am some kind of green fingered goddess – nothing could be further from the truth.  I do though, always try to grow some herbs in my limited space in the summer time.  It normally works ok – but the herbs in my care need to be of the hardy  variety as it’s either drought or flood with me.

Preparation Time: 7 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 to 45 minutes

Ingredients for 4 servings
800gr / 1.7lb potatoes which are good for roasting (I like to use smaller varieties)
2 x tbsp olive oil
Leaves of about 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped finely
A good grind of fresh black pepper
A tsp of course Sea Salt (more to taste if you wish)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F degrees.
  2. To prepare the potatoes, leave them in their skins and cut them into cubes of roughly 2.5cm / 1 in. Of course you can make them bigger or even a little smaller, but make sure that they are all roughly the same size so that they cook evenly.  Or you can cut them lengthways into chips / fries.
  3. Put the potatoes in a shallow roasting tray and sprinkle them with the rosemary, salt and pepper, drizzle over the olive oil and mix this through.   The easiest way is with your hands.  Spread the potatoes out in the tray as evenly as you can.
  4. Place them in the oven for about 30 minutes then check them. They will probably need longer than this but the cooking time will vary according to your oven and also the size of your potato pieces.  If you find that they are cooking but not browning, turn the oven up a little.

Tips and Variations

  • Great with any fish or meat dishes.
  • Best served straight from the oven hot and crispy, although you can eat them cold as well.
  • You can use other woody herbs, thyme works really well, or you can add spice by sprinkling the potatoes with chili powder instead of the herbs.
  • Try roasting some whole garlic cloves alongside the potatoes. Squeeze out the soft centre over the fries when cooked or use it to make some garlic flavoured mayonnaise to go with your potatoes.