Tag Archives: grilled chicken

Foodie Penpal Delights

To the lovely lady that came up with the idea of Foodie Penpals, I tip my hat to you. Being food mad and wanting to talk about it all the darn time can be a challenge if you don’t want to bore your friends into a stupor and eventually have them cross the street when they see you or let your calls go to answer phone. Nobody wants to check their voicemail and hear how upset you are with Jamie Oliver for fibbing about the time taken to make a quail scotch egg, or how thrilled you were to discover that actually Sainsbury’s does stock that hard to find Tahitian vanilla paste, phew. Know your audience people. Luckily for me, I have a blog to air my views and can waffle on to my hearts content about cooking and food, and now I have found a way to meet other like minded people – by sending and receiving parcels of food and food related gifts specifically tailored to personal tastes and likes. Genius. Sending to me this month was the lovely @KatieATolastadh who did a fantastic job of tailoring a parcel for me and wrote a rather sweet letter explaining the reasoning behind her choices. So what did I get? Well living as I do in a shell of a house I had to specify that I had no oven and hob so whatever was sent would need to be ‘saving up for a new kitchen’ friendly, and also that I love spicy Asian food. Katie really put a lot of thought into it and sent me some Palestinian Za’atar, Harissa paste, Hebridean sea salt and oatcakes and some damson plum tea. Receiving some genuine Scottish items from the remote islands that she comes from was a real treat and the reasoning behind the salt was that it was a kitchen warming gift to ensure my food would always be full of flavour. Told you she was lovely! Sadly the Harissa paste bottle got shattered by a heavy handed postman which was such a shame as Katie had made a real effort to protect the contents and the glass had shattered into such tiny fragments that try as I might, none could be salvaged. It smelt so good as well and I really love the sharp heat that comes with a spoonful of Harissa on an otherwise plain dish. Moroccan and Middle Eastern food is really having a bit of a moment and ingredients that may have been impossible to find only a couple of years ago are now sprouting out all over the place. It’s absolutely a cuisine I’d like to explore more, particularly as it appeals to the spice fiend within me.

I’ve not yet used much from my parcel but today I cooked some Palestinian Za’atar chicken using the spice mix sent my way. In truth the main reason for chucking this on some chicken was inspired by the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode ‘Palestinian Chicken’. I’m absolutely certain that anyone with the good sense to read my ramblings would also be fans of Larry David and the scrapes he gets into, but if by some cruel twist of fate you haven’t seen it, please please do. It’s inspired and unbelievably funny but also tackles comedy that others might shy away from, such as Jewish people having affairs where no one would see them…. in a chicken restaurant run by Palestinians. But hey, if the chickens good you can do away with the taboo.

I coated my chicken in Za’atar, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and let it marinate overnight before chucking it on the Foreman grill. Unfortunately I don’t think I put quite enough spice on the chicken as it was a little bland as well as over cooked, and I know the Za’atar tastes good as over the weekend I was dunking fresh bread into oil and the spice and it was tasting tickety boo. The good thing is there is absolutely loads of it left so plenty of chances to experiment and find what works. With the chicken I made homemade hummus from a recipe Katie sent me by Yottam Ottolenghi, although I was missing tahini paste which is an essential ingredient which I was convinced I had. It will come as no surprise I’m sure, but as well as a well stocked cookbook shelf, my kitchen cupboards are heaving with spices and exotic ingredients. I only use about 4 of them on a regular basis, but you just don’t know when a pot of mace will come in handy (turns out never, so far). While very garlicky and tasty, it just didn’t feel or taste like hummus so I will have to try again in the future but absolutely with tahini paste next time. Dinner then was too dry and not flavourful enough for me, and hammered home how much I miss having an oven. It’s now a top priority and makes me realise how crazy I am about baking and cooking, with all the therapeutic qualities it contains. I haven’t helped matters by buying another cookbook, The Homesick Texan, which tortures me with its pictures of enchiladas, ribs and baked goods. I’m going to do some serious oven shopping so I can really get back into the swing of things and cook the stress out of me!





Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Books, Chicken, Cooking, Food


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Stirring Things Up

Have I mentioned before that I’m a fan of Nigella? I like to keep it quiet, I don’t want to seem obsessed in any way, shape or form, but a new Nigella book is Big News in my home, much to The Boyfriends despair. So naturally as soon as payday hit last week I had to have it, as much for comfort reading as for the recipes. The great thing about Nigella is that she writes about food and life so well and while she may be minted herself and married to Charles Saatchi (net worth of £120 million), she clearly remembers what it’s like to be ‘normal’ without pots of money and fame. Plus, she loves food and sees no shame in gluttony or excess. My kind of gal then. So today’s recipe is from her new book Nigellisima which is dedicated to Italian food, which she fell in love with after spending a gap year in Italy. I’d like to say that I could have such an affinity with Italian food, what with being born and raised in a town with a huge Italian population and stuffed with Italian restaurants, but despite this I’ve never really ventured too far from the favourites the English have adopted. Well not anymore, not armed with the new Nigella tome anyway. So last night I spent my evening stirring up Chilli Crab Risotto over the hob while the rain hammered away outside. Nigella seems to think that stirring constantly for 20 minutes is quite relaxing, but I have to disagree as I just find it tiresome. However, risotto requires constant stirring so I had little choice in the matter. I really love chilli and freshly cooked crab is seriously tasty, but unfortunately the shops had no fresh crab so I had to downgrade significantly and go with canned crab. I’m not sure of the culinary credentials of canned crab, but taste wise it’s not so hot and lacks the lightness of the fresh stuff and tastes a bit too strong for my liking. Still, needs must and I was determined to cook this recipe. In general, it was a fairly good dish, with creamy rice, hints of white wine and a little bit of attitude from the chilli. I wouldn’t make it with canned crab again as it was too fishy and I can see how fresh crab woud turn the dish from fairly good to great. It was topped off with a few rocket leaves which gave a nice peppery heat to the risotto as well as making me feel a bit healthier.

Speaking of healthier, tonight I went for my fail safe ‘need to make up for an excessive weekend meal’, Greek yoghurt chicken. I use the word Greek very loosely, I’m pretty positive that a Greek person would find this severely lacking in authenticity, but it does contain Greek yoghurt so just go with it. All it is really is a chicken breast, cooked plainly in a way of your choosing (I usually grill it) with a big portion of vegetables and a tub of Greek yoghurt turned into something vaguely resembling tzatziki. The great thing about this meal being so unauthentic is that whatever you have in your fridge you can pretty much chuck in. If you have mint, cucumber, lemon and coriander you can quickly whip up an authentic tzatziki, but if you don’t have all of these then why not chuck in some spring onion, red chilli, garlic or parsley. If its a herb or spice, give it a go and chuck it in, although the mint is non negotiable. It must contain mint as this packs in a lot of flavour on what is essentially a dinner of plain chicken and veg. The yoghurt makes this dish, I can easily go through an entire 200g tub on my own when smothering my cooked chicken, but don’t feel bad about this as the yoghurt is stuffed with healthy natural ingredients. Except the sea salt, but lets live a little eh? Gradually add the ingredients to the yoghurt and taste it along the way as everyone has different tastes, I myself cram it to the brim with mint leaves as it tastes so fresh and zingy on the plain chicken. This weeks version contained spring onion, chilli, mint and lemon juice with some Maldon sea salt and black pepper. Remember too that there are no carbs in this meal so to fill up you need to pile the plate up with vegetables and salad, which will make you feel exceptionally virtuous. You’re welcome.




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