Tag Archives: simple

Chicken Waldorf Salad

It’s been a long time since I contributed to my own site here and after much um-ing and ah-ing over whether or not to continue Gentle Voice or amalgamate this with my blog, here I am again, posting here. I am nothing if not indecisive. I think.

So without any more wiffle, here’s a little treat for the tastebuds: Chicken Waldorf Salad. This is an incredibly simple but oh so tasty recipe. Don’t be afraid to alter amounts of the separate ingredients because it’s a very forgiving combo of flavours and creativity is the key to good cooking I say!

Ingredients (For two people):

2 cooked chicken breasts (or equivalent meat from elsewhere on the bird), cut into bite size pieces

1 stick of celery, chopped

2 spring onions (scallions), chopped

2 oz (50g) walnut halves, roughly chopped

6 oz (175g) seedless grapes, washed and halved

3 rounded tablespoons of mayonnaise

Salt and crushed black pepper to season

Lettuce leaves (something crunchy like Cos / Romaine lettuce is good).

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl, add the mayonnaise and gently toss through to combine and coat everything. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves. Simple as …

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Citrus Chicken with Chilli New Potatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

For the citrus chicken

  • 4 chicken breast fillets
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest only
  • 1 lime, juice and zest only
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small bunch coriander, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chilli new potatoes

  • 1kg new potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli paste, or 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 bag mixed green salad leaves, to serve

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Method

 

1. For the citrus chicken: lay the chicken fillets between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper and use a rolling pin or meat mallet to flatten them out to about 5mm thick.

2. In a large, shallow dish, mix together the lemon and lime juice and zest, olive oil, coriander and salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Add the chicken fillets and coat thoroughly in the marinade then cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

4. For the chilli new potatoes: parboil the potatoes in a large pan of boiling, salted water for 7-10 minutes. Drain well then cover with a clean, dry tea-towel to absorb any excess moisture. Set aside to cool slightly then cut into diagonal slices.

5. Melt the butter and oil together in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chilli and the potato slices and fry for 10 minutes, turning halfway, until crisp and golden-brown.

6. To cook the chicken, preheat a griddle pan over a high heat (you could also cook the chicken over the hot coals of a barbecue).

7. Place the chicken fillets on the griddle pan and cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until charred on the outside and cooked through.

8. Serve the citrus chicken with the chilli new potatoes and green salad alongside.

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Pilaf Rice

A simple and foolproof method for cooking rice that produces a moist and tasty result.

Ingredients

25g (1 oz) butter

1 small onion (about 125g / 4 1/2 oz), peeled and chopped

300g (11 oz) basmati rice

750 ml (1-1/4 pints) chicken or vegetable stock

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C (325F), gas mark 3.

Melt the butter in a casserole or saucepan that is large enough to accommodate all the rice (bearing in mind that it will swell).  Add the onion and season.  Cover and cook over a low heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft.  Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it crackles, then add the stock and some salt and pepper.  Bring to the boil then transfer to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the rice is just cooked so that it is slightly al dente and all the liquid absorbed.

Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

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Steak au Poivre

peppercornsNot the standard Steak au Poivre with five different types of peppercorns, cream etc.  It’s the steak with pepper, butter and brandy.  Delightful in its simplicity, easy to prepare, but never skimp on the steak.  I like a good Angus sirloin – for me, anything less is false economy.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 Angus sirloin steaks, at room temperature (have them out of the fridge a good 15 minutes before you need them)

2 tablespoons of black peppercorns

1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 oz (about 30g) unsalted butter

2 good slugs of Cognac***

***I have never used cheap wine, brandy etc. in cooking as the point is that the alcohol is burned off, leaving you with just the flavour.  (I have been known to use Remy Martin in this dish and, not surprisingly, it has been an instant favourite with guests)!

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Crush the peppercorns coarsely in a pestle and mortar.  Tip the pepper into a fine sieve and shake well until all  remains of powder have been dispersed. (This is important because the excess powder will cause the steaks to be far too hot).  Press the peppercorns into both sides of the steak with your fingers, pressing well with the heel of your hand.   Only now season with salt because salting first will not allow the pepper to stick to the meat.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until hot.  Put in the steaks and fry on one side thoroughly, but not on full heat, until a good, thick crust has formed.  Add the butter and allow to colour to nut brown.  Turn the steaks over and finish cooking to your taste.  Try to resist turning too often – the aim is to produce a good crusty coating on each surface.  Baste with the buttery juices as you go. 

Remove the steaks to hot plates, add the Cognac to the pan and whisk together with the butter.  Don’t worry about any little deposits of meat from the pan being incorporated – this is absolutely the best thing to do.  ‘De-glazing’ the pan like this adds oodles of delicious flavour. It also doesn’t matter if the brandy ignites, but the alcohol must be boiled off.

Pour over the steaks.  Serve with chips (French fries) and salad.

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Authentic Bolognese (Italian Ragu Sauce)

Spaghetti BologneseBolognese – the mainstay of the British student population.  It’s a wonderful, easy to make sauce that we all know and love, so much so that even those who don’t normally cook will defend their version as being the best.  Yes you can add ‘stuff’ to it and yes it will doubtless taste delicious but did you know that there is now an ‘official’ Bolognese Sauce?  Oh yes there is!  In 1982 the Bologna Chamber of Commerce asked the Accademia Italiana della Cucina to come up with the town’s official version.  As decreed by them therefore, it should contain: beef, pancetta, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, white wine and milk***.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  If you want to cook up the official version, may I suggest the recipe below (based around a recipe by great cookery writer Elizabeth David). 

***We don’t like the addition of milk in this sauce and like all home cooks I’ve tweaked this recipe ever so slightly to suit our family’s tastes.  If you want to follow my recipe, you’ll find it here.  (And, naturally, like all home cooks, I think mine is better)!

Authentic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients:

8 oz lean minced beef

3 oz pancetta , cut into small pieces

A small amount of butter (about 1/2 oz)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of concentrated tomato puree

1 wineglassfull of white wine

2 wineglassfulls of water

1 wineglassful of milk

Salt and pepper to season

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Method

Melt a little bit of butter in a saucepan and gently brown the pancetta. 

Add the onion, carrot and celery and when the onion is golden, add the raw minced beef.  Keep turning so that it browns evenly and breaks up in the pan.

Add the tomato puree and white wine.  Season with salt (remember that the pancetta is already salty so season with a light hand) pepper, and finally add the water.  Give it all a good stir, then cover the pan and and let it simmer very gently for 30-40 minutes.

Finally, add the milk and let it finish heating through for a few minutes.

The correct way to serve this is to put the cooked spaghetti in a heated bowl and then mix in the sauce so that the pasta is well covered with the sauce.  Add a knob of butter if you wish and then hand around freshly grated parmesan separately.  

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Bolognese Sauce a la Gentle Voice

Spaghetti BologneseNo apologies for the closeness of this recipe to the authentic Bolognese, (recipe as decreed by the Bologna Chamber of Commerce in 1982 ).  You will notice, however, that one major difference is that we like our sauce!  I figure this will feed 4 – 6 people.  (My occasional ‘extras’ to ring the changes in this sauce are also noted below).

Bolognese Sauce a la Gentle Voice

Ingredients:

1 lb (450g) lean minced beef

4 oz (120g) of  pancetta or, failing that, smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 x 450g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon of concentrated tomato puree mixed into half the above tin of water

1 wineglassfull of white wine

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt, pepper, grated nutmeg to season

To serve: Grated fresh parmesan cheese  to spinkle on the top

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Method

Gently heat the olive oil then add the pancetta and cook until browned. 

Add the onions and celery and when the onion is golden add the crushed garlic.  Stir for a minute or so (garlic should not be allowed to brown), then add the raw minced beef.  Keep turning so that it browns evenly and breaks up in the pan.

Add the wine, a little at a time so that it is absorbed into the meat.  Then sling in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and water.

Season with salt (remember that the pancetta is already salty so season with a light hand) pepper and a light scraping of nutmeg.  Stir well. Partially cover the pan and allow it to simmer very gently for at least an hour.  Just keep checking the pan to make sure that the heat isn’t too high and it is therefore drying out.  If it looks like this is happening you can add a little more water + tomato puree, and make sure that the heat is down low.

Just before serving, check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.  For a slightly richer taste add a small knob of butter and stir.

Strictly speaking, the correct way to serve this is to put the cooked spaghetti in a heated bowl and then mix in the sauce so that the pasta is well covered with the sauce.  Hand around freshly grated parmesan separately.  

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Occasional Gentle Voice extras and variations to that can the above basic ragu sauce

1-2 finely chopped chillis (to taste) – added with the onions and celery, or

1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (added with the other wet ingredients), or

A few sprigs of fresh thyme, de-forested of their little leaves, or

A few torn fresh basil leaves, added at the very last minute

Butter (as mentioned above)

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Lemon Drizzle Cake

This is a lovely cake for those of us who like quite plain cakes, in other words no cream and other frou frous.  Perfect for afternoon tea…although you may want more than one slice, and that just might spoil your dinner!

I make this using a food processor, and this is how it goes …

LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE

Lemon Drizzle CakeMakes a cake for 8-10 servings and is best eaten freshly baked, although it will keep for 1 week under refrigeration in an airtight container.  Freezes up to 3 months.

Ingredients

2 large eggs

175g (6oz) sugar

150g (5oz) soft butter

Grated zest of 1 lemon

175g (6 oz) self-raising flour, sifted***

125ml (4fl oz) milk

A pinch of sea salt

For the lemon syrup

150g (5oz) icing sugar

50ml (2 fl oz) fresh lemon juice (about 1-1/2 lemons)

*** Re Self-raising flour (For American readers) – self-raising flour is simply flour to which raising agent has already been added.  There are several ‘recipes’  for making your own self-raising flour.  Here is one: For every 225g (8 oz) of plain /all purpose flour add 2 level teaspoons of baking powder.  Sift together 3-4 times to thoroughly mix.  Can be stored in an airtight container.

You will also need a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf tin for this recipe, together with a small amount of baking parchment or greaseproof paper

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Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F / gas mark 4.

Line the bottom of a well greased loaf tin with baking parchment.

Put the eggs and sugar in the bowl of the food processor and process for 2 minutes, scraping the sides down once with a rubber spatula.  Take off the lid and drop spoonfuls of the soft butter on top of this mixture, together with the lemon zest, then pulse until it disappears.  The mixture should now resemble mayonnaise.

Add the flour, milk and salt, cover and pulse just until the mixture is smooth in texture and even in colour, scraping the sides down with a rubber spatula if necessary.  Don’t over-beat or the cake will be tough.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and stand the tin on a cooling rack.

To make the syrup: Gently heat the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, stirring until a clear syrup is formed – about 3 minutes.  Do not boil.

Prick the warm cake all over with a fork, then gently pour the syrup over it, until it has been completely absorbed.

Leave until cool, then carefully ease the cake from the baking tin and remove the baking parchment.

Just before serving, sift a little more icing sugar on the top.

Serve in generous slices!

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