Sunday, 25 September 2016

Sole with Shrimp and Red Pepper Sauce

There was a sweet red pepper in the fridge that was starting to get a bit soft, still OK for roasting or cooking, but not enough crunch left in it for eating fresh. I had made a mental note to roast it, and use it right away.

We chose to have fish for dinner, and keeping the red pepper in mind, I bought some shrimp to combine with it in a sauce for the sole. I used a bit of the whipping cream in the fridge, added in some grape tomatoes and fresh basil and made some zucchini and potato pancakes to serve with the fish.

Roast the red pepper by placing it directly on an open flame, turning it as each side chars.

You can also roast it in the oven, on a baking sheet, at a temperature of 400F. Roast it until it is starting to char, and the skin is wrinkled.

Remove the pepper from the heat, and place into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it to cool.

When the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin, rinse it off and remove the seeds from inside.

Roughly chop the pepper and place it into a blender, along with:

1/2 cup whipping cream

Blend until you have a reasonably smooth puree. Set aside until needed.

Turn the oven on to heat to 350F. Have an ovenproof dish ready for the fish.

Lay the sole fillets onto a cutting board or baking sheet and lightly season both sides.

I used:

6 sole fillets

Starting at the thin end, roll each piece of sole up and place into the ovenproof dish.

Scatter halved grape tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese around the fish.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds over everything.

Place into the oven to bake.

Bake until the fish is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. If the fish is cooked before the tomatoes, remove the fish and keep it warm.

To make the sauce, place the pureed red pepper and whipping cream into a small saucepan, along with:

1/2 cup whipping cream

Simmer until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

 Taste and adjust seasoning.

Two minutes before serving, stir in:

150g of cooked shrimp

Serve the fish, tomatoes and feta cheese with the shrimp and red pepper sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with chopped fresh basil.

  • Sole fillets are thin and cook really quickly, which is why I rolled them up. If you use a thicker piece of fish, such as halibut, this is not necessary.
  • Purchased roasted red peppers can also be used; you will need to estimate one pepper's worth if the peppers you buy are not whole.
  • When pureeing the red pepper and whipping cream be very careful not to churn the cream into butter. Try and puree the pepper a bit first and then add the cream to prevent this from happening.
  • The sauce can be made ahead, up to one day...just re-heat it and then add the shrimp to heat them through for serving. The shrimp are optional.
  • If you have a licorice flavoured liqueur such as Pernod, add a tablespoon to the sauce.
  • Make a larger batch of the sauce, adding in shrimp and bay scallops, and use it as a pasta sauce.
  • The sauce can be used for beef (surf and turf) or the shrimp can be eliminated and it can be used for beef, chicken or pork.
  • Instead of feta cheese use soft goat cheese, Parmesan or Asiago. The cheese can also be omitted if you prefer.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Tamarind and Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs

These chicken thighs turned out even better than I had thought they would. The last time I needed tamarind concentrate, all I could find in the grocery store was tamarind paste, and I have been keeping it in the freezer.

Combining the tamarind, which is sour, with my crystallized honey and some orange juice made a lovely glaze for the chicken. As it cooked it caramelized a bit, and we ended up with crispy, sticky, sweet and sour chicken thighs. Together with coconut rice, and stirfried red, yellow and orange peppers, it was delicious.

The tamarind paste is quite thick and chunky, so I softened it first.

In a small pot, combine:

2 ounces tamarind paste
1/4 cup water

Heat over medium low heat, mashing and breaking the tamarind up with a fork.

Remove from the heat and
leave it to soak for a couple of hours. Puree with a hand blender, as smooth as you can get it.


the tamarind puree
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the oven to 375F. Place 9 bone in, skin on chicken thighs on a rack, inside a roasting pan.

Spoon a bit of the glaze over each chicken thigh.

Place into the oven to roast.

Roast until the chicken is fully cooked, about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the thighs. Glaze with the tamarind mixture every twenty minutes.

Serve the chicken thighs hot, passing napkins for the sticky fingers and faces! I served coconut rice with steamed green peas, as well as stirfried mixed bell peppers, diced mango and avocado. The leftover chicken was used to make wraps the next day.

  • If you have tamarind concentrate, use half the amount, and there is no need to soak it. Just combine it with the water, honey, juice and oil.
  • Tamarind is quite acidic and sour, so taste the glaze before using it and adjust it if you want to by adding more honey. I found these amounts gave a good balance, and the sour taste was diminished once it was cooked.
  • The glaze can be used for pork, beef, other cuts of chicken or sablefish.
  • Add more liquid, such as water, juice or chicken stock and the glaze can be turned into a marinade or sauce.
  • Instead of olive oil, use vegetable oil or 2 teaspoons sesame oil with 4 teaspoon vegetable oil.
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds over the chicken after the last application of glaze and they will stick and toast as the chicken finished cooking.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Chocolate Chip, Almond and Salted Caramel Bars

A craving for something sweet over the weekend gave us these rich, decadent, gooey, sweet, salty and crunchy bars. The recipe evolved as I made it; the basis of it was to use the half bag of toffee bits that was in the cupboards.

I added slivered almonds for crunch, and chose to include a bit of kosher salt to give it that sweet and salty vibe. They are also quick and easy to make; baiscally it is all mixed in the pot you melt the butter in.

Start off by heating the oven to 350F, and lining a 9" X 13" pan with foil. Lightly grease the foil.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt:

8 ounces of unsalted butter

Remove the pot from the heat, and whisk in:

2 cups brown sugar

Whisk until the sugar has melted and the butter and sugar have emulsified.

Whisk in, one at a time:

2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Whisk in the dry ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Lastly, stir in the rest of the ingredients:

3/4 cup toffee bits
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup chocolate chips

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and spread as evenly as possible.

Bake until the bars are set, still slightly soft in the middle and golden around the edges.

This should take around 22 - 25 minutes. When checked with a wooden skewer there should be a few moist crumbs on the skewer.

Cool to room temperature, then gently lift the foil out of the pan, and cut the bars. Yum!

  • I used one and a half teaspoons of kosher salt, and it was just a bit much, in my opinion (although some people thought it was just right). I reduced it to one teaspoon, you can adjust it if you feel it needs more or less.
  • I used unsalted butter. Keep in mind that salted butter will increase the salt even more, so adjust it accordingly, using about 1/4 teaspoon less.
  • Pecans would be great in this recipe, if you have no almonds.
  • I used dark chocolate chips; any type of chocolate can be used...white, milk, chips or chunks.
  • Instead of cinnamon, try a teaspoon of instant coffee.
  • If you are unable to find toffee bits, cut up a toffee bar, such as Skor, Heath or any other English toffee bar available.
  • The recipe can be halved to make an 8" X 8" pan of bars.
  • To make the bars last longer, they can also be frozen.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Indian Spiced Cashew Chicken

A craving for Indian food, two soft tomatoes, some yoghurt and cashews inspired this recipe. I wanted to make something other than the usual few recipes I rely on, and drew from all of them to come up with this recipe.

It was a success...creamy, full of spicy flavour with a hint of heat. Definitely something that I will make again! I also managed to stay away from some of the less healthy ingredients such as whipping cream, butter and coconut milk.

Start off by making the marinade for the chicken. In a blender, combine:

1 cup of cashews
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup water

Blend until you have a smooth paste.

Combine the nut paste with:

3/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt

Combine the marinade with:

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Cover and refrigerate for 3 - 4 hours.

To make the sauce, cook in olive oil until softened:

1/2 medium onion, diced

Add the spices and cook, stirring, for two minutes:

1/2 cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon paprika

When you can smell the aroma of the spices, add the tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes:

2 medium sized tomatoes, diced

Stir in:

1 cup of water

Bring to a boil.

When the sauce is boiling, stir in the chicken and marinade.

Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and leave it to cook for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked, and is fork tender.

Taste and season with salt and pepper.

I served the chicken over basmati rice, and sprinkled some toasted cashew pieces over the top.

  • This recipe was quick and easy to put together. Once you have moved past the measuring involved with the nut paste, everything comes together nicely.
  • I had 1 cup of cashews, but wanted to save some to garnish with, so I used almonds to make up the difference. You can use all almonds if you like; peanuts can also be used.
  • Mincing the fresh ginger and roughly chopping the garlic make it easier for the blender to do its job.
  • If you feel that the blender is straining, add a bit more water to loosen the nut paste up.
  • I did not peel and seed the tomatoes, but you can if you wish to. If you want to use canned tomatoes, do not include the juice and use about 1 cup of diced tomatoes.
  • Chicken stock can be used instead of just water; milk, whipping cream or coconut milk can also be used to give an even richer, creamier sauce.
  • By 'fork tender' I mean that you can cut a piece of chicken with a fork.
  • Bone in chicken thighs can also be used, but they will take longer to fully cook. Cubed lamb leg or shoulder can be used for this recipe. Cubed chicken breast is another option....thread these onto skewers, grill and serve the sauce over the top.
  • The chicken can be marinated overnight if you wish.
  • Adding chopped fresh cilantro as a garnish would brighten the dish up and add some freshness and colour.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Turkey "Cordon Bleu" Roulade

This is a version of chicken Cordon Bleu that I made when I was using up some Swiss cheese and prosciutto. I'm not a fan of pounding meat to thin it out, so I do things like buy turkey scallopini, which has already been cut to a thickness of about 1/4", which makes it perfect for something like this.

My package of turkey had four beautiful large, thin pieces of meat in it, perfect for the four of us. The piece of Swiss cheese I had was quite small, but by grating it I was able to divide it equally between the four pieces of turkey.

Lay the turkey flat on a cutting board, and cover each piece with thinly sliced prosciutto. I used two pieces of prosciutto for each piece of turkey.

Sprinkle the cheese over the prosciutto. I used:

2/3 cup grated Swiss cheese

With the short end of the turkey facing you, tuck the long sides in and then starting at the end closest to you, roll the meat and filling up.

The filling should be completely enclosed by the turkey.

Set up a breading line, with flour, egg and milk and breadcrumbs. Season all three, and then bread the turkey roulades by coating each one in flour, then dipping it into the egg wash and then coating it in breadcrumbs.

Place the turkey roulades into the fridge to chill.

Turn the oven on to 375F.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat olive oil until very hot.

Add the roulades and cook until brown and crispy. Turn them over and then place the whole pan into the oven, and bake until the turkey is fully cooked. This took about 25 - 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes, before cutting in half. I served my turkey with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and pan fried cauliflower.

  • If you have boneless, skinless chicken breasts and would like to pound them to an appropriate thickness for this recipe, I have included a link for you.
  • Other meats that can be rolled and stuffed this way included veal, beef, pork or chicken. You can also use sole fillets. The main requirement is that the meat is thin enough to roll, and of a reasonably uniform shape.
  • Another way to make a version of chicken Cordon Bleu  is to make a small pocket in the thickest part of the chicken breast, using a small sharp knife, and carefully enlarging it with your finger. Wrap a stick of cheese in ham or prosciutto, and carefully push it into the pocket (see the post Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Warm Peach Chutney ).
  • Use ham instead of prosciutto.
  • Any sharp, melting cheese can be used. Classically Chicken Cordon Bleu uses Swiss cheese, but you can try cheeses such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, asiago, goat cheese or brie.
  • I did not season the turkey as both the cheese and prosciutto were salty. I did, however season all three stages of the breading, with salt and pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper in the flour.
  • If you have fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, chives or rosemary, chop them finely and add them to the breadcrumbs.
  • The turkey roulade can be made and breaded a day ahead, and kept in the fridge, well wrapped. They can also be frozen...defrost before cooking.
  • The breading helps to seal the filling inside the meat, but if you are concerned about the turkey unrolling during cooking, tie the roulade with kitchen twine before cooking.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Balsamic Peach Barbecue Sauce Basted Chicken Thighs

As summer ends, I always have a hard time accepting that peach season is over; peaches and figs are two of my favourite fruits. I had two peaches left, and as one of them was a little overripe, I chose to cook them both and make a barbecue sauce for my chicken thighs.

I used the sauce to baste the thighs during grilling, and passed the rest at the table for those who wanted extra. Barbecue sauce can often be too sweet in my opinion, so I aimed to keep the natural sweetness of the peaches as the star of the sauce. I did this by adding minimal sugar, and using apple juice to add liquid and any additional sweetness.

The chicken thighs I was using were skinless, boneless thighs and I simply used a basic rub that I had in the spice drawer to season them and add a bit of heat to contrast with the sweetness of the peaches.

Using olive oil, cook until starting to soften:

1/2 medium onion, diced

Add the spices, and cook for a couple of minutes to bring out the flavour:

3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder


2 peaches, peeled, pitted and diced

Stir to coat well with the spices.


2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 - 4 tablespoons apple juice

Start by adding 2 tablespoons of apple juice, and add more if needed during cooking. The peaches will release their juice as they cook. Keep the heat at a simmer to prevent the liquid evaporating; this will make a dry sauce and could also lead to burning. Continue to cook until the peaches and onions are very soft.

Using a hand blender, puree the sauce.

Taste and adjust seasoning by adding salt, pepper or more ancho chili.

Add vinegar or brown sugar to adjust the acidity.

Season the chicken thighs by combining:

Olive oil
Basic rub

I placed both on a baking sheet and then added the chicken thighs, making sure that all sides were coated.

Cook the chicken on a hot grill. Sear the first side, and then turn the chicken.

Baste with the peach barbecue sauce after the first turn, and continue to grill, turning and basting often, until the chicken is fully cooked.

Remove the cooked chicken from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

I served the hot, sticky chicken with a warm orzo salad, that was full of vegetables....tomatoes, peppers, green onion, cucumber, chick peas, spinach, fresh basil. A lovely contrast to the chicken.

  • The peaches I was using were quite large, giving me about 2 cups of diced fruit.
  • If your peaches are ripe enough, the skin will peel off nicely once you slit it with a sharp knife. If this is not working, simply bring some water to a boil, drop the whole peaches into the boiling water for about 10 - 20 seconds, then run under cold water immediately to stop the fruit from cooking. The skin should have split and will peel off easily.
  • Don't limit yourself to peaches...nectarines, apricots, apples, pears or plums are other good choices for a barbecue sauce.
  • Barbecue sauce is known for using apple cider vinegar; I wanted the deeper flavour of Balsamic vinegar for this one. Use whichever you cider vinegar is a bit sharper in flavour as it is not aged like Balsamic vinegar is.
  • I pureed the sauce as I wanted to use it for basting. If you are serving it as a sauce only, consider leaving it chunky.
  • Extra barbecue sauce can be frozen.
  • Any dried chili powder can be used, and the amount is entirely up to you and your heat tolerance. I went mild in the sauce as the rub I was using had a bit of heat to it.
  • Use the barbecue sauce to baste chicken breast, ham steaks, pork tenderloin, salmon or halibut.