Piri Piri Chicken with Creamy Cheesy Polenta Mush

IMG_4329

If you are not familiar with the polenta mush yet, you need to be. Let me introduce you to it now.

Polenta  originated in Northern Italy as a peasant food at first, but I am very glad now that it finally gained world wide recognition and rapidly became popular. Yellow polenta is such a versatile ingredient,  is often served as a soft, thick mush, which may be topped with sauce, a hearty ragout, or cheese. Cooked polenta can also be cooled until firm and cut into wedges, rounds, or other shapes, which can be baked, grilled, or pan-fried and also used in sweet bakes and desserts.  But, today, I’d like to share the recipe of the perfect side dish or as an alternative to potato mush.

The only thing I have to warn you, polenta without the seasoning can be very plain and tasteless, therefore, make sure you season it well. Season, taste it and then… season a bit more.

I like to cook polenta in a chicken stock (or in its absence, a chicken stock in cubes is just as handy), adding the butter  and the cheese (this time instead of Parmesan I used Cheddar) for extra creaminess. It takes no more then 15 minutes to prepare and it’s so comforting and absolutely delicious.

PIRI PIRI CHICKEN WITH CREAMY CHEESY POLENTA MUSH

Ingredients:

For Chicken:

4 skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons Piri Piri seasoning mix

pinch of salt

olive oil for frying

For Polenta Mush: 

2 cups (450 ml) chicken stock

1/2 cup (120 ml) water

1 cup (225 ml) milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup (250 g) coarse yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup (100 g) grated cheddar cheese

Plus: any green vegetable to serve (I used broccoli)

Method:

1. Start with preparing the chicken by placing it on a large sheet of greaseproof paper, toss it with the salt and Piri Piri seasoning mix. Fold over the paper, then bash and flatten the chicken with a rolling pin. Place the chicken on a hot frying pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, turning after 5-6 minutes, until golden and completely cooked through.

2. Meanwhile chicken is cooking, make a mush. Heat the stock, water and milk to a low simmer in a medium saucepan. Generously season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal (I like to use a hand whisk for that) making sure there are no lumps. Stir regularly until the polenta is very thick and creamy, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover with the lid and let it ‘rest’ for about 10 more minute. Ten, serve it when you are ready.

IMG_4328

Advertisements

Saffron Chicken, Chickpeas & Fennel Casserole

IMG_3206

Even though it is summer, I do crave for some comfort food but a lighter version. This one is comforting but yet refreshing and zingy at the same time! It is not the prettiest looking dish but you’ll forget the look when you will taste it 🙂 Ideally, use a large heavy bottom/cast iron pan with a lid for it.

SAFFRON CHICKEN ,  CHICKPEA  & FENNEL CASSEROLE

(Adopted from Belinda Jeffery)

Ingredients:

2 large onions, diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bulb fennel, sliced

3 celery sticks, chopped

1 fresh chilli pepper, finely chopped

3 bay leaves

2 pinches saffron threads

1-2 cinnamon sticks (you can skip this if you don’t like or not sure about the taste)

6-8 chicken pieces (thighs, legs, on a bone)

1 can (400ml) chopped tomatoes

1 can (400 ml) chickpeas

green olives handful

Juice & zest of 1 lemon

salt, pepper to season

Olive oil

Method:

1. On a medium heat in a large heavy bottom pan warm up the olive oil and sauté the chopped onions for about 7 minutes. Add garlic and chilli, cook for another 2 minute. Then add chopped fennel and celery and continue cooking for 8 minutes. Crush gently the saffron  between your fingers to release extra flavour and add to the vegetables followed by cinnamon sticks (if you are using it). Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes.

2. Push the vegetable to the side of the pan and place the chicken pieces in a pan, let them brown a little, then cover them with the vegetables, pour the chopped tomatoes on a top, then fill up the can from tomatoes half full with cold water and add to the pan, followed by drained chickpeas (everything should be just covered with water).  Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with the lid and let everything gently bubble for 25 minutes.

3. After 25 minutes, take off the lid, turn the chicken pieces around and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes without the lid. Close to the end of cooking add the olives and lemon juice and zest of the lemon. Adjust the seasoning.

Serve with steamed rice, couscous, naan bread or anything else you like 🙂

IMG_3207

Lamb Meatballs with Rhubarb and Pomegranate

IMG_2908

When I saw this recipe on Helen Graves blog I couldn’t wait to try it. I love rhubarb in everything and thought the combination of the ingredients is quite unusual. I did tweak the recipe a little, for instance, I didn’t have Turkish pepper paste or Turkish chillies, so I already can not call the meatballs ‘Turkish’. I replaced the Turkish paste with Harissa paste instead, as well as adding fresh pomegranate as a topping at the end. With all the rest – I did follow exact recipe. As a result, I liked it but Mark didn’t, saying it was a little too sour for his ‘refined’ palette. I was a bit disappointed to begin with because I really thought that would be a great dish, but the problem was that this dish was a bit on a sour side. And it is great if you like it (like me), but if you have quite sensitive palette, maybe better to leave out.

I’d like to cook this dish again in future but I would definitely replace the rhubarb with, maybe, plums or apricots. But I leave it up to you, to make your own choice.

LAMB MEATBALLS WITH RHUBARB AND POMEGRANATE

Ingredients:

500g lean lamb mince

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons Harissa paste

12- teaspoons mild chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 slices bread soaked in not too much of milk until completely wet, then squeeze the excess of water

oil & butter for frying

For the sauce:

2 sticks rhubarb (approx 300g)

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

generous splash white wine

1 tablespoon sugar

pistachios or fresh pomegranate to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Make the meatballs by combining the lamb mince, onion, garlic, Harissa paste, chilli, cinnamon, bread and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix really well using your hands, then shape into 25 balls. In a frying pan, heat a splash of oil and knob of butter. Fry the balls in batches, about 5 or 6 at a time, until browned, then set aside. Drain the fat off into a bowl but keep it set aside.

2. De-glaze the pan with a good glug of the wine. Add the rhubarb,  pomegranate molasses, sugar and some salt. Add a generous splash of water, bring to a simmer, put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes. Return the meatballs to the pan with some of the drained fat, and cook for a further 10 minutes with the lid on. Serve with cous cous or bread, or rice, or as a pitta bread filler and yoghurt. Garnish with pistachios or pomegranate seeds.

IMG_2907

IMG_2906

Chicken Livers with Grapes

IMG_2841


For some people even the thought of eating liver sounds horrible, because first of a lll people think of anatomy  (we know what the liver’s job is). However, liver contains more nutrients that any other  food. Here are just some facts about liver and reasons why we need to consider to eat more liver. Personally, I always was fond of any dish that has liver in it, but recently I found my absolute favourite. Here it is:

CHICKEN LIVERS WITH GRAPES

Ingredients:

400g chicken livers (rinsed and trimmed)

1 onion

about 200g seedless grapes (any colour)

few branches of fresh rosemary (chopped)

3 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon olive oil

salt, pepper to season

Method:

1. On a large frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add sliced onion with salt, pepper, rosemary and cook until softened and golden brown, transfer to the plate and leave aside.

2. Pat dry the liver, season with salt and pepper and cook it on the same frying pan with remaining of butter and olive oil, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook.

3. Add the grapes and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Return the onion back to the pan, check for seasoning and serve immediately.

IMG_2842

Sweet Potato & Cashew Nut Tart Tatin

IMG_1106

This is one of my favourite use of polenta. It is an unusual take on on a well known Tart Tatin, using polenta as a base and Indian spices as a perfect partner. It works well, providing a mild base and more powerful, rich curried topping.

SWEET POTATO & CASHEW NUT TART TATIN

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

600 g sweet potatoes (cut in cubes)

1 red onion (cut in cubes)

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon black onion seeds (optional)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon dark muscovado sugar

1 tablespoon malt vinegar

70 g cashew nuts

200 g polenta

salt,pepper to taste

Plus: 22sm springform tin

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly brush the inside of a springform tin with oil. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil , add the sweet potato and cook for 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, add the spices and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add sugar and vinegar, stir over a medium heat for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the drained sweet potato and cashew nuts, string to coat everything evenly. Then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing down lightly.

3. Bring 800 ml of water to the boil in a large saucepan and add polenta, string constantly with the whisk. Cook for a few minutes, stirring until thickens, then remove from the heat and season well with salt and pepper. Spread it evenly over the vegetables in the tin with the palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the polenta is firm and beginning to shrink from the side of the tin. Leave to stand for 2 minutes then run the point of the knife around the edge and turn out onto a plate.

4. Serve the tart hot as a main course, with a fresh tomato salad or any of your favourite greens, or as a side dish with the meat main.

Parcel-Pie


IMG_2373
I’ve been making this pie (originally adopted from Nigela’s Domestic Goddess book)  a lot recently and I’ve tried all sort of fillings, using rice, cous cous, lentil along with different vegy selection, but this version still remains my favourite.

 

COURGETTE, SPINACH AND CHICK PEA FILO PIE

Ingredients:

1 pack of ready made filo pastry

100 g melted butter

1 yellow onion

3 courgettes (diced, unpeeled)

300 g spinach

1 can of chick peas, drained

200 g feta cheese (cut in cubes)

2 medium cooked potatoes (cubed)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoon olive oil

salt, pepper

Plus: 22cm springform tin

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. In a large frying pan gently fry the cumin seeds and onion in the olive oil until the onion is soft. Add the rest of the spices, courgette and cook on a fairly high heat to prevent the courgettes becoming watery. When they are soft but still holding their shape, add the spinach and quickly cook until it just starts to wilt. Tip it over in a big bowl, let it to cool slightly.

3. Add cut potatoes, can of drained chick peas and cubed feta cheese, mix everything to combine and check seasoning.

IMG_2368

4. Brush the inside of the springform tin with some melted butter. Line the bottom and sides of the tin with 3/4 of the filo pastry, buttering each sheet as you layer. Leave a little filo overlapping the sides, and keep 3-4 layers for the top. Carefully put in your filling and then fold in the overlaps. Cover with the final coat of butter and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the filo is golden.

IMG_2382

P.S: As you can see there are some carrots on a last picture and there are no carrots in my recipe. I have to confess, I just had a two carrots left from the roast night before, so I just added the into the pie too (I hate to waste:))

Sorrel Soup

IMG_2226

It is one of my favourite spring soups from my childhood. Deliciously tart, light but rich in vitamins soup, which is equally good hot or cold! The main ingredient of this soup of course, sorrel.

The sorrel leaves contain a set of vitamins and minerals – potassium, iron, copper, magnesium, sodium, fluorine, zinc.

The sorrel soup is usually prepared very quickly: the whole process takes no more than 20 minutes. What takes the longest is to make a stock (or you can use a ready made, if you wish). My personal preferences to make it stock. 

The main thing to remember is that sorrel cooks very quickly: to add it to the soup should be a few minutes before end of cooking.

SORREL SOUP

Ingredients:

4-5 (500g) potatoes 

2 carrots grated

1 medium yellow onion finely chopped

500 g sorrel

2 tablespoon olive oil

4-5 hard boiled eggs (cooked and roughly chopped)

3.5 litres water or stock

salt
spring onions 

Method:

1. If you are not using ready made stock, start with the cooking it first. I think the best stock for this soup is made from chicken or pork. This time I made the second one, simply by using a few pork chops on a bone, cook it until it boils in about 3 litres of water, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 40 minutes until pork is cooked and tender, and stock is rich and flavoursome. Fish the meat out and leave aside.

 

2. Potatoes cleaned, washed and cut into cubes. Add the potatoes in a saucepan with the prepared stock. Boil potatoes until tender.

3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in olive oil till it tender, add the grated carrot, continue cooking until vegetable slightly golden, add to the soup.

3. Sort out and wash the sorrel, cut roughly. Add it to the soup, bring it to the boil and turn off the heat. Season to your taste.

4. Serve soup garnished with the chopped eggs, spring onion and generous dollop of sour cream.