Honey mustard chicken with salsa and beans

This recipe is weirdly both a lot of hassle, and almost none whatsoever. There is a long list of ingredients, it takes a long time to make, and it’s technically three different dishes. But at the same time, each individual dish is pretty easy to make. This recipe comes from the ever fabulous Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand.

The first thing is the chicken, which has to sit in its marinade – ideally for a few hours. The marinade is olive oil, vinegar, chilli, dijon mustard and garlic, so it’s pretty easy to throw together. It’s also recommended to put some slits in the chicken flesh so that the flavours can penetrate.

Once its had its time, it goes in the oven in a casserole dish for about 45 minutes. Actually, I found this to be a little too long and the skin of the bird burnt – but maybe I should have just been more on the ball with my basting.

The second thing to make is the black bean mix. This is also really easy – basically just a few ingredients stir fried together and sat in some orange juice and chicken stock whilst it reduces down. The orange juice is the star here – don’t be tempted to skip it!

Finally, just before you’re ready to serve, the last bit to make is the avocado salsa which is also really easy – basically just some chopped avocado and tomatoes with a couple of extra ingredients. Easy peasy.

We also served it up with some toasted tortilla for a bit of extra carb. Mark was late home for this meal, so it worked quite well with all the dishes on the go – the chicken could sit in its marinade, and then go to the oven about an hour before he was due back; the black beans simmer for part of that cooking time, and then when he comes through the door I quickly throw together the salsa and tortillas.

Braised Cod with Seasoned Soy

We’re having another stab at a Korean meal here, with another one from Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo’s Our Korean Kitchen.

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This is a really nice meal for putting together quickly. The first thing to do is create your sauce – a mixture of sake, soy, honey, gochugaru powder, chilli and garlic. The fish then sits in this whilst you get on and boil some new potatoes. Part way through cooking, add the mushrooms and fish to the potatoes (balanced on top) and add the sauce too. The fish cooks quickly, and then you’re ready to serve.

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The recipe recommends serving this with some rice, but the potatoes were more than enough carbohydrate for one meal. Because the potatoes are well cooked, you can mash them up with your fork as you eat and thereby ensure you mop up all the rich sauce which is the heart of this meal.

Bitter Orange Tart

This recipe is something of a mash up.

The original recipe for bitter orange tart can be found in Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat. In that version, it’s a tart with a pastry base and quite a lot of sugar (a mix of muscovado and caster).

She then revisits the same recipe in Simply Nigella, replacing the pastry base with one made from crushed ginger nut biscuits. The muscovado sugar gets dropped as well.

Our version uses the Simply Nigella filling (less sweet), but with a How to Eat inspired pastry base. And, because it works every time, I used my John Whaite sweet shortcrust pastry method.

Since it’s not the season for Seville oranges, and I’m not sure where I’d buy them even if it was, I used regular oranges with some lime juice. I made my pastry case and blind baked it, then added the filling and chilled. The resulting tart isn’t at all heavy, and although it’s bitter you could quite happily eat this on its own. As the picture reveals though, we found it went wonderfully with chocolate ice cream.

It kept well in the fridge (covered with cling film) for about 4 days, but by the end of the pastry had lost its edge.

Haddock in Anchovy & Tarragon Breadcrumbs

It’s not all that long since we had our posh fish finger sandwich from Booths, and this is a variation on that theme. Some nice pieces of haddock in breadcrumbs, but Nigel Slater’s Appetite provides the twist.

The breadcrumbs are made from panko (Nigel uses fresh bread, but we had panko in the cupboard) and is given some extra flavour in the form of tarragon and anchovies. Dip the fish in flour first, then beaten egg, and finally the breadcrumb mixture before frying in a pan.

The anchovy is the star here – it adds a really nice salty tang to the breadcrumbs and makes this much more interesting than everyday breaded fish. My one criticism would be that the anchovy is so flavoursome, the tarragon ends up being somewhat lost.

Mushy peas on the side because, why not?

Pasta with chicken, pancetta and peas

We had roast chicken recently (no photos, sorry!) which once again left us with some cooked chicken leftovers. As ever, we turned to the fabulous book A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry. We’ve cooked quite a few of her leftover recipes and they’ve always served us well (I’ll never forget that bird pie – awesome!).

This recipe really couldn’t be much easier. We’re cooking pancetta, onion and peas, then adding some chicken, lemon zest and double cream. Some chopped mint goes in near the end to flavour the cream, and then it gets served up with some pasta (we used fusilli – nothing fancy).

You can’t really go wrong here. It’s a winning mix of ingredients, and cooked chicken always tastes better the next day. We scoffed the lot and sat feeling very contented with ourselves afterwards.

Roast vegetable tortilla recipe with a green olive twist

Our third meal from the Sainsbury’s Homemade by You website is this vegetable tortilla (or maybe frittata?). It’s another vegetable loaded meal with plenty of health, plus low fat protein in the form of many many eggs.

It’s really easy too – we’re basically cooking the vegetables and then pouring an eggy mixture over it. Then it cooks in the pan, before being finished off under the grill.

Lots of food. Lots of taste. The twist on this occasion is green olives which were nice but did seem a little out of place… we love olives enough not to complain though.

Tuna and Vegetable Pasta Bake with Greek Yoghurt

Continuing the theme of “Little Twists” from the Sainsbury’s Homemade By You website, we’ve given it another go with this vegetable loaded pasta bake with Greek yoghurt.

It’s also a great way to get your five a day – there are a lot of vegetables in this, to which you add chopped tomatoes, greek yoghurt, herbs and tinned tuna. The whole thing goes in the oven with a topping of cheese so that it goes nice and brown on top.

The end result was a great big bowl of very satisfying food. There’s nothing too exciting here – it’s basically just a pasta bake with tuna, but the combination of lots of vegetables, cheese and tuna makes for something very tasty and satisfying. The addition of yoghurt makes for something a bit creamier and richer, but to be honest I don’t think that it really added all that much – it would have been a great meal even without it.

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry with Coconut

The next few recipes we cooked came from the Sainsbury’s Homemade by You website. Sainsbury’s have been running a campaign called “Little Twists”, encouraging people to be a little bit more adventurous with their cooking, and this recipe is part of that.

It’s a pretty simple dish and quick to make – it’s a chicken and vegetable stir fry like any other, but the different comes at the end when you toss some toasted desiccated coconut into the dish. It’s a simple thing, but it does add a nice bit of flavour and an interesting texture too. I liked it, and so did Mark.

Lemon and Thyme Bundt Cake

We keep going back to bundt cakes ever sine we got a tin and this week is no exception. Fortunately Simply Nigella contains quite a number of these, and we seem to be working our way through them with this lemon and thyme bundt cake. If you want to find a copy of this recipe online, you can find it at Chatelaine.

The cake is pretty easy to make – basically bung it all together and stick it in the tin (or at least that’s my recollection!). It rises enormously though – this was by far our biggest bundt do far! We topped it off with some lemon icing (badly) and sugar stars. It looked pretty enough and the slices were huge!

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It was a hugely substantial and hugely satisfying cake, but the flavour wasn’t quite as strong as we were expecting. This is possibly because I didn’t put enough thyme it, and possibly also because I forgot to add the juice of one of the lemons (I just added the zest). The result was more like a Madeira cake with a hint of lemon – but that’s certainly no bad thing and we demolished the lot!

Chicken with Garlic, Tarragon and Cream

This meal is from Nigel Slater’s Appetite, the book which gives you lots of ideas for recipes rather than spelling lots of them out in detail. The book contains a sections on chicken and meat, and that’s where the inspiration for this comes from.

The basic idea is fairly easy – it’s some skin-on bone-on chicken thighs slow cooked in butter. This has the benefit of giving them a really nice and crispy texture, but following the advice on the following pages the burnt on bits of flavour in the pan can be turned into a creamy tarragon sauce to accompany things.

Unfortunately for me, something went wrong – maybe I overcooked the sauce; maybe I used too much vermouth; maybe there were too many burnt on bits… but it ended up coming out quite bitter. To top things off, I’d decided to serve this with polenta but mistakenly grabbed a bag of fine, rather than course, polenta – resulting in something resembling cheesy (we always add parmesan to polenta) wallpaper paste. Not the most appetising thing!

To be fair, it didn’t taste awful… it just wasn’t quite what I’d been hoping for.