Chicken Korma

We’ve not yet made anything from Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand which hasn’t been anything short of delicious. That said, we’ve tried lots of recipes for curries over the years and often find that there’s something missing… so we were curious to see what Diana’s recipe for chicken korma turned out like.

First thing you need to know here is that this recipe takes a long time. I think end to end I was probably in the kitchen for about 2 hours. This is because there are quite a few separate things you need to do, some of which take quite a lot of time. You have to salt some chopped onions and leave them to drain for 30 minutes; you also have to soak some saffron for a long time… none of it is especially hard, but there are just a lot of things keep track of.

You also have to use the food processor a few times – firstly you fry the onions and then you have to blitz them into a paste. Separately you have to soak some nuts in hot water and then blitz those into a separate paste. It’s certainly enough to keep you busy!

But as I said none of this is hard, and the end result is definitely worth it. Is it the most authentic tasting curry I’ve ever made? Hmmm… probably not, but it’s tough to say with a korma because it’s such a rich rather than spicy dish. It certainly tasted close to the real thing, and it certainly tasted delicious. Time consuming, but worth the effort.

Mushroom, pesto and cream lasagne

This great big plate of vegetarian delight comes from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries.

It’s something of a cooking marathon his – I think that beginning to end took about 2 hours. That’s because you have to cook the mushrooms and onions, plus you have to make the pesto, and in our case we also had to make béchamel sauce. None of these tasks are particularly strenuous, but together they add to the time and coordination required.

Once you’ve got everything ready, alternating layers of pasta and mushroom filling are put into a dish, and then topped out with the pesto and finally the béchamel. It takes about 40 minutes in oven at the end, so this clearly isn’t a quick thing to throw together but the end result is a really nice take on lasagne and despite being vegetarian it completely satisfied us two omnivores.

A friend of ours managed to cut down the prep time by using ready made pesto and béchamel sauce which still produced something tasty – you can check out the evidence on his Instagram here.

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.

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.

Eton Mess (ish)

OK, this isn’t strictly an Eton Mess but it’s certainly inspired by that dish. The recipe was a Nigel Slater one we found via the BBC on one of those days when you want dessert but want to try and be healthy… so a fruit pudding seemed like a great idea!

We took the easy route and used shop bought meringues. Whip up some double cream, then crumble the meringues into it. Add the berries (we used blackberries and raspberries as suggested) and some shelled pistachios and fold it all together.

The end result is then served up with some ice cream and provides a really satisfying combination of flavours – sweet from the meringue, tart from the berries, smooth with the cream and crunchy with the nuts. A really delicious treat.

Tomato and Bacon Quiche

I’d love to post the recipe for this, but it mostly comes from one of those recipe cards you can pick up in supermarkets (it was Waitress for this one).

The recipe calls for a pack of shortcrust pastry, but we followed the techniques picked up from John Whaite and made our own.

The filling was chopped cherry tomatoes and some slivers of streaky bacon which had been fried. Once the pastry had been blind baked, these were added to the tart case. I then mixed 4 large eggs, 150ml of double cream and about 100ml of milk and poured this into the tart case over the other ingredients.

Into the oven at 190ºC for about 35 minutes and it came out looking beautifully brown on top with a little bit of a wobble. We had to hefty slices for dinner and there’s more left over to reheat tomorrow.

Years ago, before I really started cooking, supermarket bought quiche was my go to “I can’t think of anything to make” dinner. Not any more!

Chicken Forestiere

Back to Diana Henry’s A Bird in the Hand tonight, but it was a meal which nearly didn’t happen. This recipe calls for chicken thighs, skin on and bone in. I had a pack in the fridge and they were well within their use-by-date… but I had noticed that the fridge had an odd aroma to it. When I came to pull the chicken out, I noticed it looked a slightly odd, slightly yellowish colour and that was when I realised… the pack wasn’t airtight. With the seal broken, the chicken had spoiled.

So I flung on a pair of shoes and dashed to corner shop – no chicken thighs for sale, so I grabbed a couple of chicken breasts instead. And a bottle of wine. And some iced buns. Damn you, lack of self control!

The recipe takes a little while to put together, but it’s certainly not hard. Start by soaking some dried mushrooms in boiled water. The chicken is browned first and then set to one side. You then deglaze the pan with sherry, fry the chopped onions and add the onions and their liquid, some chicken stock and some chopped carrots. Let the whole thing simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Now add the chicken back to the pot and simmer for another 20 minutes. As it gets close to the end, fry up some button mushrooms and then add them to the pot along with some double cream and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes but this time with the cover off.

The end result is really, really unctuous and tasty. Plus it’s full of vegetables so you can claim it’s healthy!

Chicken Marsala

This Nigel Slater recipe is almost two easy to deserve a write up.

Toss some flattened chicken breasts in flour and then pan fry in some butter and olive oil with a little salt and pepper. Take them out and keep warm whilst you add a small glass of marsala to the pan and reduce by about 50%. Then add some double cream, mix and pour over the chicken.

We served it up with some mashed potatoes and peas. Super fast and easy.

Chicken with Spices and Cream

This Nigel Slater recipe uses an ingredient we’re not used to seeing in his recipe books – or anyone else’s for that matter: curry powder. Nothing fancy, just plain ordinary curry powder.

It’s a speedy recipe too, coming from Real Fast Food Rub salt and pepper into the chicken and then fry it. Next add the chopped onion and garlic, followed a few minutes later by the curry powder and some ground cinnamon. Moisture comes from chicken stock and some chopped tomatoes, and the whole thing simmers for about 15 minutes. Before serving, a generous slosh of double cream and a squeeze of lemon juice finish the whole thing off.

When I made this it felt like a bit of a lazy option and harked back to some of the cooking I did in my student days, but as soon as Mark stepped through the front door he was intrigued because he said the house smelt amazing. The end result wasn’t like a typical curry, but the spices combined with the savoury stock make for a really tasty treat.

Boston Cream Pie

When we first set up this website, we used a photo of a Boston Cream Pie I had made as the profile picture – it was something I made a long time ago and posted on my personal Instagram account.

Since it was my birthday recently, I decided to revisit the recipe as my birthday cake. And I decided to make two cakes – one for my workplace and one for the Two Hungry Boys.

This recipe comes from How To Be A Domestic Goddess and features three distinct stages – first you make a batch of Nigella’s Victoria Sponge mixture, then some creme anglais to place between the two sponges, and finally some chocolate ganache to top it.

The resulting cake is amazing – light sponge, sweet custard and a thick chocolatey topping. Very rich and very filling, and it vanished within minutes when I took it to work!