Saturday, 28 June 2014


Okay, so this isn't exactly a meal, it's an accompaniment to many other sorts of food, typically mediterranean and middle eastern, but this goes well, i think, with the tandoori chicken recipe i posted a few weeks ago, particularly as it can use up the 250g of yoghurt that goes unused!

You will need the following ingredients:

Whole Cucumber
A Lemon
250g of Greek Yoghurt
Salt & Pepper
Garlic Paste
Olive Oil

Utensils Needed:

Large Ceramic Bowl
Chef's Knife

First of all, take the cucumber and peel it. Yes, that's right, peel it. You don't need a lot of pressure on the peeler to remove the skin either. Once peeled, slice lengthways and scoop out the pulp/seeds with a teaspoon. slicing a 'V' groove here with the knife aids in seem removal. This is done to stop it from becoming too watery. You want to be left with the cucumber looking as it does below:

 Then, simply dice the cucumber into fairly sizeable chunks.

At this point, add the juice of half the lemon, a good grind of black pepper and a large pinch of salt (don't overdo the salt, though). Add a good heaped teaspoon of garlic paste (or crushed garlic if you prefer) and mix through thoroughly.

Mix in the 250g of yoghurt at this point. Make sure it's well mixed as possible.

Ta-da! Done. See? Pretty simple for a side dish, takes about 10 minutes to prepare. The recipe will scale as well, so if you do double the cucumber - double the yoghurt. It will keep in the fridge for a day, two at a push, so try not to make too much of it in one go.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tandoori Chicken

If you like indian food, you may be familiar with tandoori chicken already. Contrary to popular belief, it's not at all difficult to make and doesn't need a lot of ingredients, either. This is perfect for summertime BBQ, served with salad or rice.

You will need the following ingredients:

1kg of Chicken Breast Fillets
250g of Natural Yoghurt
1tbsp of Tandoori Spice Mix
A Lemon

Utensils Needed:

Chef's Knife 
Plastic Chopping Board
Ceramic or Pyrex Dish
Grill Pan

Take the chicken breasts, and trim the fat & skin off them. score the top of  chicken about 1/3rd of the way down. If the breasts are more than about an inch thick, split them through the middle so they cook properly on the grill.

Once all the breasts are prepared, transfer them to a dish, ready to marinate. Juice the lemon and pout the lemon juice over the breasts. Grind a decent amount of salt over the top and set to one side whilst you prepare the marinade itself.

If you're using a 500g tub of yoghurt like i am here, decant half of it into a bowl and set the rest to one side. Take the tablespoon of tandoori spice and mix it into the yoghurt well.

See how the chicken breasts are going white? That's the proteins in the chicken denaturing - this makes the chicken tender and soft, and stops it from drying out under the grill.

Time to get your hands messy! Pour the yoghurt & spice over the chicken, and mix it through the chicken with your hands. Might be a good idea to have a tap running beforehand! Yes, i know you could use a fork or a spoon, but it takes longer and you never quite get the mix evenly spread out. At this point you should put it in the fridge for at least an hour, but even overnight, if you want to prepare this in advance.

If, like me, you're relegated to using an oven, or have no proper grill pan for the oven, you can use this trick - get a roasting tin and line it with tin foil. Suspend a wire cake rack over the top and ta-da, instant grill! Of course i'd rather use a proper BBQ or griddle for this, but i have to make do...

Spread the chicken over the grill, don't pack them in too tightly so that the edges get cooked through as well.

As for cooking, this will depend entirely on your grill/oven/bbq. Basically, you want the chicken to get to where it looks charred on one side, before you turn it over, so you'll need to keep an eye on it. As mentioned, it'll need to be cooked on both sides. If you need to add a little more of the marinade to the other side, there should be some left in the dish they marinated in.

Once off the grill, take the thickest piece and slice it diagonally to ensure it's cooked all the way through. It should be white all the way through the middle with NO pinkness. If there is any, put it back on the grill and grill for a further minute.

As you can see from this bit, it's all done nicely. Take them all off the grill and slice into large chunks, ready to serve. I serve mine typically with some boiled basmati rice for a simple, healthy dinner.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Sausage & Lentil Casserole

I realise this is considered a dish for cold seasons, but it's taken me a while to find the SD card with the pictures on it! Yes, it's yet another one pot deal, what can i say - i like any excuse to break out my casserole dish!

It's entirely concocted of whatever was left in the store cupboards and the back of the fridge, and should easily feed three people. It's hearty, warming and packed full of flavour.

You will need the following ingredients:

1 large Brown or White Onion (any will do though, in a pinch)
2 Carrots
3 large Garlic Cloves
Pack of 8 Sausages, cooked & cold
200g of Mushrooms
100g of Unsmoked Back Bacon trimmed of fat.
1 can of Green Lentils in Water
2 Chicken stock cubes
Sage (Fresh or Dried)

Utensils Needed:

Chef's Knife
Chopping Board
Casserole Pot with Lid (Cast iron & Enamel are ideal)
Wooden Spoon
Measuring Jug

As with the Goulash below, the preparation for this is pretty simple. It's a one pot stew that takes maybe an hour, to an hour and a half to make. Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 2 (300° Fahrenheit / 150° Celsius) - we're going for a slow cook again.

Chop the garlic cloves up as fine as you can and leave to one side. Chop up the onion as coarse or as fine as you like, same with the carrots (although i find that thick chunks work best).

Put about a tablespoon of olive oil into the casserole dish and place on the smallest ring on the stove, at it's highest heat. Get it nice and hot, then add the garlic. Just as the garlic starts to brown, add the onions and turn the heat down low and put the lid on for about 5 minutes. The end result should look like this:

Now add the carrots and the sage. the amount of sage used is entirely up to you, feel free to leave it out entirely if you wish.

Trim the fat off the bacon if you haven't already, and cut into thin strips or chunks. We don't want to ruin this otherwise fairly lean dish by having chewy/fatty bits of bacon floating around in it!

Put the lid on for a minute, just to start the process - we don't want the bacon to fry off. 

Take the cooked sausages and add them at this point. Now i've chopped them into chunks here, so that they're easier to deal with on a spoon, but if you want to bring a fork to these proceedings, by all means feel free to add them whole.

Open the can of lentils and drain off the water. Rinse them with a little cold water first to get rid of some of the salt, then add them to the casserole dish as well.

Put the lid on and go and mix up 300ml of chicken stock, using your two stock cubes. I find that beef stock is a little too overpowering and takes over the taste almost entirely - which is fine if you're using beef sausages, but i'm presuming most people will use pork sausages.

Chop your mushrooms roughly, large chunks are ideal - don't do more than quarter them, they *will* shrink as they cook.

Now, add both to the casserole dish and put the lid on for about 5 minutes to get the whole lot up to the boil again.

Take the casserole dish off the stove, and put it in the oven. Rough guideline for cooking time is 30 to 40 minutes, anything more than an hour though, and the liquid will reduce too much and you'll start to get bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Ta-da! I know, it looks like an amorphous brown mess like stick it in a bowl, and it'll look far more appetizing!

Serve with some nice thick sliced granary bread. I guarantee you'll feel full after eating even one bowlful :)