Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Recipe: Strawberry, Spinach, Chicken and Blue Cheese Salad, with Balsamic Dressing

Sounds like an odd flavour combination but honestly it works a charm! This is a fabulously generously portioned salad for one, but can also work as a fab side salad for steak. This is my entry into Rix's seasonal recipe competition, this month the challenge ingredient being strawberries. Full competition information can be found here: and on their Facebook page #AgaInspiredRecipes

Strawberry, Spinach, Chicken and Blue Cheese Salad, with a Balsamic dressing (serves 1)

100g spinach
200g strawberries, tops removed and quartered
90g cooked chicken (leftover roast chicken is nice)
20g pumpkin seeds
20g pine nuts
85g blue cheese (gorgonzola works well), diced
20ml balsamic vinegar
20ml vegetable oil
¼ tsp Schwartz Cajun seasoning
1-2 tsp sugar (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix together the spinach, strawberries, chicken, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. Top with blue cheese. Mix together the balsamic vinegar, oil , Cajun seasoning, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. 
2. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Recipe: Roast Butternut Squash Soup

This is one of my favourite soups, that I make all the time- I have also made it for get-together's and parties. It's actually based on an ancient Roman recipe (although they obviously wouldn't have had a blender! They would have either served it chunky or mashed it)- now that I've got my act together and finished my degree, I may get to it and start writing it. I've always wanted to create this book but just haven't had time, what with the a levels and the degree and all that. The mixed fresh herbs for garnish i tend to use parsley, sage and chives. Cumin seeds are a nice garnish for the top too. 

Roast Butternut Squash Soup (serves 8)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling and serving)
2 medium or 1 large white onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried mint
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp honey
2 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1.2 litre vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnish- Chopped mixed fresh herbs

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put the butternut squash into two roasting tins, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and put in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, celery, carrots and garlic, covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin, coriander, mint and garam masala, stir in and cook for a further minute.
3. Add the stock, honey and roasted squash, and cook on a medium heat covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into a blender (you will probably have to do this in batches) and blend until smooth. Season to taste and serve, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Recipe: Italian Chicken and Tomato Stew

Goodness me I barely have any time to cook these days! Well, cook nice evening meals I mean- i am cooking constantly but as a chef in a restaurant. Yup- finished uni and gone straight back to cheffing, what am I like? Now working at a chain called "Hall and Woodhouse"- very nice actually, posh place, and massive too- I reckon it'll be mentally busy come Christmas time. This is such a scrummy Italian comforting dish- I have served it with creamy dijon mustard mash, but i also reckon it'd be lush with some roasted new potatoes.

Italian Chicken and Tomato Stew (serves 2 generously)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red onion, diced
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp dried mint
170g sliced chestnut mushrooms
100ml white wine
200ml chicken stock
1 bay leaf
½ tin chopped tomatoes (200g)
300g leftover roast chicken
1 generous tsp cornflour, mixed with a little water
Salt and pepper
Plenty of fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

1. Fry the garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, mint and mushrooms in the vegetable oil for 8 minutes. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, chopped tomatoes, and chicken, and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes.
2. Add the cornflour, and cook for a further couple of minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste, and serve with plenty of fresh parsley on top.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Recipe: Meditteranean Roasted Mushrooms

This is a fantastic side dish, or could even work as a vegetarian main course. Me and the in-laws had these along side an absolutely fantastic Braai- I also reckon these would work very well in the side of a steak. There will often be a spill over of the flavoured butter once it's melted, mixed with some of the water in the roasting dish- save this liquor and use it to flavour soups/risottos.

Mediterranean Roasted Mushrooms (3 as a side dish, 2 as a main course with salad). 
7 large field mushrooms
6 tbsp butter (softened)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Large handful fresh basil, chopped (plus extra for garnish if desired).
2 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
70g parmesan, grated
Plenty of black pepper

1.       Preheat the oven to 180C. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and finely chop. Mix these together with all of the other ingredients. Place the mushrooms gill-side up on a roasting tray, lined with tin foil.
2.       Equally spoon the butter mixture over the mushrooms. Pour a little water in the bottom of the roasting tray (this stops the bottom of the mushrooms from drying out), and roast in the oven for 25 minutes.

3.       Remove from the oven and serve!