Roast Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

This salad was borne from a desire to use up leftover roast chicken but was such a treat that I made a huge batch of it again the next day, this time roasting up a couple of chicken breasts especially for the event.

Now, I’m not one for do-ahead salads. For starters I don’t like cold salads, they need to be brought up to room temperature first so by the time you’ve decided you’re hungry you might as well have knocked it together there and then rather than twiddling your fingers for half an hour whilst the chill is knocked off your lunch.

Pre-dressed salads are also usually a problem, as heavy dressings render delicate leaves a soggy mulch, or worse if there’s garlic involved create a pungency to the whole affair which detracts from the light bright flavours you began with. My Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt encountered no such issues though and after having made a fair amount to last for a few days I popped it, dressing and all, into the fridge until I was ready to eat it over the next few days.

Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

This salad holds no leaves to wilt or garlic to intoxify so the fresh flavours are kept intact. In fact, they are improved upon as the feta simply soaks up flavour so over the next couple of days it took on more depth from the lemon and mint. There is also no oil in the dressing so there is no chance of the dressing weighing down the other ingredients.

Okay, so I did have to take my salad out of the fridge for a bit so the flavours could re-ignite in room temperature but after about 15 minutes of impatience I dove in and found I hadn’t lost anything in its preservation.

Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

Now you must be fussy when gathering ingredients for this salad, not only should you insist upon the best tomatoes you can find and of course organic free-range chicken, bone intact and skin on so it retains moisture during its roasting, but this salad also benefits hugely from the inclusion of extremely good feta. Supermarket feta is so hit and miss, more often than not a bit dry and crumbly and until you’ve overdosed on the good stuff in Greece you may not even know how much you like it. I am lucky though to be within spitting distance of Ally Pally farmers’ market on a Sunday where there is an excellent producer eager to offload his wonderful olives, pickled garlic and sundried tomato antipasti. It’s his feta that is the star of the show though, tangy, dense and sublimely creamy, although you have to get to the market early as he always sells out.

Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

Roast Chicken and Feta Salad with Minted Yoghurt Dressing

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts on the bone
2 teaspoons olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
150g cucumber, halved and de-seeded
200g tomato, roughly chopped
3 celery sticks, sliced thinly
½ red onion, halved and sliced thinly
120g feta

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon yoghurt
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
good handful of fresh mint leaves, diced finely
juice of ½ lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt
pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Mix the olive oil and lemon juice with some seasoning then rub all over the chicken breasts.
  3. Place in a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, basting halfway through.
  4. Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to rest whilst you prepare the rest of the salad.
  5. Toss the cucumber, tomatoes, celery and red onion in a large bowl and crumble over the feta.
  6. In a separate small bowl whisk together all your dressing ingredients and pour most of it evenly over the salad.
  7. Toss it all together and heap into bowls.
  8. Remove the chicken from the bone, then slice and serve over the salad, drizzling over a final bit of dressing.

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken

Lemon Honey and Sesame Chicken - a quick, easy and delicious gluten-free dinner
Chinese means Valentines Day to us. There have only been a couple of times where we have bothered booking somewhere smart and fancy, but really set menus and other couples don’t really signify romance to me. On Valentines Day you will either find us holed up in Chinatown where you can always get a table, a huge dinner and unobtrusive service or at home cooking a banquet together where the emphasis is not on the end result but the act of cooking as a couple.

In fact one of my most memorable Valentines nights was when we decided to cook ourselves a night out in Chinatown. We mixed over-the-top cocktails that insisted upon using every alcoholic drink in our cabinet and was tantalisingly aqua marine with umbrellas and glace cherries. We drank these far too quickly whilst pouring over Chinese cookbooks and making a royal mess as well as sesame prawn toasts, char siu pork, egg fried rice and broccoli in oyster sauce. We finished with the requisite deep fried bananas which always ensures a blistered tongue and vanilla ice cream which melted as soon as it hit the bananas.

Spending hours in the kitchen isn’t as fun as it normally is at the moment with my increasing bump getting in the way of the kitchen counter, my lower back threatening to give out at any minute and bending down to get my bottom kitchen cabinets requiring about five minutes of recuperation time. So, we need to make haste with our Valentines preparations and there is no quicker and more delicious Chinese dish to make at home than this Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken. It’s a meal that I can happily make for the two of us, or if Luke is away then just me on my lonesome, it really is that little bother. Not to mention it tastes a million times better than the bland and greasy MSG filled takeaway at the end of the phone.

Lemon Honey and Sesame Chicken  - a quick, easy and delicious gluten-free dinner

Lemon, Honey and Sesame Chicken

Serves 4 (or 2 with plenty of yummy leftovers so you can have cold Chinese the next morning)

4 boneless chicken thighs with skin, diced
1 lemon
3 tablespoons cornflour
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds

  1. Place the cornflour, five-spice, garlic powder, zest of the lemon and salt in a bowl and whisk together until evenly mixed.
  2. Toss the diced chicken into the cornflour mixture until thoroughly coated.
  3. Heat up the coconut oil in a large wide bottomed saucepan or wok until hot then add the chicken, cooking on a medium to hot temperature until crispy and cooked through.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  5. Whisk the honey, soy sauce and juice from half of the lemon together until combined then pour into the pan. Bubble up for a minute then add the chicken back in along with the sesame seeds and cook for a further minute until piping hot.
  6. Serve with rice stir-fried with beansprouts, spring onions and soy sauce.

Cashew Chicken Satay with Carrot and Coriander Salad

Cashew Chicken Satay with Carrot and Coriander Salad

The deli counter was a big thing growing up. It was my favourite destination during our weekly trips to the supermarket and it was here that my sister and I were allowed to choose one treat to snack on in the car on the way home. I always, without a doubt, chose the chicken satay. Thinly skewered pieces of cooked dry chicken covered with a tasteless spices and rammed onto cocktail sticks. I loved them. I have no idea if you can still buy them anymore but I remember as soon as Mum had loaded the car up with the shopping, I would rummage carelessly through them for my promised chicken satay. As I clambered into the car I was already tearing the label in half which held the wimpy plastic deli bag together and brandishing my prize. Before the car engine had even been started the skewer had been devoured in one, two, three bites and the wooden stick tossed with abandon over my shoulder (until I was told off by Mum for littering the car and made to reclaim it dutifully).

My love of chicken on a stick has not diminished into adulthood. I usually wait until summer’s barbecue season before overindulging in chicken kebabs but as soon as the first of January hit I have been hankering after the chicken satay skewers of yore, except done, hopefully, a little better.

I am still coming to terms with my horrendous computer crash, which I suffered just before Christmas. One of the most frustrating things about losing all my work is all the recipes which I had great ideas for that have now been lost in the ether. Hopefully though if I thought of them once, I might recall them one day again. There are some ideas though that even though they went down with my hard drive they have never been relegated to the recesses of my mind. These, must have been the best of the bunch and are the ones I am now excited to share.

Cashew Chicken Satay with Carrot and Coriander Salad

This Cashew Chicken Satay is one of those recipes. I don’t know when I first thought of it but like all my greedy thoughts it was hastily typed into my laptop and saved into a list of hundreds of recipes, destined for the kitchen far into the future. However, for some reason, this recipe has stayed with me and has been saved from destruction by my memory.

I was so happy then when it worked out just as I had hoped it would, in fact, if I may be so bold I think it worked out better and is definitely going to become a regular part of my mid-week repertoire. Cashew nuts are just as tasty as the more traditional peanuts in a satay. They are slightly sweeter so they lend a more tempered and delicately flavoured result but one I actually think I prefer despite being a fully paid up member of the Peanut Butter Forever fan club. This also means it’s suitable for most January detoxes which tend to eschew peanuts. There is nothing I like better than adapting a recipe for a healthy eating plan and finding you have lost nothing at all in the translation.

Cashew Chicken Satay with Carrot and Coriander Salad

I paired my Cashew Chicken Satay with a bright rainbow carrot salad, singing with fresh coriander, the bite of spring onions ,the occasional heat of green chilli and the zing of lemon juice. This kind of salad is perfect for January as it’s robust and crunchy and jam packed full of drizzly rain busting flavour and colour.

Cashew Chicken Satay with Carrot and Coriander Salad

Cashew Chicken Satay with Carrot and Coriander Salad
Serves 2

For the Cashew Chicken Satay:
2 chicken breasts
100g natural unsalted cashew nuts
a small piece of fresh ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 shallots, peeled
1 red chilli
1 stalk lemongrass, outside woody part removed
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos or tamari
2 teaspoons honey
100ml coconut milk

For the Carrot and Coriander Salad:
2-3 large carrots, grated
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Spring onions, roughly chopped
Green chilli, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon salt
black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Slice the chicken into strips and set aside whilst you prepare the satay sauce.
  3. Scatter the cashews onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes. Remove the cashews from the oven and tip straight into a food mixer. Mix the cashews together to make cashew butter which could take up to 15 minutes but persevere until the cashews form a lovely smooth paste. (for more detail on making cashew butter see here).
  4. Add the fresh ginger, garlic, shallots, red chilli and lemongrass into the mixer and pulse everything together until smooth.
  5. Then add the ground coriander, turmeric, coconut oil, soy sauce and honey and mix again until you have achieved a smooth paste.
  6. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the satay sauce and set aside for making the pouring sauce later, cover and put in the fridge. Pour the rest of the satay sauce over the chicken pieces and rub into the chicken so that it’s thoroughly coated. Cover and place in the fridge for at least four hours but preferably overnight to marinate.
  7. Before you cook the chicken you can prepare the salad.
  8. Mix together the carrots, coriander, spring onions and chilli together in a large bowl.
  9. To make the dressing pour the lemon juice into a small glass and whisk up with the ground coriander, salt and pepper until the salt has dissolved. Carefully pour the olive oil in, whisking all the while until the dressing has emulsified. Pour over your salad and set aside whilst you finish the satay chicken.
  10. Turn your grill or griddle on to a high setting. Remove the chicken from the fridge and thread onto skewers until all the chicken has been used up. Place the chicken skewers under the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes each side.
  11. Whilst the chicken is cooking you can make the pouring satay sauce by taking your reserved 3 tablespoons of satay sauce and placing it in a small saucepan with 100ml coconut milk. Stir together and heat gently until it reaches a gentle boil. Remove from the heat.
  12. Serve your cashew chicken satay skewers over the carrot and coriander salad and drizzle over the satay pouring sauce.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Chicken and Leek Pie

What is November without a good pie? Cold, that’s what. Is there really any better internal heating system that a plate full of hot bubbling creamy chicken and sweet leeks adorned with a crisp and flaky buttered hat? The best part of any pie is of course where the lid meets the sauce, so that the puff pastry becomes chewy and saturated with all the beautiful flavours.

I have been making this pie for years, it’s a complete crowd and family pleaser, equally at home as part of a special mid-week treat or pride of place at a small supper gathering. It is chock full of chicken flavour because you poach a whole chicken with a host of vegetables to cook the chicken off first, then use the deliciousy deep stock as the base of the pie filling, thickened with flour then finished off with a generous amount of crème fraiche. Using crème fraiche instead of cream is second nature to me as I am a complete crème fraiche addict. I love the way it adds richness but is its own tempering agent, adding a tang which is complimented here by the addition of lemon zest and tarragon. You won’t need all the stock produced for the pie filling but that’s all the better so you have it to hand for your next recipe.

Chicken and Leek Pie

There are a few steps involved in this pie which is why I have absolutely no qualms about using shop bought puff pastry. Although it does have to be the all-butter variety which considering is what most recipes will ask you to use is quite hard to get. The supermarkets all sell the just-rol standard puff but that really isn’t good enough as it uses vegetable oil in place of butter and the pastry just doesn’t have the same quality. All the big supermarkets do stock the all-butter variety, it’s just that it sells out very quickly. If you get the ready rolled all-butter puff pastry then you really will be laughing.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Don’t feel that you have to do all the steps of the pie at once either. Poach the chieken the day before, or make the filling the day before. It’s a recipe that can happily be broken down into manageable chunks.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Of course the obligatory accompaniment to pie is quite obviously mashed potato but don’t let that become your go-to every time. I love a bit of white rice with this pie, especially if you serve it with a mound of buttered broccoli. If you are going the mash route then make sure you don’t forget the greenery, shredded savoy cabbage with a glistening diamond of butter on the top. For a lighter meal then forgo the carbs entirely, as long as you have the greens to eat with your pie then you’ll be a happy camper.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Chicken and Leek Pie
Serves 6

Poached Chicken and fresh stock ingredients

1 whole chicken
2 x Bay leaves
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
A handful of fresh parsley stalks
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, cut in half
1 leek, cut in half
2 large carrots, cut in half
2 sticks celery, cut in half
¾ teaspoon salt
6 black peppercorns

Pie ingredients

1 large onion, diced
1 stick celery, diced
2 leeks, halved lengthways then chopped into semi circles
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon thyme leaves strimmed of their stalks
2 tablespoon sfinely chopped tarragon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon butter
1 tsp olive oil
½ teaspoon lemon zest
3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
A good splash of vermouth
400ml stock from the poached chicken
The chicken from the poached chicken
150ml crème fraiche
a pinch of cloves
a pinch of nutmeg
320g ready rolled all-butter puff pastry
1 egg

Poaching the chicken

  1. Take the whole chicken and remove giblets and string if it has them. Place the chicken in a large stockpot along with the onion, the leek, the carrots and the celery. Also pop in the garlic cloves, bay leaves, thyme and parsley stalks.
  2. Fill the stockpot with cold water so that it covers the chicken, throw in a fair amount of salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Leave the chicken to simmer for between 50 minutes – 1 hour depending on how large the chicken is.
  3. Remove the chicken from the stock and leave until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile leave the stock simmering for a further 1 hour depending on how much time you have so that the flavours further intensify.
  4. Whilst the stock is continuing to simmer away, shred the chicken away from the bones. Discard the skin and all the bones. Set the meat aside until you need it.
  5. Once the stock is ready, remove from the heat, strain and discard the vegetables. Set the stock aside until you need it.

The Pie

  1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan until the butter has melted. Fry the onion and celery gently for about 15 minutes or when the veggies go translucent. Add the leeks, garlic, lemon zest, the tarragon, some fresh thyme leaves and the bay leaf to the pan. Give everything a good stir then continue to fry gently for 15 minutes or until the leeks are softened.
  2. Add the flour and mix well into the leeks until all the flour has been absorbed by the mixture. Stir continually with a wooden spoon letting the flour cook through for a few minutes. The mixture should be quite sticky with no buttery liquid left in the pan.
  3. Pour in the vermouth and continue stirring for a couple of minutes until the wine has been absorbed.
    If the stock which you made when you poached the chicken has cooled, reheat on the stove. When it’s boiling pour about 400ml of it into the pan. Turn the heat of the pan up high and continually stir quite hard so all the lumps in the flour dissolve into the stock. Once the flour has dissolved, the mixture is thick and bubbling at a nice consistency, turn the heat down to simmer.
  4. Now switch the oven on to 180°C.
  5. Simmer for 5-10 minutes then add the poached chicken and the crème fraiche. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavours get to know each other then turn off the heat and pour into a 20cm round and deep pie dish
  7. Take the puff pastry and cut a thick strip to place on top of the lip of your pie dish. Then place the rest of the pastry on top, cutting away the excess. Tuck onto the pie filling and pinch to the pastry on the lip of the dish.
  8. Whisk the egg and then brush over the top of the pie.
  9. Place the pie in the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry top is golden brown.

Cajun Grilled Chicken Salad with Sour Avocado Dressing

Cajun Grilled Chicken with Sour Avocado Dressing
My last recipe before Halloween and it’s not a bit on theme, except that it’s a very green salad so in theory you could serve it up at your bash, or am I trying too hard? The truth is, this is the salad I’m eating today and I wanted to tell you about it right now.

Cajun Grilled Chicken with Sour Avocado Dressing

In fact I was going to post about something totally different today but I still needed to take the photos and I was hungry so I thought, I know I’ll have lunch first and then I won’t be tempted to eat the subject during the photoshoot. Then before I knew it I was photographing making my lunch and then it looked and tasted so yummy that I thought it only fair that I photograph the finished dish, and then as I was taking the photos and my stomach I was rumbling I suddenly remembered what the point of making lunch first was. So that’s why you’re getting a salad instead of the pumpkin soup that I had actually intended.

I include a lot of salads in my newsletter as I eat one most days for lunch but I rarely blog about them as they can be a bit of a thrown together affair without much of a recipe. Today though, I knew exactly what I wanted. A creamy sour dressing lathered over chunky vegetables and spiced juicy chicken.

Claiming to want a sour dressing rather than just screwing it up may seem a bit odd but this is for the days when you want a very vegetably salad. Some dressings which are drenched with honey or smattered with sugar can drown the taste of the individual vegetables a bit and I wanted something so savoury but also perfectly balanced. Here, I deliberately wanted to abstain from any sweetness but if you taste the dressing and feel the need then by all means add a pinch of sugar.

Cajun Grilled Chicken with Sour Avocado Dressing

The sour avocado dressing is bolstered by my use of green pepper. Green peppers are unfairly maligned in my opinion, I think they are the jewel of the bag of mixed peppers you buy from the supermarket and I’m always looking for the bags with more green peppers than red. Green peppers add a lovely counterpoint to the salad as there is no mistaking their grumpy presence. They have none of the overpowering sweetness of the red or yellow pepper and instead add a peppery flavour. Green peppers are used a lot in cajun and creole cooking as part of the holy trinity along with onion and celery which is their version of the mirepoix. That’s why it goes so well with the grilled cajun chicken that beds down on the greenery.

Cajun Grilled Chicken with Sour Avocado Dressing

Cajun Grilled Chicken Salad with Sour Avocado Dressing
Serves 2

2 Chicken breasts
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning (see below for the recipe)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 little gem lettuce, shredded
½ cucumber, seeds removed and batoned
2 celery sticks, batoned
1 green pepper, seeds removed and sliced thinly
1 avocado, peeled and stone removed
75ml sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon English mustard
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

  1. Pre-heat the grill to the highest setting.
  2. Using a mallet, bash out your chicken breasts until they are of even thickness. Rub the cajun seasoning, olive oil and some salt and pepper on the chicken breasts and place under the hot grill. Grill for about 4 minutes each side until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile prepare your salad by placing the lettuce, cucumber, celery and green pepper in a bowl and tossing together. Set aside.
  4. To make the dressing place the avocado, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, paprika and seasoning in a blender and whizz up until smooth.
  5. When the chicken is cooked, slice thinly, toss with your salad and then drizzle with the sour avocado dressing.

Cajun Seasoning

1 tbsp onion salt
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp sweet paprika
2 tsp celery seeds
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground black pepper

Mix together thoroughly and store in a small airtight jar.

Sticky Smoky Bourbon Chicken

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken

If a recipe has bourbon in the title then you’ve lost me – I’m already in the kitchen snapping open the lid of my Makers Mark drowning my other ingredients with it whilst also sneaking myself a wee dram. If every recipe could have bourbon in it then I’m sure the world would be a much calmer, more relaxed and happy place. Just like me, after my second wee dram.

I’ve been really enjoying reading other people’s blogs lately, I’ve shrugged off my inferiority complex which has been green with envy at the rapier wit of their child’s first day back to school or the renovations they are doing to their vast farmhouse kitchen somewhere in North Dakota. I’m also now appreciating their stunning photography which plays with light and shade as a chocolate cake peeks beautifully out of the shadows, scattered with delicate flowers, without glaring pointedly at my own Canon, cross that it never does that sort of thing for me. So, yah, I’m like super over this pesky jealousy.

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

This week I have been enjoying catching up with Pinch of Yum, whom I discovered via Pinterest. I noticed recently just how many of their photos I have been pinning to my boards so I thought I would go and look at their website for realsies. Now, I have to confess, I only looked at one recipe, which I was enjoying immensely, before I was struck by the Bourbon Effect (totally a thing) on the second recipe and I had barely finished reading the other ingredients before I remembered I had some chicken in the fridge. Well my friend, I had cannonballed myself into the kitchen, snatched the chicken out of the fridge and doused it liberally with Makers Mark before you could say SoberTober. It was pretty lucky then that I also managed to locate the rest of the ingredients in my larder which took less than 5 minutes to measure out and add to the mix. Between my first glance at the recipe and getting my version in the oven it couldn’t have taken longer than 10 minutes, but I might have made some slight alterations here and there to suit exactly what I was after.

Now, the original recipe asked me to marinate my chicken overnight but there was no time for that, this was a bourbon emergency and not a moment could be wasted. I have no idea therefore how much was lost in translation but honestly it couldn’t have been much as boy did this dinner deliver.

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

I also swapped out the sugar that was called for with honey, because I am turning into a bumblebee (yeah, I know they make it they don’t eat it, and also that it’s not bumble bees it’s honey bees – what are you the bee police? I want to be a bumblebee and a bumblebee I shall be kind sir). I also added some chipotle to add a bit of smoky heat to the proceedings, and then a pinch of instant coffee for a bit of dark background noise.

I served my version with a giant mound of garlic broccoli and sugar snap peas because after all that bourbon and honey I had to do a cursory nod towards this diet I’m supposed to be on (argh, when will it start – damn you Bourbon Effect).

Now, I might go and read some more of their recipes, I am also prone to the Cinnamon Effect of late so we shall see how far I get.

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Sticky and Smoky Bourbon Chicken
Adapted from Pinch of Yum http://pinchofyum.com/sticky-bourbon-chicken-rice
Serves 4

4 chicken legs (I always ask for mine boned with skin intact)
1 large onion, sliced thinly
120ml soy sauce or tamari or coconut aminos
60ml very light olive oil
60ml vinegar (rice or cider or white wine)
60ml bourbon
60g honey
1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
½ teaspoon chipotle powder
A pinch of instant coffee

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and place in a large casserole dish, with the chicken skin side up and poking out of the sauce.
  2. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours, if you have time.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, then place the casserole dish, uncovered, in the oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Serve with rice, like the original recipe, or green veg like me.

Calypso Chicken

Calypso Chicken
Years ago when my mum was going through a bit of a clear out of a forgotten part of the attic, she came across my father’s old collection of food magazines from the 1980s. With no interest in them herself she offered them to me which I thrillingly accepted and I have been lugging them around with me ever since from house to house, bookshelf to bookshelf, much to my husband’s consternation.

Taste Magazines

They are an absolutely fascinating read and I pick them up every so often when I need a little bit of inspiration that pinterest and my many food blogs sometimes can’t give me with their wonderfully retro recipes and advertisements for Ambrosia custard. Last week I was thinking about the current food revolution in the UK but these magazines go to show that most of us have always cared about the provenance of food and great recipes.

These Taste magazines feel very different to today’s Olive, Delicious or Observer Food Monthly, there are a huge amount of lengthy articles, illustrated recipes and not much in the way of news and only a little on restaurants. Plus, for the most part, the photos, when they are not amusing in their rigid construction with the cooks hovering over the dining tables with magnificent perms and billowing blouses, are frankly a little off putting. I can while away hours flicking through these magazines, some of the articles are still relevant and there is just the same breadth of culturally diverse recipes as modern magazines cover today. Our generation didn’t invent the foodie, they have always existed but now they are just a bit louder, more demanding and they write food blogs.

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

I got a little bit lost in some of the magazines again this morning when I revisited them. Topics covered within the pages range from sections tasting the best supermarket canned sardines. There are articles extolling the virtues of cream, a lovely account of a visit to Beatrix Potter’s country garden and a very detailed piece on drying herbs. Another piece written about modern technology champions the microwave and there is also a hard hitting investigation on whether a couple can live on one 3 kg chicken for a week. Spoiler, they could but they wouldn’t want to. Nail biting stuff.

The recipes themselves range from an exploration of food on sticks to a complicated dish of jellied seafood followed by chicken mousse, which they claim is perfect for a romantic lunch to celebrate the royal wedding. Having spent the week making endless use of the blackberries which I have been foraging there is a lovely looking blackberry and caramel soft scoop ice cream recipe which I wish I had seen a few days ago. Although I did turn my nose up rather snobbishly at a hot potato and frankfurter salad and a low fat recipe for hollandaise which recommends replacing the butter with margarine, eww.

Taste Magazine

However, this recipe for Calypso Chicken which was nestled in a piece about Floella Benjamin’s Caribbean food heritage leapt out at me as soon as I read it. I didn’t think I had ever braised chicken in rum before but suddenly as I began to imagine the possibilities the whole world made total sense. It used creamed coconut, an ingredient which is more than often replaced in modern recipes with coconut milk. Plus angostura bitters is one of my favourite things to use in the kitchen, I usually add it to my fruit pie fillings but I can be more liberal now I know how much it lends to savoury dishes too. Alcohol plus cooking only signals good and tasty things.

I have been messing around with the recipe a little bit, changing the chicken breast to chicken legs to garner more flavour, and upping the quantities of some of the ingredients for more impact. The rum, ahem. It is a brilliant chicken recipe, so easy to put together with a perfect balance of spice in the rich coconut rum sauce. I have been serving mine with crisply fried plantain and fresh chillies sprinkled on top which sparks it off deliciously and have made it several times in the past couple of weeks.

Rum and Coconut Chicken | Stroud Green Larder

Expect to see more 80s recipes soon, now I have started I am going to find it difficult to stop. And I haven’t even begun discussing the crazily elaborate desserts, suffice to say they involve a lot of moulds, jellies and unnecessary garnishes.

Calypso Chicken
Adapted from Taste magazine, March 1987
Serves 4

4 chicken legs, boned
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp salt
black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
500ml chicken stock
50g creamed coconut
3 tbsp dark rum
good dash of angostura bitters
pinch of saffron
Chopped fresh chilli and parsley to serve

  1. Mix the cumin, garlic powder, chilli powder and salt and pepper together then rub generously over the chicken legs.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish on the hob and as soon as it’s hot add the chicken, skin side down.
  3. Fry the chicken for 10-12 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden. Then with a pair of tongs remove the chicken, set aside and add the onion and green pepper to the casserole dish.
  4. Heat the stock in a small saucepan until boiling, then remove from the heat and add the creamed coconut, rum, angostura bitters and saffron until they are well mixed together.
  5. As soon as the onion and green pepper has softened and are staring to colour in the casserole add the stock mixture, stirring in well with the onions and peppers. Bring up to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the chicken on top of the stock, flesh side down and simmer for 40 minutes until the sauce has reduced to thick and creamy.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped fresh chilli and parsley, then serve with crisp plantain.

Honey and Wine Barbecue Chicken

Honey & Wine Barbecue Chicken Wings
This recipe is quite close to my heart. It’s the very first recipe I collected. The first of many, garnered from friends and family, ripped out of magazines, printed off the internet and saved from cooking classes and food fairs which now fill the eight full-to-bursting lever-arch files that are piled up in the corner of my dining room. This recipe represents the very first time I ate something and thought it was so delicious I wanted to re-create it for myself.

I remember my first few forays in the kitchen as an adult, cooking for myself at university. I made the Chicken Paprika from my mother’s battered copy of Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course for my boyfriend at the time and surprised even myself at how easy it was. I had been cooking Sunday lunches, bolognaises, lasagnes and simple cakes at home for years, but no recipe was required as the cooking was ingrained from years spent in the kitchen with my parents. I had never before sought out a recipe and made it according to a stranger’s instructions until the Hungarian Chicken. This was food that was new and different, and I had made myself.

It wasn’t long after this that I traipsed down to London for the weekend to see friends. We all knew each other from school, riding the train in from our various universities around the country and congregating together in London at one of our parents’ houses. It must have been a 21st birthday and we were having a barbecue. No doubt afterwards we would have fussed around with hair and make up, swigging back white wine before grabbing taxis into town for our night out.

Honey & Wine Chicken Wings  |  Stroud Green Larder

However, before all that we were throwing sausages and supermarket burgers onto a barbecue which one of us was tending. Another was responsible for chopping the salad, another for portioning out the bread but the friend whose house we were at was very carefully following a scribbled down recipe for chicken kebabs. She was pouring gallons of wine, honey, orange juice, soy sauce and other bits and pieces into a huge mixing bowl before adding chicken and stirring it all together, then threading it onto metal skewers. I thought this was incredibly enterprising for a student barbecue and helped her grab the ingredients from the cupboards and weigh them out.

The chicken was one of the best I have ever tasted, sweet and salty, slightly sticky from the honey and smoky from the barbecue with a bite of Tabasco. Every bite was imbued with this delicious marinade. Everyone said how nice the chicken kebabs were but this was something that I had never tasted before and I didn’t want to not taste it again, I wanted to have this chicken at my barbecues. She said her family always made it and it came from an old cookbook they had somewhere, mostly they made it from memory but she had a few notes written down from her mother. She gave me her scribbled version of the recipe and I treasured it, taking it home. It wasn’t long before I tested the recipe out myself and I was delighted that it tasted exactly the same.

Now this recipe comes out at all of my barbecues. The chicken always receives comments and I could never get bored of it as it’s the best marinade recipe I have up my sleeve. I am always happy to pass it on, as thanks to the kindness of an old friend, it is why I have it in the first place.

I no longer keep in touch with the friend who gave me this recipe for no reason other than our lives grew apart in the maelstrom of graduating university, moving flats several times and early career struggles. It makes me sad that our friendship fell by the wayside but now every time I have a barbecue and I am pouring the wine, honey, soy sauce and orange juice into my own mixing bowl, reading her scribbled handwriting and weighing out my ingredients I think of her.

Honey & Wine Chicken Wings  |  Stroud Green Larder

Honey and Wine Barbecue Chicken

16 chicken wings (or 6 chicken breasts, cubed)
6 tbsp honey
6 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos to make the recipe gluten-free
280ml white wine
280ml orange juice
3 tbsp water
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp allspice
1 clove garlic, crushed
dash of Tabasco sauce

  1. Mix together all the marinade ingredients, add the chicken then leave for at least 1 hour to marinate.
  2. If you are using wings then your job is done before you add onto the barbecue but if you are making kebabs then thread onto metal skewers before placing on a hot barbecue.

Coconut Crisp Chicken: Day 14 of Whole30

Coconut Crisp Chicken
No, the lack of sugar hasn’t caused me to hurl myself off a cliff, if you’re wondering why I haven’t been documenting the last few days of my Whole30 journey. As it happens, I am doing quite well on Whole30 thanks for asking.   Well, in as much as I haven’t fallen off the wagon but the mere mention of a gin and tonic or a Cadbury’s Boost will send me apoplectic, so please don’t. To revive myself for the second half of the Whole30 challenge I have had a mini break from the kitchen these past few days and have been eating other people’s food. A veritable storm of working in Central London, fitting in some running, making all my meals and sorting out the three monsters, four if you include my husband, culminated in me throwing in the tea towel and hot footing it to the nearest paleo accommodating restaurants over the weekend.

Coconut Crisp Chicken  |  Stroud Green Larder

I ate Vietnamese salads and stir fries at the Song Que Café on Kingsland Road and lots of vegetable tapas and grilled octopus at La Vina in Harringay. I even managed to find something at the farmers’ market and enjoyed Moroccan tagine with salad instead of couscous in Ally Pally this Sunday. Perfectly doable but I have to say ordering soda water instead of a chilled glass of Chablis has been a little tough. Still, I’m almost halfway through so at least things are looking up.

Coconut Crisp Chicken  |  Stroud Green Larder

Another key ingredient of making this diet bearable, besides letting someone else do the hard work for a couple of days, is when I can indulge in a bit of a paleo treat and this coconut crisp chicken really is that. This is something I have been making for a while anyway, way before my Whole30 kicked off. The recipe evolved when I started reading about southern fried buttermilk chicken and the buttermilk brine that is used to soak the chicken in overnight before the fry. This method of brining chicken is genius and makes it so tender and perfectly seasoned, especially with the addition of spicy chipotle powder and paprika. I have been working on adapting the buttermilk solution for coconut milk to fit in with a paleo lifestyle and have enjoyed it every time I have been slowly tweaking and perfecting the recipe over the past few months. I think with this final version I have cracked it and it may be my favourite recipe of Whole30 yet. It is utterly delicious accompanied by a zesty lime slaw made of chinese cabbage and sprinkled with coconut flakes to up the coconut ante.

Coconut Crisp Chicken  |  Stroud Green Larder

When you think fried chicken it just carries such an air of unhealthiness to it that it puts people off. However, this recipe is using coconut oil and also, not as much as you think, just a couple of tablespoons melted into a wide bottomed pan are enough to aid the cooking and crisp up your coating. The ingredients here cover the gamut of coconut products lurking in my kitchen, as well as the coconut milk and coconut oil, we have coconut flour to dredge and desiccated coconut to bread the chicken. It’s fragrant and wonderful but do bear in mind that the coconut crisp is a bit more delicate than if you made it with plain old flour and breadcrumbs so be gentle when removing it from the pan.

Coconut Crisp Chicken  |  Stroud Green Larder

Oh, and Puppy joined Doggy Day Care this week and so I couldn’t resist including this photo of the little tyke having the time of his life in the open fields of Hertfordshire.

Billy Buddy

Coconut Crisp Chicken
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
½ tin coconut milk (200ml)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp hot paprika
½ tsp smoked garlic powder
30g coconut oil
50g Coconut flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g desiccated coconut

In a large bowl whisk together the coconut milk, salt, paprika and garlic powder until combined.
Take your chicken breasts and with a meat mallet pummel them until they have flattened down to a 1.5cm even thickness.
Dunk the chicken into the coconut milk mixture and mix in to coat thoroughly. Place cling film on the top of the bowl and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour but overnight if possible.
Place the flour, egg and desiccated coconut in 3 separate bowls.
Bring the chicken out of the marinade, shaking off the excess. Dip the chicken first in the flour, coating on all sides, then the egg, and then the dessicated coconut, making sure it’s evenly coated.
In a large frying pan heat the coconut oil, then when hot add the chicken. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and serve immediately.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken: Day 5 of Whole30

Orange Ginger and Sesame Chicken
I have been cooking stir-fries since I was a student so I know by now exactly how I like them. I always cook off the meat first. This is for a few reasons, mainly so the meat doesn’t overcook, as there is nothing worse than dry chicken in your stir-fry. However, by cooking it in the pan first it will leave behind important flavour for the vegetables to cook in, especially if it’s marinated meat. If it’s beef you are using you can ensure it’s cooked exactly to the rarity you like just by searing it off first thing, but when you add it back in at the end make sure the heat is off so it doesn’t continue cooking.

My stir-fries contain a lot of vegetables so it’s also important that the meat has been set aside; I want them to be free to roam the pan so they don’t steam cook, piled on top of each other, jostling for space with the chicken. My final tip is to only add the vegetables to a hot pan with hot oil, as I want them to be cooked hard and fast so they retain bite and don’t get into a soggy mess. This is why I usually blanch my broccoli for a couple of minutes before adding to the stir fry as otherwise it has too much bite and is a bit of a mouthful.

Coconut Aminos  |  Stroud Green Larder

The main ingredients in this chicken marinade are orange juice and coconut aminos. Orange juice is allowed on the Whole30 but only in cooking and not as a drink. Fruit juice in fact is the only sweetener that’s allowed on the plan, but I’m sure we’re expected to use that knowledge responsibly. Besides, here, it’s just involved in a marinade so not all of the juice makes it into the final dish. The coconut aminos is my new friend who arrived into my house only this week as a substitution for soy sauce. Soy is not allowed on the Whole30 and although I have used tamari in the past, which is the Japanese version of soy sauce and is gluten free, I wanted to try something different. You can buy coconut aminos online but it isn’t cheap as it was about £11 a bottle. However, you don’t need much to flavour a recipe and I think it is worth the investment if you are wondering how to get through 30 days without soy sauce.

This was a quick dinner one evening, late after a personal training session, so sorry for the lack of photos, I made it again the next night but again it was late and I was hungry so no pictures. I did want to include the recipe here though as it is one of my old faithful recipes just slightly adapted for the Whole30 plan. Previously I have made this with soy sauce and sherry so it was a bit of an experiment to substitute the soy with my new coconut aminos and to disinvite the sherry. I used the coconut aminos as a straight swap and I have to say I didn’t notice a difference, the marinade tasted just the same as when I have made it before with soy. I compensated for the lack of sherry by adding some sesame seeds which has actually improved the dish immeasurably. I normally do splash some sweet sherry into my stir-fries at the end of cooking but adding sesame instead not only made my dinner suddenly Whole30 compliant but added a lovely crunch to the vegetables.

Orange, Ginger and Sesame Chicken
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
60ml coconut aminos
60ml orange juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ head of broccoli florets, blanched
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin batons
Handful of shredded chinese leaf
2 tbsp sesame seeds

  1. Pour the coconut aminos, the orange juice and the garlic into a medium sized bowl then add the chicken and mix to combine. Leave the chicken to marinate for at least an hour but overnight if possible.
  2. Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a wok over a medium flame until hot.
  3. Remove the chicken from its marinade with a slotted spoon and add to the wok, cooking for 5-10 minutes until the chicken has just turned golden. Remove from the wok and set aside.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut oil to the wok and then when hot add the onion, ginger and chilli and cook until the onion is starting to brown.
  5. Then add the rest of the vegetables and the sesame seeds. Stir fry for 5 minutes on a high heat.
  6. Re-introduce the chicken, combining everything together and serve piping hot with another splash of coconut aminos on top.