Honey & mustard glazed chicken thighs with chunky parnips

This is a quick, & tasty, wintery dish which makes for a lovely Friday night dinner while it’s dark and cold outside. Don’t know why, it just is. Don’t be stingy with the parsnips, no matter how many you make, they’ll get eaten. Trust me.

Serves 4-5
Preparation time: 10 mins plus marinating time (30 mins)
Cooking time: 40 mins

2 packs (approx 1kg) chicken thighs
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp coarse-grain mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into wedges

Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish. To make the marinate whisk together the oil, honey, mustard, vinegar, thyme and seasoning. Pour over the chicken and turn gently to coat. Cover the dish and chill for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5. Cook the parsnips in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Add the parsnips to the chicken, then toss to coast in the marinade. Transfer to a roasting tin in a single layer. Roast for 40-45 minutes, turning once during cooking, until the parsnips are golden and cooked through and the chicken is cooked through with no pink meat, with juices running clear. Serve with greens of your choice… with ginger beer or vintage cider.

Nutrition 569 kcals/31.3g protein/23.8 carbohydrate/15.9 sugars/38.7 fat/8.4g saturated fat/5.5g fibre/0.6g salt per serving

Spicy lamb burgers with coriander, tomato & yoghurt relish

I made this a couple of weeks ago for a BBQ party when my mother was visiting and it was a roaring success. Well, at least I loved them! The BBQ grill took ages to cook for some reason, so grilling these was a guess work as by the time the coals were doing their job I couldn’t see a thing. I recall a helpful maglite being used to determine what’s what. But… the end result was worth it, so here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
1kg/2¼lb minced lamb (it’s best not to use extra-lean mince as the fat will help bind the burgers and keeps them juicy when cooked)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp mango chutney (I used Sharwood Mango chutney which was bought in an emergency and didn’t live up to our usual chutney standards :))
3cm/1¼in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
oil, for brushing
flat bread, pitta bread or burger buns, to serve

For the relish
6 ripe tomatoes, quartered, de-seeded and diced
200g/7oz tub of Greek yoghurt
bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon or lime juice

Place the minced lamb in a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, onion, mango chutney, ginger, chopped chilli, turmeric, crushed coriander and cumin. Season well with salt and pepper and mix by hand until combined.

Divide and shape the mixture into 8-10 burgers. If you want to check the flavour, fry a small burger in a drop of oil before shaping the rest and, if necessary, add extra flavourings or seasoning. Place the burgers on a cling film-covered tray and keep them in the fridge to relax for at least 30 minutes. They’re ideal made the day before cooking. To prevent the burgers from sticking, brush with a little oil before barbecuing over medium-hot coals for about 5-6 minutes each side.

Mix together the tomatoes, yoghurt, coriander, onion and lemon or lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the burgers, either inside the bun or as a dipping sauce. For a change, use diced, seeded cucumber instead of tomatoes, and try mint instead of coriander.

I will certainly be making these again, BBQ or not.

Glazed roast duck

This is the best duck I have made to date. It came out beautifully brown, with five-spice, honey and other brown flavours with meat juicy and flavourful. A success, which I hope to repeat every time I want to roast a whole duck. It was the first time I decided to steam the duck simply because it reduced the overall cooking time to 1 hour 45minutes, which is better than the usual 2 1/2- 3 hours it usually took me to slow roast a duck.

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Here’s the recipe:

time to make 2½ hours, out of which 30 min is prep the night before

1 whole duck (4 to 5 pound)
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 slices fresh ginger (I went a bit crazy there as one can never have enough ginger)
4 cloves garlic (ditto)
1/2 bunch green onions (didn’t use these, forgot)
1 tangerine, peel cut in big strips
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce

To reduce the fat and produce a crispy skin, begin by trimming the excess fat from the neck and body. Rinse the duck, inside and out, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Combine the Chinese five-spice, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the duck, inside and out. Salt and five-spice powder makes a fragrant dry marinade, which draws some of the moisture from the duck so that the spices penetrate. I left the duck rest overnight in a larder so it was a bit air-dried as well.

When ready to rock and roast, stuff the duck cavity with the aromatics: the ginger, garlic, green onions, and tangerine peel. Fold the wing tips back under the duck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Poke the duck breast a few times, piercing the skin. Place a roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners and fill with 2-inches of water, turn the heat to medium. Set a V-rack insert inside the pan and lay the duck on the rack, breast-side up. Cover tightly with aluminium foil. Steam the duck for 45 minutes, checking the water level periodically. Seems obvious but when doing this, make sure you don’t get burnt by the escaping steam. Steaming the duck first melts away some of the fat and shrinks the skin.

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and soy sauce over low heat. Bring to a boil and simmer and stir for 15 minutes until sauce thickens. The duck will be lacquered with the sweet glaze, which caramelizes during roasting, making the skin crisp and brown.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Take the foil off the duck, remove the rack with the duck and pour out the water and all the fat that has rendered out. Put the rack with the duck back inside the roasting pan. Baste the duck with the vinegar mixture, until all the skin is completely coated in the glaze. Stick the whole thing in the oven.

Roast the duck for 1 hour, basting periodically with any remaining glaze to set in a deep mahogany colour. Tent the breast with some foil if it gets too dark. I didn’t need to do this as the duck was rather large so it could take the heat. The legs will wiggle easily when it’s done or the usual test – when pierce clear juices will run – works too.

I left it stand for a few minutes while waiting for the sweet potatoes to finish roasting for a mash. Carve and serve.

The duck was served with sweet potato mash and brussel sprouts with garlic and parmesan. Oh and a decent, if not extravagant, bottle of French red.
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Photos courtesy of Alec Muffett. Many thanks!

Spiced Butternut Squash Salad

This is a combination of three recipes, which was going to be either absolutely fabulous or a complete overload of flavours and ingredients. It turned out to the first option and so I am recording it for future reference.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

800g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 medium bunch of spring onions, trimmed and halved
a few splashes of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic with skin on
2 cm chunk of fresh ginger
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
100g rocket
cooking chorizo

Soy balsamic dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp soy sauce, I used dark one
1 fresh red chilli seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp clear honey

Heath the over to 220C/fan 200C/gas 6. Place the squash, spring onions and garlic in a large roasting tin. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with seeds and season. Roast for 30 minutes, shaking the tray a couple of times to keep it from sticking.

Whilst roasting slice the chorizo and dry fry until crispy. Set aside.

Pop the garlic cloves from the skins, mash and stir into the dressing. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Put the rocket in a salad serving bowl and arrange the squash on top. Pour the dressing over, sprinkle with the crispy chorizo and serve.

Summer dinner

It started with the idea of a dinner on a terrace or garden in occasionally warm weather this spring and ended as a delicious dinner inside. The menu was positively spring-like:

Fresh cucumber, pea & mint soup, griddle herby lemon chicken with jersey royal potatoes with butter & parsley, and a side of stir-fried courgettes with ginger and chilli. Served with white wine, of course.

Fresh cucumber, pea & mint soup

Serves 4
Nutrition: 305kcal/25g carbohydrate/5.3g sugars/19.8g fat/12.8g saturated fat/2.5g salt per serving

1 fresh cucumber, medium to large, peeled and diced
25g butter
1 small onion, chopped
300g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
250g podded fresh peas or frozen peas
2 sprigs fresh mint, plus shredded mint for garnishing
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of paprika

Wash the cucumber and cut off 5cm to reserve for the garnish. Cube the rest. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, cucumber and potato and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes stirring. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 12-15 minutes until the potato is almost tender.

Add the peas and whole mint springs to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes until the peas are tender. Remove the mint sprigs and add 6-8 ice cubes to the pan and stir until melted. Blend or process until smooth, then chill. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche in each bowl and a scattering of shredded mint, diced cucumber and sprinkle of paprika.

Griddled herby lemon chicken

Serves 4
5 minutes preparation
1 hour marinating time
15 minutes cooking time

1 unwaxed lemon, plus extra lemon wedges to serve
100g natural yoghurt
15g pack fresh oregano (I used lovage from my garden)
20g pack fresh flat leafed parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
4 British free range skinless chicken breast fillets

Grate the lemon zest and squeeze the juice, then place both in a blender with the yoghurt, oregano, parsley, garlic, olive oil and seasoning. Whizz until smooth. Place the chicken breasts in a shallow dish and poor over the marinade. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour, turning once.

Heat a ridged griddle or non-stick frying pan. I used a flat non-stick pan as was making a mess of it on the griddled one. Cook for 6-7 minutes each side, turning once until golden and cooked through with no pink meat (this is important). Serve with extra lemon wedges, new potatoes and a green salad or a lightly stir-fried greens.

With the last piece of chicken in the pan almost done, I added the marinade and cooked it well, served it as a top up sauce with the meal.

Jersey royal new potatoes with butter and chopped parsley

600g new potatoes
15g butter
15g parsley, chopped

Cover the potatoes with cold water in a pot, bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Add butter and parsley, let stand for 2 minutes before serving.

Stir-fried courgettes with ginger and chilli

1 courgette per person
half-inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, then chopped very finely
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced, then chopped
1 fresh red or green chilli, very thinly sliced
1 tsp groundnut oil
soy sauce
cut courgettes in about four portions, then cut each portion in half. Place each cut section face down on a cutting board and slice very thinly into fine little strips, about 2mm thick.

In a wok or frying pan, heat up groundnut oil. When it is hot (but not too hot), throw in the chopped garlic, and stir fry for about a minute. Before it takes colour, throw in the ginger, followed by the courgette-strips and the chilli. Stir fry until the courgettes begin to go translucent. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil, if you’ve got any, then serve.

Chicken with garlic and cider

This is a wonderful impromptu dish I made for my mother when looking at what ingredients I had at hand. From my trusted source of ocado recipes.

Don’t be put off by the large quantity of garlic, as the flavour will mellow in the cooking. Good with boiled new potatoes and green beans.

Serves 4

Total time required 50 mins

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

15 Garlic Cloves, unpeeled

1 pinch Salt

1 pinch Black Pepper, freshly ground

2 tbsp Olive Oil

30g Butter, unsalted

4 Chicken Breasts, skin on

1 Bay Leaf

450ml Dry Cider

200ml Apple Juice

200ml Double Cream

1 tbsp Thyme, leaves

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Cook the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in a pan of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, then peel and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in the casserole. When sizzling, add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Turn the chicken over and add the garlic cloves, bay leaf, cider, and apple juice. Cover and transfer to the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Lift the chicken out of the pan. Remove half the garlic cloves and discard. Bring the remaining juices up to the boil. Crush the garlic into the juices with a fork, then boil until reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the sauce and baste with the juices; add the thyme leaves and serve immediately.

Venison Sausages with Sweet Roasted Vegetables

Last weekend we got some lovely venison sausages at the Duke of York market from Wild about Game, together with the steaks for the previous recipe. I thought let’s do something more than just grill them and eat them with mash, venison deserves better. But, sadly, when the time came to put the sausages in the over, we discovered they were off, one day before the use-by-date. Not impressed. Fortunately, I had a back-up of Waitrose sausages, so all was not lost.

Ingredients

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
2 tbsp red wine
1 red pepper, deseeded and quartered
1 orange pepper, deseeded and quartered.
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and quartered
1 large green courgette, thickly sliced
1 large yellow courgette, thickly sliced.
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil.
1 1/2 teasp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 1/2 teasp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 Glenlyon Venison sausages
350g (12oz) cherry vine tomatoes, washed
A few fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ Gas 6. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Put the redcurrant jelly in a small saucepan with the red wine and heat very gently, stirring occasionally, until melted together. Set aside.

2. Arrange all the vegetables evenly on the prepared baking tray. And drizzle with all but 1 tbsp oil, turning the vegetables to make sure they are well coated in the oil. Sprinkle with the seeds and plenty of seasoning.

3. Arrange the sausages on top of the vegetables, then brush the sausages with the redcurrant glaze. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the sausages and brush with more glaze. Arrange the tomatoes around the edges of the baking tray, brush with the remaining oil, and return to the oven. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes until tender and cooked through. Serve straight from the baking tray, sprinkled with fresh basil and accompanied with a green salad and some crusty bread. (I made some parsnip puree, which was similar to the celeriac one and tasted amazing with the sausages.)