Mediterranean Chicken Traybake

If you like quick easy mid week dinners then check this out. An easy delicious dish that’s is good enough to crack out for company.

This can be made in advance and reheated if you fancy some weekend cooking. I usually serve with rice or crusty bread to soak up all the yummy juices this cooks in. It’s colourful, tasty and smells fantastic,

Mediterranean Chicken Traybake

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 Large chicken thighs ( I used ones that still had the bone in, and left the skin on. But you can use the boneless skinless ones if you prefer)

100 Grams Green beans (I use frozen ones that I have defrosted)

100 Grams button mushrooms (halved)

1 Red pepper (Cut into chunks)

1 Yellow pepper (Cut into chunks)

1 Red onion (cut into quarters)

12 Black olives, (optional)

8 Cherry tomatoes

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tbsp White wine vinegar

2 Cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a baking dish, mix the olive oil and smoked paprika and put into an oven that has been preheated to 200 degrees, for 5 minutes
  2. Add the vegetables and garlic to the dish and coat with the oil and paprika mix, and bake for 10 minutes
  3. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper
  4. Remove the vegetables from the oven add the white wine vinegar and stir, set the chicken thighs on top and bake for a further 25 minutes
  5. Remove from the oven and check that chicken is fully cooked, serve when ready.

Asian Slaw

I could eat this everyday, it’s a glorious mixture of crunchy fresh vegetables, chilli heat, and creamy peanut butter.

Perfect for vegetarians and vegans, it’s goes well with fried tempeh, or in wraps or sandwiches. For meat eaters it’s delicious as a side dish with chicken or steak or to add crunch to a burger.

Asian Slaw

Ingredients

Handful of finely sliced white cabbage

1/2 Red pepper

1 Small carrot (grated)

50 Grams Endame beans (I use frozen ones that I defrost first)

5 Radishes (finely sliced)

Small handful of finely sliced sugar snap peas

1 Tbsp Sesame seeds

1 Finely sliced red chilli pepper

2 Tbsps peanut butter

1 Tbsp White wine vinegar

Method

  1. In a dry pan, toast the sesame seeds until they start to brown, and set to one side
  2. Combine the sliced vegetables in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the peanut butter and vinegar, mix well
  4. Mix the peanut butter dressing in with the vegetables and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and mix well

Peach and Blueberry Free Form Pie

I love Summer, and get a bit carried away buying soft fruits when they’re in season.

To use up the mountain of fruit I bought I decided to come up with this take on a recipe that featured in the Great British Bake Off. This pie usually doesn’t hang around long after it comes out of the oven because it smells so good, but it’s best eaten the day it’s made. It’s also handy that you don’t have to faff around with flan tins.

Peach and Blueberry Free Form Pie

Serves 8

Ingredients

200 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter

1/4 Tsp Salt

1 Egg yolk

1 Tbsp Caster Sugar

3 Tbsp Cold water

Filling

3 Peaches

150 Grams Blueberries

59 Grams Caster

1 1/2 Tbsp Cornflour

29 Grams Melted butter for brushing

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt together, and along with sugar and the butter (cut into cubes) add to a food processor and whizz until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs
  2. Add the cold water gradually, until the mixture starts to form ball
  3. Form into a ball and wrap in cling, put in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes
  4. While the pastry is chilling, slice the peaches into quarters and put in a bowl with the blueberries. Sprinkle the cornflour and sugar over the fruit making sure the fruit is well coated
  5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, and roll out your pastry into a thin flat disc. My kitchen was really hot the day I made this, so I found it easier to roll the pastry out between two sheets of grease proof paper, before transferring to a baking sheet
  6. Pile the fruit into the centre of the pastry, leaving a 4 or 5cm gap around the edge of the pastry
  7. Start folding in the edges of the pastry in pleats, and then brush with the melted butter
  8. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. You can dust the pie with some icing sugar if you want to be fancy, this is delicious with vanilla ice cream

Veggie Fried Rice

Some nights you just can’t face cooking, when this is the case, this is the dinner for you. I can never judge how much rice to make, and always have extra rice left over. This is a great way to use up that left over rice and takes less than 10 minutes to make.

Serves 2

250 Grams Boiled long grain rice (cold)

2 Scallions /spring onions (sliced)

50 Grams Button Mushrooms (sliced)

50 Grams Frozen peas (thawed)

2 Eggs

2 Cloves of garlic (minced)

1/4 Tsp Dried chilli flakes

1 Tbsp Grated ginger

2 Tbsp Soy sauce

1 Tbsp Sesame oil

2 Tbsp Oil for frying (something without a strong flavour like sunflower oil)

Method

  1. Heat the oil for frying in a large frying pan or wok
  2. Add the vegetables, and cook for 2 minutes, then add the ginger, garlic, and chilli flakes and cook for a further minute
  3. Add the rice to the pan, and cook for a 1-2 minutes, before adding the sesame oil, and soy sauce. Make sure the rice is piping hot
  4. Crack 2 eggs into the pan and stir the entire mixture until the egg is cooked and little flecks of cooked egg appear. Eat right away

Hong Kong

Throwback from last year’s visit. This time of year makes me wish I was back there.

When a friend heard I was going to Hong Kong, she said “you’ll love it, it’s like New York on crack”. She wasn’t wrong. We arrived after a 12 hour flight in sweltering heat and humidity, to be told that our hotel room wouldn’t be ready for another 7 hours! Exhausted and unable to cope with the heat we trawled around Kowloon for a couple of hours before we decided go back and embarrass the hotel clerk into giving us a room by hanging about a tiny lobby sweating profusely and looking like a pair of extras from night of the living dead. Hey Presto, we got a room within 10 minutes, (sometimes looking like a sweaty mess just pays off).

Night Market in Hong Kong

After a much needed power nap and shower we left to explore Hong Kong properly. If you’ve ever watched Blade Runner this is what night time Hong Kong will remind you of. Lots of neon and hustle and bustle.

Luxury shopping is a big thing and its seems there is Patek Phillipe or Rolex shop on every street. Hong Kong is what’s referred to as an Alpha+ city, due to it’s financial influence and has more ultra high net worth individuals living there than any city in the world. Unfortunately I’m not among these ranks, but the city has something for every budget. The Temple Street night market and ladies market are good choices, but be prepared to haggle.

I was obsessed with puffer fish as a kid, but how are you meant to get this home?

Hong Kong has some of the most expensive real estate in the world, and outstrips even Manhattan. The average family apartment is smaller than a domestic garage. For this reason a lot of residents choose to eat out in the mind boggling array of cheap restaurants and street food outlets. I’m pretty adventurous in my eating but there were a few thing I said no to. Tripe (the spongy lining of a cow’s stomach) is a big thing that I had to pass on. However among the best food I ate was at a dicey looking whole in the wall near my hotel. After a long day sight seeing I just wanted something quick and sitting on little stools that look they came from a kindergarten I got huge bowl of soup with wantons for about £2. The woman who brought it gestured at me to try the condiments with it (chilli sauce and another sauce that smelt awful but worked when it was in the soup), my napkin was a roll of toilet paper! it was fabulous.

View from the Peak

Hong Kong, Part 2- Nan Lain Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery

Another throw back from last year.

Hong Kong is diverse and densely populated, to get everyone one where they need to go, the city has one of the best public transport systems I’ve ever seen. As soon as you arrive, invest in an Octopus Card. These can be used to pay for everything from ferries, some taxis, trains, buses, and paying for purchases in convenience stores at metro stations, and you can top them up at any metro station. I know it sounds like I’m geeking out, but the public transport was amazing, cheap, fast and clean.

Exciting as the city is fantastic, but sometimes the heat and the crowds can be exhausting. When you need to recharge you batteries seek out a little oasis of calm like the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery.

The gardens are in the Diamond Hill district and covers 3.5 hectares, in a city with so many people this place provided some much needed chill out space away from the frenetic energy of the rest of central Hong Kong. The gardens are landscaped in line specif rules and methods, and no tree, rock, or plant is there by accident.

View of the tea room in Nan Lian Gardens

The Chi Lin Nunnery located within the gardens, is a series of elegant wooden structures made up of temples, and prayer halls lining courtyards with expertly pruned bonsai gardens and calming pools. Despite being slap bang in one of the world’s hubs of cut throat capitalism, it has a really gentle vibe, and is beyond beautiful.

If you can spare the time I’d recommend spending a day vising the garden and nunnery. If you do there are a couple of different options if want to eat or drink. The tea house is beautiful but is expensive even by Hong Kong standards. The staff are lovely and will take time to explain the different teas, and show you how to brew it correctly. We spent much more than expected here, but in fairness it was our mistake for not reading the tea menu correctly (be careful). A much better option is to go for the set lunch at the garden’s restaurant. Like with the Po Lin monastery, it’s a set vegan lunch made up of several dishes. One of which was monkey head fungus, I know what your thinking (doesn’t sound too appetizing), but it turned out to be delicious. The best food I had in Hong Kong was at these temple restaurants. Go visit these places and try the food, or just enjoy a little bit of chill before going back out into the world.

The water mill

Mushroom, hazelnut and gorgonzla tart

A bit more “rustic” than I planned, but I put it down to me trying to make pastry with nuts in it. Save yourself the time and energy and use shop bought short crust pastry. It’s what I plan to do next time.  This recipe might be best saved for the weekend, as it’s a bit more labour intensive, but it’s well worth the trouble, (I had to stop myself eating half of it).

If you’re a vegetarian cooking for meat eaters, they’ll love this. The rich and unctuous filling feels really meaty, and unlike a lot of tarts isn’t too eggy.  This is delicious hot or cold.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 Sheet of ready made short crust pastry

2 Onions (thinly sliced)

1 Tbsp Chopped rosemary

3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

25 Grams Dried porcini mushrooms, (soaked in 50 ml of hot water)

200 Grams Button mushrooms (sliced)

50 Grams Gorgonzola (sliced)

50 Grams Hazelnuts (chopped)

2 Eggs

150 Ml Double Cream

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Grease a 23 cm loose based flan tin, roll you pastry until thin and line the tin, (chill in the fridge for 30 minutes)
  2. Put the porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 50ml of warm water and allow to soak
  3. Take your flan tin out of the fridge and over the base with grease proof paper and add baking beans on top, (I use old lentils that had been hanging about). Bake blind in an oven heated to 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the grease proof paper and baking beans, and bake for a further 5 minutes, before removing from the oven
  4. While the pastry is baking add the olive oil and onions to a large heated frying pan. Turn down the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes
  5. Add the button mushrooms, garlic and rosemary to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. Add the porcini mushrooms and the water they were soaking in to the pan. Cook over a medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated, and leave to cool
  7. Put a baking sheet in the oven to heat (the temperature should be 180 degrees again)
  8. When the mushroom mix is completely cool, spread it evenly across the pastry base
  9. Distribute the gorgonzola on top of the mushroom mix
  10. Beat 2 Eggs, and add to the cream, season with salt and pepper, pour into the tart case and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts across the top
  11. Put the filled tart tin on to the heated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the centre is set
  12. Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before cutting