Chicken Fajitas

Delicious, Dazzlingly Easy and Do It Yourself!

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 tbs. garlic flavored olive oil
2 tbs. lime juice
2 tbs. vegetable oil
2 small onions, peeled and cut into thin half moons
3 bell peppers (orange, yellow and/or red), deseeded and cut into
strips
8 soft flour tortillas, warmed, to serve

Optional accompaniments:

grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
sour cream
corn kernels
avocado
iceberg lettuce, shredded
fresh cilantro
hot chili sauce

Over a shallow bowl, cut the chicken into strips with a pair of scissors. Toss in the oregano, cumin, salt, olive oil and lime juice. Leave to marinate.

Warm the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok and cook the onions over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Tip in the bell peppers and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until everything is softened.

Add the chicken with the marinade and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with warmed tortilla and the accompaniments of your choice.

Serves 4

Golden Sole with Tarted-Up Tarter Sauce

Here is a simple seafood supper with just the right amount of crunch and a piquant sauce for the side.

1 egg
dash garlic-infused olive oil
sprinkling of salt and good grinding of pepper
1 cup instant polenta
4 sole fillets
vegetable oil, for frying

For the Tarter Sauce:
scant 1/2 cup creme fraiche, sour cream or plain yogurt
2 tsp. baby capers, drained
1 dill pickle or 5 cornichons, chopped
3 rings jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt

Beat the egg with the olive oil, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Put the polenta in another shallow dish. Dip each fillet into the egg, then coat with the polenta. Place on a wire rack to dry a bit and repeat with the remaining fillets.

For the sauce, stir together all the ingredients.

Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the fish for 2-3 minutes per side, or until cooked through and crunchy on the outside. Serve with the tarter sauce.

Risotto Bolognase

Rich, meaty bolognase sauce is a natural fit for this creamy and delicious risotto.

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery stalk, halved
1 garlic clove, peeled
handful fresh parsley
6 slices bacon
4 anchovy fillets
3 tbs. butter, plus 1 extra, to serve
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup Marsala
14 oz. tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbs. tomato paste
2 tbs. whole milk
8 cups veal stock
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra, to serve

Heat the oven to 300°F. Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, parsley, bacon and anchovies in a food processor and blitz to a paste.

Heat the 3 tbs. butter and oil in a heavy Dutch oven and cook the paste for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the meat and cook until brown. Add the Marsala. Process the tomatoes until smooth and pour in along with the tomato paste, milk and bay leaves. Add 2 cups of the stock, clamp on a lid and put in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and discard to bay leaves. Heat the remaining stock to a simmer in a saucepan.

Stir the rice into the sauce. Add a ladleful of the stock and stir until it is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining stock until the rice is tender. This should take about 18 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and remaining butter. Serve sprinkled with more cheese.

 

Cheesy Chili

Serve this chili with cornbread and a tossed green salad.

2 chorizo sausages, cut into fat coins and halved
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbs. tomato paste
1 x 14oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water, to rinse out the tomato can
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 x 15oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. fresh mozzarella
handful of cilantro, leaves chopped

Heat a heavy-based saucepan that comes with a lid and add the chorizo. Cook just long enough for the juices to start running, then stir in the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. When the beef has cooked, add the cocoa powder, oregano and tomato paste. Give it a good stir, then add the tomatoes, water, Worcestershire sauce and beans.

Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bubble until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Serves 6

Spring Chicken

Fresh and flavorful, this has all the lovely elements for a Springtime supper.

1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup cubed pancetta or lardons of bacon
12 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed
1 leek, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding black pepper
1 cup dry hard cider or white vermouth
2 cups frozen peas
1 tbs. Dijon mustard
large handful shredded romaine or arugula
2 tbs. chopped fresh tarragon (optional)

Heat the oil in a large, wide Dutch oven that comes with a lid. Add the pancetta or bacon and cook until they begin to color. Add the chicken and brown for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Turn them over and tip in the leeks, celery, garlic, dried tarragon, salt, pepper and cider or vermouth. Cover and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the peas and bubble 10 minutes more. Add the mustard, romaine or arugula and the fresh tarragon, if using.

Serves 6

Slut’s Spaghetti

This deeply flavored dish is known as Pasta Puttanesca in Italy but as “Whore’s Spaghetti” in England. Too funny!

3 tbs. olive oil
8 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes or 1 red or jalapeño chili, deseeded and minced
1 lb. spaghetti
1 x 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups drained black olives
2 tbs. drained capers, rinsed
2-3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Tip the oil into a wide, shallow skillet over a medium heat. Add the anchovies and cook for 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon until they have melted into the oil. Add the garlic and chili flakes or chili and cook for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, olives and capers and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions in boiling, well salted water. Remove a cup of water from the pasta, then drain it and add it to the skillet. Toss well and add more pasta water if necessary. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Serves

4 – 6

Pork and Apple Hot Pot

To make your own apple pie spice, stir together 1 tbs. cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1 tsp. allspice.

3 tbs. oil
3 onions, halved sliced
6 rashers bacon, cut into lardons
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. apple pie spice
6 boneless pork loin chops
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into chunks
3 cups sharp apple juice

Heat the oven to 325°F. Heat the oil in a heavy oven-proof pan and cook the onions over a medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove and add the bacon. Cook until crisp then remove. 

Put the flour and apple pie spice in a plastic bag with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops and shake to coat. Shake off the excess and sear in the pan, adding more oil if needed. Remove the pork and add half the onions, bacon and apples to the pan, followed by half of the pork chops. Repeat. Pour in the apple juice. Bring to a boil, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours until the apples are tender.

Italian Tomato and Pasta Soup

Here is a fresh and delicious way to use tomatoes. Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to amp up the color and flavor.

6 large, ripe tomatoes, about 1 1/2 lbs.
3 tbs. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cups cold water
1 tsp. kosher salt or 1/2 tsp. table salt
good grinding of black pepper
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup ditalini or other small pasta
sour cream and chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the garlic cloves. When they start to sizzle, remove them and discard. Tip in the onions and cook over a medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, or until softened.

Drain the tomatoes. Peel off the skins, roughly chops and remove the seeds. Add to the pan and cook for 5 minutes to softened. Pour in the cold water and add the salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

Puree with a stick blender, then tip in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender. Ladle into bowl and serve with sour cream and parsley on top.

Serves 4

Greek Lamb Chops with Lemon and Potatoes

This dinner party-worthy recipe is a jot to make and the oven does all the work.

12 lamb chops
3 large, white skinned potatoes, skin left on and cubed into 1″ pieces
3 tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
2 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
2 lemons, zested
handful fresh parsley and/or dill, chopped

Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the lamb into a large roasting tin, then tumble in the potatoes. Drizzle over the oil, scatter with the mint, red pepper flakes, salt and lemon zest.

Cook for 45 -55 minutes, or until the lamb is cooked and the potatoes tender. Served sprinkled with the parsley and/or dill.

Serves 6

Salmon and Sushi Rice with Hot, Sweet and Sour Asian Sauce

Not just for salmon, this piquant sauce would be delicious on most any seafood.

2 1/2 cups sushi rice
1 lb. piece of skinless salmon fillet
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 red or green chilis, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbs. minced ginger root 1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbs. sake (Japanese rice wine)
2 tbs. mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
2 tbs. lime juice

Cook the rice following the package directions.

Sear the salmon in a flat griddle or skillet for 4-5 minute on one side, then 1-2 minutes on the other side, depending on how you like your salmon cooked. Remove to a large piece of foil, wrap and set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients together. Scoop some rice into a bowl, top with chunks to the salmon and spoon over the sauce.

Serves 4-6