Crunchy Chicken Cutlets

These deliciously, thin chicken cutlets are coated with cornflakes for a wonderful crunch and are seasoned with a hint of cinnamon and paprika. They are a jot to make and if you cannot find cutlets, simply pound two boneless, skinless chicken breasts to about 1/2″.

2 chicken cutlets or escalopes
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg
3 cups crushed cornflakes
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tbs. vegetable oil
arugula and cherry tomatoes, to serve

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator so that it is not ice cold when you cook it.

In a shallow dish, combine the mustard and the garlic. Whisk in the cinnamon and egg. Put the chicken in, turn it over and leave to sit while you prepare the crumbs.

In another shallow dish, toss the cornflakes with the paprika and season. Add the chicken and dredge thickly with the crumbs.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based skillet and fry the chicken for 3 minutes per side, or until crisp and cooked through. Arrange the arugula and tomatoes onto a plate and top with the chicken to serve.

Serves 2

 

Rice Bowl with Ginger, Radish and Avocado

Using short grain brown rice is the key here – it’s nubbly and nutty!

3/4 cup short grain brown rice
1 cup cold water
2″ piece of ginger, peeled
4-6 radishes
1 1/2 tbs. tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp. organic raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mixed seeds, such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
3-4 tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 small ripe avocado, sliced or in chunks

Put the rice and water in a heavy-based saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil. Once it’s bubbling, clamp on the lid, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Then turn off the heat, leaving the lid on, and let stand for a further 5 minutes by which time the rice will be cooked, but still nutty, and at the water will be absorbed.

While the rice is cooking, use a vegetable peeler to shave the ginger into very thin strips. Cut the radishes into quarters or eights lengthways, depending on their size.

When the rice is cooked, spoon into a mixing bowl and add the tamarin or soy sauce and the apple cider vinegar. Use a fork to combine, then fork in the ginger shavings, radishes and seeds. Fork in most of the cilantro.

Divide between 2 bowls and top with avocado and the remaining cilantro.

Serves 2

Thai Steamed Clams

The robust zing of Thai red curry paste and the delicate sweetness of coconut water combine to make a richly flavored, but light broth in which to steam the tender clams.

2 lbs. clams
2 tsp. Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup coconut water
1 tsp. lime juice
handful of Thai basil leaves or coriander

Tip the clams into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 15 minutes, then drain and discard any that remain open.

Spoon the curry paste into a wok, then mix in the coconut water and lime juice. Turn on the heat and when the mixture comes to a bubble, tip in the clams and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes, shaking from time to time, until the clams have opened. Discard any that remain closed.

Tip into a large bowl and scatter over the Thai basil leaves or coriander.

Serves 2-4

 

Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese

This is a GAME-CHANGER!!

1 lb. sweet potatoes
10 oz. baby penne or other short, small pasta (approx. 2 cups)
4 tbs. butter, softened
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp. English mustard
1/4 tsp. paprika, plus 1/4 tsp. to sprinkle on top
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/4 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese, plus 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top
4 fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400°F. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. (A lid makes this go faster.)

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into rough 1″ pieces. When the water is boiling, add salt to taste and cook the sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft. Scoop them out with a spider or slotted spoon, then mash them roughly. Do not throw out the water.

In another saucepan, gently melt the butter, then whisk in the flour to make a roux. Take the pan off the heat and slowly add the milk until everything is combined and smooth. Change to a wooden spoon and continue to stir until the flour taste has cooked away and the sauce is thickened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the mustard, 1/4 tsp. of paprika and a bit of seasoning.

Cook the pasta in the reserved water according to package directions until just al dente. Reserve some of the cooking water, then drain and stir into the sweet potatoes. Stir in the feta cheese, then stir in the sauce and the 1 1/4 cups Cheddar cheese. Add some of the reserved cooking water if it seems too thick. Check seasoning again.

Spoon into 4 small overproof dishes (1 1/2-1 3/4″) or 1 baking dish (12×8″). Sprinkle with the remaining Cheddar cheese and paprika, then shred the sage leaves and scatter over.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is bubbly and everything is piping hot.

Tamarind-Marinated Flank Steak

The tamarind and soy sauces tenderizes the meat and impart a lovely sourness. Serve it thinly sliced on it’s own or in beef tacos. Leftovers make a wonderful salad.

3 tbs. tamarind paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hot water, from a recently boiled kettle
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 tbs. honey
1 1 3/4 lb. flank steak

Combine the tamarind paste, soy sauce and water in a small saucepan. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the tamarind. Whisk in the oil and honey, then set aside to cool.

Put the flank steak into a resealable plastic bag and pour in the cold marinade. Squelch it around, then chill overnight or up to 1 day.

Bring the steak back to room temperature. Heat a ridged grill pan or BBQ to very hot. Shake off the marinade juices, then add the steak and cook for 2 minutes per side, or to your liking.

Immediately transfer the steak to a carving dish, cover with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Carve thinly against the grain to serve.

Serves 6

Breakfast Banana Bread with Cardamom and Cacao Nibs

This brilliant banana bread is even better toasted and spread with butter. Keep over-ripped bananas in the freezer and when they defrost, they are ready to mash!

2 very ripe or over-ripe bananas (about 3/4 cup when mashed)
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup plain, runny yogurt or buttermilk
1/2 cup light and mild olive oil
2 cups plus 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon or 1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 cup cacao nibs

Heat the oven to 350°F and line a standard loaf tin with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a free-standing mixer (or a large bowl if mixing by hand) combine the mashed  bananas with the eggs, one at a time. Add the yogurt or buttermilk and the oil and beat together. Stir in the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon or cardamom and mix well. Fold in the cacao nibs. Spread into the prepared tin.

Bake for 45 – 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack, then lift if out using the sides of the parchment paper. Wrap with more parchment paper, then aluminum foil and keep for a day before eating.

Salted Chocolate Tart

Typically this marvelous tart is made in a 10″ springform pan, but as you can see, it makes a perfect Valentine’s Day dessert when made into a heart. Either way, it is devine.

For the base:

28 Oreo cookies
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids)
3 tbs. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. smoked sea salt flakes (Maldon makes a wonderful one)

For the filling:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids)
3 tbs. cornstarch
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
7 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp. instant espresso powder or strong instant coffee powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. smoked sea salt flakes

Snap the cookies into pieces and drop into the bowl of a food processor. Do likewise with the chocolate and whizz into crumbs. Add the butter and salt and blitz until everything clumps together. (To do this by hand, bash the cookies with a rolling pin in a sealed plastic bag, finely chop the chocolate and melt the butter. Stir everything together in a bowl.) Tip into a 10″ springform pan, pushing it with a wooden spoon into the bottom and up the sides. Chill and harden at least 1 hour, but not more than a day.

For the filling, finally chop the chocolate. Put the cornstarch into a cup and whisk in the milk until smooth. Pour the cream into a heavy saucepan into which all the ingredients can fit. Add the chopped chocolate, cocoa, espresso powder, sugar, vanilla, olive oil and sea salt flakes. Place over a medium heat and whisk until melted and smooth.

Off the heat, whisk in the cornstarch mixture until fully incorporated. Put it back on a low heat and mix with a wooden spoon until thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not let it boil. When ready, it should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, and if you run your finger through it, the line should stay. Pour into a large measuring cup. Take a piece of parchment paper and run it under the cold tap. Wring it out, scrunch it up and place it over the chocolate. Chill for 15 minutes.

Smooth the chocolate in the base, cover and chill overnight. Remove 10 minutes before serving and untold, living the base pan on.

Serves 12

 

Halloumi with Quick Sweet Chili Sauce

Halloumi cheese is the star here, followed by the beloved red chili. Modulate the heat of the sauce by the amount of chili seeds you use.

3 red chilies
2 tbs. honey
1 lime, halved
1 8 oz. block of halloumi cheese
salad leaves of your choice
extra-virgin olive oil

Slice 2 of the chilies, leaving the seeds in. Then deseed the third chili and chop all of them finely. Add to a small saucepan (something like a butter warmer) along with the honey and the of 1/2 a lime. Put the pan on the smallest ring of the stove and bring to a bubble. Then, turn the heat to low and let it foam for 4 minutes, stirring often.

Slice the halloumi into 8 pieces. Heat a heavy skillet or griddle and cook the halloumi for 30-60 seconds a side, until patchily bronzed. Arrange the salad leaves on the plate and drizzle with olive oil and the juice of the other lime half. Top with the halloumi and drizzle the chili glaze on top. Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Warm Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

This warm and warmly scented side is perfect with roast chicken! Use any color of cauliflower you fancy.

1 small head cauliflower
3 tbs. regular olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained
1-2 tbs. harissa
4 smallish ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. sea salt flakes or kosher salt
3-4 tbs. pomegranate seeds
2 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oven to 425°F. Trim the cauliflower and divide into small florets. Pour the oil in a large bowl, add the cinnamon and cumin seeds, then toss in the cauliflower. Tip onto a baking dish and roast for 15 minutes. Don’t wash out the bowl.

Add the chickpeas, harissa and tomatoes to the bowl and toss well. Add this to the baking dish and roast for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and give a good stir.

Arrange the parsley onto two plates and spoon everything on top, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Serves 2

Triple Chocolate Buckwheat Cookies

Using buckwheat flour makes these lovely cookies gluten-free.

2/3 cup small bittersweet chocolate chips
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (preferably at least 70% cocoa solids)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. buckwheat flour
3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
4 tbs. soft, unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract
2 extra large eggs, fridge-cold

Clatter the chocolate chips into a flatfish dish and put in the fridge while you get on making the batter. This makes them not melt too much in the baking.

Heat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roughly chop the bittersweet chocolate and melt it either in a suitable bowl in the microwave or over a saucepan of just simmering water. Set aside to cool a little.

In another bowl, fork together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In yet another bowl or that of a free-standing mixer, combine the butter and sugar with the vanilla and cream together. Beat in the slightly cooled, melted chocolate and the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the sides, then carefully beat in the dry ingredients.

Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, fold in the cold chocolate chip. Dollop by tablespoonfuls onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 1/2″ between each one. Put the bowl with the remaining dough in the fridge while these cook. Bake for 9-10 minutes,  until they are set around the edges, but otherwise seem undercooked. Remove them from the oven and leave to sit on the baking sheets for 10 before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the baking sheet is cool, repeat with the remaining dough.

Yields approx. 25