Southern Friend Chicken

Do you have friends who live in Surrey, or Kent, or London?

Be aware that Marks and Spencers are coating them in Southern style spices and serving them with a spicy tomato salsa in wraps to hungry customers up and down the country.

Southern Friend Chicken

Epicure Organic Puy Lentils

Today I roasted some pancetta covered organic chicken thighs on a bed of onions, red pepper, mushrooms and courgettes. This was splashed with some olive oil and seasoned with black pepper.

Whilst this was in the oven, I softened in a frying pan, some finely chopped onion with pancetta. When the onion was nicely soft, I added some red wine and beef stock before simmering it down. Beef stock over chicken stock just because of the colour rather than flavour. I then reduced and reduced this.

When I was happy with the sauce I whisked in some butter (with a fork as it happens rather than a whisk) and then added a tin of Epicure Organic Puy Lentils. I needed to add a bit more stock at this point.

I was really impressed with the Epicure Organic Puy Lentils and will certainly be buying them again, I guess it would be potentially tastier to use dried lentils, but I personally was quite happy with the tin.

So I put the lentils on the plate, placed the chicken on top and surrounded it with the roasted vegetables. I served this along with carrots and green beans.

Really tasty.

I can’t believe it’s salted butter…

For many years now I have been avoiding salt, I don’t add salt when cooking, I don’t add salt to my food when eating and where possible I avoid foods with a high salt content and where I can I will purchase the unsalted variety.

So when it comes to spread, virtually all margarines (and especially low fat spreads) are out of the question due to the salt content, so I usually go for unsalted butter. I realise it has quite a high fat content, but I just use less!

My usual brand is unsalted President butter, I have tried other brands and unfortunately the only other brand I liked was Rachel’s unsalted organic butter, but I can’t find that locally. All the other unsalted organic butters (own brand included) seem to be made by Yeo Valley and I didn’t like it.

So imagine my annoyance when I went to purchase some butter from my local Tesco when I found that they had stopped selling President unsalted, but had started selling salted President butter instead!

Why?

Why?

I am annoyed, looks like back to Morrisons or Sainsbury to get my butter.

A warning to all coffee lovers out there

Found this interesting article on the BBC News website.

Girl overdoses on espresso coffee. A teenager was taken to hospital after overdosing on espresso coffee.

It would appear that she had seven double espresso coffees and as a result had overdosed on caffeine!

A warning to all coffee lovers out there.

Risotto disaster…

Last night I decided to cook a risotto to go with the shellfish I was cooking. I have done this in the past usually using white wine, lemon, rocket and parmesan to flavour the risotto. Alas I had no white wine, no lemon and no rocket, though I did have a block of parmesan to hand. Little piece of advice here, never buy pre-grated parmesan this is usually  grated from dried out pieces of old parmesan or so an old Italian friend of mine once said. Though as it is usually cheaper than the solid stuff I am inclined to believe her! So there I was cooking this risotto and wondering how I should flavour it. Well I had mushrooms and they always work well in risotto, I had some red wine, and I had some chicken stock. There we go, good to go, or so I thought.

Basically it didn’t work quite as well as I hoped. Firstly it came out a grey lilac colour rather than the rich red brown I was expecting. Well that was down to the red wine, lack of dark stock and the mushrooms. Secondly it was rather bland, it had no bite. I think it could have done with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Most of it was eaten so either we were hungry or it wasn’t half as bad as it looked.

Having said that, the scallops wrapped in pancetta were delicious.

Tea on the Pier

I had a cup of tea at the end of Clevedon Pier this morning. At the end of the pier is a tea place which sells hot drinks, cakes and ice cream.

Clevedon Pier

Unfortunately it was a typical “here’s a cardboard cup with some hot water and a teabag, help yourself to milk” type of tea rather than anything fancy or posh! It would have been nice to have had a china cup, maybe it’s just me getting old, but tea in a disposable cup is something I want to take away and drink, not what I want to drink out of when I sit down in a cafe for a drink. It was only a £1, but you needed to spend £1.50 to get on the pier so it was quite expensive really!

Ah well, maybe I should have gone for the ice cream.

It was hot and refreshing and I suspect on a cooler windier day, a nice cup of tea would be just the ticket.

Crab

I like crab, especially fresh crab.

Crabs

Recently I had a very nice fresh crab salad at the Shoreline Bistro on Paignton beach.

Unfortunately it can be difficult to find fresh crab at your local supermarket. I have noticed that Marks & Spencers have started selling whole cooked crab, don’t know how fresh it would be.

The crabs in the picture above were taken at a fantastic fish market in Gloucester.

Awful tea, just like British Rail use to make…

I had a terrible cup of tea. It was on a train and was reminiscent of the tea that British Rail use to make!

It was on the buffet car on a South Devon Railway train from Buckfastleigh to Totnes.

South Devon Railway

I always think preserved railways have a real opportunity for on-board catering, however I am virtually always usually very disappointed.

The tea was foul and served in a depressing polystyrene cup. The milk was that awful long life milk in spring loaded containers; what’s wrong with serving fresh milk?

I was so disappointed that I decided I wouldn’t eat in the station tea rooms as I expected it to be just as bad, but on reflection that may have been a bit premature, as I was told the menu looked interesting and the food looked really nice.

Stuffed Chicken

Last night I cooked a very nice stuffed chicken dish.

Take four chicken thigh joints, take out the bone, you can take the skin off, but I usually leave it on.

Take four slices of pancetta bacon (normal streaky bacon can be used, but I prefer the thinness and flavour of pancetta). Lie them flat slightly overlapping. Place the chicken thigh flat out on the pancetta.

You can use a lot of different things for the stuffing, I used some Doux De Montagne that I had left over, a strip of red pepper and some strips of courgette (zucchini). But you could use any other cheese or other vegetables.

I then rolled and wrapped the stuffed chicken thigh with the pancetta bacon. I placed these in a roasting tin and roasted for about thirty minutes.

I served this with some roasted vegtables and some homemade salad consisting of coleslaw and a green bean salad.