With this beautiful hot weather we have been eating a lot of salad. Recently I have been plating up salads for people using individual tapas style bowls. These I “picked up” from Lidl in their Sol Mar Spanish Tapas dishes in the freezer, which come with some useful little brown tapas dishes.
The advantage of these over plating onto the main plates is that they take up less room and it’s easier from a portion control perspective. The advantage of merely creating one big salad is that in the family some people like some salad items and others prefer something else. I like tomatoes, but another member of the family prefers grapes in their salad.
Depending on what we have in the fridge and the cupboard will determine what goes into the individual salad bowls.
I quite like to add a base layer of houmus to mine, to which I then add a handful of mixed lettuce leaves. I add slices of “heritage” tomatoes, slices of radish, sliced pepper, pomegranate seeds and diced cucumber.
Other ingredients I have used include batons of cucumber, grapes, sweetcorn, mixed pulses, sometimes raw red onion.
I rarely add dressing, but if I do, usually I just add a drizzle of olive oil and some white wine vinegar.
Using the fine dicer, I diced the peppers, onion and cucumber before stirring them. I then added the sweetcorn, the olive oil and white wine vinegar. Add seasoning and the chilli flakes to taste. This was then thoroughly stirred and covered for a hour or two.
This recipe can be used to grill chicken on the barbecue, or as I did, finish off in a hot oven.
For me, the key to tender moist barbecued chicken is to avoid leaving it on the grill for too long, otherwise it will dry out. However this leaves the risk that the chicken is not properly cooked and could cause food poisoning. My solution is to poach or steam the chicken first, and then finish off on the barbecue, under a hot grill, or in a really hot oven. The end result is crispy tasty skin, and moist tender chicken.
Taken some chicken thighs, I much prefer chicken thigh, there is more flavour. Place them in a pan of boiling water, and bring back to the simmer. Poach for 10-15 minutes, remove from the pan and leave on a warm plate for a minutes. This is mainly to let them dry, you can speed up this process using some kitchen towel. I usually drizzle some olive oil on the chicken before placing it on the barbecue, under the grill, or placed into a hot oven.
For the chicken in the photograph I made my own barbecue sauce, basted the chicken in it along with onion and sliced peppers and placed it under the grill.
The sauce was a quick one, made from a mix of tomato ketchup, tomato puree, golden syrup, balsamic vinegar, cajun spices and flakes of chilli. Another sauce I use now and again is the Reggae Reggae Jerk Sauce.
Overall I have been using this method for a while now and have had good results.
I really do enjoy roasted vegetables either as a meal in itself or as an accompaniment to another dish.
On this platter I have roasted squash, red onions, red pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergine, parsnips and sweet potato.
The method I used for this was in the roasting pan I placed the squash, the parsnips, red onion and sweet potato with a good splash of olive oil. This was then roasted in the oven for about 15 minutes. I then added the mushrooms, tomatoes, aubergine, courgette, red pepper and another splash of the olive oil. This was then roasted for about 15-20 minutes.
I seem to be cooking paella more and more recently.
The key for me is the right kind of rice and saffron. I really do like the way the saffron adds not just colour, but also flavour. Some people I know have used tumeric, however that is most certainly not saffron, and though adds a similar colour, the earthiness of tumeric really can ruin an otherwise decent paella.
After that you can add many different things to make a really nice paella.
The dish above contains in addition to the rice and saffron, the following, chorizo, prawns, onions, pepper, pancetta and a small tin of tomatoes.
There is something about paella, the richness, flavours that I really enjoy.
A nice accompanient to grilled meats is a salad. This recipe is one of my regular salads and is very simple to make. It consists of lettuce, halved cherry or small tomatoes and thinly sliced pointed red pepper. This time I also added some basil leaves.
I dress the salad with olive oil, white wine vinegar and ground black pepper.
Simple, refreshing with a hint of heat from the pepper (red and black).
I was recently lucky enough to go to dinner at the Alba Ristorante in London with some friends., not just once, but enjoyed it enough the first time to go for a second meal. Unlike a lot of Italian restaurants I have been too, the menu here was not full of pasta and pizza, on the contrary it was very different and as a result much more interesting and refreshing.
On my second visit for my starter I had the Misto di Verdure alla Griglia Condite al Balsamico or in English, Mixed grilled Italian vegetables balsamic & extra virgin olive oi.
This was very nice, a simple dish which worked very well. There were courgettes, pepper, tomato and aubergine.
Out of the two starters I had, I think I preferred the duck.