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Archive for October, 2009

…or the dish that’s going to harm our relationship with our favourite Chinese takeaway!

Sweet & Sour Chicken with Egg Fried Rice

Sweet and sour chicken is a bit of a favourite of Rob’s; throughout university he spent many an evening with a jar of Uncle Ben’s and since discovering the joys of cooking from scratch has always intended to give it a go properly. Personally, I’m not really a fan – I find the sauce can often be leaning too far to the sour side and, let’s be honest, it can look rather radioactive at times! When Rob suggested trying it for dinner I could have just let him go ahead and made myself some pasta, but I was feeling lazy and as he was easily convinced to throw some egg fried rice into the bargain I thought I’d take the risk. Very glad I did, it was absolutely delicious!

We’ve made chicken chow mein before but, while it was very nice, the lack of takeaway greasiness actually felt like a bit of a shame! With tonight’s sweet and sour chicken though it was a completely different story. The freshness of the ingredients really lifted this; chunky pieces of tender chicken breast, crunchy peppers, juicy pineapple (okay, that was from a tin) and perfect egg fried rice.

The sweet and sour chicken was adaptation from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook (an adaptation in so much as we didn’t have all the ingredients!) while the egg fried rice was just something Rob had filed into his head at some point!

Sweet and sour chicken with egg fried rice
Serves 2
Prep time: 20 mins (plus 30 mins for marinating)
Cooking time: 25 mins (you can reduce this by cooking the chicken and rice simultaneously – we have only one wok!)

For the chicken:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (diced – approx. 300g total)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 small can (227g net) pineapple chunks in juice (drained and juice reserved)
1 tbsp cornflour
1.5 tbsp groundnut oil
1/2 green pepper (seeded and cut into chunky pieces)
1/2 red pepper (seeded and cut into chunky pieces)
1 medium white onion (cut into chunky pieces)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
salt and pepper

For the rice:
1/2 cup (approx. 90g) basmati rice
1 medium egg
a handful of frozen peas (defrosted)
groundnut oil
salt and pepper

If, like us, you intend to cook the sweet and sour chicken before the egg fried rice, preheat the oven to low temperature so the chicken can be kept warm.

1. Prepare the marinade by mixing the soy sauce with a teaspoon of the pineapple juice. Stir in the chicken pieces until they’re well-coated, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Cook the rice using whatever method works best for you and set aside.
3. Make the remaining pineapple juice up to 150ml with water, stir in the cornflour and set aside.
4. Heat the oil (for the chicken) in a wok, add the chicken and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until golden all over. Lift out and set aside.
5. Add the peppers and onion to the wok and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the pineapple juice/cornflour mix and ketchup and cook for a few minutes until thickened.
7. Return the chicken to the wock along with the pineapple chunks and heat through. Season and then transfer to a ovenproof dish and keep warm in the preheated oven.
8. Clean the wok (or get another one!) and add a generous amount of oil (you can add more later if necessary). Bring to a medium heat (you don’t want to burn the egg!).
9. Beat the egg and add it to the wok. Allow the egg to cook for a couple of minutes until it resembles a small omelette.
10. Stir the rice and peas into the egg, breaking up the cooked egg in the process. Cook for 3-4 minutes, continually stirring.
11. Serve up the rice with the chicken and enjoy!

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Rib Eye Steak with Blue Cheese Butter

It’s been a hard week. Both Erika and I are off work next week and it always seems to be the case that the final few days at work before going away are both supremely busy and stressful. Erika is out tonight and I wanted something quick and easy for dinner tonight but it had to be delicious as well as being light. I was a bit greedy yesterday and ate out for both lunch and dinner yesterday so have not felt hungry all day.

On the way home I ended up in M&S looking for inspiration and… well, you can guess what I chose. I love rib eye because it’s always so tender and juicy, and M&S do wonderful steaks that aren’t quite as expensive as going to an upmarket butcher. Generally I have my steak by itself as I feel that a sauce can be overpowering but the idea of the juicy steak with tangy blue cheese tickled my fancy. Plus it takes next to no time to make and costs very little. My small piece of cheese was 40p and would do a good three steaks worth.

Blue Cheese Butter
Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 3

25g softened butter (unsalted is best but salted will do)
25g blue cheese – roquefort is good, I used Saint Agur.

Mix the softened butter with the cheese until they are both combined and you have a paste-like consistency. Spread this onto some baking parchment, roll it up to make a cylinder and stick it in the fridge to chill. Either put a bit in a small bowl and melt it just before serving by putting it in the microwave or cut a wedge off and put it on top of your steak. Or do both – I won’t tell!

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Chicken Enchiladas with a Smoky Tomato Sauce

Fajitas are a popular dish in our household. In fact I’ve stopped blogging about them now because there’s only so many photos you can take of the same dish! I just adore the spicy chicken with the charred vegetables, salsa, sour cream..yum yum yum. However, Erika and I thought we’d try something different but still stay with the mexican theme, so turned to a recipe on our delicious for chicken enchiladas with a smoky tomato sauce, which we halved to serve both of us generously.

The recipe blurb suggests that it’s not too spicy and is suitable for kids. Not being a child I added a bit extra smoked paprika in order to get more of that smoky flavour across. I also dropped the cocoa powder as I thought the use of it would make the sauce taste a bit too hot-chocolatey. Furthermore we poached then shredded a chicken breast and used that instead of the shop bought stuff as I find that has absolutely no flavour whatsoever.

Overall – very good. Spicy sauce, tasty filling with the stringy melted cheese on top, all in addition to the wraps which go wonderfully crispy after coming out of the oven. I still prefer fajitas but I’d be happy to alternate between the two!

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Brioche

Sunday mornings are all about lie ins, strong coffee and the type of breakfast you don’t have time for any other day of the week. Be that sweet blueberry pancakes smothered in maple syrup; sausages, bacon and fried eggs or even soft boiled eggs with sourdough toast, it’s the kind of food that will get you out of bed and give you the right start to the day.

Brioche

A new addition to my repertoire is brioche. The soft, buttery and ever so slightly sweet bread with a rich crumb most certainly fits into the category of top Sunday morning grub. Cut a few think slices, top it with jam, chocolate spread or even just butter alone and tuck in. It’s really simple to make, but does involve getting out of bed once very quickly to take the mixture out the fridge and then to put it in the oven. Regardless, it’s worth the effort and is much nicer home made than from the supermarket where it’ll be packed full of preservatives.

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