If you’re familiar with Jamaican food you’ll know that rice and peas is actually rice and beans. I love this dish, it’s easy and tasty and it’s packed full of good things like protein, whole grains and iron.
Make a big pot and eat as a side with marinated chicken and fried plantains or on its own as a quick lunch.
1 tablespoon of canola oil
One medium sized onion, finely chopped (ideally the onion should melt into the rice. A food processor does a good job)
Brown jasmine rice
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of red kidney beans
While most days we are flying by the seat of our pants, I do try at weekends to make a few more elaborate meals. This has become especially important to me since having a baby because weekends don’t have the same meaning as they did pre-family. No more late nights and lazy mornings, our daughter has put pay to that. And though we try and get out and do fun stuff, there’s often the mundanity of catching up on housework and little chores that become somewhat more significant to complete when we are passing between each other a small human.
Making a fancy dinner is the easiest way I know of pampering my husband and I, and often leaves us with left overs which we then can take to work.
Roast chicken is a favorite that almost demands roast potatoes and carefully prepared vegetable to do it justice (more on those in another post). Delicious and attractive, it perfumes the air and makes everything seem more homely. Also, there’s often enough left to make soup, add to sandwiches or make a pot pie.
Choose as good a quality chicken as you can afford, the taste is definitely better and they often more tender when cooked. I honestly didn’t really care that much about chicken until I went to Zambia. There, livestock is left roam to such a degree that they could almost be re-classed as game. I have never had such a tasty, deeply flavored chicken as the ‘village chickens’ that Zambians would eat on special occasions, indeed their flavor was almost gamey. Since then I have given chicken the respect it deserves by choosing birds that have been responsibly farmed. We pay more for them, but since we don’t often buy pricier meat like beef, it doesn’t affect the budget much at all, especially as I generally cook meat dishes no more than about three times a week and the rest of the time we eat fish or vegetarian. Try and get a chicken that still has the giblets, these make a wonderful gravy.
There are endless ways of roasting chicken and I have tried my fair share. This current method works the best for us. The cast iron skillet is useful for catching the juices and making gravy and looks rustically pretty on the dinner table.
Before cooking you will need to calculate how long you will should roast, based on the weight of the chicken. I have always used this formula: 20 minutes per pound plus 30 minutes. That said, check in regularly towards the end to avoid over cooking. If the juices run clear at the thickest part of the bird and the legs separate easily from the rest of the body, it’s done.
You will need:
1 small lemon
1 small onion
Half a stick of salted butter – very cold
Three large bay leaves
A small glass of white wine
Course kosher salt
A little canola oil
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
- Score the skin of the lemon all over with a small sharp knife or grate it a little. This helps release the fragrant oils in the skin of the lemon which will perfume your chicken
- Cut the lemon in half
- Peel and cut in half the onion
- Stuff the cavity of the bird in this order:
o One lemon half
o One onion half
o One bay leaf
o One lemon half
o One onion half
- Put your chicken into a heavy roasting pan that can be put on a direct burner or use a cast-iron skillet
- Take a butter knife and carefully insert it between the skin of the breast and the meat. Gently separate the skin from the meat. Try not to tear the skin.
- Cut your cold butter into about four pieces and insert one piece on either side of the breast under the skin
- Carefully slide a bay leaf on either side of the breast under the skin
- Slide in the rest of the butter, again on either side
- Drizzle about a tablespoon of canola oil over the chicken
- Season with salt and pepper
- Put in the oven and leave it to cook for 30 minutes
- After 30 minutes, start to baste every 20 minutes or so
- If you feel that the top is browning faster than the meat is cooking, cover loosely with foil
- Remove the foil towards the end to let the skin crisp up
- When the chicken is cooked (see above),move to a warm plate or wooden board, leave to rest for twenty minutes – CRUCIAL, do not skip this. This is when the juices sink back into the meat making it moist and delicious
- In the meantime put your pan or skillet over a medium high burner.
- Saute the giblets, mashing down the liver
- When cooked add the wine and deglaze the pan with a wooden spoon, by loosening any bits stuck to the pan. Cook until the wine is reduced.
- Add a little stock or broth if you feel there isn’t much sauce and use some cornstarch to thicken
I have my baby daughter to thank for this recipe. I had pureed some cooked butternut squash with the stalks of some broccoli for her and it tasted very good indeed. Honestly, all of the food I give her I could happily eat myself. I am a little concerned that I appear to feed her as if she were a piglet I am fattening up. Any scraps of vegetables or fruits get pureed and fed to her, though organic matter that is truly inedible gets composted. So far she will eat anything as long as we use a pacifier to shovel it into her mouth, she leans into the path of it, frantically sucks it and lets the food squelch out of her mouth as she sucks. Try as we might the spoon is usually met with tight-lipped haughtiness. I hope that by the time she is ready to leave for college she will not need the pacifier to feed herself, but we take each day as it comes.
When butternut squash first became popular I would ask people how they might prepare it and usually the shrugged answer was ‘soup?’ and I would feel a bit disappointed. There are other ways such as cutting it with peel still on, drizzling with oil and salt and roasting it. The peel becomes paper thin and you can either slide the flesh from it or eat with skin. I now agree that it is great for soup too. Soups are such a wonderful thing to master: they are healthy, can be made in big batches and frozen and are an efficient way of using up seasonal produce. Most of them, including this one, are a cinch to prepare as well. I the mix with broccoli here because it cuts through the sweetness of the squash and it allows you to use the whole piece of broccoli rather than just the florets.
Serves about 6
1 small to medium-sized butternut squash
1 punch of broccoli
1 32 ounce carton of low sodium chicken broth (I used the Pacific’s organic free range broth)
Salt to taste
Despite the small number of ingredients, I think the soup is packed full of flavor however if you want to give it a boost, try ...
adding one of the following to the soup before blending:
1 tsp Ground cumin
¼ tsp of Nutmeg
A sprig of chopped fresh rosemary
A handful of chopped fresh oregano
OR, just before serving perhaps you could try...
A drizzle of chili oil
A little pat of butter, maybe herbed or garlic butter
A splash of thick cream or yoghurt
A sprinkling of blue cheese or parmesan
Have any other ideas for a tasty addition? Let me know in the comments!
Polpette are meatballs and polpettone is meatloaf.
The second year I lived in Foggia a middle-aged woman attended one of my EFL classes. She twitched and blinked like a sparrow and every time I spoke to her in English she would giggle nervously: 'Che dice - what did she say?' She once pinched my cheek when leaving class, so I was not an immediate fan since I resent unsolicited physical contact. Over time though, she became a friend - possibly because she lent a tirelessly sympathetic ear to me when I broke up with my boyfriend. She also cooked incredible food. She had a propensity for oversharing and adopting stray dogs that would pee ungratefully all over her gorgeous apartment. Thinking back it was a not a healthy friendship, based on co-dependency and a transaction her food for my company. Her polpette bianche were a particular favorite. This recipe is the same as those polpette but I choose to cook it as a meatloaf since it saves time and the big slabs are more gratifying.
The loaf is part steamed in wine. That and the addition of the milk-soaked breadcrumbs make for a luscious and moist loaf. Leaving it to stand before serving means the juices will seep back into the meat without it losing its shape.
For the load itself:
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup white breadcrumbs soaked in milk to form a thick porridge
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
1 large slice of mortadella or ham, finely chopped
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F
1 tbsp butter
1 small glass of wine
1 loaf tin/dish
Welcome to Illustrated Foodie!