Saffron and Lemon Chicken


Seems I’ve been a bit slack in posting about food of late. Truth be told I’ve not really been making anything particularly exciting.

This weekend saw Freya and myself celebrate our first wedding anniversary and preparations for various festivities got in the way of normal cooking habits.

After a pretty hectic weekend – which saw a large number of us complete the marathon 26 pub Monopoly Board Pub Crawl – I settled back into normality with this very tasty dish from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour.

This dish has relatively few ingredients, and does benefit from a long marinade, the longer you leave it the better it will get. That said, the first batch I grilled was excellent after just 1 hour of marinating.

In a bowl you slice 4 white onions, and add to it the juice of 5 lemons, greek yoghurt, turmeric, quite a bit of sea salt, and some saffron which has been infused with water for 10 minutes or so. Give the whole thing a good mix, add the diced chicken breast and leave in the fridge for as long as you can.

Like I said, I cooked up our first batch after an hour but I think we’ll be eating this for a couple more days – so I’ll let you know if it starts tasting better.

The marinade breaks down the chicken beautifully and it tastes so tender after just 15 minutes under the grill.

I served this with a very nice radish salad and a naan bread – and it was a spot on dinner.

I’ll certainly be making this again – it could be one of my go-to dishes when I want to impress – because impressive it is – and very very simple.

Karnibahar Oturmasi – cauliflower with minced lamb

  
This dish – which I made a couple of weeks ago – really blew me away. 

It’s from Turkish Fire by Sevtap Yuce. A real find amongst all the mainstream cookery books out there. 

It’s very simple to make and tastes amazing. It also has the amazing Garlic Yoghurt as a dressing – which I can’t stop making!

The cauliflower is cooked until it is just tender, rolled in flour and dipped in egg before deep frying it to get a lovely golden colour. 

The minced lamb is quite simple. Fry some onions in oil, add diced tomatoes, green chillies, the minced lamb and parsley. Very simple and done in around 10 minutes. 

This recipe just proves that great tasting dishes can be very simple. 

Turkish Bread and Roasted Vegetables

  
Looks like I haven’t been cooking again doesn’t it! It’s been ages since I blogged about some food. 

This dish comes from a new cookbook that was recommended to me from my friend Ali at work. The book is New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian by Greg Malouf and there are some quite amazing recipes in there!

This recipe could be considered time consuming as one of the ingredients is some slow roasted tomatoes that are from another recipe in the book. The tomatoes are supposed to be slow roasted for 3-5 hours until they dehydrate and the flavours intensify. I didn’t have time for that so I did a speedier version – only roasting them for 90 minutes. 

What makes the tomatoes so flavoursome is a marinade of sumac, pomegranate molasses, sherry vinegar and Harissa. They tasted amazing after 90 minutes. I imagine they’d be absolutely incredible after 5 hours!

I kind of cheated all round with this recipe. I’d committed to making it and hadn’t really r ad the recipe thoroughly in advance (very unlike me) so I had to improvise and cut corners. 

The recipe also calls for a Turkish red pepper paste – another recipe from the book – but I just bought a jar of the stuff from my local Syrian shop. I’ll do it properly next time. 

Essentially this recipe is just roasted longhorn peppers, baby courgettes, shallots and the slow roast tomatoes tossed together with diced ciabatta that has been pan roasted in butter and the red pepper paste. But that does rather oversimplify what is actually an amazing collection of intense flavours brought out from slow roasting. 

For example, there is a sauce that is made by roasting garlic which you then mash with capers, sherry vinegar and the juices from the pan you roasted all your vegetables in. It’s quite amazing and I’ll probably make that sauce on its own to have with a variety of other things. 

I was very late serving this dish as Freya and I were busy brainstorming how to make things better on the boat with more storage and seating and this totally distracted me from getting dinner done on time. 

I’ll make this again. And I’ll concentrate next time!

My Daughter’s Enchanted Tree Cake

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It’s my daughter’s 8th birthday in a week. I don’t tend to see her on her birthday and thought it would be nice to make her a fancy cake that we could share the week before.

We were planning on making her either a princess cake or a pink castle but she was far from keen. She loves animals so we plumped for this.

 

Like all novelty cakes, you have to start somewhere. This cake started off life as a 10 inch square Madeira cake. I marbled this one with dark chocolate. It baked beautifully with the requisite cracks (as instructed on Bake Off).

Not sure why some of the contestants on Bake Off struggled with something as basic as a Madeira cake. This was pretty straightforward.

 

Once the cake was cooled we chopped it into 4 squares, levelled it, and stacked it with thin layers of buttercream. From the offcuts we created the base of the tree.

Finally we smeared the whole thing in a fudge buttercream – ready for the fondant.

  

After mixing the right amount of red and green cake colouring together you eventually get a brown colour. This was then wrapped round the cake and it starts to take shape.

Bark marks are made with the back of a knife!

The face is made from offcuts of the brown fondant which are stuck on with edible glue.

  

When they are stuck you blend them into the trunk and add bark marks so the whole thing blends together nicely!

The addition of branches and roots that go into the ground, and the steps on the left make for a more realistic living tree trunk. They also make room for all the woodland animals.

  

A birds nest on the top of the trunk was the first of many creatures.

Next came the mouse in the mouth!

My Butternut Squash Calabrian Lasagne

  
For once a recipe that I made up myself. 

This lasagne is based on Nigella Lawson’s Calabrian Lasagne – but completely vegetarian and with a rich tomato sauce. 

After painstakingly making a novelty birthday cake for my daughter we really needed to eat. 

Her cake is pretty special. I’ll post pictures when it is finished!

We had lots of ingredients to use up – as Freya’s parents have been away all week and their fridge was pretty well stocked with veggies. Rather than toss them I tried to use them up. 

This lasagne turned out far better than I expected. I really should try my own stuff more often!

…. 

Veggiestan Waldorf Salad

Now here’s the only salad that I think you will ever need. From the Veggiestan cookbook, this was going to be a side for another dish but I decided it wouldn’t go so we had it as a meal on its own. 

I can’t praise this enough and can’t to wait to make it again this weekend. Simple to make. Great combinations of flavour and textures. And it looks great too. 

No two Waldorfs are ever the same, although they do typically have lashings of mayonnaise. This one doesn’t and substitutes it for yoghurt, which is obviously far better for you.

The Veggiestan Waldorf is very simple. Line a bowl with some nice crisp gem lettuce leaves, and then in a bowl combine chopped apple, celery, onion, cucumber, green pepper, walnuts with raisins, coriander and mint. To this mixture you add your dressing of yoghurt, apple cider vinegar, honey and some infused saffron. Finally tip your mixture between all the salad leaves.

This is quite amazing. I could eat this all day every day – and I think it would go with absolutely anything; BBQs, meat, fish, it’s a really good salad. Quite frankly you could just have it on its own. Its very satisfying.