Slow Cooker Chicken Curry & Lemon Cheesecake

I hope I still remember how to work WordPress – it has been too long since I posted anything – *hangs head in shame*

I’ve been busy preparing to move apartments – I will be very sad to leave the beautiful Chatelain which has been my home for so many years – but looking forward to a change and being closer to friends….and hopefully discovering lots of cool new places on the other side of the city…. watch this space!  (not too closely though, as it’ll probably be another age before I post again – #worstbloggerever)

I recently bought a Crock Pot/Slow Cooker – I love it, it’s like a magical machine that makes you dinner while you do other things – freakin genius!

I’ve made  a few things and will post in due course – but this is my most recent (and I remembered to take photos – don’t get too excited, as soon as the food was ready to eat I forgot about photos so there are no ‘finished product’ photos.

Once again – #worstbloggerever

Curry

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Ingredients

  • Small handful coriander leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1-3cm knuckle of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1tbsp garam masala
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pepper, sliced
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1-3 chillies, depending on personal taste
  • 1 stick of lemon grass, peeled (I omitted this as I don’t like lemongrass… though I might include it next time!)
  • 50g red lentils
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 3tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • zest of lime (I also added juice of 1/2 the lime too)
  • Chopped coriander

Method

  1. In a food processor add ginger, garlic, chilli, olive oil, coriander, garam masala and tomatoes.  Whizz until you form a paste – though mine was quite watery due to the tomatoes so I wouldn’t have described it as paste – but it turned out fine! (Store in fridge or freeze until needed).
  2. Remember to cut the vegetables and chicken into equal size so you get a more even cook.
  3. Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker apart from the Greek yoghurt and lime.  If the curry is too thick, add a little water.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours ( 6 was plenty for me), or on high for 3-4 hours.
  5. About 30 an hour before serving I felt it was a bit watery so I added some cornflour (about 2 tsp mixed to a paste first with some of the cooking liquid).
  6. 20-30 minutes before serving, stir in Greek yoghurt, chopped coriander and zest of lime.
  7. Stir and serve on a bed of rice (I used basmati).

It was felt by my dinner guests that there was something missing (I forgave them after) – so I’ll include the lemongrass next time, and I might add a teaspoon of ground coriander too – and see what happens!!!

And now for dessert……

Curry and Cheeseckae-2

Lemon Cheesecake with Speculoos Base

This was kind of a combination of about 3 recipes…

For the Base…

  • 160g Speculoos biscuits
  • 75g butter
  1. Melt the butter and crush the biscuits, then add them to the butter and pour into a round tin, preferable with a removable base.
  2. Now – the recipe for that base said to cook this for 8  minutes at about 160degrees. Which I did, and it worked out ok, but I’m not sure if it was necessary – next time I’ll just chill the mixture once it’s been placed in the tin…. trial and error!

For the filling

  • 700g Marscapone Cheese
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  1. mix the mascarpone cheese, lemon juice and zest and caster sugar and icing sugar together in a bowl until well combined. Do not mix the mixture too much as this will cause it to split. Taste the mixture and add more sugar, to taste.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the tin on top of the chilled biscuit mixture and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

For the Topping

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 350g frozen fruits of the forest
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
  1. Put the orange juice and frozen berries into a saucepan.  Cook gently to thaw, then add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
  2. Blend the cornflour with a dribble of water and some of the hot liquid from the saucepan.
  3. Mix well, then stir the cornflour mixture into the berries in the saucepan.
  4. Bring to the boil, stirring to thicken.  If a thicker consistency is required, more cornflour can be added (in the same way).

 

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Barbecue Gingered Chicken

It is BBQ season after all isn’t it??

I am a fan of marinades and I’ve used this one a good few times – there is chicken currently bathing in it in my fridge as I write.

This is from Barbecues and Grilling by Anthony Worral Thompson – a great book that I’ve had for a while but I really want to start making a few more things from it in the coming weeks, so if they work I’ll stick them up here!

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts with skin on, if preferred
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed with a little salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade mixture.
  2. Set aside the chicken breasts in a shallow dish and spread the mixture over them.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferable overnight.
  3. Remove from the fridge up to 30 minutes before cooking
  4. Cook the chicken on the barbecue grill, skin-side down first, over high heat for 7-8 minutes.  Then turn and cook on the other side for a further 7-8 minutes, basting occasionally with the marinade juices, until lightly charred and firm to the touch.

I actually cut the chicken breast into strips…. voila!

Before

After!

A trip to Terschelling and a Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Well I recently mentioned the event I attended at The Hotel organised by Brussels Food Friends.  It was really enjoyable and inspiring (who isn’t inspired whilst eating cake?).  I won’t say much more about it as it was written about much more eloquently than I could by several others already so READ ALL ABOUT IT as they say…here, and here, and here.  And if anyone is interested in attending the next one watch this space!

Thank you Sylvia for suggesting it – look how happy we were:

Sylvia and Jane (1 of 1)

So yes I started this blog to try and get Mary to give me recipes – she is a busy woman so they have been few and far between, but I’m hoping to get a few more from her! After a while I just thought why not use it as a place to keep recipes I have used and liked, so I remember to make them again and they don’t get lost in space and time…

Another thing I’ve wanted to do is keep a record of places I’ve been in case

a) I ever want to go back or
b) somebody else is interested in going

I know I am very lucky with the amount of travelling I get to do, if it isn’t with work it’s with Belgium GAA, one is free, the other is not – but both are filled with activities that are not very touristy such as … well … work and playing sports.  It does mean you get a taster of a place and that you might like to go back to some time in the future so it’s important to keep a list of places you stayed, restaurants you visited etc so it sounds like you know what the hell you are talking about if/when you ever do go back, or indeed recommend it to somebody else!

Of course, on the odd free weekend I do just travel for pleasure, and that’s what we did a couple of weeks ago when we went to the island of Terschelling in the north of Holland.

You need to get a ferry to the island, and these ferries go from Harlingen, which is about a 3 hour drive from Brussels (more if you decide to go on the day when the Trade Unions are protesting in Brussels…)

From Harlingen, which is a cute little town itself, you can take the ferry which is run by this company: Rederij Doeksen.  Their logo is a smiling seal – I liked.

There is a fast ferry and a slow ferry, we got the slow one over as we arrived too late for the fast (snel) ferry, it takes 2 hours and the fast one just 45 minutes.  I’d suggest calling the Ferry company to get the times as the website said something different to what was actually running.

Here is the slow ferry…

Boat (1 of 1)

Once you get there, there is a bus service which seems to run very efficiently and cost less than 2euro each way.

We stayed at the Walvis Vaarder Hotel.   It was lovely I would highly recommend it. Especially for the amazing open fire in the bar, the funky font used for the room numbers and the tasty local cheese:

2014-04-05 23.31.47  2014-04-05 20.38.47 Island (2 of 2)

We hired bikes for a very reasonable price and cycled all day in the sunshine!

Island (1 of 2)

As it turned out this was taking place while we were there: http://www.fjoertoer.nl/.  We weren’t 100% sure what it was but it involved alot of walking during the night, and alot of jolly Dutch people!

We managed to catch the fast ferry back on Sunday and were back in Brussels at a very civilized hour so I had time to make Jamie Oliver’s Chicken and Mushroom Pie.  Now, this is from his 30 Minute Meals book.  I’m doooobius as to whether it is possible to make any of them in 30 minutes, he tells you to do things ‘quickly’ alot, and also suggests using the food processor for everying including chopping mushrooms and spring onions.

Now this might be quicker to do, but it takes alot longer to wash a food processor than a knife!

All the same, it is still quick and easy to make… and tasty

Ingredients

  • 4 x 180g skinless chicken breasts
  • a knob of butter
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • 150g button mushrooms
  • 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard
  • 1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche (I used fromage frais)
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/3 nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg
  1.  Cut the chicken into 1cm strips.
  2. Heat a pan with some olive oil and the butter, add the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes
  3. Roughly chop the spring onion and mushrooms (in a food processor if you want to: eye-roll)
  4. Chicken Pie (1 of 6)
  5. Add to the pan with 1 heaped tablespoon of flour and stir.
  6. Add  2 teaspoons of mustard, 1 heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche and 300ml of chicken stock and stir well
  7. Pick the thyme leaves and stir into the pan with a few fine gratings of nutmeg and some salt and pepper.
  8. Simmer for about 10  minutes
    Chicken Pie (3 of 6)
  9. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and unroll the sheet of pastry
  10. Use a small knife to lightly crisscross and score it.
  11. Take the pan of chicken off the heat, tip the filling into an ovenproof baking dish slightly smaller than the sheet of pastry.
  12. Cover the filling with the pastry sheet, tucking it in at the edges, then brush with the beaten egg.
  13. Cook at 200C for about 15 mins.

Chicken Pie (5 of 6)

Jamie serves it with some peas and mashed carrots which are very tasty, I might stick them up at a later date.

I stir-fried some brussels sprouts, courgette, brocolli, corn and caramelised onion – it was an experiment and it was tasty!

Chicken Pie (4 of 6)

Chicken Pie (6 of 6)

Chicken and Brocolli Gratin

How is it mid-November already? This year is flying, though I say that every year – is that what happens the older you get?

I have just spent the weekend in France – and why not? It’s only 2 hours down the road, we stayed in a very nice, small Chateau (well on the grounds of one anyway!), ate a 6 course meal, went champagne tasting and came back to Brussels with plenty of bottles clinking in the back of the car.

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Our fancy meal was fancy, there was St Jacques (I’m not a big fan unfortunately), fois gras – the cooked version, pidgeon, frogs legs – you name it.  Probably not my favourite but you only live once!  I only took a photo of the pidgeon and frogs leg, and the dessert – which was very tasty 🙂

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The following day, the sun came out and we found the Route de Touristique Champagne – it was beautiful:

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Apart from that, the day consisted of jambon-fromage croissants, croque-monsieurs and champagne tasting, after which we weren’t able for another big meal so instead got some (more) cheese, charcuterie, baguettes etc and enjoyed that with … some more champagne 🙂

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The weekend consisted of alot of cheese and bread in various forms so I thought it was time to eat some veg in preparation for the week ahead….

This is an oldie but a goodie.  I think the first time I enjoyed broccoli was in this particular dish, it’s very tasty and a great way of getting your greens in.

It can be made various different ways – using a whole chicken, or just chicken breasts – having tried both I think the whole chicken option is better, there is more flavour.

It can be made cheats-style by using tinned soup for the sauce – mushroom or chicken are best, and the condensed version I think also works best.  This has alot of flavour but be sure to use good quality tinned soup as the cheaper ones can be very salty.

I went back to basics yesterday and made a sauce from scratch – I went by the Avoca recipe but also added some curry as this always gives an extra nice flavour!

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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (or 6 chicken breasts)
  • 1 Spanish Onion or 2 normal onions peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks chopped
  • a few sprigs parsley and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 300ml double cream
  • 120g Roux (60g flour 60g butter)
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • 1 head of broccoli divided into florets
  • 25g butter
  • 75g cheese grated (cheddar or another strong cheese)
  • 150g breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Place chicken in a large saucepan with the onions, carrots, celery, herbs, peppercorns and enough water to cover.  Bring slowly to the boil then reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked ( about an  hour for a whole chicken, 20 minutes for chicken breasts)
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan and leave to cool.  Strip the meat from the bones, tear up into large bite size pieces and set aside.
  3. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 600ml. (I actually left the veg in, and put the chicken bones back in whilst doing this – I didn’t boil all the way down to 600ml as I had alot but I let it boil for about another 20-30mins.  Next time I might add a 1/2 a stock cube at this point for extra flavour).
  4. Add the cream, (at this point I also added a heaped tsp of curry powder) return to the boil then whisk in the roux a little at a time to form a thick sauce.
  5. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water until just tender, then drain and refresh under cold water.
  6. Stir the chicken and broccoli into the sauce and season to taste.
  7. Pour this into an oven proof dish.
  8. Melt the butter and mix with the breadcrumbs and cheese.  Spread over the chicken dish.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 180degrees C for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

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Flash Fried Moroccan Chicken

This is another dish I inherited from Gill.  She had the Nigel Slater Simple Suppers Book, it didn’t have pictures so I didn’t look at it much (mon Dieu I sound really stupid, but it’s true).

Thankfully Gill did read it as there are some really good recipes in there!  This was one of them, it’s super quick and easy, has a bit of spice and is delish.

Friday 1st November was a holiday here in Belgium, I went out on Thursday night with some old friends that I hadn’t seen in far too long a time, of course this ended up with us eating and drinking alot, and coming home late… and the inevitable hangover!

So Friday we decided to head downtown, get some brunch in Bia Mara (fish and chips – seabream, delish) and go to the cinema. Bia Mara is amazing, if you haven’t been, please go, of course we met Aisling and Jelena in there and Jelena joined us for the cinema trip – we saw Gravity, it was very good but un peu stressful for a hungover movie!

Anyway by Friday evening we weren’t hungry enough for a massive dinner but rather than snacking on toast and cheese I made this, and we had it with a bit of couscous pilaf  and natural yoghurt.

It was really good, but I’m not really good at remembering to take photos when the food a) looks good and b) there is still a full plate of it so sorry about this pic:

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Ingredients 

  • 350g chicken fillets/ boned pieces
  • 1 fresh red chilli papeer (seeded and finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp crushed dried chilli pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp sultanas or raisins
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1tbsp chopped mint

Method

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a shallow dish
  2. Mix together the fresh and dried chillies, garlic, lemon, half the olive oil, cinnamon, sultanas or raisins and pine nuts, and then pour over the chicken.  Leave for 20 minutes or so.  An hour would be better if you have it
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a shallow pan; when it sizzles add the chicken pieces.
  4. Heat over a high heat until golden brown and then turn over and cook the other side.  Depending on how thick the chicken is you may need to lower heat slightly to ensure that the chicken is cooked inside without burning it
  5. Pour in the marinade ingredients and bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the mint.  Serve hot with its pan juices and sprinkle over the mint.