Sunday, March 23, 2008

Meals in Minutes

This next recipe is one of my favourites. Although the recipe uses raw chicken, it is also a splendid way to use cooked chicken scraps taken from a carcase. Cashew nuts could be used instead of the peanuts.
Gingered Chicken with Peanuts: serves 3
3 fl.oz (75ml) water
1 tsp cornflour
1 large chicken breast, skinned and cut into strips
2 tblsp sunflower oil
1o oz (275g) stir-fry mixed veg (see below)*
2 tblsp salted peanuts
1 tblsp soy sauce
half teaspoon ground ginger OR 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
Blend the water and cornflour together and set aside. Put the oil in a frying pan or wok, and when hot saute the chicken until it turns white (omit this part if using cooked chicken which will be added later). Add the vegetables to the hot oil, give them a minute or two stir-fry, then add the peanuts, soy sauce, ginger and slaked cornflour. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, tossing or separating the vegetables with a fork to ensure they cook through. Reduce heat, adding cooked chicken if using, and cover. Simmer for 4 minutes, then serve.
* mixed vegetables: use all or any of the following: string beans, halved; frozen peas or mangetout; matchstick carrots; sweetcorn kernels or baby corn; diced celery, sliced onion or spring onions; bean sprouts, sliced mushrooms, tiny cauliflower florets, baby broccoli florets, strips of red, orange or yellow bell peppers...)

As the stock is made up with milk/water and cubes, instead use home-made chicken stock and stir in some dried milk powder.
Chicken Tetrazzini: serves 4
8 oz (225g) spaghetti
2 oz (50g) butter
1 oz (25g) plain flour
12 fl.oz (350ml) milk
8 fl.oz (225ml) water
2 chicken stock cubes
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
5 fl.oz (150ml) Greek or plain yogurt
4 oz (100g) button mushrooms, sliced
4 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
about 3/4 pint measure cooked chicken
Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling water, for the recommended time. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour, cook for one minute then whisk in the milk, water and crumbled stock cubes (see foreword for a healthier option). Season to taste with the two peppers, and cook over medium heat, stirring all the time until the sauce has thickened.
Blend a little of the yogurt into the sauce, then add the rest of the yogurt, stirring in the sliced mushrooms, and 3 tlsp of the cheese. Heat through but do not boil. Drain the spaghetti, return to the pan, add the sauce and chicken. Tip into a shallow greased 12 x 9 (30 x 23cm) baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Pop under a grill for 5 minutes to brown the top, then reduce grill to low, cover the dish with foil and leave to heat through for a further 5 minutes.

Ending today with a gooey pud, just for you chocolate lovers, and a way to use up an excess of chocolate Easter eggs. The average cook should be able to make this from start to serving in 20 minutes, but even half an hour is not that long to wait. If you haven't the proper tins, then make these in oven-proof teacups. Remember, when folding anything into something else, always use a metal spoon, and take care not to fold to vigorously over or too much air will be lost.
Chocolate and Orange Frothy Pudding: serves 4
1 orange, zest and juice
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
1 oz (25g) cocoa
1 tblsp orange liqueur
4 egg whites
4 tblsp creme fraiche
1 oz (25g) dark chocolate, grated
Grease 4 ramekins (or 225ml/8fl.oz teacups) with a little oil. Put the sugar, orange zest and juice in a pan and simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture turned syrupy. Tip into a bowl and stir in the liqueur and the cocoa. Whisk the egg whites until firm peaks, then take 2 tblsp whites and fold into the syrupy mixture, once blended, fold in the rest of the whites, and spoon into the prepared cups. Bake at 150C, 300C, gas 2 for 8 - 10 minutes until the mixture has souffled, risen and firm to the touch.
Make a dent in the centre, spoon in the creme fraiche and scatter the cocolate liberally over the top. Serve immediately.