Thursday, November 20, 2008

Losing Pounds and Saving More

Honeyed Chicken and Bacon Skewers: makes 16
16 chicken fillets (taken from the back of the breasts)
1 tsp runny honey
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
approx 8 streaky bacon rashers (see above)
16 pre-soaked wooden skewers (see above)
Put the honey, oil and mustard into a bowl and mix together. Add the chicken fillets and turn around in the mixture until fully coated, add salt and pepper to taste, give one more turn then leave them to marinade for half an hour (if making for a buffet, these could be prepared to this point earlier in the day and to chill in the fridge for longer).
Shape the chicken fillets as required (folded or pleated), then wrap each in bacon and skewer them together, singly on cocktails sticks, or several on one skewer as preferred.
Grill for 12 - 15 minutes or until the bacon is golden and turning crisp and the chicken has cooked through. Turn the skewers around from time to time. Serve as you wish (suggestions above).

As with many recipes, one leads to another. So bear with me while I give you something similar but also something that ends up quite differently. You could choose to use the marinade from the above recipe instead of the one given below, and vice versa. Again chicken breasts are part of the original recipe, so will leave as-is with the reminder that chicken fillets (to the approximate weight) could be used instead. Other herbs and other nuts could also be used. These make a good teenage snack, picnic fare, or can be taken to eat at work as a packed lunch. These even have the potential for each wrap to be sliced into narrow-depth rolls and served as finger-food at a buffet. Note - if following the tip under the recipe, this actually makes the chicken go further, so less need be bought. If the breasts are beaten really thinly, they need not be shredded as they could be laid directly on the wrap either before or after the nut and mayo spread, then rolled up. Anything to save time and labour.
Spicy Chicken Wraps: serves 6
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp paprika pepper
1 tblsp olive oil
about 1 lb (500g) chicken breasts
3 oz (75g) walnut pieces, finely chopped
4 fl oz (125ml) mayonnaise
4 tblsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
6 flour tortilla wraps
rocket or watercress leaves
Mix the mustard, pepper and oil together in a shallow dish, then add the chicken breasts, turning to coat all sides. Cover and chill for at least an hour (they can be kept in the fridge overnight if you wish).
Heat a dry frying pan over medium heat, then place in the chicken and fry for five minutes on each side or until cooked through (the thicker the breasts the longer they take). Remove from the pan and leave to get cold, and then shred the chicken into small bite-sized strips and place into a bowl together with the walnuts, mayo and basil. Add seasoning to taste. Divide the mixture into six and spoon spread over the six tortilla wraps, topping each with chosen salad leaves. Roll up each, fairly firmly, to hold the filling securely, then secure each by wrapping with a strip of parchment paper, or a paper napkin (useful if eating out), and tie with string or hold together by pushing through a cocktail stick.
Tip: to save cooking time, cut the chicken breasts through horizontally, then place each piece between two sheets of clingfilm and bash with a rolling pin to make them really thin. After marinading, they then take only 2 - 3 minutes to cook on each side - although they will probably need to be cooked in batches, so not a lot of fuel time is actually saved.

Cook roast spuds by this lower-fat method. Each serving contains 6g of fat (saturated fat 1 g) rather than the normal 14g fat.
Slimmers Roasties: serves 4
1 lb 12 oz (800g) roasting potatoes, quartered
1 clove garlic, sliced
7 oz (200m) vegetable stock
2 tblsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Put the prepared potatoes, garlic and stock in a roasting pan, then brush the tops of the potatoes with half the oil. Season to taste then 'roast' in the oven at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 50 minutes. Brush the potatoes again with the remaining oil and continue cooking for a further 15 minutes, by which time the stock should have been absorbed and the potatoes browned and cooked through.

Floating Snowballs: serves 4 - 6
1 pint (560ml) milk
few drops vanilla extract
5 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
5 oz (150g) caster sugar
2 oz (50g) icing sugar
2 tbslp water
Put the milk in a pan with the vanilla and heat gently. Put the egg yolks, salt and 3 oz (75g) of the caster sugar into a bowl and mix together, then stir in the warm milk. Return this mixture to the pan and heat slowly, stirring all the time until just below boiling point - remove from heat and test, when it is ready the custard will coat the back of a wooden spoon and when a finger is drawn across it should leave a clear path. Be vary careful when making custard in a pan - too hot and the eggs will start to scramble.
When ready, cool slightly then pour into a serving dish, then chill.
Heat a saucepan of water (or could use a wide deep frying pan) to simmering. Whisk egg whites until stiff, sprinkle over the icing sugar and whisk well until again stiff. Using two soup spoons, make oval balls of the egg whites, carefully lowering each as made onto the simmering water. Leave for 15 seconds and then turn to cook the other side for a further 10 seconds. Remove using a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack keeping them apart (or they stick together). When all are cooked and have dried off, carefully pile them up over the custard.
In a small pan, dissolve the remaining 2 oz (50g) caster sugar in the 2 tblsp water and boil down until it turns a golden brown (caramel). Pour over the egg balls and serve immediately.

Often a recipe can have much the same ingredients as another, but end up as a completely different dish because one or two other crucial ingredients have made it so, and to prove this point this last recipe, although containing many of the ingredients in the recipe above, turns out - when eaten hot - much more like a cross between a cake and souffle.
Note that with both recipes, because eggs and milk are ingredients, these can be part of the protein intake for the day, so either puds would be an excellent choice served after a vegetarian main course.
Lemon Pudding: serves 4 - 6
4 oz (100g) butter
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
4 eggs. separated
zest and juice from 1 large lemon
3 tblsp plain flour
half pint (300ml) milk
1 tblsp icing sugar
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolks, zest and juice of the lemon. Gradually fold in the flour and then the milk.
Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold these into the mixture (start by folding in a tblsp to slacken the mixtgure, then fold in the rest of the whites). Turn into a greased 7" (18cm) ovenproof dish and sift over the icing sugar. Place dish in a roasting tin containing an inch (2.5cm) hot water. Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 40 -50 minutes by which time the pudding will have risen and turned golden on top. Can be served hot or cold.