Maybe Lebanese Chicken

I have read many recipes that claim to be Lebanese chicken. This is probably not too authentic. But it is very nice.

To serve 2/3.

  • 2 poussins. Or 1 normal size chicken.
  • 8 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus a teaspoon or so to sprinkle over
  • tbsp paprika
  • tbsp cumin powder
  • tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 4 lemons, plus extra to squeeze over

You will need a large pair of sharp scissors for this job. Up to 24 hours before you plan to eat, combine juice, parsley and spices in a bowl. Cut the chicken up through the middle of the breasts, and discard the breastbone, if possible. If you can’t, you can’t. Flatten the chicken out. Spread the mixture over the chicken, massaging over all over the flesh, both sides. Leave for as long as you can and ensure that your chicken is out of the fridge for at least an hour prior to putting in the oven.

Preheat the oven to gas 6. lay the birds flat in a roasting tin, and cook the chicken for 40- 50 mins, turning once until it’s cooked. If you have one larger chicken, you could be looking at 75 minutes. You will know when its done because the flesh will pull easily away from the bones. It’s  easier to eat birds of this size with your fingers than knife and fork,  so pile onto a big plate and share.

Hot Sausage Casserole

I think you know a bit of you has died inside, when you walk past one of these, and you, even for a single minute, consider it as a serious option. When I asked Greedy Colleague what she thought of this, a look of horror crossed her face. She could picture the future, and it was filled with snuggie’s, not shagging, long hedonistic holidays, short skirts and fast cars. Never mind though, I’m sure Eastbourne is very nice at this time of year.

There are far nicer ways to warm up than even blankets with sleeves. I’m not even talking about doing  the happy dance  under a 15 tog with the warm body of your choice (if only), but rather the simpler pleasure of a casserole.

To serve two cold and hungry:

  • Packet of Premium Sausages
  • Half a hoop of chorizo
  • Splash olive oil
  • 135 g mushroom
  • Leek
  • Half a butternut Squash
  • Small Courgette
  • Herbs (whatever you like)
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Chicken stock, made with cube is ok, made to the volume of the can of tomatoes

Brown the sausages in a pan or under the grill, until brown all over, but no longer really. Chop all the other ingredients into roughly bite sized pieces (our mouths are rather big, so our veg is chunky). In a large saucepan, or in a flameproof casserole, soften the leeks in the oil over a medium heat. Then add all the other ingredients except the sausages, tomatoes and stock. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly until the other veg have started to soften. Add your sausage, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 -45 minutes. Serve either with mashed potatoes or crusty french bread & butter.

Fast Food:Jerk Pork and Roast Butternut Squash

This is not really a recipe as such. But as dinners go, it was pretty great. Who am I to deny you great dinners?

  • 2 pork chops
  • 2 heaped tsp out of a jar of jerk marinade (Dunns River, is the best, by some stretch)
  • Small butternut squash, chopped into thick slices, seeds removed
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs and spices – in this case ginger and garlic but thyme, cumin, coriander, allspice would all do in this instance. Not altogether though.
  • Slosh of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Simples.  As early as possible prior to cooking, rub the marinade into the pork chops. Then when ready to cook, preheat oven to gas 6 , toss your squash slices with oil. Crush the garlic flat with the blade of a heavy knife and cut the ginger into pound-coin sized rings. You don’t have to peel them, even. Cook for about 40-50 mins, turning half way through. In the meantime, grill you chop. Serve with a nice green veg.

Graze Bar & Chop House, Bristol

graze1

verb 1 (of cattle, sheep, etc.) eat grass in a field. 2 informal eat frequent snacks at irregular intervals

average

adjective 1 constituting an average. 2 usual or ordinary. 3 mediocre.

A Bristolcentric post I’m afraid.

Bath Ales make a fine beer. Their organic lager, Natural Blonde, not only has a cute name, but its my favourite beer in the world. I don’t know  what benefits having organic lager gives you mind, but it does taste good. Their other ales are apparently excellent, but I don’t tend to drink dark things, so I can’t say. Bath Ales also run some very nice (if getting slightly samey) pubs in Bristol & Bath. Their formula would appear to be a reasonable one, usually; friendly staff, decent wine list, natural woods, sunday lunches, real ales. They are not cheap, which is good from some perspectives – never a bad idea to price out the chavs. So I was interested to see what the score was in this bona fide non pub.

And it was – ok. The staff were nice if slightly absent to begin with. The place is nicely lit. There is music – and if The Magic Numbers on constant loop is musically your cup of tea, then your luck’s in, for I heard the whole album three times in a row. Obviously our drinks were fine.  The menu, on first glance, looked great – there’s a lot of stuff. From things on toast, salads, seafood, proper meals, steak and chips, pork chop (natch). Greedy companion and I were so pathetically grateful to have ended a pair of pretty grim working days and to get out of the snow, that we fell on the menu like it was some sacred text. It’s not a sacred text, but its a pretty varied choice.

We’d settled on bread and olives to share for a start. And we were rewarded by a huge bowl of the most delicious olives. I mean really fantastic. I would venture to say that the best thing about the place was the bowl of olives we got. Sirisly! But it was let down by some half heartedly toasted bread, which was neither here nor there with the stingiest smear of olive oil. We asked for butter and got a chunk so cold it wasn’t feasible to spread it on the bread. Not a huge deal. Just irritating. Greedy companion went for steak and chips and I went for pork chops, which comes on a bed of quite vinegary red cabbage. Now, it strikes me that if your steak comes with chips, then for the same price your pork chop should come with a side of carb (we’re not talking about an organic, rare-breed or even free range chop as far as I can tell), but apparently not. So I ordered some ‘triple cooked’ chips at £2.75. When my teeth stopped grinding at the cheek of that, we settled down to our meals. Greedy companion’s steak was a perfectly cooked medium rare. Some of her chips like mine though, despite being ‘triple cooked’ (arrghhjg) were so thick that they hadn’t cooked completely through and were slightly al -dente. They tasted great, but I ask you now, whats the point of triple cooking something for it still to come out a bit hard?! My chop was nicely cooked. It was very sagey, which is not a bad thing at all.

Nothing on the dessert menu took our fancy, and despite the snow coming down like.. bloody Alaska, we decided to head on out into the night.

Total bill for a bit of bread and olives, pint and a half of real ale, small bottle of (organic!) lager rump steak & chips, pork chop & chips and a cup of coffee: £40. Which, is not the end of the world in terms of food bills, but for what was an essentially average bar meal, seemed a bit steep. We didn;t even get tipsy .

I think the problem that Graze will have, is actually, places around there just do that sort of thing better, a smidge cheaper and better quality and have done so for years. Given the choice I’d take Bordeaux Quay, Goldbrick House, The Cafe Bar at River Station and even the Arnolfini for the same proposition. Still. next time I fancy lamb kidney on toast with a cheeky natural blonde for my lunch, I won’t dismiss it out of hand.

3/5 (1 whole point for the olives)

Graze Bar & Chop House, Queens Square, Bristol.

The Tastiest Cornbread

As comfort food goes, this is possibly the best, certainly best return on effort I’ve found in a long, long time.More akin to baking cakes than breadmaking as we understand it, I can usually knock one up in ten minutes or so, and I would usually make two of these loaves at a time just because they go so quickly in my house. It goes for an afternoon snack, straight out of the oven, it goes with ham & eggs for dinner, it goes at breakfast time and in packed lunches. I imagine it would be perfect with a bowl of soup too.

This is my own recipe, but I have taken inspiration from Momma Cherri’s Soul in a Bowl Cookbook, and Jamie’s America

  • 165g cornmeal (polenta)
  • 125ml full fat milk
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 30ml butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • half a large onion, thinly sliced
  • small bunch of spring onions, diced
  • 200g sweetcorn – fresh from the cob is ideal, but it is January – canned or frozen is fine.
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 80g cheddar or similar hard cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper (quite a lot)

Melt your butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the two onions and cook, stirring regularly until they are soft and starting to brown a little. Add your sweet ccorn and cook for a few minutes more. Take off the heat to allow to cool down for a little while.

Preheat your oven to gas 6. In a large bowl addd your eggs (beaten), cornmeal, flour and milk. Stir, until combined. Add your cheese, chilli, thyme and salt and pepper and then add the onions/corn. Put in your baking powder, give a final thorough stir and then pour into a greased and lined 2lb  loaf tin, or deep sandwich tin and put into the oven for 40 mins or so. The cornbread is cooked when you stick a skewer or thin knife in, and it comes out clean.