Asian-influenced chicken and coconut “paella”

This is Tyler Florence’s Asian version of a Spanish paella which is gorgeous. The chicken thighs are lightly crusted with crushed coriander seeds then sauteed and tucked into basmati rice that has been simmered in sweet coconut milk and ginger. Need I say any more?

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Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup coriander seeds
8 chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cups basmati rice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups coconut milk

Pea Salad
1 cup frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water
A small handful of fresh mint leaves
1 bunch watercress
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Mint leaves for garnish
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 F
Coarsely crack the coriander by either pulsing in a spice grinder, wrapping the seeds in a tea towel and crushing them with a rolling pin or grinding them in a pepper grinder on a coarse setting.
Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper and sprinkle all over with the cracked coriander.

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep ovenproof skillet. Lay the chicken thighs in the pan, skin side down and give them a good sear for 4 to 5 mins to develop a nice crust.
Turn and cook for 4 to 5 mins on the other side to brown the meat. Take the chicken out of the pan.

Put another 2 tbsp of olive oil in the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion, ginger and bay leaf, and cook, stirring for 4 to 5 mins, until the onion is soft but not colored.
Now you’ve got all this great flavor going on in the bottom of the pan; chicken drippings, onion, ginger and bay leaf. Add the rice and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a minute or two until the grains are well coated with oil. Stir in the lemon zest. Now add the broth and coconut milk and bring that to a simmer.
Tuck in the chicken thighs, put the whole thing in the oven, and bake, uncovered, until the rice is tender and bound by a creamy sauce and the chicken is entirely cooked through,about 30 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf.

When the chicken is done, put the peas, mint and watercress into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and give it a good toss. Taste for seasoning. To serve take a big spoon and scoop out some chicken and rice and garnish each plate with the pea salad

Cheesy Gnocchi with Ham and Peas

This is a great recipe for the family and easy to make. Taken from the Food Network show, it combines favorite flavors of children and adults alike. Served with a green salad, you have a lovely warming dinner.

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Serves 4

1 tbsp butter
1 good-sized onion, chopped
One 8 oz piece deli ham, diced
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth
One 17.5 oz package potato gnocchi
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss, Gruyere cheese or sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the broiler to high heat.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
Add the ham and thyme and continue to cook until the ham is lightly browned.
Add the chicken broth and 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer.
Add the gnocchi, stir well, cover and cook until the gnocchi is slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Uncover and stir in the peas, cream, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
Sprinkle the cheese over the top and broil until golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes.

Roasted cauliflower with truffled pea pesto and feta crema

I had this at “Etch” in Nashville recently and thought I had died and gone to heaven. It is a stunning appetizer with two fabulous dips and would be wonderful to serve for a dinner party as it’s so easy.

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Serve 4 (or 2 if you adore it)

1 head of cauliflower cut into bite sized florets
1 tbsp olive oil plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper
Pea shoots or micro greens for garnish
A few salted almonds or Marcona almonds dropped onto the pea pesto
A few green olives and thinly sliced scallions for garnish

Pea pesto
2 cups fresh blanched peas or 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp water
(Some people swear by adding 2 drops of liquid smoke, but it’s optional)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ tsp salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp truffle oil
For the pea pesto
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the peas with the butter and water until they are tender.
Add all the ingredients except the truffle oil to a blender, and mix slowly.
Gradually increase the speed until the mixture is creamy, adding truffle oil as you blend.
Add a few drops of water if the mixture is too thick.

Feta crema
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 oz Greek feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup cauliflower, shaved with a box grater to snow-like consistency
Salt and pepper
For the Feta Crema
Stir the ingredients together until smooth

For the cauliflower
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste
Spread out the cauliflower on a baking sheet into an even single layer.
Roast until the edges are browned and the florets are easily pierced with a knife, between 15 and 20 minutes
To Serve
Place the roasted cauliflower florets in the center of a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil.
On one side of the florets mound the pea pesto and on the other side, mound the feta crema.
Garnish with the pea shoots or other seasonal micro greens, scallions, olives and almonds.

Giada’s easy cheesy risotto cake

This is a very easy and tasty recipe and perfect for those summer get-togethers.

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Serves 6 to 8

Butter, for greasing the pan.
2 cups Marinara or tomato-basil sauce
1 cup Arborio rice

Bechamel Sauce
3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

To assemble
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil.

For the rice:
Bring the marinara sauce and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
For the bechamel sauce:
Melt the butter in a 1 quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and grated nutmeg.

For assembly:
Mix together the bechamel sauce, rice mixture, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and the prosciutto and peas in a medium bowl. Slowly mix in the eggs, salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into the prepared spring form pan and cover with foil. Place in a shallow roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Preheat the broiler. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese and the breadcrumbs. Broil just enough to melt the cheese and create a crispy crust, about 3 minutes/
Cool for 15 minutes.
Loosen the risotto from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the edge. Remove the sides of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

Sauteed scallops with Thai scented pea puree

This is a terrific recipe from Nigella Lawson which is simple to make and the Thai scented pea puree really adds a terrific zing to the dish. It cuts the sweetness of the peas and is really tangy alongside the sweet scallops.

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Serves: 2

1 lb frozen petits pois
1 tbsp green Thai curry paste
⅓ cup creme fraiche
kosher salt (to taste)
2 tsp peanut oil (or other flavourless oil)
2 tsp butter
6 large scallops (preferably diver caught) (or 10-12 small ones)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp chopped cilantro (or Thai basil)

Cook the peas in boiling, slightly salted water until tender, then drain and tip into a blender, adding 1 tablespoon curry paste and the crème fraîche. Season to taste with salt and perhaps add more curry paste, depending how strong it is.

Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan until foamy, then fry the scallops for about 2 minutes a side. If you are using big scallops, then it is sometimes easier to cut them in half across. When they are cooked, they will have just lost their raw look in the middle and be lusciously tender, while golden and almost caramelized on the outside.

Lift the scallops onto 2 warmed plates and then de-glaze the hot pan by squeezing in the lime juice. stir to mix well and pick up every scrap of flavour, then pour this over the scallops on each plate.

Dish up the pea purée alongside the scallops, and sprinkle with the chopped coriander or thai basil. Serve with another wedge of lime, if you feel like it.

Roasty,spicy,crackling cauliflower!

This is heady with spices and roasty flavor. We love cauliflower and I could almost devote a recipe book to this wonderful vegetable!

Serves 4

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets, about 6 cups
1 cup diced red onions
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp crushed red chile flakes
2 tsp salt
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tbsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400F

Place the cauliflower, onions, canola oil, curry powder, Garam masala, fennel seeds, red chile flakes, salt, garlic, ginger, lemon zest and pepper in a large bowl.
Toss the ingredients together and blend until each piece of cauliflower is coated with the oil and spices.
Place the mixture in a large shallow baking pan and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is crisp tender, turning the cauliflower every 10 minutes to cook evenly.
When done the cauliflower should be golden brown.
Place the cauliflower in a large serving bowl and mix in the peas and cilantro.

Bok Choy Brown Rice Salad with Orange Sesame Dressing

So tasty, tangy and nutty, you won’t want to stop eating this salad!!

For the salad

4 cups cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups coarsely shredded carrot
3 baby or 2 normal bok choy, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup thinly sliced trimmed scallions
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

For the dressing

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup canola oil

To make the salad, combine the brown rice, shredded bok choy, peas, cilantro, peanuts, scallions and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Toss gently to combine.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Whisk vigorously until well combined.
Taste and adjust the seasonings, accordingly. Add the dressing to the bowl with the salad, a bit at a time, tossing gently to coat.
Taste and add more dressing as necessary. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Szechwan Slaw (CleanCuisine)

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I intend to make this as a side on Christmas Eve alongside the crown roast of pork  This is delicious and tangy with the freshly grated ginger giving it a real fresh and clean taste. It’s also great with a piece of broiled salmon as a very low fat meal

Serves 8

The Szechwan Dressing

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red chile flakes
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
salt to taste

The salad

3 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 large red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1/4 lb snow peas, sliced thinly and diagonally
1/8 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

To prepare the dressing

In a bowl combine the vinegar, canola, sugar, ginger, red chile flakes, cilantro and salt. Set aside

To prepare the salad

Toast the almonds until golden brown and they start to smell great! You can use a toaster oven or regular oven. It should take about 7 minutes  at 350F. Set aside to cool or do in advance.

Combine the red and green cabbages, red pepper, scallions, carrot, snow peas and sesame seeds.

Fifteen minutes before serving time, toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing, as this allows the flavors to meld while keeping the crisp vegetables intact.

Cold pea and basil soup

I have just made a batch of this as it’s something you can do ahead of time. It can be tarted up with a dollop of sour cream and some finely shredded fresh basil at the end and the beauty is that you use good old frozen peas!

Serves 4

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 small or 1 large yellow onions, peeled and finely diced (about  1 cup)
4 cups frozen peas
1 quart Vegetable stock
12 large fresh basil leaves, and 3 extra for garnish
freshly ground black pepper and salt
sour cream, to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a small soup pot over medium heat, add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the peas and vegetable stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the whole basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
Put the soup aside and let it cool for about 1 hour, then whizz it in the blender until smooth.
Cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Serve garnishes with a spoonful of sour cream and the finely sliced basil.

Easy green pea houmous

I am currently adoring a Vegetarian recipe book my sister sent me from London. It’s hard to get here but if you can find it, it’s a gem. “Veggistan” A vegetable lover’s tour of the Middle East. by Sally Butcher

This is her recipe and absolutely delicious!

Serves 6 – 8

1lb 2oz of frozen peas
2 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 to 2 lemons
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 level tsp ground cumin (I use roasted cumin that I do myself as it’s more pungent)
2 -3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, washed
salt and ground pepper to taste
To decorate
extra virgin olive oil
a pinch cayenne

Bring the peas to the boil in  a pan of water and cook for around 5 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold running water. (This is to stop the cooking process and retain the bright green color)
Put them in a blender along with the tahini, lemon, oil, garlic, cumin and parsley.
Give it all a quick whizz – it will probably be far too stiff so add about 2 tbsp cold water to loosen it up.
Season to taste and serve in a bowl with the olive oil and cayenne drizzled/sprinkled on top. You can also dot a few peas on top, like in the photo