Stir Fried Chicken and Cashew Nuts

Skinless an boneless chicken thigh meat, marinated in a delicious sauce then stir fried with mixed vegetables and cashew nuts.

A really quick and easy recipe which rivals your local Chinese take-away. I use thigh meat as it works far better in stir fry dishes than breast meat.  The wonderful flavours in this dish come from the marinade and are locked in by cooking quickly over a very high heat. This is so easy that really anyone should be able to make this dish.

Serve with your choice of boiled rice, fried rice or egg noodles.

 

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Serves two

Cooking time – less than 10 minutes

Ingredients

6-8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs – cut in half

25g cashew nuts – soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking

2 tbsp. wok oil

150g sliced water chestnuts

1 carrot – peel, thinly slice into discs

1 stick celery – dice

1 red pepper – dice

1 medium size white onion –  slice or cut into small chunks

For the marinade:

3 dessert spoons soy sauce

3 dessert spoons vinegar

3 dessert spoons honey

3 dessert spoons oyster sauce

1 dessert spoon sesame oil

1/2 tsp five spice

Thumb sized piece of peeled root ginger – cut into fine matchsticks

1 red chilli – deseed and finely slice

5 cloves garlic – peel, crush, finely chop

Method: Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl until combined, add the chicken, cover and marinade at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. You can marinade for longer in a fridge, just remember to take it out 30 minutes before cooking to bring back to room temperature for even cooking.

Cooking instructions

Heat 2tbsp of wok oil in a wok or large frying pan until smoking hot. Use tongs to remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the hot pan, take care as it will spit as the chicken meets the oil. Stir fry the chicken on a high heat for 3-4 minutes until the chicken browns and starts to caramelise.

Change your stirring spoon for hygiene then add the cashew nuts (discard the soaking water), carrots, water chestnuts, celery, onion and red pepper. Stir fry for  2 minutes on your cookers highest heat setting to cook the vegetables but retain some crunch.

Pour in the marinade and stir through the dish, then use the stirring spoon t push the chicken and vegetables to the sides of the pan so the marinade heats through. Let the marinade bubble away and reduce slightly for 1 minute.

Give the dish a good stir, remove from the heat and serve immediately, enjoy!

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Tomato Conchiglie with creamy béchamel and crispy cheese topping

Pasta shells cooked in a delicious tomato sauce, topped with béchamel sauce and cheddar cheese then finished under a hot grill.

 

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Serves two people

Preparation and cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients and method

200g dried Conchiglie – cooked to al dente as per packet instructions

150g mature cheddar cheese – grated 

75g butter

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 heaped dessert spoon plain flour

Approx. 500ml semi skimmed milk

Dried oregano – 1 tsp for tomato sauce, 1/3 tsp for béchamel 

1 tsp dried parsley

4 round tomatoes

4 cloves garlic

1 stick celery

1 red bell pepper

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp tomato puree

Black pepper for grinding

Sea salt – to taste

You need a food processor or mini chopper for the tomato sauce

 

To make the tomato sauce

In a large flat non stick frying pan dry fry over a medium heat, 4 tomatoes, 4 cloves garlic, 1 stick celery and 1 red bell pepper, turning occasionally until charred.

Remove from the pan and allow to cool on a chopping board. Then remove the garlic skins and the stalks/seeds from the bell pepper.

Transfer into a mini chopper along with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp tomato puree, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Blitz until a smooth sauce is formed, set aside ready to cook.

To make the béchamel sauce

Melt approx. 75g butter in a sauce pan then add 1 heaped dessert spoon of flour and stir into a paste.

Add a small volume of milk, 1/3 tsp dried oregano, 1 bay leaf, 4-5 turns of a pepper grinder and stir well until a smooth sauce is formed.

Increase heat slightly and add approx. 250ml of milk, stirring well to keep a smooth sauce (Tip: you can use a whisk or silicone spatula to help keep sauce smooth).

Keep stirring as the milk heats and the sauce thickens, once it becomes thick add another 150ml milk and keep stirring as sauce heats again. Bring the sauce to the boil, if the sauce is too thick add a little more milk, stir well and bring back to the boil then fish out the bay leaf and remove the pan from the heat – set aside ready to add to the dish.

With a béchamel you want to keep adding milk whilst heating the sauce until it no longer thickens as it reaches boiling point. I have listed the milk as 500ml, however you may need slightly less or more – cooking a béchamel is one of those things that it is difficult to list an exact quantity for.

 

Cooking the dish

Start by cooking the pasta to al dente as per packet instructions, then drain and set aside ready to add to the pan.

In a deep wide frying pan add the blended tomato sauce and gently heat through until it bubbles and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce, stir well and simmer the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes.

Pre heat your grill on a medium to hot setting (3/4 setting).

Give the pasta and tomato sauce another good stir then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the pasta, making sure the béchamel is distributed over the whole dish. Top with the grated mature cheddar.

Place under the hot grill and cook until the cheese melts and starts to colour, this should take 6-8 minutes depending on your grill. Once the cheese melts and colours like a pizza topping the dish is ready, remove from the grill and serve.

We had this dish with a leafy green side salad and some green beans, although it works just fine by itself – I hope you enjoy.

 

 

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Sweet Potato Fish Cakes

Sweet potato fish cakes with a delicious garlic and chilli sauce.

A very easy to make recipe for restaurant standard fish cakes. Using tinned salmon and crab along with a few kitchen essentials, this recipe is a real winner. The sauce made from butter, garlic, chilli, lemon, white wine, fish stock, parsley, tarragon and diced tomato completes the dish.

The two most important things are to make sure the sweet potato mash is as dry as possible and also to avoid the temptation to turn them too early in the pan – otherwise they will not hold together as you cook. Please don’t mistake the colouration for burning, it’s this crust that holds the cakes together.

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This recipe makes 6-8 fishcakes

Ingredients and method

For the Fish Cakes:

750g Sweet potatoes – peel and thinly slice

250g shredded crab meat – 2 small tins drained of brine

200-225g red salmon – 1 small tin drained of brine

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

25-50g breadcrumbs – see notes below

2- 4 tbsp. oil  to pan fry – I used Scottish rapeseed oil.

You require a food processor for this recipe

 

For the Sauce:

2 round tomatoes – diced

1/3 glass of dry white wine

3 cloves garlic – crush or finely chop

1 red chilli – deseed and finely chop

200ml fish stock

1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

1/2 tsp dried parsley

10-15g butter

Freshly ground black pepper – to taste

 

Method: Start by par boiling the sliced sweet potatoes – put them in a pan of cold water, heat through to the boil then simmer for 7-8 minutes. Drain them then put them back in the dry pan over a low heat for a few minutes (shaking the pan occasionally), then turn off hob and let the residual heat dry the potatoes. If they still seem wet leave them on the heat for a few more minutes. It is vital to dry the potatoes out as much as possible.

Once dried and cooled transfer the potatoes into a food processor. Add 25g breadcrumbs, 1/2 tsp black pepper, the crab and salmon and blitz until combined into a smooth paste. Check the consistency of the paste – you want it to be thick enough that patties can be formed in your hands without them immediately falling apart. If when you test the mixture it seems too wet add the rest of the breadcrumbs as they will absorb the excess moisture.

Start forming the fish cakes – you want them to be about 3cm thick and slightly wider than a standard coffee mug. Don’t make them much bigger or thicker than this as they may not hold together when cooked if they are too big or cook in the middle if they are too thick. See the picture at the top for an example of size. AS you form each one set aside on a plate ready to pan fry.

Before pan frying the fish cakes start to make the sauce as you want the sauce to reduce and intensify in flavour. Start by melting the butter in a small frying pan (a wide pan will reduce far quicker than a saucepan) then add the garlic and chilli then fry for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. Next add the white wine and cook it off for a few minutes, then add the fish stock along with the dried herbs. Stir well and leave sauce simmering on a medium low heat for 10-15 minutes or until it has reduced by half. Turn off the heat as the sauce will be reheated when the fish cakes are ready – the tomatoes, pepper and lemon juice are added as the sauce

To pan fry the fish cakes – use a wide plat non stick frying pan, take care not to overload the pan as you need enough room to flip the fish cakes, cook in batches of max 4 if using a 30cm frying pan like me. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in the frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the fish cakes one at a time, giving them a final squeeze into shape just as you add them into the pan. They will need approx. 4 minutes on first side – the clue that they are ready is you should be able to see the crust forming on the edges and the cakes should easily slide on the pan. It is vital not to turn them too early as the cakes will either fall apart or loose shape. Once turned they should cook slightly quicker on the other side – approx. 3 minutes . Again the fish cakes will slide easily on the pan when the crust is formed and they are ready. Transfer to the plate ready to serve, or place on a baking tray and keep in a warm oven if you are making two batches.

To finish the sauce – heat the sauce through over a medium heat, once hot add 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and the diced tomatoes, stir through the sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. You want to warm the tomatoes through but not cook them, they bring a freshness and balance to the rich slightly acidic sauce. Add a little freshly ground black pepper to taste, then get ready to serve.

Place the cooked fish cakes on a serving plate and spoon some of the sauce over the fish cakes and onto the plate as shown in the pictures. Enjoy!

 

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Oven Roasted Marinated Prawns with Makhani Sauce

Prawns marinated then roasted in a very hot oven, served with a delicious Makhani style curry sauce. Delicious!

King Prawns are butterflied then marinated in yogurt, garlic, cumin seeds, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, salt and lemon juice. They are put on skewers then roasted  in a very hot oven to try to replicate the traditional clay ovens used in Indian cuisine – which I’m guessing you don’t have either. The result is juicy prawns with a really delicious coating.

The sauce is made from tomatoes, onion, chilli, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, almonds, desiccated coconut, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, tomato pure, sugar, salt, and a little butter at the end to give it that classic gleam.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but really its quite easy. You can serve the dish with choice of rice or Indian bread, I opted for a good shop bought roti.

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Serves two

Preparation and cooking 35-40 minutes (plus 1hr marinating time)

 

Ingredients and Method

For the marinated Prawns

225-250g raw king prawns – devein and butterfly 

150-175g Greek yogurt

4 cloves garlic – thinly slice

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp hot chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

Juice of half a lemon

4 long wooden skewers – soak in water before use

Method: Mix all the marinade ingredients (minus prawns) in a large mixing bowl until the spices and yogurt combine. Devein and butterfly the prawns and add them to the marinade. Mix gently until all the prawns are fully coated, then cover and place in a fridge for at least 1hr, or preferably overnight.

After this remove from the fridge and leave for 20 minutes to get to room temperature. Skewer the prawns, skewering at both ends so the prawns are skewered twice (head and tail). Have the prawns close together but not squashed – see picture below.

See the method for the sauce for cooking instructions, as these cook quickly and should be done when the sauce is ready.

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For the Makhani Sauce

3 medium size white onions – dice

2 large green chillies – remove stalk, slice

2 tsp mustard seeds

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

6 large round tomatoes – quarter

3 tbsp. desiccated coconut

2 tbsp. sliced almonds

1 bay leaf

6 cloves

6 cardamom pods

6 cloves garlic – crush or roughly chop

Thumb sized piece of root ginger – roughly chop 

1 tsp salt

3-4 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp tomato pure

2 mugs of water

1/4 tsp ground fenugreek

25-35g butter – cut into cubes

1/2 tsp garam masala

2-3 tbsp. chopped coriander as garnish

You need a blender and deep non stick pan with a lid

Method: Start by heating the oil in the pan, once hot add the onions and stir fry for 6-8 minutes until the onions colour. Next add the chillies, bay, cloves and cardamom and continue to fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, tomato pure, almonds and desiccated coconut and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 mugs of water and stir well, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and leave to bubble away for 20-25 minutes.

After this carefully remove the lid, then fish out the bay, cardamom and cloves. Add 1 tsp salt and 3-4 tsp of brown sugar, stir well until combined with the sauce.

Leave sauce to cool (to prevent burns) and use the stick blender to form a smooth sauce. As the sauce cools pre heat your oven to its maximum setting.

Place the sauce back on a medium heat, stir and gently heat the sauce through. Add the garam masala and fenugreek – use your fingers and sprinkle them in otherwise they will form clumps that will be difficult to dissolve. Add the butter and stir it into the sauce as it melts.

Once your oven is preheated to its hottest setting, lay the skewered prawns on a baking tray – use a swiss roll style one as water will come out the marinade as it cooks. Add the prawns to the preheated oven and as they go in reduce heat to 220°C and cook them for 5 minutes. Remove tray from oven, drain off the liquid and return to oven for a further minute. Remove from oven and get ready to serve.

Before serving heat the sauce through until it bubbles. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle some coriander on top. Place on a serving plate and add the skewers alongside, as pictured below.

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Fantastic Tomato and Avocado Salsa

A great recipe for a fantastic, delicious and fresh salsa.

Works well as a side with any Mexican or Tex-Mex dish, or as a snack with some tortilla chips. For a list of my Mexican recipes please check out my Blog contents

The important thing with this dish is to use fresh, ripe, good quality ingredients to get the very best flavour. If you like it spicy, simply add some sliced or diced chilli.

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Serves 2-4 as a side dish

Ingredients and Method

4 large round ripe tomatoes – diced

1 medium size red onion – diced

1 large ripe avocado – diced

Juice of 1 and half limes

Generous handful of fresh coriander leaf and stalk – roughly chop

Generous amount of fresh ground black pepper

Sea salt – to taste, approx. 1/4 tsp

Sprinkle of brown sugar – to bring out flavours, approx.. 1/4 tsp

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

Method: simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, adjust salt and sugar to taste, cover and leave at room temperature for at least 1hr for flavours to develop. Mix well again before serving.

Can be stored in an airtight refrigerated container for 1-2 days if you have any leftover.

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Huevos Nachos

“Full Breakfast” nachos – tortilla chips with mixed beans in a spiced tomato sauce, sliced grilled chipolata sausage, fried eggs, chipotle mayonnaise, grated cheddar and a fresh delicious tomato and avocado salsa.

I started out planning to make some Huevos Rancheros but my imagination took over and I decided to experiment with this dish – I’m so glad I did. Essentially this is nachos crossed with a cooked breakfast with a Mexican twist, it may not be an authentic Mexican dish but it sure is tasty.

All the components in the dish work very well together – the crunch from the tortilla chips, the rich Smokey flavour from the beans, the creaminess of the chipotle mayo, the richness of the fried eggs, the flavour of the grilled sausage, the saltiness of the cheese and the freshness of the salsa. I hope I’m making you hungry.

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Serves Two

Preparation and cooking time 35 -40 minutes

 

Ingredients and Method

This dish involves making all of the elements and adding them together at the last minute

The spiced mixed beans

4-5 round tomatoes

1 red chilli

2 guajillo chillies

5 cloves garlic – leave skin on to dry fry

2 white onions – leave skin on to dry fry

1 yellow bell pepper

500ml chicken stock

Dash Worchester sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp smoked paprika

2tsp chipotle paste

350g mixed beans – rinse well

Salt to taste

Method: In a wide deep non stick frying pan, dry fry the tomatoes, chillies, garlic, onion and yellow pepper until they are coloured on all sides. All of these should be left in their skin. The garlic will cook quicker than the other ingredients, remove from the pan when the cloves soften. Once charred let all the ingredients cool and remove the garlic skins, onion skins and the stalks from the chillies and peppers.

Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, onions, chillies and pepper into a small blender/mini chopper and blitz until a smooth sauce is formed. Add a dash of Worchester sauce, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2tsp chipotle paste and 2tsp sugar. Blitz again until combined with the sauce.

Add the sauce to a wide deep sauce pan and add the chicken stock, stir well and bring to the boil and add the rinsed beans. Bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Ignore the instruction on the tin that they will cook in 10 minutes – its just totally wrong!

Set aside ready to add to the dish

For the salsa

3 round tomatoes -diced

1 ripe avocado – diced

1 red onion – diced

1 red chilli – seeds/stalk removed and finely diced

Juice of 1 and half limes

small handful of coriander leaf – roughly chopped

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method: gently mix all the ingredients  in a large glass mixing bowl until the sugar and salt and combined with the salsa, cover and set aside at room temperature for 20-25 minutes. Mix gently again before serving.

To complete the dish

2 portions of lightly salted corn tortilla chips – 50-75g each

4 eggs – fried at last minute, sunny side up

4-6 large chipolata sausages – oven roast at 180°c for 20-25 minutes

Chipotle mayonnaise – combined 5 tsps. mayo and 1 tsp chipotle paste

1 small red onion – diced, for garnish

3-4 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf – for garnish

25-30g grated medium cheddar cheese

lime wedge – as garnish

Plating the dish

Use wide deep bowls to plate the dish, start by adding the beans to the bottom of the dish, saving a little of the sauce as a garnish.

Layer the tortilla chips on top, then add the sausage and the salsa. Place the fried eggs on top of the nachos then complete the dish by adding the cheese, chipotle mayo, coriander and a little of the tomato sauce.

Add a lime wedge as a final garnish then serve and enjoy!

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