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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Carrot and Coriander Curry with King Prawns

A curry made with carrot and coriander soup base, onions, potatoes, garlic, cardamom, chilli, tomatoes and jumbo king prawns.

I have always liked carrot and coriander soup and thought that it would make an excellent base for a curry. I did a little experimenting and came up with this recipe – which exceeded my very high expectations. It has a wonderful earthy, warming flavour without being too spicy. I added potatoes and some King prawns to make this a really satisfying dish, both take on the flavours really well. The addition of chilli, garlic and cardamom adds a new depth of flavour to the dish, which is my new favourite curry!

I used the leftover Carrot and Coriander Soup in this recipe.

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Serves two people

Preparation and cooking time 45 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

300-400ml carrot and coriander soup – please use Carrot and Coriander Soup

200g raw jumbo king prawns

125g potatoes – peel, cut into small pieces

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 medium size white onions – peel, thinly slice

6 gloves garlic – peel, finely chop

2 large red chillies – remove stalk and seeds, finely chop

4 green cardamom pods

1 small carrot – peel, thinly slice

2 round tomatoes – cut into thin crescents (1/8ths)

3 tbsp. chopped coriander leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: Start by par boiling the potato pieces for 7-8 minutes in well salted water, then drain and set aside.

In a deep wide pan heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil over a medium hot heat. Add the sliced onions and fry for 5 minutes, stirring frequently (a little colour on some is good). Add the drained potatoes and stir well so they are all coated in the oil, continue to fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Next add the sliced carrot garlic, chilli, generous amount of ground black pepper and cardamom, stir well and continue to fry for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently – be gentle so you don’t break up the potatoes.

Add the carrot and coriander soup and stir through the fried ingredients. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. After this taste test and add salt if required, as there is salt in the soup you should need very little.

The other ingredients – the prawns, tomatoes and coriander are added at the last minute so they do not overcook. Add the prawns first and stir through the sauce, as soon as they start to turn pink add the tomatoes and coriander, stir gently through the sauce. Increase heat slightly and as soon as the sauce starts to bubble it is ready to serve. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

 

Scottish Mussels in roasted Tomato and Pepper sauce

Rope grown Scottish mussels, cooked in a sauce made from roasted tomato, red pepper, onion, garlic, chilli, fish stock, white wine and coriander.

One of my favourite ways to cook mussels, guaranteed to bring flavour to your diner table. The secret of the flavour comes from the roasted sauce, which brings a rich deeply satisfying flavour to the dish. Serve with some nice sour dough or crusty bread.

Many people are put off cooking mussels at home because they think it is either hard or too time consuming. In reality it is very easy, to prepare the mussels simply rinse them in water, then soak them in water for 10-15 minutes, discarding any that stay open. To clean them scrape any barnacles off the shells and remove the beards by pulling them gently then cut them off with kitchen scissors. Rinse them well under running water, then they are ready to cook – which takes a matter of minutes, and is easy to tell because they open when they are cooked.

Note: to cook this recipe you require a wide, deep pan with a tight fitting lid.

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Serves two people

Preparation 45 minutes, cooking time less than 10 minutes.

 

Ingredients and method

For the roasted tomato sauce:

2 small red onions – roast whole

1 medium white onion – roast whole

1 Romano pepper – remove stalk and seeds

2 red chillies – remove stalk and seeds

4 plum tomatoes

2 round tomatoes

6 cloves garlic

Method: Pre heat your oven to 220°c. Place the tomatoes, onions, chilli, garlic and pepper on the tray and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove the skins from the tomatoes, chilli, peppers, garlic and onion. Place all in a mini blender or food processor and blitz until a smooth sauce is made.

For the main dish

1 kg rope grown mussels – see opening notes for cleaning instructions

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 glass dry white wine

500ml fish stock

1 tsp brown sugar

Salt and pepper – to taste

3 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander

Method: Heat 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil in the pan over a medium heat. Add the roasted sauce along with the white wine, fish stock, sugar, black pepper and a little salt – take care not to add too much as there is salt in the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add the chopped coriander, stir well, then add the cleaned mussels. Increase the heat until sauce starts to bubble then place the lid on the pan, reduce heat slightly and leave to cook for 3 minutes. Carefully remove lid and look at the mussels, they are ready when they open (see picture for example) if necessary replace lid and cook for further minute. It is important not to over cook the mussels as they will turn rubbery.

Ladle into pre warmed bowls and serve straight away with some nice sourdough or crusty bread to soak up the wonderous sauce.

 

 

 

 

Scottish Parsnip Soup

A very easy recipe for fantastic tasting Scottish parsnip soup.

The inspiration for this soup comes from my Grandmother or Granny as we call them in Scotland. She made truly amazing soups and my aim is always to try to match hers. She is sadly no longer with us but I do think she would have liked this.

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Ingredients

500g parsnips – peel and thinly slice

100g carrots – peel and slice

1 medium sized leek – wash and slice

2 sticks celery – slice

75g garden peas

4 medium sized white onions – peel and slice

2 bay leaves

1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock

1.5 tbsp. rapeseed oil

Sea salt – for grinding

Black pepper – for grinding

Method: Add the rapeseed oil to a deep soup or stock pot and warm over a medium heat. Add the leeks, bay and onions and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrot, celery, peas and parsnips, stir well and fry for 5-7 minutes until the mixture softens.

Add the stock, stir well, increase heat to bring to the boil for 2 minutes then reduce to a simmer, cover and let it bubble away for 35-40 minutes.

Carefully remove the lid (watch for steam), fish out the bay leaves, then use a stick blender to blitz soup until smooth. Season with a little salt and black pepper to taste and stir well. Serve with rolls or crusty bread and enjoy!

The soup can be cooled then stored in a fridge overnight for the next day, when it tastes even better.

Mussels in Laksa Broth

Mussels cooked in my Laksa broth, with tofu, spring onions, chilli and coriander.

This recipe is a great way of using the Laksa paste in my Laksa recipe. Mussels work very well with their slightly sweet taste complimenting the Laksa broth. Serve either as a starter or a main course along with some noodles.

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Serves two

Cooking time 10 minutes

Ingredients and method

Half of Laksa paste – see my Laksa recipe if making this first

2 Kg live rope grown Mussels – see below for preparation

Handful of pre fried Tofu pieces

3 large red chillies – cut into thin strips

3 spring onions – cut on diagonal

Handful of fresh coriander leaf – roughly chop

500ml coconut milk

500ml fish stock

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. dark soy sauce

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1.5 tbsp. vegetable oil

To prepare mussels: Rinse thoroughly under running water, then soak mussels in a large bowl of water for 10 minutes. Discard water, rinse again then discard any mussels that are already open. Remove beards (most will pull off, but some may require scissors)  and scrape off any barnacles. Set aside ready to cook.

To cook: Start by heating 1.5 tbsp. vegetable oil in a deep soup/stock pot (you need one with a lid) over a medium high heat. Add the curry paste and fry (stirring frequently) for 6-7 minutes until the paste is very aromatic and starts to split from the oil. Make sure you do not burn the paste, add a little of the fish stock if it catches on the pan. Next add the fish stock and the coconut milk, stir until combined then bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the tofu pieces, 1 tbsp. fish sauce, 1 tbsp. soy sauce and 1 tbsp. brown sugar then stir well until combined. Add the cleaned mussels then increase heat to bring back to a simmer, place the lid on the pan,  and let the mussels cook for 3 minutes. Next add the sliced chilli, spring onions and coriander, replace lid and simmer for a further minute then serve.

Please browse my many other recipes including my original Laksa

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