Thursday, 19 November 2015

Parmesan Polenta Chicken Mini Fillets

This recipe was developed as a response to the thought 'what can we eat tonight?'  The oven was going to be in use to bake some shortbread for J and we were out of the 'usual' items we'd use to coat chicken (ready salted crisps, crushed)   With a small remnant of parmesan and a bagful of polenta to hand, a plan (recipe) presented itself.  It's really simple and turned out well too.

Doing a fridge audit and seeing we had a pack of chicken mini fillets and needing something that could be baked in the oven, we decided coating the chicken would be a good idea.  

We grated some parmesan (about 40g) and added it to a handful (80g) polenta and seasoned with freshly ground black pepper.  Placing the coating in a bowl, an egg was beaten in another bowl and these were then used, in turn, to coat the chicken mini fillets.

Dipping the chicken in the beaten egg

it was then added to the parmesan/polenta mix and coated.

Once coated, the chicken was placed on a non-stick baking sheet before being baked in a 170ÂșC oven for 20-25 minutes until completely cooked through - adjust cooking time depending on the thickness of the pieces used.

When cooked, the parmesan/polenta coating was starting to brown.  The chicken was removed from the oven and served with chilli potatoes, stir fried kale and sweetcorn...

This coating and technique could also be used with chicken pieces to make nuggets or, if you flattened some larger chicken pieces, it would also be a good way to make escalopes.  Adding a dash of chilli powder to the parmesan/polenta will result in a spicier coating too.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Alvin's Savoury Quick Bread

Having seen quick bread being made on this year's Great British Bake Off, and liking the sound of the prosciutto, manchego and balsamic onion loaf Alvin made, we decided to give it a go.  Requiring only plain flour we hoped it would be ok to substitute Dove's Farm Plain Flour in Alvin's recipe.  It was a surprisingly "decent attempt"... here's what we did with the ingredients (we omitted the basil) which were -

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1½ tbsp soft brown sugar
450g  Dove's Farm Gluten Free plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
30g cold unsalted butter, diced
80g prosciutto, torn into strips
200g Manchego cheese, diced
300ml buttermilk + water
1 tbsp butter, melted (for topping)

We warmed the oil in a small frying pan and, once hot, added the red onions. The heat was then reduced and the pan was covered with a lid.  After about 15 minutes we added the balsamic vinegar and soft brown sugar, this was then cooked, without the lid, for 5 more minutes to caramelise lightly.  It was then removed from the heat and left to cool.

At this point, we set the fan oven to 180C and lined the baking tray with baking parchment.

Having sifted the flour, bicarb and salt into a bowl, we rubbed in the butter by hand till a
fine breadcrumb consistency was reached.

Putting to one side a tablespoon of the onions, a small amount of the chopped cheese and some of prosciutto - this would be used for the loaf's topping.

We added the remaining onions, ham and cheese to the flour mixture and made sure it was well combined

Adding a small amount (about 25ml) water to the pot of buttermilk, we carefully mixed it in to loosen the buttermilk slightly.

Having made a well in the flour mixture we added about two thirds of the thinned buttermilk. Using a lightly floured hand, it was all mixed until it began to bind together... we did have to add more buttermilk and, probably, should have added more to get a wetter dough.

Next we turned the dough out onto a lightly floured silicone sheet and shaped it into an oval.  It was  about 4cm thick.  Having moved the loaf to the baking sheet, we dusted it with a little flour and the top was scored, diagonally, with a knife.

Finally, the remaining caramelised onions, ham and cheese were
placed on top.

The loaf was baked for 35 minutes when we covered the top with foil to stop it burning.  It was cooked for a further 10 minutes when the loaf was removed and transferred to a cooling rack. 

We brushed the top of the loaf with melted butter and allowed it to cool fully before being sliced thickly.  It made a lovely addition to lunch... and was a delicious breakfast too!

Wrapping the loaf in foil, it kepy well in the fridge for a couple of days. 

We'll definitely make this again, although will likely make a half size batch loaf and will also make sure we add enough buttermilk to get a slightly wetter dough which should allow easier working and shaping.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Pineapple upside down cake

Sous Chef J has been wanting to try making a Pineapple Upside Down Cake for ages.  Last week I bought a couple of fresh pineapples (one medium and the other HUGE sized).  So, when they had ripened and we were looking for inspiration on a chilly afternoon, he suggested the cake.  We searched for a suitable recipe to follow and came up with this slightly tweaked amalgam recipe -

For the topping -
50g softened butter
50g soft brown sugar
1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced (we reserved the juice from this undertaking for later use) - if you don't have fresh, then tinned pineapple rings in juice will be fine.
For the cake -
100g softened butter
100g golden caster sugar
100g self-raising flour (we used Dove's Farm gluten free SR Flour)
1 tsp baking powder (we used Dr Oetker gluten free)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
We set the oven to 160C fan and prepared the topping.  To do this, we beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. The topping mix was then spread over the base and a quarter of the way up the sides of a 21cm round spring-form cake tin. 

The pineapple was prepared using an Oxo Good Grips pineapple
device... it was a two person job but we were pleased it worked well.  Next, Sous Chef J arranged 4 pineapple rings on top of the butter/sugar mix. 

Placing the butter and sugar in a bowl, we used an electric hand mixer to cream them together.  The eggs were add, one at a time, before including the flour and baking powder.  The mix came together nicely and looked creamy and light in colour.  We then mixed through about 2 Tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice and made sure it was fully combined to a soft consistency. 

The cake mix was put into the tin on top of the pineapple and smoothed. 
We baked the cake, having placed the tin on a baking sheet (as the springform tin leaked - use a tin without a loose bottom if you have one!  We learnt from this for subsequent bakes) for 35 mins. 
Having left the cake to cool for 10 minutes, it was turned out onto a platter.

Sous Chef J has developed a liking for helping with "cook's reward" activities and is keen to assist with "checking the mix tastes OK".

We have also repeated this recipe making a square traybake cake (pics show both baking sessions) and Sous Chef J's "Singular Pineapple Upside Down Tarts" ....they were fab and are the header pic.