Chicken Kiev meatballs

These chicken meatballs are a hybrid between Chicken Kiev and Chicken nuggets. They are in fact perfect served with BBQ sauce (click here for my homemade recipe). The garlic and parsley butter inside keeps it tasty and moist too.

650g chicken breasts
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/2-1 tsp black pepper
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Garlic and parsley butter
100g butter
2 garlic cloves, squeezed
handful of parsley, finely chopped
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Coating for the meatballs
1 dl plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 eggs
4 dl breadcrumbs

1. Prepare the butter first. It might be a good idea to prepare it in advance, because first you’ll need it to get soft, and once you’ve mixed all the ingredients together you’ll need to leave it in the fridge to get hard again. Once you’ve mixed all ingredients together, roll in in a log inside cling film, and put in the fridge to harden. Once hardened, cut into discs, and quarter the discs.

2. Place all the chicken meatball ingredients in a food processor, and blend to a fairly smooth mixture. Take a handful, press a whole in the middle, and place a piece of the butter in the middle. Bring back to a ball, covering the butter all around.

3. Prepare the coating ingredients. On one plate / bowl, place plain flour with the spices and mix. On another the egg and on one more the breadcrumbs. With the breadcrumbs, first place about half the amount on the plate / bowl, and add more as needed. First, place each meatball in the flour mix, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.

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4. Once the balls are ready, heat some vegetable oil in a pan. Fry for about 15-20 minutes in medium-high heat, turning around, until golden brown all around.

Chicken stir-fry

When you’re on holiday, eating out every day, you start feeling like you’re ready for that home cooked food again. And you know that coming back after being away for a couple of weeks, work will be pretty busy. This stir-fry dish is great, because I always make a really big portion that will last you for several day, whether you want to take it as lunch to work, or have it waiting at home for dinner after getting home late. This is one of my husband’s all time favourite foods that I cook, so it’s a winner all around. Packed with vegetables and other healthy ingredients, it’s also great at boosting your immune system.

2 large chicken breasts

1 carrot

1 green pepper

5 medium chestnut mushrooms

1 brown onion

1 courgette / zucchini

300g bean sprouts

100g green beans

150g mangetout peas

100g baby corn

3 small green chillies

a thumb size piece of ginger

100g cashew nuts

4-5 garlic cloves

150g dry noodles (I use vermicelli)

50ml groundnut oil

50ml toasted sesame seed oil

50ml dark soy sauce

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

I tend to chop all ingredients beforehand, because the actual cooking phase will be quite quick, and you won’t have time to chop the next ingredients. I usually have two containers; on box number 1 I put all the ingredients that require slightly longer cooking time, and box 2 the ingredients that will be added a little bit later.

1. On box no1, peel and slice the carrot in match-like sticks. Chop the green beans in about inch size pieces. Rinse and drain well the mangetout, and add to the box. Finely chop the chillies, and peel and finely chop ginger, and also add the cashew nuts to the box no1.

2. For the box no2, deseed and slice the pepper. Slice your onion and mushrooms, and cut the courgette into strips like the carrots. Cut the baby corn into pieces, and finely chop the garlic.

3. Cut the chicken breasts into thin strips. Heat the groundnut oil in a large wok, and add the chicken. Stir around for about 30 seconds – 1 minute, then add the ingredients from the box no1. Fry, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the ingredients from the box no2 and stir. You’ll want to fry everything for about 5 minutes again. While doing this, boil some water, and pour over the noodles. You only want to soak the noodles (if using vermicelli) for 3 minutes. Do check the packaging for how long you need to soak the type of noodles you’re using. Drain the noodles well.

5. Add the bean sprouts to the wok, stir in for couple of minutes, then add the noodles. Add all the remaining liquid ingredients over the noodles, this will help you separate and stir the noodles into the rest of the dish more easily.

Chinese chicken noodle soup

I love this basic Chinese soup. I make different variations of it, sometimes with chicken, sometimes with king prawns. It’s also easy to add / leave ingredients out, I sometimes add thinly sliced red peppers, as well as sesame seeds on top for visual effect. Also, I don’t always use the egg. The only thing however that is a must to me, is to have my homemade chicken stock in the freezer. I’ve never made this soup with shop bought stock, and I’m not interested in trying it either. This doesn’t mean you can’t try it of course, I just don’t know how that kind of stock would affect the end taste. Sometimes I use chicken cut in pieces, today I wanted to use shredded chicken.

serves 2
1 egg
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 spring onion
2 chestnut mushrooms
half a thumb size piece of fresh root ginger
1 small green chilli
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp light soy sauce
800-900ml chicken stock Homemade chicken stock
vermicelli rice noodles
1 chicken breast

1. Poach the chicken breast in the simmering stock for 10-15 minutes.

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2. Finely chop garlic, ginger and chilli.  Slice the mushrooms and spring onion. Remove the chicken breast from the stock, and cool. Add garlic, ginger,chilli, mushrooms and spring onions to the liquid, and simmer for few minutes.

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3. If using the egg, beat it together with the sesame oil. Add all other remaining ingredients to the stock apart from the egg and chicken. Cook for few minutes, and add the vermicelli noodle. The noodle I use is a packet of 5 ‘blocks’, total weight of 225g. All that is needed is one of the blocks.

4. Once the chicken has cooled, shred it by hand. It will very easily break into strands when you start pulling it apart. One breast gives you surprisingly much. Once shredded, add to the stock.

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5. Pour the egg to the stock in a fine stream. Stock will become cloudy at first, but once the egg is cooked, stock will be clearer again. Pull egg into strands by a fork or chopsticks.

Easy chicken and rice

This easy and cheap chicken and rice dish is perfect for the days when you have a lot to get on with around the house and don’t want to spend a long time preparing and cooking food. This is all cooked in the same oven casserole dish, and all the ingredients are put in together at the same time. Thee cooking juices from the chicken, together with the spices, make the rice really tasty, with hardly any effort.

serves 4
4 chicken legs
2 dl uncooked rice grains
1 dl frozen peas
1 dl frozen sweetcorn
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1/2 pepper
1/2 leek, cut into rings
4 dl water
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper
fenugreek
cayenne pepper

1. Spread the uncooked rice at the bottom of your oven casserole dish. Add the peas and sweetcorn, and the prepared carrot and leek.

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2. Place the chicken legs on top, and generously sprinkle the spices over the casserole dish. Add the water, and cover with foil.

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3. Heat the oven to 200°C / 390°F. I like my chicken to have crispy skin, so I bake it first, then finish it off with a grill setting. Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, and turn the grill to high setting. Remove the foil, and grill for 15 minutes.

Yakitori chicken skewers

The good thing about being open to experimenting with all kinds of cooking and holding a pretty varied basic stock of ingredients is that your options are limitless, with little prior planning required. I often give my husband options he can choose from, from the basic ingredients (ie chicken). After choosing the main ingredient, he might sometimes say he’d like it a certain way. So today’s chicken became Japanese style food, which was different to what I had originally though for the particular meat, however  I’m now pleased I went for this option, as I’ve not cooked this in a while. I think people might be put off cooking foods from different cultures because it seems to be the unknown. Some might be concerned that there are difficult cooking techniques involved, as well as strange ingredients. I would say that often this doesn’t need to be the case. For example, with this dish, making of the yakitori sauce is very easy, with only a few ingredients involved.

500g chicken breast
6 chestnut mushrooms, cut in quarters (or if using small button mushrooms, 24)
1 red or green pepper
1 onion
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Yakitori sauce
150ml soy sauce (I use half and half of light and dark)
90g sugar
1 1/2 tbsp sake (or replace by dry white wine)
1 tbsp plain flour

1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for half an hour.

2. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a pan. Bring to boil. Stir continuously, keeping an eye on it. Lower the temperature, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring. This will reduce the sauce by about a third, and make it thicker and syrupy. Break any lumps of flour during cooking.

3. Cut the chicken and vegetables into chunks, and thread on the skewers. Pre-heat the grill. Brush the skewers generously with the yakitori sauce (also the underside), and grill for 5 minutes. Brush all over with the sauce again, and grill for another 5 minutes.

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4. Strain the liquid (the sauce and some cooking juices) through a sieve back to the pan, bring to boil, and serve as a dipping sauce.

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Perfect roast chicken

This recipe isn’t for those looking for the quickest way to roast a whole chicken, but it truly is the one that gives you that extra special, juiciest one. Years ago, when I was practicing the cooking of roast chicken, I must’ve gone through so many different instructions. At the time I came across this recipe, I was a big fan of Heston Blumenthal, so I had to try his recipe. And boy, is this still the best, most perfect roast chicken I’ve ever had! It may seems like it requires a lot of effort and time, and yes, you may need to be organised with your time management, but after the short prep for the steps at the beginning you have a lot of free time. I don’t always do the brining the day before, but if you want it very special I would recommend you try. I’ve served mine with roast potatoes click here for my recipe, Vichy carrots, Yorkshire pudding click here for my recipe, minted pea puree and gravy made with the cooking juices of the chicken.

6% brine
5 litres water
300g table salt

Chicken
1.5- 2kg whole chicken
1 lemon
bunch of thyme
125g butter, plus extra for rubbing onto the skin
30ml dry white wine (I use Sauvignon Blanc) 

Gravy
20ml dry white wine
250ml chicken stock
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 sprig of tarragon (leaves only)
1 sprig of parsley

1. To make the brine, mix the salt with water, and warm until dissolved. I do this with about 3 litres of water, and then add the remaining two litres afterwards, as this will help brine cool down quicker.

2. Place the chicken in a container, large enough for the chicken to be submerged in the water entirely. Once the brine has cooled down, pour over the chicken. Cover with clingfilm, and keep in the fridge overnight.

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3. Remove the chicken from the water, and dry with kitchen tissue. Remove the wishbone (this will make carving easier).

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4. Bash the lemon on the table a few times, and stab all around with a sharp knife. Place inside the chicken, together with half of the thyme. Place the bird on a roasting rack, and rub some butter on the skin.

5. Heat the oven to a very low temperature of 80°C / 180°F, and cook the chicken until the inside temperature of the thickest part of the breast is 60°C / 140°F (official recommendations are usually for the inside temperature to be 75°C / 165°F, if worried you can always cook until that. I have however never had any problems with cooking to the lower temperature). The cooking should take about 3-4 hours.

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6. Take the chicken out of the oven, and rest for at least 45 minutes. I sometimes get to this stage early in the day, which then allows me to go out, and continue once I’m back. Or, during the resting you can make your roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings.

7. Melt the butter in a pan and add 30ml white wine and a few sprigs of thyme. Bring to boil, then remove from the pan from the heat and use the melted butter to baste the chicken before and during browning.

8. Heat the oven as high as it goes. Once the resting time has elapsed, put the chicken back in the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden brown, but taking care it doesn’t burn. Once coloured, remove from the oven. Keep on a cooling rack. Season your carved chicken with salt and black pepper.

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9. Add white wine to the roasting tray with the cooking juices, and place on the hob over medium heat. Scrape the edges and bottom of the tray, and stir. Add the chicken stock, and reduce until thickened to a sauce. Strain into a small saucepan.

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10. Before serving, stir in the mustard and warm through. Add the finely chopped parsley and tarragon, and season with salt and black pepper.

Sweet and sour chicken

As I was driving home from work I didn’t yet know what to cook for dinner. My husband fancied some sweet and sour chicken, and I thought it was a great idea to use up the left over rice we had too, so that was decided. Luckily, I still had one portion of my homemade chicken stock in the freezer too. This was also a good dish to make that didn’t take up too much of my evening once at home.

350ml chicken stock (Homemade chicken stock)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp tomato puree
4 tsp potato flour (or corn flour), mixed with 1-2 tbsp water
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2 chicken breasts, cut in pieces
5 chestnut mushrooms
1 carrot
1 red or green pepper
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 spring onions

1. Peel and slice the carrot, and chop the pepper into fairly big pieces. Place in boiling water for 4 minutes. Pour the water away and set carrot and pepper aside.

2. In the pan, heat your chicken stock. I tend to take my homemade stock out of the freezer just when needing it, and I just defrost it by melting in the pan. While the stock is warming, mix the other sauce ingredients, apart from the flour and water. Add to the stock, and bring to boil. Add the carrot and pepper. Mix the flour and water, and add to the stock. Boil for couple of minutes, then reduce the heat to simmer. Stir from time to time.

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3. Fry the chicken in a pan (I use groundnut oil with this dish). Once just about cooked, add the chopped mushrooms, garlic, onion and spring onion, and fry, stirring, for couple of minutes.

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4. Pour the sauce on the chicken, and stir everything together.