recipes

Trash

Good Housekeeping Magazine

There has been the odd day where I’ve felt the need to herald from a high vantage point, ”OK, stick a fork in me, I’m done!” Well done. Done washing, done grocery shopping, done bed making, done basin scrubbing, done path sweeping. On these occasions, the only way to self-tenderise, is to make like the meat does after a big roasting – and rest. And what better way to get some juice flowing back into the soul, than a bit of quiet trashy mag time.

As much as I love some thought-provoking non-fiction or a masterful piece of literary excellence, at certain times of the week, the developments of a Kardashian relationship or a royal outing are about all I have the head space to absorb. In fact, I consider time spent with a glossy and a coffee, to be time well spent. Apart from the celebrity trials and trysts, I really enjoy the convenience of leafing through the snapshots of up-and-coming fashion peeks, the latest beauty product and ways to scatter my cushions, without having to leave the kitchen. By the time I have read the entire mag (usually 30 minutes), I have been recharged with a posse of new ideas and feel abreast of emerging trends.

Personal development aside, I love the humour these magazines elicit. Articles on weight-loss programs followed by pages of pudding recipes, never fail to make me smile. The outrageous claims made by ”close sources” of the famous are also worth a chuckle. And of course there are also the latest research snippets: people who eat less and exercise more are inclined to live longer….

Of course the food coverage always takes my eye – and the growing pile of tear sheets next to my recipe books bears evidence of this. There would be very few weekly publications that I would reach the end of without at least one recipe snaring my attention. This week was no different. When I flipped the page to this Chicken, artichoke and lemon dish and saw that I had most of the ingredients on hand and they could all cook together in one dish, an instant ripping of paper broke the sunny afternoon silence.

Chicken Artichoke and Lemon

1/4 cup olive oil
8 chicken drumsticks
500g potatoes, cut into wedges (skin left on)
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 lemon, sliced into rings
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup white wine
170g jar artichokes, drained
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. In an ovenproof pan, heat half of the oil and brown off the drumsticks until golden.
  3. Add potatoes and onion with the rest of the oil and mix around. Top with lemon slices and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Pour over wine, and stir in artichokes and tomatoes.
  6. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes, ensuring chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender.
    (Even though this dish contains potatoes, I served it over steamed rice because the sauce is delicious when absorbed into the rice.)

Postscript: and after reading of the births, remarriages and body makeovers it’s heartening to realise your own life is not that exhausting after all.

recipes

Leftovers

chicken and leek pie

Apart from the usual positives of sharing a roast dinner with the neighbours, another perk came in the form of a new idea. What usually becomes of the remains of a roasted chicken in this house, is sandwiches and dog scraps (in that order). Never has a scrumptious chicken, leek and mushroom pie ever crossed my mind as the finale for these birds.

Fortunately, I have a kitchen savvy pal living right opposite, who was not only quick to point this out, but even speedier to extract the leavings and seal them in an airtight, assuring me they were perfect for such a purpose. As we cleared and reset for dessert, she had rattled off her method, which as I scraped and stacked, I quickly committed to memory. The following night, the family received such pie – a far cry from dog scraps.

If you can keep this plan in mind after your next chicken roast, I am able to attest that the end result is going to be: happy families and disappointed dogs.

1 leek
200g button mushrooms
75g butter
2 tbspn flour
500ml chicken stock
2 big handfuls of shredded cooked chicken
2 sheets puff pastry
milk to brush

  1. Slice leek and mushrooms thinly.
  2. Melt butter in a large frying pan and cook leek and mushrooms until soft.
  3. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. You will have a thick mass.
  4. Gradually add stock, stir and cooking until you have a consistency that you like for your pie filling.
  5. Add the chicken and stir until heated through. At this point season, but be very careful with the salt as sometimes the stock contains enough. Set to one side.
  6. Line the base of your pie dish with one sheet of the pastry and prong it all over with a fork to prevent it rising. Bake in a 180 degree oven until par-cooked (about 10 minutes).
  7. Push down any risen puffed bits on the base and add the pie filling.
  8. Cover with remaining sheet of puff pastry and seal by pinching the edges together all the way around. Lightly score the top of the pastry with a sharp knife and brush with milk. Put the pie back into the oven for a further 20 minutes or until well browned. Serve.

chicken and leek pie filling

Postscript: Don’t forget, if you have a spare moment, post chicken pie, join me over here at the new Plain and Simple Facebook page.

recipes

Cookout

Against a backdrop of sizzling choice cuts, glowing coals and the occasional flare up as drips catch alight, channel your medieval ancestor and enjoy food prepared in the rudimentary way of days long past.

Our American cousins call it a cookout, and I think that is a brilliant term for our much-loved barbeque. To me, cookout implies that it’s all happening outside, everyone is involved and essentially, that’s what I love about a barbeque – the joint effort of a social group.

Barbequed food is usually served in its simplest form, relying on basic herbal ingredients and quality oil to carry it through the cooking process. While the fire is settling to its even layer of radiant coals, simple salads of fresh produce are arranged and condiments mixed. As the meat sears and crackles, there is ample time for relaxed conversation as cook and companions cluster at the source, intermittently turning and prodding as anecdotes and observations are exchanged.

Our barbeque bears little resemblance to the sophisticated pieces of engineering that are available in stores today. Basically a coal box on a stand, this wood-fired lady has turned out a plentiful supply of succulent meat her in time. Gathering kindling from the yard and the neighbourhood  to fuel her has been part of the charm – especially for the youngest. If the weather changes its mind, she is carried undercover very easily.

We thread our big metal sticks with marinated meat (in this case, chicken and lamb with crushed coriander, garlic and basil) in dispersed with seasonal small vegetable pieces. This week we opted for our usual salad of cos, olives, tomato and feta (sprinkled liberally with oregano), dressed with oil and lemon juice.

Before enclosing an unthreaded morsel inside a piece of fresh flat bread, a dollop of yoghurt, cucumber and mint dip is doused over the top. All food groups covered, all appetites sated and a meal consumed in a tribal rather than nuclear convention.