Sunday, 21 April 2013

Refried beans - with bacon and vegetables

Refried beans - with bacon and vegetables

Refried red kidney beans, with bacon and vegetables came about when I was home sick for a day. I was feeling like nothing more than something warming on toast, and being on a bit of a legume and mexican kick, this worked a treat and was really simple to throw together.
I cooked the red kidney beans up from the dried form, but a tin of them will work perfectly well if you don't have a spare 50 minutes to cook them, as I did sitting on a couch feeling sorry for myself.
Start with half a cup of red kidney beans, or if you're being much more practical and using a tin of beans, skip on down to the onion section.
 Place in a small saucepan with plenty of cold water and a little vegetable stock powder if you wish.
Put it on a high heat and cook until it's boiling. 
Let it boil for a minute or two, then turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for the next 50 minutes. You just have to check them occasionally for this nice scum that appears.
 Take a nice big spoon, scoop it off and throw it away. 
Cooking away happily. Sit down and rest for awhile!
When the beans have only about 10 minutes to go, you can start prepping the rest of the meal we'll be adding to the beans. Take one nice big red onion. Peel it - slice it into strips, then dice it up.
Take three cloves of garlic. Peel them - squash them with the side of a knife blade - then chop them up. 
Take one carrot. Peel it
 slice it longways into sticks - and dice it up too.
 In a big frypan - heat up a little olive oil, add the onion and let it cook for about 3 minutes until it softens. 
If you're adding bacon, take three slices with the fat trimmed off. You don't have to use bacon and can keep it vegetarian, or you can up the ante and switch it for some chorizo.
Dice it into little squares.
 After the onion has softened slightly, throw the bacon and the garlic in with the onion.
Let it sizzle for two minutes, then add the carrot and stir it around.
 Now would be a great time to add your spices to the onion mix. 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, and a little less of paprika and ground chillies.
 By now your beans should be very tender and rather pink looking.
Drain them (keep a little of the juice!). Do the same if you're using tinned beans. 
And throw them into the frypan.  
 Stir around, and using a wooden spoon, squash the beans into the pan a little. If it looks a little dry, you can add some of the juice the beans were cooking in.
After about another 2 minutes (we're very close to being finished) - roughly chop up a tomato into small chunks, and throw into the mix. This doesn't need long to cook at all, just enough cooking time to warm it up.
One last finishing touch before you serve up- take half a lemon and squeeze it over the mix, this really lifts the heavy beans so don't skip the lemon. And you're finished! Easy. 
 Serve either on toast, in a tortilla or just on its own in a bowl.
 It does need a good splash of natural yoghurt on the top though, or some sour cream.
 Sprinkle with some parsley, and squeeze some more lemon on, and some more chilli if you're keen. Warming, healthy and filling for a lazy day on the couch.

Refried beans 

1/2 cup dried kidney beans (or a 400g tin of red kidney beans)
1 teaspoon powdered vegetable stock (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot
3 bacon rashers (trimmed of fat)
1/2 teaspoon cumin,
1/4 teaspoon each paprika & dried chilli (to taste)
1 large tomato
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more lemon to serve
Natural yoghurt to serve, or sour cream
Parsley to serve.

1. Place beans in a pot of cold water (with stock powder), bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and let the beans simmer for 50 minutes (or until soft- read the instructions on the packet). Skim the scum off the top of the water every 15 minutes or so.
2. When the beans have only 10 more minutes to cook, dice the red onion, heat the olive oil in a large frypan, and saute the onion until it starts to soften.
3. Crush and chop up the garlic, and dice the carrot and bacon into small squares. Add the garlic and bacon to the onion, let it saute for 2 minutes, before adding the carrot.
4. Add the spices to the onion mix.
5. Check the beans are soft, and drain. Reserve some of the juice it was cooking in.
6. Add beans to the onion/bacon mix, stir around and squash some of them with a wooden spoon. Add some of the reserved juice if it looks a little dry.
7. Roughly chop the tomato and stir into the onion/bacon mix, along with the lemon juice.
8. After a further 2 minutes, turn off the heat and serve the beans with a dollop of natural yoghurt or sour cream, some more lemon and some parsley.
Eat on bread, in a tortilla or on its own!
Serves 2.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Butterflied jamaican jerk chicken with sweet potato chips

Butterflied chicken - Jamaican Jerk style

With Sweet Potato (Kumera) chips

Roast chicken on a Sunday evening, with a good amount of spice, tang, and some healthy chips to top it off... Well I certainly can't wait to eat it!

I tried out this Jamaica Jerk marinade on a pork roast in the slow cooker, and it tasted so good I thought I'd try in on a chicken to really bring out the flavour. Chicken really is a blank canvas of taste. When you butterfly a chicken makes it cook much faster (and therefore keeps it juicier).
Start with a whole chook. Any size chicken you like (just cook for longer if it's a bigger one).
Pull it out of the packaging, turn it over (so the nice breast meat is on the bottom), then grab some sharp kitchen scissors and cut up the backbone. Yes it feels a little strange to be hacking into a bird, and you have to cut through a little gristle and bone, but I'm sure you'll cope!
Cut all the way through.
 Flip your bird over
 and use a little muscle to break the bone between the chicken breasts, so it sits down flat in the pan.
 Butterflied chook.
Lay him in a nice roasting dish. 

Now onto making the marinade. Gather up all of these ingredients. We'll be blending them all together and slathering it on the chicken.
 Start by peeling a small onion (or half a large one) cut it in half.
Chop it up roughly
 And do the same with 2 big cloves of garlic.
Pour these into your food processor. I have a little one that attaches to my stick blender.
If you have a fresh chilli, chop it up and throw it in (I used 2 to make it extra spicy). Otherwise use some dried chilli flakes.
 Then throw in one tablespoon of oil (Rice Bran oil- my favourite)
One Tablespoon of soy sauce 
One tablespoon of brown sugar (the only bad thing! but you do need it for the great tangy taste) 
 Take some fresh ginger, find a grater, and grate a good knob in (about 1 tablespoon worth). I keep fresh ginger in the freezer and just grate off a bit when I need it.
 And now for the lime. Grate all the zest of one lime into the blender too.
 Then cut your lime in half
 and juice away. Place all of the juice into the mix.
Take a tablespoon of thyme leaves - just pick them off the stem and throw in. 
Now for the warming spices, half a teaspoon of cinnamon 
Half a teaspoon each of nutmeg and allspice. And that's all your ingredients!
 Take it to your blender, whizz it all up for a few moments
and out pops some amazing tasting marinade (it tastes and smells amazing even if the colour isn't so appetising!)
Pour this onto your chicken 
Rub it all over, the underside as well as the top, and make sure all of the legs and wings are coated. Place it in the oven on 175 degrees c on a low shelf. This will cook in about an hour. 
If you want a great side for this, try some sweet potato chips. Take 2 small sweet potatoes. 
 Peel them
Then slice them up longways, no more than 1.5 cm thick, and cut into chips.
Take a baking tray, splash some olive oil down 
and scatter (or beautifully arrange) your sweet potato chips. Throw these in the oven on the shelf above the chicken.
As you've got your oven door open, this is a good opportunity to baste your chicken. Use a pastry brush, dip it in the juices around the chicken
And brush on top.
After 20 minutes turn your chips over.
After the chicken has been in there for 45 minutes to an hour, baste the chicken again (the sauce should be dark and sticky by now in the baking tray).  Then rotate the chicken and chips in the oven- move the chicken to the top tray, and allow it to crisp up for 10 minutes.

After this time, check that the chicken is done by piercing the deepest part (thigh or breast), and make sure that no pink juices run out. If they do, place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. 
And there's your beautiful roast chicken!
Let it sit for a few minutes, then serve with your sweet potato chips. 
(And something green- french beans or salad).

Butterflied Jamaican-Jerk Chicken, with sweet potato chips

1 whole chicken
2 small sweet potatoes

Jamaican Jerk marinade

1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 (or 2) small fresh red chillis
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice bran oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1. To make the marinade, roughly cut up the onion, garlic and chilli, and blend together with all ingredients in a food processor.
2. Butterfly the chicken by cutting up the backbone with some kitchen scissors. Flip the chicken over, press on the bone between the chicken breasts to flatten.
3. Place chicken in a baking dish and pour over marinade. Make sure all sides of the chicken are coated. Place in oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 175 degrees c.
4. Once you have the chicken in the oven, peel the sweet potatoes, slice longways and then cut into chips. Lay out on a baking tray with some olive oil. Place in oven (on a shelf above the chicken) until the chicken is done. Turn them halfway through cooking.
5. When the chicken is nearly cooked, baste the chicken again, and move it to the upper shelf of the oven to brown off for another 5-10 minutes. Once no pink juices run from the chicken when you pierce it, it is ready to serve. Serve with your chips and a green salad.
Serves 3-4.