Tag Archives: cream

Chicken with Capers and Cream (serves 6)

This is one of those dinners that makes itself which is appropriate in an age when people feel no obligation to be in the kitchen and yet overwhelmed with guilt for not making a home cooked meal.

Chicken with Capers and Cream

Chicken with Capers and Cream

There are plenty of times I want to be in the kitchen all night long as this is my idea of relaxing, but I know that is not the case for many people, which is why dinners like this one are so great.

It has an air of luxury about it so is even something that can be made for a last-minute dinner party.

Anyway, here is another dish from the Crappy Kitchen that requires about 10 minutes on your part: so go ahead, be a little crazy and make dinner tonight!

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You will need:

3 to 4 tbs olive oil

freshly ground black pepper to season chicken

2 lbs chicken breasts, thinly sliced in cross sections making the breast the same size only thinner. (If you cannot buy them already like this, then just slice each breast into very thick slices)

4 tbs capers, including  juice (do not rinse)

1 tbs caper brine (the liquid from the caper jar)

3 bay leaves

1 sprig of fresh rosemary (use two if they are short sprigs)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

8 to 10 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Method:

Preheat 400*

1 – Season chicken with a general grind of black pepper. Put big saute pan or casserole pot on high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When it is hot add the chicken in an even layer and sear on both side transferring to a plate as you go. You will have to work in batches and add more oil as needed.

Brown chicken

Brown chicken

2 – Turn heat down to low/medium and add the capers. Cook for 1 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the rosemary and bay leaves. Cook for another minute or two.

Cook capers with seasonings

Cook capers with seasonings

3 – Add the cream and turn heat up to medium and bring the cream to a low boil.

Add cream

Add cream

4 – Return the chicken to the pan and bring back to a low boil. Turn heat off.

Return chicekn to sauce

Return chicken to sauce

5 – Place lid on pan or casserole and put the dish in the oven for about 35 minutes or until chicken is tender.

Cook

Cook

6 – Remove from oven and add the chopped spinach. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes, allowing the spinach to wilt. Remove from oven and give everything a gentle stir. If your sauce is very thick you may thin it out by adding more cream.

Add spinach

Add spinach

Serve with basmati rice or boiled baby potatoes.

Serve with rice

Serve with rice

Creamed Fresh Spinach – Great Side-Dish And A Delcicous And Easy Way to Sneak Greens Into You Diet!

I love spinach but lots of people turn up their nose in disgust when they see it on their plate: my daughter for example. She is fine when it is in a brothy soup or disguised in a pie, but a big pile of slightly wilted spinach on the side of her plate can send her into a squirmy fit. You would swear I was trying to punish or poison her!

Eat your spinach!

Eat your spinach!

Over the years I have seen lots of recipes with “creamed spinach”, and it always appears on American diner menus as one of the sides. I did not grow up eating it and so never found it appealing. I had a huge bunch of spinach that needed to be cooked the other night, and the only way to get rid of it in a hurry was to cook it down. When it was cooked I felt it needed something so I cooked an onion and added cream. I must have been thinking of creamed spinach because this is what it turned out to be.

And it was delicious: my daughter’s words, not mine. Get the picture: even the worst of skeptics succumb to a bowl of creamy greeny spinach!

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You will need:

1 1/2 to 2 lbs fresh spinach, washed and left wet

1 medium sweet onion, small dice

1 1/2 tbs unsalted butter

1 tsp sea-salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp chili flakes (optional)

1/2 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)

Method:

1 – Put large saute pan on medium heat and add the wet spinach. Cover with lid and cook until spinach is soft and wilted, stirring occasionally. You may need to do this in two batches (if your pan is small). Transfer to a big colander and let it cool. When it has cooled, squeeze as much of the moisture out as possible. Do this by squeezing with your hands and pressing the spinach into the sides of the colander with a big spoon. Remove from colander and chop. Set aside.

cook spinach

Cook spinach

2 – While spinach is cooling, melt butter under medium heat in same pan used to cook spinach. When it has melted, add the onions and cook until soft (about 6 or 7 minutes).

saute onions

Saute onions

3 – Add the salt, pepper, pepper flakes (if using), and cream and stir. When cream is hot, turn pan down and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.

add cream

Add cream

4 – Add the spinach and mix everything together. When it has completely warmed through it is ready to serve.

Creamed Fresh Spinach

Creamed Fresh Spinach

I like to garnish each serving with a thin wedge of lemon. A little lemon juice squeezed over the spinach gives it a fresh zing.

a squeeze of lemon is a lovely addition

A squeeze of lemon is a lovely addition

Hot Green Rice with Chicken & Veggies (serves 6)

When I think about what I want to make for dinner, I don’t think of a recipe, and then rush out for the ingredients. I absolutely hate feeling boxed in by what cookbook recipes call for. My usual trend is to look through my cupboards and in the fridge to see what is available.

Hot Green Rice with Chicken & Herbs

I spy something I have a craving for, and build the entire dish around it. It can be something as simple as a bag of baby carrot or a little more obscure like tamarind paste or a frozen octopus. When I see it, I become determined.

Don’t get me wrong, I consult cookbooks for the best ways of doing things, and general advice on how certain ingredients should be treated to get the best results (yes, I like word-y cookbooks!), but then I do my own thing. I like ad-libbing and taking chances.

lovely green curry from Kalustyan's in New York City.

This particular night I opened up the pantry and rifled through my countless bags of spices. I swooned when I smelled this green curry powder. It smelled of heat and dirt (if that makes sence). 

I gathered everything that I had available to me to make this baby soar, and, this is the dinner we ended up with.

Delicious.

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You will need: 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 3 chicken fillets, sliced into large bite-sized pieces, 1 sweet onion, diced, 1 yellow or red pepper, diced, 1 celery rib including leaves, diced, 3 cups chopped chard leaves, (red or white chard), 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, 2 tsp hot curry powder (green if you have it, but another type will do also), 4 sprigs thyme, 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (or 1 bouillon cube and 3 cups water), 1/2 cup heavy cream, 6 cups cooked basmati rice.

*for the rice: use 2 1/2 cups for stove top method and 3 cups using rice cooker and rice cooker measure. Cook as directed on the package. Set aside*

1 – Prep all ingredients before you begin to cook (or you might panic a little!)

lovely bowl of chopped chard leaves

2 – Put big pan on medium heat and add oil. When it warms, add onions, peppers, celery and garlic. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped chard and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

cook onions, garlic and peppers, then add chard

3 – Add curry powder and thyme, and stir for 1 minute to incorporate.

add curry powder

4 – Add broth (or bouillon and water) and bring to a boil. Add the chicken slices, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove lid and stir in the cream. Taste for addition of salt and pepper, and add according to your taste.

add liquid and simmer

5 – Add cooked rice and stir.

Add rice

I served this dish in warmed shallow bowls with a dollop of hot sauce, topped off with a delectable tablespoon of chile relish (I used a relish from the Patak company. You can find this in ethnic shops or good quality supermarkets in the International section).

Roast Chicken with Creamy Butternut Squash (serves 4-6)

This dish was made because I needed to use up a butternut squash that I had been staring at for several weeks. I did not want it to go to waste but, every night I had a mind to cook it, I was too lazy to take on the strenuous task of cutting it in half, taking off the skin and scooping out the seeds ; makes me tired just thinking about it.

Roast Chicken with Creamy Butternut Squash

Anyway, as you can see, I finally mustered up the strength to cut up the darn thing, and as a result we had this lovely dinner!

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You will need: 5 (or so) chicken drumsticks, 6 chicken thigh cutlets, 1 onion, cut into half moons, 1 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped & cut into thick slices, 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, sea-salt & freshly cracked pepper to season chicken.

Preheat oven 450*

1 – Place the onions and rosemary into bottom of a pan, or roasting dish, in an even layer.

onions & rosemary

2 – Next add a layer of butternut squash.

add squash

3 – Scatter the parsley over the squash, followed by the broth and cream.

add broth & Cream

4 – Lay the chicken on top of the veggies and season with salt and pepper, followed by a drizzle of oil.

add chicken and herbs

5 – Place in oven for 30 minutes. Turn oven down to 375*, cover, and continue to cook for another 30 minutes.

serve as is, or, with some kind of starch or green

Take out and let rest before serving in warm shallow bowls, as is, or with whatever you fancy (pasta, bread, salad…..).

Magical Braised Short-Ribs with Optional Squash & Pepper Side-Dish (serves 4)

Magical Braised Short-Ribs

I had no idea when I awoke yesterday morning what I was going to make for dinner. When it is the weekend I get a bit more excited about the evening meal. It happened that we had some friends staying from out-of-town, and we wanted to take them to our local Farmer’s and Flea Markets. They could get a taste of the local breakfast fare, and afterwards, try to find a treasure amidst the mountains of offerings that ranged from world war 2 memorabilia to a full-sized stuffed grizzly bear, in a threatening pose!

As we walked around I wondered why I only came here when I had visitors in town. Dotted in amongst the dealers are countless vendors selling meats, vegetables and baked goods.

The ribs that swayed me

I stopped by one of the butcher stalls as we were leaving, and fell in love with some beef short-ribs. Usually I am not drawn to beef, but this cut of meat, sitting behind the crystal clear display glass looked luscious and tender. It was settled, I was compelled to make short-ribs for dinner.

And oh, they were delicious. It was tender beyond belief, and the broth was full of a rich sweetness. I cooked the last of my winter squash to go with it. I cooked it in a little curried cream and it was the perfect balance the hearty dish needed.  We ate in silent revery until we were all just a little too full – yum!

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For Short Ribs; You will need: 3 lbs beef short ribs, cut into 2 or 3 bone segments, 4 tbs olive oil, 2 celery ribs, including leaves, sliced, 1 med/lrg sweet onion, large dice, 1/2 lb white mushrooms, washed & left whole, 10 sprigs thyme, 4 tbs roughly chopped parse;y, 1 bouquet garni, 1 1/2 cups red wine, 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine, 1 tbs balsamic vinegar, 3 cups chicken broth (OR, 3 cups of water and 1 good quality bouillon cube).

For Squash Side-Dish; you will need: 1 winter squash, peeled , scooped & diced, 2 tbs oil, 1 tbs unsalted butter, 1 small yellow onion, small dice, 2 long skinny red peppers (Anaheim), OR, 1 green pepper, diced, 1/2 tsp of curry powder, (if your curry is very mild, use 1 tsp), 1 sprig thyme, 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 tsp sea-salt, (I use Maldon Salt), several grinds cracked black pepper.

Preheat oven 325*

sear meat in batches

1 – Cut ribs as instructed above, and season with sea-salt and pepper. Put heavy casserole (the one you are going to use in the oven) on high heat and add 2tbs of oil. When it is smoky hot, add some of the short-ribs. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will not brown. When well browned on both sides, remove to a plate and continue to cook until everything is seared. You will need to add more oil as you go.

saute veggies

2 – Turn heat down and add the onions, celery and thyme to the pot. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 8 or so minutes.

add wines and vinegar

3 – Add the wine, Marsala and balsamic and turn heat up to high. Cook like this for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently. The liquid will reduce and intensify.

add broth and place in oven

4 – Add the broth (or water & bouillon cube), and bouquet garni, and bring to a boil. Add the ribs in even layers and cover with a heavy lid. Place in preheated oven for 2 1/4 hours. When done, take out of oven and let it sit on stove top for 15 minutes. (leaving lid on).

blanch squash

5 – When meat has about 20 minutes left in oven, start on the squash dish. Put pot of water on and when it boils, add the diced squash and cook covered for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

saute peppers & onions

6 – Put saute pan on medium heat and add the oil and butter. When it has warmed, add the onions and peppers and cook for 12 or so minutes, until vegetables are soft.

creamy pepper & squash side-dish (this would be good with so many other dishes)

7 – Add the squash and thyme sprig, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add the curry powder, salt and pepper and stir into vegetables. Add cream and turn heat down to low. Keep warm until ready to serve (you may want to thin it out more, and you can do so by adding a tbs of cream or broth until you are satisfied with the consistency).

The Magical moment (in other words; time to eat)

Divide meat into shallow bowls and top with juices and squash. You may also feel like another accompaniment, and I suggest, boiled potatoes, rice, or crusty bread. Divine with just about anything really.

Roasted Peppers Simmered in Cream, (Rajas) Serves 6 as an appetizer

Yes, I know, more talk about peppers. This time however, it was purely accidental , in that I was not desperately trying to find new ways to use up my cut-and-come-again crop in the backyard!

Lucky I had these to satisfy my longing to try out a new recipe!

What happened was, this weekend, myself and my man Dave were in New York City, and met up with 2 very special friends whom we had not seen in many, many years. My one friend Ellen, is a chef, and lived and worked as a chef in the city for years before high-tailing it to a sunnier location for an easier life. So, going out to dinner can be a bit of a challenge, as her standards are high when it comes to food (lucky us!).

We were in luck the other night and found an amazing Mexican restaurant. When we got there the place was completely packed and buzzing with excitement. We got a table after only a short wait and from that moment on, all I remember is food, friends and bliss.

Ellen ordered all sorts of tidbits for us to taste, and we got to sample at least 6 different dishes. Myself and Ellen fell in love with the roasted pepper dish. She told me it was roasted poblano peppers cooked in cream and topped with a mild white cheese – wow, I was impressed that 3 ingredients could pack such a punch?

Roasted Peppers Simmered in Cream (Rajas)

I found out that roasted pepper strips in Mexican kitchens refer to Raja, which literally means “strips”, so I figured that is officially what we ate (I didn’t really look at the menu, it was dark and Ellen was in charge)

When I left the glamour of the city for the Crappy Kitchen, I wished for those creamy peppers. Peppers simmered in cream…….how hard could that be to replicate?

I had tons of peppers (no  poblano, but I did have cayenne peppers which would satisfy the heat element,  along with a colorful assortment of regular sweet peppers), and so gave the dish a try.

I am so brilliant, because it turned out amazing. I now have a new dish under my belt, which means, so do you! We had it with some sort of sweetened chip, but I think corn chips are just as good. I am also going to try it on a nice piece of toast for breakfast!

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You will need: 4 sweet peppers (mixture of red, yellow, green & orange), 3 fresh cayenne peppers, (OR, 2 sweet peppers & 3 poblano), 1 small red onion, small dice, 1/4 cup & 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 tsp sea-salt, 3/4 cup mild cheese (I used a double cream mild white cheddar), corn chips.

Preheat oven 450*

1 – Put peppers on baking tray and rub with 2 tbs of the olive oil. Place in preheated oven and cook for about 40 minutes, turning every 15. Remove and place in heavy brown paper or plastic bag and seal for 15 to 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, take out, remove the seeds, and peel the skin. Slice thinly into long strips and slice the cayenne peppers.

roast the peppers

roast the cayenne peppers too

2 – While peppers are roasting  saute the onions for 10 minutes on medium heat in the remainder of the oil (1/4 cup).  Add the sliced peppers to the pan, then the cream and salt.

slice the peppers

3 – Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and add the cheese. Give everything a stir until the cheese has melted into the cream.

Add cream and boil

Serve topped with more cheese and tortilla chips (or toast). I am also thinking it would be good with eggs and a flour tortilla.

Lovely rajas

Linguine with Creamy Bacon & Spinach (serves 4)

We had just arrived back from a wonderful week away, and the thought of lumping into the kitchen and making anything that seemed the slightest bit taxing made me feel exhausted. We had driven eleven hundred miles over the course of 36 hours and I was in need of an easy night. I also knew that the moment we got home and as I struggled to get the bulging car unpacked, I would be asked the dreaded question, “what’s for dinner?” with no regard for my weary, sleep deprived body! Well, on a different day that would have sent me over the edge, but I had anticipated how things would play out and was prepared.

No grocery shopping had been done which didn’t really matter as I had lots of things in my garden to add punch to the dreariest of ingredients. And, I had a bag of spinach that had somehow made it’s way into our cooler on the trip home? That, along with the few things with a long shelf or fridge life helped me make the transition from tourist to cook in an instant!

linguine with creamy bacon & spinach for dinner..

As it turned out, the ingredient that saved the day was, bacon! I am constantly amazed at how this cured (or uncured, as the case may be) bit of meat can transform something dull, into something zingy and interesting. Bacon comes from different parts of the pig depending on the country. In America, bacon generally comes from the belly and has lots of streaky fat. It is good fried until the fat becomes crispy. This is known as streaky bacon (or more properly, lardons) in parts of Europe and is used for cooking because of the excellent fat content. The part of the animal used for bacon in Europe comes from the back or side (In Ireland, we called them rashers), and have more meat than fat, and is usually cooked for a lot less time than their American counterpart. It is meatier, with just a fat rind on the edge. I know when I arrived in the United States it took me a long time to get use to the bacon, and I was horrified at how they seem to burn their meat to a crisp! Now I appreciate how the meat from the belly needs a little crisping up!

Crispy bacon - the flavor savior!

Bacon has so many great things going for it; it has salt, can be crispy or meaty, smokey, or sweet, depending how it is treated. It is the ingredient that can be added to win over the finickiest eater, and is a powerful catalyst when trying to get kids to eat their greens!

I added a ton of freshly snipped herbs and a generous pour of cream, and to my relief dinner was on the table without taking it’s toll on my mood and energy level. We happily slurped down our dinner and went straight to bed for some much needed sleep.

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You will need: 1 lb bacon, cut into 1″ pieces, 1 sweet onion diced, 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 2 tbs chopped fresh oregano, 2 tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, 2 tbs chopped fresh apium or celery leaves, 1 tbs tomato paste, 6 cups fresh spinach leaves, 3/4 cup heavy cream, 1 cup pasta water (from linguine water), 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (if you have it, but not necessary), 1 tsp coarse sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, 1 lb linguine pasta (I use Barilla brand).

1 – Put big saute pan on low/medium heat and immediately add bacon pieces to cold pan. Cook until bacon releases some of it’s fat and the meat starts to cook (about 10 minutes)

saute bacon, then add onion..

2 – Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook for another 10 minutes until onions start to soften and bacon becomes crisper. Add the herbs and cook for another couple of minutes.

* At this point you can put the water on for the pasta. When it boils, cook according to instructions. Before draining water, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water, and save for sauce.

add herbs and garlic and build flavor..

3 – If the bacon has rendered a lot of fat, pour some of it off. Add the tomato paste and stir. Add the cream and let it come to a simmer. Turn heat down and cook very gently for 1 minute. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper according to your taste. Add 4 cups of the spinach and cover with lid. When spinach has cooked down (takes about 3 minutes), remove lid, stir, and turn off heat.

spinach cooks right down..

4 – When pasta has cooked, immediately add drained pasta to pan, along with the reserved pasta water and stir everything together. Sprinkle in the lemon zest if using.

I cooked a little more spinach as a garnish - also our family are spinach fanatics!

5 – Saute the remaining 2 cups of spinach in a little oil until it wilts and turns bright green (2 minutes), and reserve to use as robust garnish.

nothing like a little bacon and cream..

Serve in warmed shallow bowls topped with sautéed spinach and a little Parmigiano Reggiano if you have it on hand!