Fajitas - chicken mixture

F is for my fuss-free Fajitas

This week i had friends round, one of whom will not mind me describing her as a wee bit fussy. My fuss-free fajitas were definitely the answer: an easy-to-prepare, do-it-yourself meal with minimal effort after a day at work.

Ingredients
1 chicken breast per person
1 pepper (red, orange or yellow) per person
Cayenne pepper
Smoked paprika
Salt
Pepper
Lettuce (cos) – finely sliced
Cheddar – grated
Sour cream
For the guacamole:
3 Avocados
1 tomato
2 tbsp Double cream
1 small red chilli
1 tbsp Lime juice
1 small handful of fresh coriander
Fajitas - guacamole
Recipe
For the guacamole:
Add 2 avocados, the tomato, double cream, small red chilli (de-seeded), coriander and lime juice to the blender and mix until a paste. For the final avocado, chop into small pieces and mix into the guacamole
For the chicken:
  1. Cut the chicken breasts up into 1cm strips and fry on a medium heat, turning until all pink colours have vanished.
  2. Add the cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and stir until all the chicken is coated
  3. Add the peppers and leave on low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes until everything is softened
Fajitas - chicken mixture
Fajitas - chopped peppers
Lay out the tortillas in a warm oven for 3-4minutes, then serve everything in the centre of the table and let everyone help themselves.
Fajitas - served
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Eton Mess

E is also for Eton Mess

This is an incredible easy recipe, unlike the previous E. Just a few key ingredients, a few moments of effort are required to deliver this delicious dessert.
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 8 meringue nests (homemade or bought)
  • 300g strawberries
  • 200g raspberries
  • 400ml double cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons of caster sugar
Recipe:
  1. Cut off the green stalks front the strawberries and cut each fruit into similar sizes as the raspberries.
  2. Set aside a couple of pieces of strawberry and raspberr and dribble the balsamic vinegar and caster sugar over the strawberries and leave to stoop for a couple of hours. Don’t worry, the balsamic ail help bring out the taste of the fruit rather than overpowering it.
  3. Crush the meringues. You want a mix of chunky pieces, small pieces, and sand-like dust.
  4. When you’re ready to serve the dessert, whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks (this should only take 1 minute by hand).
  5. Fold in the fruit (juice and all), meringue into the cream and top each serving with a couple of pieces of fruit.
  6. This recipe should serve 4 greedy people

Eton Mess - fruit

Eton Mess

E – Eggs Benedict

The first thing to note is that you may (and I definitely do) need a bit of practice before you can make this look good. The reasons being this recipe involves poached eggs and a butter-based sauce that is more prone to curdling than a child is to eating sweets when unattended.

Having said that, the ultimate body of knowledge herself, Delia, has given guidance on navigating both these challenges and I testify that if you follow the recipes below properly they do work. Tip, do not use a whisk – don’t even think about getting it out for this recipe; modern hand blenders work a lot faster than your wrist can.

Eggs Benedict - ingredients

Start by making the Hollandaise Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks (separate from the whites and save them for a meringue later)
  • 100g butter
  • salt and pepper

Recipe:

  1. In a small saucepan heat the vinegar and lemon juice together until bubbling. Whilst this is heating up, pour the egg yolks into a hand blender and blitz for a minute with a pinch of salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground pepper.
  2. Turn the blender back on and then slowly pour the acids into the egg yolk.
  3. In the same saucepan that you used to warm the vinegar/lemon juice, melt the butter. Do this over a gentle heat until it starts to bubble – don’t let it burn.
  4. Turn the heat off, an turn the blender back on, then very slowly pour the melted butter into the egg mixture, blitz for another minute and set aside.

In my haste to get this blog written, I just tipped the vinegar and butter into the blender and you’ll see my Hollandaise has curdled somewhat, so disregard the recipe at your own peril.

For the poached eggs, the trick is to use water that is as still as possible. I also use a deep frying pan instead of a saucepan as there’s less distance for the eggs to fall (and hence fall apart). Fill a saucepan 3/4 full of hot water and bring to a boil until little bubbles start appearing at the bottom of the pan, then turn the heat down.

As you want the water to be as still as possible, crack the eggs on the work surface and then bring as close to the water as possible before gently tipping in (in one go). I wouldn’t suggest poaching more than 4 eggs in one go until you’re a pro as the white will naturally sprawl out in the pan anyway. Boil for 1 minute exactly using a timer. Turn the heat off completely and leave the eggs to poach in the water for another 10minutes. By this point all the white will be completely cooked but the yolk will still be perfectly soft. You will need a gently touch to get them out the pan – again no vigorous movements.

Serve the poached eggs on toasted muffins and pour the Hollandaise generously on top. This goes very nicely with bacon/pancetta if you have any in.

Eggs Benedict

Roast Duck - serving

D – mid-week roast Duck

It is true, roasting meat does take a long time to do, but I promise this dish takes literally minutes of preparation and then you can leave it to do its thing until it’s ready to eat (if you don’t mind the waiting). I had a couple of friends (“handy volunteers” as they called themselves) round for dinner mid-week. They normally finish work slightly later than me, so this was perfect.

In this recipe for Roast duck with thyme, I use duck legs (including the thigh). This does not compromise on flavour (compared with duck breast) and is cheaper too. You can of course use duck breasts if you wish, just make sure they have the skin on too. You won’t need any extra fat/oil in this meal, as there’s already plenty in the duck, which oozes out, permeating the potatoes and makes everything golden crisp.

Roast Duck - serving

 

 

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 1.5 – 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • duck thighs – one per person
  • baking potatoes – one per person
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salad leaves
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil (for the salad dressing)
  • 1 tbsp Cider vinegar
  • A spritz of lemon juice
  • Salt
  • A few turns of pepper

Roast duck - prepped for the oven

 

Recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Put the duck thighs in a large roast dish – you’ll need one with nigh sides as lots of duck fat will ooze out. If you don’t have a large enough dish, split over two.
  2. Chop the baking potatoes (skins left on, but given a quick wash) into 2cm squares and scatter around the legs, so they’re a snug fit.
  3. Sprinkle over a large pinch of salt and coupe of turns of freshly ground pepper. Top with a few sprigs of fresh thyme and put in the oven and leave to cook.
  4. After an hour of cooking, I usually take it out for a minute and turn the roasting potatoes around to ensure they’re evenly coated in the duck fat and juices. I also put the oven up to 200° C for the last half and hour of cooking to ensure everything is extra crispy. If it needs a little bit longer, leave it in the oven until it’s crisp enough for you.

Roast duck - fresh from the oven

 

I served my duck and potatoes with some shop-bought salad leaves (mid-week time saving). In a small bowl I make a dressing, by whisking together olive oil, cider vinegar, a spritz of lemon and a small pinch of salt.

This could not be easier to make, and I’ve yet to find anyone who can resist duck!

Making the salad dressing