Tag Archives: White Wine

Forager’s Freebie Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

I have for you today a fabulously light, healthful and frugal Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto. And anything this green has to be amazing for you surely? And indeed it is. I even kept away from adding any dairy to make as light a risotto as one can, omitting my normal more decedent additions of creme fraiche and Parmesan. But feel free to add if you want something a little less delicately flavoured and more substantial in body.

Incidentally Nettles, in case you didn’t know, have an incredible amount of health giving properties. Not only are these stingers an excellent natural iron source (way higher than popeye spinach, take note ladies!), they’re very high in protein for a plant, fabulously cleansing for hair and skin and are used to treat a huge variety of ailments and iillnesses from arthritis, gout and rheumatism though to various immunity disorders, allergies and infections. And as for the Wild Garlic it’s a potent antibacterial, antibiotic and antiseptic. And wild garlic, more significantly than cultivated garlic, is known to reduce blood pressure, and thus also reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. So I say get yourselves out there and a-gathering!

Foraged freebie goodies of Nettles, Dandelion Leaves and Wild Garlic. Plus Parsley from the garden.

Foraged freebie goodies of Nettles, Dandelion Leaves and Wild Garlic. Plus Parsley from the garden.

Chez Foti Wild Garlic, a little different to the normal UK Ramsons

Chez Foti Wild Garlic, a little different in appearance to the normal UK Ramsons

And I’m not the only one gloving-up to forage these wonder weed stingers. Andrea over at Shabby Chick made a tasty looking ricotta and filo Wild Greens Pie recently which I’m so going to try. Sarah at The Garden Deli cooked up Nettles with Cannellini Beans, the latter being a big favourite of mine but I’ve yet to try her lovely recipe. She also used them as part of a foraged Spring Leaves Pesto, gorgeous! The king of foraging and my foodie hero, Mr HFW, regularly writes about nettles and I know I’ve seen several other recipes recently incorporating them, but have somehow failed to locate them from my diminished memory bank for the purposes of this post. So if you have any nettle recipes I’d love to hear from you!

Lots of Goodly Green Stuff!

Lots of Goodly Green Stuff!

Simple and in SeasonherbsonsaturdaySince Nettles, Wild Garlic and Parsley are all in season right now I’m entering my post to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. Also to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, currently hosted by Anneli over at Delicieux. Credit-Crunch-MunchAnd being about as frugal a risotto as one can make to Fab Food 4 All‘s and Fuss Free Flavour’s Credit Crunch Munch, this month hosted by Janice over at Farmersgirl’s Kitchen. nature's Lunchbox logoAnd last but certainly not least to a new-blog-to-me, Foodie Laura, who so happens to be running the Nature’s Lunchbox Challenge showcasing freebie foraged meals!.

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Great for foragers, tight budgets, health kickers, vegans & vegetarians, bigger kids (who can get over the idea of eating nettles), grown ups, mid-week suppers

Enough for two hungry big people:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 shallots, very finely chopped

4 baby wild garlic bulbs OR a clove of cultivated Garlic, very finely chopped

180g of Arborio Risotto Rice

a glass of White Wine

600ml of hot Vegetable Stock (I invariably use Marigold)

3 large (gloved!) handfuls of Nettle Tops

a bunch of Wild Garlic Leaves

a small bunch of Flat Leaved Parsley

Salt and Pepper

a little very good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the shallots and wild garlic bulbs/clove of garlic for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer on a gentle heat until most of the wine has evaporated/absorbed then stir in a ladleful of the hot stock. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of stock every time the last one’s almost absorbed.

Meanwhile prep the greenery!. With gloved hands remove any thick stems from the nettles and thoroughly wash the leaves. Blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes then drain. Squeeze out the excess of water and finely chop. Wash and finely chop the wild garlic tops and parsley.

When the rice is tender stir in the diced nettles, garlic tops and most of the parsley (leave some for sprinkling on the top). Cook for a moment or two longer and then leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Season with plenty of black pepper and a little salt.

Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of parsley and a handsome glug of good quality olive oil. Believe me you’ll feel instantly healthful! I personally enjoyed the delicate flavour of the nettles, wild garlic and parsley but if you’re in need of a little more sustenance then feel free to stir through a little creme fraiche and top with grated Parmesan.


You might also like: 

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Chochori, A Vegan Swiss Chard & Potato Curry

Chochori, A Vegan Swiss Chard & Potato Curry


Spanish Stylie Baked Chicken and Rice

Spanish Style Baked Chicken & Rice

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for nearly a year and a half and this firm family favourite of weekend dinners has thus far failed to make an appearance. It’s a recipe I originally stole from my Mum, who stole from Delia, that’s chopped and changed dramatically over the years and probably bares little resemblance to it’s original form. Changed to make it quicker, easier and more suitable family fodder, and it never disappoints my lot. It’s a cheap and frugal dish (the one pot usually stretching to at least two dinners), flavoursome (think smoked paprika, chorizo, orange, olives), wholesome (brown rice and a barrage of veggies), hearty and substantial. And can handily be partly or wholly made in advance. Perfect for a weekend lunch or dinner and the tasty leftovers re-heated for a quickie dinner in the week, or even eaten cold for lunch. And my kids LOVE it, Jacques devours it. But then they are fiends for anything rice these days. If your monsters are veggie adverse like mine it’s a handy dish to hide a multitude of the good stuff, just chop them unidentifiably small!.

Spanish Chicken and Rice

Chop and change your veggies as to what’s in season. In this particular recipe I used red pepper (the only veggie I would highly recommend you always add) chopped pumpkin (as we still have an inordinate amount to get through!), celery, carrots and french green beans from the freezer. Courgettes, peas, squash, sweet potato, broccoli or mushrooms all work equally as well, just mix and match as to what’s seasonal and you have in.

Since I’m using seasonal veggies aplenty I’m entering this post to Simple and In Season, a monthly challenge that showcases seasonal produce and is the baby of Ren of Fabulicious Food.  This month I so happen to be hosting the event!. I’m also entering Javelin Warrior‘s Made with Love Mondays, as it’s a dish made from scratch, and finally to Credit Crunch Munch as it’s a pretty frugal dish that stretches a long way. Credit Crunch Munch is held jointly by Camilla of Fab Food 4 All and this month by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours. Now on with the recipe….


Simple and In Season

Made with Love Mondays

Jacques tucking into to his chicken and rice. He's still not a pretty eater.

Jacques chowing down on his beloved chicken and rice. He’s not a pretty eater!

Spanish Stylie Baked Chicken & Rice

Great for Toddlers & Young Children, Hiding Veggies, Bigger Kids, Family or Grown up Dinners, Mains, One Pot Wonders, Week-end Slowies

Serves 6 or a family of 4 twice

a tablespoon of Olive Oil

6 free range Chicken pieces – legs or thighs or a mixture of the two, skin removed

a large Onion, large dice

3 cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

a stick of Celery, finely sliced*

2 Carrots, fine dice*

300g of Pumpkin or Butternut, large dice*

2 Red Peppers, large dice

150g of French Green Beans, cut into inch long lengths*

120g of Chorizo, sliced into 0.5cm thick slices

a heaped teaspoon of Hot Smoked Paprika

300g of Brown Rice

200ml of White Wine

500ml of Chicken Stock

a 400g can of Chopped Tomatoes

2 Bay Leaves

a small bunch of fresh Thyme sprigs, tied together

Black Pepper

½ an Orange, cut into 6 segments

60g of de-stoned Black or Green Olives

Special Equipment: A large lidded ovenproof casserole or Le Creuset style dish that can go on a hob

* Please feel free to vary your veggies as to what’s in season or you have in

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4.

Heat the oil in your casserole or Le Creuset on a medium to high heat. Once hot fry off the chicken pieces until golden on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Turn down the heat and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots, there should be plenty of residual fat from the chicken, but if not add a splash more olive oil. Saute for 5 minutes before adding the pumpkin and peppers. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

Now throw in the green beans and chorizo and cook for a further few minutes until the chorizo is oozing it’s lovely juices.  Stir in the hot smoked paprika and cook for a moment or two before stirring in the rice. Ensure all the grains are coated in the oily spicy loveliness before pouring in the white wine, chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme and a generous pinch or two of black pepper. Give everything a thorough stir and bring to a gentle simmer.

Take the pot off the heat and place the set aside chicken pieces on the top, pressing them down into the rice. Slot the orange segments where ever there’s space and scatter over the olives. Place the lid on the pot and slide into the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes. The rice and veggies should all be perfectly tender. Eat and enjoy!.

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Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken

Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken

One Pot Ratatouille

Baby Foods & Weaning 7-9 Months plus, Toddlers & Small Children, Older Kids, Grown Ups

We love ratatouille at Chez Foti, and it’s a regular feature on our dinner table throughout the summer. Originally from Provence, it’s a classic Southern French veggie side dish, and made with good quality (preferably organic) tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines it’s utterly delicious and bursting with vibrant summer flavour. My kids have always loved it too, they eat it these days on a bed of pasta or couscous with a few cheesie sprinkles (they LOVE their sprinkles!). Last summer when they were considerably smaller (and fussier) I diced all the veggies to a smaller size, as large chunks seemed to put them off. And when Jacques was really tiny and weaning I whizzed up my ratatouille with a stick blender and served it to him with baby pasta stars. If you’re making for babies or little kids do not add any salt.

Us grown up folk prefer to eat our ratatouille in a large shared bowl (with a luxurious drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top) with plenty of fresh bread and maybe the odd sneaky merguez sausage on the side. It’s great served as a veggie side dish to a roast or cold cuts too, or with pasta or couscous like the kids.

My ratatouille recipe is probably somewhat old school now, in that it’s made as I’ve always made it with all the veggies in one big pot. It seems that most modern recipes call for the roasting or sauteing then layering of each of the veggies separately and diss my old fashioned all-in-one stew method. I personally like it both ways, but Mr F (who’s a big ratatouille fan) and the kids prefer this one pot wonder way….which is also quicker and requires less washing up!

Like all our dinners over the summer the veggies were all freshly picked from the garden, though admittedly I had to buy some peppers as mine are very slow to fruit this year. The courgettes, tomatoes (well obviously!), aubergine, garlic, onions, thyme and bay were all Chez Foti. It really is rather special being able to walk out of the front door and pick all your dinner’s ingredients, and after a year and a half of growing my own the novelty most certainly isn’t waining. And I hope it never does.

I’m entering this blog to the lovely Herbs on Saturday challenge, held by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.


Enough as a main for four big people, or several more as a side dish:

4 tablespoons of olive oil

a very large or two medium white or red onions, medium dice

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large aubergine or two small

2 peppers (preferably a red and a green one, or two reds)

2 courgettes

a small glass of white wine (optional)

700g of fresh chopped tomatoes (3 or 4 very large) (OR 600g of good quality tinned chopped tomatoes)

3 bay leaves

several sprigs of fresh thyme (be generous!)

a teaspoon of sugar

salt and pepper

Dice your veggies. If cooking for bigger kids and adults try to cut the peppers, aubergines and courgettes to a similar 3 cm ish slice size. I slice the aubergines into rounds (of about 4 to 5mm thick) then quarter the slices (or eighth if very large). The courgettes are sliced to the same thickness then cut in half (or quartered if very large). If making specially for babies (that do lumps) or toddlers cut to a much finer, more acceptable to them, dice.

Make a small bouquet garni of the herbs by tying together the bay leaves and thyme sprigs with string.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and saute on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and allow to cook for a further minute. Next throw in the aubergines and peppers followed by the courgettes about 5 minutes later. Stir frequently so nothing catches.

Pour in the white wine (if using) and allow to simmer for a few minutes until much reduced. Now stir in your chopped tommies, bouquet garni, sugar, a generous amount of back pepper and salt (go easy on the pepper and no salt for babies and small children). Bring everything to a simmer, stirring from time to time, and allow to cook on a fairly gentle heat for about 45 minutes partially covered with the lid. The veggies should be very tender and tomatoes much reduced.

Have a final taste check, adding more pepper, salt and sugar to taste (no added salt for babies or small children though). Fish out the bouquet garni and serve hot or cold.

Eat and enjoy as you so desire!

How about trying some of my other summery recipes? Garden Pasta, Tagliatelle with Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone, Paella, 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow or A Couple of Tomato Tarts?

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups

In my continued efforts to blog more veggie dishes here’s another popular family dinner at Chez Foti, my very green super-healthy risotto that I’ve actually been making for years as a quickie mid-week supper. Packed full of the good stuff as well as tastiness from the pesto and sun dried tommies this is an all round pleaser for littlies and big people alike.

It hit me a few months ago that I was sub-consciously shying away from giving the kids green dinners as for some daft reason I thought they wouldn’t buy it. How wrong was I. As long as the base flavour’s good they’ll eat anything, spinach and all. Since my moment of realisation I’ve been bombarding them with spinach and chard based risottos, pasta sauces, stir fries and thai green curries and so far they’ve happily gobbled down each and every one. And pesto being such a pleasing flavour to most littlies provides the perfect flavour vessel. In truth I’ve also shied away from risotto for the kids too as Francesca was never too keen, but she seems to be really enjoying them now. Rock on the risottos!

This was one of our first ‘freebie’ dinners of the year with most of the ingredients being picked fresh out of the garden, and notably used the first of many of the courgettes. I’ve seven plants which should ensure us in consistent supply for some time. The spinach, shallots and garlic were all Chez Foti homegrown too. Admittedly I used shop bought pesto for my risotto this time but I did make my own all last summer. The basil plants are all a little on the weeny side for pesto making as of yet this year.

In writing this post I’m also entering Ren Behan’s Fabulucious Food Simple and In Season blog event, hosted this month by Homemade by Fleur

The First Courgette of 2012!

Popeyetastic Spinach!

Enough for a Family of Four or Three Big People

3 tablespoons of olive oil

a small onion or 2 shallots, very finely diced

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

220g of risotto rice

a small glass of white wine

700ml of hot vegetable stock (I like to use Marigold)

a courgette, diced

200g of spinach, washed and shredded

70g of drained sun dried tomatoes, chopped

3 tablespoons of homemade or shop bought pesto

salt and pepper

grated parmesan, to serve

Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once the wine’s almost evaporated add a ladleful of the hot stock and continue to give everything a stir from time to time.

Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice add another ladleful. Once this has been absorbed stir in another ladleful together with the diced courgette. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is absorbed. If you run out of stock before the rice is tender add a little boiling water.

When the rice is almost tender stir in the shredded spinach, sun dried tomatoes, pesto and a generous pinch of black pepper.

Once the rice is cooked and spinach wilted remove from the heat. Taste and add more pepper to suit. You probably won’t need to add any salt as there’s plenty in the stock and pesto.

Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan.

How about trying some of my other risotto recipes: Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto, Sausage & Courgette Risotto or Squash & Goats Cheese.

A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

Family Dinners, Grown Up Dinners

I love cassoulet. It’s probably one of my favourite winter dinners, but boy is it filling. Way too heavy for this time of year anyway. So here’s a fabulous recipe for an altogether much lighter and healthier take on a cassoulet using chicken instead of duck and adding lovely in season asparagus to replace some of the beans.

I wish I could say I devised this recipe myself, but alas no it’s from my beloved Leon book by the inspirational Allegra McEvedy. Ever since I’ve had the book I’ve been excited about trying this particular recipe and have rather impatiently been waiting for the asparagus season to commence. And now we’re in it, I’ve made cassoulet three times already and always a success. Equally great for a family supper, a lunch or dinner party. Everyone seems to love it and it’s surprisingly quick and easy to assemble.

The original recipe calls for chicken supremes but I’ve successfully replaced with cheaper whole chicken legs but feel free to go with the original if you prefer breast meat. When I made the cassoulet for a dinner party I cut down on the asparagus (as 3 bundles was just a tad too expensive at E4.50 a pop!) and used half asparagus, half sliced courgettes and this worked marvellously.  I’d also say that you could omit the chicken altogether and replace the chicken stock with veggie to make a really interesting vegetarian dinner.

Try to start this dish the day before and leave the chicken to marinade in the fridge overnight, or at least for a whole day.

By the way that’s Dotty in the background. She’s the newest member of the Foti clan, a gorgeous little fluff ball of a Collie pup. And no she didn’t get to eat any!.

Enough for 4:

2 unwaxed lemons, zested and juiced

6 tablespoons of olive oil

8 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 bay leaves

black pepper & salt

4 whole free range chicken leg pieces, skin removed

2 bunches of asparagus, or 1 bunch and 1 large courgette

2 medium onions, diced

2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

a large glass of white wine

400ml of chicken stock

8 tablespoons of breadcrumbs plus a little extra olive oil for drizzling

4 lemon wedges to serve

Place the lemon zest and juice, two thirds of the olive oil, half the garlic, the thyme and bay leaves, a generous grinding of black pepper and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade thoroughly in. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade for the day or ideally overnight.

The next day preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Heat the remainder of the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, set aside the marinade. Fry the chicken on all sides until a little golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Now add the remainder of the garlic and the marinade and fry for a couple more minutes. Tip in the beans and the white wine. Give everything a good stir and leave to bubble away for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced by half.

Meanwhile prepare your asparagus. Remove and discard the woody ends and cut the stems into roughly one inch lengths ensuring the heads remain whole. Retain four whole asparagus stems for the top. If using a courgette slice in half lengthways then slice across in roughly 0.5cm slices.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the asparagus (and courgette if using). Have a taste check and season really well. Place the beans in an appropriately sized ovenproof dish then tuck the chicken legs in.

Pour over the chicken stock until you can just see the liquid level below the beans.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top and place the four whole asparagus spears on the crumbs. Drizzle a little olive oil over everything.

Place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The crumbs should be golden and edges bubbling.

Great served with a light salad and lemon wedges on the side.

Here’s another couple of fabulous Leon recipes to try The Best Chilli Ever, and Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans.

Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto

I’m very excited it’s Asparagus season again. Though here in France, like the rest of Northwestern Europe, they favour the grown in the dark white asparagus over the open air green tips more commonly found elsewhere. And it’s the green I definitely prefer. Asparagus happens to be one of my favourite veggies, and one I’d really like to grow myself once I decide on a permanent spot in the veg patch for it. It’s a dauntingly long wait of a couple of years from seed sowing to cropping…which undoubtedly will test my un-patient self, but once cropping the plants can last up to a lengthy twenty years!

This is my first spring risotto of the year, and possibly my favourite risotto recipe ever. So light and delicately flavoured, rather than the heavier meatier and rootier winter risottos of our last few months. Ideally this should be made with fresh peas, but as my pea plants are still very much in their infancy and no way near ready for picking, I used good old shop bought frozen ones, which I actually don’t have a problem with at all. Here’s one of my baby pea plants….hurry up!:

I don’t know why exactly but risottos tend to be the domain of the grown up folk in the Foti household, usually something I put together once the wee ones are snuggled up in bed. Hence the recipe for two…just double up for a family. Little Miss F is never too keen on them but will eat under duress, and Master F would willingly eat most things, especially anything with rice and his beloved peas in!

I’ve entered the recipe into this month’s ‘One Ingredient’ challenge, hosted by Nazima at Working London Mummy and Laura at How to Cook Good Food. This month the one ingredient is lemon.

Enough for 2:

20g of butter

a tablespoon of olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

150g of arborio or other risotto rice

a glass of white wine

600ml of hot weak chicken or vegetable stock

a bunch of fresh green asparagus

110g of fresh or frozen peas

the zest of an unwaxed lemon plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of the juice

a heaped tablespoon of half fat creme fraiche

40g of freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

salt and pepper

Prepare the asparagus by removing and discarding the woody white ends.  Cut the tips to about an inch in length and the remaining stalks to a 1 to 2cm length. Set aside.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of butter and oil. Pour in the white wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once the wine’s almost evaporated add a ladleful of the hot stock and continue to stir from time to time.

Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice add another ladleful. Once this has been absorbed stir in your third ladleful of stock together with the asparagus. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last lot is absorbed.

When the rice is nearly cooked stir in the peas, lemon zest and a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Once the peas, rice and asparagus are all cooked remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche and Parmesan. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit, plus further lemon juice if you like.

Here’s two other risotto recipes you might like to try, Sausage & Courgette Risotto and Squash & Goats Cheese Risotto

Mediterranean Pot Roast Chicken

As I’ve mentioned before I’m a big fan of pot roasting chicken, not only to avoid using our worse than awful gas oven, but it’s a fabulously succulent way to cook a chicken (or indeed any meat), particularly for slightly older-than-supermarket birds as ours was.

I made this a few days ago for our Sunday lunch when I was trying to think up something a little bit different and special to do with the first of our chicken brood to hit the pot, so to speak. She was a lovely lady though sadly went a bit lame. Luckily for us our kind neighbour down the  road offered to do the deadly deed and we were spared it this first time. I’m sure next time we’ll have to get involved and eventually it’ll be Phil or I bearing the knife. Something I’m wholeheartedly not looking forward to.

Sad to say but she turned into a great dinner and was very much appreciated and enjoyed by all. Slow cooked in a pan on the hob in lots of white wine, tomatoes, aubergine, courgette and peppers and flavoured with one of my favourite spices, sweet smoked paprika, and then served on a bed of fluffy couscous. Even better that there were lots of saucy and chickeny leftovers for the next day which made for a fabulous pasta sauce.

Enough for a family of 4, with plenty of leftovers for the next day:

a medium to large chicken, about 1.5 to 2 kgs

salt & pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

a large onion, diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

2 teaspoons of sweet smoked paprika

500ml of white wine

200ml of water

2 x 400g cans of good quality chopped tomatoes

a heaped tablespoon of tomato puree

3 sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

a red pepper

a green pepper

a medium aubergine

a large courgette

100g of stones green olives

2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large deep casserole or saucepan, one big enough to easily hold the chicken and that has a lid, on a low heat. Season the chicken all over with a little salt and black pepper, massage into the skin. Place the chicken in the pan and turn every few minutes until it’s golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Place the garlic, onion and celery in the same pan and saute on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.  Stir in the paprika and allow to cook for a minute, whilst continuing to stir. Pour in the wine, water and chopped tomatoes, and add the tomato puree, thyme, bay leaves and a generous grinding of black pepper. Place the chicken back in the pot and bring to a gentle simmer and cover. Allow to bubble away for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the other veggies. Slice the peppers into strips by slicing each pepper in half lengthways, then each half into quarters lengthways and each of those into 3 or 4 narrow strips. Dice the aubergine into about 1.5 cm pieces. Cut the courgette into 4 quarters lengthways and dice each of the quarters into 0.5 to 1cm pieces.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil on a low heat in a large frying pan or saucepan. Once hot add the peppers and aubergine. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Now add the courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Once the chicken has been simmering for 45 minutes stir in the cooked veggies and the olives. Cover and cook for a further 45 minutes. The chicken should easily fall off the bone, if it doesn’t cook for a little longer.

Have a taste check adding more salt and pepper to the sauce to suit. Stir in the chopped parsley. Carve the chicken and serve with a generous ladleful of the Mediterranean veggies over the top. It’s great served on a bed of couscous.

Moules Frites, Mussels Marinieres & Chips

Mussels are a real treat in our house, though being as cheap as chips and abundant as they are there’s no real reason for this. They also happen to be my husband Philipe’s absolutely most favourite dinner, but only with a simple Mariniere sauce and served with a mound of chips and plenty of fresh bread on the side to soak up all the lovely broth. Plus a little bowl of homemade mayonnaise. Whilst I’m sure our kids would love Moules Frites too, they’re a grown up late night treat in our house to messily and greedily tuck in to when the kids are safely tucked away in bed.

The fiddliest bit of cooking mussels is in preparatory cleaning and de-bearding. It really is worth taking the time to thoroughly clean each individual shell and pull off any hairy ‘beards’, at least if you want to up your chances of avoiding poorly tummies. In doing so discard any broken or open shells. Once this fiddly task is done they’re unbelievably easy and quick to cook.

Traditionally Marinieres sauce is made with shallots, garlic, fresh herbs and white wine. I tend to add a little creme fraiche or double cream to mine, but feel free to omit if you don’t do cream sauces. I love using tarragon with it’s slight note of aniseed, but if you don’t have any to hand it’s just as nice with only parsley.

I cook my own chips to serve with mussels, but as I don’t have a deep fat fryer mine are more healthily baked in the oven. And they really don’t take long to cook either, parboiled for 4 minutes then roasted in a little sunflower oil in a very hot oven for a further 15 to 20.  Barely longer than shop bought oven chips yet so much better, they really are surprisingly good.

Enough for two hungry big people:

For the Moules Mariniere:
a kilo to a kilo and a half of fresh mussels
15g of butter
a tablespoon of olive oil
a shallot, finely chopped
a large clove of garlic, or two small, finely diced
a large glass of white wine
a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
a tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon (optional)
salt & pepper
4 tablespoons of creme fraiche or double cream

For the Frites:
2 large potatoes, Desiree or other floury ones, peeled
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
salt & pepper

Start with thoroughly cleaning all your mussels, scrubbing the shells and removing their hairy beards. Discard any with broken or open shells. Set aside until you’re ready to cook them.

Preheat your oven to 230°C, or as hot as it will go.

Peel and slice the potatoes into chips, cutting first lengthways into 1cm slices, then into 1cm thick chips. Unfortunately any thinner and they’re a bit too tricky to oven cook. Place the chips in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 4 minutes. Drain well and leave to steam for a couple of minutes.

Carefully empty the parboiled chips out onto a large baking tray and coat them evenly in 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil and a little salt and pepper. Place in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning at least a couple of times during the cooking time. They’re ready when they’re golden and crisp.

About half way through the chip’s cooking time start the Moules Mariniere. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan (one big enough to easily hold all the mussels, and one that has a lid) and gently fry the finely chopped shallot and garlic for about 5 minutes until very soft, stirring regularly. Add the wine and herbs and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the cream or creme fraiche (if using) and bring back to a simmer. Tip in the mussels, shake around in the sauce a little and put the lid on. Steam the mussels on a medium heat until most of the shells are open, this should be only about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve the mussels and chips immediately with a pot of mayonnaise and plenty of fresh bread on the side.

If you like this have you tried any of my other fishy recipes, Salmon Fishcakes with Herby Garlicky Mayo, Fish & Chips with Homemade Mayo, Kid’s Fish Pie or Smoked Salmon & Broccoli Penne?

Pot Roast Chicken in a Lardon, White Wine & Creme Fraiche Sauce with Leek & Mustard Mash

This was our Sunday dinner last weekend and inarguably makes my Sunday Food Heaven top 5 list!. We all LOVED it, and needless to say there weren’t many chickenie leftovers!

I’m really into pot roasting meat these days as it by-passes having to use an oven, and as I’m sure most of you are well aware our temporary gas oven is worse than dreadful and best avoided at all costs. I daren’t buy a decent bird or joint of meat until it’s replaced, unless I can pot roast it on the hob. If you have a slightly older chicken (as we had, a gift from a neighbour) then this is also a particularly great way to cook it and retain as much moisture in the meat as you can. Older in age I mean, not old in the sense of it knocking around the fridge for a couple of weeks!.

Steamed in plenty of white wine, lardons (or streaky bacon if you can’t source), thyme, bay, garlic and onion, then thickened with a little crème fraiche at the end, this is a rather splendidly rich dish yet somehow light at the same time. I like to serve a mound of fluffy leek and wholegrain mustard mashed potato on the side as well as a simple steamed green veg, and in our case french beans fresh from the freezer (fresh from the garden last summer anyway!). Leek & mustard mash is also great with sausages, a pork joint or chops or just a plain roasted chicken.

If you happen to have fussy kids (we have one!) then with very little effort you can adapt this dinner to suit the whole family. If your kids don’t ‘do’ sauces as many seem not to (our daughter recoils with horror at anything other than gravy!) then they can just have the plain chicken, leaving even more delish sauce for those that can appreciate it. Similarly on the mash front I tend to keep a little plain mash back before adding the mustard and leeks. As it happened they both ate the lot today, sauce and all.

Enough for 4:

2 tbsps olive oil

salt & pepper

an average sized chicken (about 1.5kg)

1 smallish onion, finely diced

5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

200g lardons or streaky bacon

500ml white wine

500ml chicken stock

4 large sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

3 bay leaves

4 heaped tbsps of creme fraiche

For the Leek & Mustard Mash:

900g of peeled potatoes, cut into large chunks

1 tbsp olive oil

2 large leeks, thoroughly washed and finely sliced

30g butter

a dash of milk

salt & pepper

1 to 2 tbsps wholegrain mustard

Add the olive oil to a very large saucepan or casserole dish (it must be able to easily contain the chicken and have a lid), place on a low heat. Season the chicken all over with a  little salt and black pepper, massage into the skin. Place the chicken in the pan and turn every few minutes until it’s golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Place the onions and garlic in the same pan and sauté on a gentle heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Add the lardons and cook for a further 5 minutes. Put the chicken back in the pan with the onions and lardons, along with the white wine, chicken stock, the thyme and bay leaves and last but not least a generous grinding of black pepper.

Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for one and a half hours with the lid on. The chicken is ready when it falls easily off the bone.

Whilst the chicken is simmering away make your mash. Boil the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling salted water. While they’re boiling saute the sliced leeks in a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, stir regularly and saute for about 10 minutes until very soft. If the leeks are catching on the bottom a little too much, add a splash of water. When the potatoes are cooked drain and leave to steam for a couple of minutes to dry out. Mash with a potato masher, mashing in the butter, a dash of milk, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the cooked leeks and the wholegrain mustard. Start with just one tablespoon of the mustard and taste, add more to suit your taste – I like about two tablespoons!.

When the chicken’s cooked, remove from the pan and leave to rest in a covered dish or a roasting pan covered with foil, so that it stays warm. Stir the creme fraiche into the sauce and bring back to the boil. Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and is a little thicker. Pour into a serving jug.

Carve the chicken and serve with a generous pouring of sauce over thet top, a mound of mash and a green veggie on the side. Perfect.

Have you tried my Coq au VinSimple Chicken Stew or Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans recipes?

A Simple Chicken Stew

Hoping you all had a wonderful christmas with lots of tasty fodder, and wishing a very happy and prosperous 2012!. My apologies for over three weeks absence from the blog, but Chez Foti all went to England for Christmas and although it was my best of intentions to continue blogging, time was most definitely short….and the laptop I intended to use was festively soaked in rather too much vin rouge (luckily it’s now made a full and dried out recovery).

To kick off the New Year I’m blogging my very simple, and not to mention very healthy, Chicken Stew recipe. I tend to make this with the kids in mind, though more often than not it’s our family supper too. Any leftovers get put into small portion sized tupperware pots and frozen for a later convenience dinner for the wee ones.

You can add lots of different veggies to the stew, depending on what’s in season or what you have lurking. Today I used cauliflower, carrots, some pumpkin and a few green beans from the freezer. Peppers, squash, mushrooms, swede, parsnips, sweet potato, cabbage, peas, spinach etc are all great additions. This stew’s a lovely way to fill up those wee little tummies with an abundance of good veg.

Enough for 8 children’s portions or a family of 4:

3 whole chicken legs, skin removed

olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, sliced

2 sticks of celery, sliced

500g of other veggies, cut into appropriate sized pieces

a large glass of white wine (optional)

a heaped tbsp of tomato puree

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs of thyme (optional)

500ml of chicken stock

black pepper

Add a good glug of olive oil to a large saucepan or casserole and place on the heat. Add the chicken legs and fry on  both sides until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan and fry for a few minutes until softened, adding a little extra olive oil if necessary. Now add the carrots and celery and all the other veggies, though if you’re using less robust veggies like cabbage, spinach or peas add these towards the end of the cooking process. Cook all the veggies for a few minutes, stirring regularly.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with the white wine if using, the tomato puree, the bay leaves and thyme (if using). Pour in the chicken stock and add a good grind of black pepper.

Bring to the boil and cover and simmer gently for one hour, until the chicken is falling off the bone and the veggies are very tender.

Remove the chicken from the bone and return the meat to the stew.

Serve with a big pile of fluffy buttery mash.

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