Chicken Casserole with Olives and Lemon (4)

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Sitting outside an off-the-beaten-track restaurant in a French village, a dish similar to this went past me to another table and when I ordered it there was none left. It has haunted me ever since. This tastes like I imagine my Poulet aux Olives would have tasted and has a lovely, deep flavored sauce due to using only the dark meat of the chicken which I seared before placing it in the casserole dish. I also de-glazed the frying pan with a little broth and scraped off all the bits stuck to the bottom and poured them on to the chicken. I added slices of lemon in addition to a mixture of green and black olives. When you serve the dish the lemon slices are more than garnish. You can eat them skin and all and they have a much softer taste than raw lemon. Mashed potatoes are a good accompaniment to mop up all the delicious juices.

2 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks

1 onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 1/2 cups chicken broth + a little extra for de-glazing frying pan

1 lemon – sliced

16 pitted olives – 8 green, 8 black

1 tbsp. parsley – chopped

Place 1 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan and the other tbsp. of olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish. When oil is sizzling place chicken pieces in frying pan and the onion in the casserole dish.

Brown the chicken on all sides and let the onion soften and brown a little before adding the garlic.

When the chicken is nicely seared transfer it and the juices to the casserole dish, then add a little chicken broth to the frying pan to de-glaze and remove any bits stuck to the bottom. Pour over the chicken.

Add the other 1 1/2 cups of broth to the chicken along with the lemon slices and olives.

Bring to a boil then simmer with a lid on for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

 

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Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup (4)

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I am excited about this soup as it really has a deep tomato flavor. It is made with canned fire roasted tomatoes (so often it is difficult to find really ripe, juicy and tasty tomatoes otherwise I would have used them) and sun-dried tomatoes. I substituted roast garlic instead of the usual chopped garlic. Roasted garlic is much less intense and sweeter. Each clove turns to a paste in the roasting process.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

TO ROAST THE GARLIC

1 head of garlic

1 tsp. of olive oil

Cut the top of the garlic head off so that you can see the individual cloves. If there are some cloves that are smaller and clustered towards the bottom of the head you can cut their tops off individually.

Remove the outer layer(s) of skin.

Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and slowly pour 1 tsp.  of oil over the cloves making sure each one is covered or brush them with a basting  brush.

Wrap up the foil and place in oven for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven, let cook slightly then remove the garlic from the clove with the end of a teaspoon and set aside until needed.

FOR THE SOUP (MINUS ROASTED GARLIC)

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion – finely chopped

2 x 14.5 oz. cans diced and fire roasted tomatoes

2 pieces of sun-dried tomatoes – cut into little pieces

2 tbsp. tomato paste

2 tbsp. fresh basil plus a little extra for garnish – cut into fine strips

4 cups chicken/veg. broth

Heat the seasoned oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the onion and let soften and slightly brown.

Then add the roasted garlic, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, basil and broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree soup in a food processor or use a hand held blender.

Serve in individual soup bowls garnished with fresh basil.

Chickpea, Spinach and Harissa Stew (4)

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Harissa paste is a staple of Tunisian cooking and is their equivalent of tomato ketchup. It is made from a combination of chilis, roasted red peppers, spices, herbs and garlic. It adds a zing to soups and stews. My recipe can either be served as a vegetarian or vegan main course or as a side dish.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium sized onion – finely chopped

1 large garlic clove – grated

1 tbsp. harissa paste

1 and 1/2 cups passata

1 cup chicken/vegetable broth (add more broth at the end of cooking if you want a thinner sauce)

4 oz. baby tomatoes

1 x 15 oz can of chickpeas

5 oz baby spinach

Heat seasoned olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish with a lid and when sizzling add onion and let soften and brown, then add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add harissa paste, passata, broth, tomatoes, chickpeas and spinach. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer with the lid on for some 20 minutes until tomatoes are bursting their skins.

Oven-Cooked Vegetables and New Potatoes Dotted with Herbed Goat’s Cheese (4)

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The simpler the better but no compromise on flavor. For that a tray bake is the answer. Place everything on a metal tray, toss in olive oil and season – in this case baby asparagus, artichoke hearts and new potatoes. Peas and herby goat’s cheese are added afterwards as they wouldn’t do so well in the oven.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

12 oz. new potatoes – quartered

8 oz. baby asparagus – use the top two thirds of the stem and cut that in half

1 x 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts – drained and quartered

3 tbs. olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4. oz. frozen peas

1 – 2 oz. herbed goat’s cheese – cut into little pieces

Place potatoes, asparagus and artichoke hearts on a metal baking tray. Pour over the olive oil, season and toss well.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes.

5 minutes before the veg. are cooked, boil the peas.

Remove tray from oven, sprinkle over the peas and dot with goat’s cheese.