Mustard Chicken with Spinach Crust (4)

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I was thinking of my spinach roulade for some reason and it occurred to me that it might work as a topping instead of, say, mashed potatoes. What would it go with? Chicken, perhaps? Then, what to do with the chicken? How about lentils? Would it be bland? How about a mustard sauce? This is the thought process I go through as I develop my recipes.

SPINACH CRUST

10 oz. baby spinach – rinsed

4 eggs – separated

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place rinsed spinach in a skillet/frying pan and cook until nicely wilted, then drain and wrap in a clean T-towel to get rid of excess moisture.

When spinach is cool whizz it in a food processor along with the egg yolks and seasoning

Whisk egg whites until stiff then fold into the spinach mixture one large spoonful at a time.

Line a baking tray with waxed paper greased with a little oil, place spinach mixture on top and cook for about 20 minutes or so until mixture is firm

CHICKEN

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

1 onion – finely chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

1 pound of chicken – cut into small bite size pieces

2 cups of cooked lentils

1 cup chicken broth/stock

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

Heat oil in skillet/frying pan and when sizzling add onion and let soften a bit then add garlic and cook until onion is a little browned.

Add chicken and sear till browned on all sides, then add lentils.

Stir the mustard into the broth and pour mixture over chicken. Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Place chicken and lentils in an oven proof dish, remove warm spinach mixture carefully from waxed paper and place on top of  chicken mixture. Serve immediately.

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Zucchini/Courgette ‘Spaghetti’ with Curried Chicken (serves 4)

Zucchini/Courgette ‘Spaghetti’ with Curried Chicken (serves 4)

Out comes the spiralizer again to make zucchini ‘spaghetti – no spiralizer, just use food processor or grate. Decided to combine ground/minced chicken with some onion and Sharwood’s Tikka Paste. Easy to find in UK. Here in the US I found it in the UK food section and the ingredients list seemed fine to me.

2 x zucchini – spiralized/grated/processed

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 x medium onion – finely chopped

1 pound ground/minced chicken

2 tbsp. Sharwood’s Tikka Paste

1 cup veg. broth/stock

Place zucchini in a skillet/frying pan with 1/2 cup veg. broth. Cover with a lid and cook for several minutes until zucchini is cooked through, then drain.

In a separate skillet, place the olive oil and when sizzling add the onion, cook for a minute or two then lower heat a little.

Add ground chicken, tikka paste and 1/2 cup veg. broth.

Cook for 15 minutes.

Pop on top of zucchini spaghetti.

Chicken, Beans and Chipotle Peppers (serves 4)

Chicken, Beans and Chipotle Peppers (serves 4)

Beans/pulses are so good for you and can be put with all sorts of flavors as by themselves they are fairly bland and cooked with chicken by themselves would be one rather tasteless dish. Add onions, garlic and chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce and you have a nice, somewhat spicy flavor. I had half a chicken in my freezer but it led to uneven portions so I would use 4 chicken legs or 8 chicken thighs or a mixture of the two. In a quest to reduce the fat content, I removed the skin.

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper

1 large onion – chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – finely chopped

Chicken – whether, leg, thigh or even bite-size pieces of chicken breast

1 x 15 oz. can of cannellini/navy beans

1 x 15 oz. can of black beans

2 x chipotle peppers – chopped (from can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)

1 tbsp. adobo sauce

3 cups veg. broth/stock

Place oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add onion.

When onion is slightly softened and beginning to brown add garlic and cook for a moment (don’t let garlic brown).

Remove onion and garlic from casserole dish.

Add chicken and sear on all sides until a little browned.

Add rest of ingredients, bring to boil and simmer for an hour.

Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Stew (serves 4)

Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Stew (serves 4)

This stew is one where you pop all the ingredients straight into a cast iron casserole dish – no cooking onions first, then browning the meat, etc., etc. The spiciness comes from a blend of ingredients – canned tomatoes and green chilies, harissa paste and Creole spices. Other than chicken the stew contains sweet potatoes, tomatoes and black beans.

1 pound of chicken tenders – cut into bite size pieces
2 x large cloves of garlic – finely chopped
2 x 15 oz cans of black beans – rinsed and drained
1 x sweet potato – peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 x red pepper – deseeded and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
3 cups of veg. broth/stock
1 tbsp. harissa paste
1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning

Place all ingredients in a cast-iron casserole dish, bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.

Jo’s Chopped Cobb Salad (serves 4)

Jo’s Chopped Cobb Salad (serves 4)

OMG I love this salad! If you chop the ingredients separately you can either combine them all in a salad bowl or you can serve put them in individual serving dishes and let people make their own Cobb Salad. This is ideal if you are catering to vegetarians/vegans – they can omit chicken, bacon and egg. The chicken tenders were cooked in lemon juice and olive oil and once cooked I used the juices as a dressing for the salad. Jo’s Chopped Cobb Salad has no cheese in it or blue cheese dressing, so is quite a bit lighter. I also added red onion.

3 handfuls of arugula – chopped into little bits
1/2 pound of chicken tenders – chopped into little bits
4 slices of bacon – chopped into little bits
1 tomato – chopped into little bits
2 x duck eggs (could be chicken eggs) – chopped into little bits)
1/4 of a red onion – chopped into little bits
1 x avocado – chopped into little bits
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put everything in a salad bowl, season and drizzle with lemon/olive oil juices

Fennel, Celery, Avocado and Lemon Chicken Salad (serves 4)

Fennel, Celery, Avocado and Lemon Chicken Salad (serves 4)

I published this recipe last year (kind of) and this is an improved version. It can go either way – take out the chicken and it’s vegetarian and vegan. Have served the vegan version to a vegan friend and she had second helpings. You can even serve it with chicken on the side so that everyone can enjoy it as they like. Because chicken can be a bit bland I am currently always cooking it with lemon juice and olive oil. Then you can eat it hot with veg. or cold chopped into salads. Great for a packed lunch too.

2 x chicken breasts (seasoned and cooked in juice of 1/2 lemon and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil)
1 x fennel bulb – sliced or chopped
3 x sticks of celery – sliced
1 x avocado – diced

Let chicken cool and then slice into bit sized pieces.
Place the other ingredients in a bowl and then add chicken and mix well.
Serve with a lemon vinaigrette – juice of half a lemon and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.

**Little Known Food Fact**
Aluminum foil – such a convenient product, but information about aluminum is enough to make me re-think using it. When cooking, instead of wrapping foods in aluminum foil and kind of poaching them, I will just put them in an ovenproof dish, baste them a couple of times while they are cooking and put a pan lid over them.

Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 4)

Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 4)

This recipe just came to me for some bizarre reason when I was cooking my vegetable curry yesterday. The first time I had stuffed tomatoes was when I was an au pair in France. The mother was thrilled when she knew I could cook as she hated cooking. She taught me her recipes and then I made them on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. So alongside stuffed tomatoes, there was (naturally) quiche, steak hache and sometimes tartare, roast chicken (and when we vacationed in Scotland it was roast rabbit!). There must have been other dishes in her repertoire but other than soup in an alarming pressure cooker, I don’t remember them.

Her stuffed tomatoes contained ground beef, rice, tomato and parsley. Mine contain chicken sausage, onion, garlic, tomato, spinach, quinoa and the secret ingredient, Dijon Mustard. I deconstructed the chicken sausage (Al Fresco brand, though it did contain the dreaded ‘natural flavors’ (somehow they are not artificial ingredients!)) i.e. took off the skin and chopped them up. The stuffed tomatoes looked quite jaunty as they went in the oven as I popped the top of the tomato on the stuffing like a hat! I stuffed 4 large tomatoes but could have stuffed 6 if I needed to. As I fed these to the children I looked after in France, these might appeal to children everywhere.

1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 of a large onion – finely chopped

1 large clove of garlic – finely chopped

4 large, ripe tomatoes – tops cut off, insides put in a bowl and chopped up

2 x chicken sausages – skinned and chopped into little pieces

1/2 cup of cooked quinoa

5 oz baby spinach – cooked and chopped

2 teasp. Dijon mustard

Heat seasoned oil in a skillet, when sizzling add onion and garlic and soften.

In a bowl put the insides of the tomatoes, the softened onions and garlic, chopped chicken sausage, quinoa, chopped spinach and the mustard. Mix together well.

Fill the tomato shells with the mixture, top with a ‘hat’ of tomato.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes.