Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Along with just about everyone, I too used the new year to attempt a “new year new me” healthy living resolution. And, typically, I dropped the ball about a week in when I went on a crazy party all week splurge and just about killed my liver.

One of the things i’m trying to do is eat more salads. Salads are great because of the amount of greens you can get in and because of how healthy you feel after. Not to mention, they can be very satisfying if you plan it right. Despite this, however, I am not a huge salad lover (mostly because i’m very picky!) and the idea of a salad in the winter when you’re hungry is never particularly appealing. That being said, this salad just might convert you all, as it did me! It feels and tastes like summer, is super satisfying and pretty healthy too!

With a herb-y chicken breast, lots of pantry staples (great for students like me who don’t always have loads of different fresh veg to toss in) and a tangy balsamic honey mustard vinaigrette, this salad will satisfy and help you stay on the healthy path. Enjoy!

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Salad Ingredients: 

Serves 1 person generously or 2 for a side.

Chicken: 1 Chicken breast

1-1.5 teaspoon herbes de provence

Rock Salt & Pepper (approx 1/2 teaspoon each)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon of olive oil (just a drizzle on the chicken

squeeze of lemon juice (optional)

1 clove of garlic (optional)

Salad

1-1.5 cups (50 grams) of Arugula (I used a Arugula & Mâche* mix)

A few long, thin strips of red onion. (We’re talking a 1/4 or even less, don’t need much at all!)

3-4 grilled artichoke hearts. (Easily found in antipasti sections in oil, and a great pantry staple)

2-3 teaspoons of black olives

1/4 cup (or 1/2 tomato) deseeded and diced.

2-3 basil leaves, thinly dice

1/8 – 1/4 cup feta cheese, diced

*Mâche is also called “corn salad” or “lamb’s lettuce” and tastes great but I only used it because it’s what is widely available in my supermarket in France. If you just want to use Arugula or sub it with another salad, go ahead!

Vinaigrette: 

Salt & Pepper, to taste.

1 teaspoon wholegrainmustard.

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 – 1 tablespoon of good quality honey.

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Method: 

Place the chicken on a big piece of aluminium foil. Season the chicken breast on both side with the herbs, salt and pepper, garlic powder and drizzle with olive oil. Place the clove of garlic (with peel) in the foil. Fold the foil up and place in a  preheated 180 degree celsius oven and let it cook for 20 minutes. Check on it after 15 minutes to gauge doneness. Overcooked chicken is never great!

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Chicken just doesn’t photograph well, but she tastes great, promise! 

Assemble your salad: Salad leaves, onion strips, minced basil, olives, artichokes and tomatoes. Add the feta on top.

Vinaigrette: Mix all of the vinaigrette ingredients in order. So first, salt & pepper. Then add the mustards and mix. Continue with the rest of the ingredients and mix vigorously so it all emulsifies.

For the honey: I personally think it mellows out the sharpness of the dijon and adds a nice complexity of flavour, but you need to taste and add as much or as little according to your taste.

Slice the chicken, drizzle the dressing, and there you go: My Mediterranean inspired chicken salad. Bon app!

 

Notes:

  •  You can use a variety of antipasti ingredients to make this your own. I suggest roast red peppers, for example.
  • I used fresh basil because I have it on hand and it adds a beautiful taste, but if you don’t happen to have any, just skip it.

 

 

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Return….and Easy Creamy Pasta (with no cream!!)

Creamy Pasta w Bacon and Asparagus

Creamy Pasta w Bacon and Asparagus

Well, it’s been bloody ages since I last posted a recipe or wrote anything here!! What can I say – university is demanding and time-consuming in numerous ways, and it is easy to get caught up in life. With a constant stream of looming deadlines, many social events and a variety of other activities, I find myself fully immersed in the experience that is university life and am ashamed to say that this often results in me forgetting to blog or not taking nice enough pictures or even calling old friends and family enough!

Anywaysssss, the upcoming summer and living in a house of girls has meant major focus on healthy eating and detox. I’m not one to subscribe to extreme diets and don’t believe in them (for me, at least) because I don’t find them sustainable and think denying yourself certain foods only increases your cravings for them. Instead, I am trying to just eat healthier while still enjoying delicious food. This recipe was born out of my mission to lighten up favourites and basically uses a white ‘béchamel’ sauce made with roux, therefore cutting out the need for cream completely!

Creamy Creamless Pasta

Serves 1-2

Ingredients: 

Sauce:

1 tablespoon Butter

1 tablespoon Flour (not heaped and try to have a bit more melted butter than flour)

1/4 cup of semi-skimmed milk

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper

pinch of nutmeg

To make this sauce, you need to start with the roux. First, melt the spoon of butter. (Ensure this is real butter and not margarine). Once the butter is melted, add the spoon of flour and whisk. This will make a paste (also known as a roux). The roux should not be too thick and should still have a semi-liquid consistency (so if it seems too clumpy even after whisking add a small bits of butter.) Whisk this roux and allow it come to a golden brown colour (approx. 3-5 minutes, over medium heat). Once the roux has changed to a beautiful light brown colour, add your milk and whisk vigorously. Bring the milk to a boil and continue to whisk briskly every once in a while to make sure there are no clumps and no skin forms. As the milk comes to a boil you will see the sauce thickening. When the milk is close to a rolling boil, begin to whisk vigorously again and lower the heat considerably once it has reached desired consistency. Add your salt, pepper and nutmeg now and whisk it in well. Allow the sauce to remain on the heat for a few more minutes to properly incorporate. Serve with pasta immediately.

Notes:

* You can add your seasonings when the milk is simmering or at the end, I do not find it makes much difference.

* When your sauce begins to thicken, remember that you can add more milk if the sauce is too thick. If it seems too thin allow it to continue to reduce in the heat. The thickening occurs quite rapidly once the sauce reaches a certain heat.

* I think béchamel, like all cream sauces, thicken too much once cool so serve as soon as you can once it is ready.

* You can also flavour with mixed herbs instead, or even with a bay leaf. However do not add too many seasonings as it can be overpowering and off putting.

Suggested Mix Ins:

When I make this sauce, I do like to serve it with pasta and a veg/meat for more flavour. I normally add some veg to make it healthier and to add some nutrition to my meal.

Suggested options would be:

Bacon and Asparagus: Fry up some bacon. Remove from heat. Stir fry 1/4 onion and 2 cloves garlic in bacon fat. Caramelise onion, add in garlic. Add some sliced asparagus to this and fry till cooked. (about 5 minutes, they cook quickly and go bitter if over cooked). Re add bacon to this mix. When pasta is cooked (according to package), add it to this mix and pour sauce over it. Mix and serve!

Mushrooms: 

Stir fry 1/4 onion and 2 cloves garlic in olive oil. Caramelise onion, add in garlic. Add some diced mushrooms and cook.  When pasta is cooked (according to package), add it to this veg mix and pour sauce over it. Mix and serve!

In a similar manner you could incorporate a variety of vegetables such as a garden sweet peas, leeks, spinach, kale….the list is endless! The same goes for meat!

I find this recipe quick and easy, with a variety of variations and adaptations possible to suit you and your tastes/needs. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

Chorizo and Tomato Pasta Sauce

I love chorizo. Ever since I moved to the UK and tasted good quality chorizo, I’ve been hooked. It’s so simple and yet, it adds a delicious flavour to nearly every tomato based dish. I buy Tesco finest chorizo which is £2.40 but that £2.40 easily lasts me about 8 meals (and I use it generously!) –  all you need to add some flavour to a simple tomato pasta sauce or chill con carne is an inch or so of diced chorizo. There are so many things to do with it that I consider it a pantry staple!

I do a simple tomato chorizo sauce for dinner when I want something tasty and comforting but don’t want to spend hours slaving over the stove….after all, I could be watching TV shows on Netflix instead!

tomato and chorizo pasta sauce

tomato and chorizo pasta sauce

 

Ingredients:

1/2 white onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1-2 inches of chorizo, diced, peel removed

1 x 400gm can of chopped tomatoes

a pinch of mixed herbs

salt & pepper to taste

parmesan cheese (optional)

finely chopped mushrooms (optional)

red wine (optional)

1/3 tablespoon olive oil (i don’t really measure this to be honest)

 

Instructions:

1. Add the oil to the pan on medium to low heat. Add the onion and the chorizo and let it cook well – it should be a lovely caramelised brown colour. If you are using mushrooms, add them in a minute after the onions and chorizo and let them cook too. When nearly cooked, add the garlic and let it cook for about a minute.

mmmm chorizo!

mmmm chorizo!

2. If you are using wine, deglaze the pan with the red wine now and allow the wine to reduce. If not, skip this step and continue on to the rest.

3. Add the can of chopped tomatoes to the pan allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat.

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4. Take off heat and serve over freshly boiled pasta.

5. Garnish with some grated cheese. (optional)

Buon Appetito!

Quick Quesadillas : 4 ingredients

Now, I must warn you. If you want to make authentic quesadillas, this is NOT the recipe for you. If, however, you want to make delicious quesadillas with 4 store-bought ingredients in less than 5 minutes, this recipe is for you.

I often find myself in need of a good snack; something that is neither too light nor too heavy, healthy, easy to prepare and delicious. When I come home from hours of lectures and seminars with more work to do in the shortest amount of time possible so I can watch the latest Grey’s Anatomy episode AND make it for the student nights on thursday, these are PERFECT! They taste phenomenal, with a subtle garlic flavour and the salsa and refried beans complementing each other perfectly whilst providing a reasonably healthy dish. They are also easy to jazz up and alternate between snack and dinner depending on the choice of fillings. So I have them at 7 when i’m ridiculously hungry with some cooked chicken strips added into the fillings and without when I have my 2 a.m. snack. Such is the student life..

I must be honest, there is no fixed recipe for this dish – it’s one of those toss in however much you want of whatever recipes.

Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Tortillas (I use garlic wraps)

Refried beans

Shredded cheese (I use whatever melty cheese I have on hand)

Salsa ( I have no qualms about using store bought salsa)

Process:

Heat a skillet pan. Place the wrap on a plate. Spread some refried beans on half of it. Spoon some salsa over and spread gently. Top with shredded cheese. Fold over to make a half-moon shape. Place on skillet pan and fry on both sides till the tortilla is warmed through and the cheese has melted. Slice and serve!

Suggestions:

Add some chicken for a more substantial meal.

Add some guacamole and/or sour cream.

Toss in vegetables for added nutrients. (I know, you’re thinking “wtf, vegetables? is she crazy?” but ya know, I like my veggies!)

Link

I know that madeleines are reputed to be difficult to make but the reality? This is one of my easiest recipes! It’s the kind of thing I sit down to make when I have an exam in 3 days and need to relax. (AP Psych, and yes, this monday).

I first learnt how to make madeleines when I went on a language immersion trip to Paris. We spent one entire afternoon at a cooking school there and learnt how to make many delightful French goodies. As for the infamous “hump”, well, this recipe is fool-proof if you follow the instructions. Yes, actually fool-proof! Add a bit more or less, add an ingredient, heck, you could try eye-balling it (though I wouldn’t), it’d still work!

Here are the main tricks:

1) Chill out. It’s not rocket science. Besides, it’s made by the French who are infamous for guestimating recipes!

2) Let the batter rest for 20 minutes.

3) Do not skip out on the lemon zest (which gives it that lovely fresh taste) or the baking powder (you want that lovely -not so pretty- bump, don’t you?)

Now go make yourself some madeleines!

Madeleines de Commercy 

Ingredients:

150 grams sugar (do feel free to reduce or add more depending on your taste. I use approx 150 but taste as I go)

3 eggs

30 grams milk

170 grams flour

11 grams baking powder

85 grams butter

The zest of 1 lemon

Half a vanilla pod (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 220 degree Celsius.

In a bowl, put the sugar, eggs and lemon zest together and beat to a whip. (It doesn’t actually whip up to a peak due to the eggs yolks but beat it till it’s very frothy. I just beat it at the maximum speed for a few minutes.)

Sift the yeast and flour together. Add this to the bowl and mix.

Melt the butter in a pan (I like to brown it a tad too) and then add to the bowl along with the milk. Mix this all together.

Now let the batter rest for at least 20 minutes. Depending on the weather, you can either leave it out or put it in the fridge as I do.

Butter the molds (not necessary if you have silicon molds but it helps nonetheless.) and fill 2/3rd of it.

Bake it in 220 degrees for about 6-7 minutes and then bring it down to 170 degrees and bake for another 5-6 minutes. It should need approximately 10 minutes in the oven. (You can always poke with a toothpick to check if done).

Once they are out and cooled, dust some icing sugar on top (not necessary but oh so tasty) and voila, you have beautiful, humpy madeleines!

If you REALLY love the taste of lemon (we are talking SERIOUS citrus people), you can also dip it in a lemon glaze like David Lebovitz does.

Hope you like it as much as I do!

Hello

I am an avid reader of food blogs in general and have often deliberated starting one of my own. I put it off citing numerous reasons but the real reason was, I was scared. I was scared of putting my heart and soul, my passion for food, on a website. Scared something would go wrong. As usual, I over-thought, over hypothesized and procrastinated. Today, however, while lunching at the lovely Cafe Thulp in the Koramangala area of Bangalore, India this changed. A very close friend of mine, M, paused mid-conversation and went “you should write a review about this” which led to me revealing my desire to start a food blog and citing said numerous reasons when she looked me in the eye and went “Just do it. Start one. Stop overthinking”. So I did. I took the plunge and here we are.

Hello!