Cold Cuts and Raisins

Lamb pittas with raisins

Wednesday afternoon. Time to kick back, a moment of time to myself amidst a busy week, to catch my breath. I stare out of the kitchen window into clear skies and my thoughts turn to dinner. What happy morsel can I plate up and fit into a busy evening, without succumbing to an on-the-go fast food alternative or wasting what is still left to use in the refrigerator?

With just two of us living together there is usually a substantial amount of cold roasted meat in my fridge left over from a large chicken or an oversized leg of lamb. Couple this with some kitchen staples, and I can breathe life back into those busily overlooked midweek supper slots.

A handful of dried raisins that I always store in a Kilner jar for baking scones or fruitcake, pep up a salad of watercress and Chinese leafs.  A dollop mint sauce (for lamb, or cranberry jelly for cold chicken, or honey for ham) stirred into some cold natural yoghurt makes a lovely dip or dressing.

Then it’s just a matter of pulling it all together on a slice of bread, deposited into a  warm pitta or even with a helping of couscous or pasta.

Keeping food simple and fresh, I feel is really important during a busy week. Stay inspired and there will never be any need to sacrifice taste for time.

~

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Grandma’s Rice Doodle

The sun is beating down swift rays with highs of thirty degrees this week. So I hope to be creating and introducing quite a few beautiful dishes for lunches, dinners, sides and snacks – ideal for any more heat waves over the summer months.

This is a lovely rice salad from my Grandmother’s repertoire that I found handwritten on a little slip of paper tucked away in the back of a book about French provincial cookery. Almost like a simple salad-version of a special fried rice dish, this little plate looks so pretty and has such subtle flavouring it’s lovely hot or cold.

Ingredients:
A cup of rice (long grain is better for this recipe)
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 spring onion
Leftover roast chicken (or cooked prawns are a nice alternative)
1 Green pepper
½ cup of raisins
Chopped walnuts
A handful of grapes
Fresh parsley

Method:
Steam the rice until cooked and allow to cool a little before tossing the turmeric powder to stain the rice a soft yellow colour.  Finely chop the spring onion and pepper and toss into the rice along with the raisins and pieces of roasted chicken.

Garnish with halves of grapes, fresh parsley and the chopped walnuts.

Roast Chicken Bake

This is a quick fix recipe for one of those I’m-a-bit-stumped-as-to-what-to-have-dinner-tonight moments in life.

Ingredients:
2 large  potatoes, diced
Roasted chicken (boneless)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
A sprig of thyme
3 – 4 large leaves of Spring greens (or 1 leek/cup of spinach)
Salt and pepper to taste

50g mild Cheddar cheese, grated
30g  plain flour
1/2 cup of milk
30g butter
grated nutmeg

Par-boil the diced potatoes in some salted water until they are soft enough to run a knife through easily. While the potatoes are boiling, fry the onions and garlic, adding the spring greens and take off the heat when softened. If you are using spinach, then it doesn’t need much cooking – it will cook through enough in the oven.  Stir in the roasted chicken (and spinach) and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the sauce, begin with a béchamel base by melting the butter in a pan and stirring the flour in to form a smooth paste. Remove from the heat and keep stirring as you mix in the milk. Once consistent and smooth, return to the heat, melt the cheese into the sauce and finish with some grated nutmeg.

Now all the components of the bake are ready to bring together. Put the chicken filling into an oven proof dish and pour over the cheese sauce. Scatter evenly over the top the the diced potatoes. It doesn’t matter if some stick up more than others, these bits will catch the heat and give a characterful golden crispy texture on the topping.

Place in the oven on 200°/gas mark 6 for about 25 mins until the potatoes are a happy golden colour. ~