recipes etc.
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merry christmas!


crispy garlic chicken


this isn’t a particularly elegant looking dish but it was very delicious. the heart of it is nigel’s slater’s recipe for garlic-crumbed chicken which is inspired by a chicken kiev but adds cheese and bacon, whilst removing the risk factor that comes with needing to create a sealed pocket for all the garlic butter goodness. it’s also a great way of really packing flavour around chicken breasts, which can sometimes be a bit dull.

skinless chicken breasts are slashed and then stuffed with cheese that has been rolled in chopped parsley (the recipe calls for taleggio but i used mozzarella as that was what needed using up) then topped with a mix of breadcrumbs, garlic and pancetta that have been fried in butter, before baking through.

the end result is both fresh (from the parsley, which really does retain its flavour) and savoury (the garlic and bacon flavours really stand out) whilst also being fairly forgiving – assembling the dish is quick and easy and the topping of breadcrumbs hides any messiness in your preparation. i also think it would be a good standby option if you make a bigger batch of the fried breadcrumbs which could then be used from frozen. the other thing i’d think about for next time is adding some chopped rosemary to the breadcrumb mix.

we ate this with some tagliatelle which was tossed with mushrooms that had been sautéed in a little butter and then finished with some double cream and extra parsley. the contrast of the crispy breadcrumbs with the creamy pasta was particularly nice.

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potato pancakes with creamy mushrooms and cavolo nero

this is a wonderful dish for days when you’ve been overindulging and need a little respite, but nothing too austere. in fact there’s nothing austere about this but the earthy combination of mushrooms and cavolo nero somehow managed to persuade me it was a step in a healthy direction whilst also being wonderfully comforting.

the pancakes are made from mashed potato which are fried in butter before being topped with a mix of mushrooms (i used button and portobello mushrooms; a handful of something more exotic would work really well) and cavolo nero, enriched with a little white wine and double cream. a pinch of allspice and some caynenne pepper added a bit of extra interest.

i had this for brunch a couple of times, having shaped the mashed potato mix into a log that could be kept into the fridge and sliced as i needed it. perfect for a long weekend, especially if you get creative with the toppings and move on from mushrooms, perhaps towards a more mediterranean mix of slow-cooked peppers and tomatoes, served with crumbled feta and chorizo.

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support the mince pie project

it’s that time of year again – time for the mince pie project!

this is a mince pie marathon in which you can bid to win a box of 35 mince pies, made for you by your favourite chef or restaurant. proceeds go to kid’s company and food cycle, two very worthy causes.

100 chefs are involved, the pies will be made and can be collected or delivered to you (there are restaurants around the country involved, so have a look and see what is local) on wednesday 18 december.

bids need to be in by noon on friday 13 december. so, visit the mince pie project, see which chef's pies appeal most and make a bid!



i’ve read about parkin over recent years and have always been intrigued, but only just got round to making it.

parkin is a cake from the north of england (yorkshire is most often referred to but some in lancashire also seem to claim it as their own) and while it has local/familial variations, the heart of most recipes seem to be black treacle and oatmeal. ginger and other warming spices also seem to be common as does the advice to make it a few days (or even a week) in advance, so the flavour has time to mature and the texture to becomes moister and more sticky!

autumn, and more specifically bonfire night are often the prompt for this to be cooked, so i’m a bit late, but nevertheless, here it is! it is the only parkin i’ve ever tried, so i’ve been dependent on friends for feedback, one of whom talked about the partkins of her childhood varying enormously from a much more crumbly and dry to something more akin to a gingerbread or cake.

i think this is quite a good starting point for someone new to parkin. the flavours are very reminiscent of treacle toffee and gingerbread; i really liked the little nuggets of crystallised ginger; and the texture, which is like a heavy cake, shows off the difference that using oatmeal makes. and the advice about making it advance is worth taking – i’ve just had a piece one week after baking and it was definitely my favourite.

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