Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pappardelle with Chestnut Mushrooms, straight away please!

I had a strange request from a busy blog-reader today asking what they might put into their lunchtime shopping basket which would provide almost immediate meals with no preparation for the next two nights.  My first answer for the time-strapped was ready meals or take away, but my second, more correctly, was perhaps pasta for tonight and maybe a simple chicken in a dish for tomorrow.

So here is one pasta dish which is on the plate in about 7 minutes and it was the perfect tea for me this evening after my rather painful run along the beach.  This is by no means an original recipe and there are many variations in any good published cookbook so don't be afraid to experiment. 




For one busy person:

8 large chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
1 knob butter
1 tblsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
a small handful of Parmesan

200-250g dried Pappardelle

Bring a deep pan of salted water to the boil.

Heat the oil and butter in a small pan and add the sliced mushrooms.  Fry them on a high heat for a few minutes until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and cook on a moderate heat for another 4-5 minutes.

Place as much Papardelle as you need (200g is an average for a main course) into the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes until al dente. 
Mid-way through cooking the pasta, spoon a few tablespoons of the cooking water into the mushrooms as this will aid the mushroom's adherence to the pasta.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot.  Add the mushrooms and the parmesan and stir it all gently together.
Serve with freshly chopped parsley and Parmesan shavings.


You can add a drop of cream to the mushrooms, or a finely shopped chilli if you like it to have a little kick to it.  Really quick, tasty and so much better than a take-away or a ready meal!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beans 'n' Ham - a hot pot


I have not made this for a long time and the poor winter weather followed by the poor weather forecast for the next two weeks prompted me to make a deeply flavoured, sweet succulent stew to be sucked and savoured and the plate licked clean.  This sounds a little like bringing a pig to a trough and judging from the noises in my kitchen this evening, it was something similar.  I have also substituted the ham in this recipe with chicken pieces (the skin on), browning the skin on the chicken well before adding the rest of the vegetables.

To feed 4-5:

1 ham/bacon, about 1kg in weight

2 tins of butter beans, rinsed well
2 tins chopped/plum/cherry tomatoes
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 large sprigs thyme
2 large garlic cloves
2 pinches of sea salt
2tblsps olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
100g spicy Spanish cooking chorizo, cut in chunks at an angle
2 large organic carrots, scrubbed clean and in large chunks at an angle

Firstly cut the fat off the ham in one or two bits.
Warm, the olive oil in a heavy casserole dish with a secure lid.  Add the thyme and then the fat.  Cook for a few minutes until the oil if flavoured with the fat.
Add the onions and soften in the oily fat for a 5 minutes.  Add the carrots and whole garlic cloves and cook for a few minutes.


Then add the rinsed beans, tins of tomatoes and the chorizo along with another sprig of fresh thyme.


Take the raw ham and place it well into the vegetable sauce and ensure that it is well embedded.  Add 150ml cold water, just enough to almost cover the ham.


Bring to the boil, place the lid on and cook on a low but continuous heat for one and a half hours.

To serve you can remove the ham, slice it into thickish slices and return it to the pot.  Serve with crusty bread and a glass of wine.



This does not look like much in the photographs, but it is a warming, richly flavoured supper for an evening indoors, out of the cold wet weather and away from everyone.



Sunday, September 26, 2010

Roast sea bass with roasted vegetables



WheelerandCompany spent the afternoon at Mount Usher Gardens today seeking out ideas for the garden planting, most specifically a tree.  When it comes to a tree is is really quite a problem for an architect.  Architects tend to opt for the tree which is an object of beauty rather than the tree as the bearer of fruit or of the bearer of an amazing smell for example.  Its all image.  I would like an apple tree or a giant eucalyptus or a dark Yew tree but my architectural training is steering me towards an acer or a silver birch, something more ornamental, Japanese and perfect yet with the right amount of imperfection, just enough to make it different.  Anyway I looked at so many I don't know what I want.  Perhaps a plain old sycamore to make up for the beautiful one that I used to sleep under as a child, which as a result of the family building site is no more....all food for thought, but speaking of food ...

I bought a whole sea bass yesterday from Donegal Seafood at the Dublin Food Coop in St Andrew's Resource Centre in Pearse Street.  The fish here is inexpensive and most importantly is 'out of the sea' fresh.

The recipe is one from Rick Steins 'Seafood' book - my bible of information when it comes to all things fish.  I make this really quite often as the children love it, it is very easy to make with about 10 minutes of preparation and 35-40 minutes cooking time.  You can also vary the vegetable ingredients greatly as I have here.

To feed a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 children, you will need:

1 large-ish sea bass, head on, gutted, scaled, cleaned and dried.

8 waxy potatoes, I used Charlotte, par boiled for 7 minutes
a handful of baby tomatoes, I used Santini, or about 4 fresh plum tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper, cut into thick strips
1 large pinch of saffron
100ml vegetable stock
1 sprig of thyme

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Put the saffron strands into a cup and add about 2blsps of hot water.  Set aside.
Par- boil the potatoes for about 7 minutes until just firm.  Peel and slice into 1 cm thick slices.
Arrange these on the bottom of a rectangular oven-proof dish.
Add the red onion, tomato and peppers.


Pour over the saffron infused water and strands and add the vegetable stock and throw in the thyme.

Place the whole fish on top of the vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and place in the oven for approximately 35-40 minutes until the fish is cooked through.




I put the entire dish on the table and let everyone help themselves, much easier than choosing trees!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Roasted Vegetables with baked Goats Cheese


I made this today for my lunch.  It is absolutely delicious, incredibly easy to make and a lot of it can be prepared in advance.   It was a perfect size for a light lunch but you could use baby beets and a smaller piece of goats cheese for a starter.  I used a St Tola (mature log) organic goats cheese which was perfect for this.  Fresh, strong yet sweet, and a  little bit crumbly to cut meaning little pieces escape only to be teased back into place and enjoyed all the more.
Please do not use the vacuum packed cooked beetroot from the supermarket and especially not the pickled beetroot in a jar.  The flavours of the freshly roasted beetroot with the goats cheese and little crunchy walnuts is quite simply perfect.


For the vegetables (these can be prepared 24 hours in advance):
You will need, for one person:

1 fresh beetroot
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper

To roast the beetroot, wash and trim the shoots and roots off each beet and wrap tightly in tin foil.  Place in the oven at 160 degrees for about 1 hr 15 minutes.  To test whether it is done, take a cocktail stick and insert into the flesh.  If it pushes through easily, then its done.


To store it, wrap it in cling film (skin on) and leave it in the fridge until you need it, but I wouldn't recommend longer than 24 hours as it will loose its freshness.

Peel and quarter 1 red onion and place on a grill pan alongside pieces of red and yellow pepper (skin side up).  Drizzle over a little olive oil.
Cook under a high grill for 15-20 minutes. 
The skin of the peppers will blacken - this is fine, just don't let them blacken too much.
Take the vegetables off the grill and allow to cool.  Rub the blackened skin off the peppers.
When they were cooled completely, drizzle over a little more oil and store them covered with cling film in the fridge.

To assemble the dish:

Take the beetroot out of the fridge, peel it and using a circular cutter, slice down through the beet.  This will allow you to slice off perfect disks of beetroot.  You don't have to do this as it is a little wasteful, you can simply peel and slice.

Turn the oven on to 180 degrees.

Make some rough breadcrumbs (I used a malted grain loaf).  Crush 6 walnuts with your hands and mix them through the breadcrumbs.  Place them on an oven proof plate and place in the oven until they have dried out and are golden brown.

Take 1 generous slice of round goats cheese and remove the rind.  Drizzle a little olive oil on the cheese and roll in the breadcrumbs pressing it slightly between you hands so that the crumbs are stuck in and there are some more on top.
Place on an oven proof plate and bake for 10 minutes until the cheese seems almost about to melt away, but is just intact enough to keep its shape.


Just before the end of cooking place your serving plate into the oven and heat it up, ensuring it is hot and not just warm.
Take it out and arrange the beetroot and roast vegetables on the hot plate.  This will warm them through which will intensify the flavours.


When the cheese is baked, remove and place in the centre.

I drizzled the vegetables with a little of their preserving oil and some Dijon vinaigrette (made with 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 6 tblsps olive oil and salt and pepper to taste)





This was truly delicious and the colours make it look so pretty on the plate.  I have a feeling I will be making this as a starter at my next dinner party.  Try it, you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Feta fetish - Courgette, feta and potato cakes

I have just realised that at least three of my recent posts have included feta cheese.
Traditionally a Greek cheese, the Greek word "feta" coming from the Italian word feta meaning slice, which you will understand when you see it.

Unfortunately it seems that this delicious cheese, because of its popularity, is being factory produced on an ever increasing scale.  It is no surprise that Marks & Spencer stock a lot of it, and it is arguably good.  I dream of travelling Greece to try the traditional hand-made variety, production of which sounds by all accounts to be dying out rapidly, meaning I had better get a move on!

For those of you who are not familiar it is a salty, fresh and very white cheese, which crumbles or cuts very well into salads or for stuffed vegetables, like tomatoes or roasted peppers.  It is packaged normally in either whey or brine. 

This is a combination of several recipes which I have been eyeing up for some time - Courgette, feta and potato cakes.  Some of the recipes call for gram(chickpea) flour but this one is more simple.  These were delicious and you can make them in advance ready for cooking whenever you need them.


You will need:

3 organic courgettes
6 potatoes, Desiree are good as they are equally floury as waxy
1 large bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
2 large eggs beaten
150g feta cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges to serve

With your ever useful box grater, roughly grate the courgette.
Place in a colander, sprinkle with a few generous pinches of sea salt and let it drain for at least one hour.  A lovely green sap will emerge (this probably contains vital minerals).


Meanwhile, boil the potatoes with the skin on until they are just firm to the point of a knife.  Do not let them get too soft or they will not grate successfully.
When they are cool enough to touch, peel and using the grater, grate and leave to cool completely.

When an hour has expired, rinse the courgettes under cold water to remove the salt and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can from them.

Note, if the courgettes are still very wet, or you have difficulty squeezing the liquid out of them, spread them out in a clean, dry tea towel and twist to remove as much excess water as possible. 
In a bowl, combine the courgette with the grated potatoes, crumbled feta, chopped mint and 2 beaten eggs.  Using a wooden spoon, ensure that everything is thoroughly mixed.


Using your hands(the messy part), make small rounded cakes, patting them finally into a floured plate on either side.

At this point, you can store these as they are in the fridge for 24 hours until you need them.

I tried both oven frying them and pan frying them this evening and I found that for two people it is more successful frying them in the pan.  The batch which I cooked in the oven infuriatingly stuck to the bottom of  the tray despite an oil and butter lubrication on the bottom.
So for the final batch I pan fried them and served them with a thick lemon wedge.  They were delicious.  Perhaps a little labour intensive for a mid-week meal for two but perfect for a slightly different side dish of lamb for the weekend.  They would also be delicious dipped into a thinned natural yoghurt with fresh mint.


the oven baked variety

the pan fried variety

I really like these, and if you are organised they can be made in advance and just fried on the pan to order.




Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I feel like a stuffed moose - its time for broccoli


I feel like an old stuffed moose - inert, trapped, even apathetic, yet on the outside I appear content with my lot. 
I used to jump out of bed in the morning, but over the last few weeks I have struggled even if I have gone to bed at 10pm and slept the whole night through.  Not at all normal for me at all, but it kind of crept up on me in the most unexpected way. 
I had decided that it must be down to my age and my level of fitness.  Previously I have found that burning energy creates energy and running 25km a week allowed me to keep up with the fast pace of life as a full time working mother.  So I started running again, but to no avail.  Energy levels are lower than ever. 
Diet is the other variable, the difficult one to change.  The habit of a lifetime which seems virtually immovable when ti comes to change.  I have been reducing my sugar intake, my caffeine intake, snacking on raw carrots and hummus and eating broccoli, cabbage and nuts when I can, and I am glad to say it has made a huge difference.  I sort of fell into a bad habit of not really eating during the day and eating a lot in the evenings which I think also led to the un-restful sleep. 

So its the new, more balanced me - I am eating lunch a lot so its all mung beans and broccoli, for a few days anyway.

I had this for lunch and it was really really good.  Broccoli, feta and olive salad.  On the plate in 6 minutes and full of goodness.

Boil broccoli for 4 minutes, drain and run under cold water.  Pat dry.
Place in a plate and crumble over some feta cheese and some brine-cured Spanish Manzanilla olives.  Drizzle with a dash of lemon juice, a little extra virgin olive oil and some pepper.




Delicious and full of iron.  You can make this the night before and take it into work or you can sit down like I did, alfresco in the sunshine and enjoy being unemployed!

Tune in for some more healthy energy-boosting lunches tomorrow (I hope, its one day at a time here).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Potato, asparagus and goats cheese tart


For those of you harvesting your spuds, this delicious tart is the perfect thing for a Saturday brunch.
I have also been pondering over my lovely goats cheese from the Oisin Farmhouse which has been in the fridge since last Saturday.  I was going to eat it with roast beetroot but didn't feel quite in the mood for it.  It is perfect for this tart and I even have some left over if I do decide on that beetroot.

This is simple to make once you have the slightly-labour-intensive-shortcrust-base part already completed.
It is a great way of getting rid of odds and ends which you keep just in case!

You will need, for six slices:

1 22" short crust base, cooked blind

4 eggs
250ml double cream
150g Parmesan finely grated
8 new potatoes, cooked for 10 minutes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
5 spring onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
150g goats cheese, broken into large-ish pieces
8 asparagus spears, trimmed and blanched
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Melt a little oil and a knob of butter in a pan and add the onion and garlic.  Cook for 8-10 minutes until the onion has caramelised and is sweet and golden. Toss in the spring onions and set aside.  I don't like to cook the spring onions as they still have a nice bite to them when the finished tart has come out of the oven.

Put the cream and eggs in a bowl and whisk well until fully combined.  Add the grated Parmesan, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Layer the slices of potato into the pastry case and layer the pre-cooked onion and garlic over the top.  Dot the pieces of the cheese on top. 


Pour in the cream/egg mixture over the potatoes, onions and cheese and then arrange the asparagus spears on top with the heads in the middle and the stems radiating out around the centre.

Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes.  You will know it is ready if you give it a good wobble and the mixture is no longer liquid and appears set.  Leave it to stand for 10 minutes before serving.



I have to mention this great place which I will be in great need of after eating this cream and egg laden pie - I was at the opening of a really gorgeous skincare clinic in Dun Laoghaire on Thursday night.  Sanctum on Lower Georges Street is well worth a visit, Scandinavian in feel with a great sauna and rose petal filled bath, it boasts treatments such as a slimming seaweed body wrap, caviar eye treatment and various other delicious sounding facial treatments. I cannot wait to book myself to this spacious, luxurious place for some serious pampering - this seems to be the place for it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Courgette with lemon, basil, pine nuts and feta

Readers of the blog, my most sincere apologies for the lack of content since last week.  I have been in the North of Ireland observing the elimination of my childhood home and, despite the fact that a replacement will soon take its place, its very strange to see. 
I have also had a nasty tummy bug which my husband is adamant was a hangover (we stand divided on that matter) and coupled by the fact that I also had a job interview this morning, I have not spent a lot of time in the kitchen this past week.

However I guarantee you that this recipe is enough to make up for my absence, I urge you to try this, it tastes amazing and got an astounding amount of praise from the hungry mob here.  It also happened by accident which I find usually yields the best results.


You will need, for two as a side:

4 small organic courgettes
2 tblsps olive oil
1 knob of butter
juice of half a lemon
1 small bunch basil leaves
1 handful of pine nuts, toasted.
good quality feta cheese


Heat the oil and butter in a shallow pan with a lid.  Slice the courgettes on the slight diagonal, and place them into the pan and cook for about 15 minutes with the lid on, shaking every so often to distribute the cooking.  The beauty about this dish is that some courgette will turn golden and others not, I love the unevenness of it, so don't worry if you think it looks a little odd, it tastes better this way I assure you.


After about 12 minutes add the torn basil leaves and cook on a low heat for a further 3.
Squeeze over the lemon juice and turn off the heat.  With a slotted spoon, place the courgette on each plate and spoon over the juice at the bottom.


Sprinkle over the pine nuts and crumble of over the feta.
Eat and enjoy.  We ate this with leftover escalope of chicken (called 'snitchel' by my four year old) and it was delicious.  Its so simple, I cannot wait to make it again.



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Weather induced Cooking


Since our evening last weekend 'dans la cusine de Dublin 8', I have been thinking  a lot about French food and cooking.  It has gone under my radar a little due to my temporary immersion in Germany for the summer but it will be something that I will revive and embrace once again - it all being down to the Irish weather.  We are having winter-like symptoms and monsoon-like weather conditions and this is simply not good on all fronts, although, to be perfectly honest, I like the excuse of not having to take the boys charging around the park at speed and it gives me a little more time in the kitchen.  Who cares if the rest of the house is a mess!


We really cannot go out because "its lashing mama" to quote my son (see above, Merrion Square, a riot of colours but we are carefully positioned and dry under a large tree canopy). 
So it is us indoors, I have been dreaming about boiled tongue, filet de boeuf au foie gras, pommes de terre au lard and other Perigord-esqe hibernation essentials.

So in our first period of rain-induced captivation, I prepared a deliciously rich, French stew named after the glazed earthenware container it is traditionally cooked in, the daubiere, a pot-bellied-pot with a handle for slow cooking meat which has a tightly closing lid, et voila, Daube de Boeuf à la Provençal.

Tonight I made this in my larger le Creusset casserole dish sealing it tightly with a sheet of grease-proof paper.

You will need, for two and some for lunch:

500g of chuck steak or stewing beef cut into small bite sized pieces
150g smoked pancetta or bacon/lardons
2 large carrots cut thickly
3 medium onions, one finely chopped, the other 2 roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced thickly
6 garlic cloves, sliced
5 black pepper corns, crushed
5 juniper berries, crushed
1/2 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
a handful of Nicoise olives(optional)
1 bouquet garnis, or a homemade one -a bunch of thyme, marjoram, a bay leaf, parsley, tied together
sliced rind and juice of 1 unwaxed orange
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tblsps olive oil for frying
250ml dry red wine
100ml aged red vine vinegar

In a large bowl add the beef pieces, the 2 roughly chopped onions, the carrots, celery, garlic, orange juice and rind, red wine vinegar, red wine and the black pepper, a large pinch of sea salt, the bouquet garni, the juniper berries and cloves.  Mix well together, cover and marinade for at least 2 hours.  This is the work done so if you can get this done in the morning, for an evening meal, it is easy after this.



Heat a little oil in a large casserole dish.  Remove the beef pieces from the marinade and pat dry with a piece of kitchen towel. 
Roll each in flour and brown them in the oil - remove from the pan when brown and set aside,
Add the finely chopped onion and the lardons/pancetta to the empty pan and sautee for about 8 minutes.  Add the marinade liquid and vegetables(remove the cinnmon stick) and the return the beef pieces to the pan. 
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to an absolute minimum and stew slowly for about 3 hours.  The liquid will reduce leaving a sticky, dark, rich stock with meltingly soft beef.  When the cooking is complete stir in the olives and serve.  I didnt have any, so I just left them out, but I have included them before and they are a nice addition.

Eat with crusty bread and a hard cheese shaved over if you like.

The beauty of this is that you could make this on a Thursday evening to serve on a Friday, an effortless dinner which just tastes better for sitting for 24 hrs (in the fridge of course).  If you do this, re-heat very gently the next day until it reaches a gentle boil and it is heated through entirely.


        


 
Drink with a glass of the dry red wine which you used in the marinade, and follow this with Michael Kelly's delicately fine lemon custard tarts - I ate these last Friday (I will track down the recipe), truely delicous and they would be a perfect end to this rich, indulgent supper - I only wish I had some now!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

To market to market to buy some fresh fish


The sun was not shining this morning in Dublin and I could hear the faint rumbling of thunder when I woke - perhaps  it was my slightly throbbing head following a superb evening spent with  some 'dimond geezers' in Dublin 8 last night ... seared beef, saucisson, incredible goats cheese and lots of good wine, all fresh from the farm and the cave in France.  A culinary delight.

I did manage to struggle to the market to get some provisions in the rain, which progressed with greater intensity as the morning wore on.  Delicious sea bass and some lovely (smoked) haddock swam back home with me.  The boys devoured the haddock and the 'Company' and I had the sea bass. 
I served it with a slightly sharp salsa.  Simple, healthy and delicious and incredibly fast to prepare.  Raw ingredients to plate in about 20 minutes.

You will need, for 2 people:

1 or 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded and finely chopped
1/4 red onion, finely shredded
1 small red chili, finely chopped
400g lentilles vertes du Puy, cooked (I used a tin, the Epicure brand)
small bunch coriander leaves
juice of 1 lime

2 sea bass fillets, or 4 if they are small (2 per person)


Mix the tomatoes, red onion, chili, lentils and coriander leaves together.  Add the lime juice and toss gently.  Set aside and cook the fish.


Turn on the grill to its highest heat for a good 10 minutes before cooking the fish.
Line the grill tray with tin foil.  Brush a little oil on both sizes of the fillets and place them, skin side down, on the tin foil and place them under the hot grill for 7-8 minutes, turning once during cooking. 

Spoon the salsa on to the centre of the plate and lay the fillet(s) on top.
Serve with lime wedges and coriander leaves.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The First Day of School

Its has all been early starts, lunchboxes and over-sized uniforms here at WheelerandCompany.  Our little-boy-blue started school on Tuesday and it was worse than any of the stories I have been told. 
Firstly his father was in tears at the breakfast table at the sight of him in his little uniform (this was predicted and so I, deemed the more heartless one, was dispatched for delivery), then the hustle and bustle at the school gate with grannies, uncles, brothers etc. all bombarding the school to say good bye is enough to scare off any child.  It is no wonder that I was the last mammy to leave the classroom, one and a half hours and no less, after school start time - I bet that's a record. 
I had to walk back down the school corridor listening to my son kicking the inside of his classroom door.  I felt sick for the whole two hours that were left of that school day.

Flip side is that his first words when I picked him up after those anxious two hours were "Mama, I really like that school".

As a result, I could not face the kitchen - it was all little lunch boxes and flasks and reminders of what my poor son went through that day.    So generally feeling sorry for myself, I ordered a Thai Green Curry from Kanum at Baggot Street bridge, for 17 euro (OK I had spring rolls and prawn crackers also) - hence the lack of recipe on the blog yesterday - and dare I admit it but the children had bought fish cakes (note- not fingers but cakes) and they loved them.
Today, invigorated fully from those heaty green chillies, I got up at dawn to make a little packed lunch, and basically stuck at it, having tonight's dinner cooked fully at 9.15am- a record even for efficient me.

It meant that we could enjoy the "post-school park outing in the sun with the white skinny-jean clad Liz O'Hurleys" without having the dreaded 'oh god, what and I making for tea'.  One up for me - I bet the skinnies are making fish fingers tonight! 
And Sister Assumpta Wheeler, I know you will be reading this and will give out to me about being a snob - I cannot help it when it comes to food, you know that.  One up for you, yes I ordered Thai food and admited it and I fed my children a ready made meal.  But I do deserve a break after the anguish of the morning.

Ok ... down to business ... I have been meaning to post this deliciously simple one pot supper for a while as I have made it, or several variations of it, since my return to Dublin 3 weeks ago.  I find that it is a really good dish if you have guests round, as the flavours are rich and deep and it goes perfectly with nothing more than a glass of wine, some crusty bread and perhaps(if there is any left) some ripe Camembert.  You can also make it at the crack of dawn and thus have time to squeeze into the skinny jeans in time for the guests to arrive.

I used an organic chicken for this, (non-skinny) legs and thighs and some breast meat.  I also used a home made chicken stock, made from the carcass of our first garden meal.

Roughly chop an onion, two or three carrots, a few stalks of celery.  Peel about 3 cloves of garlic. 
Roughly chop pancetta, streaky bacon or even some chorizo.
Gather what ever herbs you have to hand, oregano, thyme, bay, chervil, parsley and tie them together with string - you could also use a bouquet garni, I have lovely authentic ones brought from France by my mother.
Season the chicken thighs, legs and breast meat with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (each breast cut into about three biggest pieces).

Firstly heat some butter and a drop of oil in a large deep pan (with a lid).  Brown the pieces of meat and set aside.  Add a little more butter and add the onion, garlic and pancetta and cook for 8 minutes until the begin to soften and the pancetta is starting to crisp. 
Add the carrots, celery and herbs and sweat with the lid on for about 5 minutes.  Return the chicken pieces to the pot and pour in one large glass of white wine and the same amount of chicken stock.
Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. 
Tonight I nestled in potatoes on top of the meat and these served as a good accompaniment
Place in the oven (lid on) for about 45 minutes until the chicken pieces are cooked through.
Remove the herbs before serving.










This can be eaten with potatoes, rice or simply alone in a bowl with a side of cheese and bread for that rustic french farmhouse look!


Must go dig out those white skinny jeans .... after another piece of that really ripe camembert!