Chicken Provencal

Rosemary

Serves 2

Mougins, nestled in the hills above Cannes, first became noted for its art; Picasso being the most famous of its erstwhile residents. Nowadays Mougins is also famed for its fine restaurants. I have come across many versions of Chicken Provencal over the years but none so good as is served in one of my favourite restaurants in Mougins.   This is my version of it. It is easy and quick to prepare but because of the short cooking time, make sure you use only the very best quality chicken.

Don’t worry about the amount of rosemary – it is what makes this dish so special. Some people don’t like to eat whole rosemary leaves so if that’s you, strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and finely chop them almost to a powder before cooking.

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thighs
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
6 shallots, peeled and halved
½ red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
½ yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 long sprigs of fresh rosemary (each sprig 10cm (4 inches) long)
4 bay leaves
12 pitted green olives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g (14oz) tin of cherry tomatoes (preferably Mutti)

Heat the oil in a large thick based saucepan. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Turn the heat down and continue to sauté gently until nearly cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

Add the red onions, shallots, peppers and garlic to the pan and stir-fry until starting to soften (approx. 4 minutes). Add the rosemary, bay leaves and olives, season with salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes or until the onions and peppers start to colour.

Pour in the cherry tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes until the chicken is hot and cooked through.

I like to serve this dish with roasted potatoes and pan-fried courgettes.

Frying an egg on our terrace in Malta

Sand.r.a (1 of 1)The other day I was talking to my sister Sand.r.a on the phone and I told her the temperature on our terrace in Malta had risen to an eye-melting 55°C. She immediately said, “Why don’t you try frying an egg on it?” Yes, it is strange how some people’s minds work.

But, having been given the challenge, how could I resist? So here is my guide to frying an egg on a terrace when the temperature in the sun reaches 55°C.

Egg frying on terrace (1 of 7)1.  Put a small frying pan in the sun on the terrace to heat up. Do lots of jumping up and down shouting, “Ow, ow, ow,” as your bare feet get burned by the hot tiles.

 

 

 

Egg frying on terrace (2 of 7)2.  Buy an egg.

 

 

 

 

Egg frying on terrace (3 of 7)3.  Carefully crack the egg into a small bowl. We don’t want any broken yolks here.

 

 

 

 

Egg frying on terrace (4 of 7)4.  Tip the egg into the hot frying pan. Do lots more jumping up and down shouting, “Ow, ow, ow,” as your feet get burned by the hot tiles again.

 

 

 

Egg frying on terrace (5 of 7)5.  Take a photo after one hour of the still almost-raw egg. (And yes, do the, “Ow, ow, ow,” thing again.)

 

 

 

Egg frying on terrace (6 of 7)6.  Keep an eye out to make sure a passing lizard doesn’t eat it.

 

 

 

 

Egg frying on terrace (7 of 7)7.  After three hours put on your flip-flops and take another photo to show that the yolk has split and the white has partly cooked.

 

 

 

8.  Eat it, dash to the toilet, and whatever you do, do not take any more photos.

Phone without speed dial (1 of 1)9.  Take your sister off speed dial.

Chilli with Ancho, Chipotle and Cayenne

Mixed chillies

Serves 4

This is a vegan dish. It is made special by the mix of chilli powders. The ancho and chipotle powders add flavour and the cayenne adds heat, and the cumin and oregano give the distinctive Mexican chilli taste that we all love so much. Ancho chillies, so called because of their shape (in Mexican Spanish, ancho means wide) are dried poblano chillies with a mild-to-medium heat. Chipotle chillies (chipotle is a derivative of the Aztec word for smoked chilli), are smoked and dried jalapeno chillies with a medium heat. Cayenne chillies (named after the city of Cayenne in French Guiana) are slightly hot.

There are reportedly up to 3,000 varieties of chillies, so why not experiment with your own blends? And if you create a winner, let me know!

3 tbs vegetable oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Chilli powder mix: (1 rounded tsp ancho chilli powder, I rounded tsp chipotle chilli powder, ¼ tsp cayenne, 1 heaped tablespoon dried oregano, 1 heaped tablespoon ground cumin, ¼ tsp ground black pepper, a generous pinch of salt)
400ml vegetable stock made with vegan stock powder
2 x 400g tins Mutti tomato pulp (or tins of chopped tomatoes)
250g black turtle beans that have been soaked in water for 24 hours then rinsed and drained.
1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 sweet peppers (1 each of green, yellow and red), deseeded and chopped
Optional: lemon juice and sugar

Heat the oil and sauté the onions until softened and starting to colour, approx. 15 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute. Add the chilli powder and stir fry for 1 minute, adding a splash of stock if it starts to catch. Add the stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the turtle beans and simmer covered until the beans are soft. This can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours; you never can tell with turtle beans. Check the seasoning, adding cayenne, salt, lemon juice and/or sugar as necessary to give strong flavours. At this stage the dish can be cooled and kept in the fridge for a couple of days or stored frozen until needed.

To finish the dish, reheat the chilli and add the kidney beans and peppers and simmer for 20 minutes.

This is good served with plain boiled rice, crispy iceberg lettuce and salty tortilla chips.

Fish Curry

Tamarind

Serves 2 as a main course

This curry has a wonderful aromatic sweet and sour taste.  The sourness comes from the tamarind.  Not so long ago you had to soak raw tamarind in hot water to extract the flavours.  Now the hard work is done for you as tamarind paste is widely available in supermarkets.  This curry is fairly mild, so if you like it hotter either add more chillies to the curry paste or add cayenne towards the end.

(By the by, the label on the tamarind paste said “concentrate” so LW stared at it for two hours solid.)

For the curry paste…
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, grated
1 to 2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
6 level tsp ground coriander
2 rounded tsp ground cumin
1 rounded tsp turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper
2 level tsp tamarind paste

Combine all of the ingredients.

For the finished dish…
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
350g passata
Salt
1 tsp sugar
Optional, according to taste: red wine vinegar, cayenne
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
2 fish steaks (salmon works well)

Heat the oil and soften and brown the onions, approx. 20 minutes.  Add the curry paste and stir fry for 2 minutes.  Add a splash of water if it starts to catch.  Add the passata, salt and sugar and simmer very gently, partly covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and add sugar, red wine vinegar, salt and cayenne as necessary.  The sauce should taste quite strong at this stage.  Cook for a further 10 minutes, then add the coconut milk.  Return to a simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes.  At this stage the sauce can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed.

To finish the dish, bring the sauce back to a simmer and add the fish.  Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the fish is cooked.

I like to serve this curry with rice mixed with Puy lentils.  I cook the rice and the lentils separately, partly because they require different cooking times and partly because you shouldn’t cook lentils with salt (it makes them go hard).  Cook the rice in simmering salted water.  Cook the lentils in simmering unsalted water.  When cooked, drain them and mix them together, adding salt as needed to make the finished dish.  This can all be done ahead of time.  Store the cooled dish in the fridge and reheat in a microwave for 5 minutes when you are ready to serve.