Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Classic Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev

I have fond memories of this classic 1970's dish with the moist chicken breast, breadcrumbs and when you cut it open the butter and herbs oozing out all over your plate.  When my daughter came home the other day from school and said she had Chicken Kiev for lunch but that it was horrible I decided to make my own.  It was a lot easier to make than I thought and the finished article tasted divine bringing back fond memories.

Serves 4

4 x 150g chicken breast
3 heaped tbs flour
2 free range eggs
150g breadcrumbs

For the butter
5 cloves garlic crushed
3/4 tbs traditionally Chicken Kiev is made with parsley but I used Herbes de Provence on this occasion
80g butter
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Place the butter, garlic, herbs and cayenne pepper in a blender and wiz together until you have a creamy paste.  Wrap in cling film, in a sausage shape and place in the fridge to set. 

Herb Butter

Chicken Breasts
To prepare the chicken make a pocket in the breast meat as shown in the picture. Place a quarter of the herb butter into the pocket and mold it slightly until it fills the gap then reseal the chicken. Repeat for the remaining three breasts of chicken.
Chicken breast with herb butter filling

Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk, flour in another bowl and the bread crumbs in a third. Dip the chicken breast into the flour until it is evenly coated then into the egg mixture, then finally cover with bread crumbs.

Egg, flour and breadcrumbs

There are two ways to cook the chicken either shallow fry in a frying pan with oil or as I have done by placing the chicken in a tray, drizzle some olive oil over the chicken and place in a preheated oven at 180C for 25 minutes.

Breaded chicken ready for the oven
After 25 minutes the breadcrumbs should be golden brown and the chicken ready to be served. Place on a serving plate and serve with some young new potatoes and a side salad.

Chicken Kiev ready to serve

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons - 1 month in the making

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons

1 month in the making

This is the dish I wanted to cook using lemon preserves but when I could not get any I ended up making my own.  It was well worth the month I had to wait for the lemon preserves to be ready before I could finally make this dish.
Moroccan Chicken

1 cinnamon Stick
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp whole cloves
3 tbs Welsh Rapeseed Oil (Blodyn Aur) or olive oil
6 cloves of garlic chopped
2 tsp of fresh grated ginger
2 bay leaves
1 pinch of saffron
1 free range chicken cut into 8 pieces
pinch of Welsh Anglesey Sea Salt
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
1 preserved lemon (see recipe in my blog) http://searchofgoodfood.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/lemon-preserves.html
chicken stock

In a heavy based frying pan, over a medium heat, toast the cinnamon, cumin, paprika, chilli flakes, whole cloves until they start to smoke. Remove from the pan and grind to a powder.

Heat spice mix gently until they smoke

Cut the free range chicken into 8 pieces

Place the chicken with the spice mix, oil, garlic, ginger, 3 bay leaves, and saffron in a bowl mix all together and allow to marinade for a couple of hours.

Put a little bit of oil in the tagine and place over a medium heat.  Add the onions and fry until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the chicken, a pinch of salt and marinade to the tagine. Mix one 1 cube of chicken stock with a cup of boiling water and add to the tagine. Remove the lemon preserves from the jar, discard flesh and cut rind into strips and add to tagine.

Cover the tagine with a lid and either place on the hob over a medium heat for about 30 minutes or, as I prefer to do, place in the oven on 180C for 1 hour. When ready serve preferably with couscous

Monday, 20 July 2015

Lemon Preserves

Lemon Preserves

The other day I was looking at a Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemon Preservers to cook in my Tagine.  It sounded such a wonderful recipe that I went out to get some of the ingredients.  But for the life of me could I get hold of the Preserved Lemons. I then got to thinking well how difficult can they be to make, in fact as it turned out they are quite simple to make the only catch for me on this occasion was that I had to wait a month before you could use them.

This did not deter me and I set about doing the lemon preserves and the dish would have to wait till they were ready.

3 unwaked lemons
1 1/2 tbs of salt - I have used Anglesey Sea Salt or any quality crystallized salt will do
Water to cover.

You can use optional extra's such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, coriander seeds, black peppercorn or bay leaves.  I didn't use these on this occasion as I just wanted to see how they turned out but by adding them you are increasing the flavour and they also look good enough to give as presents.

Add a bit of salt to a sterilized Kilner or similar type of jar.  Take off the tip of the lemons and quarter

Place in the jar and repeat, adding a bit more salt to each layer until the jar is full

Pour some boiling water onto the lemons until the jar is full, then seal.

Place on a shelve out of direct sunlight for a few days.  Two or three times per day just give the jar a gentle shake to mix. Then place in the fridge for a month.

After a month the lemons can be used.  Discard the flesh and cut the rind into strips or dice and add as instructed to any dish. It definitely adds to the flavour and colour of the Moroccan Chicken dish I eventually got to cook. (Recipe to follow soon)

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Corwen, Hint of Independence and Getting Lost

Week 6 - One long, one short and two medium bike rides

During the week I followed my usual couple of early morning rides around LLanbedr and Llandyrnog and once again I have been very lucky with the weather. I won't describe these routes at any length in this section of the article, as I have described these before, but I have added just a few more pictures out of interest, but further down is my trip to Corwen and back (37 miles)

Early morning sight of Moel Famau

Bench outside Llanbedr.

There is nothing wrong with this bench, in fact it is a very nice bench except for it's location.  It is located about 3/4 mile outside the village of Llanbedr.  There is no clear footpath to it and the views from the bench is not that particularly striking, but someone has taken care to cut the grass around it. Strange but true.

View from above Llanbedr towards Rhuthun.
Llangwyfan Shelter
At first glance you would wonder why someone would build a shelter, which is not even on a bus route, in the middle of no where.  But just up the road is the old Llangwyfan hospital which use to be a sanatorium for those suffering from TB years ago.  This shelter was built as a stopping place for those out for a walk form the hospital. 

Flowers for sale beside the road just outside Llandyrnog


View from Prestatyn towards Rhyl

Last Friday evening my daughter was singing in the choir in Rhyl Pavillion.  I had to take her there for about 6pm and then I had about an hour and a bit before the concert started.  So I took my bike with me and had a quick ride from Rhyl to Prestatyn (8 miles return).  It was a beautiful evening and sometimes I forget how scenic the beaches along this stretch can be.

Looking from Prestatyn out to sea.

Corwen and back

This was my main bike ride of the week and the weather was fair, ideal to top up my bikers tan!! My route took me through Llanynys to Rhewl and past the Drovers Arms. Have not eaten here for quite a while but the pub has a very good reputation for its Ales.

Drovers Arms
Instead of taking the back road today I wanted to get some miles in so I headed straight to Rhuthun from Rhewl.  The road then took me past an old haunt of mine, Rhuthun Rugby Club where I spent most of my Saturday afternoons in years gone by on and off the field.

Rhuthun Rugby Club

From Rhuthun the road climbs very slowly up towards Corwen through the village of Pwllglas to the small hamlet of Bryn Saith Marchog.  I think the name for this hamlet in fantastic, translated it means the Hill of the Seven Horsemen (or knights)

Leaving the hamlet, on the far hill large windmills start to appear like sentinels in the sky.  I use to be in favour of these wind turbines but now we have so many in Wales they are becoming a blight on our beautiful landscape.

Wind turbines just above Gwyddelwern 

After leaving Bryn Saith Marchog I dropped down into the small village of Gwyddelwern where reputable the oldest pub in Wales has just reopened and now serves food.  Part of the Ty Mawr Inn dates back to 1386 but there has been a building on the site dating back probably a further couple of hundred years.  For more information go to http://www.tymawrinn.co.uk/history

Capel Rhug - Rhug Chapel and interior

Not far after leaving Gwyddelwern I came upon Rhug chapel, another ancient Chapel with history going back to William Salisbury and even to Gruffudd ap Cynan.  The chapel itself is quite plain from the outside but the inside is very ornate and is worth a visit.  It is now under the care of Cadw and is only open during week days.  For further information about the chapel go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhug  

River Dee West of Corwen
From Rhug I carry on into Corwen but not before I cross the river Dee (Dyfrdwy).  With it's source in the mountains above Llanuwchlyn and passing through Bala Lake by the time it reaches Corwen it is very much a mature river.

Statue of Owain Glyndwr
I cycled on into Corwen and by this time I was glad to get a small rest and a snack under the eye of Owain Glyndwr.  This statue dominates the square in Corwen and was proudly erected after fundraising effort by the local populace.  His links to this area are quite strong with his home located only a few miles up the road in Sycharth, unfortunately nothing remains today except for a mound where the house would have been.

Owain Glyndwr, many believe, was he last true Prince of Wales and fought for an independent Wales between 1400 and 1415 established a Welsh Parliament, Colleges and a separate Church, but finally after being defeated by the English Crown he mysteriously vanished around 1415 with no accurate record of what happened to him or where he was buried.

Dee River East of Corwen
On leaving the square I pass the old cinema and cross back over the river Dee.  I climb up to the sport centre, turn left and head off towards home.  When I reached the next cross roads I remember seeing on the map before I left the house that if I turned right and then left it would take me up onto the hills above Gwyddelern.  I could then follow a back road back home.

Looking back over the river Dee towards Corwen
Well after a steep climb I found my way up above Gwyddelwern but then obviously took a wrong turning because I was then heading down a steep road which seriously tested my brakes.
Up above Gwyddelwern
At the bottom of the hill I found myself facing the Ty Mawr Inn again.  Well as I was here I decided all I could do was put my head down and cycle towards home along the main road.  

Less than an hour later I found myself back home after a most enjoyable exhilarating ride.  Next week hills and more hills, can't wait !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Thai Street Food -Thai Fish Cakes

Thai Fish Cakes

These I serve as a side dish with a Thai curry.  We first had them when visiting a street market in Bangkok and they have been a firm favourite in our household ever since.   They are very easy to make and only take a few minutes to cook in oil.
Thai Fish Cakes
Makes 8 fish cakes
300g of firm white fish
1 tbs of red curry paste (I used a good quality Thai Curry paste such as May Ploy)
100g green beans chopped
A small bunch of coriander chopped 
Juice of 1/3 lemon
1 tsp of fish sauce 
1 free range egg

300g of firm white fish
Place the fish in a food processor and blend until the fish is a fine mixture, be careful not to allow the mixture to become pureed. 

Chopped green beans

Chop up the green beans finely and then add all the contents into a mixing bowl.  Mix all ingredients together making sure that the curry paste especially has combined well with everything else.

Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl

When all the ingredients are combined make the cakes, there should be enough for about 8 evenly sized cakes.

Make some cakes from the mixture
You can then either shallow fry or deep fry the fish cakes using sunflower oil.  On this occasion I shallow fried the cakes.  Using a frying or saucepan placed enough oil in the pan so that it would just cover the cakes when placed in the pan.  Heat the oil until you can see it starting to bubble slightly.  Carefully place the fish cakes in the oil, as I was using a frying pan I was able to put four in at a time, if you are using a smaller pan you might have to do them two at a time.  Cook until browned and then place in a preheated oven about 120C to keep warm and then cook the remaining cakes. When ready either serve as a side dish with a Thai Curry or as a snack with some salad and Thai chilli Sauce.
Thai fish cakes ready to eat

Spar Llanrwst Local Shop or Multinational chain?

Llanrwst Spar

Local or Not?

Spar Llanrwst
I grew up just outside Llanrwst in a small village called Trefriw.  My father, at that time managed the local Llanrwst branch of the Midland Bank, as it was called then, now HSBC.  I therefore have fond memories of this market town attending the local high school and probably one or two of the local pubs in my late teenage years.  

Once I left the area to attend college, for a number of years afterwards I lost contact with the the area. But about 12 years ago when I ran a small business producing traditionally made ready meals I was looking for outlets that I could supply.  I heard on the grapevine that the owners of Spar Llanrwst, Justin and Sara McIlveen, were someone I should contact as they supported local producers.

Like many I had always thought of Spar as a big chain and quite unapproachable.  But in fact Spar as a concept has many facets.  Spar is a multinational retail chain operation but the shops are mainly independently owned retailers operating under the Spar banner of which Spar Llanrwst is one.  There is approximately 12,500 Spar stores in 35 countries worldwide.  The Spar stores was founded in the Netherlands in 1932 by retailer Adriaan van Well, and through its independent retailing network of stores it operates in most European countries, parts of Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Justin and Sara McIlveen - 2014 Spar Retailer of the Year Winners
Some of the Spars you see on the UK high street are owned by one of 5 larger individually owned companies that operate the wholesaling side of things as well.  Spar Llanrwst even though independently owned by Justin and Sara but operating under the Spar banner are able to call on the buying power of Spar to stock their store but at the same time stock and support local producers.

Jones o Gymru Crisps at Spar Llanrwst
As previously mentioned the first time I met Justin was when I wanted to persuade him to stock my traditionally made ready meals.  I gave him a ring and arranged to meet him at his Llanrwst Store.  I do not know until this day how it happened but I must have nicked my finger somewhere on my way into the store.  Before I knew it I was sat down in his office when I noticed I was bleeding all over his floor.  Justin was as good as gold got me a plaster, got a mop out and the mess was cleared up in no time.  We then sat back down, he had a look at my products and without hesitation he said when could I start supplying his stores.  I went on to supply his three main shops, Llanrwst, Rhos-on-Sea and Penmaenmawr for quite a few years afterwards until I sold my business in 2008.

Llaeth y Llan Yogurts

I moved away from the food sector after 2008 for a number of reasons but in recent times my interest has peaked again, hence this blog.  I was therefore interested to meet Justin again when he got in touch recently, to see if he had carried on with his enthusiasm for local products.

Halen Mon at Spar Llanrwst

He invited me over for a coffee a few days ago and he proudly showed me around his store.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did he still stock local products but the range had increased considerably from when I was last in his store.  Available now in his store are locally made crisps, yogurts, milk, cakes, cheeses, sausages, bacon, cawl (soups), beers by the dozen, cider, even goat meat and I have received a tweet since my meeting saying he is expecting a first delivery of rose veal. The suppliers stocking his store are established names such as Llaeth y Llan, Edwards of Conwy, Blas ar Fwyd, Siwgr a Sbeis, Cenarth Cheese, Snowdonia Cheese, Conwy Bragdy, Halen Mon and more but also some of the more recent suppliers are Glasfryn Bacon, Jones o Gymru Crisps, Blodyn Aur (Rapeseed Oil), Conwy Goat Meat and as mentioned Barcut Rose Veal.

Glasfryn Bacon

Yes it is true that Justin and Sara can call on the multinational Spar for many of the products they stock but there is no doubt that they are both proud of the fact that their stores in Llanrwst, Penmaenmawr and Rhos-on-Sea are locally owned independent stores.  I am also quite sure that there is more of a variety of locally produced Welsh products on the shelves of spar Llanrwst and it's sister shops than you might find in either Tesco, Asda or any of the other multinational Supermarkets.

Edwards of Conwy Sausages and Bacon
I can highly recommend a visit to Spar Llanrwst and I look forward to visiting some of the suppliers of these fantastic local produce.  Also to hear some of their background stories and to try and cook with some of the products they produce.

Beers by the dozen at Spar Llanrwst

Birchgrove Eggs from Trawscoed Mid-Wales

A Selection of Welsh Cheeses in the chiller section of Spar Llanrwst

Welsh Rapeseed Oil ideal for cooking or as a dressing.