Recipe: barbecue chicken

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At times I get the most peculiar cravings. I guess it ties in with my way of eating; regardless of what it is I eat for pleasure, not just fuel. And most of the time my cravings are a combination of things my body needs and my favourite foods. Typical cravings are usually something with avocado, anything with burrata and sometimes proper comfort food. Often cheese of some kind, and sometimes fish.

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One beautiful summer’s day in Norfolk my body screamed for barbecued chicken. The sticky, charred kind. Maybe I needed protein but whenever I crave something fairly healthy I always try to give my body what it wants.

As we were in Norfolk and had access to a barbecue it was also much easier to make this happen, than if we’d been in London, so I went all in. I threw together a homemade barbecue sauce and marinated the whole spatchcocked chicken in it for a few hours and then got my darling boyfriend to light the barbecue. The coal one, thank you very much, not the gas barbecue!

And apart from the sugars in the marinade burning too quickly it was a great success. We both thoroughly enjoyed the charred and tender chicken, both that night and the leftovers two days later.

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But, this almost too charred chicken was not photogenic, and I was also slightly worried about the carcinogenic properties of all that burnt sugar. And decided to perfect the recipe (and reduce the charring) the next time.

And that next time arose a few weeks later in Sweden when my boyfriend was over and we were having dinner with my parents. My foodie family was just as excited about the chicken as I was and my boyfriend loved it last time, so it worked out really well! The trick is to add the barbecue sauce towards the end so it doesn’t burn too much; just that right amount that makes it taste to good!

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Barbecue chicken, serves 4 + leftovers

2 smaller (just over a kilo each) whole fresh chickens

salt and pepper

1 tbsp neutral oil 

Barbecue sauce:

150 ml ketchup

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 

1 tbsp brown sugar (or any sugar if you prefer but brown works best) 

1 tsp smoked paprika powder 

1 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp soy sauce 

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp neutral oil 

salt, pepper

Rinse and trim the chickens. (I usually cut away any loose skin and fat, the ends of the wings that is just bone etc.) Then spatchcock the chickens (instructions here) so they cook quicker and more evenly. Season with plenty of salt and pepper all around and brush with oil. 

Build up the coal barbecue so that you have the coal and briquettes all on one side of the barbecue, where you have a higher temperature, as opposed to the empty side which still emanates heat but isn’t as hot. 

Start off by browning the chickens all around on the direct heat (on top of the coals), for approx 5-10 minutes. Then move them to the indirect heat (empty side) and place them bony side down. Put the lid on and grill for another 15-20 minutes, turning as you go. Brush on a thick layer of barbecue sauce all around the chicken and char the meaty side first (as this is most important to get right) until just enough charring, then turn over and char the other side. The chickens should be ready after another 10 minutes on the grill, but cut through the meat (both the thickest part of the breast and in a joint) to make sure the juices are all clear. Remove from the grill and cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into smaller pieces (our almost fell apart so this was easy) and tuck in!

 

 

Recipe: creamy chicken thighs with white wine, tomato and herb d’Provence

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I came up with this easy chicken dish last week when I was making baked aubergine with tomato and mozzarella for supper; something I could have eaten on it’s own with just a side salad, but as my boyfriend prefers aubergine in moderation I also roasted some potatoes, courgette and peppers in the oven and made this chicken dish. My thought were to echo the cheese and tomato elements in the baked aubergine but using cream instead of cheese. It worked really well and I will definitely serve these together in the future too!

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Creamy chicken thighs with white wine, tomato and herb d’Provence, serves 2 

4 chicken thighs (with skin on), washed and trimmed (I like to trim off excess skin and fat) 

butter and oil for frying

50-100 ml dry white wine

400 ml double cream

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp soy sauce

1/4 stock cube chicken

1 tsp herb d’Provence  

salt and pepper

Fry the chicken thighs skin side down on medium-high heat in butter and oil until golden (approx 5 minutes), then fry the other side for the same amount of time. Add salt and pepper. Add the wine and lower the heat to medium-low. Add cream, tomato paste, soy sauce and the stock cube. Let the sauce thicken while stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn the chicken a few times so it cooks evenly. When the chicken is cooked through (test it with a knife), after aprox 5-10 minutes, add the herbs and season to taste. If the sauce gets too thick, add more cream or a splash of wine and adjust the seasoning. 

Recipe: nachos with chicken and chorizo

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Sometimes I can really crave nachos. And most of the time I long for the ones I had at Yankee Stadium a few years ago. Although probably really processed the tasted divine!

But the next best thing are definitely homemade ones, and these with chicken and chorizo are absolutely delicious! Also, the secret is in the cheese sauce so although it takes a bit of labour it’s SO worth it!

Nachos with chicken and chorizo, serves 2

ca 150 g salted tortilla chips

75 g chorizo, cut small

1-2 fried chicken thigh fillets, cut small

oil for frying

2-3 handfuls grated cheese

Toppings:

1 batch cheese sauce

1 batch proper guacamole

1 jar creme fraiche

Garnish:

Chopped tomato

Sliced spring onions

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Fry the chorizo in oil on medium heat until they’re crispy. Add the chicken and let it absorb the chorizo flavoured oil.

Cover the base of an oven-proof dish with a thin layer of tortilla chips, top with cheese, chorizo and chicken. Repeat with another layer. Place in the oven for the cheese to melt, approx 5-10 minutes. 

Pour the cheese sauce on top (make this while the nachos are in the oven), guacamole, creme fraîche and the chopped vegetables.

Recipe: caramelised garlic sauce

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Once again I have Nigella to thank for the inspiration. In her book Simply Nigella she uses caramelised onions in a yoghurt sauce, and since then I’ve started using caramelised garlic in just anything I can think of.

The taste is sweet and humble and far from the fierce raw garlic you but into the oven, which means you can actually use a lot of it, so put a few extra garlic bulbs in the oven, just in case! They’re highly addictive, so you can thank me later!

PS. It goes really well with the chicken dish I posted the last week and potato wedges.

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Caramelised garlic sauce with creme fraiche, serves 10

2 large garlic bulbs

1 litre creme fraiche

100 ml Hellman’s mayonnaise

bunch of chives, chopped 

salt, white pepper

oregano and thyme flowers to decorate

Caramelise the garlics when you’re using the oven anyway – they take up little space and won’t make anything taste of garlic as they’re wrapped in tin foil.

Cut off approx 1/2 cm of the garlic bulb on the top so you can see the cloves. Wrap separately in tin foil and place in the oven until soft (just squeeze them to check if they’re ready). It doesn’t really matter what temperature the oven is at, everything between 150 – 220C works, just be aware the cooking time will differ. 

Leave to cool slightly. Mix creme fraiche and mayonnaise in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Unwrap the garlic bulbs and squeeze out the soft garlic paste and add to the sauce. Make sure you get every morsel. Mix well and adjust the seasoning. Leave for a little while before serving. Add the chives and herb flowers when ready to serve.  

Recipe: Nigella’s slow roasted lemon and garlic chicken

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I’m a planner. Not all the time, but I like to plan ahead in several areas of my life. Especially when entertaining. So I had decided on a menu for the lunch I was hosting for a few friends in Sweden long before I even got to Sweden.

But the draught threw a spanner in the works. Three days before I was leaving for Sweden the government issued a BBQ ban in most areas and it was forbidden to barbecue even on your own property. All to prevent any more wild fires. Totally logical and something we all had to accept. But since my original lunch plan involved lighting the barbecue I had to think of something else to cook. I thought this would magically come to me as ideas so often do, but no.

So, in this moment of crisis (well not really, but I was starting to panic a little as my days were packed full of activities) I turned to my trusted cook book collection in the beach house and as usual they helped me out. This time it was a recipe in Nigella’s book Summer that saved me! This slow-roasted lemon and garlic chicken is summery (and delicious) enough to make you forget all about your beloved barbecue and appreciate a dish that basically cooks itself in the oven.

And if you don’t find butchering chickens as therapeutic as I do, I would suggest you either ask your butcher for help or buy a mixture of skin-on chicken breasts and chicken thighs.

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Nigella’s slow roasted garlic and lemon chicken, serves 4

Adapted from Nigella’s recipe.
1 chicken cut into 10 pieces

1 bulb of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves

1 lemon, cut into chunky eighths

1 bunch fresh thyme

3 tbsp olive oil

75-100 ml white wine

salt and black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.

Put the chicken pieces in a roasting tin, season and add the oil. Toss the chicken pieces in the oil so they’re coated all over. Place skin side up. Add garlic cloves, lemon chunks and  thyme. Sprinkle over the white wine and put in the oven to cook for 2 hours. 

Turn up the oven to 200°C and cook the chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges. 

 

Second week of holiday!

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My second week in Sweden I tried to take it a bit easier than the first. Try to wind down, not set an alarm and lower the pace. The first day that didn’t happen as I had invited eight adults and five children over for lunch, but I think I managed OK the rest of the week.

But back to the lunch. I skipped a starter so the children didn’t have to sit still for too long; instead everybody could mingle around with a glass of rosé in hand and snacking on these lovely crisps with browned butter, lemon juice and grated cheese.

For the main course I made chicken with lots of garlic and lemon, potato wedges, caramelised garlic sauce and a nice salad.

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And for pudding I let everybody put together their own pudding of soft meringue (everybody loves this one!), ice cream, lightly whipped cream, chocolate sauce. berries and figs.

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In the evening I had a simple supper consisting of Danish red pølse and all the trimmings. So yummy!!

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The next day I went to the beach in Skanör with friends and their three children.

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They brought a lovely picnic and there was a lot of swimming with the kids mixed with chatting to their parents. Such a lovely day that we finished off with a late lunch in the harbour nearby followed by ice cream.

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Wednesday I slept late and spent my time in the sun in the garden before going for dinner at a friend’s new house! They’d made salmon with salad, potato wedges, two sauces and nice bread and for pudding we had rhubarb pie with ice cream. A perfect summer’s evening.

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The next day was another quiet one, with some rain but also some time on the beach (yay!) before having dinner with my parents in the evening. I made lots of pizzas which I will blog about later.

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Friday started off the same way (not bad eh?! three lazy days in a row!) and finished with dinner at Badhytten with all the seafood!

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My last full day in Sweden I spent partly with my best friend, partly with my parents. Friends of the family came by for fika in the afternoon and in the evening my parents and I had something we never get tired off; fillet of beef with homemade bearnaise sauce. This was the first time we had dinner indoors as the weather turned, but I’m grateful for the sunny days I got!

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Sunday was my last day and my best friend and her family came over for lunch with my parents. I got lots of cuddles from my god daughter but we also had some lovely food. Mamma cooked arctic char with potatoes, mange tout, carrots and two sauces; one with caviar and this one with apple. The pudding was a huge success too (although dad would have liked a sweeter version) and I will blog all about it later.

Then off I went to the airport with a quick pit stop at my parents’ house where I hadn’t been all summer. Thank you, near and dear ones, for a lovely two weeks! ❤

BBQ, theatre and a(nother) lovely weekend!

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I’m enjoying my summer so much right now, and my holiday hasn’t even started yet. Must be a good sign for the next few weeks!

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Monday I had a cheeky after work drink with a colleague, which was much needed. Not the drink in itself but catching up outside of the office.

Tuesday was less indulgent; instead I cooked a simple supper at home, did some chores and tidied up.

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Wednesday a friend had us round for a barbecue which was lots of fun and really yummy! Loving all the summer evenings spent in friend’s gardens sipping rosé and chatting away.

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On Thursday we first had burgers at Bleecker’s pop-up on the Southbank (love their burgers) before going to National Theatre to see Julie, a modern adaptation of Strindberg’s classic play. It was such a good play and Vanessa Kirby was AMAZING as Julie. Never have 1 hr 25 minutes gone by so fast!

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The weekend started with an impromptu dinner at The Orange with friends on Friday night, followed by a lie-in the next morning.

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After a late breakfast we walked around Battersea Park and had lunch in the beer garden at The Prince Albert.

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Then we went for another stroll and had an ice cream before leaving the park.

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In the evening I made some sharing food (caprese, parma parcels with figs and rocket, saucisson, cheese and bread) and we started two new TV series. First The Handmaid’s Tale which was brilliant but so hard to watch I couldn’t watch two episodes in a row, so instead we started on Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, which also was very good.

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Yesterday I had another lie-in to make up for the late weeknights, and had a rather chilled out day. For supper I made a slow cooked pasta bolognese with garlic bread and afterwards we saw Incredibles 2 in the cinema!