Archive for the ‘Chicken’ Category

It was my dear friend Amanda’s birthday a couple of weeks back and as I’m a bit useless and hadn’t got around to sending her a pressie, I was more than happy to rise to the challenge of providing her with inspiration for the stacks of brown rice she apparently has in the pantry instead.

So here you go Mands, a scrummy Japanese inspired dish which goes really well with the slightly nutty and crunchy attributes of brown rice. And don’t be put off by the long recipe this is really quick and super simple. Happy Birthday!

Japanese Chicken and Brown Rice Salad – serves 2

– 300-400g skinless, boneless chicken – breasts or thigh (about 2 standard sized breasts)
– 250g brown rice
– 3-4 spring onions
– half a cucumber
– 1 pepper – any colour
– half an avocado
– sunflower oil
– salt and pepper
– sprinkling of sesame seeds (optional)

for the marinade
– 3 tablespoons soy sauce
– 3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice vinegar)

for the dressing
– 4 tablespoons mirin
– 2 tablespoons caster sugar
– 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
– extra soy sauce and mirin to taste

1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl.

2. Slice the chicken into strips about 1cm thickness and add to the marinade. Stir to ensure the chicken pieces are completely coated with the marinade and set aside while you prepare the rice.

3. Place the rice in a sieve and run under cold water for 30 seconds to rinse.

4. Place the rice in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until the rice is just tender but still has a nice bite to it. Drain and leave to cool in the sieve to dry it out.

5. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and with a teaspoon, scoop out all the seeds. Dice up the cucumber and add to a big serving bowl.

5. Chop up the spring onion, pepper and avocado and add to the cucumber. At this point you can add any other favourite salad vegetables you have on hand. I added fresh broad beans which I placed in rapidly boiling, salted water for 2 minutes, drained and ran under cold water to refresh. I also added some Hijiki which is a Japanese sea vegetable high in fibre. It’s dried to begin with and quick and easy to prepare by following the packet instructions. It added a nice textural contract to the crunchy vegetables and rice.

6. Now get a fry pan on medium heat, add a touch of sunflower oil to the pan and add the chicken pieces. You don’t want to crowd the chicken so fry in batches if necessary. This stops the meat from stewing. Once the chicken has been added to the pan, sprinkle some sesame seeds over the pieces and drizzle any remaining marinade over the meat as well. Don’t move the chicken around as it will naturally detach from the pan once it’s nicely caramelised and ready to be turned. It will only take a few minutes. Turn and sprinkle with more sesame seeds. Once it’s cooked through (another few minutes), check that the juices run clear and then remove from the pan and set aside to rest and cool slightly before adding to the other salad ingredients.

7. To make the dressing, add the mirin and sugar to a small pot and gently warm until the sugar has dissolved. Add the sunflower oil and taste. If it’s a bit too sweet for your liking, add a tablespoon of soy sauce. Taste and add more soya sauce or more mirin as necessary.

8. Once the dressing tastes just right, place the rice in a small bowl and pour the dressing over it. Stir and then add the rice to the main serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

9. Cut up the chicken and add to the serving bowl and toss. Or leave if you like chunkier pieces and place portions of the rice and salad mix in serving bowls and place the chicken on top.

You can substitute the chicken for pork or salmon and the brown rice for white long grain rice.


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The end of summer holidays, everyone is back to school and the leaves already seem to be turning a rusty hue. However, the abundance of late summer vegetables such as courgettes, capsicums and tomatoes allow us to hold onto summer for a few precious weeks longer. I’m determined to fend off autumn for as long as possible and this baked chicken recipe with its summery mediterranean flavours is the perfect way to do it.

What’s great about this dish, is that you can mix it up, substitute the feta for halloumi, change-up the vegetables or experiment with different herbs. You can even leave out the olives or cheese if you don’t have them. Basically, it’s one of those helpful ‘use whatever you’ve got’ dishes. Even better, you just pop it all in a baking dish, whack it in the oven and pour yourself a wine while you wait for the chook to cook. And that’s what we all need when holidays are over and it’s back to reality!


Lemony summer chicken serves 2

– 2 courgettes, sliced in half lengthways
– 1 capsicum, sliced
– 2 chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless
– 200g feta, thinly sliced (or halloumi)
– handful of Kalamata or black olives (preferably pitted)
– 5 sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, crushed
– cracked black pepper
– lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon (unwaxed)
– handful of small ripe tomatoes (cherry toms are best)

1. Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).

2. Lay the courgettes in the bottom of a baking dish. Place the chicken breasts, capsicum and slices of feta on top of the courgettes.

3. Sprinkle over the olives and sprigs of thyme.

3. In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, black pepper, lemon zest and half the lemon juice. Taste and add the rest of the lemon juice if you think it needs extra tang. Pour the dressing evenly all over the chicken.

4. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes and continue baking for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Serve with a simple green salad and a few extra lemon wedges.

Now, fingers crossed the weather improves this weekend and we can squeeze in a couple more BBQs!

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Hello! I’m sorry I’ve been absent for so long but starting my new job has required my full attention over the past month. Boy I’d forgotten how draining the first few weeks in a new job can be. Not in a bad way, thank goodness, just in a ‘wow, my brain is full and starting to ache’ kind of way.

So I’ve been very neglectful of my writing, which I hope to improve on now that things are starting to fall into place. I have another confession to make (may as well off-load everything now and start with a clean slate!). I know I promised you lots of wonderful spicy delights from my trip to the sub-continent, but whilst I have been using a lot more spices in our everyday meals, I’m yet to try one of the delicious curry recipes that I collected while I was there. Funnily enough, we’ve been craving other tastes since returning, but when the time comes to revisit India, I will of course share with you all.

What has been making regular appearances at the Casa Kilburn dining table, then? Well I know it sounds slightly boring, but I’ve been relying on the humble soup in its various guises. Yearning for hearty and warming flavours as the cold continues to drag and the need for speed when I walk in the door at 7.30pm shattered from work has contributed to this and I’ve been saved on more than a few occasions with my very easy and quick chicken miso noodle soup. I’m not sure where I picked this recipe up a number of years ago, but it’s worth having up your sleeve when you are after something healthy, filling and full of flavour. It’s also versatile, you can substitute the vegetables for pretty much whatever you have to hand, replace the chicken with pork or tofu and if you don’t have miso paste in your cupboard, replace with the same amount of chicken stock. Easy. Enjoy!

Chicken Miso Noodle Soup (serves 4 or two with leftovers for lunch the next day!)

Chicken Miso Noodle Soup

– 1.5 litres miso or chicken stock (I use brown rice miso paste and the ratio is generally 1 teaspoon per 250ml water)
– 2 chicken breasts (boneless & skinless)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 large or 2 small shallots (peeled & thinly sliced)
– 1 small piece of ginger (cut into thin strips)
– 1 large or 4 baby fennel bulbs (thinly sliced)
– 1 dried or fresh kaffir lime leaves (don’t worry if you don’t have these on hand)
– good handful of shiitake mushrooms (dusted gently & sliced thinly)
– 100g dried rice noodles or 200g fresh rice noodles
– salt and pepper
– handful of coriander (roughly shredded or chopped)

1. Place 1 litre of the miso stock into a pot with the chicken breasts and simmer gently for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the pot from the heat and leave the chicken to cool in the stock.

2. Add the oil to a large pan and over a medium heat, fry the shallots, ginger, kaffir lime leaf and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes stirring often to keep from catching.

3. Add the fennel and continue frying for another 2 minutes.

4. Add the 500mls leftover miso or stock and bring everything up to simmer. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

5. While the vegetables and stock is simmering, shred the chicken and put aside. Strain the liquid the chicken had cooked in through a fine sieve and add to the vegetables.

6. Add the chicken and noodles to the vegetables as well and season with salt and pepper.

7. Simmer gently for a further 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Add the coriander (optional!) and ladle into bowls.

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I’m not really into dishes that combine sweet and savoury, I can’t stand chicken and apricots for example. However, when I saw Skye Gyngell’s recipe for chicken with figs and honey I thought it was worth a shot because I LOVE figs. I like how they’re not overly sweet and how aesthetically pleasing they are to look at. Figs are also in season at the moment so I reckon that’s reason enough to give this recipe a go. I must say we weren’t disappointed!

Skye says to use a whole chicken jointed into 6-8 pieces. This is much more economical than buying the pieces individually and you have the added bonus of the chicken carcass from which to make chicken stock which can be done at the same time. You can get your butcher to joint your bird but it is a really satisfying thing to be able to do yourself and if you follow my instructions carefully, it’s surprisingly easy to get the hang of.

Skye Gyngell’s Chicken with Figs and Honey (serves 6)

– 1 x 1.6 kg organic free-range chicken jointed into 6-8 pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons mild-tasting oil (I used sunflower)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced
– a few sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
125ml white wine
150ml good-quality chicken stock
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mild tasting honey such as acacia (I actually used agave nectar as I’d run out of honey – exact same quantity)
10 ripe figs

Preheat the oven 180C/160C fan/400F/gas 6. Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. 

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and brown the chicken in batches, skin side down, for about 8 minutes, turning to colour them evenly all over. The chicken skin should sizzle when placed in the pan but if it starts to pop, your pan is too hot, so turn down slightly.

Once browned all over, remove the chicken to a flame proof casserole dish using a slotted spoon. Pour off most of the fat from the frying pan, then add the onion and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes to soften.

Add the onion to the casserole along with the thyme and bay leaf. Pour over the wine and chicken stock. Place the casserole, uncovered, on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until the meat is tender but not quite falling off the bone. The skin should now be golden and the liquid reduced by about half.

Place the casserole over a low heat on the hob. Mix the wine vinegar and honey together and pour in. Tear each of the ripe figs into four and add to the casserole. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble until the liquor has reduced to a syrupy consistency – it should be glossy and taste both sweet and sour. Just a note on timings – reducing the liquid to the right consistency took a lot longer than I expected (the good part of an hour), so be prepared!


Skye suggests serving this with a simple green salad and warm crusty fresh bread to mop up all the juices, which is exactly what we did and it was delicious!

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how to make chicken stock

Ingredients (makes 2.5-3 litres):
– 1 1.6kg leftover chicken carcass
– a few whole peppercorns
– 1 large white onion, cut in half (skin on)
– 2 cloves of garlic, bruised (skin on)
– 2 bay leaves
– a few sprigs of fresh thyme
– couple carrots, washed and roughly chopped in half (no need to peel)
– couple of sticks of celery, washed and roughly chopped in half
– couple of leeks, washed and roughly chopped in half
any root veges can be used and at a pinch, you can even get away with just the onion, garlic and herbs.

1. place your chicken carcass in a large sauce pan.

2. add the peppercorns, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, carrot, celery and leek and cover with cold water so that the carcass and veges are completely and generously submerged.

3. put the lid on and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for a couple of hours, skimming off any impurities that rise to the top from time to time.

4.  Remove from the heat and pass through a sieve. Allow to cool and then refrigerate. The stock will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge. Or divide into small, airtight containers and freeze for up to 2-3 months.

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how to joint a chicken

1. point the legs towards you, breast side up

2. pull one of the legs out from the body and cut through the skin to expose the area where the thigh meets the body.

3. feel around until you find the ball and socket joint between the thigh and body and cut straight through it. The ball and socket joints are soft cartilage so they much easier to cut through than bone. You’ll know you’ve found the right place because the knife will cut through quite easily.

4. repeat on the other side.

4. you can cook the thighs and drumsticks attached but if you want to separate them find the joints and cut through like above. If the feet are still attached to the drumsticks, cut these off at the first joint.

5. the wings are attached like the thighs, so follow the process above, pulling out the wing from the body, gently cutting through the skin to expose the area where the wing and body are attached. Find the joint and cut through.  

6. find the wishbone at the top of the carcass and use the knife to remove it.

7. to remove the breasts, run the knife down each side of the breastbone on the underside of each breat, gently easing away the flesh from the bone.

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