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Moroccan baked chicken with chickpeas and rice January 23, 2010

Posted by Helen in chicken.
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Another delicious dish, courtesy of Delia, which I loved but which didn’t impress my husband. Ah, well. All the more for me! I also love this recipe because everything cooks in one dish, making my life much easier. The recipe, as written, serves 4, so I halved it. Also, rather than using a whole chicken, I used a breast for me and a couple of thighs for the husband. I also substituted tinned chickpeas for dried since I had them on hand.











1 x 1½-2 kg chicken, jointed into 8 pieces; or use a pack of 8 drumsticks and thighs
11og dried chickpeas
175g brown basmati rice
1 level tsp cumin seeds
1 level tbsp coriander seeds
½ level tsp saffron stamens
2 small lemons
2 yellow peppers
2 onions
2 tbsp olive oil
15g fresh coriander
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fresh chillies,  halved, de-seeded and finely chopped
275ml chicken stock
150ml dry white wine
50g pitted black olives
50g pitted green olives
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).

If you’re using dried (rather than tinned) chickpeas, there are two ways to deal with them. The easiest is to pop them into a bowl, cover them with cold water and leave them overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours. But, if it slips your mind, what you can do is place them in a saucepan, cover them with cold water and bring them up to the boil for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let them soak for 3 hours. Either way, when you want to start making this recipe, the chickpeas need to be simmered for 20 minutes or until tender. Honestly, I found it much easier using tinned chickpeas, and the dish still tasted lovely.

Place a small frying pan over direct medium heat, add the cumin and coriander seeds and toss them around in a hot pan for about 2-3 minutes or until they start to dance and change colour. Then remove the seeds to a pestle and mortar and crush them coarsely and transfer them to a plate. Next, crush the saffron stamens to a powder with the pestle and mortar, then squeeze out the juice of one of the lemons and add it to the saffron, stirring well.

Then season your chicken pieces well with salt and pepper. Slice the peppers in half, remove the seeds and pith and cut each half into 4 large pieces. The onions should be sliced roughly the same size as the peppers. Now heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the flameproof casserole and, when it’s really hot, brown the chicken pieces on all sides – don’t overcrowd the pan; it’s best to do it in 2 batches, 4 pieces at a time.

After that, remove the chicken pieces to a plate, then add the second tablespoon of oil and turn the heat to its highest setting. When the oil is really hot, add the peppers and onions and cook them in the hot oil, moving them around until their edges are slightly blackened – this should take about 5 minutes – then turn the heat down. Strip the coriander leaves from the stalks, wrap them in a piece of clingfilm and keep them in the fridge. Then chop the coriander stalks finely and add these to the peppers and onions, along with the garlic, chillies, crushed spices, the chickpeas and rice, then give everything a good stir to distribute all the ingredients.

Season well with salt and pepper, then combine the lemon and saffron mixture with the stock and wine, pour it all in to the casserole and stir well. Cut the remaining lemon into thin slices and push these well into the liquid. Now scatter the olives in and, finally, place the pieces of chicken on top of everything. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour or until the rice and chickpeas are tender. Then, just before serving, scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve straight away.


Lemon drizzle cake January 17, 2010

Posted by Helen in cakes, dessert.
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I love anything with lemon in it, and this cake from Olive magazine didn’t disappoint.  With its soft crumbly inside and sugary crunchy lemony topping … just heavenly with a big mug of coffee on a chilly afternoon.










225g butter, softened
225g caster sugar
Lemons, 3 zested, 2 juiced
4 medium eggs, lightly whisked
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
Icing sugar

Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Butter and line the base of a 20cm cake tin. 

Beat the butter and caster sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest (reserving some for the topping) and mix well. Whisk the eggs gradually into the butter mixture, beating well between each addition – don’t worry if it curdles.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold into the cake mixture using a large metal spoon or spatula. Add the ground almonds and ¾ of the lemon juice, and fold until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out without any raw mix on it.

Put the cake tin on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the remaining lemon juice and zest and enough icing sugar to make a runny icing and then drizzle over the top of the cake. Cool in the tin for a further 30 minutes and then remove from the tin and cool completely before serving.

Serve as a pudding, dressed up with a dollop of crème fraîche.