Like, no doubt, a lot of people I associate months with anniversaries and special events. For instance, April is ‘my month’ as it’s my birthday, whilst September is not only the month for fresh starts with the end of summer and the beginning of the school year, but it’s also my son, Felix’s birthday. Then, of course, there is the one that we all associate with Christmas, December…and so it goes on. One thing my associations all have in common is food or rather, they facilitate the excuse to have a special meal! This month, July, is ‘Nick’s month’ as it is his birthday which of course means a celebratory dinner. Not only do I cook him a ‘birthday meal’ at home, but we also book a particularly special restaurant to dine in – this year I’m looking forward to dinner at Claude Bosi at Bibendum (watch out for the review in the next few weeks!). So, over the last week I’ve been thinking about Nick’s favourite meals and bearing this in mind, this week’s Menu Mistress features a couple of his favourites.
Menu one is a meal which Nick himself like’s to cook, ‘Chicken with Lemon & Capers’. In fact, the recipe shown in the photo’s was cooked by him – yes, he can cook very well, when I allow him in the kitchen(!), and I must admit he cooks this dish better than me! It’s a very tasty recipe from Antonio Carluccio’s cookbook ‘A Invitation to Italian Cooking’. Here I have served it with ‘Italian Style Sauté Potatoes’ and ‘Fried carrots’, which, if I am completely honest, do require a bit of attention at the stove but are definitely worth it. If you want a potato dish that is more hands-free, I would serve it with ‘Baby Roast Potatoes’ (recipe here). Menu Two is a relatively new recipe that I have discovered, and which Nick really enjoyed, so I am planning to cook this on his birthday; Prawn Moilee is a beautifully spiced mild curry with warm flavours. It is from the cookbook Dishoom, which features the recipes from the Dishoom restaurant’s much-loved menu of ‘Bombay comfort food’. This particular recipe is probably one of the simplest in the book, yet it does not forfeit flavour, it’s great for a midweek meal yet equally special enough for a celebratory meal. Finally, for a vegetarian option, Menu Three is ‘Asparagus, Corn & Goats Cheese Frittata’. If I’m honest, Nick is not completely sold on vegetarian food, however since I’ve been on a mission to share more vegetarian meals on Menu Mistress, he has had to eat more vegetarian recipes than before! This is one of his new favourites – it really makes the perfect summer supper with a big, crunchy salad and it would also be perfect for a picnic! Finally, I couldn’t have a birthday in the family without a cocktail, could I?!…So, I’m sharing one of Nick’s new favourite tipples, an Elderflower Gimlet. This cocktail uses the same St Germain liquor which the champagne cocktail I shared last month required, so you absolutely need to invest in a bottle of this for the summer!…
I am also sharing a new Menu Music playlist. Nick likes a bit of reggae now and again, so this is one I’ve put together with him in mind. It has some easy reggae tracks which are perfect for a summers day…check out ‘Easy Reggae to Cook to…Menu Music Thirteen’.
Have a great week, see you next Tuesday for a ‘Tuesday Treat’!
Chicken Breasts with Lemon & Capers (Serves 4)
In this recipe, chicken is complemented with the flavour of capers combined with the wonderful acidity of lemon – it really is a match made in heaven! I found it many moons ago in Antonio Carluccio’s cookbook ‘An Invitation to Italian Cooking’, which has lots of wonderful, classic Italian recipes…the page with this recipe is particularly well thumbed! I like to serve these chicken breasts with ‘Italian Style Sauté Potatoes with Garlic & Rosemary’ and ‘Fried Carrots’ (recipes below).
*If your chicken breasts are particularly large, you may find it easier to ‘butterfly’ them (you can ask your butcher to do this). You could also cut them into escalopes (see my video here). This will make them quicker to cook through, so you may want to reduce the cooking time that I have suggested.
4 chicken breasts (see note above)
Plain flour for dusting (gluten free if required)
1 tablespoon capers
1 large lemon, juiced and zested
Sea salt and black pepper
- Season the flour with salt and pepper and roll the chicken breasts in them, shaking off any excess flour.
- Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, when it is hot add the chicken breasts. Fry gently on each side until they are cooked through and golden brown – about 15 minutes (see note above). Remove the chicken to a warm plate.
- Add the capers, grated lemon zest and lemon juice to the pan. Stir well to deglaze the pan, season with salt and pepper and pour over the chicken breasts.
Italian Style Sauté Potatoes with Garlic & Rosemary (Serves 4)
This is a wonderful recipe for potatoes, it does need a little attention at the stove, but it is well worth it!…
500g potatoes (such as Maris Piper), peeled
8 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
Sea salt and black pepper
- Cut the potatoes into 1.5cm cubes.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and when hot add the potato cubes. Spread them out well over the pan, but do not stir fry – allow them to form a golden crust before turning them over.
- When you turn them over add the garlic cloves. Fry together to brown on all sides.
- Just before the end of cooking add the rosemary, salt and pepper.
Fried Carrots (Serves 4)
Such a simple idea – but soooo delicious!
600g carrots, peeled
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
- Slice the carrots lengthways.
- Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add some salt and the carrots. Cook, gently bubbling for 7-8 minutes until they are just cooked – still al dente.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the carrots with the unpeeled garlic cloves, until browned.
Prawn Moilee (Serves 4)
This curry is beautifully spiced with mild, warm flavours. It is from the cookbook Dishoom, which shares the recipes from the Dishoom restaurant’s much-loved menu of ‘Bombay comfort food’. This particular recipe is probably one of the simplest in the book, yet it does not forfeit flavour, it’s great for a midweek meal yet equally special enough for a celebratory meal!
You will find fresh curry leaves at most Asian food shops, it’s worth buying more than you need as they freeze well!
6 green chillies
40ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
20 fresh curry leaves
300g onions, sliced
15g garlic paste
15g ginger paste
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1¼ teaspoons ground turmeric
25g fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks (see tip above)
400ml coconut milk
250ml coconut cream
24 large peeled prawns, defrosted if frozen
300g medium tomatoes, cut into bite size wedges
Lemon wedges, to serve
- Remove and discard the stalks and seeds of the chillies, then slice each one into 3 or 4 long strips. Set to one side.
- Place a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the oil and let it warm for a few seconds, then add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves. Let them crackle for a few minutes.
- Add the onions and sauté lightly for 12-14 minutes until soft but not coloured.
- Add the garlic and ginger pastes, salt, black pepper and turmeric and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring. Add the sliced chillies and ginger matchsticks and cook for 3 minutes.
- Pour in the coconut milk and cream. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Now add the prawns and tomatoes to the sauce and simmer for a further 5-6 minutes until the prawns are just cooked.
- Serve with plain steamed rice and the lemon wedges on the side.
Asparagus, Corn & Goats Cheese Frittata (Serves 4)
This is a summer favourite, it makes a great, fast supper with a big, crunchy salad (see my salad dressings here!) or it’s great for a picinic!
4 spring onions, chopped
Bunch of fresh dill, chopped
8 eggs, beaten
200g firm goats cheese, broken into pieces
Sea salt and black pepper
- Snap off and discard the woody ends of the asparagus and cut the spears into 2-3 cm lengths (if the spears are particularly thick, split them in half lengthways).
- Remove the corn from the corn-on-the- cob, by running a sharp knife down along the cob.
- Heat half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the asparagus, corn and spring onions, fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Transfer to a bowl, add the chopped dill (reserving a little for a garnish), and gently mix in the beaten eggs, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Wipe the pan clean, then add the remaining butter over a high heat. When it has melted and starts to sizzle add the frittata mixture and reduce the heat to medium. Arrange the pieces of goats cheese over the top of the frittata, pushing them down into the mixture.
- Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the sides of the frittata start to puff up.
- When it is just about set but still has a little wobble, place the pan with the frittata under a very hot grill to set the top.
- Let it cool a little, before sprinkling with the reserved dill and cutting into thick wedges to serve.
A Little Treat!…
An Elderflower Gimlet (Serves 1)
Apparently a gimlet cocktail has its roots in British naval history. Sailors were encouraged to drink lime juice with their liquor to prevent scurvy. Naturally the recipe is more refined these days, but I suppose you could still say that it has health benefits?!..
4 tablespoons gin
3 tablespoons St Germain
1 tablespoon lime juice
(Lime wedge to garnish)
- Add the gin, St Germain and lime juice to a cocktail shaker, add a handful of ice cubes and shake until cold.
- Strain into a glass and garnish with a lime wedge.