cumin baked chicken

Cumin, a spice often used in my kitchen for various dishes, is an earthy, warm spice that adds the most beautiful hearty depth to any dish. A delicious match for meat, it also adds complexity to vegetarian dishes.

As part of last night’s dinner, I served these flavourful baked thighs and drumsticks with my lentil and grilled vegetable salad. This is a delicious and healthy dish that is as easy to prepare as it is to eat. With the skin moreishly crispy, the meat is succulent , tender and flavourful. A perfect and easy family go-to meal!

Serve with couscous, salad or grilled vegetables for a healthy family mid-week meal or serve it with a cucumber & yogurt dressing for a delicious, heart warming snack.

ingredients | serves 3-4 | easy
8 chicken thighs & drumsticks
2t crushed garlic
2t ground cumin
1t cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle & mortar
1T black pepper
1/3C olive oil
juice & zest of 1 lemon
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2t red pepper flakes, optional
fresh cilantro/coriander to serve

method
Place all of the ingredients into a large freezer bag and shake well to coat.
Place the bag into the fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a baking tray, season with a little salt and bake for about 40 minutes until cooked through.

Drizzle the roasting juices over the chicken pieces and garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro.

Serve warm.


chickpea, walnut & wild rice stuffed chicken

Chicken is a low fat, versatile and healthy meat option, high in protein and nutritious. The mild flavour of chicken works as the perfect base for a variety of beautiful flavours that will leave the mouth watering.
The cooked carcass can be turned into a basic chicken stock, meaning that very little is wasted.
This dish is a guilt-free, healthy and nutritious meal, perfect for any family dinner table.

Serve with a side of green buttered vegetables, roasted butternut or a salad and a beurre blanc sauce or chicken gravy or lemon butter.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
1 whole chicken
2 red onions, quartered
6 whole garlic cloves, skin on & lightly crushed
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
80g walnuts, finely chopped
12g thyme, leaves only + more for garnish
200g cooked wild rice
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 lemon, halved
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2t crushed cumin seeds
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper
olive oil
2T butter
fresh cilantro / coriander, to serve

method
Preheat the oven to 200C/180 with fan. Cook the wild rice according to package instruction or use ready cooked wild rice from your local grocer.
Heat about one tablespoon olive oil with the butter & sauté the onion & garlic. About three minutes, until just cooked.
Add the chickpeas, walnuts & thyme and cook, while stirring, for about 8 minutes. Add a knob of butter and then roughly mash the mixture with a masher.
Tip the chickpea mixture into the rice, add the lemon zest and juice, parsley, cumin seeds, salt & pepper and mix to combine.
Using your hands, fill the cavity of the chicken with the stuffing, ensuring that it is not packed too tightly. Then stuff the chicken under the skin.

Rub olive oil into the skin of the chicken and season with salt & pepper.

Spoon the remaining stuffing into an ovenproof dish and place the chicken on top.
Add the quartered red onion & whole garlic cloves to the dish.
Stuff the halved lemon into the cavity so to close the cavity.

Cover the dish with tinfoil and cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 180C/160 with fan, remove the tin foil and roast for a further 1 hour, 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the skin is beautifully browned and crispy.

Rest the chicken for at least 15 minutes before carving and garnish with lots of fresh cilantro/coriander and thyme.


chicken & rice tray bake

This is my idea of a simple, delicious, no-fuss family meal that can be on the table in almost no time at all. It is, undoubtedly, a firm favourite in our home. Just an easy, deletable home-cooked meal that goes in the centre of the table so that everyone can tuck in at their leisure.

I like to use leg quarters for this recipe but really, any part of the chicken is just as delicious. The meat is tender and juicy with a lovely spice. The skin is gorgeously browned and crispy and the rice deliciously fluffy, flavourful and buttery.
Make sure to coat the chicken liberally with the spice rub so that the flavour soaks into the rice.

You can combine all of the ingredients in a roasting tray and put it straight into the oven although I like to brown the chicken first to ensure an extra crispy skin. I then cook the onion & garlic in a little oil and butter before adding the rice and mixing everything together.

Everything you need is in this dish but if you want to serve something alongside, opt for something minimalistic like a tomato & avocado salad.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
for the spice rub
1t onion powder
1t garlic powder
1t paprika
1t salt
1/2t pepper
2T olive oil

Combine all the ingredients together except the oil. Mix and set aside.

For the tray bake
4T olive oil
80g butter
4-6 chicken leg quarters
1 white onion, chopped
3t crushed garlic
120g long grain or basmati rice
1t cumin seeds, crushed
1t dried thyme
1t dried oregano
1t fine salt
1t black pepper
400ml chicken stock
1C frozen peas
fresh cilantro / coriander leaves, garnish
fresh parsley, chopped, garnish

method
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Drizzle the two tablespoons olive oil over the meat. Using your hands, rub the spice rub into the skin.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Set aside.
In the same pan, without wiping it clean, heat the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and about 30g of the butter. Sauté the onion & garlic until glossy and fragrant, while stirring. About three minutes.
Add the remaining butter, crushed cumin, oregano & thyme to the skillet / roasting tray and add the rice. Stir to melt the butter and coat the rice and then season with the salt & pepper.
Tip the mixture into a roasting tray or ovenproof dish if needed.
Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the rice and then pour the stock into the dish, around the meat.
Cover the roasting tray or dish with tin foil and bake for about 40 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven and carefully remove the foil, taking care the steam doesn’t burn your hand.

Test the rice to see if it is cooked. If it is not perfectly tender, cover with foil again and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Now remove the chicken pieces and set aside.
Stir the frozen peas through the rice, replace the chicken pieces and place the dish back into the oven, uncovered, and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven, garnish with the fresh cilantro and parsley and serve.






easy & quick chicken a la king

There are only so many hours in a day and I like making them count, especially since I so love spending time with my 15 month old. I am therefore always thinking of new, exciting recipes that are easy and simple to make. Meals that I can have on the table in almost no time at all but that are still delicious and impressive.
Thanks to modern poultry raising, chicken has been put on everyone’s table at a reasonable price. It remains one of the most convenient meats that is most adaptable.

I had leftover roast chicken, which was perfect here as it saved me a lot of time not having to cook chicken prior to making this dish.
There are hundreds of different chicken a la king variations, all of which really come down to the same thing. Some just like the chicken roasted while others prefer it poached. This is simply a matter of personal taste.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
50g butter
45ml flour
200ml chicken stock
175ml full fat cream
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
60g sliced red or yellow pepper
1/2 white onion, chopped
1t crushed garlic
3 thyme sprigs, leaves only
200g button mushrooms, sliced
1T olive oil
1T butter
1c frozen peas
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1/2C walnuts, roughly chopped (optional)

how to
Heat the olive oil and tablespoon of butter in a pot. Add the chopped onion and saute until glossy. Add the sliced mushrooms and sliced red/yellow pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further two minutes. Set aside.
Melt the 45g butter in the same pot, add the flour and stir to make a roux. Remove the pot from the heat and, using a whisk, add the chicken stock. Continue to whisk until you have a smooth sauce. Pour the cream into the pot, stir and cook for about ten minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
Tip the mushroom mixture and diced chicken into the pot, add the thyme leaves, stir and simmer for about ten minutes until thickened and heated through. Add the peas, stir and cook for two minutes.
Stir in the chopped parsley and top with chopped walnuts if using.

Serve with basmati rice or pasta.


warm barley & quinoa salad

For me, salads scream summer and since we are currently enjoying our beautiful winter season, it is fair to say that salad is almost last on my “have to make” food list. However, this warm salad of barley and quinoa was the perfect lunch comfort on a chilly day. At the fireplace with a glass of red wine, of course.
If you are not all that fond of smoked meats then grilled chicken breast, chorizo and grilled steak re also wonderful alternatives. I can definitely also recommend soft poached eggs.
The dressing is simple and delicious so take a few extra minutes and make it yourself. Home-made is so much better (and healthier) than store bought.
A simple way to mix the ingredients is using a glass jar to which you add all the dressing ingredients, seal it, shake it up and leave it to stand for a few minutes. Less mess and fewer things to wash up.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
200g cooked pearl barley
150g cooked quinoa
1 large red onion, roughly chopped
300g smoked chicken, sliced
250g mushrooms, quartered
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only & extra for garnish
120g mange tout or green beans
1C cherry tomatoes, halved
1C walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
2T olive oil (more if needed)
3T butter
handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
fresh rocket or watercress (optional)
avocado, optional
salt to taste
pepper

for the dressing
3T apple cider vinegar
3t Dijon mustard
3T maple syrup or honey
1/2C olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
pinch of salt
grind of black pepper

how to
Cook the pearl barley and quinoa to the packet instructions and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the two tablespoons olive oil and butter together and saute the red onion for about two minutes. Add the sliced garlic and mushrooms and cook, while stirring, until the mushrooms are just cooked, about five minutes. Add the mange tout, tomatoes and thyme leaves, season with salt & pepper and cook for two more minutes.
Set aside.
In the same pan, warm the pearl barley & quinoa together with a tablespoon of butter. Season.
Spoon the barley & quinoa into a large salad bowl and top with the warm mushrooms & onion mixture. Add the sliced smoked chicken, walnuts & rocket.
Garnish with the parsley and extra fresh thyme.
Serve with sliced avocado, if using.

for the dressing
Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid or whisk together in a deep bowl until emulsified. Seal the jar and shake for a few minutes. Add more olive oil & seasoning if desired.