Italian flavoured casserole

Off all the casseroles we have pulled together over the last month, this has to be our favourite only to be matched by the Creole/Mexican flavoured dish we made earlier.  The weather continues to go from bad to worse and this Saturday was no exception – non stop rain from dawn to dusk coupled with a definite bite in the air.  We decided to make a hot comforting casserole for dinner and as promised earlier we were going to experiment with Italian flavours in our next casserole, so here’s the recipe for it.  Our next challenge given to us by one of Anna’s friends is to develop an Indian themed casserole – stay tuned…

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs (6-8 pieces)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 small shallot chopped
  • 1 medium leek sliced
  • 1 courgette cubed
  • Handful of green beans chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 carrot sliced
  • 5-6 baby potatoes halved
  • 6-8 button mushrooms quartereded
  • 8 cloves of garlic – 3 chopped for marinade
  • 400 gm tin of cannelini beans drained
  • 400 gm tin of barlotti beans drained
  • 400 gm tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp crushed red chilli flakes
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 tbsp oilve oil
  • Few sprigs of fresh basil and parsley chopped to garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken thighs with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon of crushed red chilli flakes, 3 chopped garlic cloves, chopped shallot and salt – set aside for a few hours.   Heat your oven proof casserole dish and sear the chicken pieces on both sides and remove.   Add remaining olive oil, garlic and rosemary to the same dish and stir for 30 seconds before adding sliced onions and  leeks – stir for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Sprinkle 1 tsp Italian seasoning, l tsp crushed red chilli flakes and the stock cubes – add about 500 ml of water and stir.  Stir in the cannelini beans, borlotti beans and chopped tomatoes.  Place chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with lid and place the casserole in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for an hour or till the chicken is cooked through.   Garnish with chopped fresh basil and parsley.

 

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Chinese flavoured casserole

The weather is definitely turning for the worse as winter sets upon us and we think a casserole is a perfect dish on a cold and wet day as today.  So building on the success of our previous ethnic flavoured casserole experiments, this is our homage to Chinese cuisine.    We are happy with how it has turned our and are busy concocting our next casserole which is likely to be inspired by Italian flavours and ingredients – stay tuned…

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs (6-8 pieces)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 medium leek sliced
  • 1 stick of celery sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 ” piece o ginger peeled and chopped
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 1 pak choi –  cut leaves in half
  • 6-8 button mushrooms halved
  • 4 baby corn cut into bite size pieces
  • 6-8 mangetout
  • 4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 2 tsp chilli oil (Chinese type with crushed red chilli)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp Shaohsin wine
  • 1 tbsp spiced black rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce (gluten free variety)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • Few sprigs of fresh coriander and spring onion chopped to garnish
  • Pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken thighs with the 2 teaspoons of Chinese five spice powder, black pepper, garlic salt and 2 tablespoons of Shaosing wine – set aside for a few hours.   Heat your oven proof casserole dish and add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil – sear the chicken pieces on both sides and remove.   Add the ginger and garlic to the same dish and stir for 30 seconds before adding sliced onions, leeks and celery – stir for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining vegetables.  Sprinkle 2 tsp of Chinese 5 spice powder, soy sauce, spiced black rice vinegar, the remaining Shaohsin wine, chilli oil and the stock cubes – add a pint of water and stir.  Dissolve the cornflour in some water and add to the mixture.  Place chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with lid and place the casserole in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for an hour or till the chicken is cooked through.   Garnish with fresh coriander and spring onion – serve on its own or with a bowl of egg fried rice.

Gluten free almond and cherry cake

With Anna away I have caught the baking bug and been experimenting with chestnut flour in various recipes.  So far it has worked well in a coffee and walnut cake and as a base for pancakes.   I have come to the conclusion that chestnut flour is fairly versatile and is a great alternative to gluten free flour mixes.  The proof in the pudding (no pun intended) was evident when I used it with almond meal to make a almond and cherry cake.  I can’t wait for the cherry season next year to try this with fresh cherries as I think it would taste better.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 150 gms chestnut flour
  • 100 gms almond meal (ground almond)
  • 250 gms caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250 gms softented butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tbsp hazelnut drink
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 100 gms blanched almonds (toasted)
  • 200 gms glazed cherries
  • 5 tbsp cherry brandy

How much will I make?

12″ round cake

How do I make it?

Cut the cherries in half and soak in the cherry brandy.  Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer first before adding the eggs.   Add milk and hazelnut drink before sifting in the chestnut flour, almond meal and baking soda.   Keep mixing till you get a nice glossy sheen.  Fold in the glazed cherries and toasted blanched almonds.  Transfer into greased cake tin and bake in a 180 degree Centigrade preheated oven for an hour till cake is done.    I dusted some icing sugar to keep things simple but might try making a cherry brandy glaze next time.

Gluten free coffee & walnut cake

Having discovered chestnut flour a few weeks back I decided to bake with it today and replaced our normal gluten free flour mix in a coffee and walnut cake.   Net result, I think texture wise it is better and the cake is not as crumbly.  Another incentive for using it moving forward is that it is a singular flour and not a composite of many.  I searched the web for some inspiration and found that almost all the recipes for the cake are similar with slight alterations to the icing (equal measures of flour, sugar, butter and egg with personalized extras thrown in for good measure!)   Here’s my recipe for gluten free coffee and walnut cake (notice the equal measures!!)

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms chestnut flour (singoda)
  • 250 gms golden caster sugar
  • 250 gms softened unsalted butter
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 shot of espresso
  • 1 tsp espresso coffee powder
  • 5 tbsp Kaluha
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 50 gms chopped walnuts

For the icing

  • 100 gms icing sugar
  • 1 shot of espresso

How much will I make?

12″ round tin

How do I make it?

Cream the butter and sugar first before adding the eggs.  Continue whisking before adding the flour and baking powder.  Whisk for another 5 minutes before adding remain ingredients barring the walnuts. Keep whisking till you get a nice glossy sheen – finally add the walnuts and fold them into the batter.   Pour into greased pan and place in a 180 degree Centigrade pre-heated oven for 45 minutes to an hour till cake is done.   For the icing mix the icing sugar and espresso a little at a time till you get a thick mixture.   Add more icing sugar if the mixture is too runny.   Pour over cooled cake and allow to set before slicing and serving.

Mushroom quiche

A bit of a tag team effort in the kitchen tonight as Anna and I experimented with cooking a quiche for the first time.  Anna had made some gluten free pastry dough and I made the filling.  Not bad for our first attempt – next on the list is asparagus as it’s in season now and an Italian inspired version with courgettes from our garden.

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What do I need to make it?

Pastry Dough

  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 20 gms dairy free margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp Xanthum gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Salt to taste

Filling

  • 200 gms mushroom of choice (we used Oyster mushrooms)
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 sprigs of spring onion chopped
  • Small handful of chopped tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 25 gms butter (use olive oil instead)
  • 1 1/2 cups mature Gouda cheese
  • 1/2 soya cream
  • 1/2 cup soya milk
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 10 slices of spicy chorizo
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

6-8 slices

How do I make it?

For the pastry dough start by sifting the flour and Xanthum gum (add baking soda and salt at this stage) and then use cold margarine to make a crumbly dough.  Add egg to the mixture and bind till you get a nice soft dough.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate.

To make the quiche crust – spread dough in greased pie dish and blind bake for 15 minutes in a 200 degree Celsius pre-heated oven.  Allow crust to cool and prick the base before baking for another ten minutes.  Once done remove and allow to cool for a few minutes.

For the filling – heat butter in a pan and add minced garlic.  Saute for a minute before adding crushed red chili flakes.  Saute for another minute before adding the chopped spring onions and chopped mushrooms.   Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.  Garnish with chopped tarragon and allow mixture to cool.

Beat eggs and add the milk and cream to it.  Season to taste.

Place a layer of chorizo on top of the crust followed by the mushroom mixture and grated cheese.  Pour in the egg mixture and top with remaining chorizo.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 30 to 35 minutes till you get a nice brown top and the egg has cooked through.   Bon appetit.