Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Chicken with Leeks and Cannellini Beans, with Orange, Cumin and Butter Roasted Carrots

There's chicken there...its just hiding under beans

A bit of an experiment this one. Turned out to be a great little dish. The carrots are a Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall  (a.k.a. master of all that is good and tasty in the universe) recipe.
I think I need some help with my HFW addiction...SRSLY.
Chicken with Leeks and Cannellini Beans, with Orange, Cumin and Butter Roasted Carrots
Serves 2 (although in the real world probably 3, because one of the two has a superhuman appetite. Naming no names. But it isn’t me.)
For the Chicken:
4 skinless chicken thigh fillets (I reckon they’re much nicer than chicken breasts – but breasts would work here too)
2 x tins of cannellini beans
A medium sized leek
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
A bay leaf
Chicken stock
S + P

For the carrots:
As many carrots as you want
Couple of pinches of cumin
Zest of half an orange
Juice of half an orange
1 tbsp butter
S + P

To serve:
Basmati rice

Stick the oven on at 180ºC to heat up.

Top and tail the carrots, peeling them if they need it, and cut up into similarly sized pieces. Melt the butter in a casserole pan (one with a lid) and add the carrots, cumin, orange juice and zest, and seasoning. Put the lid on and stick in the oven for 30 mins.

Meanwhile, chop up your chicken, leeks and garlic, then sauté together for about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaf, seasoning, beans and stock and simmer.

After 30 mins, take the carrots out the oven, give them a stir, and stick back in the oven, this time with the lid off the pan.

Put on some rice to cook.

By the time your rice is done, the chicken stock should have reduced to a thick sauce for your chicken, leek and bean mixture, and the carrots should be all caramelised and lovely.

Pour the chicken, leek and beans over your rice, load up on carrots and eat in front of the tv, feeling smug at your cooking skillz.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Carrot Cake with Orange and Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting


I am not entirely happy with calling the cream cheese concoction atop of this cake a 'frosting.' It sounds like an Americanism to my ear. However, 'icing' doesn't seem to fit - I think of icing as a simple icing sugar + liquid mixture, such as that you would get on top of a lemon drizzle cake. Nor is it a buttercream, which you might use to cement two halves of victoria sponge together, (alongside a blob of jam, naturally). So, 'frosting' it shall be, despite my reservations.

I've made this carrot cake before as a two-tiered confection, however I think I actually prefer it as a single layer. There's something quite comforting in the solidness I find, and it certainly makes it easier to eat. Carrot cake is brilliant as you can fool yourself it is healthy - it contains vegetables for god's sake, VEGETABLES! - and so can eat twice the amount.

A quick note about the vanilla used in this recipe - make sure you use vanilla extract, not vanilla 'essence.' The difference is that extract contains actual vanilla seeds, whereas the essence stuff is just chemicals which taste like vanilla, and is not nearly as good. I don't suppose it matters so much in some recipes, but the vanilla really shines through in the frosting here, so use the good stuff. Alternatively you could scrape the seeds from an actual vanilla pod.

Carrot Cake with Orange and Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

(Adapted from a recipe I found on the Good Food website http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/528351 - I used sunflower instead of corn oil, added in some orange, and the Bear decided he did not want walnuts in it so I left them out.)

For the cake:
150g self raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
150g caster sugar
250g grated carrot
150ml sunflower oil
2 large free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1/4 orange
2 tbsp orange juice

For the frosting:
50g room temperature butter
75g full fat cream cheese
100g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 orange

To finish:
Zest of 1/4 orange

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease a cake tin with butter. 

Mix the flour, spices, sugar and grated carrot together. Add the oil, then the eggs one at a time, stirring the mixture after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and orange juice and zest. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for 35 minutes. Once the cake is done, remove it from the tin and put on a wire rack to cool.

To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together, then gradually introduce (butter and cream cheese - this is Mr icing sugar. Mr icing sugar - may I present Ms butter and Ms cream cheese) the icing sugar. Finally mix in the vanilla and orange zest.

Once the cake has cooled, spread on the frosting and finish with the last of the orange zest. Slice, nom, repeat.