Feta, Sweet Peppers, Tomatoes and Onions Baked in Foil

Greek Feta, roasted sweet peppers, onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes with roasted chilli pepper to add a little heat.
I've made something similar before see here but I like this more as I like both the heat the chilli gives and the roasted pepper.
All baked together in foil parcels. Such a lovely and easy dish to make. It can also prepared ahead of time and baked in the foil when you're ready.

Serve in the foil parcels - the smell is amazing and it's a doddle to make too!
Nothing more is needed than a chunk of crusty bread to mop up the juices.

You will need to serve 2:
2 sweet pointed peppers and 1 green chilli pepper of medium heat (both of which need to be roasted, skin removed and deseeded) more on than in a bit.

2 large sheets of kitchen foil
Good Greek Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
1 block of Greek feta cheese - cut in half and each half into 3 pieces
1 medium red onion - sliced really thinly so it gets cooked
2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
a handful of cherry tomatoes - halved
salt and black pepper to season
A nice glass of red wine to be drunk whilst preparing, and another for when you're eating of course.A chunk of fresh crusty bread for mopping.
Preheat your oven to about 200C/400F/Gas 6

Sip the wine - then rub the sweet peppers and the chilli all over with a little olive oil. **Be sure to prick them a few times with a sharp knife - or they will explode in the oven and you'll end up cleaning all day.
The idea is to roast them until they start to blacken which gives them a lovely flavour and makes removing their skins really easy.

Now put them on a baking sheet and roast for about - I don't know say 15 to 20 minutes tuning half way through. You'll find the chilli pepper is done first so you will have to remove it from the oven.
I find they don't blacken all over as much as I'd like so I take to using my cooks blowtorch to them which does the trick. Now place them into a plastic bag and leave to sweat for a few minutes.

You will find once removed from the plastic bag that the skin peels off really easily. Don't fuss if there are little bits of blackened skin remaining - they all add to the taste - seriously.
Remove the skins and the seeds from both the sweet peppers and the chilli pepper.

Cut the sweet pepper into strips and chop the chilli pepper as small as you can - just so that someone doesn't get a huge lump of chilli pepper that's all.
Below - ready for the oven.

Have another sip of wine and get yourself two large sheets of kitchen foil and bring the sides up a little. Drizzle a little olive oil and start to layer the ingredients.
You can start with onion, then a slab of feta and garlic - add a strip of sweet pepper and a little chilli pepper.
Add a couple of the tomato halves and season with a little black pepper. You really don't want much salt so save the salt till the end.

Drizzle again with a teeny bit more olive oil and repeat until you've used everything up. Now you can season with a little salt and more black pepper.

Pull the foil up round in each four corners to form a loose parcel. Place each parcel on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Put each foil parcel on it's own plate and serve immediately with nice crusty bread and the wine.

Mixed Bean Salad - Nice and Simple

This is a really nice mixed bean salad that is so simple to make.
I saw it on TV ages ago but can't remember what programme. It looked good so I've been making it quite often ever since.
You can stir in a can of tuna (in oil not brine) if you wish.

You will need:
6 tablespoons of good quality Extra virgin olive oil
1 tin of cannellini beans (175g drained weight)
1 tin of borlotti beans (175g drained weight)
small handful of freshly chopped parsley
1 small red onion - sliced
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove - finely chopped
a pinch of sea salt - I always use Maldon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
How to do it:
Start by rinsing both cans of beans together under cold water and then drain well.
In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil and the lemon juice.
Now stir in the rinsed and well drained beans. Season with salt and pepper.
Gently stir in the onions, garlic and parsley.
That's it, you're all done, unless you want to add a can of tuna too.

Sticky Sweet Chilli and Lime Spatchcock Chicken

Sticky, sweet chilli and lime marinated chicken - lovely.  
Spatchcock chicken is much faster to cook as the chicken is flattened out.  Therefore it also cooks more evenly too.  
It's really easy to 'spatchcock' or butterfly a chicken.  There's an excellent video here that's so easy to follow.

Any regular reader of this blog will know by now, I work on the food section of Marks and Spencer.  Seeing as I have a great interest in it suits me just fine.  I'm always on the look out for anything new in their ready prepared dishes.  I read what went in, get home, and have a go at making them myself!

Anyone familiar with Marks and Spencer will have probably seen their 'Grill' range of ready prepared food for the BBQ.  Of course, any of it can be cooked in an odinary oven if you wish.  Seeing as the great British weather is so horrid, that is sadly, what has to happen most of the time. 

Anyway, I have totally made this up as I went along but it turned out really good so I'm quite pleased with myself!  I didn't go for the choped corriander sprinkled on top as I'm not a great fan of it.

You will need to serve 2:

1 small whole chicken - about 1.5k in weight - spatchcocked - now make four slits with a sharp knife ready for the lime wedges

4 wedges of lime from half a lime - you'll need the other half in a bit s hang on to it

And for the marinade just mix together the following;

2 tablespoons of hot chilli sauce (I used the brand Maggi) 

2 and a half tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce 

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

1 garlic clove - finely chopped

juice of half a lime

There are no rules with the marinade - just add more or less of what you fancy after have a quick taste - that's what I did!

You might want to add a little more of the sweet chilli sauce.

Coat the chicken with the marinade, keeping a little to one side for basting.  Insert the four lime wedges into the slits you made in the chicken.  Cover with cling film and leave covered in the fridge for a couple of hours.

When you're ready preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas6

Please note:

If you do decide to wack it on the BBQ - beware as I'm thinking the marinade might burn too much coz of the sugar.

Put the chicken in a shallow roasting dish (uncovered) and roast for about 50 minutes - the time will depend on the size of your chicken.  Baste a couple of times during cooking with the reserved marinade mixture and the pan juices.

Make sure of course that there is no sign of any pink juices when you insert a knife.

To serve:

Cut the chicken in half, which is really easy since you removed the back and breast bone.  I served mine with roasted vegetables and crusty bread.



Honey Panko Crusted Chicken with Gruyère and Ricotta

Now, I know I've made similar to this before but, this has to be the best I've done yet.
Crunchy, Cheesy and best of all easy!
You can buy Japanese Panko that's got honey added which is the one I used, but of course you don't have to do the same. If you can't get hold of panko give Setonaikai (based in Shrewsbury) a ring and they'll be happy to post you some.
What you need:
2 chicken breast fillets - skinless
ricotta cheese - about 150g
200g Gruyère cheese - grated
a pinch of paprika pepper
a good handful of honey panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
a good squeeze of lemon juice - say about 10ml
a drizzle of olive oil
a little salt to season
How to do it:

Preheat your oven 200C/400F of Gas 6
Start by toasting the panko crumbs in a dry frying pan and stirring so they don't burn. Soon as they've started to colour, remove from the heat, put them into a small dish and set aside.
Don't forget they will colour in the oven but not as well as if you do toast them first - I've done that before so I'm knowing these things!
Get yourself a Pyrex dish - or any dish that can go into the oven and using a piece of kitchen paper wipe a little olive oil over the bottom.

In a small bowl mix together the ricotta, lemon juice, paprika and most of the Gruyère cheese (keep a really small amount to one side for later) and season with a teeny bit of salt.
Now place a piece of cling film over each chicken breast and give it a bash or two with something bashable, just to make each piece a bit flatter. They will then cook quicker and more evenly.
Put each chicken breast side by side in your dish and spread each one with the ricotta mixture.

Now top the lot generously with the toasted panko - sadly in this picture mine don't look very 'toasted' but they were a nicer colour than this.
Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle the teeny amount of Gruyère cheese you kept to one side.
Pop them into your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes. The exact time will of course depend of the size of your chicken pieces.

Sadly this is the only picture I have of the inside of the chicken, which doesn't show the fact that the top of each chicken breast was squidgy with melty cheese.
I served these with new potatoes and green beans.

Sweet Chilli Chicken Burgers with Sweet Potato Chips

These burgers are a perfect change from the normal beef burger.  A nice amount of heat from the sweet chilli sauce and the spring onions giving texture. 
  This recipe makes three burgers - an odd amount but there was then one for me and two for Mr Bennett the husband. Don't mince the chicken - just chop it with a knife into small dice. 

Jambalaya - Based on a Rick Stein Recipe

I've based this on a recipe by Rick Stein that I've altered slightly, as you do. Now, we must have become immune to chillies as when I make it again I will add another chili and I'd already added two teaspoons of chili powder, not one as listed. Best you go for one teaspoon and then decide for yourself. I used Chorizo as I couldn't get the Cabanos smoked sausage that Rick Stein used.

You will need to serve 2:
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
90g Chorizo sausage - sliced
2 teaspoons of paprika
4 garlic cloves - chopped
1 medium onion - chopped
1 green bell pepper - seeded and chopped
2 celery sticks - sliced
2 red chillies - seeded and finely chopped
2 skinless chicken breast fillets - cut into 1 inch pieces
12 (or however many you fancy) raw king prawns
2 dried bay leaves, crushed
1 sprig of thyme - chopped
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of chilli powder (I used 2)
300g long grain rice (Uncle Bens is best says I)
700ml hot chicken stock (make up 900ml from 2 Knorr Chicken stock cubes but you will only want 700ml)
3/4 of a teaspoon of salt - or to your taste
2 spring onions - sliced
How to do it:
Heat the oil in a large skillet and gently fry the Chorizo until it starts to crisp up. When it's done remove and set aside. The reason for removing it until nearer the end of cooking is because I find that it looses it's lovely colour when the stock is added.
Now add the paprika and stir to colour the oil along with the garlic. Stir for a few seconds and then add the onion, peppers, celery and the red chillies. Cook over a medium heat until the vegetables begin to colour nicely. 
You can now add the chicken, bay leaves, thyme, chili powder and the oregano. Cook for about 5 minutes or so. Now throw in the rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and add the salt.
Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
Now put the Chorizo you set aside earlier and cook for a minutes or two before adding the prawns and spring onions. When the prawns turn pink they can be declared done.
Check for seasoning and if you want, you can add a little more chili powder if you want it hotter!

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