Chicken Tarragon Pasta,Litanies and Leprechauns

GOTG has been ignored this past month in other mundane routines and a rather uninspiring series of salad suppers .
Meanwhile I've climbed the first few rungs on the Twitter ladder, added a few tweeple and twittle twattled (new eh? Twictionary, pls take note!).
    I have also done some pretty stupid things (aside some bot-like tweets that is!) - like spray Cilit Bang (who put it in my spot cleaner corner?!) on the collars of quite a few Thomas Pink whites one hassled weekday night. I'm happy to report what comes out of a 30 degree wash cycle is still herringbone and not a flimsy cheesecloth, whew!
    And pontificate with H endlessly (read: defend vigorously) the other evening, aspects of much loved European je ne se quas versus American 'cookie-cutter'edness(to quote Scarlett Johansson) and general lack of soul, fuelled by a rerun of Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Despite the few domestic harikari however , some tasty weeknight treats emerged, of which this Chicken and Tarragon Pasta (recipe here) was a classy way to mend fences. I was out of spinach so substituted with equally salubrious broccoli instead.

Talking of greens, Happy St Paddy's Day to all - hope you got the goodies and not the pinches ;)


Love is in the air. And in Chocolate Fondants.

Tall , dark & handsome ? Check.
Rich? Very.
Heart that melts? Affirmative.

Turns out Chocolate Fondants( Chocolate Lava Cakes to some) are the toast of the season. Okayy...they may not exactly be 'tall' - but if they were truly 'all of the above' they'd be full of hot air..see?
Whatever your heart out this Valentine's (literally!) - since they are one heck of an artery clogging, weight-watch busting, 'make-you-go-weak-in-the-knees' dessert.

Making fondants is really not the enigma that it's made out to be, and molten centre or not - they're an assault on the senses either way! Take heart though,  the recipe does work.

What's more - melting dark chocolate and butter together feels like stirring a witches' cauldron, very therapeutic, in an evil sort of way.
Yepper. Joy to eat AND joy to make.

The 'new short tulip-dress' plans will have to wait.

Recipe here. Of course, if you're too picky you may want to complicate a perfectly fool-proof, easy-peasy recipe to this.
But there really is a thing as too much foreplay.

Some notes on my trials with it-
  • I used 150 ml ramekins, and in my oven, - 12 minutes at 200 degrees gave me the perfect fondants. Spongy outsides, and gooey goodness in the centre.
  • The consistency of the batter in the end was much thicker than what Gordon describes it, but they still turned out perfect.
  • The fondants with Gordan's recipe linked above are not sweet enough, (even for me - and I don't do too sweet!) - I found another recipe, again by Gordon, where the sugar measure has been increased, so I suggest using 120 gms of sugar for every 100 gms of flour.
  • Do remember to let the ramekins stand for a minute before turning the fondants out.
  • Since exact timing depends on the depth to which you fill your ramekins and the thickness of the china, it makes sense to have a spare 'tester' . 
          That's right. Any excuse will do :)

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Tantalising Tagliatelle, per favore!

Friday night - Yayie !!!! Legitimate 'one pot meal day' (if we're home, that is!). Don't get me wrong..there are many a 'one-pot-meal days' - slightly tinged with guilt at times.
Fridays however, its official :)
Its expected.
Had there been a prenup, it'd have been there - in ink.

Also lately, the chutzpah has been missing from our fave local Italian takeaway - or maybe, we've just had too much of a good thing ?! Enter - Gary Rhodes' recent culinary ramblings. Alluring scenes of rolling olive groves and lovely gondolas with oodles of fresh pasta thrown in for good measure - I could drown in a vat of olives/olive oil right this minute and be buried in Tuscany, thank you.
Well, it had to be a pasta night, it was the right thing to do.
And technically - a one-pot meal - since you can open a jar of pesto anytime..but I was in my element. I zhuzzed my own :)

Recipe for Tagliatelle with sundried tomato pesto,cashewnuts, spinach, olives and feta (feeds 3-4)


Fresh egg tagliatelle - 500 gm
Fresh baby leaf spinach - 200 gm (washed)
Black and green Olives with feta- 100 gm ( chop the olives, crumble some feta, reserve some feta cubes)
1/2 a jar(280 gm) sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cashewnuts , dry roasted
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Red chilli pepper flakes
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil


First, prepare the pesto by blending the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, roasted cashewnuts,1 minced garlic, salt,pepper and chilli flakes(to taste) in a food processor Add olive oil to achieve desired pesto consistency. Transfer the pesto mixture to a large bowl.

Separately, cook the tagliatelle in a large pot of boiling water as per pack instructions (until al dente - as per pack instructions - approx 3 minutes). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp of butter and 1 tsp of olive oil in a pan. Saute spinach with the remaining minced garlic till wilted and press against the pan to release liquids as shown.
Remove spinach, and chop finely. Remove liquids from pan.

Now add back the chopped spinach, pesto, chopped olives and crumbled feta in the pan - saute for 1 minute and toss in the warm pasta to coat.

Add  enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten ( makes it easier to toss the tagliatelle). Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve, ganished with baby spinach leaves, chopped sundried tomatoes and feta cubes.

Creamy pesto and chunky bits. Pure bliss.

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Drillem, Fillem, Billem

Both me and H have had a spate of dentist appointments lately that resulted in three wisdom tooth extractions, between us, in the past couple of weeks. Its magical how something like that can send your life (and kitchen!) into a tizzy, specially when sitting in a dentist's chair in London has the potential to suck your life's savings right out of your open mouth  ! As a result, more due to the prescribed post extraction care however , as opposed to tightened purse strings, quite a few of our meals these past weeks have been dominated by chewy, mushy, cold foods of all sorts and diff kinds of soups, of which, this chilled Spinach and Watercress soup made a well and truly healthy and comforting meal this glorious, sunny weekend.

Due to the recently broadcast reality series 'Gordon's Great Escape' on his culinary adventures in India and his resulting on-TV admission that vegetarian cuisine isn't always - well..."bland"(contrary to his innumerable earlier mouthings!) - I was beginning to warm to him a little, despite the controversy the program stirred up. This was a tough vegetarian conquest no doubt (played out in my mind as Gordon procrastinated at the veggie God's sacred altar), and my kitchen was now ready to adopt a vegetarian recipe from Gordon :) Find the recipe for the Chilled Spinach and Watercress Soup here.

I however, used the optional chicken stock instead of vegetable stock for added flavour and felt that worked better to lift the peppery spinach and watercress undertones without overpowering this chilled soup in any way (oh...and to appease chicken crazy H as well ). I surely overdid the olive oil 'drizzle' on there, but honestly could have added more!! It's no dinner party fare but definitely one I'll make again and well, it does make my kitchen ready for future dental emergencies more than ever now :) As they say, Drillem, Fillem, Billem - and may I add....Chillem !

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Egg Muffins versus Breakfast Blues

Let's face it ! For those of us who even bother to have breakfast, it really is a chore - cereal, porridge,oats yada yada does get boring and even so the innards scream out for elevenses! Of course,an Eggs Benedict served up in bed is just the dream,but these scrummy Egg Muffins are a 'real world' doable and filling weekday option that are just as easy-peasy as they are grab and go ( freeze individually, thaw and reheat in a microwave the next morning!)

Liz's discussion (rather SOS!) on the UKFBA page  prompted me to dig this one out! So this is specially for you Liz :)

Kalyn's blog gives the detailed recipe ( thanks Kalyn!)- as is evident , my muffins seem to have the air sucked out of them a bit, versus Kalyn's which look firm - and that's because I was a bit squirmish about adding the recommended amount of cheese ;) Lesson learnt -> the lesser the cheese and veg in the egg mixture, the more air will be incorporated and (contrary to most bakes!) we don't want that in this case ! I used finely chopped spring onions and a mix of cheddar and gruyere (yumm!) but no meat - and substituted the spike seasoning for a mix of italian dry herbs blend , a pinch of bolognese seasoning (!!), some tarragon butter, salt and pepper , which if I may say so myself, worked really well :) Also, I used a very lightly greased non-stick metal muffin pan and didn't even need any paper liners - they came off beautifully once rested for 2-3 mnts , but that must be due to the wee tarragon butter in there.
This is surely a recipe to ward off those breakfast blues, and one of those things that can taste different and equally enjoyable each time you make them, depending on the current bounty your larder has to offer :)


On Strawberry Martinis and Rigor Mortis and Things

My H has upped the stakes in the 'surpises-at-midnight-on-birthday-eve' department at our place. He's turned mixologist ! Less effort than cooking/baking (and less cleaning up!), more wow factor - and gorgeous cocktails ! And if you're considering getting stocked up on the tools, here's the lowdown!

The intention to go the 'strawberry way' could be have been born after a fun evening out with friends and family that basically went like - frozen strawberry margaritas, tequila shots with lime and salt, more tequila shots and  resulting peals of laughter that continued well into the night!
So while I deal with wondering if the blog looks right , tackle to-dos higher up on the totem pole of importance than food posts right now and generally, get fired up for the next cook-off - here's a post acknowledging his 'ka-chunk ka-chunk shakes' on my birthday eve (back in Oct actually, so timely post - not!) and awesome martinis :) And of course to hoping the good work continues :)

For those who're rushing to chill their glasses and shaker, find the recipe here! You can add the 'sugar coated rim touch' if you like, but the H used the deepest red strawberries and it was just as great without.  "Shaken, not stirred" !

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