Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Simple slow cooked chicken

This is what I call 'Chicken Smug' because it's what I bung into the oven on busy days. I can happily go out, leaving it to do its thing and when I get home, there it is, cooked and ready to eat and I can dish it up to hungry mouths and feel all smug and virtuous.

It's also a very thrifty meal. The ingredients (pictured) were all from Aldi, apart from the chicken breast which came from Morrisons  You could probably get the chicken breasts cheaper (except they MUST have the red tractor logo on), but even so the ingredients for this meal come in at less than £5 and that feeds a family of four handsomely. Just serve with rice, couscous or even crusty bread for an ultra-fast meal.

  • 2-3 leeks
  • 4-5 sticks of celery
  • Splash of oil or dab of butter
  • 1 tin of soup - I usually use cheap as chips mushroom (from Aldi) and not the condensed sort (although I did here). Any old 'cream of' soup will do (I've never tried tried it with tomato though). I have used leftover homemade leek and potato soup too which worked well.
  • 3-4 skinless, boneless British chicken breasts (depending on appetite, I usually use three to feed two adults and two children)

  1. Wash and slice the leeks and celery
  2. Put into your lidded cast iron casserole (which is what I use) or slow cooker pot (or a pan if your crock pot isn't hob-friendly) with the oil or butter and leave to sweat and soften for a few minutes*
  3. Add the soup and enough water (about half a can, more if the soup is condensed) to make a nice thick sauce. The casserole won't lose much moisture while it's cooking so don't make it too runny
  4. Add extra herbs and seasoning if you wish, although I mostly skip this step (because I forget!)
  5. Add the chicken breasts whole (this is what keeps it tender) and bring the casserole up to a simmer
  6. Bung in the gas oven on the S setting (which is what I do), or similar setting for your slow cooker (I'd suggest the low setting if you're leaving it all day - but it's ages since I used a slow cooker because mine had a lovely ceramic bowl until I dropped it and it smashed. My new one is cast iron. If I drop it, it breaks the floor tiles not the pot). I have left this for just over seven hours and for as little as three (when I panicked a bit and cooked it at gas mark 2 - would that be the high setting in a slow cooker?).
  7. When ready to eat, check the seasoning of the sauce and adjust if necessary.
  8. Use something to pull/shred the chicken. I usually use a wooden spoon, it's that tender.
  9. Serve with rice (easy cook for speed)

* If you're in a real hurry, just throw the lot into the pot, make sure it's all up to simmering point and slow cook it. It'll be fine (I know, I've done it!)

Monday, 15 April 2013

Apple cranachan

Gosh it's been a while but I'm still here and I'm still cooking! I sort of fell a bit out of love with blogging for a while but I have continued photographing my culinary creations with the intention of sharing them one day.

Anyway I suddenly had a whim, about a fortnight ago, for cranachan - that wonderfully Scottish creation of oats, cream, honey, whisky and raspberries. But in a chilly April (which is still more winter than spring this year) raspberries are not in season. A quick Google for alternatives brought up two recipes - one from Delicious magazine using blackberries and apples and another from BBC Food made with apple puree and honey but surprisingly doesn't include whisky. Neither was quite what I was looking for so I combined the two and this was the result.



Serves 4-6

4 large Bramley apples
3 tbsp honey
25g/1 oz butter
75g/3 oz rolled oats
1 tbsp caster sugar
240ml/8fl oz double cream
150ml/5fl oz natural yoghurt
2tbsp whisky
1-2 tbsp light muscovado sugar


  1. Peel, core and cube the apples, put in a pan with a few tablespoons of water and simmer until they form a purée. Add the honey and leave aside to cool.
  2. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the oats and cook for about a minute. Add the caster sugar and stir until the mixture turns a lovely golden brown and smells gorgeous - like flapjacks.
  3. Lightly whip the cream, fold in the yoghurt and muscovado sugar and add the whisky - use more or less to taste. I was serving this to children and adults so I divided the mixture in half and only used 1tbsp of whisky in the adults' half.
  4. Layer up the mixture into individual dessert glasses - apple, oats then cream, finishing with a layer of cream, and top with a final sprinkling of oats.