Chicken a la King

A classic from the past, revived for the 21st century. We had this on holiday last year, and decided that we should start cooking it. There are loads of recipes out there so here’s my one…

Serves 6

4 chicken breasts
3 sweet peppers (long pointy ones like romano or ramiro)
400g mushrooms
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon oil
salt and pepper
400ml chicken stock (I make my own, but a cube plus water will do the job)
100ml white wine (anything you have to hand)
150ml creme fraiche, cream or double cream (your choice)

Cut your chicken breast into bite size pieces, cubes of about an inch.
Slice your mushrooms to around the thickness of a couple of pound coins.
Deseed and chop your sweet pepper into squares of about an inch.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the chicken over a high heat until it starts to brown. Once the chicken is brown enough for your liking, add the mushrooms and fry them until they are well cooked.

Then add the sweet peppers and cook for a few minutes. Now add the salt, pepper and flour and cook for a minute or so. Don’t worry if some of the flour starts to stick, it will soon blend in.


Now add the wine and cook for a minute – it will start to pick up some of the flour from the pan. Now add the chicken stock and cook for a few minutes.

Then add the creme fraiche/cream/double cream and give everything a good stir around until it starts to bubble gently.


When it looks like that, it’s pretty much done, serve with rice of some kind, perhaps a mixture of red, brown and wild rice.


A simple and tasty tea.


Here’s an alternative Christmas Eve recipe for you. Bobotie goes back to Roman times, although the first recipe appeared in a Dutch cookbook in 1609 which is how it ended up being a popular South African dish. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend lend you an English/Zulu cookbook:-


then you can probably find an authentic recipe. As ever, this is an interepretation and an adaptation. It might be a bit presumptious to mess around with things like this, but that’s life.

Bobotie, serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
2 banana shallots, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 eating apple peeled and chopped (your choice of variety)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
500g minced lamb
100g sultanas

Custard topping

250ml milk
2 eggs
8 bay leaves
salt and pepper


Preheat your oven to 160°C.

In a bowl, whisk the milk and eggs together to make your custard topping, and then season.

Very lightly oil your serving dishes to make them easier to wash up. The last time I made this, I used a small casserole dish for 2 portions, and then 2 individual dishes for the other 2 portions.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan or wok over a low heat, and fry the shallot, apple and garlic until the shallot is vaguely translucent. Add the garam masala and turmeric, and fry for a few minutes.

Now add the minced lamb, and fry for around 10 minutes until it has all changed colour. Add the sultanas and cook for a few minutes, mixing everything together well.

Turn the mixture out into your oiled dishes and cover the mixture in each one with your custard. Pop a couple of bay leaves in each portion and then bake for around half an hour in the oven (actual time may vary).

It should be golden brown on top (mine could probably have done with coming out a few minutes earlier).


Serve with peas or salad.

Beef casserole with savoury scones

It’s another recipe post. I love a casserole. It’s something that has a bit of a bad reputation to shake off, as it’s a dish that is often associated with cheaper cuts of meat. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If they are treated properly, they are often the tastiest. Look at the rise of pulled pork, and to a lesser extent, beef brisket. The shoulder of pork and the breast of beef are cheaper cuts, but when subjected to long and slow cooking, they turn into some of the nicest. If you rush them, they can be tough as old boots.

There are loads of recipes for beef casserole out there so do we really need another one? Well, why not? This is my version. What you serve it with can vary a lot too. We like  savoury scones, so they are included here too. Casserole first. This should serve 4 people, I usually make 6 or more portions and freeze them. It heats up in minutes to give a quick and easy meal at a later date. You can substitute your favourite veg in here, squashes, swedes, or whatever else.

500g beef – stewing beef, casserole beef, brisket, shin, featherblade, whatever your choice of cheaper cut
4 carrots, chopped into thumb sized chunks
4 parsnips, chopped into thumb sized chunks
Small (around 200g) jar of cocktail onions, drained and rinsed under cold water
1 tablespoon of olive oil (or any cooking oil)
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 tablespoons of plain flour
500ml of liquid – water, beer, wine, or any combination of these
Your choice of seasoning


Heat the oil in a pan and fry the beef over a high heat until it starts to brown. If you add all of the beef to the pan, then it will probably release a bit of water. If you don’t like this then you can fry it in batches, but I just don’t have time for that. Once the beef is brown enough for your liking, add the carrots and parsnips and fry them until they have taken on a little colour. Something like:-

Now add the onions and cook for a minute or two. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes until it has coated everything. Now add your liquid. A quick note on this.

I recall a Delia recipe from the 1980s called “beef in designer beer”. It was a take on boeuf en flammande, the classic Belgian beef stew. Her advice in the recipe was:-

"Not sure which one to use? Do what I do and go for the prettiest label!"

Don’t do that. You need to choose something that’s going to work with the beef. A really hoppy IPA, pale ale or a light lager are just not going to do the job. You need a darker ale, a malty bitter or stout or porter. If the end result tastes too “beery” you won’t win any friends. If you’re worried about the beer flavour being too strong, just add a little bit and make up the difference with water. Water on its own is just fine too, a lot of flavour comes from the beef as it slowly cooks.

Now your liquid is in, stir everything around and then add the tomato puree, stir a bit more, stick a lid on it and put it on the hob on a low heat or in the oven at around 160 degrees C for at least 2 hours, preferably 3.

Now let’s get on to the savoury scones. This should make around 6 scones.

230g self-raising flour
60g butter, cut into cubes
half a teaspoon of salt
150ml milk, and a little extra to brush over the tops
1 teaspoon of grain mustard
1 teaspoon of your choice of dried herbs


Put the flour, butter and salt into a food processor, and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then slowly add the milk and continue to pulse until combined. Now add the mustard and herbs and give it a final pulse to mix in.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface, to around 3cm thick. Cut into rounds using a pastry cutter (6-8cm in diameter). Place on a lightly oiled baking tray, brush the tops with the remaining milk and then bake for 15-20 minutes in the oven at 200 degrees C.

When you’ve finished, the casserole should look a little something like this:-

You’ll spot some peas there, I tend to cook these separately and then add them in at the last minute. If you mix them into the casserole they tend to go grey and don’t look very appetising on reheating.

If you prefer something a little spicier, stirring a spoonful of chilli jam into your bowl brings a gentle warmth to proceedings.

The scones will look a little something like this:-

A tasty casserole dish, easy to make and very rewarding for little effort.

Creamy seafood pasta recipe

It’s another recipe post. I’ve got plenty up my sleeves, just have to get around to writing them and publishing them.

Tonight’s one is a quick pasta dish that makes a nice change from bolognese or carbonara and is almost a no-cook recipe.

You will need:-

some seafood
some pasta
some cream
some eggs
some seasoning

For 2 people, I used the following:-

150g crab meat (whatever you prefer)
100g cooked squid rings
50g cooked, peeled prawns
50ml cream
2 egg yolks
50g grated cheese (cheddar, parmesan, whatever you prefer)
166g dried pasta
Your preferred amount of seasoning (salt, pepper or something more exotic such as cayenne also works)

Here’s the “work” bit. Quickly whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add the cream and cheese and whisk again. Add the seafood and mix well. Season as preferred. Job done. It will look a bit like this:-

Cook your preferred pasta as per packet instructions. You’ll note my very accurate weight of pasta above. It’s 500g divided by 3, which produces a good portion for two people. When the pasta is cooked, quickly drain it and return it to the hot pan. Then add the seafood mixture and stir quickly – the heat in the pasta and the pan will cook the sauce in just a minute or two.

It looks a little something like this:-

There you go, a quick and easy pasta meal.

Gooseberry jam – a recipe

What do you do when someone (Mrs MOFAD in my case) comes home from work with a kilo of gooseberries? Make jam of course. I do like a gooseberry jam. It’s something you don’t see from the big producers, the kind of thing that you find at a farm shop or a market.

You will need:-

some gooseberries
some jam sugar (aka jelly sugar, aka gelling sugar aka pectin sugar)
some cold water

You might want something a bit more accurate than that. It’s a ratio of 1:1 gooseberry to sugar, with 15% water.

So if you have 500g of gooseberries, you need 500g of sugar and 75ml water, and so on.

Before we begin, start to sterilise a few jars – wash them in warm water then leave to dry in a low oven (100-120C) whilst you’re doing the rest of this. At the same time, put a small plate in the freezer – you’ll need that to test if it has set later.

First, wash your gooseberries, and chuck away any that have gone too squishy, mouldy or are too blemished. Remove the tops and tails, and pop them in a large saucepan.

Add your water and bring to the boil, then simmer for around 10 minutes until the fruit softens and starts to break up, giving it a good stir a few times. It will start to foam a bit.

Now add your sugar and stir until it has dissolved.

Increase the heat again and boil hard for about 10 minutes. Again it will really start to foam up and bubble away like a sugary volcano.

After 10 minutes, check to see if it has set. To do this, take the small plate out of the freezer and spoon a small amount of jam on to it. Let it cool down for a minute and then drag your finger through the jam – if it goes wrinkly then it is ready. If it doesn’t wrinkle, keep boiling for another minute or two and then test again.

If it is ready, turn off the heat and then skim off any scum (the white foamy bits). Leave it to stand for 20 minutes (it will start to form a wrinkly skin).

Remove your warm jars from the oven and spoon in the jam (or use a handy jam funnel, available from Lakeland, Wilkinson and elsewhere). You’ll notice that it goes from green to brown.

And there you go, gooseberry jam in about an hour.

Chutney chicken again

Another “easy life” recipe. At the ministry, we get through a lot of chutneys, sauces, relishes and jellies in various different flavours. Here are the latest ones that have piled up in the back of the cupboard:-


When the jar is pretty much empty it gets put at the back of one of the cupboards in the kitchen, and when there are a few stacked up they are retrieved to make “chutney chicken”. You will need:-

Some leftover bits of various chutneys
Some chicken breasts
Some white wine

This is very simple. Take a roasting dish or a foil lined tin. Put your chicken breasts in it. Now pour a little white wine into each of your jars of chutney. Give them a good old shake to get all of the chutney from the sides of the jar. Pour each of these over the chicken, and then slosh it around a bit.


At this point you can choose to leave them to marinade for any period of time of your choice. But if you’re in a hurry you can just pop them straight into the oven at 200C for around 30 minutes (all depends on the size of your chicken breasts). The chicken cooks and the wine and chutneys fuse together to make a quick and easy sauce. Turn the chicken about halfway through the cooking time, and then take out, cover (this is where the foil lined tin comes in handy as you can just wrap the foil over the top) and rest for 5-10 minutes.

If the consistency of the sauce is not to your liking, you can pour it off at this point and then reduce it in a saucepan, or add something to thicken it, or something to thin it down a bit. Your choice, it’s very flexible! A quick and easy dinner, serve with some boiled rice and peas.

Hot toddy pancakes…

Yes, it’s pancake day.

Everyone has their own pancake batter recipes, and preferred toppings. Here are mine. Recipe first.

1 egg
60g flour
140ml milk

This makes a fairly thick batter to make a decent pancake. No thin and weedy crepes here.


There’s far too much messing around when it comes to pancake toppings. You should keep it classic, with lemon juice and sugar. If you have to fiddle around with it, then just a splash of whisky on top of those other two ingredients makes for perfect hot toddy pancakes. Simple and delicious.