Grilled chicken with honey-glazed figs, Phil Vickery

Around 8 years ago, I followed a strict gluten-free diet for a few months and felt great. I’ve been meaning to follow this type of eating plan again but keep being tempted by gluten-laden treats. I bought Phil Vickery’s ‘Seriously Good Gluten-Free Cooking’ book a couple of years ago but have never cooked anything from it. Until now.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I often overlook recipes which don’t feature an image of the final dish. It must be a psychological thing. This recipe didn’t have an image attached so I was about to put all my trust in some words on a page (oh, and I couldn’t find this recipe online).

First off, I had to marinate the chicken in a concoction which included Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and lemon juice. It says to leave it overnight if possible but this was our supper and we were hungry. I then had to marinade the figs in honey and sherry vinegar for 20 mins. Easy enough.

Once marinated, you cook the chicken first, then the figs. Both under the grill.

I quite liked the taste of the chicken, but I think the figs would have benefited from being marinated in a more intense balsamic vinegar rather than sherry vinegar.

This is great with salad but keep it as a green salad, as the acidity of the tomatoes we used interfered with the subtlety of the figs.

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Pot roast chicken with sweet baby onions, Phil Vickery, Seriously Good Gluten-Free Cooking

There is nothing like the smell of a whole chicken roasting in the oven and there are no bigger fans of this than me, my husband and our dog. With Phil Vickery’s pot roast chicken, all three of us were going to benefit…

I don’t know why I don’t do a roast more often – so easy to prepare, forget about it whilst it’s in the oven and it can give you at least two meals (and a tasty carcass for a dog with a healthy appetite).

I don’t have a roasting dish with a lid (something else to add to the list!), so I had to improvise with my mam’s jam making pan and some foil! I threw in some shallots (and 1/4 pieces of a red onion to make up for a shortage of shallots!), some thyme leaves, butter, white wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar et voilà!

I don’t know if I calculated the time wrong (numbers aren’t my strong point!) but it wasn’t ready when I thought it would be, nor was it ready after an extra 30mins. It needed an extra hour and by that point we were so tired of waiting, we decided to eat it come what may!! I served it with the gravy that you make with the juices and even added some port (this isn’t in the recipe but the gravy was separating a bit and the port helped bind everything together), and pea and broccoli puree made with natural yoghurt.

It was so late by the time we ate, that I wasn’t even hungry, but the chicken was tasty nonetheless. The leftovers were used for roast chicken sandwiches the next day and our dog chewed his way through the carcass in 5mins! We were recently told that there’s nothing wrong with giving dogs these bones, having always been advised to avoid small, brittle bones. No waste. Job done!

A message from Basecamp

If you’re like me, you accumulate cookery books. Your library multiplies on a year by year basis with the help of Christmas and birthday presents, impulse buys, borrowing (otherwise known as stealing as I rarely get round to returning any), inheritance or all of the aforementioned. My mam and I, regardless of how much we enjoy cooking and eating, often lament the fact that we will never get round to creating every single recipe in our collections.

I’m sure we aren’t alone. You will embark on a baking frenzy one weekend then won’t pick up a whisk for another six months; you have a pile of cookery books on your bedside table and you enjoy nothing more than pouring through the unspattered pages, drooling over the glossy images and walking through the method (in your head) of creating each recipe in turn; you have dreams of owning a bakery, a cafe or a small boutique restaurant and you believe these books will come in handy one day; you plan elaborate parties/soirees/gatherings/dinner parties which never materialise; you even write shopping list after shopping list in order to breathe life into these limp paper recipes but you either end up abandoning your plans or despairing as your local supermarket doesn’t stock the exact ingredients (rosewater, split pigeon pea lentils, tahini, vanilla bean dusting…) you require.

This is where it ends, or in fact begins. I’m writing this having just married and arrived home from honeymoon, and with all the planning (and occasional stressing) over, I realise I surely must have some free time on my hands. I also recently watched the film Julie & Julia and I must acknowledge this true story as I would hate anyone to think that I was stealing a previously explored idea. I have merely been inspired by it.

The Plan
As of Saturday, 5th May 2012 I will begin to work my way through the collection of 34 cookery books I possess so that one day, I will be able to tell my mam that I have indeed created each and every recipe I own.

The books are as follows:

  1. The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days
  2. Stuffed Vine Leaves Saved My Life, Nadia Sawalha
  3. Glorious Fruit Desserts
  4. 200 Curries, Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook
  5. Soups, Grace Mulligan & Dilwen Phillips
  6. Puddings, Cakes & Ice Creams, River Cafe Pocket Books
  7. Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book
  8. Tarts, Liz Herbert
  9. Prydau i Blesio Pawb, Dudley Newbery
  10. Jamie At Home, Jamie Oliver
  11. Breads & Bakes, Carrie O’Regan & Jill Brand
  12. The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
  13. Home Cooking, Jill Brand & Carrie O’Regan
  14. New Recipes for your Slo-Cooker, Annette Yates
  15. Jams, Pickles & Chutneys, Midge Thomas
  16. The Big Book of One Pot
  17. Antonio Carluccio’s Italian Feast
  18. Gordon Ramsay’s Sunday Lunch
  19. Nigella Express, Nigella Lawson
  20. The Accidental Vegetarian, Simon Rimmer
  21. Super Soups, Michael van Straten
  22. Nigella Bites, Nigella Lawson
  23. Antony Worrall Thompson’s GI Diet
  24. Pasta: Best-Ever Cook’s Collection, ed. Linda Fraser
  25. I Love Curry, Anjum Anand
  26. The Return of the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver
  27. How to be a Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson
  28. River Cafe Cook Book Easy
  29. Steak Lover’s Cookbook, William Rice
  30. The Wagamama Cookbook, Hugo Arnold
  31. Feast, Nigella Lawson
  32. Curry Easy, Madhur Jaffrey
  33. Gluten-Free Cookig, Phil Vickery
  34. Nigella Christmas, Nigella Lawson

On that note I will leave you but will return with the method and rules which I will follow in order to climb this delicious mountain of books. I may be writing to myself here for a few months (if not a few years) but if you do happen upon this blog, please feel free to post your own comments about the recipes I attempt – you may have your own insight as to Nigella’s whisking method, Antonio’s raviolli or Gordon’s basting…