Spicy oregano chicken breast roll with avocado and lime mayonnaise

spicy oregano chicken breast roll with avocado and lime mayo

I’d spent the previous day chopping chickens, primarily for another batch of stock – feeling like a latter-day Dr Crippen (although that may have been influenced by Brenda’s “soothing conversation and light badinage”……..)

Anyway, I found myself with a couple of chicken legs and breasts going spare so thought I’d knock us up a quick and tasty lunch that’s partly a salad and partly a warm sandwich.

Ingredients

1 chicken breast
1/2 avocado
1 bread roll – like a focaccia or ciabatta
two pinches of dried oregano
pinch cayenne pepper

2 dsp mayonnaise
juice and zest of half a lime
small handful of finely sliced spring onions (green part)
pinch of red chilli flakes

olive oil
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Method

1) Bash out the chicken breast between two sheets of clingfilm, using the bottom of a pan, until it’s no more than 1/2 cm thin

2) Heat a medium frying pan on the hob while you rub a little olive oil onto both sides of the meat. Sprinkle a pinch of the oregano on each side – also, season with salt and pepper plus a light dusting of cayenne if you’re feeling adventurous but this can be omitted.

3) Slap the flattened breast onto the hot pan and hear the sizzle! Leave well alone for 2-3 minutes which you can use to make your dressing

4) In a bowl, add the mayo, lime juice/zest, finely sliced spring onion tops, chilli flakes and a little salt and pepper.

5) Turn the chicken breast which should be a lovely sizzling golden brown. While the other side fries, cut the roll in half and lightly toast. Also cut the half avocado into fine slices.

6) To serve, spread just under half the sauce onto the cut surface of each half of the roll, fan the avocado slices equally over each half. The other side of the chicken breast should by now also be golden brown and sizzling (having cooled altogether 5-6 mins). Cut it in half and place each piece on each half of the bread roll and spread the final tsp or so of dressing onto the chicken breast portion.

spicy oregano chicken breast roll with avocado and lime mayo

Lemon braised chicken thighs in white wine with mushrooms and peppers and chive mash

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

I know many of the womenfolk out there will sympathise greatly when I say I was struggling for inspiration as to what to give Brenda for dinner yesterday – it’s not so much that she’s got a refined palette (she doesn’t), nor has the memory of an elephant such that she would remember if a dish I did in 1979 was presented to her again (she doesn’t) – even if other elements of her could be considered elephantine. Not that I’m saying that she or any aspect of her (hips) is of course, but some may think so. And they would be right.

No, it was more the case of not allowing Brenda to find any reason for complaint, in turn meaning I can continue being in a position in being untouchable during our many disagreements…

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

As always, this little creation came partly from what I know tastes good and doesn’t take forever – and partly from what I had available in the fridge. Do feel free to leave out the peppers if you don’t have them – and substitute aubergine, onion, asparagus etc, whatever you have.

You could also toss in a small handful of chopped capers with the parsley towards the end of the cooking time.

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

Likewise if you didn’t have chives, normal mash is just fine – for this version I simply changed my usual butter and cream for some olive oil and finely chopped chives

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

INGREDIENTS

4 chicken thighs (on the bone makes for a tastier sauce)
200ml dry white wine
250g mushrooms – sliced
1 red pepper – sliced
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
juice of a lemon
small bunch of flatleaf parsley – roughly chopped
olive oil
sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

fanny and brenda's chicken mushrooms and white wine with mash

METHOD

1) Set a spacious casserole on high heat, allow to get hot, add a splash of olive oil and fry the chicken pieces for 10 mins, allowing to brown all over

2) Add the sliced mushrooms which will create water and ensure you gently start to scrape any brown gooey bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Arrange the sprigs of thyme around the dish.

3) After a further 5 or so mins, add the white wine and lemon juice and make sure your chicken pieces are at least half submerged. Turn the heat right down, put the lid on and leave to bubble gently for 15 mins.

4) Check to ensure the liquid level is still OK and add the peppers – these will also bring water to the dish as they cook down.

5) After another half hour of gently simmering, the chicken should be tender and falling off the bone – at this point add half the chopped parsley and contiunue to cook on the lowest possible heat for five more mins while you ready the mash and any other veg you’re serving with this – in my case today, just some olive oil fried courgette slices with fresh green chilli and dried red chilli.

Linguine Carbonara

The Italians can understandably be somewhat protective over their food – they have after all been doing it rather well for over 500 years. I have not veered far from the traditional here, just refined it to our taste, which means it’s fabulous of course.

fanny and brenda's delicious linguini carbonara

Ingredients

50g pancetta or smoked, streaky bacon – cut into small cubes or strips. Plus 2 strips separately for serving
Pancetta

40g any soft, creamy blue cheese like St Agur – crumbled
40g Parmesan cheese – finely grated
Parmesan

40g strong cheddar – finely grated
150g chestnut mushrooms (or button)
2 egg yolks
200g linguine
2 cloves garlic – minced
50ml double cream
knob of butter
olive oil
Maldon salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 nutmeg – freshly grated

Method

1) Put a large pot of salted water on to boil

2) Set a frying pan onto a medium heat, add the butter and fry the mushrooms, adding the minced garlic towards the end of the 5-10 mins

3) In a separate frying pan, fry the bacon/pancetta pieces in a little olive oil. Put the bacon in with the mushrooms but reserve the oil/bacon fat

4) Once boiling, add a glug of olive oil to the water and add the pasta which should take about 6 mins

5) Meanwhile combine most of the parmesan with the other cheeses, the egg yolks and the cream. Grate the nutmeg into this mix and a good pinch of black pepper

6) In the frying pan with the reserved bacon fat, gently re-heat and sizzle the two separate strips of pancetta/bacon

7) When the linguine has cooked, pull the pasta out of the water with tongs and place directly into the frying pan containing the bacon/mushroom mixture. It is perfectly fine, indeed necessary, for some of the pasta water to go in along with the pasta itself.

8) Switch on to a low heat and then gently combine the cheese mix into the mushroom/bacon/pasta pan. It should start to gently simmer as you stir and turn into an incredibly smooth, glossy sauce – it should not curdle or scramble.

9) You will probably need to add more pasta water as the linguine continues to absorb moisture and will tend to go thick and gloopy. Not elegant.

10) Serve into the awaiting warmed bowls, with a nice twist from the pasta tongs – you may even need to add a few more tablespoons of pasta water. Ensure you end up with a fairly thick but still very “saucy” consistency. Garnish with the reserved Parmesan and the crisped bacon.

Snowy New Year Cocktail

snowy mint chocolate cocktail

Although we are aware that many people will expect to eat something over the Festive Season, we reviewed what we did last year, which was Christmas lunch for a singleton, and decided that despite all the dating applications at their fingertips and self-help group therapy, that self same singleton would probably have descended to full-scale alcohol dependency with the passing of another year – and so we’ve decided to provide more helpful advice accordingly.

Besides, if I have to endure another bout of a plumply coiffed Nigella spreading warm sauce on her bundt, I think I’ll have to fast forward to next year’s advice to the hapless singleton (that we’re stalking) and book that one-way flight to Switzerland straight away….

Trendy bartenders have a habit of describing a 16-phase construct using ingredients available only in the former Soviet-bloc countries as simple. Which somewhat glosses over the vegetable-carving skills and hand-blown apothecary’s distillation equipment that you’ll also inevitably need.

Please trust me that when I say this is simple, it really truly is. You simply take one of granny’s old sherry/liqueur glasses (the ones you gave to the charity shop and then bought back again when “retro” became cool, start with some mint liqueur (a shot – 30ml), then carefully layer over a slightly smaller shot of white chocolate liqueur in the manner of finishing an Irish Coffee with cream – namely, over a spoon to avoid mixing the layers. Because these are the only two ingredients they have to speak for themselves, so you should avoid the horrors lurking at the back of your drinks cabinet and buy really good versions of these. We used Briottet Menthe Verte and Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur which is an unbelievable concoction of whiskey, Belgian white chocolate, cream and real vanilla. This wintry cocktail was inspired by one of Bebe Von Boom Boom’s recipes we showed last year and is also delicious!

The end result looks like a virgin snowfall on the pine trees growing up the slopes of your fave ski resort – so it’s as festive as a freshly stuffed Norfolk Black (and we all know how Brenda loves a good stuffing). As a final bonus, who doesn’t love mint-choc and you could probably quietly ask for this little gem of a cocktail as a dessert instead of a pudding….

Happy New Year from your two Fabulous Hostesses, that’s us, Fanny and Brenda. We hope you make it through the holidays unscathed and with the same number of children/boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands/wives that you started with – and we’ll see you in 2016 for more of our unique take on food and drink. We are beautiful!

xxx