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Posts Tagged ‘chicken breasts’

My old school friend Rodney is 70 today.

We met in pre-prep school at the age of eight and both feature (butter wouldn’t melt in our mouths) in a photo  of the cast of the first play I acted in– “Colonel Blood’s Plot to Steal the Crown Jewels” –an action packed melodrama that ended badly–for the Colonel!

Our Salad Days–(seems appropriate, given what’s to follow!)

I played the Colonel’s demure-looking wife (mob cap, centre back) and Rodney (mob cap, far right, back row)–his mistress?!

We try to see each other at least once a year and catch up by phone on our birthdays–it’s a fine tradition.

Rodney and I share a life span with another 70-year-old–Old Bay Seasoning.

Same great taste for over 70 years,” it says on the tin.

This Maryland spice mix originates from the Chesapeake Bay area and was kindly given me at the pop-up book signing in New York City by Ann de Saram who brought it up from Baltimore by bus!

It’s widely used to zip up the taste of seafood and chicken–the perfect answer for a jet-lagged cook!

I marinaded two chicken breasts in the mix recommended on the box for an hour this morning:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon  of OLD BAY seasoning 

Several twists of the pepper mill 

I heated a griddle on the stove, cut the breasts in thin strips and grilled them a minute and a half each side.

Served over a green salad, they made for a lazy lunch.

Not sure how far it makes its way out beyond America’s east coast–but here’s a recipe (found on the internet and untried by me!) for mixing your own:

 Makes about 1/4 cup

  • 1 tablespoon ground dried bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
The taste of celery and paprika seem to predominate.
Many Happy Returns, Rodney!

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This is adapted from the Indian actress and cookery write Madhur Jaffrey again, whose spicy green beans from a recent post, would be a good accompaniment.

I’ve cooked from her BBC series cookbook-“Indian Cookery” for many years–it may be out of print now but is worth seeking out. She says in the introduction,
that her mother once told her, her passion for food dates back to “the hour of my birth, when my Grandmother wrote the sacred syllable”Om” (I am”) on my tongue with a finger dipped in honey. I was apparently observed smacking my lips rather loudly.” Something we do regularly after eating from one her recipes!

An overnight marinade in this delicious blend of familiar spices and a quick turn on a griddle* make these strips of chicken breast a handy lunch option.

for 4/6

2lb/1k free range boneless chicken breast— skin removed, washed, patted dry
and cut into 1″/2cm strips

the marinade:

5 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 medium onion–roughly chopped

1 head of garlic–peeled and roughly chopped

1” nob of ginger–peeled and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons each of fennel seeds and ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds

8 cardoman pods and 8 whole cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

20 black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons salt–sea salt for preference and “Malden” if you can find it

  • Liquidise the marinade ingredients.
  • Add the resulting mush to the bowl in which you have put the strips of chicken.
  • Turn it all over–making sure the chicken is well covered by the marinade.
  • Cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge overnight.
  • Heat a griddle to hot and cook the strips in batches.
  • Depending on the thickness allow them a couple of minutes a side. Cut into one to test for doneness–if it looks too pink let it cook on a few seconds more.
*You could also cook these in a hot oven (220c/425f  for 10 to 15 minutes depending on their thickness).

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I bought a couple of chicken breasts for lunch in Castres market this morning.

The recipe below is adapted from the late Ismail Merchant’s excellent book, Indian Cuisine.

Ismail Merchant

Ismail, who died too soon six years ago aged 68, was the producer half of the enormously successful film production team Merchant Ivory. I filmed The Europeans with them in New England in the autumn of 1978, with lovely Lee Remick.

Food played an important part in the ebullient Ismail’s modus operandi.

In earlier days he would do the rounds of the established film companies looking for backing, with a homemade apple pie in his bag.  Slices would be produced in exchange for the use of the telephone!

Money was never NOT a problem for them in those days and it was clear, deep into the filming in New Hampshire, that things were tight. Anxious creditors hovered and it was uncertain whether we’d be able to complete the filming.

About five o’clock one Saturday afternoon, I spotted Ismail coming in from the car park laden down with several grocery bags. “What’s up, Ismail?”

“Curry for dinner–everyone’s invited!”

He disappeared into the hotel’s kitchen which he had commandeered for the night.

At eight that evening, the whole company (at least 80 people) plus a few unfamiliar faces entered the dining room where  a wonderful Indian feast was laid out–a fantastic sight!

We finished the film on time, with no further rumours of money worries.

His simple recipe makes the rather bland chicken breasts more interesting with chili and cinnamon.

Chicken breasts sautéed with cinnamon, onions, and parsley

for 4

4 boned chicken breasts (without the skin)– sliced in half, lengthwise

4 tblsps olive oil

1 cinnamon stick– broken up

1 largish onion– chopped

2 to 3 small red chillies

juice of two lemons

Cook the onions gently in the oil with the cinnamon until soft.

Add the chicken breasts with the lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper.

Turn them over after three minutes and cook for a further three minutes; then add the parsley and chillies.

Turn the breasts in the sauce and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes–the exact cooking time depends on the thickness of the chicken breasts.

In the pan...

(I just cooked two today.)

Cut into the thickest part of one to check. If it is still very pink, continue to cook another couple of minutes.

I served it with a salad of  raw fennel, radish, avocado and rocket  dressed with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard,  salt and pepper,  whisked together.

On the plate....

A healthy & delicious dish for diabetics–and everyone else….

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