Family Favourites -Creamy Savoury Crepes

This is a total blast from the past for me. A dish that my mother made that had a few variations- either creamy vegetable, creamy chicken and veg or creamy seafood crepes. Sometimes she would add a dollop of curry powder to the mixture (which is basically a bechemel sauce) to add a bit of spice.

If we ever had a roasted chicken for dinner, the leftovers would be turned into chicken crepes. If we had dinner guests the starter would often be seafood crepes. Savoury crepes for me remind me of home… of comforting winter dishes, where everything was right and cozy in the world.

I woke up this morning just knowing that we had to eat crepes for dinner. As it happens, we had leftover chicken from a dish I had made to be enjoyed with family who were visiting. I diced a good handful of the chicken, then sauteed diced celery,onion and carrot. The best veg to use is often the frozen mixed veg you can get pre-prepared. Then I made a simple bechemel sauce, just melted butter, a tablespoon of plan flour, adding milk and stirring hard until a sauce has been made. To this I added a handful of grated cheddar cheese and then set aside. I then made the crepes.Some years ago my parents presented me with a crepe pan that has the perfect recipe on the base. The first time I made crepes I made the mistake of adding ingredients while trying simultaneously to read the recipe by lifting the pan above me so I could read the bottom. Memorising the recipe helps avoid half-cooked crepes sliding off the pan at this point.

After making the crepes and setting them aside on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil, I put two tablespoons of the mixture in the middle of the crepe and folded it. The crepes then had more cheese scattered over the top and then were baked in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 20 minutes.

This was delicious with a side of broccoli.

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The chicken and vegetable mixture.

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perfect crepes – 2 eggs, 110 gm flour, 200 ml milk, 75 ml water, pinch of salt, knob of melted butter. Never fails. ūüôā

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A perfect pancake.

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The filled crepes about to go into the oven.

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The result. The pic does not really show how stuffed and creamy the filling is, but I was too keen to eat to take another one!

Cowes Week day 5 – Wok’s Happening.

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Wok’s Happening has made another welcome appearance. This is my favourite of the pop up places that feature in Cowes Week. Today I had the vegetarian chow mein.

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This was a bit greasy for my taste and I could not finish the plate as it was huge. There was a definite chilli kick and lots of carrots and cabbage.

My dining companion had the Thai green chicken curry.

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This was creamy, with a strong coconut flavour. A winner.

Cost Р£6.00 for the chow mein £7.00 for the curry.

Chicken Shack

One of the things that I enjoy most about cooking food, and reading about food and thinking about food is not so much thinking about how the food will taste (as attractive as that may be) but thinking about what that food means to those who consume it. Every major event revolves around food… Christmas, Easter, Birthday parties, but also everyone has a memory of a special family meal that brings happy memories.

It was memory that decided what we ate tonight. It was a simple dish, and was not even cooked by me, (only assembled),  but it brought back a reminder of happy times.

Some years ago, when H-G was working and living in Albania, I used to fly out every Friday night in order to be with him for the weekend. As impressive as that sounds, it was not nearly so labour intensive as one might expect.  Rather than a 2 hour flight from Gatwick  this actually meant I flew for a mere 40 minutes from Kosovo, which was where I was living at the time.  I would leave the office at 4.30, be at Prishtine airport at 5.15, get the 6 pm flight and be in Albania (and sometimes even through customs)  just before 7. H-G would pick me up, drive us into town and by 8 we would be at The Chicken Shack on the Elbasan road just outside of Tirana.

The Chicken Shack was possibly not the real name of the restaurant. It was what we ‚Äď and most other expats- called it. They served rotisserie chicken, chips and greek salad. Nothing else.¬†The restaurant was quite¬†literally a shack ‚Äď the walls were tarpaulin, the roof was matting and the floor was bare dirt. Usually live chickens were scratching around beneath our feet, and every week I tried not to think too hard about the form in which I¬†would see those chickens next.

H-G and I would sit and tuck into chicken and Tirana beer.  We would complain about our weeks.  Then we would wander home.

Last night, I had had a particularly difficult day at work in London, and barely made my 6.05 train for the commute home. That, combined with reading a book about Albania that was given to us by a friend made me think with nostalgia about our time in the Balkans. On the way home, fresh off the ferry, I bought a pre-cooked chicken from the Co-op. This was thrown in the oven with the juice of a lemon squeezed over it. I cooked oven fries and made a quick salad. It was just what we needed after a long day- a bit of nostalgia from a far back time when life seemed to be somehow simpler- and when we were more adventurous.

Hungarian Chicken goulash

This may not be a wholly authentic Hungarian goulash, but it features paprika and sour cream so that is what I call it. The days are getting colder so I find myself planning warm and comforting foods.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 knob of butter

3 medium onions finely sliced

1 level tablespoon sweet paprika

12 chicken thigh fillets (without the bone)

500 gm tomato passata

1/2 can tinned tomatoes

sour cream or creme fraiche (I tablespoon, or two if you want it very creamy)

Gently sautee onion and celery in olive oil and butter until translucent. Add paprika and stir.

Add chicken thighs and cook on a medium heat approximately 3 minutes each side until browned. Skinless chicken thighs are better for this I think.

Add tomato passata and tinned tomatoes and bring to the boil. Then turn off th stove and put the dish into the oven on a very low heat for an hour and a half. (Usually I do about 120 degrees celsius). Test to see if the chicken is cooked and adjust timing to suit.

When cooked through remove from the oven and stir in a good dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche according to how creamy you want it. Serve with buttered noodles.

This was quite tasty, but it would have benefitted from double the amount of  paprika. We wanted B-G to eat his too, so a level tablespoon was on the conservative side.

Tagliatelle with chicken meatballs

This started off being one thing then turned into something else and then finally ended up as pasta with meatballs. I originally planned to make chicken cacciatore tonight, which I wanted to serve with celeriac mash. However, I could not find any chicken thighs in the supermarket, and chicken breasts are not quite flavoursome enough for chicken cacciatore, I think. So I bought 4 chicken breasts and decided to finely mince them myself to make chicken meatballs. The plan was then to make ‘chicken meatball cacciatore’. By the time I started making the sauce though I was bored and just threw together the ingredients and simmered for an hour and then thought it was back to the drawing board and it would just be a super simple chicken meatball pasta dish. So the ingredients essentially stayed the same, but the emphasis changed.

Meatballs;
4 chicken breasts
spring onions
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon mixed Italian herbs
breadcrumbs.

Finely dice the chicken breasts, and add egg and herbs. Run the mixture through a blender, but do not blend too smoothly. There should be a bit of texture. Add breadcrumbs and then mix with your hands, rolling the mixture into small balls. Set aside and chill so the balls firm up.

Sauce;
1 small onion finely diced
1 stick celery finely diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 pack of passata (I used the 500g Morrisons own pack)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup red wine
chicken stock mixed in 1 cup boiling water (I swear by the Knorr’s jelly stocks)

Sautee the garlic, celery and onion in olive oil to which a little bit of butter has been added. When translucent, add chicken stock, passate and red wine. Add more mixed herbs to taste, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Then turn heat off and leave until time to cook.

Take the chicken balls out of the fridge and brown in a shallow pan. I browned for about 1 minute on each side. Then throw the balls into the pan with the sauce in it, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Do check the balls though- you do not want raw chicken meat in the middle. I always think it is the cook’s reward to have a sneaky taste test.

Cook the tagliatelle according to packet instructions. Remove the cooked balls, mix sauce and the tagliatelle, serve and place meatballs artistically on top.

We loved this. It was a rustic, no frills dish. Not a dinner party dish as chicken cacciatore may be, but a solid, nourishing, tasty, no-nonsense family meal.