Italian Chicken Casserole

Enjoy the taste of Italy with this tempting chicken dish ….. it’s brimming with Mediterranean flavour!

Serves: 4;   Cals per portion: 659;   Prep time: 15 mins;   Cook time: 1 hr 20 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1oz (25g) butter or margarine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 x 8oz (225g) part-boned chicken breasts, trimmed, washed and dried
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stick, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2oz (50g) pancetta ham or unsmoked rindless streaky bacon, trimmed and chopped
  • 8oz (225g) button mushrooms, wiped and sliced
  • 14oz (397g) can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and black pepper
  • 7 fl oz (200ml) dry white wine
  • 2oz (50g) green olives stuffed with pimientos
  • 2oz (50g) pitted black olives

Step One – In a large frying pan, melt fat with oil. Add the chicken breasts and fry for 7-8 mins, or until browned all over. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken and drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish and set aside.

Step Two
– Preheat oven to Gas 5, 375oF, 190oC. Using the same frying pan, fry the onion, celery, garlic, pancetta ham or bacon, and mushrooms for 3-4 mins, or until just softened. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mixture to the casserole dish.

Step Three
– Place the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, dried oregano, salt and black pepper in a large saucepan. Pour the dry white wine into the saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the tomato and wine sauce to the chicken mixture in the casserole dish.

Step Four
– Mix well, then cover dish and cook in oven for 50 mins, or until the chicken is tender. Remove casserole from the oven and stir in the olives. Return to the oven and cook, uncovered, for a further 10 mins. Serve with warm ciabatta bread and a dry white wine.

Find a selection of yummy Italian goodies here …

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Margherita Pizzas

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (February 2016) and taken from the book River Cottage Gluten Free written by Nutritionist, cook and River Cottage teacher Naomi Devlin.

This is a thin-based pizza, sparingly spread with a simple tomato sauce and baked until the base is invitingly crisp and the cheese is bubbling.

Margherita pizzaServes:  3-4

Ingredients for the Pizza Base:-

70g sorghum flour; 10g fresh yeast (or 3g quick dried)
140g potato starch
40g tapioca starch
25ml olive oil
1 large egg
1 scant tsp sea salt
1 tsp light Muscovado sugar
1 tsp xanthum gum or 2 tsp ground psyllium husk
1 tsp cider vinegar
Fine polenta or rice flour

Ingredients for the Topping:

400g tin plum tomatoes
2-3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
50ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Few drops wine vinegar (optional)
2-3 mozzarella balls, each about 125g
Thyme, or oregano leaves for sprinkling (optional)
Rocket leaves and Parmesan shavings

Step One: For the pizza base, mix the sorghum flour, yeast and 120g tepid water in a bowl until smooth, then cover.  Set aside at room temperature for an hour to ferment.

Step Two: For the tomato sauce, chop the tomatoes and put in a pan with the juice from the tin.  Add the garlic and cook, covered, over a medium heat, for 10 minutes.  Stir in the olive oil, a couple of pinches of salt, a few good grinds of pepper, a pinch of sugar and a little vinegar if you think the flavour needs lifting.  The oil will take a bit of stirring to get it to emulsify with the tomato.  If the sauce is too thin, cook uncovered for a few minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Step Three: When you are ready to make the dough, beat the remaining pizza base ingredients, except the polenta or rice flour, into the sorghum mixture, until smooth.

Step Four:  Sprinkle flat baking sheets and work-surface with fine polenta or rice flour.  Scoop up a quarter of the dough with floured fingers, roll into a ball, then roll out on your floured surface into a thin circle, about 5mm thick.  Pick up an edge gently and slide a floured rolling pin underneath to help you transfer the delicate dough to the baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Step Five:  Spread the sauce between the pizzas using the back of a spoon.  Slice mozzarella and lay on top.  Sprinkle with thyme or oregano and drizzle any exposed dough with a little olive oil.  Leave to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, until the dough looks puffy.  Preheat the oven to 250oC /Fan 230oC/Gas 10, or as high as it will go and bake for 6-8 minutes.  Add rocket and Parmesan, and serve.

Bacon and Mushroom Tagliatelle

Serves: 4; Prep: 5 mins; Cook: 15 mins; Cals per portion: 595

Ingredients: 2 x 5 ml tbsp olive oil; 1 onion, chopped; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; 225g/8oz rind-less smoked back bacon, chopped; 115g/4oz button mushrooms, sliced; 1 x 15ml tbsp tomato puree; 1 x 550g jar passata; 1 x 15ml tbsp red wine vinegar; 2 x 15ml tbsp capers or pitted green olives, drained; pinch of sugar; freshly ground pepper; 335g/12oz Egg Tagliatelle; 1 x 15ml tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 x 5ml tsp dried oregano

* Heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 mins or until softened. Stir in bacon and mushrooms and cook for 5 mins.
* Stir in the tomato puree, passata, wine vinegar, capers and sugar. Season the mixture generously with fresh ground black pepper, then simmer for 5 mins.
* Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add taleteller and cook for 5 mins, or until al dente. Drain well, then toss with oregano and bacon sauce.
TIP: For extra flavour add a vegetable or chicken stock cube to the water while cooking pasta.

Parma Ham and Tomato Tart

Serves 4; Cals per portion: 545

Ingredients: 225g (8oz) short-crust pastry; 30ml (2 tbsp) finely grated parmesan cheese; 175mg (6oz) Parma ham; 4 large plum tomatoes; 50g (2oz) pine nuts; 45m (3 tblsp) olive oil.

  • On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry thinly and sprinkle the Parmesan Cheese over the top. Roll over the pastry with a rolling pin to press the cheese into the pastry. Use the pastry to line a 23cm (9in) fluted flan tin then prick all over with a fork.
  • Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans (or dried pulses). Bake blind at 200oC, 400oF, Gas 6 for 20 mins. Remove the lining and the beans and bake for a further 5-10 mins until the pastry case is crisp and golden. Leave to cool.
  • Fill the cooled pastry case with the strips of Parma ham, tomato wedges and pine nuts. Drizzle with 30ml (2tblsp) of the olive oil and place under a pre-heated moderate grill for 5-10 mins until the tomatoes begin to soften slightly.

Courgette and Bacon Calzoni

Courgettes, basil and smoked streaky bacon make a really delicious filling for this Italian pasty known as calzone.

Serves: 4; Prep: 15 mins plus proving time; Cook: 15 mins; Cals per portion: 617

Ingredients: 30ml ( 2tbsp) olive oil; 2 cloves of garlic, crushed; 350g (12oz) courgettes, thinly sliced; 15ml (1 tbsp) white wine vinegar; 30ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh basil; 280g (10 ½ oz) wholemeal pizza base mix; 225g (8oz) streaky bacon, crisply grilled and roughly chopped; 175g (6oz) gruyere cheese, thinly sliced.

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the garlic and courgettes until tender. Add the white wine vinegar and chopped basil and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until all the excess moisture has evaporated. Remove from the heat.
2. Make up pizza dough according to the instructions. Divide into four and roll into circles measuring 15cm (6in) in diameter.
3. Preheat the oven to Mark 6 (200oC/400oF). Place the courgette mixture on half of each base. Top with 175g (6oz) bacon and gruyere cheese. Wet the edge of the base with water, fold over and seal together.
4. Place on a greased baking tray and cover with greased clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for 20-30 minutes to prove.
5. Cook for 10 minutes and remove from the oven. Place the remaining bacon on top of each calzone. Return to the oven and cook for 5 minutes until piping hot and golden brown.

Tiramisu Cheesecake

This delicious, indulgent, baked cheesecake is made with the same wicked ingredients as the creamy italian dessert tiramisu – almond-flavoured biscuits, plain chocolate, rich mascarpone cheese and coffee.

Serves 12; Cost £9; Time to prepare: 40 mins; Time to cook: 1 hr 10 mins; Cals per portion: 605

Ingredients:-
Base: 100g (4oz) amaretti biscuits; 100g (4oz) almond cookies; 50g (2oz) butter
Filling: 750g (1 lb 10oz) mascarpone cheese; 100g (4oz) caster sugar; 30ml (2tbsp) cornflour; 3 eggs, size 3, beaten; 15ml (1tbsp) coffee liqueur or coffee essence; 225g (8oz) plain chocolate
Topping: 200ml (7fl oz) double cream, lightly whipped until softly peaking; Chocolate curls to decorate;
Cocoa powder to dust

  • To make base, roughly crush the biscuits and cookies, and place in a bowl. Melt butter, stir in and mix well. Spoon into th base of a greased 23cm (9in) springform tin and press down evenly with a potato masher. Chill in the fridge.
  • To make the filling, place the mascarpone cheese in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until soft. Beat in the caster sugar and cornflour, then gradually beat in the eggs to make a smooth mixture. Fold in the coffee liqueur or coffee essence.
  • Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave until just melted, then stir. Remove from heat and cool for 10 mins. Gently fold the melted chocolate into the mascarpone mixture.
  • Pour mixture over biscuit base. Place the tin on a baking sheet and bake at 170oC, 325oF, Gas 3 for 1 hr 10 mins until set. Cool (see tip). For topping, gentle swirl cream over the cheesecake. Top with chocolate curls and dust with cocoa powder.

TIP: When the cheesecake is cooked, leave it to cool slowly insdie the turned-off oven – then will help to prevent the surface from cracking.

Sicilian Chicken

Serves: 4; Prep: 15 mins; Cook: 55 mins; Cals per portion: 485

A rich casserole flavoured with garlic, anchovies, olives and capers. Serve with freshly cooked pasta.

Ingredients: 4 chicken portions; salt and pepper; 1 tbsp/15ml plain flour; 2 tbsp/30ml olive oil; 1 onion, chopped; 2 cloves garlic, crushed; 8oz/225g button mushrooms; 1 tbsp/15ml chopped fresh oregano; 2 tbsp/30ml capers;12 black olives; 1/2pt/300ml white wine; 1/4pt/150ml chicken stock; 4 tbsp/60ml tomato puree; 8oz/226g can tomatoes; 6 anchovy fillets, drained and halved; sprigs of oregano, to garnish

  • Preheat oven to Mark 5 / 375oF / 190oC. Remove skin from the chicken. Season flour and use to coat the chicken.
  • Heat oil in a large flameproof casserole. Add onion and garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Stir in the mushrooms, oregano, capers, olives, wine, stock and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 30 mins.
  • Remove from oven and stir in tomatoes and anchovy fillets. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Serve garnished with oregano.

Vegetarian Lasagne

Serves:  6-8;  Prep:  40 mins;  Cook:  40 mins

Ingredients:  1 lb/450g dried green lasagne; salt; olive oil; 3 lb/1.5kg fresh spinach; 1 egg, lightly beaten (for the spinach balls; 2 tbsp/30ml dried breadcrumbs; 5oz/150g fresh grated Parmesan cheese; nutmeg; freshly ground black pepper; 2 eggs, lightly beaten (for coating the aubergines and courgettes; 2 large aubergines, cut lenghtwise into 1/4in./4mm slices; 4oz/100g white flour; 2 large courgettes, cut lengthwise into 1/4in / 5mm slices; 11oz/300g fresh oyster mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms, sliced; 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped; 1 tbsp/15ml fresh chopped parsley; double quantity of tomato sauce (see recipe above); 11oz/300g fontina cheese, cut into chunks; 7 eggs, lightly beaten (for assembling the lasagne)

  • Preheat the oven to Mark 5 / 375oF/190oC.
  • Cook the dried pasta, adding the pieces one by one to boiling water to which you have added salt and 1 tbsp of oil, to prevent the lasagne sticking together.  Allow 8-10 minutes for it to cook.  Carefully remove the pasta and then pat dry on clean tea towels.
  • To make the spinach balls:  cook the spinach in a little water until tender, drain well and chop finely.  Mix the spinach with 1 tbsp beaten egg, the dried breadcrumbs and 1oz/25g of the Parmesan cheese.  Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.  Using your hands, shape spinach mixture into walnut-sized balls.  Heat oil to deep fry spinach balls, until lightly browned on all sides.  remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.
  • To prepare the aubergines, put half of the other 2 beaten eggs in a dish.  Dip the aubergine slices into the flavour and then into the beaten egg.  Heat enough oil to deep fry the aubergine, until golden.  remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.
  • Prepare the courgettes in the same way as the aubergines, dipping them into the flour and the beaten egg, then deep frying them.  then set them aside on paper towels.
  • To prepare the mushrooms, heat 1 tbsp oil in a separate frying pan, add the mushroom slices and fry briefly.  Sitr in the garlic and parsley, with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To assemble the lasagne, put 3-4 tbsp tomato sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish.  cover with a layer of pasta.  Next add a layer each of the mushrooms, the courgettes, aubergine and spinach balls.  Add some of the fontina cheese.  Now add 3-4 tbsp of tomato sauce, 3-4 tbsp of the beaten eggs and a generous sprinkling of the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  • Staring with a layer of pasta, repeat the sequence of layers until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of vegetables.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Then cut into portions and serve.
  • Tip:  You can prepare this dish up until the point when it’s ready to go into the oven.  Store it in the fridge for up to 24 hours, then bake when required.