For some reason I’ve always thought that making a chicken kiev was going to be way too complicated and time consuming. I was wrong.
I had store-bought kievs quite a lot growing up and I absolutely loved them. Needless to say, this led me to finally getting my act together and making my own.
My dad had an old recipe (when once upon a time he made his own) so I followed the guidelines.
- 200g of butter, softened (I needed less)
- garlic cloves (I always use more than stated)
- free-range, boneless chicken breasts (I used 4)
- 100g plain flour
- 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
- fresh chopped parsley & tarragon (or dried)
- 100g dried breadcrumbs (or make your own)
- salt and pepper
- 2-3 tsp olive oil
- garlic granules (I found in the cupboard)
- mixed herbs (also found in the cupboard)
- Approximately 4 large white potatoes, peeled and chopped in 1/4. They will take roughly 40 mins to boil, and then drain, mash with butter and milk until soft (I use more milk than butter)
- 1 large broccoli, cut and placed in pan to boil. This will take roughly 20 mins. Just make sure they have a nice crunch
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees
- The butter: soften (which takes a lot of elbow grease – essentially beating it until soft), add the seasoning and mix in together. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use
- The chicken breasts: use a small sharp knife to make a slit from top to bottom creating a pocket (slightly slanted) to insert the butter
- Put the butter into a piping bag (or make one from a freezer bag) and pipe into the pockets made in the chicken breasts. I’m not going to lie, fingers will need to be used.
- Mix the flour and more of the seasoning in a shallow bowl. Tip the beaten eggs into another shallow bowl, and the same with the breadcrumbs.
- The system: toss the the chicken into the flour first to coat, shake off the excess, then slide into the egg and turn until covered. Finally dip into the breadcrumbs until covered, and shake off any excess. Do this to each individual chicken breast
- Place chicken breasts on a plate, slit side down, and chill in the fridge to help firm the crumb coating
- While the chicken’s in the fridge, this is where you get your sides on (unless you’re a champ multi-tasker, but as this was my first time, I tackled it step by step). For a casual mid-week meal I’ve gone for mash potato and broccoli. Whatever you fancy! The chicken in the oven takes around 15 minutes, so time accordingly.
- Next, pour the oil into a frying pan. When it’s getting hot add the chicken breasts, cooking on each side until lightly golden brown. Now place the chicken on a tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes, but basically until they’re cooked all the way through.
- To serve, plate up the mash onto the plates. Place the broccoli and kiev alongside and pour over any garlic butter left in the pan over the dish.
- Add any additional seasoning, like salt and pepper and enjoy your better-than-store-bought kiev!
I’m a big believer in making a little more than you should. For instance, make one or two more kievs than necessary, and boom, whack them in the freezer and you have another day’s meal sorted.
As I mentioned earlier, I needed less butter than the original recipe stated, but that’s fine! In one of my older blogs A simple, and very effective, bolognese, I have a recipe for a, yes, bolognese and I simply used the remains of my garlic butter to make my own garlic bread to go on the side. Problem solved!
Vegetable soups are one of my favourite things to cook, particularly at this time of year. I find the process very therapeutic, especially when I’m feeling a bit worse for wear – so I surround myself with amazing fresh veg as my brain screams “I need a bowl of health!”
I used to live in Kingston-Upon-Thames and loved wondering round the market deciding what I was going to go for. I love the atmosphere of a food market, it’s so much better value for your money, and you’re supporting local businesses.
One of the things I love about soups is that you can make them from pretty much anything! This was great for me and my housemates during university when we were low on money. We’d pull what we had from our own cupboards and bung it all together in a pan.
For this soup I was in a similar situation to the latter. I went for: what I had in the cupboard…
What I found in the cupboard (this fed 3):
- 2 white potatoes
- 1 red onion
- 2 leeks
- milk (I went for skimmed)
- dried parsley
- mixed dried herbs
- salt and pepper
What you need to do:
- chop the potatoes, onion, leeks and garlic (or crush the garlic)
- add a knob of butter to a saucepan and melt
- add all the chopped veg to the pan, making sure to cover them in the butter, then add the seasoning (trust your judgement and your palate)
- turn the heat on low, put a lid on the pan and allow veg to sweat for at least 15 minutes – occasionally give a stir and add a little more butter if the veg starts to stick to the bottom
- add boiling water (making sure it covers the contents and then at least an inch more) and 1tsp & 1/2 of bouillon
- keep on a low heat and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes
- add some glugs of milk (it depends how creamy you want it, and milk will help thicken) – I personally only use a little. Then stir
- allow to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes
- I have a hand-held processor, so I simply blend everything until it is nice and smooth
- serve, enjoy!
What you should be left with is a creamy consistency, with a slight acidity from the red onions and plenty or flavour! Tasty, and healthy, meals don’t have to be expensive or complicated to be amazing!
If your soup is thicker than you’d like, simply add some more water to the pan and give it another stir before serving. I personally like a thicker soup, particularly during the winter – it feels that bit more substantial and warming. But do blend to the consistency you prefer!
Over time, and I give myself credit where it’s due, I have managed to conquer eggs at breakfast; fried; boiled; poached; and scrambled. Now, it sounds easy but I’m not talking about the cheeky tricks, I’m talking about back to basics with egg and pan.
The eggs I’ve been making most recently are scrambled, but with some extra flavour. I was literally playing around one morning wondering how to make my breakfast more interesting – I had eggs, spinach, garlic and seasoning. Voila!
For one person:
- 1 or 2 eggs, beaten
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- pinch of paprika
- handful of spinach
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
- bread (if you want it on toast – I like brown)
- butter or olive oil
- heat up the butter, or oil, in frying pan
- chop and gently fry the garlic for about 3 minutes
- add the spinach and mix in allowing it to wilt
- turn the heat right down on low then add the eggs
- get your toast on
- keeping the heat on low, stir the eggs as they begin to cook and then scramble
- add the pepper, salt and paprika
- when toast is ready, get your spread on. I go for butter – classic
- the eggs are ready when they look fluffy and still a bit moist – if they’re flaking and crumbling, they’ve been done for too long – and then put them on the toast
- feel free to add more seasoning if you so wish and enjoy!
The important thing with scrambled eggs is to keep the eggs on that low heat so it results with them being light and soft. One could argue that this makes a signature quick dish a little more complex, but I beg to differ. While the eggs are chillin’ out in the pan, this allows you to get everything else in check – everything in good time!
If garlic is a little much for you at breakfast, this dish also makes a great lunch – but I do insist you give it ago!
Homemade bolognese has always been a favourite of mine, and yet very underestimated by many. As a well known dish it is an easy-to-please signature meal which accommodates families; picky children; and those who couldn’t fathom cooking as a skill.
Bolognese is not only easy to conjure up, it is also financially friendly. There are 3 primary ways that bolognese helps you save the pennies:
- in one shop you’ve started, or bulked up, your herb and spice rack (and these purchases will last you a while)
- any excess products not put in the dish can be used for another meal
- by cooking a little more than you need to, you’ve got dinner two nights in a row by whacking it in the fridge, or a cheeky reheated meal saved away in the freezer that’s not from a box
When I make bolognese I usually use beef, but to add a little extra I often include bacon or chorizo. Alternatively when hosting for vegetarians, quorn mince works equally well.
For the/my basic foundation:
- minced beef
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 2 tins of chopped tomatoes (for a larger meal)
- 1 pepper, chopped (I tend to sway red, but that’s your call)
- mushrooms, sliced into quarters (I dislike mushrooms, but the majority don’t)
- bacon or chorizo (not necessities)
- garlic bread for the side (if you so wish)
- olive/extra virgin oil
- dry or fresh spaghetti (add salt and a little oil)
For all the flavour:
- garlic (all the garlic)
- basil, ALWAYS FRESH basil
- salt and ground pepper
- beef stock (I sometimes also use gravy for thickening)
- dry oregano
- fennel seeds (personally, a very small amount)
- red wine (a glass for bolognese, and a glass, or few, for you)
- worcester sauce
- instant coffee (depending how rich I want it)
- cheese for topping (parmigiano-reggiano or a cheddar – again, not a necessity)
I won’t drag on with the step-by-step process. Also, flavour quantity is always up to the chef. What I essentially wish to divulge is the cheap and easy way to up the game on your standard bolognese. The trick: simmer and stew! Allow all the flavours to mingle, because small talk never really goes that far. Once everything is in the pot, and depending on how hungry the mob is, allow to simmer away on a low heat for at least 30-40 minutes.