I love cooking. If I have a spare half hour you’ll usually find me in the kitchen, baking a cake or preparing something for dinner. BUT I do find choosing something to cook a bit of a chore. Aside from the usual family gripes of who doesn’t like what, there’s the temptation to stick to the few dishes that suit everyone. It’s the recipe for a massive food rut, something I think Jules Clancy addresses really nicely in her new book, ’5 ingredients 10 minutes’.
I’ll often take a long time to prepare dinner (one of the bonuses of working from home), but sometimes, if everyone’s rushing off, or different people need feeding at different times, it’s nice to have some quick, healthy recipes to fall back on.
One of the refreshing things about this book is that it gets you thinking outside the meat/carb/veg box that a lot of us stick to (myself included). My teenagers are already strapping lads: very active, and still growing fast, so protein-rich dinners are a must. Jules provides these in a creative way, using lots of pulses, beans and lentils and, a new one for me, quinoa.
That’s not to say that meat gets thrown by the wayside, with plenty of fast, fresh ways with meat too. The ‘beef with buttery courgettes’ is delicious, with minced beef cooked so well that it’s crispy in places – a wonderful mix of textures.
I was also delighted when Jules said that she’d happily give me some ideas for cooking chicken (our go-to dinner – especially wrapped in bacon, with veg and mash, which we have at least once a week as it’s a favourite of both my boys) – I LOVE the hummus idea:
So without further ado, it’s over to Jules:
”One of the downsides of chicken is that it can get a bit boring so I was glad when Becky asked for some ideas to make chicken more interesting rather than her old standby of wrapping it in bacon.
The first thing I like to do to make chicken more exciting is to serve it with a tasty sauce. We’re looking for things that can be made in the same time it takes for the chicken to cook.
Pesto from a jar works brilliantly with chicken. I’m also a big fan of dolloping on a commercial hummus as soon as the chicken comes out of the pan so the juices from the chicken can mix in with the hummus and make it even more delicious. I also love adding finely chopped herbs to lift the flavour of good quality commercial mayonnaise. Think chive mayo or even dill or thyme.
My other go-to sauce is to season a creamy Greek-style yoghurt with lashings of pepper. And I almost forgot another great trick is to cut a lemon in half and pan fry it cut side down with the chicken and squeeze over the hot lemon before serving with a good drizzle of olive oil.
If I’m not in the mood for making a sauce, I also love making a super quick ‘marinade’ to rub onto the chicken before cooking. In my book ’5 Ingredients 10 Minutes’ I mix smoked paprika with a little olive oil and rub this onto chicken thighs for an instant Spanish vibe. Don’t be afraid to play around with other spices. Ground coriander adds a lovely lemony freshness. Sometimes I’ll just keep it simple with some dried chilli flakes for a bit of heat.
The other tip I have for cooking chicken breasts or thigh fillets is to bash them out first with a saucepan or your fist. This tenderises the chicken but also reduces the thickness so it cooks more quickly and evenly – very handy for getting dinner ready in ten minutes or less!”
If you’d like to follow the blog tour for 5 ingredients 10 minutes and find out what other food bloggers have to say about the book, check out the image for details of the blogs on the tour.