Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Chicken, Mouse, and one amazing lady

A very nice surprise yesterday: a punnet of heirloom toms in my Abel and Cole box. So pretty.
I came across a tempting recipe on the Gourmet website last week - this week I was determined to try it. The original ingredients for the cilantro almond chicken are here; I altered it slightly to reduce the quantities.
First I got a couple of Leckford Farm chicken breasts from Waitrose - and bloody good they are too. They got poached in a splash of white wine, some water, a bay leaf, celery, a carrot, an allotment onion and black peppercorns. While that was simmering sweetly, it was time to put the sauce together. First, toast a handful of slivered almonds under the grill, watching them like a hawk, or dry fry them in a saucepan (same hawk qualities needed). Put them on a plate to cool. Mix 3 tbs sour cream, 3 tbs mayo, juice of a lime, a finely chopped jalapeno pepper, a couple of cloves of garlic and a pinch of salt. Add a handful of chopped coriander and add the cool almonds.
Gently mix in the shredded chicken and there you have it. It was lovely, but next time I think I'll try it with half sour cream and yoghurt rather than mayo. The warmth of the almonds and the heat of the pepper is a great combination.
I had one chicken breast left, and dug out Angela Nilsen's Ultimate Recipe Book for her fabulous take on Coronation Chicken. I cooked this last summer and it was a revelation: a retro classic that fully deserves its place in the UK food hall of fame. To go with the spicy chicken sauce, I went for a cooling couscous, with spring onion, almonds and a spritz of lemon juice. One of the reasons I love Angela's recipe is her introduction - she rang the wonderful Marguerite Patten to ask for advice.
Marguerite is now in her 90s, and is as resolutely helpful and polite as she's ever been. She cooked through the second world war, showing people how to make the best of rationing, then was one of the first tv cooks when television arrived. She's published heaven knows how many recipe books and popped up on the 1940s House (Channel 4) a few years back to give handy hints on wartime tea treats. I love her We'll Meet Again - a collection of hair-raising WW2 recipes. Why is this wonderful woman not a dame? She's a national treasure.
Meanwhile, on the home front and for all Mouse fans, here's my girl in her summer quarters. Mouse has a number of sleeping stations dotted round the house. Her winter residence is a basket on the landing on top of the hot water pipes. In the summer, she prefers this fleece-lined Ikea basket in the study.
Mouse says: Enough talk already. Some of us are trying to sleep.

5 comments:

mangocheeks said...

The colours on those tomatoes are amazing.

I agree with you about Marguerite Patten.

Just noted that you are a CSI NY fan. I really enjoyed the original CSI, as much as I like Lawrence Fishburne, it has not been the same - I miss Grissom and Sarah Sidal. Ahhhh...

goodshoeday said...

Ooooo those tomatoes look good - now why didn't A&C send things like that in my freebie trial box...anyway...
I agree about Marguerite as well - just because the books now look old and the photos clonky doesn't mean the recipes aren't good - a few might be a little weird. I was only looking at Cookery in Colour this week and there plenty of classics in there. I'll bet Jamie O etc books look old fashioned in another 15 years!

goodshoeday said...

PS i love the way cats put their paws over their head when sleeping - ours do that too :)

fran39 said...

Mango - I love all the CSIs! And yes, I miss Gil and Sarah too. That last scene of thier reunion brought a tear to my cynical eye.

fran39 said...

Linda - I loved your Abel and Cole critique - very balanced and honest. My A&C box is the small de luxe so it's a bit more interesting than the standard.
Maybe we should start an online campaign for a Dame Marguerite...
Mouse is very good at her squirrel impersonations, isn't she!