Chicken to Sooth the Soul

During winter, it’s desirable to stay warm and cosy. The same goes for the food we choose to eat when it’s cold – something to sooth and warm us from the inside out. Chicken is the kind of healthy, restorative food that gives me succour in winter and reassures me when life gets a little hectic…

Poached chicken with pancetta and lentils

One of my favourite meals to warm me from the inside on a cold winter’s night is Nigella Lawson’s “Poached chicken with lardons and lentils” (from her cookbook, Kitchen). The recipe involves tender chicken, vibrant vegetables, lentils and pancetta or bacon. Once the vegetables, lentils and bacon is cooked, the chicken is placed on top and water is poured in to poach the chicken. By the time the chicken is cooked through, the water has become a stock and has partially absorbed into the vegetables and lentils.

While the original recipe specifies using chicken marylands, I happily use a couple of chicken thighs with the skin on and bone in. Nigella also stipulates that you may use smoked lardons, pancetta or bacon – here, I have chosen to use pancetta.

While I’ll admit, the first time I made this I was experiencing hot rather than cold weather (living in the Top End of Australia at the time), I was in dire need of something to take the hell out of my day. Absorbing myself in my tiny kitchen, chopping away at the vegetables and serenely stirring them together with the bacon in my pan sent me on the path to self-possession.

“You cannot truly say you live well unless you eat well.” – Nigella Lawson

By the time the English mustard and water were added and all was bubbling away with the chicken placed on top, lid clamped on, the smell of my soon-to-be meal alone had restored me to my happy self. Sitting down to eat it was bliss!

This time around – having long returned to a cooler part of the country – this poached chicken has been perfect food to wind down with, wrapped up in a blanket while watching “MasterChef”.
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Match Made In Heaven

Flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Cookie dough mixture
I was never very great at mathematics, however there is one very important equation which I have yet to find fault with. That is, salty + sweetness = a match made in heaven!

The best example I can provide of this significant part of my mathematical (and OK, culinary) education is the perfect balance of peanuts and chocolate when put together.

There have been a fair few recipes I have made which unite these ingredients together (see my post on Mother’s Day Cheesecake) – these peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are a new venture.

Ready to be baked…
As on any given rainy weekend with nothing much to do, baking is one of my favourite pastimes. However I have come to realise that the benefits of these cookies from Nigella Lawson’s Simply Nigella do not just lie in the taste…

Not only are they super easy and quick to make (I knocked them up in under half an hour, not including the cooling time!), they are also both gluten- and dairy-free. Without using any flour at all, only a handful of ingredients are specified in the recipe.

Child’s play!

“I can’t seem to stop making these, and as I make them, so they get eaten. Luckily, they are extraordinarily easy to throw together.” – Nigella Lawson, Simply Nigella.

Fresh from the oven!
Ultimately, I baked these with the intention of getting my fix of peanut butter and chocolate, as my favourite Whittaker’s Peanut Butter Chocolate bar seems to have been discontinued. And while these cookies provided my fix, I personally feel that the ratio of peanut butter to chocolate is not balanced enough for my taste.

But that is part of the beauty of home cooking: being able to adjust and accommodate to your own tastes.

Stay tuned for more of my baking adventures!

Continue reading “Match Made In Heaven”