Here at NB we’re mad about cookery books. We love pouring over their mouth-watering pages and there is never a more satisfying meal than one you’ve successfully managed to recreate from a new book. In our new feature, Kitchen Library, Susy Giles picks a cookery book to tempt us into the kitchen giving us a taste of each book with exclusive recipes. For NB100 she’s chosen the wonderful New Kitchen Basics by Claire Thomson.
It’s easy to get stuck in set ways with cooking, making the same dishes week in, week out. Claire Thomson wants to help us shake things up. With sections on ten staple ingredients including chicken, tomato, eggs, pasta, salad and, of course, chocolate, she shows us new and delicious ways of using these ingredients to brighten up our meals. Claire’s cooking is simple yet imaginative and these accessible meals could very easily become your new standby meals. With ten essential ingredients and 120 recipes she helps to revolutionise the way you cook, every day. Viva la revolucion!
Chicken Roasted with Grapes
Bursting with the heat from the oven, roasted grapes are a wonderfully sweet and fragrant foil for the chicken here. Seasonal sensibilities say prepare this dish in late summer or early autumn, when the grapes hang heavy on the vine. But, as we all know, grapes, like lemons and apples, are a fruit so widespread that their appeal is year-round. Use black or green grapes. Muscat are especially good.
8 chicken thighs
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
300g (10½oz) black or green grapes, split into small bunches
1½ tablespoons thyme leaves
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and very thinly sliced, or 4 celery sticks, sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl mix the chicken with the bay, 1 tablespoonof the oil, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Season with plenty of black pepper, then refrigerate for an hour.
Heat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/425°F/Gas 7.
Transfer the chicken, skin-side up, to a lined baking dish and bake for 20 minutes, until cooked at the edges.
Turn down the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/Gas 6 and add the small bunches of grapes and thyme to the dish. Season with ½ teaspoon of salt and bake for a further 15–20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the fennel, fennel seeds and red onion with a big pinch of salt and the remaining olive oil.
Add the fennel and onion mixture to the baking dish with the cooked chicken and grapes, to soften ever so slightly, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Some crusty bread to mop up the juices is nice here, likewise some cooked rice or potatoes.
Omelettes are some of my favourite and most anticipated suppers to make for others. As you crack eggs and heat the pan, in that particular moment your focus is exclusively on the person for whom you are cooking the omelette. It’s a singular and quite precise pocket of time that differs from so many others in the clatter of the kitchen. Plain omelettes are excellent; masala omelettes are better. If you can’t face cooking four individual omelettes, cook this as one giant omelette, with a longer cooking time, and cut into thick slices to serve.
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
½–1 teaspoon chilli powder (mild or hot, as you like)
Small bunch of coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
100g (3½oz) cherry tomatoes,chopped
1–2 green chillies, finely chopped (remove the seeds to reduce heat, if you like)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric vegetable oil or butter
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaf (optional)
Chilli sauce or ketchup, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Break the eggs into a bowl, beat and mix in the onion, chilli powder, coriander (cilantro), tomatoes, half the green chilli and the turmeric. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 teaspoons at a time of oil or butter over a medium heat in a large non-stick frying pan. Pour in a quarter of the egg mixture. Swirl the pan to evenly distribute the mixture.
Cook for 1 minute, until just set, then fold over in half and gently cook for a further 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the omelette is just set in the middle. Slide the omelette onto a plate and keep warm.
Repeat for the remaining egg, using a quarter of the mixture at a time.
Serve the omelettes sprinkled with the remaining green chilli, the garam masala and the fenugreek, if using, and with chilli sauce or ketchup on the side.