Thursday 25 April 2013

Chicken baked in pockets

I am always looking for different, innovative ways to serve good healthy food. This Ray McVinnie recipe caught my eye as I had a few zucchinis and lemons to use up (perfect.... our lemon tree is heavy with fruit this year) and the recipe also included Sumac, a spice I knew very little about. I searched on the internet for more information, and learnt some very interesting facts about Sumac for this post. The Sumac spice comes from the fruit of a small tree or bush which in itself has quite an ancient history. Over many, many centuries the bush been used in a variety of ways by many different cultures. The things you learn when blogging! Back to the recipe...
As a lemony flavoured spice, Sumac adds quite a nice distinctive taste to a dish. We enjoyed it in the Chicken Pockets and had the mixture leftovers for a light lunch dish the next day. I loved the flavour and I am now on the look out for more recipes that includes Sumac! (This dish would work equally well for vegetarians, you could just leave out the chicken and add diced Agria potatoes or any vegetable that you consider would be enhanced by a lemony flavour).
The chicken part of the recipe can be made ahead of time and everything assembled into the 'pockets' when it is required. I slightly adjusted Ray McVinnie's ingredients as I had some tortilla wraps left over in the fridge but I am sure it would be tasty in Pita breads. It occurred to me it was another way to make a little pie, probably better for you than pastry if you are watching the calories.
When folding the round flat bread, I just folded in two, then folded again and just filled one side of 'pockets' with the chicken mixture and placed them (the thicker side up) in a shallow meat dish lined with baking paper. I secured the pocket with a long toothpick to make sure the top did not turn back with cooking.
It worked well and I really hope you enjoy them...

Chicken Baked in Pita Bread
(Ray McVinnie – SST – Nov 2012)
4tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, diced 1cm
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground sumac
6 free range, skinned boned chicken thighs, diced to 3cm
Lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper
4 pita breads (or 6 tortilla wraps)
4 tbsp butter melted
2 tbsp sesame seeds
200ml Greek yoghurt
Greek yoghurt, cucumber, lemon wedges, coriander and mint leaves.

Preheat oven to 190°C
Heat a frying pan over a moderate heat and add the onion, zucchini, carrot, zest, garlic, cinnamon, sumac and chicken.
Fry gently for 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the chicken cooked. Taste and add lemon juice to taste and season.
Open the pita breads (or fold the tortilla wraps in half then half again) into pockets and stuff the chicken mixture evenly into them.
Place stuffed pitas ( or wraps) side by side in a roasting dish and brush each with melted butter. Sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds.
Place in oven for 10-15 minutes until the bread is crisp and lightly browned and the filling hot.
Remove from the oven and serve with Greek yoghurt, sliced cucumber, lemon wedges, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and coriander and mint leaves.

Friday 12 April 2013

Biking trip in Hawkes Bay

This week we had a wonderful time pedaling with friends around some of the fabulous bike trails in Napier and staying with said friends in their wonderful B & B, Hawkhill in Poraiti near Taradale. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a peaceful, beautiful stay in a picturesque setting with the best of hosts.
view from back of cottage
I couldn't get over the quality of the cycle tracks in Napier. The first one we did was along the shoreline, through wetlands, Haumoana, Te Awanga and Clifton with a delicious lunch at Clearview Winery.
wetlands on estuary
The next day we took a lovely ride along the Tuku Tuku River, lunching at the local pub and cycling back on the opposite side of the river, a magic day and a magic ride. Along the way we met so many people (of our vintage) enjoying the same pursuit. The cycle ways have become quite a tourist attraction in Hawkes Bay. We plan to return and do a few more of the rides on offer, they are hoping to have them all a bit more connected which would be great.
As you can imagine if you are exercising in this way you need sustenance each day (which we had in abundance) and as in previous trips each couple made a main dish and a dessert to share for an evening meal, along with matching wines of course. A great time was had by all. And I especially enjoyed the craft circle the women had in the evenings!
For my choice of meal I made a Chicken Pilaf - Ray McVinnie says it serves 6 but I have found it especially useful as it would serve more like 8-10 people.  It is perfect for a large gathering.
For dessert I made Lazy Mary's Lemon Tart which I have posted before on this blog, it never fails.
By the way I noticed Ray McVinnie earlier posted a similar chicken pilaf dish (made with brown rice) in Issue 91.,chicken,pilaf
The cooking time is longer due to the brown rice and uses sultanas and spring onions. I am going to try this version as we prefer brown rice.
The following uses long-grain white rice, but once (when I ran low on rice) I used a mixture of basmati, brown and long-grain and it still worked well! I use home made stock but brought stock is fine too.
I forgot to take photos - sorry..... but trust me, it is delicious.
Chicken Pilaf – Cuisine Issue 134 May 2009
4tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 stick of celery finely chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 cinnamon stick
½ cup currants
½ cup toasted pine nuts, plus extra for garnish
Peel of ½ preserved lemon, finely chopped
6 boneless chicken thighs, diced 2cm across the grain
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 cups long-grain white rice, well rinsed in plenty of cold water and well drained
4 cups of well flavoured chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp chopped coriander
Spicy chutney to serve
Preheat oven to 190°C. In a stove-top and ovenproof casserole, heat the oil over a moderate heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, currants, pine nuts, cinnamon stick, lemon peel and chicken. Fry gently, without browning for about 10 mins, until the onion is soft.
Add the turmeric, rice and stock, mix well, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
Cover tightly and place in an oven for 25 minutes. Do not uncover during this stage for any reason.
Remove from oven and uncover, fluff up with a fork and serve sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and coriander and with your favourite spicy chutney.
Serves 6