Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese Sauce

This recipe arose due to the need to use up several bits and pieces in the Renegade stores – the cheese and cream being the main driving factors.
Oh the hardship ūüėČ
The resulting dish turned out to be very quick and easy to make, but felt like a real treat Рanother great midweek meal.

Chicken with mushrooms and blue cheese sauceServes 2

Ingredients
2 skinless chicken breasts
a sprinkling of olive oil
6-8 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 knobs of butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
75-100ml white wine
1 chicken stockpot/stock cube
2 dessert spoons (ish) of cr√®me fra√ģche – leave it out if you don’t have any
1 large tablespoon of cream cheese – I used chive flavoured Philadelphia
100-125ml double cream
125-150g gorgonzola, cubed Рor other blue cheese of your choice
2 teaspoons of fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Depending on the cheese you use, and how much of it, you may also need a couple of heaped teaspoons of cornflour, mixed to a runny paste with a little cold water, to thicken the sauce

Music

First you need to butterfly your chicken breasts.

Place your hand flat on top of the chicken – this holds it still and keeps your fingers out of the way at the same time.

Use a sharp pointed knife, and starting at the fat end of the breast, slice across the chicken, almost but not quite cutting it in half. It should still be joined at one edge and you should be able to open it up like a book – or a butterfly’s wings.

cover with cling flim and bash

Once you’ve done that, cover with cling film and bash with a rolling pin. ¬†Not too much – you want to tenderise and flatten it, not pulp and obliterate it.

Rub lightly with olive oil and cook on a preheated grill, turning once, for around 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.

mushrooms

Meanwhile, melt a knob of butter in a large pan and heat until it foams.

Add your sliced mushrooms in a single layer and cook, turning once, until both sides are beautifully browned.  Remove from pan but keep warm.

sauce ingredients

Make your sauce by melting a knob of butter in a pan over a medium heat then cooking the crushed garlic for a minute or so.

Add wine and stockpot/cube and heat until stockpot has melted.

Add cream cheese, cr√®me fra√ģche, cream and blue cheese and continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese has melted. ¬†Do not allow to boil.

If necessary, thicken with a little cornflour paste.

Stir in chopped parsley and plenty of black pepper.

Chicken mushrooms and blue cheese sauce

Place cooked chicken breast onto a warmed plate, arrange sautéed mushrooms on top and pour over the blue cheese sauce.

Chicken breast with mushrooms and blue cheese sauce

Served with petit pois and green beans sautéed in herb butter, and oven baked sweet potato chips.

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R√∂sti with a blue cheese centre

rösti
ňąr…ôňźsti/
noun
a Swiss dish of grated potatoes formed into a small flat cake and fried.

When making r√∂sti I’ve always gone for the grated and squeezed raw potato method, which has worked fine as far as I’m concerned.

However I recently read a thing on the internet that said you should parboil your potatoes for precisely 6 minutes, then cool before grating. ¬†I can’t for the life of me remember where I read this, but I believe the person said they’d been taught to do it this way whilst growing up in Switzerland, and they spelled it ‘r√∂schti’, so it seemed to me that they might know what they were talking about. ¬†Worth giving it a go, anyway.

So I set about making my first batch of rösti using the parboiling method, with the intention that I also do a comparison batch using my original method.  However, I got sidetracked by a book during the cooling time for the parboiled spuds and by the time I remembered what I was supposed to be doing, hunger was pushing me to just cook and eat.

RostiI then got a bit carried away, adding the onions and blue cheese, thus I can’t definitively say whether or not the parboiling makes a substantial difference to a basic¬†r√∂sti. ¬†I can definitively say that this less than authentic version tastes fan-bloody-tastic!

Ingredients
1 medium, or a couple of small, waxy* potatoes per person
*Charlottes are generally easy to get hold of in the UK
1 small onion
Blue cheese of choice (I used Danish Blue)
A knob of butter
A couple of splashes of vegetable oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Music

Before you start, you need to find a plate the fits over your frying pan…ideally it should be slightly larger than the pan or fit snugly just inside at the top edge. ¬†Set it to one side cos you’ll need it later to turn your¬†r√∂sti over.

You’ll have to improvise if you don’t have a big enough plate (how large is your frying pan? ¬†Or should that be, how small are your plates?). ¬†Maybe you could try¬†covering a chopping board with baking foil…it just needs to be heatproof and have a smooth, slidey surface.

Parboil for exactly 6 minutes
That is not a hairy potato…

Place your unpeeled potatoes into a pan of water, bring to the boil and cook for 6 minutes.

Drain and cool, then refrigerate for at least two hours. ¬†Three¬†hours and fifty two minutes is about right if you have a book to read ūüėČ

Ad onions and seasoningCoarsely grate the potatoes, skin and all, into a bowl.

Coarsely grate the onion on top and season with salt and pepper.

Put chunks of cheese all overHeat half the butter and oil in a frying pan, over a medium to high heat; when it’s sizzling tip in half the potato mix and spread evenly across pan.

Add your blue cheese, then cover with the remaining potatoes.

cover with remaining potatoShake your pan around to level things out a bit then allow it to cook for a few minutes before starting to shape your r√∂sti¬†using a spatula. ¬†Don’t squish it down too much.

Leave to cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the bottom is golden and crispy.

Cook other sideTake your larger-than-the-pan sized plate, place over the pan, flip everything upside down, and you should now have an empty pan and a plate containing a half done rösti, cooked side up.

Heat the remainder of your butter and oil, again until it’s sizzling, then slide the¬†r√∂sti back into the pan.

Cook for a further 10 minutes and serve.

Serve with salad & horseradish sauceServed for supper with a small undressed salad on the side.

The last minute addition of a dollop of horseradish sauce was, if I may say, a stroke of gustatory genius.  If you have some, you should go for it.  If not, you could try mustard, which is the condiment I originally intended to use, before the jar of horseradish sashayed seductively into my field of vision.

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Bresaola, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad

In a ‘gotta try something new’ state of mind I was browsing the virtual shelves of our online supermarket when I stumbled across something called bresaola. What a find!

If you haven’t done so yet, you should try it (make this recipe). ¬†If you have…damn you for keeping it a secret from me! ūüėČ

BresaolaHow would I describe it? ¬†Well, it’s air dried, salt beef, served sliced very, veeerry thinly and usually quite simply dressed. ¬†At the risk of bringing the wrath of real foodies upon my head for my failure to note all the subtleties, I’d say it’s kinda like a delicious beef version of Parma ham.

Isn’t that colour something special?

PearsThese beautifully ripe, russet skinned Taylor’s Gold pears seemed like a perfect partner for the cured beef.

GorgonzolaAnd to top things off, runny, ripe Gorgonzola providing a delicious, tangy contrast to the sweet pears and the salty beef.

Bresaola, gorgonzola and pear saladPour over a honey mustard & lemon dressing and it all comes together beautifully ūüôā


Ingredients
10-12 slices bresaola
2 ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced (skin on)
100-150g gorgonzola (or other blue cheese), cut into chunks/crumbled
1 lemon, juice only
A glug of olive oil
A small knob of butter
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Watercress or other edible greenery
A handful of mixed cherry tomatoes
Music

Toss pear slices in a tablespoon or so of the lemon juice.

Cooked pearsHeat oil and butter in a frying pan and cook pear over a medium to high heat, until edges are turning brown.  Remove from pan and set to one side.

Dressing ingredientsMake dressing by mixing together remaining lemon juice, mustard and honey until well combined.  Season to taste.

Bresaola, pear and gorgonzola saladArrange watercress, tomatoes and bresaola on plate, scatter over cheese, top with pears and drizzle over dressing.

Feast!
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Stinky mushrooms (mushrooms in blue cheese)

Day 7 of the Cupboard Challenge¬†presented an unmotivated Renegade household with mushrooms and blue cheese that urgently needed using up…it really had to be stinky mushrooms. ¬†This was absolutely no hardship, because stinky mushrooms are flippin’¬†delicious!

They make the perfect,¬†easy wind down meal for a stay-in Friday (she says, as if on a ‘normal’¬†Friday social fluttering is the¬†standard¬†order of things – there are¬†¬†pandas with more active social lives than mine). ¬†These mushrooms also make a great starter when served in individual dishes and browned off under a hot grill.

For this meal we had them with baked potatoes. ¬†If you’re planning to do the same and they’re not yet ready, I suggest you whack those spuds into the oven straight away. ¬†Now bugger off to do something else until 10 minutes before they’re done.

Back so soon?

To serve two

Ingredients
5-6 decent sized mushrooms (chestnut ones are great but we only had white ones in)
A knob of butter and a little oil
Approx 150ml Single cream
1 teaspoon-ish mustard
A chunk of blue cheese – cubed
A tiny end piece of Parmesan – grated (optional)
A handful of fresh parsley – roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

MushroomsClean or peel mushrooms, and slice.
Browned mushrooms

Heat butter and oil in a frying pan then add the mushrooms.

If you want to make sure you get beautifully browned fungi, remember¬†Julia’s edict: “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!” ūüėČ ¬†Cook in batches; drain on kitchen roll.

Cheese sauce ingredients

Cheese sauceWipe the pan clean with kitchen roll.  Add cream, cheese (both blue and Parmesan, if using) and mustard; stir over a low heat until cheese has melted.

Add mushrooms back into pan and stir to coat with sauce.

Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in chopped parsley.

Baked potatoIf you’re having this as a starter or stand alone dish, pile the mushrooms into individual dishes, top with a little grated parmesan and brown under a hot grill.

If you’re having the mushrooms in baked potatoes, cut open the spuds, slather in some butter and add a good dose of black pepper.
Served in baked potatoes, with saladPile sauced mushrooms into baked potatoes and serve with a salad of chopped apple, celery and rocket (no dressing required).

Eat with feet up, while watching nonsense TV.  If possible, wash it all down with an ice cold bottle of cider.

And relaaax….
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Blue cheese, pear and pancetta salad

With only one to cater for, the focus for Day 4 of the Cupboard Challenge was to use up some of the really small portions of stuff. ¬†In the end it was a quick and simple affair. ¬†Just like this post ūüėČ

Quantities are for one serving.

Ingredients
1 ripe pear
A hunk of Stilton or other blue cheese, similar size to the pear
A handful of cubed pancetta
Baby spinach or other green salad leaves
A handful of walnut pieces (optional)

Dressing ingredientsFor the dressing
2 dessert spoons mayonnaise
1 dessert spoon natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon mustard
A splash of balsamic dressing (or just balsamic vinegar)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

This won’t take long, so press play and let’s get movin’…DressingPut all the dressing ingredients into a small jar, tighten lid and shake vigorously. ¬†Or put them into a small bowl and stir energetically.

Adjust seasoning according to taste – bear in mind the saltiness provided by the cheese and pancetta to the end dish.

That’s your dressing done.Cubed pancettaHeat a frying pan and cook¬†the pancetta cubes over a medium to high heat until brown and crispy. ¬†Set to one side on kitchen roll.

Toasted walnuts would have been the ideal finishing touch for this salad, so even though¬†we had none in, and thus I didn’t use any, I’ve included them in the ingredient list. ¬†In hindsight, I should have used the toasted sunflower seeds that we do¬†have in to provide that glorious contrasting crunch.

If you have some nuts or seeds in the house and you want to use them to top the salad, now is the time to toast them…a quick shake ‘n’ stir¬†over a high heat in a dry frying pan will do the job.
Pear and StiltonQuarter and core (but don’t peel) the pear. ¬†Cube both pear and blue cheese and place in a bowl.

This picture shows sun dried tomatoes strewn over the dish.  I advise against this - the texture was all wrong and their flavour jarred with the rest.  
This picture shows sun dried tomatoes strewn over the dish. I advise against this – the texture was all wrong and their flavour jarred with the rest.

Pour dressing over the cheese and pears; stir gently to combine.

Make a little bed on your plate with the salad leaves, pile the dressed cheese and pears onto it, and scatter the pancetta (and nuts, if using) over the top.

That’s it, you’re done!

Grab a fork and eat.

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