Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

Stuffed chicken breast with garlicky beans – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on March 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

You are only a few ingredients away from making a lovely Italian inspired dish. What better incentive to get started?

Sometimes, I forget how much I love a certain food until I eventually eat it again. This especially happens with green beans. Whenever my mum made it, I used to wolf down half the bowl myself, but for some reason I never really cooked with them myself. Well, that’s about to change cause it turns out that I really love green beans! But something I love even more than green beans is umami. I’d happily swear to never ever eat sweets again, as long as I have a moderately (un)healthy supply of all things savoury. Hard cheeses and cured meats are only some of the foods naturally rich in umami and they both feature in today’s recipe. Throw in a good dose of garlic and I’m in heaven! Did you know that umami can be found in breast milk? We’re basically raised on it! And next time you find yourself craving some miso soup, remember that umami is a big part of Japanese cuisine.

If you’re not a big fan of pesto, don’t fret – there are many other things you could stuff your chicken with. How about some plain soft cheese with a bit of lemon juice, chives and crushed black peppercorns? Or if you’re looking for something more robust get yourself a pesto made with sun-dried tomatoes. Same great umami flavour, without the mountains of basil. If you’re looking to save some pennies, you can opt for a simple prosciutto instead of the real deal Parma ham, although I often find that it’s better value to get the latter. And if you’re cooking for two, there’s always a couple of slices left over that you can eat out of the packet when no-one’s looking… after having washed your hands thoroughly, of course. Oh and don’t worry If some of the filling spills out – just serve it on the side with the chicken. If you really don’t want to make a mess, you can cook the chicken in little parcels made out of baking paper – simply put the chicken on the paper, fold it over, and then fold the edges together. That way, there will be no spillage on your baking tray!

Feeds 2:

2 reasonably large chicken breasts

2 tbsp pesto

1 heaped tbsp soft cheese

4 slices Parma ham

250g green beans

2-3 garlic cloves

Good olive oil

Salt, pepper

 

Bake chicken breasts on a medium-high heat for 25-30 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

This week I’ve really been struggling to decide on three links to give you… so I’ll cheekily include two in one: The first one tells you all about how Parma ham is made, and the second one is the official Prosciutto di Parma website, which has tons of information and most importantly: great recipes!

If you’re not a fan of green beans, here are 30 other sides you could dish up!

Finally, if the concept of umami still confuses you, this website has all the info: From what it is, to where you can find it – you’ll never have to go without!

Homemade chocolates – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The shops are filled with bears holding up hearts, roses are basically shoved in your face and everyone is supposed to be happy and in love. But why not use this time to treat yourself to some handmade sweets?

It’s Valentine’s Day alright. Quite possibly the worst holiday of the year. You either feel under pressure to make a romantic gesture to your partner, or supposedly need to feel bad because you don’t currently have a partner. Either way, it’s not very cheerful, is it. So instead of spending money on some horrible stuffed animal, get a few bars of chocolate and make the magic happen! Celebrating Valentine’s Day should be about the people that you love, be it friends or family. And trust me, after they’ve tried these delicious chocolates, they will love you.

Working with chocolate is really tricky and easy to mess up. Many people will tell you that you’ll need to temper it by closely monitor the chocolate’s temperature and suggest a myriad of techniques to aid you in your quest for the chocolate of the century. The truth is, as long as you don’t get water into your melted chocolate, you’ll be just fine. True, the chocolate you’ll produce won’t be glossy and shiny, and won’t have that characteristic ‘snap’ when you bite into it; it’ll look and taste more like a truffle. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad! So stop faffing about with your thermometer and let’s melt some chocolate.

Melting chocolate is pretty straightforward. The only two things that could go wrong is if you accidentally get water into it (remember, even a tiny amount can ruin your chocolate, so be extra careful) or if you burn it, but if you’re as impatient as I am, that isn’t likely going to happen. The great thing about making these yourself is that you can personalize them to suit the person you are making them for. Think about their favourite chocolate and customise: chopped or whole nuts, dried fruit, tiny marshmallows, experiment with layering two kinds of chocolate or add a small amount of cereals – there is so much you can do. There is no right or wrong – think about what you like and then make it! This is a great opportunity to really bring your ideas to life.

I find working with silicon moulds easiest – when you choose one, make sure you take its shape into account and go for the one with fewer details. For example, it’s easier to get the chocolate out of a heart shape than it is to get all the corners of a star out without breaking anything. It takes about 4 hours for the chocolate to set, but  I would suggest leaving it to set overnight. And if you have leftover melted chocolate, simply dip some fruits in it and let them to cool on a baking sheet. There’s nothing like a few sweet treats to reward yourself!

 

Makes approx. 20 chocolates:

150g white chocolate

150g milk chocolate

150g dark chocolate

Fillings like cereals, nuts, dried fruits, dried chilli flakes, marshmallows… be creative!

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

 

If you’re up for making chocolates but you don’t have a mould, or you want to make something a bit more sophisticated, why not try making your own truffles?

For the future Chocolatiers among you and for those who want to know the tricks of the trade, here is a great and simple guide on how to properly temper chocolate.

And if you’d rather keep the chocolates for yourself but still need a gift for your loved one, have a look at these great ideas for homemade presents.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

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