Fried Chicken Ranch “Salad”

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Toss

Crunchy watery salad veg such as romaine lettuce, cucumbers, sliced red onions and some courgette shavings.

Drizzle 

Drizzle on a store-bought or homemade “ranch” style dressing.

Store bought dressing is really unhealthy and I normally would never condone buying it–I always make my own dressings but ranch is a whole other beast. And I love it. It’s hard to find in the UK, in fact I’ve never seen it in grocery stores here. It’s really an American (and by extension, Canadian) thing. 

While in Seattle this past summer I discovered an incredible shop that just sold spices and spice mixes and found a pre-made ranch spice mix. (Easily one of the greatest things to ever happen to me). I currently make my own ranch dressing using the ranch mix greek yogurt, lemon juice a bit of honey, and some olive oil to thin it out. 

To make your own dry ranch spice mix, try using this simple recipe.

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Top the salad with some good old fashioned delicious deep-fried chicken strips.

I’ve experimented with many fried chicken recipes over the years and have determined that the best way to do it is as follows:

-Warm up some good frying oil (such as veg or canola) in a heavy bottom cooking pot. 1 litre of oil should be more than enough.

-Slice some good organic chicken breasts into thin strips (thin and even strips are important so that the chicken cooks quickly–before the breading gets too dark, and all the pieces are cooked through generally at the same time. Marinate the chicken in fresh orange juice for as long as possible.

-Prepare a shallow bowl of 1 cup of plain flour, a sprinkle of baking powder, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp sea salt, 1 tsp of onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cayenne pepper.

-Whisk the dry mix well, dip your finger in and taste, if too sweet or salty, add more flour and whisk again. If not seasoned enough, add more spices and seasonings.

-Prepare a shallow bowl of buttermilk.

-To test if the oil is ready, tear off a small piece of bread and throw it in the oil. If it floats to the surface right away and begins sizzling, the oil is ready.

-Grab a strip of chicken, coat it in the dry flour mixture, then in the buttermilk, and then in the flour again. Throw the chicken piece in the oil and start a timer; allow it to fry until the breading is beginning to take on a golden colour. Stop the timer, remove the chicken, slice it in half and if it’s cooked through, fry the other pieces for that same amount of time (adjust the time if it needs longer to cook through).

Repeat. Eat.

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Roasted Aubergine with Black Garlic Pine Nuts and Basil

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Toss 

Toss wedges of medium-sized aubergine in a large mixing bowl with 120ml of good quality olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Roast skin-side down on a baking tray (you may need more than one) for about 40 minutes, or until well cooked and golden-brown, slightly verging on blackened.

Coat

Once the aubergines are removed from the oven and cooling down, blitz a dressing by combining a few cloves of black garlic (or if you can’t get black garlic, oven-roasted garlic)  50ml olive oil, plenty of lemon juice, some tomato puree, pomegranate molasses (if you don’t have any, use some honey) and some chilli flakes). When the aubergine is cooled down, throughly coat the wedges with the dressing by using your hands gently.

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Top with torn basil leaves and toasted pine nuts, add a final grind of sea salt and serve room temperature.

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This recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi’s newest and seriously gorgeous cookbook, NOPI

Wild Rocket Black Quinoa and Roasted Strawberry Salad

This is another exquisite brunch salad!

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Toss

-1/2 cup of cooked black or red quinoa, refreshed in cold water and drained
-A few heaped handfuls of rocket (arugula) leaves
-Fresh strawberries, trimmed and cut in half, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and coarse black pepper, roasted in the oven at medium-high heat for 10 minutes (Allow the strawberries to cool off substantially before removing them from the baking tray and adding to the oven)

Drizzle

Olive oil, salt and pepper and some lovely fancy vinegar (I used strawberry vinegar)

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Flaked almonds, toasted in a frying pan until golden brown and drizzled with some honey just before removing from the heat.

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Pickled Peaches, Tomatos, Mint and Mozzarella

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This salad screams, “Serve me at brunch!”

Toss

-2-3 fresh peaches, cored and sliced into small wedges, covered in a few splashes sherry, cider, champagne  or any lovely flavoured vinegar with some chopped herbs and a sprinkle of brown sugar; allowed to marinate for 20 minutes or more

-Some tomatoes of assorted colours and shapes sliced into rounds

-Torn pieces of fresh buffalo mozzarella

Drizzle

Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice and splash on a few splatters of dijon mustard. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper.

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Top with some torn mint leaves.

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