Chilli Peanut Butter Chicken

Chilli Peanut Butter Chicken

This delicious dish has become one of my go to meals in the past few weeks, it is really tasty and filling, and is an absolute doddle to prepare. I recently decided to start going back to the gym and being a little more health conscious, and this great little protein booster is one of my favourite dishes that I have been making since.

Serves 2 

Ingredients

2 large chicken breasts, scored

200 g crunchy peanut butter

2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped finely

150 ml chicken stock

1 1/4 tbsp. dark soy sauce

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. sugar

Handful of chopped Spring Onions (Garnish)

Salt

Pepper

Sesame Oil

Firstly, preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/350f/Gas Mark 6, then add around a tbsp. of sesame oil to a medium sized frying pan on a high heat. Rub a little salt and pepper into the scored chicken breasts before adding to the pan. Fry for no longer than 2 minutes on each side, This gives the chicken a nice golden colour and helps retain flavour, while scoring the chicken speeds up the cooking time. After frying, add the chicken to a small roasting tin and place in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.

While the chicken is in the oven, add the soy sauce, sugar, garlic powder and 1 1/2 chillies into a small saucepan on a low heat, stirring gently. do this until the sugar has dissiolved and the chillies are lightly caramelised, before adding the peanut butter. continue to stir gently and then start adding the stock. add slowly, all the while stirring with the peanut butter to create a thick sauce.

When the chicken is cooked, serve onto plates before pouring the peanut butter sauce over the top, garnishing with the remaining chillies and spring onions. There are many side dishes which complement this, I tend to serve it with brown rice and roasted sweet potato, However it works equally well with noodles (particularly Udon) and Butternut squash.

Easy Cheesy Daupinois Potatoes

Easy Cheesy Daupinois Potatoes

Ah the noble potato. Possibly the most versatile little tuber to ever appear on a menu, it is a common accompaniment to many meals around the globe, and rightly so: the possibilities are endless. But many people’s use of potatoes is very limited, which is a shame, because most people only, to quote Samwise Gamgee: “Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew”. It is far easier to get frozen chips and roast potatoes, so many people don’t even consider making those themselves. So here is a recipe that takes around 30 minutes to prep and takes no longer in the oven than a tray of oven chips.

Serves 4 

Ingredients

6 large washed and peeled potatoes

125 g sharp cheddar cheese

25 g butter

1 tbsp. plain flour

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

200 ml milk

Salt

Black pepper

Firstly, halve your peeled and washed potatoes before adding to a large pan of boiling, salted water and put the lid on. Boil these for around 20 minutes while you prep your other ingredients. Finely grate all your cheese and place to the side. Then get a suitably sized oven proof dish and grease it thoroughly. Then, in a small saucepan, add your butter, flour and garlic powder before stirring vigorously on a medium heat, creating a nice roux. Add your milk and stir slowly for a minute. Then slowly start adding around 50 g of the cheddar, stirring the whole time. Add salt and pepper to taste.

By this time the potatoes should be ready. Drain them and add a small amount of cold water to the pan, before draining this too and setting them aside for a couple of minutes. This helps the potatoes cool slightly quicker. This would be a good time to preheat the oven to around 180c/350f. When they are sufficiently cooled, thinly slice them, before adding to the dish evenly. between every layer of potato, add a sprinkle of cheddar, ensuring you have at least 25 g left over for the top. Then add the cheese sauce over the top and add the last of the cheese. Place the Potato Dauphinois in the centre of the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, before whacking under the grill for 5 minutes to brown on top.

Leave to settle for 5 minutes before serving. This is a great accompaniment to many dishes, particularly roast lamb and chicken wrapped in bacon. A nice alternative is to substitute the potato for celeriac, and add a little paprika to the sauce.

Lonely the Brave – Rattlesnakes Single Review

Lonely the Brave – Rattlesnakes Single Review

Cambridge stadium rockers Lonely the Brave have just dropped their new single Rattlesnakes, off forthcoming album Things Will Matter. This is their sophomore album following their monumental debut The Day’s War, one of my favourite albums of 2014. And if this single is anything to go by, Things Will Matter will be just as good.

The song starts off with a simple yet catchy guitar riff, followed by David Jakes haunting vocals. His peculiar voice is incredibly distinctive and makes them stand out from the numerous stadium-esque alternative Rock bands that seem to be all around us. There is almost certainly an Eddie Vedder influence on his style, an amazing vocalist in his own right.

The vocals seem quite quiet in the mix, although this may be intentional as during live shows Jakes is at the back near the drummer, as he has reservations about being a typical ‘frontman’. This could have influenced how the track was mixed, which although not displeasing is certainly unusual in most circumstances (unless you are in a Lo Fi band).

The riff at the end of each chorus and in the bridge has a very Biffy Clyro vibe, which is unsurprising as they are essentially their southern counterparts in many ways. Both bands being influenced by genres such as Math Rock and Grunge while putting a more radio friendly spin on it. The track builds up to a powerful crescendo, before fading out, leaving you wanting more. It clocks in at a short and sweet 3 mins 28 secs, a bit shorter than most tracks on their debut, but no worse off for it.

With that catchy riff and a soaring voice such as the one David Jakes is in possession of, you can not go too far wrong when belting out catchy radio friendly tracks such as this. The simplicity and honesty of this band, coupled with their ability to write a great hook are what make this band one to watch in the future.

7.5/10

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Neccesities Single Review

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Neccesities Single Review

As soon as I heard there was a new RHCP single out, I am pretty sure I let out a squeal of delight. I was introduced to Red Hot Chili Peppers at a young age and have loved them ever since. When Stadium Arcadium came out I was hooked, when I found out I’m With You was coming out, I pre-ordered it straight away. Well, I doubt that will be happening with new album Getaway, if their new single is anything to go off.

The track starts out with this melancholy bass line that sounds promising, not in the slightest reminiscent of that sweet funk we have come to expect from Flea, but it had me interested: were we returning to some of the slightly darker themes of Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik? Was this a resurgence of that stripped down back to basics sound of Californication? Or was it something new?  some quiet guitar triplets come in, all good so far, then the piano started. When it comes to RHCP, not historically great. They have always seemed to work best as one guitarist, one drummer, Anthony Kiedis beautiful vocals and the almighty Flea.

Then the piano fades and Flea shows us that his funk roots are still there with a catchy bass line that gets you back into the swing of things, only to have it all come crashing down with more piano and now some strings as well. Anthony Kiedis comes in with his beautiful lilting vocal, although even he does not live up to his potential on this track. Flea’s bass work on this is completely fine, but it is mostly drowned out by the additional instrumentation. Josh Klinghoffer’s guitar work is probably the best thing about this track, with the verse and chorus being very reminiscent of his predecessor John Frusciante’s style of minimalist riffing, and he churns out a half decent solo in the last minute of the track, but whatever it is he is playing in the bridge, it is plain annoying.

Overall I found this track fairly disappointing. The track seems crowded, with the strings and piano feeling out of place and unnecessary. Kiedis is a fantastic vocalist, but there just seems to be something lacking in this song, While I’m With You certainly had its flaws, his vocals were never called into question on that album. The arrangement seems very haphazard and lacks any of the great elements that set RHCP apart other than Flea. It honestly sounds like what The Script would come up with if you asked them to write a Red Hot Chili Peppers track. Hopefully the album will have something else that will pique my interest.

4.5/10

Amaretto Iced Tea

Amaretto Iced Tea

With Summer just around the corner, its time to ditch the cups of tea while snuggled up on the sofa watching Netflix, and get outside in the sun, while cradling something a little more refreshing. Now, I know there will be a few of you who are reluctant to ditch your brew and biscuit, so I have provided this easy cocktail for all the tea lovers out there.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

300 ml of boiling water

1 black tea bag (around 6g if using loose leaf)

a small lemon

75 ml of Amaretto liqueur (Disaronno or similar)

3 tsp. of brown sugar

Plenty of ice

The first thing you need to do is get some ice on the go if you don’t have any ready made. Depending on the size of your ice cubes give them 2-3 hours at least.

So place your tea/teabag and the boiling water into your teapot and steep for around 10 minutes. Remember the ice will dilute it slightly so do not panic if it seems a little stronger than you would normally have it. Then remove the teabag or transfer the tea into another container if using loose leaf. Then add your sugar, stirring thoroughly. After this cut your lemon in half, squeezing the juice of one half into the tea.

To measure the Amaretto use a cocktail jigger, or if you don’t have one to hand a shot glass will do. Your average shot is 25 ml (35 ml in some countries) so if you use 3 it works out perfectly. So add 25 ml of Amaretto to the tea and leave to cool for about an hour. This lets the tea settle and also ensures all the ice does not melt immediately, leaving you with a weak watered down swill rather than the glorious refreshment it is supposed to be.

When the tea is sufficiently cooled, add your ice, the other 50 ml of Amaretto and a thick slice of lemon to garnish. Give it a good stir and enjoy in whatever outside space you possibly can.