Easter sunday was celebrated at home around a quick no-fuss lunch. My father got fresh fish from the market; been a while since we’ve had fish at home. It ended up on our plates as a yummy spicy fish curry served with plain boiled rice by mum. My task was limited to making carrot and cucumber salad so the kitchen did not get to see much of me.

I felt I had to make up for it today but I could not totally shake off the lethargic feeling that had been building up since morning. Which resulted in a lazy [yet delish] meal at lunchtime – Oven Baked Chicken. Boiled chickpeas/ garbanzo beans were all I had in the fridge but I wish there were bell peppers and pineapple as well. And some hot peri peri sauce….

OVEN BAKED CHICKEN & CHICKPEAS

 

Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts

1/2 cup boiled chickpeas

3 tbs vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp herbes de provence

1/4 tsp cumin powder

1  large lemon

1 large red onion

Fresh coriander leaves

 

Method:

  • Trim excess fat from chicken. Clean and wash under running water.
  • In a small bowl, combine oil, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin powder and herbes de provence. Use this mixture to coat chicken breasts evenly.
  • Place marinated chicken in a large bowl. Cover and set aside for 1-2 hours so that the different flavours have time to seep into the flesh.

 

  • Preheat oven to 300 oF. Line a baking sheet or roaster with strong aluminium foil. It makes cleaning up a whole lot easier.
  • Place chicken on baking sheet and drizzle with any marinade left in the bowl. Toss 1/2 cup chickpeas in between the chicken pieces.
  • You can substitute chickpeas with potato wedges, baby corn, sliced bell peppers, aubergine, whatever. Or you just can add all of them.

 

  • Corn and vegetables should be added during the second half of baking to keep them from wilting, drying out and burning.
  • Cut lemon into wedges and place over and around chicken.
  • Bake for 30 minutes on lower oven shelf before you flip over chicken.
  • Run a fork through chickpeas and move to middle shelf position.

 

  • Bake for another 15-20 minutes. You can check for doneness by poking a skewer or thin blade through the cooked chicken. 
  • Slice onion thickly and separate layers. Throw over chicken and move baking sheet to highest shelf position. Bake for 5 minutes until onion slices are crisp and chicken is lightly browned or broiled.
  • Serve hot with slices of cucumber, fresh bread and a tangy dip.

To end my simple lunch with style I chose a creamy fruit flavoured mousse served in little baked cups. I made the shortcrust pastry for the cups in advance as they freeze well if kept free from moisture. But you can very well do without them. Pipe mousse into ice cream wafer cones or layer between fruit slices into tall dessert glasses for a more spectacular presentation.

Mousse almost invariably conjures up pictures of a rich chocolatey dessert. While the classic chocolate mousse remains an all-time favourite, I do like to tinker with other combinations – you really should try mango or pineapple. Do not expect the sweet fluffy type of mousse with this one. Yogurt makes it thick and sourish but peaches should offset the tartness to some extent. And btw agar agar can be replaced with an equal amount of  unflavoured gelatin.

PEACH & YOGURT MOUSSE TARTS

 

Ingredients:

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tbs caster sugar

1 cup whipping cream

2 tsp agar agar powder

420g canned peaches

6 mini tart shells, prebaked

 

Method:

  • Pour whipping cream in a large mixing bowl. Chill bowl and whisk attachment for about 15-30 min while you prepare other ingredients.
  • Beat cream until it holds soft peaks and return to fridge.
  • Combine agar agar powder with 1tbs water. Heat on high for 1 min in microwave or until agar agar is completely dissolved.

 

  • In a large bowl, whip agar agar with yogurt till well incorporated.
  • Process half of the canned peaches into a purée and add to yogurt.
  • Cut the remaining peaches into thin slices and set aside.

 

  • Carefully fold in peach-yogurt mixture into whipped cream.
  • Spoon mousse into tarts shells or pipe on with a large star nozzle.
  • Top mousse with peach slices and chill for 15 min before serving.

 

Wish all my readers a very Happy Easter!

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