Smashing orangey bit

May 22, 2012

I haven’t blogged for a while since having a bun in the oven has meant I’ve been somewhat off my food and it seemed disingenuous to be writing lovingly about things I’d cooked when the reality was living on Special K and toast.
But one thing I haven’t lost my taste for is the delicious combination of feta cheese and either melon or cucumber. I could eat bowls of the stuff, especially with a good scattering of mint. And now that we’re in for a week of sunny weather, it’s the perfect time to start eating more summery dishes. However, we know all too well here in Scotland that one week of sunny weather in May may be all the summer we get. So, this week’s recipe is one which is perfect hot or as a room temperature salad or packed lunch.
Don’t get hung up on the measurements but take care with the cinnamon – it can overpower everything. And a word on feta – I recently taste-tested a few from all the main supermarkets and found only a few were palatable. One, from Asda, tasted off and the cheaper ones in the others shops only tasted of salt. Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference was not too bad but the outstanding winner was M&S. Their Greek Feta is creamy, not too salty and perfectly crumbly. It does, however, cost substantially more than the other ones. If you’re really watching the calories leave out the cheese but it is only a small amount and feta is not quite as calorific as other hard cheeses.
I happen to love all things orange and the extract of orange or orange oil is always in my cupboard. Don’t be tempted to think a few drops isn’t enough, once cooked the flavour is quite strong. If you can’t get it, zest and orange and add to the marinade.
Spiced orange chicken with mint and courgette rice
Serves two
For the chicken and marinade:
Half tsp each of salt, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, ground ginger and ground turmeric
Pinch of cinnamon
A few drops of extract of orange
Half a glass of orange juice or one orange squeezed
Three tbsp of olive or vegetable oil
Two chicken breasts
For the rice:
4oz brown or wild rice
One courgette diced
One yellow or orange pepper diced
2-3 spring onions finely sliced
About 3oz feta crumbled and a handful of chopped, fresh mint or parsley (or a mix)
In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken, whisk all the ingredients for the marinade. Lay the chicken in and turn until well coated. Cover with cling film and leave for anything between five minutes and five hours.
When ready to cook, remove from the bowl and place in a 170C oven for about 20-25 minutes, depending on thickness.
Cook the rice according to whichever kind you are using. If using brown, the chicken will cook in the time it takes to boil the rice.
Remove the chicken and allow to rest for at least five minutes. Mix the rice with vegetables and add the feta and chopped herbs.
Slice the chicken thinly and serve on top.
This can all be made in advance. If serving as a cold dish, add some finely chopped cucumber to the rice just before serving.

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