Chicken and Feta Filo Bake

Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

I always enjoy pastry, particularly when it’s used in savoury dishes, so when I recently started playing with filo pastry in my recipes it really opened my eyes to future meals I could make, such as this chicken and feta filo bake.

Filo pastry is, quite frankly, a weird type of pastry. It’s composed of a very simple pastry dough which is rolled and stretched until it creates sheets of pastry which are so thin they feel like a sheet of paper and you can almost see through them, but when filo pastry is baked it takes on a beautifully crisp texture which wraps your chosen filling in a thin parcel. I’d roasted a chicken on Sunday and had loads of meat left over so I decided to use it along with feta, cheddar and spinach in this filo bake.

I’ve yet to find anywhere that sells gluten-free filo pastry, so this isn’t a gluten-free recipe and it contains feta cheese and cheddar so it’s not dairy-free either, but it’s important to remember that the FODMAP-friendly diet isn’t necessarily a gluten-free or dairy-free diet. You only need to avoid those triggers during the initial exclusion phase and then, after that, only if they specifically cause you issues or you’re allergic to them. Also, I used a harissa paste which was free of garlic, but many pre-made harissas contain it so exercise caution. It’s quite easy to make harissa yourself though, but you could easily use chilli paste or red pesto instead.

I guess if I was being totally honest, I’d have to admit that this recipe came about because I had a number of things which needed used up in the fridge, such as cooked meat, cheeses and vegetables, but it is such a tasty meal I can guarantee I’ll deliberately make this again pretty soon because the whole family really enjoyed it. Also, the beauty of this filo bake is that you can make this yourself with any fillings you fancy too.

I made my chicken and feta filo bake with leftover pieces of tender roast chicken, cubes of sandwich ham, some grated cheddar, cubes of tart feta cheese and diced baby tomatoes, fresh spinach leaves and a generous topping of chopped chives, all of which was complemented by a spread of spicy, hot harissa paste over the filo before baking. It came out of the oven hot and crispy and bubbling with melted cheese. I served it simply with sliced, dressed cucumber slices and I’d have to describe it as divine.

Ingredients:

270g filo pastry (my Jus-Rol pack contained 7 sheets)

200g feta (cubed)

350g cooked chicken (sliced)

80g diced ham

130g cherry tomatoes (diced)

120g spinach leaves

90g jar of harissa spice paste

60g chopped chives

150g grated cheddar

Vegetable oil (for brushing)

Method:

Preheat your oven to to 180°C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 and have a large non-stick casserole dish at hand.

Lay out your sheet of filo pastry so the longest edge is beside you and spread a thin layer of harissa (or chilli paste or red pesto) on it.

Add your toppings, but remember that you have to fill 7 sheets of filo so you’ll need to try to fill them equally.

Filling the Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

Roll up your filo sheet into a sausage shape before lightly brushing it with vegetable oil and forming it into the shape of a snail-like spiral and placing it in the casserole dish. (Don’t worry if the pastry splits. It won’t affect the taste.)

Repeat with the rest of the filo sheets.

Bake in the oven for around 25 mins or until the filo is golden brown and crispy. Serve with a fresh salad.

Chicken and Feta Filo Bake by The Fat Foodie

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Palmiers

Palmiers by The Fat Foodie

My friend came for lunch the other day and in advance I’d taken some ready-rolled puff pastry out of the freezer to make us a quiche lorraine. However, after it had defrosted I unrolled it and, upon getting a lovely waft of butter scent, I remembered that it was actually a sheet of Marks and Spencer’s all-butter puff pastry. Now, as much as I like my friend who was coming for lunch, I couldn’t bear to waste this beautiful pastry on a simple quiche. As a result, I made the quiche lorraine with a homemade thyme pastry crust and devoted the all-butter puff pastry to making a batch of palmiers instead.

If you don’t already know, palmiers are French pastries that are made from sheets of butter-enriched puff pastry and coated in sugar before being folded (or rolled) from each side into the middle to create the distinctive shape of a palmier. A popular variant of palmiers are arlettes, which are essentially the same thing, but have cinnamon added to their sugar topping and are rolled into flat discs before baking.

Palmiers have to be one of the easiest biscuits I’ve ever made, mainly because if you buy a batch of all-butter puff pastry then most of the work is done for you. It’s literally just a case of rolling out the pastry, scattering it with a little water and sugar (and cinnamon, if you fancy) and then rolling it up before cutting it into slices. You can’t get any easier than that!

I made these palmiers with normal puff pastry (i.e. not gluten-free or dairy-free) because I knew that by only having one I wouldn’t suffer any ill-consequences, but you could make them with gluten-free puff pastry if you like. I’ve never seen an all-butter gluten-free puff pastry before though, so if you’re going to use the gluten-free pastry you might need to add a bit more sugar and cinnamon to help add flavour to the palmiers. If you do that and find they still don’t hit the spot I’d drizzle them with melted dark chocolate. They’d be awesome!

If you make these palmiers you’ll be rewarded with a batch of flaky, butter-enriched pastries which crumble and fracture into sweet shards of butteriness in your mouth while infusing it with a delicious blend of crisp, caramelised sugar and warm cinnamon flavours. These went down a treat in my house. I wonder how long they’ll last in yours?

Ingredients:

1 block of all-butter puff pastry (mine weighed 320g)

80g caster sugar (plus a little extra)

1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

If you’re using the cinnamon, mix it into the sugar.

Roll out your puff pastry until it’s a large rectangle and lightly wet it with a little cold water.

Scatter half of the sugar over the pastry and spread it until it’s even.

Turn the pastry over, wet it again, and scatter the other half of the sugar over it and spread it until it’s even.

Take the left and right sides of the pastry and fold them into the centre of the pastry so the two sides meet in the middle. Repeat once again and then fold the two sides together so that a large sausage shape is formed.

Turn the pastry horizontally and cut it into 1 cm thick slices before lying them on the baking trays with a generous gap between each palmier.

Scatter them with a little more caster sugar and then bake them in the oven for 12-15 mins or until puffed up and golden brown.

Leave on a cooling rack to cool slightly before eating.

Palmiers by The Fat Foodie

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Dark Chocolate Gingers

Dark Chocolate Gingers by The Fat Foodie

I love ginger. I think it’s such a variable spice. It adds a gorgeous fragrant, warming note to curries and noodle bowls while providing a delicious-tasting background heat. However, although I more than appreciate the merits of ginger in savoury recipes, I think ginger really comes into its own when used in sweet dishes. What would an autumnal bonfire night be without thick slabs of sticky gingerbread that are topped with a creamy spreading of real butter? Or a rainy October afternoon stuck inside the house while you watch black and white old movies with a steaming hot cup of builder’s tea and a couple of gingernut biscuits lying at its side? Sheer bliss.

For all that I love a biscuit that’s solely flavoured with ginger, I think the spice is really elevated when paired with dark chocolate. There’s something about the spicy heat of the ginger being tempered by the creamy bitterness of dark chocolate that makes me appreciate the humble dark chocolate ginger biscuit. I’ve also added a little bit of lemon extract to the biscuit dough which helps to keep the flavour fresh and not too heavy. (You could use the zest of a lemon if you don’t have lemon extract.)

These dark chocolate gingers are crisp, buttery rounds of crumbly biscuit that are infused with the background heat of ginger and are generously slathered in a coating of thick, creamy dark chocolate. They’re very quick to make and are ideal for accompanying a cuppa on a rainy afternoon.

Ingredients:

100g cornflour

150g gluten-free flour

95g icing sugar

125g salted butter (or a non-dairy version)

1 tsp lemon extract

2 tbsps rice milk

1 tsp ground ginger

100g dark chocolate (for coating the biscuits)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay greaseproof paper out onto two baking trays.

Measure all of your ingredients into a plastic jug or mixing bowl and then mix it all together with an electric whisk. (If you want to make it by hand then just rub the butter into the dry ingredients before adding the liquid ingredients and mixing together.)

Add more rice milk if you feel the dough is too dry. (Gluten-free flour can be notoriously absorbent.)

Take small handfuls of biscuit dough and roll into a ball before flattening between your palms and placing them on the baking trays. Continue until the mix is all used up.

Bake the ginger biscuits in the oven until they are golden brown and then place them on a cooling rack to cool down.

Once cold, melt the dark chocolate and spread a thick layer over the top of the biscuits. Leave to cool until the chocolate has solidified and then serve.

Dark Chocolate Gingers by The Fat Foodie

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Chicken Satay (serves 4)

Chicken Satay by The Fat Foodie

I had a bowl of chicken satay a long time ago in a restaurant and it was really delicious, but when I looked into making it myself I saw that the ingredient list was as long as my arm and was heavily based on fried onion and garlic. Not FODMAP friendly ingredients! However, I was sure that similar results could be attained by using fewer ingredients and after some tweaking I decided I was happy to write this version up for the website. I make this chicken satay all the time because it’s a great standby meal to have on-hand and requires so few ingredients. It also helps that most of the ingredients are long-lasting, so I always have them in my kitchen cupboards and fridge.

Traditionally, chicken satay is made with sweet chilli sauce, but every single one I’ve checked has contained garlic in one form or another, so that’s not going to work on a low FODMAP diet. However, a fellow fodmapper recommended Lingham’s Sweet Chilli Sauce to me because it doesn’t contain garlic and it works wonderfully. (It can be found in Tesco. Thanks, Jane!)

Chicken satay tends to be quite a sweet dish because the sauce is made with peanut butter, but the lime juice helps cut through the sweetness and adds a fresh dimension to the meal. It’s also nice to serve the chicken satay with a green vegetable on the side because it makes the sweetness less overpowering and adds variety and texture to the dish. I sometimes serve this chicken satay with either green beans or sesame broccoli (made by sauteing small florets of broccoli in 1 tbsp of hot sesame oil and adding 2 tbsps of sesame seeds before serving), but it’s delicious just as a substantial bowlful of chunky pieces of tender chicken that are encased in a rich, thick peanut satay sauce and served resting on a bed of fluffy white rice. Delicious!

Ingredients:

600g of skinless & boneless chicken thighs (cut into small pieces)

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsps sesame seeds

300g long grain rice

 

For the satay sauce:

170g crunchy peanut butter

100ml Lingham’s Sweet Chilli Sauce

4 tbsps lime juice (add more to taste)

Method:

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the sesame oil, chicken pieces and sesame seeds. Cook until the chicken is done.

At the same time, cook your rice in salted water.

Add the sauce ingredients to the pan and stir until hot.

Drain your rice, portion into bowls, top with the chicken satay and serve.

Chicken Satay by The Fat Foodie

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Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken by The Fat Foodie

One of my favourite types of fast food is Kentucky Fried Chicken. I’m not a big fan of their chicken drumsticks, but I love their chicken fillet burgers. They’re never dry and are always tasty, succulent and full of flavour. You can understand then, why I’ve always fancied having a go at trying to reproduce southern fried chicken in my own kitchen.

Although KFC uses chicken breasts in their fillet burgers I use chicken thighs because they’ve got far more flavour in them than breast meat and aren’t as dry. Actually, I’ve been buying skinless, de-boned chicken thighs much more than chicken breasts nowadays because they are infinitely tastier than chicken breasts and tend to remain tender and moist upon cooking, whereas chicken breasts dry out very easily. Chicken thighs are also considerably cheaper than chicken breasts. However, you can use whichever you prefer.

I’m pleased to announce that these southern fried chicken fillets are also gluten-free. I was a bit worried in case the gluten-free flour would be too dry in the southern fried chicken seasoning, but it wasn’t in the slightest. In fact, if anything, I think it helped to create that beautifully crisp, crunchy coating that you expect from a good piece of southern fried chicken. If gluten’s not an issue for you though, you can just use normal plain flour. Also, I fried my chicken pieces in a couple of centimetres of hot oil in a frying pan, but you could bake them in the oven if you want a less calorific dinner.

Since developing this recipe I’ve made this southern fried chicken for dinner at least three times because it tastes exactly the same as KFC chicken. It produces deliciously succulent, tender southern fried chicken fillets that are simply begging to be put in a soft bun, topped with good quality mayonnaise and served alongside some homemade potato wedges. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Ingredients:

A pack of skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 egg white

1 & 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp sweet paprika

1 tsp asafoetida

1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp celery salt

1/2 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried thyme (aka marjoram)

Vegetable oil (for frying the chicken)

Method:

Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Mix all of your flour, spices and seasonings together in a wide bowl.

Put the egg white into another wide bowl and beat it.

Coat each chicken piece in beaten egg white before dipping it in the southern fried seasoning and placing them on the baking tray and leaving them dry for 15-20 mins.

Southern Fried Chicken Ready to be Cooked by The Fat Foodie

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and cook the southern fried chicken until they are fully cooked through. Serve.

Southern Fried Chicken by The Fat Foodie

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