Friday, 29 April 2016

Madhouse recipe : Oriental chicken with peaches

When I saw a recipe go by on a foodie newsletter that I'm signed up to for Asian Chicken with Peaches, I had a real "hmmm that sounds nice ... I think" moment. While I'm quite happy pairing fruit with meat, I wasn't sure how it would work with the Oriental flavours of soy sauce and rice vinegar. Well, there was only one way to find out and it actually came out really nice, so it's a great dish if you want to do something a bit different with a pack of chicken fillets.

Oriental chicken with peaches

ingredients :

5 chicken breasts
a large knob of butter
a clove of garlic
salt, pepper, chilli powder/paprika
a tin of peaches
2 spring onions (optional)
3tbsp brown sugar
2tbsp rice vinegar
2tbsp soy sauce (I used sweet soy sauce so taste to adjust the balance)
squirt of lime juice

Preheat oven to 200°. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the garlic and fry the chicken on all sides until golden brown and starting to go crispy. Don't worry if it's not cooked all the way through - it will finish off in the oven. Season with salt, pepper and paprika or chilli powder, depending on how much of a kick you want. Reserve.

Melt an extra knob of butter in the pan you cooked the chicken in then add the peaches and, if using, the spring onions. Stir in a tablespoon of brown sugar and cook, stirring, until it starts to caramelise. Add a splash of juice from the can if it starts to stick. Turn off the heat.

In small bowl, mix the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the rice vinegar and soy sauce. Taste and adjust until the flavours are balanced.

Transfer the peaches to an ovenproof dish, lay the chicken on top and pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Serve with rice and a squeeze of lime juice on top.

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 29/4

There's a bit of a holiday feel next week because Thursday is a bank holiday and the French have a brilliant tradition of "making the bridge" and taking off the Friday too to make an extremely long weekend, especially as Wednesday is my day off  so I get a five day weekend! That means I'll be planning lunches for most of this week too.


lunch - I think today will be a toss up between McDonald's or Quick, the French equivalent, as one is giving away Playmobil in its happy meals and the other is giving away free day out tickets - either way, I'll have a chicken salad  so it makes no difference to me !

dinner - maybe soup, maybe a big salad, depending on the weather ! I have an intriguing recipe for chicken & almond milk soup, which I might try.


lunch - absolutely no idea because we have friends over for dinner - we contemplated a bbq before we headed back into winter so we'll have to check the weather !

dinner - nothing, we'll still be stuffed from lunch (which ends up an all day affair in France !)


dinner - chicken curry and rice


dinner - spicy sesame beef with stir fried veggies (broccoli, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, ...)


lunch - smothered pork chops with spaghetti

dinner - cottage pie


lunch - chicken & veg noodles, with a pouch of laksa sauce

dinner - spaghetti carbonara or bolognese


lunch - I think I'll have a fridge full of leftovers to use up - if not toad in the hole with mash and beans

dinner - Hairy Bikers' citrus crusted chicken breast with rice & salad

***Click on my Menu Plans tag to see all my other weekly menu plan blogposts.***

What's Cooking at The Madhouse? menu plan 29/4

Meal Planning Monday

Want to see what everyone else is eating ? Head over to Meal Planning Monday at Mrs M's blog !

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Globecooking recipe : Sabzi polo mahi (Iran)

This herby rice dish, served with fish, is a traditional food served for New Year in Iran. I thought the rice was going to come out horribly overcooked, because it is basically cooked twice, but it was perfectly al dente and packed with flavour.

This recipe used the big bag of Sabzi Polo herbs from this month's Iranian-themed Kitchen Trotter box, which is a blend of chives, parsley, dill, coriander and fenugreek.

 Sabzi polo mahi

ingredients :

300g basmati rice
25g sabzi polo herbs
4 white fish fillets
300g potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
2 cloves of garlic
4tbsp flour
1tbsp curcuma
1tbsp cinnamon
a couple of large knobs of  butter
salt, pepper
a squeeze of lime juice

Rinse the rice then leave to soak in cold water for half an hour. Rinse again (to be honest, I'm not sure all this rinsing and soaking served any purpose whatsoever !) then put on to cook in boiling salted water until slightly undercooked. Drain, rinse in cold water and reserve.

Melt the butter in a large pan. Turn off the heat so you don't burn your fingers. Cover the bottom of the pan in thin slices of potato. Chop the cloves of garlic into large pieces and scatter over the potatoes.

Mix the cold rice with the herbs and season with salt and pepper. 

Tip the rice onto the potatoes and cover with a lid. Cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes then lower and continue cooking for 30 minutes.

Mix the flour, cinnamon and curcuma (I used cumin instead) on a plate. Add salt and pepper and thoroughly mix.

Use the flour mixture to coat the fish fillets on all sides.

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the fish for 3-4 minutes on each side on a medium heat until beautifully golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside.

Serve the fish with the rice and some of the golden brown slices of potato from underneath. I'm not sure you're actually supposed to eat the potato, but it was too lovely to discard ! It's a nice dish but we felt that it could do with a bit of oomph - maybe some lime juice/zest on the fish or a sprinkle of chilli in the rice. I was a bit scared of the vast quantity of herbs that went into the rice but it wasn't overpowering and had an almost spinach-like taste in the end.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

If you want to try some more Iranian recipes, how about Mâst O Khiar or Gheymeh Bademjan?

More fairy magic with The Fairy Force #Fairytaler

You may remember that last month, I showed you the extra special, magical fairy corner in Pierre's room where the Irish Fairy Door has pride of place, surrounded by the wall stickers, accessories and play equipment that we received as Fairytalers.

There's still one item that I haven't told you about yet though - the Irish Fairy Door story book called The Fairy Force.

It's a lovely story about Henry the fairy, who is worried about his human friend, a little boy called Ben who keeps having nightmares.

As he really cares about Ben, he decides to call in The Fairy Force, an elite squad of specially trained fairies who know how to keep the bad dream breezes at bay. Pierre loved the page where we see a handwritten note to Ben from his fairy becaise Pierre is always delighted when he receives a note from his own fairy too.

 The Fairy Force spend four nights in Ben's bedroom, plugging up the invisible holes in the walls that let in the bad dream breezes, then leaving a tiny FF on the window pane that only shows up when a human breathes on it, to show that they've worked their magic.

Well, Pierre immediately went and knocked on his fairy door and called on his fairy friend to bring in the Fairy Force so that they can stop him having nightmares too. I know that every night at bedtime this week, he'll be breathing all over his windows to find out when they've paid him a visit. I'm not sure who's more excited - me or him !

If you'd like to get involved with the fairy magic, I have a special #Fairytaler code to share with you which offers 15% off everything in the Irish Fairy Door Company shop - just enter code madhousefamily15 at the checkout.

Disclosure : We received the book in order to write an honest review.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Children's book review : Mission Cookpossible !

Pierre loves helping me cook and he also loves me reading him stories, so when we were introduced to Mission Cookpossible !, a children's story book that incorporates numerous recipes, I knew that we were on to a winner.

The book tells the story of Lady Gertrude who is having a party at Belchings Castle and decides to kidnap a master chef to help get everything ready for afternoon tea and dinner.

The great thing about the story is that it's personalised so, in our book, the master chef who has been kidnapped is ... Pierre ! You also get to select which recipes will feature in your book, so you can make sure that they are things that your family will like to eat.

The first recipe that Pierre came across and wanted to make was Dobbin's Fabulous Flapjacks. The recipes are written out simply and use mainly ingredients that you are likely to have ready and waiting in the kitchen.

Having read that Dobbin likes to throw a hoof-ful of chopped hazelnuts over the top of his flapjacks to make them crunchy and that they are useful on knightly quests for distracting dragons from eating princesses, Pierre was extremely enthusiastic.

As he was the master chef in the story, he declared that he could do the weighing out all by himself this time. He managed too, without even dropping oats all over the floor, which I was expecting !

The result was some very lovely gooey and chewy flapjacks that I'm sure Dobbin and the knight would have been very pleased with.

The next time I asked Pierre if he wanted to do some baking, he ran off and picked up his Mission Cookpossible! book again, flicking through the pages to choose which recipe he wanted to recreate. He opted for Griselda's Rainbow Jam Tarts, which was a great way of using up various half empty jars of jam and lemon curd that were cluttering up the fridge.

Pierre had a great time and thought it was hilarious when I pointed out that he had as much flour on his face as in the bowl !

It's not all baking sweet treats though - there are some savoury recipes too, such as Tomato Soup à la façon de Clorabella Swish, Dr Socks's Pizza Performance and Apollo's One Pan Lemon Roast Chicken. It's very special for a child to be able to put dinner on the table for the whole family so Pierre can't wait to try out one of the supper recipes next.

Here at The Madhouse, we always love stories that can be taken off the pages into real life through follow-on activities or research, so Mission Cookpossible! gets a big thumbs up from us. Personalised stories are always hugely popular as gifts, so if you have a keen mini-chef in your midst, it would definitely be a much-loved and well-used book to offer for a special occasion.

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £19.99

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

#KitchenClearout recipe : Roast Dinner Spring Rolls

Well, weather-wise, spring seems to have done an about turn and we've headed back into winter, but this week's menu has been full of spring rolls ! I wanted to use up the end of a pack of spring roll wrappers that I found at the back of the cupboard this weekend, and, after tucking into Smores spring rolls and turon, which are delicious caramelised banana spring rolls from the Philippines, Juliette requested some "real" (ie savoury) spring rolls to use up the final few sheets.

I had a small amount of chicken and some roasted vegetables (mainly carrots with a few mushrooms and onions) leftover from the Sunday roast so that was what I used for the filling. They worked really well but any combination of meat and veg would do really.

Roast Dinner Spring Rolls 

ingredients :

leftover cooked chicken and vegetables
spring roll wrappers
rice noodles
garlic salt, paprika, splash of soy sauce

Pick the meat off the bones and finely shred it. Finely dice the vegetables. Season to taste and mix together with a splash of soy sauce.

Put the rice noodles in boiling water to soak for a couple of minutes then drain.

One at a time, dip a spring roll wrapper in water and submerge until it becomes soft and sticky. Lay out on a plate and top with a line of noodles then chicken/veg.

Fold each side in to the middle then pull the bottom up to the middle and finally, carefully roll it from the centre up to the top.

Deep fry or shallow fry in a little oil or butter on all sides.

While having the #KitchenClearout, I also came across a box of prawn crackers and I thought the kids would like making them.

They thought it was pure magic when they puffed up and folded out into big prawn crackers when submerged in hot oil. They know there's half a box left and they've been asking to make them every single day !

Adding this to this month's #KitchenClearout linky because it polished off the final few spring roll wrappers.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Great news for messy play - Persil gets more ecological and economical !

I've always loved Persil's ‘Dirt is Good’campaign, encouraging mums (and dads) to let kids be kids and not worry about getting dirty because they'll deal with all the stains, from grass and felt tips to finger paint and occasionally blood. Grazed knees, muddy trousers bottoms and blackberry stained T-shirts are all an inevitable part of a happy childhood in my opinion and luckily, from experience, Persil do indeed manage to get it all clean. I do seem to spend a large proportion of my days off tackling the washing pile though, so I was very pleased to learn that Persil have given their packaging an overhaul and added extra capsules for the same price.

The newly designed Persil Mono Capsules pouches contain 70% less plastic than the boxes so they're lighter on the carbon footprint as well as the pocket. They are available in 12, 22 and 38 packs with the 12 and 22 pack containing two extra capsules and the 38 pack containing three extra capsules, to power even more messy play.

That means we can have a little bit of this ...

and a little bit of that ...

and even a little bit of the other in each pack !

What are your favourite messy play activities with your kids?

RRP’s :
Persil Mono Capsules (12w): £4.31 pp**
Persil Mono Capsules (22w): £8.32 pp**
Persil Mono Capsules (38w): £9.99 pp**

*Compared to previous 20 washes tubs

Disclosure : Persil will be sending us some of their capsules in order to fuel our messy play !