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Roast Stuffed Chicken Crown

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I picked up a few chicken crowns at the grocery store last week that were on for a really nice price.   They were only £3.  We like chicken in this house.  I think it's probably the one protein we eat the most of.

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A chicken crown is like a turkey crown except it's chicken.   The legs are removed and in this case the wings as well.  What you end up with is a nice compact sized roast, with the bone and skin intact, which you can still stuff if you like.

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I created a simple bread stuffing for this one I cooked the other day.  It was not a huge amount, just enough to slip between the skin and the meat of the chicken breast, but it helped to keep the chicken really nice and moist.   With the excess amount, I simply grated a small sweet potato and mixed it in and then baked it in a casserole along side of the chicken.  It was really tasty!

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I made a tasty bread sauce to have as well.   Bread sauce is a lovely sauce to have with poultry, believe it or not.  It's not something which I had heard of before I moved over here to the UK.  It's really delicious and so easy to make too.

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You simply infuse some milk with the flavour of onion, cloves and bay leaf, and then whisk in cream and bread crumbs whilst reheating.  It thickens up nicely and tastes just wonderful!   It's amazing what you can do with just a few simple ingredients.  I was impressed.

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We ended up with a delicious dinner with well flavoured and moist chicken, and a beautiful stuffing, a lovely sauce and a fabulous gravy.  We both enjoyed this very much.   I do hope that you will give it a try.  Oh, and that nice lovely crisp skin?   I got that by rubbing a liquid stock pot into the skin prior to roasting it.   DEEEEEE-licious!!

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*Roast Stuffed Chicken Crown*
Serves 4
A moist and delicious chicken breast crown roasted with stuffing beneath the skin and served with a tasty bread sauce on the side and gravy.

1 large chicken crown (about 1 1/2 pounds)
For the stuffing:
25g of butter (2 TBS)
75g fresh soft white bread crumbs (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 Knorr liquid herb stock pot
(alternately use 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley, 2 TBS chopped fresh tarragon, 1 egg yolk and salt and pepper to taste)
the finely grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
1 Knorr liquid chicken stock pot
In addition you will need one very small sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated

For the Bread Sauce:
1 small onion, studded with six whole cloves
1 bay leaf broken
300ml of whole milk (1 1/4 cups)
150ml single cream (2/3 cup, light cream)
115g of fresh white bread crumbs ( 2 cups)
10 g of butter (scant TBS)

For the gravy:
2 tsp plain flour
300ml well flavoured chicken stock (1 1/4 cups)
dash of madiera or sherry

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Melt the butter in a pan and cook the onion, without colouring, until softened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the stock pot and lemon zest.  Allow to melt and then toss together with the bread crumbs.  (Alternately mix with the chopped herbs, lemon zest.  Allow to cool completely and then mix in the egg yolk, seasoning to taste with some salt and papper.)  Loosen the skin from the chicken crown.   Lightly stuff with some of the stuffing on both sides, keeping the skin intact and recovering it with the skin once stuffed.  Rub the crown all over with the chicken stock pot. Place in a small roasting tin and loosely cover with foil.   Mix the remaining stuffing with the grated sweet potato and put it into a small buttered casserole dish.  Dot with butter and cover with foil.  Put the chicken into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Roast for one half hour.  Remove the foil and return to the oven along with the casserole with the extra stuffing/sweet potato in it.   Roast for one half hour further, or until the chicken is cooked through.  The skin should be nicely browned and crisped and the stuffing cooked through. 

One half hour before the chicken is done make the bread sauce.  Put the clove studded onion into a small saucepan along with the milk and bay leaf.  Bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for half an hour.   At the end of that time, strain the milk into a clean pan.  Add the cream and bread crumbs.  Bring to the boil, whisking constantly.  Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for five minutes.  Keep warm while you make the gravy.

Remove the chicken to a serving plate and tent with foil to keep warm.  Pour off all but 1 TBS of drippings from the roasting tin.   Place the tin over medium heat and whisk in the flour.  Cook and stir for about a minute, until golden brown.   Gradually whisk in the stock and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture has come to the boil and thickened.  Whisk in the madiera or sherry.   Taste and adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.  Cook for about five minutes on low heat.

To serve, cut the stuffed breast into slices and serve along with some extra stuffing a spoonful of bread sauce and some gravy.  I like to have mashed potatoes and carrots with this.

Marie Rayner
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Cancer Research UK Creates first Socail Icon "Do" Button

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 Don’t just like, DO! Cancer Research UK inspires people to #ActNowForResearch 

In a world first Cancer Research UK has developed a digital ‘DO’ button, encouraging the nation not just to like something they see but also to do something about it in 2014.  

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Launched as part of its campaign to raise awareness of the importance of research in beating cancer,  the ‘DO’ button is a simple reminder that there are lots of ways that people can take action to help Cancer Research UK beat cancer sooner.

Once installed, the ‘DO’ button appears alongside other social media icons on websites and blogs. When pressed, it directs people to a random #ActNowForResearch generator, which provides an immediate way for someone to support Cancer Research UK’s work.

Action doesn’t just mean donations. The #ActNowForResearch generator suggests many different ways – both humorous and more traditional – from uploading a selfie with #ActNowForResearch written on your forehead, donating a pound for every cat picture you email in a week, signing up for Race for Life to taking an item of clothing you don’t use into one of Cancer Research UK’s high street shops. But whatever the action, you’ll be encouraged to share it across social media, inspire others to do something in support of the charity and raise awareness of the importance of research in beating cancer.

Natasha Hill, Brand Director at Cancer Research UK, said: “We’re really excited to be the world’s first charity to create a ‘DO’ button. And although #ActNowForResearch is designed to be fun by creating actions that might be a bit out of the ordinary, it has a serious message at its heart – that collectively we can all take action that will help Cancer Research UK  beat cancer sooner.”

The launch of the ‘DO’ button follows the recent publication of figures by Cancer Research UK showing that the number of people being diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year has hit more than 330,000 for the first time*.

While more people than ever are being diagnosed with cancer, research has led to more people surviving the disease, with survival doubling in the last 40 years.

Follow #ActNowForResearch on Cancer Research UK’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for more information.  

Note:   The number of people being diagnosed with cancer in the UK each year has hit more than 330,000 for the first time, according to the latest figures* published by Cancer Research. While more people than ever are being diagnosed with cancer, research has led to more people surviving the disease. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years thanks to improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

 * The figures show 331,487 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK in 2011, rising from 329,547 in 2010.
·Read the latest UK cancer statistics here: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/

Marie Rayner
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Jalapeno Pepper Jam Baked Brie and Valentines Day . . .

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I was recently sent a gift pack from Godminster Cheese, just in time for Valentines day . . . their sweet "Heart to Heart" set,   is a tasty combination of a delicious 200g Vintage Organic Cheddar and 150g Heart-Shaped Organic Brie, both heart shaped and presented in their very own unique gift box.

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 Godminster Vintage Cheddar is completely organic, containing no preservatives and encased in a ruby coloured wax.  There is no need to remove the wax as it makes the perfect case to keep it in.  You can simply slice the top off and scoop out the cheese and then replace the "lid" when you are done.  Best served at room temperature, this lovely chedddar is rich and creamy.  Quite delicious!

Godminster Traditional Organic Brie, is an organic soft cheese, created using fresh milk from the Godminster Farm.  With it's fresh flavour and creamy texture, this was also quite delicious.

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Inclued as well was a round of their lovely Organic Brie which I decided to do something interesting with.   I wanted to make something which would be wonderful as an appetizer for your Valentines Day Celebrations.

Brie cheese is just wonderful baked . . . it melts beautifully and it's delicious flavour and texture are a wonderful canvas upon with to layer other flavours.

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I cut it in half whilst it was still really, really cold from the fridge and then place the bottom round, cut side up on a square of Puff pastry.  

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I spread the creamy top of the bottom layer with some Jalapeno Pepper Jam that I had picked up at Morrisons at Christmas time but hadn't had occasion to use yet.  It was so pretty and jewel-like . . . and flecked with lots of red jalapeno pepper flakes.  I then placed the other half on top and covered encased the round completely with the puff pastry, sealing it shut.  (You want to do this really well or you could have a blow out!)

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I decorated the top with heart cutouts placed in a round to resemble a pretty blossom, with a few little stamen balls in the centre, and then brushed the whole thing with some beaten egg yolk and ater.

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Fifteen minutes later we were rewarded with gloriously rich and creamy gooey brie mixed with that hot pepper jam . . . perfect for spreading onto soft slices of a fresh French loaf . . . and topped with a few leaves of rocket . . .

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Or  onto buttery  pepper crackers, and served with some crisp slices of a sweet red eating apple, it went down a real treat.   We both enjoyed this immensely.  Not only was it attractive, but it was quite simply . . . delicious.  How often do you get an appetizer that is so delicious without having put much effort into it.  I would serve this to anyone . . .

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* Jalapeno Pepper Jam Baked Brie*
Serves 4

This is the easiest and tastiest appetizer.  Everyone loves it.  

1 8-oz wheel of Brie Cheese
1/2 package of all butter, ready roll puff pastry
4 TBS Jalapeno Pepper Jam
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water  

To serve (optional)
Sliced French Baguette
crisp crackers
rocket leaves
sliced apples  

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.  Set aside. 

You will want your cheese to be really cold.  Using a sharp knife, cut the cheese in half horizontally through the middle.  Place the sheet of puff pastry onto the lined baking sheet.  Place the bottom half of the brie in the middle.  Spread the Pepper Jam over top almost to the edges.  Top with the other half of the Brie, cut side down.   Cut the corners off the pastry, so you have a rough circle shape.   Brush the edges of the circle with some beaten egg.   Bring the pastry up to cover the round of Brie, folding and pinching to seal.  Using the scraps cut out decorative shapes to decorate.  Brush the outside of the pastry with some egg and then place the cutouts on top of where you have sealed the Brie shut in a decorative manner.  Brush them with egg too.   

Bang the Brie into the preheated oven.  Bake for 15 minutes or so until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.  Place on a serving board and arrange with crackers, sliced baguette, some rocket and sliced apple.

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You can purchase the Godminster Heart to Heart set    of cheeses on the Godminster site for £17.45
Do visit their page for information of stockists near you, and other information about their products.

Although I was given this cheese to try out, all opinions are expressly my own.  It was to be perfectly honest . . . quite simply lovely.  Many thanks to Godminster for sending it to us.  I would buy this cheese quite happily for any special occasion.
Marie Rayner
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Curried Spam Fried Rice

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Spam was not something which we ever had when I was growing up.  I am not sure why that was.  We never had tinned meat of any kind except for deviled ham, which my mother sometimes bought to make our sandwiches for lunch with.  It came in a tin which was placed inside a paper wrapper decorated with little red devils.  I am not sure, but I think the devils somehow made it taste better!

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The one and only tme I can remember ever enountering Spam was at school.  A boy in my class wanted to trade his Spam sandwiches with my peanut butter ones.   I wouldn't trade because I did not know what Spam was and I was a bit afraid of trying something that I had never had before.   Besides, I really liked peanut butter.

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I was very lucky.  I grew up in a country that was untouched by war in my lifetime and I had a father with a really good job.  People over here in the UK have not been that lucky.     Having been through two World Wars, and rationing, etc.  tinned meat is something which has pretty much been a staple on family tables for a long time.

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I am ashamed to say I had never eaten it until I came over here, but I have to say . . . I quite like it actually!  You can buy the low fat one, and so it's not all that bad for you.  It's economical and quite tasty.   I made Spam Fritters last year and they were delicious.  When I saw a recipe recently on  unihomemaker.com  I just had to bookmark it to try here at home.  It looked really tasty.

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I changed it a tiny bit.  I made use of store cupboard ingredients and used a pouch of the already cooked Uncle Ben's brown basamati rice that I always have in the cupboard and I added some shredded savoy cabbage both for colour and taste.  We like cabbage in our fried rice.

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I also grated my carrot instead of cutting it into chunks, which meant it cooked much faster.   I was going to add some grated swede, but forgot.   Oh, and pineapple chunks.  I thought they would be really good, but it was bucketing down and the pineapple was out in the shed.  I didn't fancy getting wet.  But I reckon some pineapple chunks would go really well in this.  

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In any case, I really hope that you will try this.  It's really, REALLY tasty and is now on our favourite list as Casa de Rayner.  I spose you could use leftover ham if you wanted to, but the Spam was really tasty.  In fact I am craving it again already.   I know . . . I'm such a glutton.

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*Curry Spam Fried Rice*
Serves 4

This is delicious.   It's also quick and very easy to throw together.   A fabulous simple supper. 

2 large free range eggs, eaten with 1 TBS cream
olive oil for cooking
1 small tin of low fat Spam, chilled and diced
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated coarsely
six savoy cabbage leaves, heavy centre veins trimmed away and discarded,
and cabbage thinly sliced (Roll up tightly and slice, easy peasy)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 heaped tsp of curry powder
1 (2 serving) sized pouch of ready cooked rice or 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
2 tsp dark soy sauce
a handful of frozen petit pois 

Beat the eggs and cream together.  Coat a large skillet lightly with olive oil and heat.   Dump in the eggs and quickly scramble them.  Remove the scrambled egg to a bowl and keep warm.  Add a bit more oil to the pan.   Add the spam and brown it well on all sides.   Scoop out and keep warm with the egg.  Add the chopped onions, garlic and shallot.   Cook to wilt and then add the carrots and cabbage.   Cook, stirring, until wilted.   Add the curry powder, salt, pepper and soy.   Stir in the rice and return the eggs and spam to the pan.   Stir in the frozen peas.  Heat through.  Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  Serve hot.

Did you know that the 3rd to the 9th March 2014 is Spam Appreciation week?  Neither did I, but it's official.  2014 is going to be a fab year to remember for the iconic meat SPAM ® Chopped Pork and Ham, as  the Monty Python gang reunite, and a whole new generation of people get to enjoy their humor and acquaint themselves with their favourite meat!  This is no better time to realize just how unique, tasty and versatile SPAM with it's incredible 75+ year history can be.

To honor and celebrate this special week, fans are again being asked to demonstrate their love of SPAM ® by uploading a video, photo, drawing, or even writing a short sentence to show their appreciation of SPAM ® products.  There are five theatre wekeend breaks to be won courtesy of Show and Stay, plus 100 runner up prizes.   The competition opened on the 20th of January and will be closing on the 28th February, 2914.  The best entries will then be displayed on
www. spam-uk.com for appreciation.

Here's the video that won last year's competition.

A few facts about SPAM®

  • More then seven billion cans of SPAM products have been opened since it's launch in 1937
  • They may only be islands, but Hawaii and Guam go crazy for the stuff.  In Aloha State more than 7 million of the products are sold per year and Hawaii even hosts its own SPAM JAM festival in Honolulu.  While in Guam an average of 16 SPAM ® products are consumed by every person per year.
  • SPAM ® Chopped Pork and Ham is made from more than 90% prime shoulder pork and ham.
  • Clebrity SPAM® fans include James May and Heston Blumenthal.
  • In South Korea, SPAM ® Chopped Pork and Ham is considered a gourmet delicacy and is often given as a gift.
So now you know it all!

SPAM ®, it's not just a fad to follow . . . it's dinner.
Marie Rayner
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