Red Pesto Chicken Pasta
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 ~ 2 comments so far
First things first though, my brother-in-law made this for us a couple of weeks back, he’s a wonderful chef and I have completely and utterly stolen this dish from him. Sorry Paul!
What you need
2 chicken breasts
Penne pasta, enough for two
Parmesan (or any grana padano which is usually MUCH cheaper..)
Adjust portions for your own needs.
What you will use
1 pot – large enough to hold your pasta
1 frying pan – large enough to hold the chicken AND pasta combined, preferably a straight sided pan. A large cooking pot will suffice.
1 sharp knife, the sharper the better.
1 stirring implement… er… a wooden spoon or spatula.
How to make it
Firstly, get your pasta on to boil. You can just follow the instructions on the side of the pack, remembering to only add the salt once the water is boiling, and if you add a touch of oil along with the pasta it’ll help stop the pasta tubes from sticking to each other.
Now, slice up the chicken breasts into even sized pieces. I prefer smaller mouth-sized strips just a little bigger than the penne pasta, I think it helps give an even sauce coverage.
Aside: The topic of sauce coverage is of some debate in my house. I prefer to have a fine coating of sauce, lightly coating the pasta, and any other ingredients, so as to subtly slide over the palate. My wife takes the “sauce and some pasta” approach, casting the tubes of pasta adrift in a sea of passata at a moments notice (I shouldn’t be too nasty though as she makes dinner far more often than I do). Feel free to tweak this recipe to your own sauce preferences, but if you are of the latter persuasion don’t bother inviting me round!
Now, where was I? Ohh yes, you’ve got the pasta onto boil, so let’s cook the chicken.
In your frying pan, add a dash of oil, bring up to heat and add the chicken. Ideally you want a nice colour on both sides, but I’m sure you can all manage to fry some chicken. You can, of course, grill the chicken if you prefer. As long as it is cooked and there are no pink bits.
Depending on your timing skills, you may find that the chicken is ready before the pasta. Not to worry, just take it off the heat as we’ll be warming everything through before serving.
Check your pasta to see if it is ready. Some people like to throw bits of pasta at the wall to see if it sticks (although not sure what that tells them, other than that they should really clean their walls more often), but I generally prefer to actually bite into a bit to see if it’s to my liking. Al dente or whatever you prefer (although I’d suggest that ‘soggy mush’ means you’ve overcooked the pasta).
This, again, is entirely to taste. I’d suggest that you don’t want much more than a couple of teaspoons, just enough to give a nice soft covering. You should NOT have a sauce, the pesto should just cling to and pasta.
Now, swirl in a dash or three of single cream (I dunno, maybe a tablespoon?) again don’t add too much, we don’t want a runny sauce! You are just adding enough so that it softens the colour of the pesto without washing it all off the pasta.
Heat gently for a minute or so, then serve topped with parmesan shavings, and possibly a nice Chablis. Enjoy!
What else can you add?
The main flavour of the dish is chicken and basil, the tomato in the pesto is very subtle, so from that simple base you could add other ingredients to give it a little extra ‘zing’. Maybe some finely chopped onion or a little chilli to give it a bit more kick, or some toasted almonds or pine nuts? Or for a more tomato-ey flavour how about some sun-blushed tomatoes?
Taming Outlook 2003
Tuesday, August 15, 2006 ~ 1 comment so far
Matt over at Life Without Toast was moaning about Outlook 2003, in particular about the Favorite Folders area. As I use Outlook 2003 at work, and in particular couldn’t live without my favorite folders so I offered to write a post about how I’ve tamed them for my usage. This is that post.
Warning: this is kinda long. If you don’t use Outlook just skip it.
Wednesday, August 9, 2006 ~ Comments Off
So, what do you do, as a blogger with ethics, when a company write to you to promote their product? Well, first of all you check out the product.
Now, according to Sharon Dupont who contacted me, the product in question:
provide[s] a simple Web 2.0 service that allows bloggers to include syndication feeds, like news headlines, posts from other blogs or podcasts, into their blogs without any programming knowledge required. We hope that our take on the “problem” might be of use to both bloggers and web surfers.
All well and good (I’m not saying I’d USE the product myself but some might be interested).
Now, I’m not in the habit of plugging things on here without good reason, and so before I posted this I emailed Sharon to ask her a few questions, primarily about the company behind the product, and if whether they were deliberately targetting blogs as a form of marketing.
That was a several weeks ago. I’m still waiting for a response.
There are many companies, let’s call them “traditional” companies (with offices and products that come in boxes), who ‘get’ the internet. They realise that an online presence can help their business. Some of these companies also realise that blogs can be used to improve communication with their customers, and the really enlightened ones have worked it into they way the work.
Yet some companies still see blogs as a ‘free ride’, presuming we’ll hawk their goods for them. They seem oblivious to the possible downsides (this post is one), and whilst I don’t feel sorry for them it does annoy me. There is no good reason why a successful company can’t have a blog and make that blog work. Or at the very least there is no good reason why a successful company can’t at least UNDERSTAND how they could WORK WITH bloggers.
An example: at the recent BlogHer conference in the States, a car company turned up at one of the social events with a couple of soft-top cars. They allowed people to take them for a spin, didn’t try and sell and largely contributed to the whole ‘fun’ ethos of the event. They didn’t hand out marketing brochures, or push their product in any way. Yet they benefitted. How? Numerous mentions of the fun people had in their cars, photos galore in Flickr, and we all now that Google loves links and they got a barrowload of them (barrel? barrow? hmm that’s an odd one).
Obviously this is a form of marketing but, when conducted in such a fashion as to be unobtrusive and actually giving something BACK, then I think it works. Wouldn’t you love to take a spin in a convertible on a nice sunny day? Of course you would.
Now it’s all well and good for a large corporation to provide such freebies but I think blogging can help smaller companies as well. Putting aside the fact that ANY kind of web presence is no longer good enough (if I want to stay in your hotel, let me see the rooms, check availability and prices please) then the success stories will be the companies that realise that it’s not the size of the audience that visits your site, it’s that the RIGHT PEOPLE VISIT YOUR SITE.
[insert penis related "size doesn't matter" pun here]
If I run a business from my home, say a dog walking service, then it will benefit me more if my website is known to people that are in my area, have a dog, and would like their dog looked after during the day. Currently the best way to do that would be target dog shows, leaflet some houses in the area, or just get chatting to dog owners in the area.
Blogging may fit into that equation, but I’d see it as more of an add-on, a way of providing a human face to the business in an online context. For the moment, as blogging becomes increasingly popular it will continue to drive more and more ‘referrer business’ into all types of businesses. Those that are web-savvy now should be able to reap some benefits.
As for Ms. Dupont, I won’t mention the company/product name here as they don’t deserve the publicity (if you are really interested, google the quote), and here’s a tip for anyone with a business online. Be transparent. If you want me to invest my time and blog in your product, if you contact ME in an effort to market your product, presume I’ll do some research into the company behind the product and I’ll definitely want to be able to see the name of the person who contacted me listed somewhere on your site.
Blogging is huge, the numbers are startling, but until some businesses wise up it’s largely going to remain the remit of the hobbyists.