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Mushroom “Orzotto”

24 Sep

OrzottoThis is a version of a River Cottage recipe, which is dead easy and yummy! It’s using the Greek rice shaped pasta, orzo, instead of rice. Great veggie option to rustle up if you’ve just been told your newly-acquired friend who is due over for lunch in an hour is a devout vegetarian. Obviously don’t use chicken stock or parmesan. Recipe works (almost) as well without it.



  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
  • A knob of butter
  • 500g mushrooms (see above), cleaned, trimmed and thickly sliced
  • 150g orzo pasta
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • A few sprigs of thyme, leaves only
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • About 75ml dry white wine
  • About 50ml crème fraîche
  • I chicken or vegetable stock cube (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A good handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve
  • Grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top



Put a large pan of well-salted water on to boil, so that you’re ready to
cook the pasta while the sauce is coming together.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and half the butter in a large frying pan
over a medium-high heat. Add half the mushrooms and cook briskly,
stirring often, until all the liquid released has evaporated and the
mushrooms are starting to caramelise. Transfer to a dish and repeat
with the rest of the oil, butter and mushrooms. (Cooking in two batches
like this avoids overcrowding the pan and ensures the mushrooms do
not stew.)

When the second batch of mushrooms are nearly cooked, add the
pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook until al dente.

Return the first lot of mushrooms to the frying pan. Add the garlic,
thyme and balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.
Add the wine and cook until there is almost no liquid left. Add the
cream or crème fraîche, reduce the heat a little and stir until it is just
about simmering. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta as soon as it is cooked, add to the mushroom mixture
and toss well. Serve scattered with lots of chopped parsley.


Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar and Lemon (Ottolenghi)

11 Aug


1 large free-range chicken, divied into quarters
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon sumac
1 lemon, thinly sliced
200ml chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons za’atar
20g butter
50g pine nuts
4 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley


  1. In a large bowl, Mix the chicken, garlic, spices, olive oil, onions, stock, lemon, salt and pepper. Leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/Gas Mark 6. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking tray large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces lying flat and spaced apart. They should be skin-side up. Sprinkle za’atar over the chicken and onions and put the tray in the oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is coloured and just cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they turn golden. Transfer them to plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the fat.
  4. Transfer the hot chicken and onions to a serving plate and finish with the chopped parsley, pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. You can sprinkle on more za’atar and sumac if you like.

Recipe from Ottolenghi – The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi

Slow cooked pulled pork

11 Jul
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (4-1/2- to 5-pound) boneless or bone-in pork shoulder, twine or netting removed
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce (optional)
  1. Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the casserole dish and pour in the stock or broth.
  2. Combine the sugar, chili powder, measured salt, cumin, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Pat the pork dry with paper towels.
  4. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork and place the meat on top of the onions and garlic.
  5. Bring to boil on the cooker.
  6. Cover and place in the oven at a low heat (gas mark 2).
  7. Cook until the pork is fork tender, about 2-3 hours minimum.
  8. Pour the onion mixture from the slow cooker through the strainer and return the solids to the slow cooker. Set the strained liquid aside.
  9. If the pork has a bone, remove and discard it. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat.
  10. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, add the barbecue sauce, if using, and mix to combine.
  11. Taste and season with salt as needed.

Serve with coleslaw and buttery corn on the cob. Yum!

Flambéed chicken with asparagus

12 May

DSC_0056 DSC_0059Hubby and I have decided to cook together at least a couple of times a month. We have also recently bought a Spiralo to allow us to make better use of gluts of vegetables during allotment season (mainly thinking courgettes!). We are also at the moment drowning in asparagus and searched for a recipe that included this + something that would let us use our new toy. So here’s the result! Served with twice fried potato in the shape of thick spaghetti to add a bit of crunch. Yum!


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp seasoned plain flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • knob of butter
  • 4 shallots , finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp brandy or Cognac
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 16 asparagus spears , halved
  • 4 rounded tbsp crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp chopped tarragon


  1. Dust the chicken with the flour.
  2. Heat the oil and butter in a large, wide pan with a lid, add the chicken, then fry on all sides until nicely browned.
  3. Add the shallots, then fry for about 2 mins until they start to soften, but not colour.
  4. Pour in the brandy, carefully ignite, then stand well back until the flames have died down.
  5. Stir in the stock and bring to the boil.
  6. Reduce heat, cover, then cook for 15 mins until the chicken is just tender.
  7. Add the asparagus to the sauce.
  8. Cover, then cook for 5 mins more until tender.
  9. Stir in the crème fraîche and tarragon and warm through.
  10. Season to taste.

Crab Bonbons

15 Apr

seabass crabI’m a huge fan of crab – probably my favourite seafood. Here’s a quick recipe for ‘crab meat balls’, which can work as a starter/appetizer with some aioli or as part of a main meal to add a bit of crunch and texture. I did the latter this time and served it alongside some pan fried sea bass, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, rosti and samphire with a langoustine bisque.


  • Crab meat (I used white claw meat)
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Chives
  • Parmesan
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Egg
  • Flour

Depending on how ‘meaty’ you want it to be, add more or less ricotta. Mix it all and make little balls. Roll the balls in plain flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs. Quickly fry in some vegetable or olive oil to get a nice brown colour. Drain on a piece of kitchen roll to get rid of excess fat. Tuck in!

Chicken & Prawn Pad Thai

6 Apr
pad thaiThe key to perfect Pad Thai is in the cooking (or “not” cooking) of the noodles – learn how to get them chewy-perfect with this recipe. Included is a simple, but authentic pad thai sauce which is tangy and a little spicy. When it’s all put together, you’ll find there isn’t a noodle dish better than world-famous pad Thai!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes



  • 225g Thai rice noodles tagliatelle-width (available at Asian/Chinese stores)
  • 250g chopped chicken breast or thigh
  • 250g prawns
  • Marinade for Chicken & Prawns: 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 fresh red chillies, minced
  • 6 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh coriander
  • 1/3 cup crushed or roughly chopped peanuts (or other nuts, such as cashews)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • vegetable oil for stir-frying, and wedges of lime


  • 1.5 Tbsp. tamarind paste dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (look for tamarind at Asian/Chinese or Indian food stores)
  • 6 Tbsp. fish sauce, + more to taste
  • 2-4 tsp. chili sauce, or substitute
  • 1 tsp. or more dried crushed chili or cayenne, to taste
  • 6 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Ground white pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of pot to a boil and dunk in your rice noodles. Turn down the heat to low and keep an eye on them: you will be frying the noodles later, so you don’t want to over-soften them now. Noodles are ready to be drained when they are soft enough to be eaten, but still firm and a little “crunchy”. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  2. Make pad Thai sauce by combining the sauce ingredients together in a cup. Stir well to dissolve tamarind and brown sugar, and set aside. Note: this may seem like a lot of sugar, but you need it to balance out the sourness of the tamarind – this balance is what makes Pad Thai taste so amazing!
  3. Place chicken and prawns in a small bowl. Stir together the marinade and pour over. Stir well and set aside.
  4. Warm up a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp. oil plus garlic and minced chili, if using. Stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds). Add marinated chicken. When wok/pan becomes dry, add a little chicken stock, 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, to keep the chicken frying nicely (5-7 minutes, until cooked is cooked).
  5. Add the noodles, and pour the Pad Thai sauce over. Using two utensils, use a gentle “lift and turn” method to fry noodles (like tossing a salad). Stir-fry in this way 1-2 minutes. If you find your wok/frying pan too dry, push noodles aside and add a little more oil to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the bean sprouts and and continue frying 1 more minute, or until noodles are cooked.Noodles are done to perfection when they are no longer “hard” or crunchy, but chewy-sticky wonderful! Taste-test for seasoning, adding more fish sauce until desired flavor is reached (I usually add 1 more Tbsp. fish sauce). Toss well to incorporate.
  7. Lift noodles onto a serving plate. Top with generous amounts of fresh coriander, spring onion, and crushed/chopped nuts. Add fresh lime wedges to squeeze over each portion.

Pad Thai Tip: For even more flavor, I’ll often make a double batch of the pad Thai sauce. Then, as I’m stir-frying the noodles, I’ll add more sauce until I’m happy with the taste (I also add extra fish sauce). Any leftover sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Swedish Yellow Split Pea Soup (Ärtsoppa)

28 Feb

artsoppaThis is an immensely gratifying, warming soup traditionally made from dried yellow peas and served on Thursdays in Sweden.


  • 500g dried yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 2 finely chopped onions (2 cups)
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt & Pepper


Rinse the dried yellow split peas.

Fill a large pot with 8 cups of water (or 6 if you like a thicker soup. You can always thin it with water as you go along if it looks too dense). Add the peas, the chicken stock cube (crumbled), the thyme and the chopped onions.

Bring to a boil, then cover pot and reduce to a simmer over low heat for 90 minutes.

Remove 2 to 3 cups of the soup, puree in a blender or food processor, and return puree to the pot (this helps to thicken the soup).

Continue to simmer for at least 30 more minutes; another hour or more won’t hurt it. Season to taste.

Serve, passing around grainy brown mustard to stir into soup to taste.

Option: This is very often served with cubed ham hock pieces to add a bit of meat to it. I sometimes use streaky bacon or pancetta crumbs. Fry the bacon/pancetta pieces until crispy, dry off on a piece of kitchen roll and crumble to small pieces. Sprinkle over soup just before serving.

Spicy Tuscan Bean Soup

28 Feb


This spicy soup is terrific for cold, wintery evenings. The heat from the hot paprika is very soothing.

Although it’s a vegetarian dish (unless you use chicken stock), the smokey paprika makes you think there is chorizo in it – enough to convert the carnivore for sure :-).

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 15g butter
  • 1 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
  • 1 tsp HOT smoked paprika
  • 1 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 x 400g tins of beans, drained and rinsed (whatever you happen to have in the cupboard – I like mixing different types)


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter, then add the onions and celery. Sauté gently for 5 minutes until softening, then add the carrots, garlic, herbs and paprika. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes more until the carrots begin to soften.
  2. Add the tomatoes and stock, bring to a simmer, then add the beans. Simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Spoon into 4 bowls, then serve with a dollop of pesto and crusty bread.

Beetroot Risotto

28 Feb
beetrootThis colourful dish is not only stunning to look at, but fantastic to eat too! I use red wine instead of white to preserve the gorgeous purple colour. This particular recipe is for oven baking, but you can make the risotto the normal way on the stove as well (follow the packet instructions on quantities of liquid vs rice).
Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 500g fresh beetroot
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • knob of butter
  • 1 onion , finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove , finely chopped
  • 250g risotto rice (I like Vialone Nano, but Arborio works fine too)
  • 150ml red wine
  • 700ml hot chicken stock (vegetable stock if cooking for veggies)
  • handful grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)


  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Peel and trim the beetroots (use kitchen gloves if you don’t want your hands to get stained) and cut into large wedges. Place on a large sheet of foil on a baking sheet. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, season, then cook for 1 hr until the beets are soft.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil with the butter in an ovenproof pan with a lid. Tip in the onion and garlic, then cook for 3-5 mins until translucent. Stir in the rice until well coated with the butter and oil. Pour over the white wine, then let the mixture bubble away for 5 mins.
  3. Stir well, then pour over the stock. Stir again, cover and place in the oven. Cook for 15 mins until the rice is soft. Remove the beetroots from the oven. Whizz ¼ of them to make a purée, then chop the remainder into small pieces. Stir most of the Parmesan, the beetroot purée and chopped beetroot through the risotto.
  4. Serve with fresh peas or beans (the purple and green look amazing together on the plate!)
  5. Sprinkle grated parmesan

Option: Beetroot and goats cheese is an amazing combination. Try adding some crumbled goats cheese on top before serving. Yum!

Luscious Cobb Salad

28 Feb

CobbMy favourite salad by a mile. It’s so yummy that you forget you’re having a salad! I guess the crispy bacon/pancetta and the cheese makes it less healthy. Oh well… 🙂



  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
  • 8 slices streaky bacon or pancetta
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 4 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled and diced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled (or any blue cheese)


  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  1. Fry the bacon until crisp, drain on paper towels, and when cool enough to handle, crumble and set aside.
  2. Arrange a bed of lettuce on the serving plates. Arrange the eggs, bacon, chicken, avocados, tomatoes, and Roquefort cheese in straight rows on top of the lettuce, covering the surface completely.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil whisking constantly to form the dressing. Drizzle the dressing evenly over the salad, and serve immediately.