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My Favourite Chicken Dish adapted from Jamie Oliver

I love Jamie Oliver – his recipes are simple, don’t take long to make and dfull of flavour. I accept the man is a cook rather than a chef but for me that’s just perfect for everyday meals and most of the basic entertaining I do. l always use chicken thighs with the skin on as they go all crispy and delicious. I serve with mashed potatoes and a green salad or steamed greens. The next day I shred the remaining chicken, squeeze out the garlic cloves and mix up all the leftovers in the pan to make a wonderful ‘sauce’ for pasta. 

Serves 4-6.


8 Chicken thighs with skin on plus 4 plum chicken legs
2 punnets cherry tomatoes
1 bulb garlic, separated into unpeeled whole cloves
1 large red chilli, finely sliced
1 generous bunch basil, leaves picked and stalks finely sliced
1 can cannellini beans, drained
sea salt and cracked black pepper
olive oil
mashed potatoes to serve


  1. Place chicken pieces skin side down in a single layer in a large casserole dish. They should fit snugly. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, then turn and sprinkle the skin side with salt and pepper.
  2. Now scatter basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, chilli and basil stalks over the top of the chicken.
  3. Mix around a bit so that most of the tomatoes and basil are at the bottom with the chicken resting on top. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Place in a 180 degree C oven for 45 minutes. Move chicken around so that skin will brown and crisps up evenly. Place in the oven for another 30 minutes.
  5. Add the drained cannellini beans and mix around. Finish off in the oven for 15 minutes while finalising the mash.
  6. Eat with steamed greens or a green salad.

Jamie’s Puttanesco Pasta

I love this dish – not sure what makes it quite so good. It could be the tuna or the addition of all the parsley, stalks and all, or perhaps it’s just that the cinnamon provides such an unusual finish. It’s also one of those dishes you can throw together anytime as all the ingredients can be found in a standard pantry.

Serves 4.

500g dried spaghetti
225g can quality tuna(like Sirena) in oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon capers
30g anchovies
1-2 chillies, finely chopped or 1t sambal oelek
1 bunch parsley, stalks finely sliced and leaves chopped
8 black olives
1 tin finely chopped tomatoes or about 1 cup passata
1 lemon, zest and juice

  1. Cook pasta until al dente.
  2. While it’s cooking, saute anchovies, garlic, chilli and parsley stalks in a little of the oil from the tuna.
  3. Add tuna, olives, capers, lemon zest and passata and cook over low heat till nice and thick.
  4. Just before serving add a good pinch cinnamon, lemon juice and all the chopped parsley.
  5. Toss through cooked spagetti and serve with parmesan and a green salad.
  6. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Roast Apple and Broccoli Soup

This sounds delicious … it’s pretty ugly but has wonderful flavour. Stay tuned to updates as I experiment with it. It’s here so I can find the recipe. 

Serves 8.

3 Granny Smith apples(each about 100g), peeled and cored
1 piece Broccoli, approx 300g
1 bunch sage, half of the leaves roughly chopped
4-5 sprigs thyme
6 cups vegetable stock
40g butter for serving
Micro herbs, edible flowers to serve

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Place apples on a paper lined tray. Be generous with the paper as the apples create like a sticky toffee. Drizzle apples with a little olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Add thyme sprigs and 1 tablespoon of the chopped sage to core, over and under apples.
  3. Trim base of broccoli and place whole in baking dish adjacent to apples. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Place both baking trays in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. The apples should be tender and collapsed. The broccoli will still be firm but tender. Cool slightly then roughly chop and set aside.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan. Add remaining chopped sage and cook 3-4 minutes. Now add roast apple and broccoli and cook for a further two minutes.
  6. Now add the stock, bring to the boil, turn to a low simmer and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Whiz in a blender until smooth, reheat over a medium heat and season.
  8. Meanwhile melt butter in a frypan over medium heat. Add whole sage leaves and cook 2-3minutes until butter begins to brown.
  9. Pour soup into bowls, drizzle with sage butter, top with micro herbs or edible flowers if using and season if required.

Steamed Rice

Seems simple. However, I didn’t like rice and didn’t eat it at all until I was well into my thirties. It’s difficult to cook something that you don’t enjoy eating – it just doesn’t work.  I used to struggle along trying different methods of cooking rice and the family patiently ate the various concoctions that landed on the table. One day, in desperation at yet another unsuccessful attempt, I asked my 14 year old son, Sven, for help.  This recipe reflects what he told me.  I follow his directions exactly without any deviation and the rice is almost perfect. Thank you, Sven.

Serves 3-4. Cooking Time: 20 minutes.

1 cup quality Basmati rice, I like Tilda
1.5 cups cold water
saucepan/pot that is 17.5cm wide with a tight fitting lid.

  1. Put the rice in the correct sized saucepan. Wash the rice by covering with cold water, swirling around then draining carefully (use a large sieve) without losing any of the grains. Wash the rice three times or until the water is clear when being swirled. This step can be omitted but the rice will not finish up as fluffy at the end.
  2. After draining carefully add 1.5 cups cold water to the rice in the saucepan.
  3. Cover saucepan with a tight fitting lid.  There must be no gaps else the steaming process will not work.
  4. Bring water to the boil over a rapid heat. As soon as the rice comes to the boil turn heat to the lowest setting possible and steam for EXACTLY 10 minutes. Try not to open the lid during this time. Ensure the stove is not off but just a very low heat allowing conetnts to steam without boiling too rapidly.
  5. After 10 minutes, take off the heat. If you are new at this, you can lift the lid to take a quick peak to ensure the rice is cooked and all the water has evaporated. (If the rice is hard you cooked over too high a heat and boiled the rice rather than steaming it. If there is still wate you probably had the heat off or it wasn’t boiling when you turned the heat down so it needs more time.)
  6. Now stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID.
  7. Fluff with a fork and eat. Perfect.

Liz’s Beef and Vegetable Soup for the Last of the Cooler Days

The days are warm already this year with the garden thinking that spring has arrived. However, the nights are still cool – time to enjoy my hearty homemade soup one last time before the warm spring evenings are upon us. This recipe is cobbled together from watching my mother and grandmother making soups with leftovers from the pantry and the fridge. It tastes wholesome with friends and neighbours always asking for some – it’s one of those dishes that never finishes as each day you add a little more water to top up what you ate the previous day !!!

Serves 8.

2 pieces veal osso buco
1 cup dried Italian Soup mix – you want the mixed beans and lentils with no barley
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 sticks celery, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
3 medium desiree or kestrel potatoes, peeled and sliced
mixed herbs – whatever you can find; Bay leaves, Rosemary, parsley stalks, thyme, and the light green celery leaves from the heart of the bunch of celery
1/4 cabbage, shredded
800g(2lb) can diced tomatoes
2 Beef stock cubes
4 cups water
miscellaneous vegetables from fridge to add at the end; I like sliced zuchinni and green beans

  1. Brown the Osso Buco in a little olive oil and butter in a large pot; Remove.
  2. Now saute the onions and garlic. When soft add the herbs to bloom – sautéing in oil releases far more flavour than adding the herbs to the liquid at the end.
  3. Add celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Now add the soup mix, beef stock cubes, canned tomatoes, water and the browned so buck. Bring to the boil. Turn to a low simmer. Simmer for 60 minutes.
  5. After 60 minutes, add the potatoes and shredded cabbage. Continue cooking for another 60 to 90minutes until the soup mix is cooked.
  6. Remove the osso buco. Add marrow from bones to the soup. Remove fat from the meat and shred it. Return shredded meat to the pot. The soup should be thick but if u think it needs more liquid add some now – add half cup water at a time so that you don’t end up diluting soup too much. Bring back to boil. Taste and add seasoning as required.  It is best left for a day at this stage to improve flavour but of course can be eaten immediately.
  7. Just before serving add miscellaneous vegetables on hand; Green Beans, sliced zucchini, etc and heat. Boil for no more than one minute to keep vegetables crunchy.
  8. This soup can keep for up to a week if you reheat it every day. Reheat slowly so as not to burn. Add additional water if it gets to thick BUT add water when soup is hot. The soup thins up as it heats so you cannot be sure how much water is required.
  9. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Crunchy Layered Oats, Yoghurt and Banana Tart

This is a lovely tart with crunchy oats base, a tart creamy subtle middle layer, and a fruit topping. It is simple and quick to make but tastes elaborate. You can use in season fruit for the topping – in summer try strawberries, raspberries, or stone fruit. In winter banana is delicious or you can even use a quality apricot or black cherry jam.

Serves 6-8.

1/2 cup sticky brown sugar is plenty
2 cups quick porridge oats
180g(6 oz) butter
3/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1.5 cups plain yoghurt, Greek style
1 Tablespoons caster sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
Fruit of your choice: 3-4 Bananas/1 punnet strawberries/etc
1/2 cup jam to glaze – use apricot for bananas or redcurrant for strawberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  2. Gently melt brown sugar and butter in a saucepan – do NOT let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in the oats.  Spread evenly into a greased 24cm(9-10inch) diameter flan dish.
  3. Bake in the top half of the oven 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
  4. In a bowl stir yoghurt, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest for the middle layer together. Pour on top of the oat base. Put dish back in the oven for 8 minutes. Cool. The yoghurt topping will be smooth and slightly firm.
  5. A couple of hours before serving slice the bananas (or halve the strawberries if using) and layer on top of the yoghurt base. Melt the jam for glazing in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave. Brush onto the fruit with a pastry brush.
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut the crispy base and serve as is or with cream or ice cream.

Souffléd Fish Pie

I always sought the unusual – even in the times where meat and two vegetables were the standard fare. One sunny summer’s day in 1982 I discovered this recipe in a quaint cookbook at a school fair. It was an incredibly modern recipe in it’s day and became the regular favourite way to cook our weekly fish dish. It’s stood the test of time – still a little different and quite delicious with the unusual combination of fish and ham and the souffle topping works well.  Serve it with steamed vegetables in winter or a green salad in summer.

Serves 6.

1kg (2lb) firm white fish like ling or cod
60g (2 oz) butter
3 Tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 cups milk
3 eggs
75g (3oz) chopped ham
2 teaspoons dill or fennel seeds

  1. Butter a large shallow gratinee or pie dish. Cut the fish into large pieces and lay in the dish in a single layer. Sprinkle with dill or fennel seeds, salt and pepper.
  2. Pour over the milk, cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400F/200C for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove fish and reduce oven heat to 300F/150C. Pour the milk off the fish into a separate jug. Add the chopped ham to the fish in the dish.
  4. Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring all the time. Gradually add milk fish was cooked in, still stirring. Bring to the boil. Add cheese and stir until melted and smooth.
  5. Cool slightly. Then add egg yolks, one by one stirring thoroughly after each addition.
  6. Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into the sauce with a metal spoon.
  7. Pour this mixture over the fish in the dish. Cook in the centre of the oven at 300F/150C for 30 to 40 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  8. Serve immediately.

Lentil Soup – Good Old Fashioned Eating

This is real winter comfort food – warm, filling and full of flavour. I used to make a pot of soup on Sunday and we would enjoy it for lunch and/or dinner throughout the week. It’s also a healthy after school snack. Just add a little water when it thickens up and you can keep going for days. Reheat over medium – not high – heat and stir frequently to ensure it does not catch at the bottom of the pot.

Serves 8-10.

½ ham hock (omit if vegetarian)
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
500g(1 lb) uncooked brown or puy lentils
1x800g(2 lbs) tin tomatoes, pureed
2 beef  or vegetable stock cubes
6 cups water
chopped parsley to serve

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for about 1½ hours stirring from time to time.
  3. Add another cup of water if it becomes too thick.
  4. Serve garnished with parsley.

Dondeng – A Popular Family Casserole

This is a popular family casserole that we nicknamed Ding dong do.  Whilst it is a curry of Asian origin this recipe is mild with only a pinch of chilli powder and ideal for all children. The lemon rind, almonds and jam give it a rich dark colour and beautiful flavour. If you like it hot serve some chopped chilli on the side.

Serves 6.

2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1kg topside or chuck steak, cubed
3 Tablespoons whole almonds
1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons plum jam or any dark jam
1ml chilli powder
1 cup beef stock

  1. Place beef cubes in a plastic bag. Add a little flour and toss cubes in the bag till coated with a fine layer of flour.
  2. Brown meat in batches in a large pot, removing when golden.
  3. Then sauté onions and garlic in the same pot.
  4. Add meat to onions after a few minutes.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2½ hours or till meat is tender
  6. Serve with steamed rice

Citrus Self Saucing Puddings – sooooooo good

image1-3It’s great to have a yummy dessert after a lazy Sunday dinner, especially if we didn’t have a big afternoon tea.  As these puddings are quick and easy to prepare with ingredients usually in the pantry, it can also be  thrown together on a week night. Another family favourite.

Serves 4.

1 cup self raising flour
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup dessicated coconut
½ cup natural yoghurt
1 egg, beaten
50g butter, melted
grated rind of 2 lemons
grated rind of 2 oranges
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
¾ cup caster sugar, extra
1½ T cornflour
½ cup boiling water

  1. Heat oven to 170°C (325°F).
  2. Grease and flour 4×1½ cup heat resistant dishes.
  3. Place flour, sugar, coconut, lemon and orange rind in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  4. Mix yoghurt, egg and butter together. Add to flour mixture. Mix well.
  5. Spoon about ½ cup of mixture into each pudding bowl
  6. Combine extra caster sugar and cornflour and sprinkle over puddings
  7. Combine juices and boiling water in a jug and pour a ½ cup over each pudding
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until skewer inserted halfway down comes out clean

Dust with icing sugar and serve after 10 minute. They should be warm rather than boiling. Sooooooo Good.

Tuna and Mushroom Pasta satisfies the whole Family

A quick and easy sauce to prepare – perfect for busy work days or lazy Sunday evenings.  I usually used thin spaghetti  or tagliatelle as the pasta and my favourite tinned tuna is the Sirena brand.

Serves 4.

500g pasta
1 onion, chopped
100g button mushrooms, quartered
2T tomato paste
1x384g tin tuna
300ml cream
chopped parsley to garnish

  1. Boil pasta in a large saucepan until al dente
  2. In the mean time sauté onion in a frying pan over a medium heat
  3. Add mushrooms and toss lightly
  4. Stir in tomato paste, tuna and cream and bring to boil
  5. Toss sauce through drained pasta
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