Chicken with Peppers and Olives

chicken peppers olives

When I’m in the UK I am careful to try and not buy too much food out of season and nearly always look to find out how far away it’s comes from. I like to try and keep my food miles down, but in Dubai you don’t have that much choice. Although I try and use local produce, like Lebanon cucumbers, which are a smaller than European ones. I do like a variety of ingredients and some foods have travelled from miles away. Apples for example nearly always comes from the USA or Australia and I’ve yet to see any more mainland Europe, must I’m sure there must be, but even Europe is over 5 hours away.

As the vegetables have travelled they do not last very long. I bought the peppers, for this recipe, two days ago and they are starting to turn and so had to use quickly. In the UK these would have lasted at least a week before they started to turn for the worse. I wonder if that is because they have travelled or for other reasons, like added chemicals, but I wont look into it in case I don’t like the answer.

I am a big fan of peppers as they are incredibly versatile, you can cook them quickly or a long time and they have a different texture. They work wonderfully in a salad, either raw of cooked and are very tasty when stuffed, roasted, as the main ingredient or as a complimentary ingredient in another recipe. When I was a vegetarian they became a stable in my diet and even now that I’m a meat eater I still use them a lot.

This is a very simple recipe that you can cook either quickly, if you want crunchy peppers or longer if you like them softer and sweeter. It’s also very low in fat and a healthy meal and if you don’t want to use chicken it makes a lovely light vegetarian meal.

  • 2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  • 4 peppers of each colour, red, yellow, green and orange, sliced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tbls tomato purée
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 400g chicken thighs, skinned, boned and diced
  • 100g black olive, stoned and sliced
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serves 4)

Put the oil into a pan and turn on the heat. Add the onions, garlic and chilli (if using) and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the onions are soft, but do not allow to brown.

Add the sliced peppers and mix into the onion mixture and gently fry for 4-5 minutes.

Throw in the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, mixed herbs and bay leaves and mix together and  bring to the boil

Add the chicken, olives and salt and pepper to season. Cook for a minimum of 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked or like me for over an hour as I like soft peppers

Serve with any kind of pasta or long grain rice.

Spaghetti with Chicken and Peppers

As I said in a previous post I am in Dubai for two months and am currently sitting in my very spacious hotel room/apartment. I have a big bedroom with en suite bathroom, the lounge/diner is twice the size than my own in London, as is the kitchen in fact I think it’s about four times bigger. The BIG problems with the kitchen is, it’s seriously lacking in everything. I have two electric hobs that quickly throw out a lot of heat, but I have only one saucepan, one frying pan and a kettle that takes ages to boil. In fact it’s quicker for me to call room service for hot water than to wait for the kettle. But we adapt and make changes to the way we do things and work with what we have. I also have no oven, but it looks like my microwave can be used as a grill, but have yet to “play” with it. As a microwave it is slow but it works.


Being someone who loves to cook it’s going to be interesting creating food with such little equipment. This is the first dish that I have attempted to cook since I’ve been here. I used chicken thighs, as they have more flavour than chicken breasts and they don’t dry out whilst cooking. It was fun de-boning them with a small serrated knife, but I managed and didn’t cut myself. It wasn’t the best recipe and it’s won’t set the world alight, but it was a healthy and light dish that could become a typical meal whilst I’m in here as it was very quick and easy.

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin removed, de-boned and roughly chopped
  • 2 peppers, de seeded and sliced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to season

Place the oil into a pan and turn on the hob. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken and cook until all the outside edge of the chicken is white about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the peppers and mix into the chicken mixture. Add the tinned tomatoes, dried thyme and season

Cook for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is done. Serve with pasta or rice.

Turkey Escalopes

turkey escalopes

It’s official, I’ve become a Nigella Lawson clone. I was looking in my freezer the other day and I came across some frozen breadcrumbs and thought I would use them. When I started this blog I said that I hated the way TV cooks always had stuff just laying around in there freezers or cupboards and now it’s happening to me….bugger…..there goes that argument…..But it’s better to freeze what you have left over than throwing it in the bin or as I do by leaving it out for your resident fox, as we do frequently.

This is a another very simple dish and doesn’t take long to prepare and about 20 minutes to cook. I cooked them in the oven as it’s healthier than frying in a pan with lots of butter, but either way is okay, depending on how you prefer to cook it.


100g breadcrumbs
2tbsp sage, finely chopped
salt and pepper to season
1 large egg, whisked with a fork
4 turkey steaks
vegetable oil


If you are cooking in the over pre-heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4. Place the breadcrumbs on a plate and mix in the sage and season to taste.

Take one steak and dunk it in the egg, so the turkey is completely covered.

Place each turkey steak into the breadcrumb mixture turning it over a few times until covered.

If you are doing in the oven, place each escalope on a lightly oil baking tray and cook for 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown

If you are frying add 25g of butter and a splash of oil into a frying pan. Once the butter has melted add the escalopes and cook until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Apple Pie

Keifer Derrin of food blog delves into the world of baking and tries out a recipe for the classic apple pie.

I haven’t done any baking for a while, apart from bread, so I decided to make an apple pie, as I’d never made one before. Yes I know I’ve lead a shallow life. Using the Great British Bake Off How to Bake book, I picked the easiest recipe called Simple Apple Pie. With the ingredients list in my hand I went along to my local Tesco and bought all the ingredients required, which was a surprised because they are normally missing at least one item.  When I got home I read the recipe and when I realised how difficult making all butter puff pastry was I thought it wasn’t worth the effort so legged it back to Tesco and bought their Finest All Butter Puff Pastry! Yes I know it’s lazy but I wasn’t in the mood to spend so much time on making my own. I know I’m going to have to attempt to make puff pastry one day, if I’m going to apply for the next Great British Bake Off, or maybe the one after.


4 large bramley apples (about 900g)
100g caster sugar
1 unwaxed lemon (you’ll need the juice and rind)
375g all butter puff pastry
2tbsp milk to glaze


Peel and quarter the apples. Thinly slice them into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, lemon zest and juice. Toss all the ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Roll out two-thirds of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface until a circle is large enough to line a pie dish. Roll the pastry around the rolling pin and lift it over the dish, then unroll the pastry so it drapes over the dish. With a small ball of pastry, gently press the pastry onto the base and the sides. Leaving any excess pastry hanging over the rim – it will be cut off later.

Pile the apple mixture into the pastry case, packing it firmly – the mixture will cook down. Roll out the remaining pastry to a thin circle that is big enough to cover the top of the pie. Dampen the pastry on the rim of the dish with a little water.

Roll the pastry top around the rolling pin, lift it and unroll over the dish to cover the apples. Press the pastry edges firmly together to seal, but don’t trim yet.  Chill for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 200C/400F/gas 6. Put a baking tray into the oven to heat up.

Using a sharp knife trim off the excess pastry, then knock up the edges with the back of the knife: hold it horizontally and make tiny cuts in the pastry edge. Pinch the pastry edge between your fingers to flute. Brush the top with milk and sprinkle with sugar, then make a couple of small slits in the centre to the let out the steam.

Set the pie dish on the heated baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven  temperature to 180C/250/gas 4 and bake for a further 25 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: The Great British Bake Off book is becoming a bit of a bible for me. It’s a great book if you want to learn how to bake and it also has some great recipes.

Almond and Orange Torte

almond torte

The last time I attempted to bake anything it was a complete disaster. One thing it taught me though, I won’t be entering The Great British Bake Off any time soon, maybe in about 10 years time. This also wasn’t perfect because I forgot to dust the torte with the icing sugar, but at least it didn’t collapse

This time I decided to make something a lot easier so that I can prove to myself I can bake. Also a confidence boost to try and attempt something a bit harder next time. If you are new to baking then you can’t get a recipe much easier than this and apart from the boiling the orange it’s very quick to put together.


1 medium orange
3 medium eggs, room temperature
225g/8oz golden caster sugar
250/9oz ground almonds
7.5g/½tsp baking powder
icing sugar to dust


Place the orange in a pan and fill with water until covered. Bring the water to a rolling boil and leave the orange to boil for about an hour.

Take a 21cm/8” cake tin and put in some screwed up grease proof paper. Screwing up the paper makes it easier to place into e cake tin

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4

Remove from the orange from the pan and allow to cool. Once cooled down cut the orange in half and and remove any pips. Put the whole orange into a blender and whiz until you have a purée and put to once side

Take a bowl and put in the eggs and caster sugar and with a whisk together until thick and pale. Fold in the ground almonds, baking powder and the orange purée.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place in the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes. To ensure it is cooked place a skewer into the torte and if it’s clean when removed then it is cooked.

Take it out of the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Take out of the cake tin and place on a wire rack and allow to completely cool down and then dust with icing sugar.

You can serve it with cream, cr̬me fraiche or Рmy favourite Рvanilla ice cream.

Sausages with Green Lentils and Thyme

Keifer Derrin of food blog shares his recipe for a tasty treat of sausages and lentils. It has become a regular dish at Keifer’s and serves 4 people.

I was never a fan of lentils when growing up, but as my taste buds have changed, lentils now play a larger part in my diet and this dish has become one of our standard dishes.


250g green (Puy) lentils (washed)
125-150g of smoked bacon lardons (or 4-6 slices of streaky bacon cut up)
3 large shallots (or medium onion) finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
1 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1tbs fresh thyme (or use dried)
1ltr of chicken stock
2tbs olive oil
8 sausages (whichever you prefer)


1. Put the bacon lardons in the pan and cook until lightly browned.

2. Add the olive oil and add the chopped onion and garlic with the bacon and cook until the onion is soft.

3. Then add the carrots and lentils in the pan and stir well to combine then add the thyme.

4. Add enough of the stock, until it just covers the lentils.

5. Cook them for 45 – 60 minutes topping up the stock level as it reduces. The cooking time varies as it depends on how you like your lentils. I like them with a bit of a bite, whereas my partner prefers them to be softer.

6. Refer to the cooking instructions on your sausages and cook them whilst finishing off the lentils. I have used many different vareties over the years and all go very well with the lentils. Last time I used venison sausages (and they took 10-12 minutes to cook so started cooking them 40 minutes after starting to cooking the lentils).

7. Once all completed put in a bowl and place 2 sausages on top.

Note: I’m a bit of a chilli nut, so I normally add some chilli sauce to my lentils once served up. My favourites are Habanero Tabasco or Encona Hot Pepper Sauce.

For more delicious recipes, visit

Chocolate and Orange Cupcakes

Keifer Derrin of food blog has a go at making cupcakes without the helpful aid of a food processor.

Out of all the baking I’ve done so far this has been the hardest. I thought cupcakes were meant to be easy. The one thing you definitely need when using this recipe is to own a food processor. If you use a hand blender it gets very messy, in fact when I finished I looked more like a child who had just finished a flour fight. Just a shame I don’t have enough room in my kitchen to have one! Also I’d never made a cupcake, had never made butter cream or knew how to do piping. So I knew it would be a challenge. Can you tell I’ve never had children?


  • 50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) broken up into pieces
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter, softened and diced
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 120ml full fat milk (at room temperature)
  • 1 unwaxed orange (although I used waxed and it seemed ok)
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • orange chocolate for decoration

For the butter cream

  • 4 tbsp full fat milk
  • 50g white chocolate broken up into pieces
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened and diced
  • 500g icing sugar, sieved

1×12 hole muffin tray lined with paper muffin or cupcake cases and a piping bag fitted with star tube.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl  set over a pan of steaming hot but not boiling water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water). Once melted remove the bowl from the pan, stir the chocolate until smooth and leave to cool (it’s very important not to have boiling water when melting the chocolate as it will ruin it – trust me I learnt the hard way).

Put the flour, baking powder and caster sugar in a food-processor (you can use a hand blender but be prepared for things to get messy!) and pulse to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture has a ‘sandy’ texture. Mix the egg into the milk and then slowly add to the processor through the feed tube, while the machine is running. Scrape down the sides, add the melted chocolate to the bowl and run the machine until thoroughly combined. Divide the mixture among the cup-cake cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until just firm to the touch.

Meanwhile pare a long strip of the peel from the orange and reserve for the butter cream. Cut the orange in half and squeeze out the juice. Mix the granulated sugar into the juice.

Take the cakes out of the oven and pierce the hot cakes in several places, with a skewer or cocktail stick. Spoon over the orange syrup. Leave to soak in for 5 minutes, then lift  the cup cakes from the tray and cool on a wire rack.

For the butter cream, heat the milk (in a microwave or in a small pan, but do not boil) Add the strip of orange peel to the hot milk and leave to infuse until the milk is cold, discard the peel. Melt the white chocolate as you did with the dark chocolate (again ensure the water is not boiling or touching the bowl).

Using  an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy and gradually beat in the icing sugar and the cooled milk using a low speed (if you using a hand blender do not have it on high setting as again it gets very messy – again trust me on this). Finally, beat in the cooled melted chocolate.

Finally put the butter cream into the piping bag and pipe onto the cakes. Do not worry if you have gaps, as you can go over them with some more cream, as you can tell by the picture.

Chicken Saag

Keifer Derrin of food blog shares his recipe for a surprisingly healthy curry of chicken and spinach.

I really wanted to eat a healthy meal so I decided on a curry. I can almost hear you shouting curry isn’t healthy with all that ghee, but this curry only has a little oil, and has fresh tomatoes, spinach, yoghurt, and chillies. All wonderfully healthy ingredients.

This is a tasty curry, thanks to the earthy taste of the spinach. The ginger and garlic help give it a great background flavour and the chilli gives it a little kick, which is mellowed by the yoghurt. Be careful not to cook the curry on too high a heat, otherwise the yoghurt will split.

I have said use skinned and boned chicken thighs, but you can leave the bone in if you prefer however you should cook for the curry for longer- about 25-30 minutes. Do check to ensure they are completely cooked. You can also cut the thigh into smaller pieces and so you can reduce the cooking time to about 15 minutes. Again check the chicken to ensure it’s completely cooked through.

If you don’t want the curry to be too spicy, scrape out the seeds from the green chilli.


  • 225g fresh spinach leaves, washed (remove any very large stems)
  • 2.5cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 fresh green chilli, roughly chopped
  • 200ml water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 45ml plain natural yoghurt
  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned and boned


Cook the spinach, without water, for 5 minutes in a pan, or if it’s in a bag microwave it following the instructions. Put the spinach, ginger, garlic and chilli with 50ml of the water into a food processor and blend into a purée. Put to one side.

Heat the oil in a clean pan then add the bay leaves and peppercorns and fry for 2 minutes. Then add the onions and cook for 6-8 minutes, ensuring they don’t brown or burn.

Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, salt and chilli powder. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the spinach purée and the remaining water and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Turn down the heat and stir in the yoghurt a little at a time, stirring continuously until the yoghurt has completely mixed in.

Add the chicken, cover the pan and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and tender. Serve with rice, adding some yoghurt on top.

Vietnamese Chicken Hotpot

After reviewing the recipes from Skinny Meals in Heels, I decided to try a simple recipe of chicken, ginger and green bean hotpot, served with rice. This is a classic Vietnamese braised dish that is low in fat but full in flavour.

vietnamese hotpot

The recipe in the book required 500g of chicken but I only had about 250g, after looking in the fridge I saw that I had a courgette and a corn cob. So I removed the kernels from the cob, sliced the courgette and used them instead of going out to get some more chicken. The extra vegetables made the dish lighter and healthier as all the veggies are only added for the last 2-5 minutes in the cooking process, so they do not lose all of there nutrients and are still firm and crunchy. The recipe below is the complete version from the book, but like me you can reduce the amount of chicken and add more vegetables if you prefer. You could also remove the chicken completely that’s how how easy and versatile this recipe is.


1tbsp vegetable oil
5cm/2” piece of ginger, cut into julienne
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 onion or 3 shallots finely sliced
2tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
1tbsp soft brown sugar
500g/1lb 2oz chicken thigh, skin removed, boned and fat removed then diced
250ml/9fl oz chicken stock
100g/3½oz green beans cut into 2.5cm/1” in length
2tbsp fresh coriander, chopped


Place the oil into a pan and gently heat, add the ginger, garlic and onion/shallots and cook for 5 minutes

Add the fish sauce, brown sugar, chicken thighs and chicken stock. Stir altogether and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the green beans (if using other vegetables to replace the chicken also add now) and cook for two more minutes. This will only heat the vegetables and not over cook them so they will still be firm. If you prefer you can cook the vegetables for longer, but I think 2 minutes is better.

Just as you are about to serve, place in half of the coriander and stir it through the sauce.

Serve with steamed or boiled rice and top with the other half of the fresh coriander.

Chicken and Mushroom in White Wine


When I first came out to Dubai and saw what little equipment I had to use in the kitchen I was annoyed as I was used to a well stocked kitchen with everything at my finger tips. At first I was I had my usual defeatist attitude and thought how the hell am I going to do some great food with such litttle equipment. Now that I am getting use to it I am really starting to enjoy the challenge.

In fact it’s my work colleagues that have spurned me on. At work we have a vast array of nationalities and am always talking about what they were eating for lunch and they are always eager and keen to let me try there food. One of our admin workers, Jasmine, brought me in a traditional and popular Filipino recipe called Adobo Chicken which is a simple recipe but with a unique flavour because of the soy and vinedgar that is used in it. I am going to attempt to make this very soon and will write it up, but if you can’t wait there are lots of version on the internet.. We also have a large group of Indian and Pakistani people who bring in there tiffin boxes and once they start warming them up you get the wonderful smell of spices and rice, much better than nasty office smells.

Most of the recipes I’ve been making are basically based around one pot, as I have no oven and only two electric rings. I have been trying to make a variety of pot meals and this one just came to me the other day. I’m using the herb tarragon as it’s goes so well with chicken, mushroom and wine, so it would seem stupid not to use it. The only downside to this recipe is it’s bland to look at and when served it with rice it looked even more colourless, so next time I will serve it with a colourful side dish to give it a bit of a lift. As they say you do also eat with your eye

Normally with a recipe like this I would use some stock mixed with water, but I wanted the wine to be the main liquid. So I just added some chicken stock powder and stirred into the wine. For some unknown reason meat stocks are not as extensive as the UK and I am shopping in Carrefour which is a massive supermarket in the Mall of the Emirates and it has large stock section but it is very limited. I’ve also checked other supermarkets and they are the same.

  • 2 tbsp oil – I used extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 chicken thighs, skinned, boned and diced
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried chopped tarragon
  • 500ml white wine
  • 150g mushroom, quartered or halved
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • salt and pepper to season

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5-10 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Add the diced chicken thighs and stir into the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes, then add the tarragon, stir together and cook for a minute or two.

Add the wine and bring to a rapid boil then turn down the heat and add the mushrooms.

Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper to season and cook until the chicken is cooked. Although I cooked this for over an hour to ensure full infused flavour.

Serve with rice, pasta, couscous or potatoes and vegetables.

Pannacotta with Almond Crumble and Clementine

Keifer Derrin of food blog creates a favourite dessert of pannacotta with the delicious addition of almond crumble and clementines.

I took a cookery course to make three different desserts and this is the recipe for pannacotta with almond crumble and Clementine. I am not a big fan of desserts and so haven’t made many and in fact over the years I have become nervous making them due to the lack of practice. But, if I do have dessert in a restaurant one of my favourites is a plain pannacotta; the tasty vanilla flavour in that soft white cream is delicious.

This recipe is for 6 people. I don’t mind making too many as I’ll have four and my partner can have two, if he so wishes. If not it’s more for me so no complaints!

This recipe leaves the pannacotta in the ramekins, but if you wish to place the pannacotta onto a plate a little tip is to put some cling film in the bottom of each ramekin and then pour in the liquid and then place in the fridge. When it’s firm it’s easier to take out of the ramekin as all you do is gently pull on the film.

Unfortunately there is no healthy version for this dish, so it needs to be full fat cream. This is because half fat doesn’t have the flavour and also doesn’t set as well. Also if you’re using vanilla seeds then they will sink to the bottom. So next time you have pannacotta in a restaurant and you can’t see any seeds they have skimped on the ingredients and used vanilla essence. Whatever you do, do not use synthetic vanilla flavour, it’s cheap for a reason and doesn’t taste as nice. Always use vanilla extract.


For the pannacotta

  • 2g gelatine leaves (3 whole)
  • 600ml double cream (must be full fat)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 8 Clementines (or just use any citrus orange)

For the crumble

  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g unsalted butter


Place the gelatine into a bowl of cold water.

Put 200ml of the double cream into a pan. Using the back of the knife drag it down the vanilla pod to squash it. Run the knife down the pod to cut, trying not to cut fully through to the other side, then drag the back of the knife down the cut pod to drag out the seeds. Add to the pan.

Bring the cream to the boil, ensuring you stir constantly and keeping a eye on it so it doesn’t boil over. Once the cream starts to boil and rise in the pan, turn off the cooker and remove from the heat.

Take the gelatine from the water and squeeze out when excess. Once squeezed add it to the cream and then add the other 400ml of cream and stir for a few minutes.

Pour the mixture into six ramekins and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

Whilst the liquid is in the fridge preheat the oven to 200c. Place the unsalted butter, ground almonds, plain flour and caster sugar into a bowl. Gently rub the mixture bewteen your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

When you’re ready to put everything together, remove the skin off the Clementine and divide into segments. Take the panna cotta out of the fridge and place the Clementine segments into the ramekin, then place some of the almond crumble on the top. Then serve and enjoy!

Moroccan Lamb with Chickpeas

Keifer Derrin of food blog comes up with an easy slow cooker recipe for a fussy fireman friend.

I have a friend, let’s call him Fireman Sam, so guess what he does for a living, yep he’s a doctor….oops, no he’s not, he’s a fireman! A fireman who doesn’t like too many foods, is a fussy eater and whose mum has just bought him a slow cooker. Of course he doesn’t know how to use it or know what he can cook in it! Now Fireman Sam doesn’t like vegetables and he doesn’t like spices so I just hope he likes this recipe, because it’s just it’s basically meat and beans with a few spices.

Although the instructions are for all models of slow cookers, you should check the manufacturers instructions of your slow cooker.  As if to highlight this, the instructions for this recipe says cook for 7 hours on medium heat. But after 3 hours, I stirred the lamb mixture and noticed that the food was sticking to the base, so I turned it down to low for the next four hours, keeping an eye on it from time to time.

As this is a recipe that takes hours to cook you can use the cheapest cuts of meat, but you should remove all excess fat as the low temperature of the slow cooker won’t melt it.


  • 1.2kg lamb, roughly chopped
  • 15g plain flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2tbps vegetable oil
  • 1tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2cm fresh ginger, grated
  • 1tsp of ground allspice
  • 375ml beef stock (I use Knorr’s liquid stock)
  • 2x5cm piece of orange rind
  • 800g tinned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2tbsp mint, coarsley chopped


Put the flour in a bowl and season with some salt and pepper, then add the lamb and toss together.

Place the oil in a frying pan and heat up. Add the lamb in batches, and cook until brown, then place it into a 4.5 litre slow cooker. Repeat until all lamb is browned.

Turn down the heat and add the garlic, onion and ginger, cook for a few minutes then add the beef stock. Stir together, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any meat residue.

Stir the onion mixture into the slow cooker and add the harissa, orange rind, allspice and chickpeas, season and cook for 7 hours.

Keep an eye on the cooking and stir occasionally.  Serve with cous cous and the mint.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

wild mushroom risotto

I always think of risottos as largely unhealthy and something to eat now and again, as I always thought they had a lot of parmesan in them. Recently I’ve been told otherwise and that cheese is not used that often and so when searching through my food bible “Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, published by Good Housekeeping Institute, I came across a great one called Wild Mushroom Risotto.

This is a simple vegetarian dish that would keep meat eaters happy because of the fleshy mushrooms. It’s also very simple to make, although tiring on the arms, unless your ambidextrous and can stir with both arms.

I have slightly modified the recipe from the book by using some dried mushrooms and using the excess mushroom liquid as part of the vegetable stock. Be careful when pouring the mushroom liquid as there is always dirt and grit at the bottom of the bowl.

Ingredients (serve 4 as starter or 2 as main)

5g/¼oz dried mushrooms
6tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2tsp chopped thyme, plus sprigs to garnish
1tsp lemon zest
350g/12oz arborio rice
150ml/¼ pint dry white wine
900ml/1½ pints vegetable stock
450g/1lb mixed fresh mushrooms, such portabello, oyster shitake slice if large
1tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to season


Place the dried mushrooms into a small bowl and pour over some boiling water to cover all the mushrooms and allow to soak for 10-15 minutes.

Place half the olive oil into a frying pan and gently heat adding the shallots, garlic, thyme and lemon zest and fry for about 5 minutes or until they are softened

Add the rice and stir for 1 minute, add the wine and bring to the boil and reduce until the wine has almost evaporated. Ensure the vegetable stock, with the mushroom liquid, is in a separate pan and on a gentle heat.

Take a ladle of stock and add it to the rice stirring continuously until the stock has almost been absorbed. Then add another ladleful, continue you this until all the liquid has been used up and the rice is tender but with a little bite, Test the rice after 15 minutes, but it will take about 20 minutes and one aching arm. The rice should be soft with a little bite.

5 minutes before the rice is ready, heat the remaining oil into a large pan and stir fry the mushrooms, on a high heat, for about 4-5 minutes.

When the rice is ready add the mushrooms to the rice and stir together. Throw in the parsley and add any seasoning as required and serve. Be careful with the salt as most vegetable stock have a lot of salt already in them and serve.

Meatballs in a Garlic Broth


If you love garlic, you will love this dish. If you don’t like garlic give it a go, because there are other strong flavours in the dish to help keep the garlic under control, like cinnamon and coriander to list a few. Also the garlic flavour is reduced by the boiling of the broth and if you believe the experts it’s also very good for you.

This meatball dish is very versatile as you can use any minced meat. This time I am using pork, but I’ve also done this dish, with chicken and turkey meat and see no reason why it won’t work with beef or lamb.

The worst part to this recipe is to remove the juices from the onion, be prepared for a sore and runny eyes. You need to grate the onion on a chopping board. Then squeeze the grated onion to remove the onion liquid. You need to squeeze it several times until the liquid is almost gone. If you don’t do this, the meatballs will not stick together and will fall apart in the broth.


For the Meatballs
500g/1.3lb mince meat (pork)
1 onion, grated and squeezed.
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder or cayenne pepper
large handful of fresh coriander finely chopped
salt and pepper to season

For the Broth
1 litre/1.5 pints chicken stock
500ml.0.9 pint water
6-8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
5 tbsp of tomato purée
1 cinnamon stick
2 chopped tomatoes
50g/2oz rice


Put the meatball ingredients into a bowl and mix together, best to use your hands. Then make up 12 meatballs and put to one side.

In a large pan, add the chicken stock, water and bring to the boil. Then add all the other ingredients and cook for about 15 minutes.

Then add the meatballs and cook for another 15 minutes. Serve in bowls with either cous cous, bulgar wheat or rice.

Stuffed Red Peppers with Vegetarian Chilli and Refried Beans

Keifer Derrin of food blog shares his recipe for a delicious Mexican inspired vegetarian dish.

This is an extensive recipe that has four parts to it. First you need to create the vegetarian chilli, before you can stuff and cook the peppers and you need to have the beans cooked before you can refry them. Then whilst the peppers are in the fridge you need to refry the beans.  I have actually never done any of this before and it was another dish that came to me whilst I was out running this morning. As there are so many parts I have spilt the recipe up. This dish serves 4 people.

Preparing the Beans

300g dried pinto beans (WARNING Beans must be soaked for a minimum of 12 hours before you can use)
1 large onion, peeled but left whole
4 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1.5ltr of cold water

Place all the ingredients into a large pan, bring to a firece boil for 10 minutes and then turn the heat down to bring it to a boil and cook for a minimum of 90 minutes (you may need to add more water, so keep an eye). Once cooked drain and discard the cloves of garlic and onion. Mash the beans into a thick paste and place to one side.

Making the Chilli

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion peeled and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 chilli with seeds, sliced (remove seeds if you don’t want it to hot)
1tbsp cumin powder
1tsp corrinder powder
75g soya mince
2tbsp tomato puree
400g tin of tomatoes
400g kidney beans in water
salt and pepper to season
500ml water (maybe needed)

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and chillli and cook until the onions are soft. Stir in the cumin and coriander powder and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the soya mince and heat stirring for about 5 minutes. Then add the tomato puree and cook until the puree is almost burnt (about 5 minutes).

Add the tomatoes and the kidney beans, the water from the beans and mix together. You may have to add some tap water as the soya may soak up all the liquid. Add salt and pepper for seasoning (you may not need salt because the kidney bean water may have enough salt already).

Simmer for about 40 minutes, keeping an eye that it doesn’t dry out. You may have to add more water as you go along- I did quite often.

For Stuffed Peppers

4 Red Peppers sliced length ways, stalked attached
pre-made vegetarian chilli
30g vegetarian cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C. Clean out the peppers and fill them with the vegetarian chilli. Place them on a baking tray and add some of the grated cheese on top. Place in the oven for 30 minutes.

For the Refried Beans

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic crushed
2tsp cumin powder
2tsp corrinader powder
2tsp smoked paprika
pre-made mashed pinto beans
salt and pepper to season

Put the olive oil in a pan and heat, add the garlic, cumin, corriander and paprika, and stir until the garlic is almost brown. Add the refried beans and cook, stirring occasionaly for about 10 minutes. Place the refried beans on a plate and put the stuffed peppers on top.

For more delicious recipes, visit

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

My other half had a text last week day from our friend Fireman Sam, saying he wanted to see more desserts and cakes recipes. He struggles to cook more than baked beans without burning the toast, so goodness knows how he is going to bake cakes and desserts but miracles never cease to amaze me. The text has given my partner an excuse to nag me to make carrot cake, which he has asked for a fair few times. I am not a fan of carrot cake, but after much cake recipe searching I thought -why not? Also it would get my “better half” off my back and stop the nagging….I’m in trouble now….

After some research I found a lot of different versions of this cake and so based mine on the version in the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book. This is a bit of a bible cook book in our house and many recipes have been used from it. It is a book I highly recommend and can be purchased from my shop or the link at the bottom of this post.

As you will see from my picture the outcome was that my cake was a little “flat”. The reason for this was I only have 9” cake tins and not 7” and I was too tight to go out and buy some!


Carrot Cake Mix
250ml sunflower oil, plus a little extra
225g light muscavado sugar
3 large eggs (room temperature)
large pinch of salt
½tsp ground mixed spice
½tsp ground nutmeg
1tsp ground cinnamon
250g carrots, washed and coarsely grated

50g unsalted butter at room temperature
225g soft cream cheese
25 golden icing sugar
½tsp vanilla extract
8 Pecan or Walnut halves roughly chopped


Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease two 7” sandwich tins, also base line the tins using oiled grease proof paper or non-stick paper – if you are not sure how to do this see the video at the bottom of this post. (You can use 9” tins, but cake won’t be as thick).

Using a hand-held electric whisk and whisk the oil and muscavado sugar to combine together, then add one egg at a time until everything is combined together.

Sift the flour into the mixture and add the salt and spices and then gently fold in using a large metal spoon. Then add the grated carrots and mix together.

Divide the mixture between the two sandwich tins and cook for about 30-40 minutes or until golden and you can enter a skewer into the centre of the cake and pull it out clean. Leave in the tins for 10 minutes and then take out of the tins and place on wire racks to cool.

Whilst cooling make the frosting by beating the butter and cream cheese together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and add the vanilla extract and beat well until smooth (unlike mine as the butter was not warm enough and so I had so lumps in it -see picture of finished item).

Spread one third of the frosting mixture over one half of the cake and then sandwich both halves together. On the top of the cake spread the rest of the frosting and then add the chopped nuts.

This cake will last two days if kept in an airtight container.

Pasta Puttanesca


I spent a superb weekend in my favourite city of Amsterdam, but I must remember that I am not as young as I use to be and that I can no longer party for three days in a row with out paying the price. That price was me being very rough and tired on the journey home. So when I got home I wanted something that was very quick, easy and healthy to eat and this recipe ticks all the right boxes. It’s very low in fat, it contains oily fish and is so quick to make that it only take as long as it does your brand of dry pasta to cook. Not everybody like anchovies, but they break down in the sauce and the strong flavour is reduced by the other ingredients.

Ingredients (serves 4)

300g spaghetti
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 red chilli
1 tin anchovies – save the oil
400g tinned tomatoes
2tbsp capers
2tbsp sliced black olives
grated parmesan (optional)


Put the spaghetti into a pan of boiling water and cook for the time on the packet (normally about 12 minutes)

Add the oil from the tinned anchovies to another pan, add the garlic and chilli and gently fry for about 1 minutes, ensuring you don’t burn the garlic

Add the anchovies and stir into chilli and garlic and fry for another minute.

Add the tinned tomatoes, capers and black olives and bring to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is finished, stirring occasionally.

Drain the pasta and place it back into the pan. Pour in the puttanesca sauce and stir and serve in bowls and sprinkle on the parmesan cheese.

Zesty Chicken and Root Stew

Just because I’m in Dubai where it’s hot and warm, doesn’t mean I still can’t eat those cold weather comfort foods. Recipes, like beef and rosemary casserole, beef and ale stew, Spanish chicken and chorizo are all perfect comfort foods for cold climates. But to be honest I don’t care what the temperature, you can’t beat stews or casseroles and this one is going to be added to my favourite list. This recipe is also perfect if you are run down, got a cold, or in my case, a hangover. As it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals, its low in fat with the cleansing effects due to the lemon juice.


I wanted a big stew and so cut the vegetables as big as I can. I also want big pieces of onion so cut them Asian style, cutting against the grain. I actually only added the lemon juice at the last moment and it made a great recipe just a little different and much for the better in my opinion. My friend said that adding lemons to recipes is a very Greek thing, which is not something I was aware of. Apart from the turnip and sweet potato I didn’t peel them, I just scrubbed the skin clean.

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut Asian style
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, diced into large chunks
  • 1 large parsnip, diced
  • 1 large turnip, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 potato, clean and diced
  • 1 leek, clean and diced
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin removed and de-boned, cut into large pieces
  • 700ml of chicken stock
  • 2 tsp fresh or dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper to season
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • (serves 4)

Place the oil into a large pan and heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic again stirring occasionally to stop it burning.

Add each vegetable to the pan, stirring into the mixture. Once all added cook for about 4-5 minutes again stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken and mix into the vegetables. Add the chicken stock, tarragon and season to taste.

Cook for a minimum of 20 minutes and just before you serve add the lemon juice.

Serve with fresh crusty bread or rice.

Three Versions of Spaghetti Bolognese

Keifer Derrin of food blog shares a collection of three delicious but different recipes for bolognese sauce.

I was visiting some friends  a while back and when I woke up, there was a wonderful aroma permeating around the house. I dragged my tired carcass into the kitchen where my friend, Lyd, was stirring a bowl of beef mince and so stuck my nose in to smell and asked what it was.  She was cooking a spag bol (spaghetti bolognese), but it didn’t smell or look like any spag bol I had seen before. Which got us talking about how spag bol has many different variations and everybody appears to have their own make on this dish. Although we had different recipes we both agreed the longer it cooks the better the flavour.  In fact, Lyd cooked her dish for almost 5 hours and it was delicious.

At the beginning of the year  I was talking to another friend about how I made a spag bol which I cooked for 3 hours and he wanted my recipe to put on his blog. He also heard that there was an original version of this from Bologna and so did a search for it’s history and found it on Wikipedia. It used milk and white wine and no tomatoes as oppose to red wine and tomatoes I use. I tried it out and it was great, the milk gave the meat a wonderful silky texture. I checked out the Wikipedia entry and was surprised to find that the dish was only registered in 1982 by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina.

All three version are so different, I decided to list them here.  I have tried all three and they are all very tasty, with different flavours and textures and hope you try each one as well.

Original version

300g beef skirt (I cheated and used beef mince)
150g pancetta (I used cut up streaky bacon)
50g carrots chopped
50g celery chopped
50g onion chopped
20g tomato purée
250ml milk
125-200ml white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Add the pancetta in the pan and cook until browned, add the chopped carrots, celery and onion and leave to cook until soft. Next add the mince and leave to gently simmer for about 5-10 mins stirring constantly to stop it from burning. Add the wine and tomato purée and leave to simmer very slowly for 2 hours. During the cooking time add a bit of the milk a little a little at a time to ensure you’ve used it all up over the 2 hours. They recommend you use tagliatelle, as there is more surface area for the sauce to stick to, but any pasta will do.

Lyd’s version

300g mince beef
1 large onion
½ tube of tomato purée
1 beef stock cube (made up to 500ml)
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 bay leaves
½ bottle of red wine
salt and pepper
Dried mint leaves

Fry the onions until soft add the mince and brown. Add salt, pepper and the tomato purée, fry until the purée is almost burning, as this intensifies the flavour. Add the stock, wine, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and stir in and cook for as long as you like.

As I said, Lyd cooked her version for 5 hours and it was incredibly tasty. Serve with any pasta and serve with dried mint leaves on top. I have omitted an ingredient from the version she cooked which was butter. When I cooked her version I was trying to be healthy. She added 75g of it in the sauce and added 75g to the pasta, once cooked, and stirred until it was melted and covered the pasta. So if you are not worried about the health aspect of all that butter then add it, because it does add to the taste and texture.

Keifer’s version

300g of mince beef
1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
2 celery stalks finely chopped
6 mushrooms finely chopped
250ml red wine
400g tin tomatoes
1 tbs tomato purée
1 tsp Worcester sauce
salt and pepper to season
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and cook for a few minutes and then add the garlic and cook until the onion is soft.  Then add the mince and brown (drain off any excess fat). Once browned add the carrots, celery and mushrooms and stir well. Add the wine stirring constantly for about 5-10minutes, so that the wine has almost evaporated. Then add the tin of tomatoes, tomato purée, Worcester sauce, salt and pepper.  Turn down the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 2 hours (or as long as you like) stirring from time to time to ensure it doesn’t dry out and stick or burn. You may need to add a little water if appears to be getting a bit dry.

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Salt Cod with Chorizo and Chickpeas

The only time I eat dried food is normally when I’m having a “filthy” pot noodle or when I remember to soak some pulses, like black beans, chickpeas etc. But occasionally I use salt fish, which is also dried and something that is not very common in the UK, which is a shame as salt fish can add a lovely texture and flavour to a dish. In Spain they have salt cod, but although this recipe is mostly a Spanish recipe I am using Jamaican Salt Fish, which is actually salted Atlantic Pollack, which tends to be cheaper than the Spanish version and it’s all I can get in my local supermarket.

salt cod

When using salt fish, you must ensure that you soak the fish and drain a few times, otherwise the fish will be far to salty – hence the name salt fish. I do know an acquaintance who didn’t realise that you needed to soak the fish. She placed it in a frying pan, added milk and season with more salt. So be careful to ensure you soak the fish before hand. I actually soaked the fish over night and in the morning I rinsed it and soaked it again for whole day and drained and refilled the bowl about five times. It was perfect when it came to use it.

I am also using dried chickpeas and soaked them also over night and in the morning, drained them, placed them into a pan of cold water brought it to a rapid boil. Boiled them for 10 minutes then turned the heat down and simmered for 40 minutes, but if you can’t be bothered you can use tinned chickpeas. It’s just I’m a cheapskate and prefer to buy big bags of dried pulses

This recipe is for four people and I was the only one eating it, so I had enough for the next few days. To stop me getting bored of eating this over the next two days I added the bag of salad leaves which contain spinach, rocket and watercress which. I also served it with different sides dishes, cous cous, brown rice and then bulgar wheat with caramelised onions.

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 120g chorizo, skin removed and diced (picante if you can get it)
  • 200 dried chickpeas (soaked and boiled) or 400g tinned chickpeas
  • 1 carrot, washed and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 ltr chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 300g dried salt fish (rinse, see above)
  • pepper for seasoning

Put the oil into a heat resistant casserole dish and bring to a gentle heat and add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the chorizo and cook for about five minutes. You will see the paprika being released from the chorizo and bring a nice yellow colour to your onions and garlic.

Add the chickpeas, carrots and celery and cook for about 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken sock and bay leaves and then place the fish into the casserole dish and stir. Do not worry if the fish breaks up as you don’t want uniformed size pieces of fish.

Season with pepper and then place a lid on the casserole dish, once boiling, turn down the heat and cook for 20-30 minutes.

DO NOT add salt until ready to serve as you will probably find there is enough salt in the recipe because of the fish.

Serve with cous cous, rice or bulgar wheat or some crusty fresh bread.

Soda Bread or Donkey Bread

Keifer Derrin of food blog attempts to bake soda bread but instead invents a new kind of bread – Donkey Bread. All will be explained below…

I learnt something the other day, not only should I RTFM, see previous post HERE, I should also try and learn my ingredients. I had decided to make soda bread, as my other half is always saying how much they like it. So I looked at a couple of recipes and like most recipes there were different versions and decided to pick one and this is it.  Actually when I told a friend the recipe he said that what I cooked was not soda bread, because his Irish grand mother never used cream of tartar or caster sugar, which were required for this recipe (actually as you will see I didn’t because I didn’t know my ingredients).

I went to my local Tesco to get what was needed. In the mustard section I found tartar sauce and so bought it, thinking that was needed. After making the dough I baked it and placed it on the wire rack to cool, my partner came home and saw it and said it looks good, but then he noticed the tartar sauce and asked about it.  I explained the recipe and he started laughing because cream of tartar is completely different to tartar sauce – OOOPS. But actually the bread taste’s fine and my mistake didn’t ruin it. Oh, I also forgot to add the caster sugar, maybe I have invented my own kind of bread, so I am going to call donkey bread. I guess this goes to show that you can “modify” recipes and they still come out okay. I was actually lucky, so in future if I’m not sure of an ingredient I will check it out on the internet first.


225g wholemeal flour (plus extra for dusting)
225g plain white flour
1tsp of salt
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp cream of tartar
40g of butter
1tbsp caster sugar
350-375ml cups of buttermilk


Sieve the flours into a bowl (I found that the wholemeal grains didn’t sieve through) so I just threw them into the bowl and then added the salt and bicarbonate of soda.

Add the tartar and then the butter and rub it into the flour.  Pour in the buttermilk and mix together, ensuring that you have a moist dough, you may need to add more flour or buttermilk, you are the best judge.

Roll the dough into a round, using a knife cut a deep cross into the dough.  Place into a pre-heated oven (190C/375F/Gas 5) over 35-45 minutes. Turn the bread upside down and tap it, if it’s cooked it should sound hollow, then leave on a wire rack to cool.

Vegetable Crisps

Like a lot of people I am a massive fan crisps and could eat them almost daily. We are very fortunate (or not depending on your view point), because he have a vast array of different crisps in the UK and it’s sometimes difficult to choose, but normally it’s cheese and onion for me most times, although bacon flavour comes in a close second. In fact it’s not natural having a sandwich without having a packet of crisp. Would you roast beef without Yorkshire puds, or chips without ketchup, mayo or even gravy – no. So for me, it’s not a complete meal if I don’t have some crisps with my sandwich.

The big problem is they are not very healthy and really should be kept as a treat rather than everyday. Bummer isn’t it, why is it that most things we crave are bad for you, oh well, it teaches us restraint and we enjoy them more when we have them….sighhhhhhh…..

But now I have come across vegetable crisps which are not the same, but they come very close and are starting to been seen in our house more often. They are also a lot healthier for you as the are baked in the oven rather than deep fired, and you can keep the salt down to a minimum. Not only are they healthier they are also incredibly easy to make.



  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 beetroot
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season


Pre-heat the oven to 180c

Scrub the all the vegetables until they are clean, do not peel them, as they add texture and flavour.

Finely slice the vegetables with a mandolin, if you don’t have one use a sharp knife. You must try and get the same thickness as it’s makes baking more even.

Place the finely sliced vegetables onto a baking tray and rub the oil into the slices. Season with salt and pepper or any other seasoning you wish to add.

Place into the oven and cook until the slices are cooked, between 30-60 minutes.

Leave the slices on the side and they will crisp up. Place into an airtight container and eat within a few days.

Spicy Curried Parsnip Soup


My friend Lyd, was going to Moscow for a short break and gave me a load of vegetables that would have gone off, because her husband, Raj hates them. In fact we joke about his phobic tendencies to vegetables unless he has them curried. So, with his wife being away I have decided to make a soup for him and he can’t complain because I’m making spicy curried parsnip soup, he did say hi liked his veggies curried. I also put two green chillies to give it a kick. I might have been a bit stupid as it’s very spicy, even for me. It’s what I call a double burner, if you want to know what it means you’ll have to leave a comment asking because it’s not the nicest of descriptions – bet that’s got you thinking!

  • 25g butter
  • splash of oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 green chillies (if it’s too much 1 will do without the seeds)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 average size parsnips, diced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to season
  • between 250-500ml water (depending on how thick you like your soup)

Put the butter and oil into a pan, turn on the heat and let the butter melt.

Add the onion, chilli(es) and garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 5-10 minutes stirring to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn

Throw in the parsnips and mix into the onion mixture

Add the curry powder, again stir into the mixture and cook for about 4-5 minutes

Add the vegetable stock and cook for 10-15 minutes. Using a blender, blend until smooth.

Add more water if it’s too thick for you.

Serve with fresh warm crusty bread.

Moroccan Chicken

Hands up if you’ve ever heard of onions cut Asian style? It was a new one on me so went to the internet to see if I could find out what it meant and how the onions were cut. After a few seconds I found that It means that you make thick cuts with the grain, where I mainly slice them against the grain. I found it changes the dish significantly because instead of the onions being a small part of the recipe in the background it brings it to the forefront, because you have large pieces of onions with wonderful sweet bite. It does take longer to soften them, but well worth the wait. This is why I love cooking you are always learning something new.

I was using Asian cut onions because I am making a Moroccan dish sent to me by my gorgeous and wonderful friend Donna who lives in Sydney. How great is this world where in one sentence I cover three continents for one recipe. The one thing I love about globalisation is the changes in our eating habits because our want to try new things and the ease of getting a superb variety of foods. When I was a kid I’d never heard of yams, mangoes and cous cous, but am so pleased to be alive in these exciting food times and wonder what other great ingredients I have just to discover.

moroccan chicken

I have known Donna for many years and although we don’t contact each other like we use to, it’s always like it was yesterday when we do speak. She has always known my love of food and loves that I’m finally doing something I enjoy. So much so she emailed me asking if I would be interested in trying her aunty’s recipe and here it is.

After scanning the ingredients I had an initial worry because it has prunes in it and if you’ve read my blog you might know that I am not a fan of fruit in savoury dishes, but I am improving. In fact the prunes where wonderful the problem was I used ground almonds and it made the dish very thick. So I tried the recipe again using finely chopped almonds and I preferred this as the almonds didn’t soak up all the stock. I’ve left both version of almonds (this does not include the whole blanched toasted almonds), so that you can try either version.


4-6 chicken thighs, skinned and boned
1 lemon, juiced and grated rind
1tsp salt
pinch of saffron
1tsp fresh ginger, grated
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground chilli
black pepper
30g butter
2tbsp olive oil
2 onions, cut Asian style
2 garlic cloves crushed
500ml/1pint/1-2cup chicken stock
150g/1 cup pitted prunes
150g almonds, finely chopped or ground
150g whole blanched almonds toasted
salt and pepper for seasoning if required


Place the chicken in a large bowl. Add the lemon rind, juice and salt and rub into the chicken.

Taking a small bowl, mix together the saffron, grated ginger, ground cinnamon, ground chilli and black pepper, then mix in with the chicken.

Place the butter in a flame-proof casserole and heat. Brown the chicken in batches in the butter and place to one side.

Reduce the heat and add the oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft.

Place the browned chicken into the casserole dish and add the stock.

Bring to the boil, cover the pan and boil gently until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes , adding the prunes after 10 minutes.

Stir in the chopped or ground almonds as well and the whole toasted almonds and add any seasoning if required.

Serve with cous cous with chopped coriander with salted or pickled limes in oil.

Halloumi Salad

I’m sure you’re like me that you come across certain aromas that bring some wonderful (and bad) memories flooding back. Some of smells that do this to me are fresh cut grass, baking bread, fresh coffee. One of my favourite cooking smells is bacon and it was one of the ingredients I really missed when I was a veggie. But a fellow veggie advise me to try a Cypriot cheese called halloumi.  This was a great veggie substitute and became a staple at the weekend when I still had a full English breakfast, but a veggie version as it replaced the bacon almost perfectly. I did go back eating meat, but still sometimes have halloumi sandwich instead of bacon, yeah I know that’s weird but tasty with lashing of butter on the bread. halloumi-salad

I am not a big fan of salad dressing because I like to taste the ingredients of the salad than drowning them in a dressing. I learnt fairly quickly to ask for dressing on the side when in a restaurant, because some dressing are so heavy and thick they spoil the salad and some restaurants do like to add a lot of dressing. I did make a lemon dressing, which is very simple but used sparingly as it’s fairly strong.

  • 1 block of Halloumi
  • Lettuce – I used a bag of mixed leaves
  • punnet of watercress
  • 12 black olives, crushed
  • quarter of cucumber, diced
  • avocado, stone removed and peeled then diced
  • 2tbps extra virgin olive oil
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to season

Cut the halloumi into 8 sticks and place under the grill. When one side is golden brown, turn over and brown again. Once browned on all side, take out of the grill and allow to cool.

Put the lettuce, water cress, crushed olives, cucumber, diced avocado into a bowl and mix.

Cut the halloumi into pieces and mix into the bowl of salad.

Put the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and peppers into cup and mix together and pour the amount you want into the salad and mix together. This dressing is very strong so use sparingly.

Salmon with Lime and Thyme

Keifer Derrin of food blog shares his recipe for a salmon dish where the fish is cooked medium rare. If you’ve not cooked salmon like this before, you should try it. After experiencing salmon lightly cooked in Sydney, Keifer now always eats his salmon medium or rare.

Whenever we go to restaurants and we order red meat such as steak, we are normally asked how we liked it cooked; blue, rare, medium, well done or burnt to a crisp (ha ha). Well I was very fortunate at being in a restaurant in Sydney, Australia and I ordered salmon. The waitress asked me how I liked it cooked and all I could say was ‘what,’ so she repeated her question. I was surprised because I’d never been asked how I would like to have my fish cooked before. After a few moments I said rare, as I wanted to know how it would look and taste. I was not squeamish about eating raw fish as I love sushi and especially sashimi. When the salmon was served I was surprised at how well it tasted, much better than if it was cooked fully. The salmon had a darker colour and the taste was a lot more intense. Since then I’ve always had my salmon cooked medium or rare. When I order it restaurants, in the UK I do tend to get odd looks, but I am the customer after all and I’ve been known to send it back if it’s not cooked how I want it. I serve this dish with a mixed pepper salad and vegetable cous cous.


2 salmon fillets
1 lime
10 sprigs of thyme
2 knobs of butter
salt and pepper to season


Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the salmon on two pieces of foil and squeeze half a lime over it each one.

Place a knob of butter and three sprigs of thyme on each fillet. With the other four sprigs pull the leafs off the stalks and place equaly amounts of leafs onto each fillet.

Fold the foil so it is sealed and place in the preheated oven. Depending on how you like it cooked will obviously depend on how long you cook it in the oven. For rare cook for 5-7 minutes, medium 7-10 minutes and for well done 15 minutes- again this will also depend on your oven.

Once cooked remove the sprigs off the fish and with a fish slice, place the fish on a plate and pour the juices in the tin foil over the  fish.

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