one pan chicken cous cous

so convenient

I love couscous and this is a really easy, quick and super healthy meal.

I think you can add as much chicken or extra veg as you like, just keep the ratio of stock to couscous more or less the same.

recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • aprox 200gm chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 2 medium courgettes cut into strips (other veg can be added)
  • a good chunk of ginger
  • 3 Tbsp harissa paste
  • 10 dried apricots (chopped up) – optional (I didnt include)
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 200gm cous cous (I used whole wheat ….was v nice)
  • 200ml hot chicken stock
  • handful chopped coriander chopped to serve

how to make:

  • heat oil and fry the onion for a few minutes until soft, add chicken and courgette cook till brown
  • grate over the ginger and stir through the harissa paste to coat and cook for about 1 minute more
  • add the chickpeas and couscous then pour over the stock and stir through
  • cover the pan with a lid tightly ad leave for 5 minutes (heat off) until the cous cous is soft
  • fluff up and scatter over the coriander

This was really nice and healthy and great to portion out and freeze for later quick supper meals.  I though it was a tiny bit dry and a nice yoghurt raita (with mint / herbs/ garlic) or tatsiki would add a dolop of value to this meal.  I will definitely make again, probably bulking up with a few more veggies and even a bit of chilli.

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watermelon and feta skewers with balsamic sauce drizzle

watermelon & feta skewers with balsamic drizzle

I love the sweetness of the watermelon with the saltiness of the feta, these make a great little starter nibble.

Drizzled with the very delicious and versatile crema di balsamico (balsamic vinegar sauce).

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saffron pavlova with passion fruit and raspberries

silky smooth fluffy and white

I am having my annual xmas dinner party under the frangipani tree… thought a nice Pavlova would work for dessert. 

Inspired by two of my favourite chefs and cook book writers; Nigella and Jamie.  I used Nigella’s recipe from TV (….yes I do jot down recipes I see on TV) as it is a big one, but followed Jamie’s method which involved a bit more mixing (from his book ‘Cook with Jamie’). I decided to add a twist with a good pinch of saffron at the end to see how this would taste.

recipe:

  • MERINGUE:
  • 8 egg whites (free range and fresh, separated very carefully)
  • 500gms caster sugar
  • 4 tsp corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • TOPPING:
  • 500 ml fresh cream – whipped
  • 1 Tbls icing sugar
  • 10 granadilla – pulp scooped out or 2 x small tins
  • 2 punnets of fresh raspberries (Nigella does a raspberry sauce using frozen raspberries blitzed with sugar and then drizzled over the pav, but this looked like the pavlova had been attacked by a wild animal and a bit messy — so I’m using whole fresh instead). Nigella’s recipe also included slices of lychee’s but I ran out of time before the dinner party to peel and slice up so left this off, but think it could be really nice next time.

I have attempted meringues in the past with some success but it’s definitely something I want to perfect and innovate with.  I know all the theory and its very important to follow this:  Clean bowl, fresh eggs (I ONLY ever use  free range/ organic  it makes all the difference), no egg-shell or yolk in the whites, add the sugar very slowly and steadily and basically beat the hell out if it.

how to make:

  • preheat oven to 150 degrees c (as per J.O. – N.L recommends 180 preheated and then immediately turn down to 120 degrees when you put the pavlova in….i went with just 150 degrees)
  • beat egg whites on medium until they hold a stiff peak
  • while mixer still on, very slowly add the caster sugar
  • then beat for about 8 – 10 minutes until when you rub the meringue between your fingers you don’t feel any of the sugar crystals
  • then turn off the mixture and add all the other ingredients and fold in gently by hand
  • dot the 4 corners of the baking paper and stick these down onto the baking tray (such an awesome tip — both Nigella and Jamie offered this — then the paper doest flap around in theoven)
  • spread the meringue mixture into a roughly 20cm round and pile up (you could also do a square or rectangle)…I quite like it a bit messy with peaks but you could also keep it flat like Nigella does as she turns hers over so the top side then becomes the underside thereby forming a firmer base
  • bake for 1 hour then turn off the oven and leave it there until it has completely cooled or overnight
  • when you are about to serve, add all the toppings: first a layer of whipped cream (500 ml) with a Tbls of icing sugar to sweeten, drizzle over about 10 passion fruit / granadilla pulp scooped out (or tinned pulp), and then sprinkle over raspberries (as many as you like)…you could really add anything you like here.  Roasted chopped nuts, cherries or any other fruit etc. I also decorated with redcurrents around the base to make it extra christamssy.

It turned out perfectly.  Crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside (not chewy) but yet firm and sliceable.  The saffron was not really noticed, so next time I will infuse the safforn first in a Tblsp of hot water in order to release the colour and flavour and perhaps make small meringues…..I really like the idea of the bright yellow and think it will add an exotic twist.  The rest of the menu had a North african / Morrocan vibe going on — so this would have been perfect had it worked out.

about to be baked

One  of my friends phoned me the next day to say he woke up and his first thought was of my pavlova (music to my ears).

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rocky road

sprinkle with icing sugar

This is inspired by Nigella’s Christmas TV show and I have a LOT of chocolate.  Kind of just did my own recipe as I needed to make a lot for two more xmas parties (its relentless).

You could halve the recipe and make a smaller batch etc…..

recipe:

  • 450 – 500 gms milk chocolate (can use dark or milk or a combo)
  • 200gms marie / tea biscuits bashed up in a plastic bag
  • 200gms toasted almonds chopped and bashed up (some small pieces and some bigger pieces)..brazil nuts would work very well here – in fact pretty much any nut you like
  • 100gms of whole glace cherries (optional) – could use dried cranberries or other dried fruit here
  • about a cup of mini marshmallows
  • some icing sugar for dusting

how to make:

  • melt chocolate in a pot
  • as soon as its melted add all the other ingredients – the chocolate should just coat everything so its ‘dryish’
  • tip into a foil  tray or any other suitable dish
  • allow to cool, turn out, cut into squares and dust with a bit of icing sugar for a christmas vibe

Nice little crunchy, chocolatey, fruity bites…..a total success and think Im going to have to bang out another batch or two before this xmas season is over.

make a whole pile for christmas

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turkey stuffing with sage, cashew nuts, sesame seeds and dukkah

my table

I think stuffing has to be one of the easiest things to make and I wanted a slight Moroccan taste this year… in a subtle kinda way.  Instead of mixing up the cumin, cinnamon sugar etc, I just added some dukkah (north african spice mix of roasted nuts, sesame seeds and spices). It turned out very well with some nice crunchy texture which I love. I added too much salt — you really don’t need to add any.

recipe:

  • about 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup toasted cashew nuts (you could use less) – chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • sage (about 10 leaves)
  • parsley (about a handful chopped)
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 3 Tbls dukkah
  • 6 pork sausages – meat squeezed out
  • 1 egg to bind
  • a good few twists of black pepper (salt not necessary)

how to make:

Fry the onion in the butter until light golden and then add all the other ingredients together in a bowl and mix. Proceed to stuffing the turkey.

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