Chicken tagine, with olives, preserved lemons and peas

Last night I fancied cooking a tagine for Neil and I, and I thought that something light and summery, with lots of critusy flavours would be nice. I was partly inspired by a board outside the cafe Leon, which was offering something similar. I improvised this recipe myself

Serves 2

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 chicken thighs per person
1 large red onion, chopped
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
3 preserved lemons, 2 quartered, 1 sliced (remove the pips though)
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 teaspoons of ras-el-hanout
1½ teaspoons of turmeric
A few strands of saffron, steeped in a tablespoon of hot water
12 pitted green olives, halved
200g of peas
350ml of chicken stock
Roughly chopped parsley leaves, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200

Place the saffron strands in an egg cup with a tablespoon of hot water, and leave to steep for 10 minutes or so.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, season well with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes or so, until starting to soften and colour.

Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Increase the heat slightly and place the chicken thighs in the saucepan, skin side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the skin is crispy, then turn over and cook for a further 4 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock, then add the saffron water, turmeric, ras-el-hanout and cinnamon stick. Stir well to combine.

Season to taste, and then add the preserved lemons, olive and peas. Bring to the boil. The transfer the contents from the saucepan, into a tagine, pop the lid on and place in the oven, Cook for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Serve, garnished with roughly chopped parsley leaves.

Very tasty, if I do say so myself. I served it with lemon cous cous and steamed broccoli.

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Belly pork and leek stir fry

I had some leeks in the fridge that needed using up and, as I was working late last night I needed something quick and easy to do. I was able to get the ingredients during my lunchbreak and pop the pork in to marinate, so that helped make it quick to cook.

Serves 1

2 ‘rashers’ of belly pork, diced
2 leeks, sliced – a mixture of thick and thin slices
½ an orange pepper, de-seeded and sliced
3-4 leaves of black cabbage, shredded
60g of frozen peas
A dash of toasted sesame oil
A dash of olive oil

For the marinade:

4 tablespoons of Japanese Soy Sauce (Tamari)
2 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine
A pinch of salt
A pinch ground white pepper
1 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Make the marinade by whisking together all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the diced belly pork in the marinade, cover and leave to marinate for as long as possible.

Once the pork has marinated sufficiently, heat the sesame oil and olive oil, in a wok, over a medium-high heat.

Add half of the sliced leek and cook for 3-4 minutes, until starting to colour.

Remove the pork from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and add to the wok. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Add the remaining leek, pepper, peas and shredded cabbage and stir well to combine. Then pour over the remaining marinade and cook for a further 4 minutes or so until everything is cooked though and the sauce has thickened. (You may need to add a little more soy, or a tablespoon or two of water, if it looks like drying out before everything is cooked.)

Serve immediately, with boiled or steamed rice.

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Asparagus, goat’s cheese and lemon risotto, with serrano ham

On Thursday evening, I was in the mood for a spot of risotto, and I’d seen this recipe, which I think comes from Abel and Cole, on Facebook and decided to give it a go. I made a couple of my own adjustments to the recipe, just to zhoosh it up a bit. Very tasty, creamy, flavoursome and filling.

Serves 2

1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3-4 slices of serrano ham, roughly torn
45g of butter
600ml of chicken stock
100ml of dry white wine
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ a lemon
200g of asparagus
200g of risotto rice
100g goat’s cheese, roughly chopped (remove the rind if using a soft goat’s cheese)
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus stalks, and then cut the remainder into 2” lengths.

Melt about a third of the butter in a griddled frying pan and fry the asparagus lengths, until browned and tender. Set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and leek and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly for 5-6 minutes, until softened and starting to colour.

Stir the garlic and most of the lemon zest into the onions and leeks and stir well. (keep a pinch of lemon zest back for garnishing).

Add the rice and stir to mix well, so that all the rice is coated with onions and melted butter. Cook, stirring frequently for 2-3 mins.

Add the wine to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is absorbed.

Repeat, adding 100ml of stock at a time, until you have only about 100ml of stock remaining. Make sure that all of the stock is absorbed each time, before add the next lot. This should take about 20 minutes or so.

Add the griddled asparagus and the serrano ham to the risotto and pour in the final 100ml stock. (I added another dash of white wine at this stage, just for extra flavour.) Cook, stirring as before, until most of the stock has been absorbed.

Stir most of the chopped parsley and all of the goat’s cheese, into the risotto. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve in two warmed bowls and sprinkle with the remaining parsley and lemon zest and garnish with a disk of goat’s cheese.

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Chicken with chorizo, tomatoes and olives

Last night I had the lovely Fig over for our regular Tuesday evening get together – this week two episodes from season 3 of Blake’s 7. I fancied throwing together something with a Mediterranean feel and so started with tomatoes and black olives, and worked up from there. And, obviously, I included some chorizo, because it’s just delicious!

I’m quite pleased with the end result, and Fig was very complimentary, and so I’ll definitely cook it again. The sauce was thick and rich, without being over-powering, and the anchovies, and the dash of red wine, added a depth to the flavour that worked well.

Serves 2

2 chicken thighs per person
50g of chorizo sausage, cut into 2” batons
1 x 400ml can of chopped tomatoes
2 medium-sized vine tomatoes, finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
A dash of red wine
200ml of chicken stock
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (to taste)
10 fresh basil leaves, torn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 pitted black olives, halved
1 roasted red pepper, cut into strips
2 tablespoons of olive oil
A generous knob of butter

First, roast the red pepper for 20 minutes or so in a hot oven. Once removed from the oven place it in a polythene bag for 10 minutes or so, as it makes it easier to peel.

Peel and de-seed the pepper and then slice it into strips.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and butter over a medium heat and fry the onions and leek for 5 minutes or so until starting to soften and colour. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the chicken pieces to the pan, skin side down, and cook for 3-4 minutes each side, until the skin is crispy and the meat starts to brown.

Add the chorizo batons and fry for a couple of minutes until they start to crisp and release their distinctive orange oil.

Add the chicken stock and stir well to combine. Then stir in the tinned tomatoes, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped anchovies, dash of red wine, basil leaves and chilli flakes. Stir well to combine and then season with salt and pepper.

Cover and simmer, over a medium heat, for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes add the halved olives and roasted red pepper, stir well and then recover and cook for a further 20 minutes.

After 50 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through and the sauce thickened. Serve with mash and steamed greens or sautéed black cabbage.

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Slow cooked Mongolian beef

Last night we had the lovely Martin over for dinner and a board game (Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition – and, once again, he won! He does seem to be making a habit of that!) and so I had a flick around for a slow cooker recipe to use. I’d seen this one a couple of times and considered it, and so I thought it was time to stop considering and start actually cooking!

It’s simple and easy to do and the end result is full of flavour and, because of the long cooking time, the meat is very tender. Delicious served with rice and steamed broccoli.

Serves 4

1kg of braising Steak
4-5 tablespoons of cornflour
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 brown onion, thinly sliced
240ml of soy sauce
240ml of beef stock
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 carrots peeled and grated
Spring onions, green parts for preference garnish

Slice the steak into thin strips. Add the steak pieces and cornflower to a ziplock bag. Shake to coat the steak pieces and then remove them from the bag.

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, until the onion starts to soften.

Add the coated beef and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring continually, until the pieces start to brown.

Add the soy sauce, beef stock, brown sugar and carrots to slow cooker. Stir well to combine and then bring to the boil.

Remove from the heat and pour all of the ingredients into the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours until the beef is cooked through and tender and the sauce is thickened.

Serve over boiled rice and garnished with the spring onions.

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Khachapuri: Georgian Cheese Bread

This recipe was linked to from the Chakhokhbili and so I decided to make this as well to accompany the stew. I love cheese, I love bread – what could go wrong? Well, slightly annoyingly this recipe had absolutely no amounts for any of the listed ingredients – so I had to improvise a bit. In the event I think I made the load slightly too large – the loaf was very filling! Tasty though.

The recipe listed two different shapes of loaf that you can make. I opted for the version known as Megruli. (It’s round, instead of boat-shaped, and the cheese is baked inside the bread, rather than scattered over the top like the other version.)

200g of strong white bread flour
5g of dried yeast
½ a teaspoon of salt
Cheese – equal parts mozzarella and feta – I used 1 mozzarella ball and measured out an equal amount of feta. Chop the mozzarella and crumble the feta.

Place the flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl. Gradually add enough warm water to make a soft dough, mixing together first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands.

Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead this for ten minutes, until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film, then leave to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

Mix the cheeses together with an egg white and a pinch of salt (unless you feta is very salty!). Mix well until you have produced a cheese mix of solid consistency. (I didn’t actually bother with the egg white as my cheeses seemed to come together well enough without it.)

When the dough has finished resting, turn it out on to a floured surface, punch down and then roll it out into a disc, about 5mm thick. Place the ball of cheese on top.

Fold up the edges of your dough around the ball of cheese.

Press down to flatten the ball into a round disc of dough. Flip the dough over and press down a couple of times to make the disc wider and a little thinner.

Brush the top of the bread with egg yolk and sprinkle some extra cheese on top. (I didn’t bother with the egg yolk – I just sprinkled over the cheese -a nice, tangy red Leicester. Not exactly authentically Georgian!)

Rip a little hole in the top of the bread. This is important step as it will prevent the bread from rising up and bursting inside the oven.

Preheat the oven to 200.

Place the dough onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.


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Chakhokhbili – Georgian-Style Chicken with Tomatoes and Herbs

About 18 months-2 years ago my friends William and Craig went to Georgia on holiday, and Craig very kindly bought me back a sachet of khmeli-suneli spice mix. I’d not got around to using it yet, but then yesterday I spotted it in the cupboard and, with my friend David over for dinner in the evening, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

The only slight problem I had in tracking down a recipe was that there seem to be a variety of different spellings of the name of the spice-mix, which did make finding a suitable recipe a bit tricky. Still, I came across this recipe on the internet and it looked tasty and fairly easy to do so I decided to give it a go. It’s utterly delicious, simple but full of flavours. Be warned though – the spice mix is quite hot – I used two teaspoons and that was quite spicy – any more would’ve been too much.

The recipe suggested serving it with Georgian cheese bread and provided a linked recipe – so I made some of that too!

Serves 4

4 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
One medium chicken, cut into 10 pieces (I used 2 chicken thighs per person and that seemed fine.)
6 ripe, medium-sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons of Georgian spice mix, khmeli-suneli
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Generous medium bunch of fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
1 red chilli pepper, de-seeded and chopped. (I omitted this in the end as the khmeli-suneli was hotter than I expected.)


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and then add the oil.

Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is light golden.

Remove the onion from the pan, pop it on a plate and set aside.

Add the chicken pieces to the oil in the pan and cook, for about 3 minutes each side, until golden.

Add the onions and tomatoes to the chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then add the khmeli-suneli spice mix. Stir well to combine.

Cover the pan and cook over a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, crush the garlic and coriander together in a pestle and mortar until you get a rough paste.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir the garlic and coriander paste into the stew – stir well to ensure that the chicken is well coated. Also stir in the chilli, if using.

Let it stand for a couple of minutes, covered, before serving. Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves

I served it with cheese bread and steamed black cabbage.

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Pork Medallions with Wholegrain Mustard Sauce

I made this for myself on Sunday evening. I got the recipe from my friend Rob, who had tried it a couple of weeks ago. It’s tasty – I love a bit of whole-grain mustard – and very quick to do. I had it with some herby lemon potatoes, asparagus and wilted spinach. Very nice.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pork medallions per person
½ a teaspoon of salt
½ a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1½ tablespoons of whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon of butter
285ml of chicken stock
1 teaspoon plain flour

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Gently flatten the pork slices using the palm of your hand. Sprinkle the pork with half of the salt and pepper

Add the pork to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until done to your liking

Remove the pork from pan and keep warm.

Add the mustard and butter to pan, stirring until butter melts.

Add the stock and flour to pan, stirring with a whisk until well combines.

Add the remaining salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Cook for 1 minute or until mixture thickens, scraping pan to loosen browned bits of meat.

Serve with the sauce spooned over the pork.

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Chicken and leeks in cider

On Saturday evening I had the lovely Phil over for some dinner and Sapphire and Steel (Adventure 1 – cutesy children and scary nursery rhymes.) and so, for dinner, I cobbled this together. It came out rather well and was tasty. I’ll certainly do it again. I served it with Lemon, Garlic and Herb Potatoes, (I’ve detailed that recipe somewhere else on here.) and wilted spinach.

Serves 2

2 chicken thighs per person
2 fat leeks, sliced into 1” slices
100g of smoked pancetta lardons
150ml of dry cider
1 teaspoon of runny honey
1 teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
6 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
3 sprigs of thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200.

Place the chicken thighs, garlic cloves and sliced leeks into a large roasting tin. Drizzle with honey and olive oil. Stir in the mustard. Toss well to combine.

Season well with salt and pepper.

In a frying pan, fry the pancetta lardons over a medium heat, until browned and starting to crisp.

Drain the lardons on some kitchen paper and then scatter them over the chicken and leeks. (I retained the fat that I cooked the lardons in to wilt the spinach with later.)

Pour the cider over the chicken and leeks and add the thyme sprigs.

Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the cider is reduced.

Serve with the cider sauce.

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Greek breads with spring onions

I was leafing through my cookbooks this morning, trying to find something to cook for Phil and I this evening, and I came across this recipe in the book Mamushka by Olia Hercules. It looked tasty, and I hadn’t had breakfast yet, so I thought I’d give it a go.

The end result is rather rather tasty, and certainly filling, as the dough on the inside of the fried parcel doesn’t entirely cook through, so it stays chewy. The dough is a bit tricky to work with, as it’s very sticky and so the initial kneading is a bit messy.

Makes 4

200ml of cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten
450g of plain flour
400g of feta cheese, crumbled
10 spring onion, roughly chopped
50ml of sunflower oil, plus extra for brushing
Sea salt flakes

Mix the water, egg and a pinch of salt together in a large bowl. Gradually add the flour, mixing it in, first with a fork and then with your hands.

Turn the dough out on to a heavily floured surface and knead the dough until it stops sticking to your hands.

Mix the crumbled feta with the chopped spring onions. Divide the filling into four protions.

Divide the dough into four. Flour the work surface well and roll out one piece of dough as thinly as you can into a 12” circle.

Brush the top with a little sunflower oil. Take one quarter of the filling and spread most of it out on to the dough, leaving a 2” border.

Fold two opposite sides of the dough inwards to overlap. Brush lightly with sunflower oil and then sprinkle over the remaining filling. Fold over the remaining two sides, to form a square. Flour lightly and the roll gently over it with a rolling pin, to flatten it slightly.

Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, until you have four parcels.

Heat 50ml of sunflower oil in a large frying pan and fry the breads, one at a time, for 3 minutes on each side, until golden, Remove from the pan and then set aside to cool slightly before serving.

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