Lemon spiced chicken with chickpeas

On Tuesday evening Figgy was over for some Who (Silver Nemesis with the commentary on, for anyone interested) and so I needed something light and summery, but tasty, that Alberto could easily re-heat when he got in later. I spotted his recipe in the cookbook ‘Dinner, and thought I’d give it a go. The lemon zest and juice gives it a more summery flavour for a stew, and it works really well with some new potatoes. I also roasted a bit of asparagus to go with.

Serves 4

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-sized chunks
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of two lemons
400g of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
300ml of chicken stock
50ml of white wine
250g back of baby leaf spinach

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until soft over a medium heat.

Add the chicken, season well, turn up the heat and cook until brown, stirring frequently. Add the spices, including the cinnamon stick, and cook for a further couple of minutes, stirring so that the chicken and onions are well coated in the spices.

Add the wine and cook for 1 minute, stirring to de-glaze the pan. Then add the lemon zest and juice.

Add the chickpeas and stock, mix well and the pop the lid on and simmer gently, over a medium heat, for about 20-25 minutes. In the last couple of minutes taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and the add the spinach. Stir the spinach in until it wilts. Serve.

Delicious. The lemon and the spices make for a tasty, summery flavour. I’ll make this one again!


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Pork and spring onions in Hoisin sauce

I made this quick and tasty stir-fry for myself on Thursday evening prior to popping out to see Abigail. It’s easy to do but full of flavour and you can augment the dish with any stir-fry appropriate vegetables of your choice. I opted for some sliced red pepper, tenderstem broccoli and fine green beans. I served it with rice, although it would work just as well with medium egg noodles.

Serves 1

1 pork shoulder steak, diced
1-2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
A 1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 sprinkling of dried chilli flakes
1 bunch of spring onions, sliced into 5mm slices
½ a red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
A few heads of tenderstem broccoli, trimmed
A handful of green beans, cut in two
1-2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
1-2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
A dash of fish sauce
A dash of dark soy sauce
A good pinch of sugar
A good pinch of salt
A sprinkling of sesame seeds to garnish
Plain rice to serve

Heat the groundnut oil in a wok and add the garlic, ginger and half of the spring onions and stir fry for a minute or two over a medium heat.

Add the pork and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until nicely browned. Once cooked, remove from the heat.

If necessary, add a little more oil to the wok and then add the pepper, beans and broccoli and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, then add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and sugar and stir well to combine.

Cook for a couple of minutes and then return the cooked pork, ginger, garlic and spring onions to the wok, along with the remaining half of the spring onions.

Cook for another couple of minutes, (you may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water if it looks like drying out too much. Not too much though as you want the sauce to be fairly thick.) then serve, sprinkled with sesame seeds.



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Beef Rendang

On Thursday evening Alberto was getting back from Spain late, and I was cleaning the oven, so I needed something that could be done on the hob and with very little preparation, and which could be easily re-heated. Flicking through Dinner, I came across this recipe – it looked full of flavour and easy to do, and I do love a tasty curry, so I thought I’d plunge in. It takes a couple of hours so it’s not a quick meal but it is fairly straightforward and, once it is all in the saucepan and simmering nicely it only really needs stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking. (So I could get on with cleaning the oven. Oh the glamour!)

Serves 6-8

1-1.5kg of braising steak, diced
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
A good pinch of dried chillies
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2-3 good glugs of olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
3” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 sticks of lemongrass, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
800ml of coconut milk
Chopped coriander leaves to garnish
1 red pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped (optional) (This was my own addition as I felt that the curry was a little bit lacking in actual vegetables.)

Serve with Basmati rice

Put all of the spices in a large saucepan and gently heat to roast the spices. Remove from the heat and crush the spices. (I poured the warm spices into a pestle and mortar which was a bit of a mistake as the warm turmeric adhered to the rough stone of the bowl and I probably lost about a quarter of it. On reflection I should have used the end of a rolling pin to crush the spices in the saucepan. Whichever way I do it I never seem to grind the coriander seeds quite finely enough and they add a husk-y texture to the finished dish. Ah well, I’ll try better next time!)

Add the olive oil to the crushed spices in the saucepan. Then add in the garlic, onion, ginger and lemongrass and sweat for a few minutes until starting to soften.

Add the meat to the pan and mix so that it is well coated with the spices, season well with salt and pepper and then sprinkle over the sugar. Turn up the heat a little so that the meat browns but make sure that the spices don’t burn.

Add the coconut milk, stir well and bring to a simmer. After a couple of minutes turn the heat down to low and cook for at least two hours. I left it uncovered for the first hour, so that the sauce would reduce a bit, but then covered it for the second hour so that it didn’t reduce too much. Stir regularly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.

If, like me, you’re adding some diced red pepper, stir it in when there is about half an hour of cooking time left to go.

After two hours the meat should be nice and tender and the sauce thick.

Serve garnished with coriander leaves.



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Roast chicken with fennel, marmalade and mustard

Last night I had Figgy over for our usual Tuesday evening bout of wine drinking and Who Watching. It was a bit of a Dalek-y evening as we’d started the William Hartnell 6-parter The Dalek Invasion of Earth last week and so we finished that off… and then decided to watch the Peter Cushing movie version to compare and contrast. Fun fun! :D (Fig loves Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD as his home town appears on screen, albeit only on Doctor Who’s map.)

Anyway, with Fig coming over I decided to cook this, once again from the new Domini Kemp book, Dinner. I’d been a little wary of it as I’m not that keen on the aniseed-y flavour of fennel but I figured (hoped) that the flavours of the mustard and marmalade would take the edge off it. The resulting dish was, in fact, delicious. In fact Fig said that it was, and I quote, ‘One of the nicest things I’ve ever tasted.’ So there you go – praise indeed! :D

The recipe says that it serves 4-6 but as you can easily add, or subtract, chicken pieces, you can easily scale it up, or down, as required.

10-12 pieces of chicken – drumsticks or thighs. I opted for two thighs per person
100ml of white wine
4 table4spoons of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
3 fennel bulbs cut into half-inch slices (It doesn’t say whether the bulbs should be sliced lengthways or crosswise – so I opted for one each. (I only used two fennel bulbs.))
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 head of garlic, left whole
1 orange, cut into rounds and then those round sliced into half-moons
1 tablespoon of thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
2 tablespoons of marmalade
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.

Pre-heat the oven to 190. (The recipe says 170 and I normally cook chicken at 200, so I compromised…)

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix really well so that everything is coated in the sauce.

You can cover this with cling film and leave to refrigerate until you’re ready to start cooking.

Place the ingredients in a single layer of a gratin dish (or two gratin dishes, if there’s too much stuff for just one.)

Season well, loosely cover with foil and roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the chicken is well cooked. Take the foil off for the last 20 minutes of cooking time so that the orange can caramelise a bit.

I served this with new potatoes and steamed spring greens. Very nice and much tastier than I was expecting.


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White pizza

Friday night is usually pizza night for Alberto and I and even though he was out for dinner this evening I saw no reason to abandon the tradition. I spotted this recipe whilst flicking through the lovely Dinner by Domini Kemp and was intrigued by it. The idea of a pizza with honey in the base dough and crème fraîche on top was interesting but I worried that it would be too sweet. Still, I was willing to give it a try.

I’ve only done one main recipe from this book so far and found that one easy to follow. This one, however, is frustratingly vague on a couple of points and seemingly contradictory in a couple of places. For example, the author talks about the dough being a thin one, but then recommends allowing 30 minutes for it to rise! (actually this dough comes out really well, especially with the aid of my pizza stone, as it is crisp on the bottom and fluffy on top.) Also the recipe says that it serves 2-4, but the description says that it will serve two people for a ‘light meal’, or one hungry person! Which is it? 1? 2? or 4? The recipe says to use 500g of flour to make two bases, whereas I normally use about 250g to make two thin bases. Hey ho – I went with the proportions as listed in the book, and which I will list here, but halved to only make one base.

I have to say, despite my initial reservations that the resulting pizza might be a bit bland and sweet it was, in fact, delicious. The crème fraîche topping isn’t sweet at all, the base is lovely and fluffy, and the salami and Gruyère are nicely tangy, along with the light sharpness of the rosemary. Definitely one to make again!

Serves 2-4 (or 2) (or 1)

For the dough:

500g of strong white bread flour
7g of dried yeast
150ml of warm water
1 tablespoon of clear honey
3 tablespoons of olive oil
A good pinch of of salt
Up to 100ml of additional water (you may not need this – see how it goes.)

For the topping:

200g of crème fraîche, approx
50-100g of sliced German salami
Leaves from a few sprigs of rosemary, oregano of thyme (I opted for rosemary, thyme and basil and that worked really well)
100g of Gruyère, grated
Salt and pepper
Olive oil to drizzle

Mix the flour, yeast, honey, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Gradually add the warm water, mixing well to form a soft dough. You may need to use some additional water, but I didn’t find it necessary.

Once the dough as formed turn it out on to a floured surface and knead for a minute or so until smooth.

Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 3 hours, until doubled in size. (3 hours!! I only leave bread flour to rise for 2 hours. Still, I ended up leaving it for well over 2 hours, due to being busy doing other things.)

Pre-heat the oven to 200 and warm through your pizza stone for at least 40 minutes.

Cut the dough into two and roll out into two, broadly rectangular pizza bases. The dough should be quite elastic so it may spring back a bit, but roll it out as thin as you can. Lay out on greaseproof paper and allow to sit for 30 minutes to rise slightly.

When the pizza stone is hot sprinkle it lightly with flour, then place the dough on the stone and start to top your pizza.

Top with a generous layer of crème fraîche, sprinkle with the herbs then add the salami (I popped on some diced smoked pancetta as well.) and scatter over the Gruyère. Season with salt and pepper.

Place in the hot oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Absolutely delicious!


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Pasta with chicken, peas and rosemary cream

As I was working late on Wednesday evening I decided to make this in the morning so that Alberto and I could eat soon after I got home in the evening. It’s another new recipe from my new cookbook, Dinner, by Domini Kemp and it’s another delicious one. Alberto and I love a bit of pasta so this one jumped out at me. There are lots of lovely flavours in here – the rosemary, lemon zest and juice, chicken stock and cream combine to make a delicious sauce. The peas work really well in the dish and give a pleasing texture when they pop as you bite into them. I did add a little sliced onion and some baby leaf spinach to the dish too. I accidentally omitted the thyme as I misread the relevant line in the ingredients list. Ah well, I don’t think the dish suffered too much.

Serves 4

100ml of double cream
150ml of chicken stock
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 sprigs of rosemary and thyme
Big knob of butter
A big slug of olive oil
4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
Salt and pepper
1 glass of white wine
300g of frozen peas
100g of grated Parmesan or Parmiggiano
400g pasta – penné or so forth
2 large handfuls of baby leaf spinach

Heat together the cream, chicken stock, lemon juice and zest, garlic, rosemary and thyme in a saucepan until simmering and and let it bubble away until reduced by about half.

Set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through. (I also slipped in half a finely sliced white onion at this point too.)

Once the chicken is cooked, add the glass of wine and deglaze the pan. Let the wine simmer until pretty much evaporated.

Add the chicken to the cream sauce and keep warm.

Cook the pasta in boiling water then drain and season.

Put the pasta back in the saucepan, mix with a slug of olive oil and then add the peas. Heat gently, adding the cream sauce and chicken. Mix everything together, stir in the spinach leaves, and season well.

Serve topped with sprinkled Parmesan.

Tasty tasty!



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Indian mince with a green bean and pomegranate salad

Abigail came over for dinner and a spot of Doctor Who last night and so I decided to try and find something from the other new cook book that Vanessa brought me last weekend. The book is called Dinner and is written by Domini Kemp who is a writer for The Irish Times, hence Vanessa’s interest. It’s a lovely book and full of delicious recipes – I only got about 50 pages in and I already has a long list of choices.

In the end I opted for this recipe as it looked really nice. The recipe came with a suggestion for a side, which is the green bean and pomegranate salad, so I made that too and made some rice to go with it. The recipe is delicious and full of really tasty, piquant flavours – the lime really gives the dish a lift.

For the Indian Mince:

Serves 4

1 tablespoon of olive oil
800g of minced beef
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
3” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 green chilli, de-seeded and sliced
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
A pinch of cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
A good pinch of brown sugar
375ml of beef stock
Salt and pepper
200g of peas
A bunch of coriander
Juice of 2 limes

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and fry the mince over a medium heat, in batches if necessary until coloured. Remove form the saucepan and set aside.

Wipe the excess oil from the pan and sauté the onions until soft.

Add the garlic, ginger, chillies and the spices and sauté on a high heat until the spices become fragrant. Return the beef to the pan, stir well to combine and season lightly.

Add the tomato purée and brown sugar, stir well to combine and then add in the stock.

Stir well and them simmer gently for about 30 minutes, uncovered.

Add the peas and lime juice, stir well to combine and cook for a further three minutes.

Serve with the side salad and a little rice, garnished with chopped coriander and lime wedges.

For the salad:

Serves 4

450g of green beans, trimmed
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pomegranate
A small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
A small bunch of mint, finely chopped


1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
50ml of white wine vinegar
150ml of olive oil
2 tablespoons of honey
Salt and pepper (I used ground white pepper for a little extra kick)

Blanch the beans. Scoop out the pomegranate seeds. Mix the onion, beans, pomegranate seeds and chopped herbs together. Then make the dressing.

Both main dish and salad are utterly delicious – I shall certainly be making it again soon for Alberto.



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Dak Doritang

The lovely Vanessa was down to visit from London at the weekend and brought with her my birthday present, which included a lovely new cook book called China Town. (It actually included two new cookbooks but I haven’t cooked anything from the other one yet!) China Town includes all sorts of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and other similar recipes and looks like it’s full of good stuff. I spotted this recipe almost immediately and decided to cook it for Fig and I last night when he came over for some Doctor Who. (Terror of the Vervoids – in case you were wondering!)

The recipe is very tasty, although a little spicier than I was expecting from the description in the book. It also required me to pop to a local oriental supermarket to get a couple of ingredients.

It also has the added advantage of sounding like a character from a sci-fi film: “Dak Doritang – Space Adventurer!”

Serves 4

1-2 bone-in chicken thighs per person (depending upon how big they are and how hungry you are!)
6-8 new potatoes, sliced into halves or quarters to make them bite-sized
2 brown onions, each cut into 6 wedges
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
100-150g of fine green beans
4 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons of gochujang (this is a fermented Korean chilli paste. The recipe book describes it as mild and sweet rather than hot. Hhhmm, I’d say it was hot-ish, although it is sweet too. Adjust the amount to taste.)
3 tablespoons of coarse Korean chilli powder (I used slightly less of this than suggested)
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup (I used Heinz, naturally!)
4 tablespoons of water

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and drop the chicken pieces in. Simmer for 2 minutes then drain and rinse thoroughly.

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl, add the chicken and toss well to ensure that the chicken pieces are all well coated.

Place the chicken and sauce back into the, now clean, saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Add the potatoes and onions, pop a lid on and simmer for 10 minutes. (ensuring that the potatoes are well submerged in the sauce.)

Add the carrots and stir well to ensure that they are well coated. Re-cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes. (If it gets a little dry you can add more water, but remember that the resulting sauce is meant to be thick.)

Remove the lid and stir in the green beans, making sure that they are well coated. Simmer, uncovered, for a further 15 minutes.

Serve with boiled white rice and garnished with sliced spring onion.

Very tasty indeed. It was quite spicy so if I make it for Alberto and me at some point I shall reduce the level of spice.


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Chickpea fritters

Alberto spotted this recipe in the Greek Island cookbook that he bought for me for Christmas and thought that they looked tasty and so I decided to cook them on Sunday morning for a light lunch. My friend Vanessa was down and this recipe was sufficient to make 9 fritters – three each – with probably enough left over for one more fritter. They’re tasty and easy to make, but they are a bit sloppy and so forming them into balls and slipping them into the hot oil can be a little tricky.

400g of cooked chickpeas (the recipe says cook but I used tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed.)
1 slice of white bread, crusts removed
50ml of milk
3 spring onions, finely chopped
150g of feta
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley leaves
1 tablespoon of finely chopped dill
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon of salt, or to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
Plain flour to dust
Vegetable oil for frying

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and set aside.

Place the bread in a bowl and cover with the milk. Leave to soak for 5 minutes, then remove from the milk and gently squeeze the excess milk out.

Put the chickpeas, bread, spring onions, garlic, feta, parsley, dill and black pepper into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Add the egg and then chill in the fridge for 10 minutes to make the mixture easier to handle.

When you’re ready to start cooking heat about 6cm of oil in a large saucepan until it gets to about 180 degrees.

Place some plain flour in a bowl and make sure that your hands are well floured. Take a large dessert spoon and scoop a spoonful of mixture into the flour. Shape into a ball, (this will be tricky – the mixture is a very loose one so it’s difficult to shape – I’m sure that a reasonable amount of my mixture got lost in the flour.) ensure that the ball is completely coated in flour and then slip into the hot oil.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until crispy and golden. (as they are quite loose it’s best to cook no more than 3 fritters at a time.)

Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Serve hot They’re good with some sort of dip – the recipe says tzatziki but we opted for onion and garlic.



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Pork belly on Chinese leaves

Sorry that I haven’t updated for a while – I’ve been cooking a lot of familiar recipes over the last couple of weeks and then, of course, there was Eurovision, with lots of tasty buffet items that I’ve blogged about before.

This recipe is from my The Big Book of Wok and Stir-Fry cookbook and I thought that it looked like an interesting and tasty one. It takes a little longer than the normal stir-fry though so it’s not a quick and easy option. I made it for myself on Thursday evening, before popping over to see my friend Abigail – the rich flavour of the hoisin sauce combines nicely with the natural meatiness of the belly pork. The pork also has a nice combination of crispness, from being roasted in the oven, and tenderness from the layers of fat.

Serves 2

4 strips of boneless belly pork, about 650g in total
2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
6 tablespoons of basic Chinese stock or chicken stock.
1 thin slice of fresh ginger
½ a head of Chinese leaves, sliced into ribbons on the diagonal
6 spring onions, green parts included, sliced diagonally into 4cm pieces
½ of a teaspoon of sugar
¼ of a teaspoon of salt

for the marinade

2 tablespoons of sugar (This seemed like a lot to me so I used just over 1 tablespoon instead)
2 tablespoon of Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
4cm piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped and squeezed in a garlic press
½ of a teaspoon of salt
¼ of a teaspoon of Chinese five-spice
4 tablespoons of hoisin sauce

Using the tip of a sharp knife score the pork rind at 1cm intervals

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the pork and rub the marinade into the slashes. Leave to stand for an hour at room temperature.

Pre-heat the oven to 220.

Line a roasting dish with tin foil and place a small rack in it. Place the pork on the rack, (reserving the marinade) pop in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Reduce the heat to 180. Turn the pork, brush with marinade and roast for a further 20 minutes.

Turn again, brush with marinade and roast for a further 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then slice, diagonally, into 1cm pieces. Place in the bowl with the reserved marinade.

Heat a wok over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the groundnut oil.

Add the pork slices and marinade and stir-fry for 2 minutes, until the marinade is reduced and bubbling. Pour in the stock, using it to de-glaze the wok. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes until reduced.

Remove the pork from the wok and keep warm.

Wipe the wok clean with kitchen paper and then return to the heat and add the olive oil.

Add the ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the Chinese leaves, spring onions, salt and sugar and stir fry for 1 minute until still softened but not having lost any colour.

Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish, top with the pork and pour over the juices.

Serve immediately!


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