Chicken with tomatoes and peppers

Last night I had Figgy over for our usual Tuesday evening bout of zombie-action. (3 episodes of series 4 of The Walking Dead.) After a quick g&t enjoying the sunshine in Preston Park we came came back to the flat and I ran up this tasty but simple little recipe. Like Monday night’s dinner it comes from the Nigella Lawson cookbook Nigellissima. It’s simple, with few ingredients, but surprisingly flavoursome. I served it, as Nigella suggests, with spinach, wilted in a little butter, some crusty French bread and some more of the steamed, fried potatoes that I cooked on Monday. (steamed and then fried until golden and crispy, in olive oil with some dried chilli flakes and a pinch of celery salt.)

Serves 3-4

1 tablespoon of garlic oil
1 banana shallot, peeled and finely sliced
500g of chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of marsala (I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of marsala just for two tablespoons so I looked online and found an option of replacing marsala with a mixture of dry white wine and brandy, and that seemed to work.)
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes, plus half a tin of water
1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes
1 x 290g jar of flame-roasted red peppers
Put the oil in a large pan and cook the chopped shallot for about 3 minutes, until softened.

Add the chicken pieces and quickly brown them. Then add the oregano and marsala. Once the marsala has bubbled up, add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Add half a can full of water and stir well to combine.

Drain the roasted peppers and then cut then into pieces and pop them into the pan. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and leave to simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve immediately.



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Lamb cutlets with mint, chilli and and golden potatoes (also rocket, halloumi and a bean, pea and feta salad.)

I had the lovely David over on Monday night for dinner and the final two episodes of Season 9 of Doctor Who and so I had a flick through my cookbooks. I found this lovely little recipe in the Nigella Lawson book Nigellissima. (a cookbook I’d actually forgotten that I owned)

The recipe is tasty, quick and easy to do. I substituted lamb chops for lamb cutlets and augmented the meal with a pea, green bean and feta salad, as well as some fried slices of halloumi. Tasty, full of interesting flavours (the heat of the chilli and the coolness of the mint work surprisingly well together. And, given that I don’t like celery, the celery salt was a pleasant but not overpowering addition.) but also light and suitably summery, this recipe was a definite hit.

Serves 4

500g of baby new potatoes, halved but not peeled
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried mint
½ a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
½ a teaspoon of celery salt
8 lamb cutlets
150g of rocket
1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint

Steam the potatoes for about 15 minutes, until tender. Once cooked let the potatoes steam dry.

In a large dish, add the olive oil, chilli flakes, dried mint and celery salt. Smoosh the cutlets into the oil and herb mix, ensuring that the spices are well mixed and the cutlets are evenly coated on both sides. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Heat a large frying pan and place the lamb cutlets in with a little of the oil marinade and fry them, over a medium heat, for 5 minutes on both sides. (When cooking chops I always also put them on their ‘backs’ for a minute or so to crispen up the fat.)

Place a layer of rocket on each of the serving plates. Once the cutlets are cooked place them on the rocket base.

Pop the steamed potatoes in the fat that you cooked the cutlets in and fry for 5 or 6 minutes until crispy and golden.

Once cooked serve with the cutlets and sprinkle everything with the sea salt, chopped parsley and chopped mint.


I also made a salad out of steamed green beans, fresh peas, crumbled feta and thinly sliced red onion.


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Marinated lamb brochettes (basically kebabs)

Last night I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner and Doctor Who. (epsiodes 3-5 of The Mind Robber) I flicked through my recipe books and I found this recipe in a little book called Spice Up Your Life (nothing to do with The Spice Girls!) which I’ve had for a couple of years. The recipe looked good, although having made them, I can’t quite understand why these are ‘brochettes’ rather than kebabs – it’s meat and veg skewered and grilled – that sounds like a kebab to me!

As there is some marinating involved it’s not a ‘quick’ recipe, but it’s worth the effort.

I served this with the pomegranate and tomato salad that I’ve cooked before and a potato ‘moutabel’ mash, made with a mix of baking potato and roasted sweet potato. I also fried some slices of halloumi to serve with the salad.

Abigail pronounced the whole thing ‘Absolutely Yum!’.

For the brochettes:

Serves 4

700g of boneless lamb leg, cut into 1” cubes
2 tablespoons of light malt vinegar
½ a teaspoon of salt, to taste
1 tablespoon of garlic purée
1 tablespoon of ginger purée
115g of Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon of gram flour
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of garam masala
½ – 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (I used medium chilli powder, rather than hot, but you could go for hot powder if you fancied spicier.)
½ a teaspoon of ground turmeric
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ a red pepper, deseeded and cut into 1” chunks
½ a green pepper, deseeded and cut into 1” chunks
8 shallots, peeled and halved
55g of melted butter
Lemon wedges to serve

Put the meat in a large, non-metallic bowl and add the vinegar, salt, garlic purée and ginger purée and mix together thoroughly, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Put the yoghurt and gram flour in another bowl and beat together with a fork until smooth.
Add the cumin, garam masala, chilli powder, turmeric and oil together and mix thoroughly.

Add the yoghurt mixture to the marinated meat, then add the peppers and shallots and stir until well blended. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours, at least.

Return to room temperature before cooking.

Pre-heat the grill to high and line the grill pan with foil.

Thread the marinated lamb, peppers and shallots, alternatively on to metal or bamboo skewers. (I prefer bamboo skewers myself)

Place the skewers on the grill pan, brush with the melted butter, and cook under the pre-heated grill for approximately 3-4 minutes each side.

Leave to rest for 2 minutes before serving.

For the tomato salad:

6 ripe plum tomatoes
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (I found that the best way to get the seeds out of the pomegranate was to do it in a bowl of water. The juice doesn’t squirt everywhere, the pith floats and the pith sinks so it’s easy to collect the seeds and discard the rest.)
1 teaspoon of ground sumac
½ a teaspoon of ground cumin
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses

Slice the tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Add the pomegranate seeds and combine.

In a small bowl mix together the sumac, cumin, olive oil and pomegranate molasses.

Pour over the salad and gently toss.

For the Moutabel:

2 medium baking potatoes
1 medium sweet potato
2 teaspoons of tahini
2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Roast the sweet potato for an hour or so until tender.

Boil the potatoes until tender.

Drain. Stir in the flesh from the roasted sweet potato and mash well together.

Add the tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice and cumin and mix well.





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Smoked pork in a creamy sauce with harissa-marinated asparagus

On Monday evening I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner and Doctor Who, (Dragonfire) and so I flicked through a couple of cookbooks and found these two interesting looking recipes. The smoked pork recipe came from the book The Islands of Greece by Rebecca Seal, which Alberto got me last year. The asparagus recipe came from the book Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour. Both are tasty and they go well together. I served them with some boiled, minted new potatoes and a little rocket salad. The smoked pork recipe is very nice and the creamy sauce compliments the smoky flavour of the pork. The harissa marinated asparagus works really well, although next time I think I’ll add a little more harissa as the end result here wasn’t very spicy.

Serves 2

For the pork:

400g of smoked pork (I used a smoked gammon joint. Although it was more like 750g, it worked well)
Olive oil for frying
1 onion, finely sliced
100ml of white wine
2 teaspoons of sun-dried tomato purée
60g (approximately 4 tablespoons) of mascarpone
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

For the asparagus:

6 stalks of asparagus each, woody stems trimmed
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of clear honey
2 teaspoons of harissa paste
Grated zest and juice of a lemon
2 generous pinches of sea salt.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, over a medium heat, in a large saucepan.

Lightly brown the pork. Once browned add the onion and cook, over a medium/low heat for 10 minutes or so, until the onion is soft and starting to colour.

Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan.

Bubble the wine for 8-10 minutes until slightly reduced, then add 100ml of it water.

Turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, checking, and stirring, occasionally. Once the meat is tender, remove the lid and simmer for a further 5 minutes to reduce the liquid. (The may not be necessary, depending upon how much liquid is left after the initial cooking time.)

Remove from the heat and stir in the sun-dried tomato purée, mascarpone, parsley and black pepper.

Return to the heat and slowly bring back to the boil, simmering for a couple of minutes before serving.

For the asparagus, put the olive oil, harissa, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice and sea salt in a small bowl and mix well until the honey has dissolved.

Place the asparagus in a shallow dish and pour over the marinade. Leave to marinate for half an hour.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle pan over a medium-high heat, add a little olive oil, and fry the asparagus for 8-10 minutes until cooked through.


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Chocolate and cherry ice cream

I decided to make some more ice cream today (well, the weather was nice!) and fancied experimenting so I had a think and came up with this little idea. It seems to have come out rather nicely and the two flavours work well together. As I was making it up as I went along the amounts are a bit haphazard but it all came together well in the end.

350ml of single cream
4 drops of vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
110g of caster sugar
150ml of double cream

3 tablespoon of cocoa/hot chocolate powder
20-25 fresh cherries, de-stoned and quartered
1-1½ tablespoons of white chocolate drops

Place the single cream in a pan and heat to just under boiling point.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until fluffy, then whisk into the hot cream.

Place the bowl over a pan of hot water and stir until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Leave to become cold.

Whip the double cream until thick but not stiff and fold into the custard. Whisk in the cocoa powder until the custard is evenly coloured.

I then spooned the ice cream mixture into my ice cream maker. Once it’s in the bowl, start the motor and drop in most of the cherry pieces and white chocolate drops and churn for 30 minutes or so until thickened and lightly frozen.

Transfer to a tupperware and scatter over the remaining pieces of cherry.

Pop the lid on and place in the freezer for a few hours until frozen.



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Lamb rendang

Last night Phil came over so that we could finish off The Seeds of Death and so I flicked through the book Dinner by Domini Kemp and selected a couple of interesting looking recipes before eventually settling on this one. I’ve cooked beef rendang before but the idea of a lamb one was interesting enough to give it a go. The lamb flavour comes through nicely and works well with the flavours and spices. The recipe is astonishingly simple to do, although I did find that I needed to add a little extra coconut milk (actually coconut cream as that’s all I had in the cupboard!) as it had dried out a little too much and lost the creaminess that I associate with this sort of curry. I also bunged in a green pepper as it was a little ‘vitamin-lite’!

Serves 6 (I scaled down the meat for just the two of us, but left all the other proportions the same)

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2kg of stewing lamb, diced
400ml of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds (I lightly crushed these before adding them)
3” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 green chilli, chopped, seeds and all (to be honest, I dispensed with most of the seeds and only added a few)
2 stalks of lemongrass, outer leaves removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of black mustard seeds
1 green pepper, char-grilled and then thickly sliced
Salt and pepper

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and sweat the onions until they start to soften. Add the lamb and lightly brown it all over.

Add all of the rest of the ingredients, except for the green pepper, turn down the heat, cover with a lid and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Whilst the meat is cooking, grill the green pepper until skin starts to blacken and then thickly slice.

After the meat has been cooking for an hour check the liquid, (I added some more coconut cream at this juncture as the sauce had thickened a little too much and lost its creaminess.) season and stir in the sliced green pepper.

Pop the lid back on and cook for a further 30 minutes or so – you may need a little longer if the meat isn’t quite tender enough.

Serve immediately with boiled rice and steamed tenderstem broccoli.



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Lime and chilli marinated sea bass with a breadcrumb and pea crust served with sweet potato chips and roasted asparagus

This evening I was just cooking for myself and I fancied something that was, effectively, fish and chips. I was trying to remember a fish dish that Andrew had eaten when we were on holiday in Cornwall six years ago, but to no avail (😉 ) so I flicked around on the BBC website to see what I could find. This recipe comes courtesy of Gino D’Acampo and looked good, and it certainly was tasty, however it was a bit faffy, and messy, to prepare. It was worth the effort though.

I served it with sweet potato chips and roasted asparagus, I coated the chips in a little flour and paprika and drizzled them with some olive oil before roasting them in the oven

Serves 1

For the marinade:

Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil

For the fish:

3 tablespoon of olive oil
2 sea bass fillets
50g of breadcrumbs
50g of fresh peas
A handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
A small pat of garlic butter (They give these away with purchases on the Sainsbury’s fish counter so I don’t know how much butter they actually constitute.)
A plate of plain flour
A plate of beaten egg

In a large bowl or tupperware, combine the olive oil, lime zest and chilli, add the fish and then pour over the lime juice. Cover with cling film and marinate for a couple of hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 200

In a jug pop the breadcrumbs, peas, parsley and a tablespoon of olive oil. Use a hand blender to blitz to a rough paste. (This can be a bit dry, even with the olive oil, and so rather than coating the fish with it in the next step you’re more pressing the pea mixture on to the fish.)

Drain the fish and discard the marinade. Coat the fish fillets in flour, then the egg and then finally the breadcrumb/pea mixture. (This does make a bit of a mess!)

Heat the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, and half of the garlic butter, in a frying pan and fry the fish fillets for a minute or so on each side. Once nicely browned and the pea mixture is staring to crisp up, transfer to a roasting dish, pour over the oil from the frying pan, dot with the remaining garlic butter and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until cooked through.

Serve with the chips and asparagus.





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Italian beef stew with cheese mash and sauteéd kale

On Saturday evening I had the lovely Douglas over for dinner and some vintage TV. For once we didn’t go for Doctor but two other old TV shows, however both had a Doctor Who connection. The first, Mr Rose, starred William Mervyn, not only a guest star in the William Hartnell story The War Machines, but also father of the current Doctor Who designer, Michael Pickwoad. The other, Spyder’s Web co-starred future Master, Anthony Ainley. We finished off with episode 6 of the Troughton ‘mostly missing’ story The Wheel in Space.

Anyway, I flicked through my cookbooks and found this tasty recipe in Dinner by Domini Kemp. It was easy to do, although it takes a while, and full of lovely flavours. It’s also not too heavy for a hot summer day. I served it with a nice cheesy mash and some sauteéd kale.

The recipe serves 4 but I scaled it down for just the two of us.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1.5kg of braising beef, diced
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 medium bay leaves
2 pinches of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
250ml of red wine
500g of passata
A bunch of sage and parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 160.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. When hot fry the beef for 3-4 minutes until browned all over.

Add the onions and garlic and the bay leaves and season well.

Once the onions have started to soften, add the purée, red wine and passata and stir well to combine.

Transfer to a casserole dish, pop the lid on and cook in the oven for at least an hour,.

After an hour, check the stew – it shouldn’t be too dry, or indeed too wet. If it is too dry, add a little more red wine. Check to see if the meat is nicely tender. Stir in the chopped sage and parsley and cook for a further 15-20 minutes or so. (If the stew is too wet, leave the lid off for the remaining cooking time.)

Once the cooking time had elapsed, serve immediately with mash and kale. Delicious!



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Orange and mustard marinated chicken, with salad and new potatoes

I had the lovely Phil (not Jonjo O’Neill!) over for dinner and a spot of Doctor Who (episodes 1-3 of The Seeds of Death) yesterday evening and so I had another riffle through Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume and found this tasty little recipe that seemed nicely summer-y and light. It came out rather well and is nice and tasty – I might use a stronger mustard next time, and I added a chopped red chilli which isn’t in the original recipe but other than that it’s delicious as is.

Serves 2

2 chicken thighs per person
2 tablespoons of olive oil for brushing

For the marinade:

Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
150ml of fresh orange juice
1 medium red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar

For the salad:

Mixed leaves – ideally something peppery like rocket and watercress
½ an avocado, peeled and diced
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
½ a red onion, peeled and finely sliced
A handful of mangetout, sliced into 1cm slices
50g of feta cheese, crumbled

New potatoes, quartered and boiled until tender.

Mix the ingredients for the marinade together in a small jug.

Place the chicken thighs in a bowl and pour over half the marinade. Cover and marinate for as long as possible. (The recipe says overnight, but I was only able to marinate it for four hours, but that seemed to work fine.)

Pre-heat the oven at 200.

Before cooking remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and drain. Pat dry with kitchen roll and brush with olive oil. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the chicken pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side, until evenly browned.

Transfer to a roasting dish, pour over a little of the reserved marinade and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or so, until cooked through.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, boil the potatoes and gently toss the salad. Use the reserved marinade as a salad dressing. (The recipe says to whisk in another tablespoon of white wine vinegar, but I found that the marinade worked fine as it was so I didn’t bother.)

Serve the chicken with the dressed salad and potatoes. Delicious – light, citrusy, summery and full of flavour.


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Rhubarb and honeycomb ice cream

As yesterday was gloriously hot I decided to drag out my ice cream maker and make some fresh ice cream. I love a bit of rhubarb and I thought that the tartness of the rhubarb would contrast nicely with the sweetness of the honeycomb.

Obviously, I had to make the honeycomb first and I followed this recipe here:
(without dipping it in chocolate!)

350ml of single cream
4 drops of vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
110g of caster sugar
150ml of double cream

2 large stalks of rhubarb, washed and chopped into bite-sized chunks
50ml of white wine
30g of caster sugar

Honeycomb – as much or as little as you like

In a medium saucepan combine the rhubarb chunks, white wine and 30 g of caster sugar. Heat gently and bubble, stirring regularly, until the rhubarb breaks down and becomes mushy and liquid is reduced. Set aside to cool.

Whilst the rhubarb is cooling, make the ice cream.

Place the single cream and vanilla essence in a pan and heat to just under boiling point.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until fluffy, then whisk into the hot cream.

Place the bowl over a pan of hot water and stir until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Leave to become cold.

Whip the double cream until thick but not stiff and fold into the custard.

I then spooned the ice cream mixture into my ice cream maker. Once it’s in the bowl, start the motor and drop in the rhubarb mixture and the pieces of honeycomb.

Churn for half an hour. The ice cream maker churns and thickens the ice cream and chills it as it goes.

Once the ice cream has thickened and is semi-frozen, transfer it to a tupperware and place in the freezer for a couple of hours.


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