Middle Eastern medley

Just made the most delicious chicken to go with a small Middle Eastern medley… made with some spices from Jerusalem.

Serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 2 or 3 tsp of zatar (a mix of thyme, marjoram, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp seasalt
  • 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cranberry jelly (don’t ask why – it just worked!)
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave nectar, or other sweetening agent
  • 1/4 onion

Pound the garlic and salt into a paste and add all the other ingredients. Mush up into a thick gloopy paste, which you then smother over the chicken meat. Leave it marinade for as long as you can, then fry in olive oil on a high heat to begin with with a quarter onion cut into thick slices. Reduce the heat and turn the chicken to ensure it is cooked all the way through.

We had this with warmed pitta bread, salad, couscous, home-made hummus and falafels. Utterly divine.

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Goan fish curry

This is adapted from a recipe in Rick Stein’s Fruits of the Sea – only we didn’t have conger eel or tamarind – though if Waitrose do a line of ‘ESSENTIAL conger eel’, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised. This is a delicious, quick, easy, economical meal that helps keep hunger at bay and the wolf from the door.

Serves 2.


  • 2 Sainsbury’s Basics frozen white fish fillets, defrosted and chopped into large chunks
  • Optional: handful of defrosted frozen prawns
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 fresh chillies
  • small (160ml Waitrose Essentials) tin of coconut cream
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • tin or carton of Basics chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
  • small handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


To make the paste, whizz up in a blender the chillies, ground coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric & garlic.

Fry the onions and red peppers in some oil, add the paste – fry for a bit more so the spices seep into the oil, then add the tomatoes and coconut cream. Bring to the boil, add the fish and simmer for 20 minutes with a lid on. Add some chopped fresh coriander at the end, and serve with boiled basmati rice. Delicious and warming on a dark and stormy winter’s night waiting for Sherlock to come on TV.

I’d have taken a photo, but it didn’t hang around long enough.


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Turkish lamb wraps

Adapted from Quick & Healthy Dinners Guardian leaflet by Marcus Wareing.

  • lamb, cut into 2cm chunks, fat trimmed off
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • garlic clove, crushed & chopped
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • veg oil
  • mixed salad leaves
  • 200g yoghurt
  • chopped mint
  • half a cucumber, peeled & grated
  • salt & pepper
  • plain tortilla wraps or flat breads

Marinade the lamb chunks in the soy sauce, cumin, garlic, golden syrup & rosemary. Mix yoghurt with mint & cucumber – the original recipe says to de-seed the cucumber, but by the time you’ve peeled, de-seeded and grated a cucumber, you’re frankly not left with much. Life’s too short to de-seed cucumbers. What was it Dr Johnson said…?

Fry the lamb chunks in vegetable oil until cooked – 10 minutes perhaps. Set aside, clean the pan with a chunk of bread. Eat the bread. Nom. Then warm some tortilla wraps or flatbreads in the pan, fill with lamb, salad & yoghurt dressing. Simple and delicious.

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Summertime suppertime


It feels like summer is almost here, so while I was tidying up the garden I got a lamb stew on the go. It’s a bit like this one that I made a while back, with a few twists.

For the stew:

  • 500g lamb
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • harissa paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 6 – 10 dried apricots
  • salt & pepper
  • half an onion
  • a few garlic cloves
  • 4 small carrots
  • water

Put the oven on at about 170C. Cut the lamb into big chunks – about the size of a piece of meat that you’d say ‘ooh lovely’ if it was served to you in a posh restaurant, but secretly you’d be disappointed. Rub a couple of tabelspoons of harissa paste, salt & pepper all over the meat and leave to marinate at room temperature for an hour or so.

In a casserole dish, quickly brown the meat, add the onion thickly sliced, garlic and whole carrots. When it’s looking brown all over, add the tomatoes and a can and a half of water. Add the apricots, halved, and bay leaves. Put in the low oven for a couple of hours, topping up the water after an hour if required.

For the cous cous:

  • 250g cous cous
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
  • dash olive oil
  • half a teaspoon of sumac

Cover all the ingredients with boiling hot water, stir & leave until cooked.

For the roast veg:

  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • sliced butternut squash, skin-on
  • 1 aubergine, diced

Coat the veg in olive oil, salt & pepper and roast along with the stew – keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t catch.

This was lovely in the garden with a glass of cold Riesling, with fish for the pescatarians. The lamb was sweet & spicy & melty. Delicious.

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Chicken escalope

I’ve never made chicken escalope before – I’ve hardly ever eaten one, except once or twice when I ended up in Bush & Fields (the sandwich bar that used to be in the Bush House arcade) and was so hungry I could eat… a squashed chicken breast.

quick exit

Only 2 of us for supper in the ever-diminishing household tonight – I had a chicken breast and a couple of steaks. I know my daughter often finds steak a bit tough, and a grilled chicken breast sounded boring, so I thought I’d have a go. I didn’t look it up, I just made it up as I went along. Serves two. If you have two chicken breasts.

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • some polenta – 6 tablespoons perhaps
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika (not smoked)
  • 1 egg

Bash the chicken breasts flat with the end of a rolling pin. I ended up with something covering about twice the area of the original chicken breast.

Mix the polenta, herbs, salt, pepper & paprika well on a plate. One a separate plate, whisk the egg. Coat each flattened chicken breast with egg, and then cover really well in the polenta mix. Fry each escalope on a fairly high heat until crisp & golden. Delicious and very child-friendly.

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BLT with cheese

The mother lode

Ok – not a recipe, but this was so tasty I had to share. A BLT with melted cheese. Slice crusty bread in half, spread with a little mayo. Add ketchup & American mustard to one side. Slice sweet small tomatoes on one side & cover with black pepper. When you flip the bacon over, add a thin slice of your cheese of choice to the cooked side & let it melt in the frying pan. When the cheese is gloopy, add the bacon to the bread and stuff in some leaves – rocket would be good but I used lettuce & baby spinach. Assemble and eat. The weather justifies it.

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Velveting the chicken

No, not a novel by Sarah Walters, not a euphemism… velveting is a great way of cooking chicken when you’re making a stir-fry. It doesn’t affect the flavour so much as the texture – in fact it seals the chicken in a kind of velvet jacket, so it works best with a very strongly-flavoured sauce.

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • splash of mirin (optional)
  • splash of clear  rice vinegar (optional)
  • chicken breast meat
  • 1 cup of peanut oil or similar

Whisk the cornflour and salt into the egg white with a fork. I added a bit of mirin and rice vinegar purely because I had some in the cupboard and hadn’t found a use for them yet.

Cut the chicken into stir-fry-sized chunks and marinade in your gloop for up to half an hour. Then fry the chicken in quite a lot of oil – I used sunflower oil with a dash of toasted sesame oil added. Once the chicken pieces are white on the outside, you can drain it and add it back to the main stir fry wok to continue cooking – or in our case we cooked it longer in its own pan as we were making separate veggie and meat stir-fries.

The chicken was a huge hit – beautiful texture, and it stays moist inside.

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Spicy Slaw

@gwithiansunset made this to go with our eldest son’s birthday Mexican feast. Beyond awesome.

  • Half a white cabbage
  • 5 carrots
  • 4 spring onions
  • 6 radishes
  • half a red onion
  • 3 small apples
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 large fresh green chilli, seeded
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp plain low fat yogurt
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt & pepper

Shred the veg in a food processor. Mix the wet ingredients in a jar, shake and combine with the veg. Treat with caution. But you’ll be back for more.

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Devilled kidneys

I was hungry, working late, in need of a filling breakfast – and I was all out of chollah bread for the perfect ironic bacon sandwich. So I took my devilled mushroom recipe and used kidneys instead.

Devilled kidneys

Serves 1.

    • 2 lamb’s kidneys
    • knob of butter
    • tsp dried oregano
    • slug of Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
    • half a teaspoon of smoked paprika
    • salt and pepper

    Wash and slice the kidneys in half. Remove the white bits with sharp kitchen scissors. Fry on each side for a few minutes in the hot butter. Add salt & pepper, a slug of Worcestershire sauce. When the kidneys are cooked, add the crème fraîche and serve on toast or crusty bread with a sprinkling of paprika. Offally good.

    You can read more breakfast recipes here.

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    Burgers on chollah bread

    Chollah bread

    Praise be to @ginandting for alerting me to the savoury possibilities of chollah bread. I couldn’t find chollah buns locally, but Waitrose in Beckenham sell delicious big chollah loaves. Chollah is a sweet, soft bread, almost like brioche but a bit finer and firmer.

    Tonight we used thickly-sliced chollah for our burgers – home-made, of course, topped with melted cheese, home-made dill pickles, secret sauce*, lettuce, tomato and a sliver of onion. By popular consent – the best burgers I’ve made yet.

    burger on chollah bread

    @ginandting also tells me, chollah bread is amazing for a bacon sandwich. Not exactly kosher, but it’s got to be tried.
    burger on chollah bread

    Only one problem – which IPA to wash them down with..?

    Which IPA to have with my burgers?

    We also tried making Byron-style courgette fries to this recipe from Domestic Sluttery. They were ok, but not as nice as Byron’s. I think they must use a herb or spice I haven’t yet identified.

    *secret sauce is a mixture of mayonnaise, Heinz tomato ketchup and French’s American Mustard. It’s the business on burgers. But don’t tell anyone – IT’S A SECRET.

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