Monthly Archives: January 2014

tandoori chicken and peppers


I buy tandoori spice mix in the UK but I think you would get a good result by grinding cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamon and chilli, though you wouldn’t get the red colouring.

Early in the morning I mix yogurt, the juice of a lemon and spice mix. I make deep slashes in the skinless chicken thighs and marinade them in the yogurt. (I cover the bowl with cling film and put it in the fridge).  At lunchtime, I lift them out of the marinade and put them in a roasting tray. I season with salt and a dribble of olive oil.  They go into a preheated oven at 200°C. After 20 minutes I turn them over and add a little more of the marinade on top. In another 20 minutes or so, they should be cooked. Meanwhile, I slice two large peppers on the mandolin and cook briskly in olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. I stir fry the vegetable until any liquid  has gone and the peppers have softened and taken on a little colour.

Be warned! The kitchen, your clothes and hair will smell of curry for a day, but it’s worth it!

hamburger and rosti


If I have top quality mince beef, freshly minced and freshly bought, then it’s hard to beat a hamburger. I like the meat very pink and to hell with health concerns about e-coli etc.

First, the rosti. I grate potatoes in the Magimix, add salt and pepper and tip into a non-stick frying pan with olive oil, With a spatula, I shape the potatoes into rounds and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until nicely coloured, I flip the rounds over and proceed to cook the other side. When the potato rosti are ready, I sprinkle salt into another pan and put it onto a high heat. I season the meat and shape it into rounds. They cook for 3 or 4 minutes each side. There’s no need for oil in the pan, but you can dribble a little fresh olive oil over the meat on the plate.

Another nice thing with rosti, which I ate in Dublin airport of all places,  is to put a thick slice of goat’s cheese  on top of the cooked rosti, and then pop under the grill to colour and melt.

leek tart


Inspired by the Great British Bake Off (great programme!) here’s my version of a quiche…

First I chop leeks and sautè them in a little butter and olive oil. While they cool, I make the shortcrust pastry (150gm flour, 75gm butter, salt and  water) and leave it to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. I prepare the custard by beating two eggs with 200 ml cream and three tablespoons of parmesan, a little salt and pepper. Then I roll out the pastry thinly and line a tin. I prick the base with a fork and bake the case blind for 15-20 minutes at 180°C. (To bake blind, I use a sheet of baking paper weighed down by ceramic baking beans which I remove in the last 5 minutes.) I let the case cool a little, then add the leeks and custard. It returns to the oven for 35-40 minutes.

These tarts are good for stand-up parties or as a supper treat with a salad. I prefer to eat the quiche cold.

creme caramel


This is nice in individual portions. I use disposable foil pots.

First I make the custard by mixing an egg and two yolks with 60gm sugar. To this I add 250 ml milk which I heat to boiling point with a strip of lemon peel. Then I melt three tablespoons of sugar in a pan to caramellise it. I put the caramel in each foil pot, twisting it round to coat the sides too. I strain the custard into each pot and place them in a roasting tin. I pour boiling water into the tin and cook in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C. I cool the custard pots and then put them in the fridge. To serve, I loosen the sides with a knife and invert onto a plate.

This quantity makes four.

pork chops in beer


This was popular in the seventies, so excuse my age coming through!

I slice three onions (not too finely) and flour four large pork chops. I briefly sautè the onions in a frying pan with some olive oil and brown the meat. I season well with salt and pepper and add a glass of beer (or cider) and two teaspoons of Dijon mustard. I transfer the lot into a roasting tin, cover with foil and put in a preheated oven at 180°C. I check after an hour, turn the chops and continue cooking another 20 to 30 minutes, uncovered if there’s a lot of liquid.

The meat should be meltingly soft, the onions caramellised and mashed potato is a must.


three fruit marmalade


This is not my usual area of competence (i.e. Augusta is the family jam maker) but…

First the fruit needs to soak . I wash 2 lemons, a grapefriut and an orange and remove the peel with a potato peeler. I cut the peel into fine strips and add it to a bowl with 2 litres of water. I remove the white pith from the fruit and put it in a muslin cloth (actually, an old cotton napkin). I cut up the fruit and put any pips or pith in the the napkin. I add the fruit to the basin of water. I tie up the napkin well and add it to the basin too. I cover with a plate and leave for 24 hours.

I bring the fruit, water and bag of pith to the boil in a  very large pan and simmer for an hour and a half. I wash five jam jars and their caps well, dry them and put them in the oven at 100°C for half an hour to “sterilise”. I remove the bag of pith from the simmered liquid and squeeze out as much of the sticky liquid as possible into the pan (this is where the pectin is!). I add a kilo and a half of sugar to the fruit and boil rapidly for 20 minutes until setting point is reached. A little liquid on a cold plate will gel. I transfer the marmalade to a pouring jug and fill the jars to the brim. The caps must be put on immediately.

So, breakfast is now sorted for a wee while. 

meat pies


The Life of Pie …. mmm.

I make the filling first. I chop half an onion, half a leek,and  a carrot and sautè them briefly in a large frying pan with olive oil. I then add 500gm of best minced meat, season with salt, pepper and dried herbs  turn up the heat and brown it well. When all the liquid has gone, I add a splash of white wine and cook briskly until it too has evaporated. Finally, I add a good squeeze of triple concentrate tomato paste dissolved in half a glass of water. This cooks gently unti the mixture is dry. At this point I add some chopped parsley and  leave it to cool, I prepare shortcrust pastry in the Magimix with 250 gm flour, 125 gm butter, a teaspoon of salt and enough water. I use the pulse function for better control. I rest the pastry in the fridge for 30 minutes.

I roll out the pastry and make 4 circles, using a fruit plate as a template. I brush the edges with beaten egg and pile a quarter of the cold meat in each. I sprinkle a teaspoon of parmesan on top and close the pasties well. I brush them with egg, make a few pricks with the point of a sharp knife and cook them in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C.

HP, ketchup or English mustard alongside one of these pies makes life worthwhile!

courgettes with turmeric


This is a nice side dish for a curry…and easy.

I cut small courgettes lengthways into four and then into 3 or 4 centimetre sticks. I sautè them briefly in a little olive oil in a frying pan, add a teaspoon of turmeric, salt and pepper (or chilli flakes for some fire, if you like) and stir well. I cover the pan for a few minutes. I uncover and continue to fry briskly  for a minute or two until any liquid has been absorbed and the vegetables are cooked, yet still with a “bite”.

You can do the same with small florets of cauliflower, though you may need to add a splash of water to the pan and cook a little longer.

orange salad


Sometimes you need or fancy a dessert but there’s nothing in the house. An orange salad is a great solution.

I peel three or four oranges and remove as much pith as possible. I open the fruit in half and then cut it into slices across the sections. I arrange these on a large flat plate and sprinkle over a little sugar (white or brown) and a few tablespoons of brandy. I cover in film and refrigerate for an hour before serving. You can leave the orange whole but half slices are easier to eat!

For a Moroccan twist, try sprinkling cinnamon and orange flower water instead of sugar and brandy.



There’s no comparison between shop bought and home made orecchiette.

I make a dough with 100 gm semola (hard wheat flour) per person and  water. I use the Magimix, adding the water in a stream through the lid until the flour forms crumbs, which I then press together with my hands to form a dough that’s neither too hard nor too soft. This rests, covered, for 30 minutes. Then I take a portion of the dough and roll it out between my hands to form a long sausage , about 2 cms thick. With a table knife, I cut off a half centimetre piece and, pressing hard, drag it towards me. I open the little roll and shape it over my thumb to create the cap-like shape of an orecchietta. On with the next….! I cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, remove them when they come up to the surface and add them to the pan of sauce (yesterday I made a tomato sauce with pancetta, onion and chilli) to toss.

I suggest googling “orecchiette” and watching a youtube video of someone making them, because it’s not easy to describe the process in words. It’s worth perservering.