chicken cacciatore

Imagewell, my version anyway.

Around where I live, it’s really hard to come by chicken pieces that are free range. Unless of course you go to the bigger supermarkets, where you can buy chicken that’s been portioned, put on a meat tray and covered in plastic wrap. Nothing wrong with that, but where possible, I try and buy my fruit and veg from an independent greengrocer, my fish from a fish market and my meat from a butcher.

As for the chicken, I buy a whole one and portion it out myself ( it really isn’t that hard). I use the pieces I need for that nights meal and freeze the rest.

For last nights meal, I bought a Bannockburn free range chicken, and used the merryland (the thigh with the drumstick still attached). Season well with salt, pepper, cinnamon, smoked paprika and cumin.

In a cast iron pan or heavy based saucepan with lid, heat a little olive oil  and brown off the chicken.Take the chicken out and set aside. In the same pan throw in 1 thinly sliced leek – pale part only, 5 big cloves garlic – roughly chopped, 1 small brown onion – peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced, 1 celery stalk – diced and 2 rashers bacon – diced.Image

Cook for about 2 minutes until everything is soft. Add 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 6 fresh sage leaves, 1 cup white wine (I used Tempus Two Verdelho, cause that’s what we were going to drink when all the cooking was done) , 6 swiss brown mushrooms – cut in half,1/2 teaspoon sugar and about 250g canned diced tomato.Image Put the chicken pieces back into the pot and turn them over in the sauce. Turn the heat down to low, cover and let simmer for about 1 hour, stirring the sauce every now and again.

Feeling a little lazy and not wanting to dirty too many saucepans, I cooked some brown rice and when it was nearly done, I threw in some chopped green beans. What…it worked. That’s one less saucepan to wash up…..very important when you’ve had a few glassed of wine.Image


bagels…sort of…

Well I tried.  My first attempt at making bagels.  Not true….I made gluten free ones once a few years ago for my sister.  They didn’t turn out much better than this really..

I think I left the dough too wet.  They were hard to handle and squished some when I tried to lift them into the boiling water.  Image

I can’t call them bagels really because the hole in the middle disappeared.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Will I try again? definitely! 

The recipe is one I found on the internet :

450g plain flour,15g yeast, 375g warm water, 60g sugar, 5g salt.

Into a mixing bowl with everything. Mix until it forms a stiff dough (10 minutes), let rest 1 hour. Cut into 12 portions and shape into bagels. Let rest 20 minutes. Carefully put into boiling water, a couple at a time, for 1 minute on each side. Place on baking tray. Brush with egg white, sprinkle with stuff and bake 25 minutes at 220 degrees.


Did all that.  Got a soggy bread roll with poppy seeds on it. 

They did smell and taste good though….

I WILL try again……



here’s the thing….. I have trouble writing out recipes because I’m one of those people that doesn’t always measure ingredients out. This makes it quite difficult when someone asks ‘how did you make that?’ or ‘how much did you put in?’ It’s also proving very hard when it comes to trying to write up recipes for a recipe book,which has been coming for many a year.

Every now and again I will actually make the effort ( especially now with this blog and all), to take things slowly, write all things down and measure everything with spoons and cups and weights.

I made pancakes this morning. There I was, coffee on the stove, mixing bowl and whisk at the ready, when my husband tells me I should be blogging this recipe, sharing it with others.

Out come the ingredients, the spoons, the cups……

In my medium sized bowl, I measured in 1 cup of wholemeal plain flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon caster sugar, a pinch of bicarbonate of soda, 1 free range egg and about 1 and 1/2 cups of soy milk. I gave it a whisk and made sure there were no lumps and then added a little more milk to make it a thick but runny consistency (Sorry, don’t know how else to describe it).

Time to heat a small non stick fry pan on a medium heat. Brush with a little melted butter, and pour in about 1/2 a cup of the pancake batter. (The amount you pour in will depend on the size of your fry pan and how big you want your pancakes to be).

I then sprinkled on a few fresh blueberries.


This part may seem weird but it worked, I actually covered the pan with a lid for about a minute. It helped the pancake to cook a little faster on top without burning the bottom.

Flip the pancake over and let it cook for another 40 seconds or so.

Slide onto a plate and repeat with the rest of the batter.

I ended up with 4 big fluffy pancakes.

Top with some slices of banana and a few berries and a drizzle or two of some good maple syrup.

Next time I’ll try with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top as well.


Mushroom Tart…

This recipe is one I helped develop when I was working at a bakery.


I learnt so much working there, and made amazing friends.

There are a few components in this one, but nothing at all difficult and definitely worth  it.

For the pastry  mix together 250g plain flour, 90ml olive oil, 65g freshly grated parmesan cheese, pinch sea salt, and 100ml water in a bowl until you get a ball of dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill ( the pastry – not you) for 1 hour.

I make the caramelised onion next by peeling and cutting in half, 2 large onions (red or brown or a mixture of both), and then thinly slicing them. Put them in a large frypan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple sprigs of rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Cook them over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for around 30 minutes. Then stir in 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Let this cook until there is very little liquid left and the onions are soft and yummy. Take off the heat and let it cool down.

Next – grate 3-4 cloves of garlic into a large bowl and add about 1 cup of finely chopped flat leaf parsley, the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme (I love thyme, so I put a fair bit in), and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Thinly slice 300(ish)g of mushrooms ( I used a mix of large field and shitake), add them to your parley bowl with lots of freshly ground pepper and some salt and gently mix it all together.

Now – cut the dough in half and roll each half into a rectangle. (I roll straight onto some baking paper then slide that onto a baking tray)

Spread the onion equally between the two rolled out dough portions, leaving 2cm along the edges. Pile the mushrooms on top and fold up the edges. Looks like alot of mushroom, but it does cook down.

photo 1

Cook in a pre-heated oven 160c for 30 – 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

I then crumble some fetta cheese over the top to finish it off.

imagephoto 4

Love this with a fresh salad. Taste amazing cold the next day.



Had a bit of a mushroom week this week. 

There was mushroom and caramelised onion tart  ….. Image


There was sautéed field mushrooms with eggs and toast for breakfast….Image


and there was cauliflower, leek and mushroom soup with freshly made wholemeal soda bread….



Yes , we had a fungi-licious week.

The question is….which recipe goes up???



You know, the one thing I love to hear is when people say they make things from scratch. image I met a cousin from overseas for the first time this week. We got to chatting, and she was showing me photos of all the lovely breads and pastries and pies she’d been making. Wow, they looked great. At first, she was making all these things out of necessity.  Where she was living, it was just to hard to come by things we see as staples and everyday foods. It didn’t take long for her to be hooked. Plain breads gave way to flavours of all  sorts.  The family were  cutting into pies  and tarts with delicious and healthy fillings.  There was freshly made biscuits and even cheeses. DSC02095 It really is great to get in there and get your hands all doughy  and messy. There’s nothing like kneading  yeasty dough into shapes and baking them. Watching them rise and slowly brown. The smell……wow! image True, the task may seem daunting at first, and there is always the time factor thing. But if you are able,  there is no limit to what you can produce. And you’ll always know whats going into what you’re eating. Very important. Very rewarding……. image image

Spaghetti and meatballs

imageNearly made spaghetti.bol. for dinner. Decided meatballs would be good too.

For the meatballs I finely diced 1/2 an onion, grated 4 cloves of garlic, and mixed well into 350g  lean beef mince. Cut the crust off  2 slices of bread, roughly cut and soak in water for a minute, then squeeze most of the water out and add it to the meat. Season with salt, pepper, a pinch of cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon dried tarragon. Add 1 egg and get in there with your hands and squish it all together until very well combined.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large lidded frypan, form the meat mix into balls (up to you the size – I made them walnut sized this time), and brown them In the frypan On a medium heat.

Take the meatballs out of the pan and add a splash more oil. Throw in 1/2 brown onion – diced, 4 cloves garlic – finely chopped, and cook for about 2 minutes. put in about 200g of dice canned  tomato, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 tablespoon tomato paste, and about 1/2 cup of water. Season with salt, pepper and maybe 2 teaspoons mixed herbs. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and gently tip the meatballs back into the sauce and coat them in the sauce. Cover the frypan, and simmer gently for about 45 minutes.


Cook up your favourite pasta, toss through the sauce and meatballs.

serve with salad and freshly grated Parmesan, and a glass of red wine. We had a Peter van Gent Durif 2008. Perfect.

I Think  you’ll like this one.