the recipe sharer

Archive: Aug 2014

Roast chicken with dates, olives and capers

Thanks again to the incredible Yotam Ottolenghi for another Middle Eastern winner. The combination of sweet dates, briny green olives and tart capers, complements this dish so beautifully. It is best to prepare this dish 2 days before you need to serve it and leave it in the fridge to marinate so all the wonderful flavors permeate the chicken


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Preheat the oven to 350 F
8 whole chicken legs, drumstick and thigh attached and skin on.
5 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 oz fresh oregano, plus extra for garnish
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pitted green olives
2 oz capers, plus 2 tbsp of their juices
3 oz Medjool dates, pitted and and quartered lengthways
2 bay leaves
4 fl oz dry white wine
1 tbsp date syrup or treacle
Salt and black pepper

Place the chicken in a large, non reactive bowl and add all of the ingredients, apart form the wine and date molasses, along with 3/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper.
Gently mix everything together, cover the bowl and leave in the fridge to marinate for 1 to 2 days, stirring the ingredients a few times during the process.
Spread out the chicken legs on a large baking tray, along with all the marinade ingredients. Whisk together the wine and date syrup/treacle and pour over the meat. Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes, basting 2 or 3 times, until the meat is golden brown on top and cooked through.
Remove from the oven, transfer everything to a large warm platter, sprinkle over some freshly picked oregano leaves and serve.


Simple banana chocolate chip cake

We love banana bread, so when I found this recipe, it seemed to combined two wonderful flavors. I love cakes that are simple and you don’t have to cream the butter and sugar.

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2 large or 3 medium very ripe bananas. The riper the better, as they are easier to mash
6 oz butter
8 oz superfine (caster) sugar
10 oz self-raising flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
pinch of salt
2 tsp good quality vanilla essence
3 large eggs
1 packet of chocolate chips (dark or milk)

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Grease and line the bottom of an 8 inch tin, round or square
Melt the butter and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt to the sugar and butter mixture and mix well.
Mash the bananas and mix in the vanilla essence to the bananas
Beat the eggs
Add the banana mixture and eggs to the mixture and beat together.
Leave the mixture to cool before adding the chocolate chips, otherwise they will melt.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook for approximately 1 hour. It’s cooked when it’s a nice brown color and if you put a skewer in, it comes out clean.

Simple summer stew of tomato, merguez sausage and cannellini beans

Such a simple, summery stew to serve with just a green salad. if you can’t find merguez sausage, try using chorizo.  This is so easy to throw together and full of flavor, thanks to the sausage.
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Serves 4
A splash of olive oil
6 Merguez or Chorizo sausages
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1lb 6oz ripe tomatoes
7 fl oz chicken stock
2 x 15 oz cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
A good handful Italian parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or Le Creuset braiser on high heat. Roughly chop the sausages and fry until browned and beginning to crisp around the edges. transfer to a plate and lower the heat to medium.
Add the onion to the pan and fry for about 5 mins or until softened, adding the crushed garlic to the pan after a couple of minutes so it doesn’t burn.
Quarter the tomatoes, then add to the pan with the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Season and stir, then simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the Cannellini beans to the pan with the browned sausages. Simmer for 10 mins or until the sausages are cooked through and the sauce is thickened.
Roughly chop the parsley, then stir through the stew. Divide it among 4 serving bowls. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and serve with some crusty bread and a green salad.





Crab, mango, basil and cilantro noodle salad

This is a recipe from the wonderful British food magazine called “Delicious”. This is so easy to throw together and no cooking other than boiling a kettle!


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Serves 4
8 oz ribbon rice noodles (Thai Taste is a good brand)
1 large very ripe mango
A large bunch fresh Thai basil or regular basil
A large bunch fresh cilantro (coriander)
4 oz fresh white crabmeat
4 tbsp salted peanuts
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
Juice 1 lime, plus wedges to serve

Bring a kettle of water to the boil. Put the noodles in a large bowl ans cover with plenty of freshly boiling water. Leave for 20 minutes, stirring now and then. Drain, then rinse under warm water to remove the starch. Drain and set aside in the bowl.
For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl. Slice the “cheeks” off the mango, score the flesh into slim wedges, then scoop them out, discarding the skins.
Chop the herbs, setting aside a few whole leaves. Toss the chopped herbs through the noodles with the mango, crabmeat and dressing, then divide among the plates. Chop the peanuts, then scatter over the noodles with the reserved herbs.

Serve with lime wedges and sliced chile if you like.




Coq au vin

We had a really lovely coq au vin last night with close friends, sitting outside on the patio. It was one of those really simple recipes that is full of flavor and you can make ahead and put in the fridge overnight.
The depth of flavor to this dish is huge, especially as you caramelize the onions and mushrooms separately then add to the chicken them halfway through the cooking.
One time I served it with mashed cauliflower and a tomato, mozzarella, basil, avocado and red onion salad and it was divine. Another time I served it with mashed sweet potato and my “Easy cheesy zucchini bake” and it also went down a treat.


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Serves 4 to 6
2 oz bacon fat or olive oil
4 – 5lbs chicken legs and thighs, seasoned well with salt and pepper
6 thick slices bacon, chopped
3 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
3 good sized leeks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp flour
20 fl oz good red wine (one you would drink)
4 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp herbes de Provence
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
12 oz cremini or baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
A 14 oz bag of frozen pearl onions, defrosted then dried with paper towels.
3 oz butter

Preheat the oven to 325F
Heat the bacon fat or olive oil in a flameproof casserole dish with a lid, like Le Creuset. Add the seasoned chicken pieces and brown on all sides.
Transfer them to a plate. Add the bacon, celery, leeks and garlic to the casserole and fry until the bacon is crisp. Stir in the flour and cook gently until it becomes a paste. Gradually add the wine, herbs and salt and pepper, stirring. Bring to the boil.
Return the chicken to the casserole, cover and put into the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the onions and mushrooms in the butter for 5 to 10 minutes until nicely caramelized. After the 45 minutes are up, add them to the casserole, and stir well.
Re-cover and continue to cook for 1 hour or until the chicken is well cooked through.

Quick and easy spicy prawn soup

We love our soups and even eat them through the summer months, sometimes replacing main courses with them, if they are substantial enough.
This is a recipe from the wonderful BBC Good Food website, and I altered it a little to suit our taste buds. It is very light and full of flavor.


Spicy prawn soup
Serves 4
1 tbsp sunflower oil
10 oz bag crunchy stir-fry vegetables
6 scallions, chopped on the diagonal, green and white parts
6 oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
2 tbsp Thai green (or yellow) curry paste . You may want to start with 1 tbsp if you’re not too much into spicy food.
15 oz can reduced fat coconut milk
7 fl oz vegetable or fish stock
11 oz medium straight-to-wok noodles
8 oz bag large raw prawns, shelled and de-veined
A handful of roughly chopped cilantro

Heat a wok, add the oil then stir-fry the vegetables, scallions and mushrooms for 3 – 4 minutes.
Take them all out and set them aside, then tip the curry paste into the pan and fry gently for 1 minutes.
Pour in the coconut milk and stock. Bring to the boil, drop in the noodles and prawns, then reduce the heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes until the prawns are cooked through.
Stir in the vegetables, add the chopped cilantro and serve. Easy isn’t it?

Easy hoisin glazed salmon

We eat a lot of salmon and I always try to buy wild salmon. This is gorgeous served with steamed rice and roasted or steamed asparagus. It’s very healthy and low in calories and packed with Asian flavors. Easy for a crowd too.


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Serves 4
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ chicken broth or water
¼ cup Hoisin sauce
2-3 cloves garlic
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger
2 tablespoons honey
2 limes
1 lb. salmon – wild caught if you have access to it
1 tablespoon sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds for topping

To make the hoisin glaze, puree the soy sauce, water/stock, hoisin, garlic, ginger, honey, and juice of one lime in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a skillet over medium high heat. Simmer until the mixture reduces to a syrupy consistency that will stick to the salmon when brushed on. Remove from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the salmon into four pieces. Pour the sesame oil in a baking dish (I’d recommend nonstick) and arrange the salmon in the pan. Brush the salmon with the a thin layer of glaze, reserving the rest of the glaze for later. Bake for 12 minutes; remove from oven, brush with glaze again, and bake for another 12 minutes.
When the salmon is done (it will be firm and flake apart easily) remove from oven and brush with the glaze one more time before serving. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if you want it to look extra nice
* This is also lovely served with a simple salad of spinach, grated carrots, edamame beans, cilantro, and dry roasted peanuts tossed with sesame oil, lime juice, salt, and a touch of honey.


Easy marmalade ice cream

Before you say “ugh” to yourself (or out loud) think about this recipe. If you don’t like marmalade but like oranges then STOP and read this or better still make it!
I happen to make a killer marmalade as we have 7 Seville orange trees in our garden that bear tons of fruit. My marmalade, however, is not the clear orange type with fine-cut peel, it’s a dark amber color that I allow to boil down until almost at burning point with a very coarse peel. It is divine and I have many friends asking me for it.
Turning it into ice cream is absolutely wonderful and you will be hooked.

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1 1/4 cups marmalade (Store bought is also good if you don’t make your own)
1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange liqueur like Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl combine the marmalade, vanilla and liqueur.
Stir in the half and half and cream.
Freeze in your ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When finished, the ice cream will be very soft but ready to eat. Although the ice cream will not freeze hard, you can transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze to firm up a little more.

Chilled spicy cucumber, avocado and coconut milk soup

Give me anything curried and I’ll walk miles for it!  I love this because there is no cooking and it tastes as if you’ve been slaving for hours in the kitchen. You can vary the garnishes.


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Two 12-ounce cucumbers—peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Hass avocados, coarsely chopped ( try just one to start with as it may be too thick with 2)
2 teaspoons Thai green or yellow curry paste (Try less to start with and taste it)
2 teaspoons sugar, optional
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
One 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
3 ½ cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (use lemon if you cannot find limes)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, for garnish
10 cilantro sprigs, for garnish

In a food processor, puree the cucumbers until smooth. Add the avocados, curry paste, sugar, lime zest and chili.
Process until blended. Add 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth, the coconut milk and lime juice and process until smooth. Transfer the soup to a large bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, toast the coconut over low heat, stirring a few times, until lightly browned and crisp, 3 minutes. Let cool.
Ladle the soup into small bowls or cups, garnish with the toasted coconut flakes and cilantro sprigs and serve.

Fresh basil ice cream

There is nothing nicer than ice cream made from fresh herbs and it’s delicious served with fruit, raw or cooked.
This one is divine, especially served with strawberries and such a great color too. This recipe couldn’t be much easier and makes 1 quart.

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2 cups basil leaves
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. lemon zest
¼ tsp. salt
6 egg yolks

* Green food coloring (if you would like a vibrant color like this. I don;t always use it though)
Combine the fresh basil leaves, milk, cream, sugar, lemon zest, 4 – 6 drops food coloring (or more depending on how bright green you want it) salt, and egg yolks in a blender and puree until smooth.
Pour into a 2-qt. saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.
Remove from the heat and pour through a fine strainer; chill in the refrigerator.
Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Serve garnished with fresh basil leaves.