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Watermelon, feta and blackberry skewers

This is wonderfully simple and delicious with the sweet and salty combined and very pretty on the plate. From the food blog, “A healthy life for me”

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Serves: 24

1 small seedless ripe watermelon, cut into 1″cubes
6 ounces of Greek Feta cheese, cut into 1” cubes
Fresh ripe firm blackberries
Small wooden skewers

Skewer watermelon chunks, feta and blackberry.
Place on serving platter and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. How easy it that!

Spiced Mocha Lassi

This is a terrific recipe from Bobby Flay and the only thing you need to do in advance is make the spiced coffee ice cubes. They are well worth having in the freezer as the flavors are incredible when you drop a cube into this drink. A wonderful and different breakfast drink.

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Serves 4


2 cups hot espresso
1/4 cup sugar
1 strip orange peel
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2-inch piece fresh ginger, roughly chopped


3/4 cup to 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or more to thin down the drink)
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 ripe banana, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Make the spiced coffee ice cubes:
Combine the espresso, sugar, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon sticks and ginger in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves.
Cool to room temperature, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Strain the coffee mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl and discard the solids. Divide the mixture among 2 ice cube trays and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.

Make the lassi:
Add 3/4 cup orange juice, the yogurt, banana and cocoa powder to a blender and puree until smooth (if you’d like the lassi to be a bit thinner, blend in the remaining 1/4 cup orange juice).
Add a few spiced ice cubes to the blender and puree. Pour the lassi into glasses and add 2 more spiced ice cubes to each glass.
Serve immediately.

Kiwi apricot slice with brown sugar icing

Here’s another great slice or tray-bake recipe from New Zealand which is really delicious! The flavor of apricots is fabulous in this no-bake winner

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For the base
4 oz butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk (7 fl oz)
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
9 oz graham crackers or another plain sweet cookie, finely crushed

For the brown sugar icing
4.5 oz butter
3 tsp milk
3 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Lightly grease a 8″ by 12″ Swiss roll tin.
Place the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a saucepan and heat until melted. Do not boil.
Stir in the apricots and crushed cookies. Press into the tin and allow to set in the fridge.

For the brown sugar icing, place the butter, milk and brown sugar into a pan and bring to boil for 2 minutes.
Take off the heat and mix in the icing (powdered) sugar to form a smooth consistency.
Spread over the base and return to the fridge to set. Once set, cut into slices and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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.

Strawberries with mozzarella and mint pesto drizzle


I had this in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago and managed to figure out what was in it and work out a recipe.
It’s such a lovely idea to use sweet strawberries rather than tomatoes with the mint pesto and mozzarella, especially as strawberries go so well with balsamic vinegar dressing as well.

1 lb sweet strawberries, sliced
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup almonds, sliced
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 clove garlic
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (1/2 tsp for each serving)

 In a bowl, combine strawberries and sugar. Cover and set aside.
For the mint pesto drizzle, in a food processor combine the olive oil, mint leaves sliced almonds, Parmesan cheese and garlic.
Divide the mozzarella and place the slices (overlapping) on each serving plate. Spoon ½ cup sugared strawberries around and on cheese.
Spoon ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mint pesto drizzle over cheese and strawberries on each plate. Garnish with mint leaves.






Braised chicken with kumquats and green olives

We have two large potted Nagami kumquat trees flanking our front door, and this year we have a bumper crop.
Besides making rhubarb, kumquat and ginger chutney and kumquat marmalade, I am looking for some other dishes and this one is light, tasty and really super.

Serves 4
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced into 1/4 inch half rounds
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
3 bay leaves
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup kumquats, left whole
1 cup green olives, halved
salt and pepper

Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper and saute in olive oil in a heavy skillet until browned well on both sides over medium heat.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
In the same pan, add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until transparent. You may need to add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil at this stage.
Add the wine and bay leaves, scraping up all the bits off the bottom of the skillet, reducing over high heat until syrupy.
Return the chicken to the skillet and add enough chicken broth to cover the chicken by 2/3rds.
Tuck the kumquats and olives into the broth, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 40 minutes.
You may want to remove the cover and reduce the sauce in the last 15 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste and spoon over hot rice or couscous


Melon balls with tequila, lime and mint

Gorgeous, slimming, and refreshing at the end of a meal.

Try and get a “melon baller” for this recipe as it will make your life so much easier. They are easy to find these days and you can also get one online.

Serves 4

1 honeydew melon, preferably chilled
3 tbsp cold tequila
finely grated zest of 1/2 lime plus extra to serve
Juice of 1/2 lime
A tiny pinch of sea salt
A few sprigs fresh English mint, leaves only, chopped

Halve the melon and remove the seeds with a spoon. Using a melon baller, scoop the flesh into neat balls and place in a large bowl.

Mix the tequila, lime zest and juice, honey, and salt together in a small pitcher.
Taste and add a little more honey if the dressing is too sour.
Pour over the melon balls, toss very gently to mix and chill for at least 15 minutes.

Divide the melon balls among serving glasses, grate over some lime zest and sprinkle with freshly chopped mint to serve


Roasted pineapple with mint, pistachios and honey

This was recently posted in Bon Appetite Magazine, but I happen to have been making this very simple dessert for a while.

Serves 4

1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp flowery honey
1 medium ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
1/4 cup creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt
1/3 cup natural unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp torn fresh mint leaves

Preheat the oven to 450 F
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stir the first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves.
Add the pineapple wedges and toss to coat.
Let this marinade, tossing occasionally, for 10 to 20 minutes.
Place the pineapple, one flat side down, on the prepared cooking sheet; Reserve the marinade.

Roast the pineapple for 15 mins. Turn, brush with more marinade and roast until tender and caramelized, 10 to 20 minutes.
Drizzle over with the remaining marinade and let the pineapple cool slightly.

Divide the pineapple among plates. Spoon the creme fraiche or yoghurt alongside.
Garnish with the nuts and fresh mint.

Blueberry and brioche brunch bake

Another fab Holiday brunch dish prepared the night before. This one oozing with sweet blueberries then covered in a warm blueberry sauce for good measure.

Makes 6 servings

For the breakfast casserole

4 brioche (about 14 oz in all)  or 8 x 1” thick slices of brioche or other white bread, cubed
1/4 lb cream cheese, cut into cubes
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 tbsp grated orange zest
6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

For the blueberry sauce

3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tsp unsalted butter
3/4 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 12 x 9 x 2 (approx) baking dish

Arrange half the brioche slices or cubes in the bottom. Scatter the cream cheese cubes, 3/4 of the blueberries and the orange zest over the brioche or bread. Top with the remaining brioche or bread cubes.

In a bowl, stir the eggs, milk and maple syrup to blend. Pour this egg mixture evenly over the entire casserole. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Remove the casserole from the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it.
Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered until puffed and golden, about another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the blueberry sauce;

In a large saucepan, blend the sugar and cornstarch, then stir in the water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture boils, thickens, and becomes clear, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the blueberries. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the blueberries burst, about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice and keep warm until the casserole is done.

Cut the baked casserole into 6 squares, and transfer to plates. Pour abut 1/4 cup blueberry sauce over each portion and serve hot.



Baked Panettone with ricotta and mandarin oranges

Go out and buy a lovely fruity panettone and prepare this the night before, for a Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast. All you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven and you will think you’ve died and gone to Italian heaven!

Makes 6 servings

1 tbsp butter, preferably unsalted
8 oz fresh whole-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp Cointreau or Grand Marnier ( or a litte more!)
Six 1/2 inch thick slices of panettone
One 11 oz can of mandarin oranges, drained
6 extra large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Orange marmalade or maple syrup to serve

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Generously grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish with all the butter

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the ricotta cheese, sugar, cream and Cointreau together until the mixture is very dense and smooth

Arrange 3 panettone slices over the bottom of the greased baking dish, covering it completely.
Cover the panettone slices with the ricotta mixture and then arrange the mandarin oranges slices over the ricotta mixture. Cover with the remaining 3 slices of panettone.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and cinnamon until well blended. Pour this mixture over the panettone in the baking dish.

*At this point the dish can be covered with plastic wrap and put in the fridge over night until you’re ready to bake it.

Bake the casserole until dark golden brown on top, about 30 mins or so.

* If you have refrigerated it overnight, remove the dish from the fridge, uncover it and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking it.

Serve with the orange marmalade or maple syrup or both!

This one was done in a round baking dish