Lamb tagine


I was recently in Tunis, where I bought a tagine dish, so last weekend I had the chance to try it out. I love making tagines, such a wonderful mix of flavours. I tend to read recipes for inspiration, but then deviate, adding this and that. First fry the diced lamb, until brown, then remove from the pan. Next fry a chopped onion and some garlic (sometimes I add some fresh red chilli too). Return the meat to the pan and add cumin, turmeric, saffron and a cinnamon stick. I add some tagine mix if I have it. Oh and some honey. Add a jar of passata and some red wine and simmer for a while. Then add some chopped apricots and prunes. Transfer to the tagine dish and pop in the oven. I served this with couscous with roasted pint nuts and fresh chopped coriander. Simply delicious! Oh and I have to say the company was rather good too 😉


Fish pie

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Perfect for a mid-week winter evening, fish pie… Poach haddock, cod and salmon in milk with a bay leaf. Boil potatoes and mash, with butter and milk. Cook a packet of fresh spinach and boil some eggs.. Sprinkle fish in a dish, add a packet of cooked prawns, and add chopped eggs and spinach. Make a cheese sauce with the milk that was used to cook the fish. Cover the mixture with this, top with mashed potato, and finally grated cheese. Bake in the oven until golden brown. Absolutely delicious!

Chicken provencal

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Perfect for a dark winter mid-week meal. Fry chopped onion and garlic, add chopped chestnut mushrooms and then some flour to thicken. Add 125 ml of chicken stock and about 175 ml of white wine. Bring to the boil until it thickens. Add three chopped tomatoes (with the skins taken off), some oregano and about six chopped anchovy filets. Meanwhile, fry chicken pieces, until brown. Transfer to a casserole dish and cook for about half an hour. Serve with herby buttery new potatoes and broccoli!

Baked chicken pasta with tomato sauce and mozarella


This is a simple way to use up leftover chicken. Fry an onion and some chopped garlic, and then add shredded chicken. Add some passata and a little red wine, add mixed herbs and fresh basil, a little Worcester sauce, some ketchup and tomato paste. Cook for a while, meanwhile cook the pasta. When read put the sauce and the pasta into a dish and mix well. Shred mozzarella over it and bake in the oven for about half an hour. Simple but delicious!

Potato, spinach, egg and lentil curry


I love this curry, simple but delicious! Fry onion, garlic and chilies, add par-boiled potatoes and then fresh spinach. A tin or two of chopped tomatoes, a jar of Patak balti sauce, red lentils, cinnamon, cardamom pods, and curry leaves. And leave to simmer. At the end add sliced boiled eggs. Serve with nutty brown rice and mini-naan bread…. Very tasty indeed!

Shepherd’s pie


I haven’t made this for ages, but it’s perfect for a Winter Monday….  And it gives me an excuse to use my new casserole dish… Fry lamb’s mince, add chopped onion and garlic and chopped carrots. Add passata, a little red wine, a small amount of lamb stock cube, tomato paste, herbs, bay leave and Worcester sauce. Then season and leave to bubble…. BTW there is no need to add oil, dry fry the mince that releases enough oil for the onions etc. And if you want you can use low fat cheese or not add any. Near the end add some frozen peas. Boil the potatoes and mash with butter and milk. Put in a casserole dish and top with the potatoes and some grated strong cheddar cheese and bake! Finished product below! 🙂


Chicken with lemon and garlic


Via Janice Carrera on fb

One free range chicken, two lemons, one large onion, two chicken stock cubes and as many cloves of garlic you like! Slice the lemons in chunky pieces stuff one of them into the chicken alternately with half the onion and a few cloves of garlic. Put one stock cube in the middle of the cavity. Arrange the other lemon slices, onion, garlic gloves around the bird with a crumbled stock cube and a little water. Baste with olive oil salt and pepper and Voila! A Sicilian recipe ….

Impressions of Brazil


I am recently back from Brazil – I  gave a talk in Maceió and then spent a lovely few days in Sao Paulo with a friend. So I thought I would write down some impressions whilst they are fresh in my mind. Brazil is an amazing country – love it. This was my second trip. So here, in no particular order, is a list of things I noticed:

  • Little electronic devices on tables in restaurants, which you can use to summon the waitress with.
  • It’s a large country! Was a three-hour flight from Sao Paulo to Marceió.
  • There seems to be a culture of not drinking wine and it’s practically impossible to just get a glass of wine.
  • Beauty salons are big out there! I didn’t see a single woman without perfect designer eyebrows! Waxing, manicures and pedicures are a must.
  • No one even thinks of going out in Sao Paulo until midnight.
  • Riots across the country. Started because of a proposed increase in bus fairs, then spread to lots of other things people were unhappy with.
  • Similarity of Portuguese to Spanish. Very few people speak English, managed to get by with my Spanish – had some good chats to taxi drivers 😉
  • Tapioca – fried with ham and cheese is a must for breakfast. Cheese balls also popular.
  • The food is wonderful!
  • Coffee at the beach? Forget it!
  • They have day beach resorts with swimming pools and restaurants that you can book into.
  • Maceió has a wonderful market – where you can get lovely gifts, like crochet goods and beach bags.
  • There are electronic devices in hotel rooms to indicate you want your room made up.
  • The Samba music is to die for.  Saw a great band called ‘ocerta – pra sempre’.
  • When you have a pedicure you need to take flip flops 😉
  • There are different plug sockets across the country – very confusing.
  • There is an amazing book shop/liberaria in the centre of Sao Paulo with a great coffee shop.
  • There are restaurants where you pay for the food by weight.
  • At clubs you get issued a card, which you then use to get drinks with and simply pay at the end of the evening.
  • The juices/sucos are to die for, as are the exotic fruits.
  • You see lots of roadside stalls selling fruit and would you believe it cooked lobster!
  • Caipirinha – wonderful drink.
  • I got a love book about Brazilian food and culture, which I will enjoy making recipes from.
  • Saw some cats with very unusual markings.
  • The beaches in the North East are wonderful.
  • Maceió beach road is closed on Sundays so kids can play.
  • The conference dinner had a cocktail bar.
  • Santander bank has serious security controls but is lovely inside and you can get free fresh coffee.
  • All the woman have huge handbags!
  • There is a car parking service at a lot of restaurants and bars.
  • The Santo Grao coffee house is the best I have ever been to.
  • There is a nice museum in downtown Sao Paulo.
  • Street music is everywhere.
  • The food market in Sao Paulo is wonderful.

So just a few thoughts – was a great trip.

By gconole Posted in Travel

Spaghetti Bolognese


Spaghetti Bolognese is perfect comfort food for a dreary wet night. So perfect for this evening! Fry the mince, an onion and some garlic until it is cooked through, add a chopped pepper and some chestnut mushrooms. Some chicken stock, a splash of red wine, some tomato puree, seasoning, mixed herbs and a bay leaf. Then leave to simmer down. Simple but delicious.

Chicken soup again…

I just love making soup with leftovers! It’s amazing to think that a £6 chicken can do for 3 or 4 family meals! I fried bacon, onion and garlic. I added the chicken, roast potatoes, sausages, carrots and peas. Add in a good amount of chicken stock and some mushrooms that were in the cupboard. Season and leave to simmer to let the flavours develop. Simple but perfect!