North African Spiced Roast chicken with Garlic potatoes


  This dish is a one pot wonder. Fragrantly and mildly spiced chicken cooked with the potatoes in stock producing a wonderful garlic and lemon sauce flavoured  with cinnamon and star anise.

And what’s more you only have one pot to wash up! 

Perfect for a lazy Sunday with friends or family. 

Ingredients 

  • 1.4kg approx chicken
  • 500g waxy potatoes, cut into wedges. I use Charlotte
  • 1tbs Harissa 
  • 1tsp ras el hanout 
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 1 star anise 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pint chicken stock

Method

Set oven to 200C

Lightly brush the chicken with olive oil and squeeze 1/2 lemon on top of the chicken stuffing the cavity with the remaining 1/2. Place chicken breast side down in roasting dish and cook for 15 mins.

Turn the oven down to 180C

Turn the chicken breast side up. Mix the Harissa and Ras El Hanout together and brush over the chicken.

Chuck into the roasting dish around the chicken the garlic cloves, potato wedges, cinnamon stick, star anise and bay leaf. 

Cook for another 1 hour 10 mins or until chicken is properly cooked and the potatoes are caramelised. 

If the sauce is not thickened enough put the juices on a direct heat and stir till thickened. If the sauce is too evaporated again add some water to the pan and put on a direct heat stiring throughout. 

A simple robust salad


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If your looking for a hearty full of flavour salad look no further…. I have played with the idea of a tricolour salad but roasted the tomatoes to bring out the sweetness and making it a cross between crostini and a tricolour turning it from a starter to a main course.
Served with toasted ciabatta bread rubbed with a garlic clove and drizzled with olive oil I like to squish the tomato onto the toast. Yum! Allow the tomatoes to come to room temperature before adding else the lovely salad will wilt.

Ingredients
Pack of baby plum tomatoes,
Drizzle of Balsamic vinegar,
Drizzle of olive oil,
Baby herb or leaf salad,
Basil leaves,
Ciabatta bread, sliced,
Garlic,
1 large mozzerella ball, sliced

Method
Heat the oven to 200, place tomatoes in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, roast for 15 mins until soft but shape still holding. Allow to cool.
Arrange the herb salad on a plate, arrange the mozzerella slices and top them with the basil. Scatter the tomatoes on top with the cooking juices.
Drizzle a little more olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Toast the ciabatta slices, rub with the garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil.
Dive in.

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A month of fasting


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Ramadan Mubarak!
My kitchen will soon resemble an episode of Masterchef when I attempt to cook a three course meal after work to a deadline that is Iftar (when the fast is broken). My husband adds the commentary “you have 5 minutes remaining”!

The traditions of ramadan start weeks before where the house is scrupulously cleaned, new cooking pots purchased and in some cases the house redecorated. I imagine others like myself will start plotting the menus. You are aware of the nutritional benefits of the meals you cook to sustain the body during the long fasting hours.

So what is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar with the start signalled by the sighting of the crescent moon. Muslims will fast from dawn to sunset, refraining from food, liquid, cigarettes, sexual relations and swearing. The idea of fasting is to diminish dependence on material goods, purify their hearts and create a solidarity with the poor. During this month the Qu’ran should be read and prayers increased.

Iftar.
The fast is broken with three dates and leben (fermented milk), followed by a chorba (soup) being married to an Algerian this has to be Chorba frik with Borek which is so yummy!
We will be following this with salads and meats and then desserts. It doesn’t stop there with a final course of mint tea and what we call in our home yummys, normally Algerian honey semolina cakes or baklava.

I hope to be blogging loads of new and healthy recipes over the Ramadan period so make sure to visit me during this time.

To my Muslim readers Ramadan Mubarak!

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Berkoukes bel djedj (chicken with giant couscous)


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I started my blog to explore not only Algerian flavours but also to experiment with more fish dishes as I cannot easily get quality halal meat. Well that’s changed! Ocado have started stocking amazing halal meat by a Haloodies, (halal for foodies). You can also find them in Harrods foodhall but I’m not one to do my weekly shop there.
Haloodies is a concept by the guys behind the Halal food festival and I can honestly say the meat is of exceptional quality and I’ve enjoyed trying the whole range. However if your reading my blog Haloodies please could you start selling duck? Pretty please! You can visit Haloodies on their Facebook page www.facebook.com/haloodies
So on to the recipe……
Berkoukes are little pasta pellets. In the UK we call them giant couscous and they are delicious in this chicken sauce, casserole style dish.
I have as usual tweaked and played about with the basic recipe and I hope you enjoy it.

Ingredients
2 tbsp oil,
chicken pieces, this occasion I only used legs.
1 onion, finely chopped,
3 garlic cloves, crushed,
1 carrot, chopped,
1 tsp cumin,
1tsp paprika.
1 pinch chilli powder,
1 tbs tomato purée,
1 pint of chicken stock,
2 pints of water,
250g giant couscous,
Coriander, chopped
Crusty loaf to accompany

1hr 15 mins. Serves 4 – 6

Method

Brown the chicken in the oil, when browned add the onion and cook for a further 5 mins till starting to soften.
Add garlic and carrot and stir cooking for 5 mins.
Add all spices and tomato paste and cook for 2 mins.
Add stock and water and simmer for 30 mins.
Add the giant couscous simmer for a further 10 mins then add the chickpeas for a final 10 mins.
Season to taste and add the coriander.
Serve with a crusty loaf

Butternut squash soup with a North African influence


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If you follow my blog you will know I just love soup. In continuation of my New Years resolution to eat healthy, tonight I cooked up this soup. I used North African spices to liven it up and to please my hubby… He was pleased.
This soup is silky in consistency and rich in taste. Serve with crusty brown loaf.

Serves 3 – 4

Ingredients
1 butternut squash, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 pints chicken stock

Method

Sauté the onion In olive oil for 5 mins till softened. Add the garlic, squash and carrots and continue to cook for 5 mins or till the squash is starting to soften.
Add all the spices and chilli and cook for 2 mins. Add stock and simmer for 20 mins.
Blitz with a blender and taste for seasoning.

Salmon with Julienne vegetables


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Every new year I make my resolutions for the coming year. Every year it includes eating healthier and taking up exercise. Every year I fail on day one.
This year though something else has happened…. I started running and that’s not all. I have managed to get my daily calories down!
The problem with dieting is I truly love good food. I don’t like to substitute meals with low fat versions of its ingredients. This is one dish that is packed of veg and steamed in its own juices and is full of flavour. After eating this I don’t need to reach for the “yummy” jar to feel fulfilled. I have made so many versions of this with various ingredients but this is my final edit.
Ps. Invest in a julienne peeler, makes this a doddle.

Serves 2

Ingredients
300g baby potatoes sliced the thickness of a pound coin
1 courgette, cut julienne
1 carrot, cut julienne
1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 lemon
2 salmon steaks
Bunch of chives and parsley, finely chopped
Baking parchment

Method

Heat oven to 200c. Cut two large rectangles of baking parchment twice the size of the baking sheets.
Fold over and grease one side.
Parboil potatoes for five mins and let dry.
Place the potatoes on the greased parchment about 2cm from the edges and pile high with the vegetables. Place the salmon on top. Season with salt and pepper and top with a slice of lemon and herbs. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice.
Fold over the sides of the parchment a few times pressing on the creases to makes sure there are no gaps and bake in the oven for 30 – 35 mins.

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Cranberry sauce


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I love going home to spend the festive season with my family and my mother does such a fab job of feeding our huge family with goose, turkey and all the trimmings. She even makes us non alcoholic Christmas pudding! I think this is above and beyond amazing and am glad I can contribute albeit a small offering by making cranberry sauce. I’ve made it my annual tradition.
If you have never made cranberry sauce you have to give it a try it beats shop brought by a mile and fills your home with a wonderful smell and a satisfying sound of popping cranberries.

Ingredients

1kg fresh washed cranberries
400ml orange juice
Zest of 2 oranges
1 pinch All spice
1 pinch Ground cinnamon
1 pinch Ground ginger
250g soft brown sugar
Approx 3 Jam jars, sterilised

Method
Measure the juice of the two oranges and top up with orange juice to make 400ml. Add the spices and zest and simmer till you have reduced the liquid to about a half.
Tip in your cranberries and simmer till they start popping and the mixture becomes jam like. Add your sugar and simmer for 10 minutes. Test for sweetness and add more sugar if required.
Poor hot into hot sterilised jars and seal straight away.

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Chicken casserole with spring vegetables


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I know it’s not spring but I fancied a light warming casserole. I was inspired by a recipe on the Waitrose website to use spring vegetables but the reviewers of the recipe were not too kind. It was described as bland so I tweaked the ingredients and the cooking method. My husband loved it so as usual if my fussy man highly rates my recipe I blog it….

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 chicken, cut into 8 (or chicken thighs, legs)
1tbs Olive oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 Garlic clove, crushed
2 pints of chicken stock
500g New potatoes, thickly sliced
150g Baby carrots
2 little gem lettuce
150g peas (I used fresh but frozen would be just fine)
Smidgen of mustard to taste
4 tbs creme fraiche
Parsley, finely chopped

Method

Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan. Add the chicken and cook till browned, add the onion and garlic and continue to cook for a few moments till the onion is softened and the chicken browned. Approx 10 – 15 mins.
Add the stock and season well with salt and pepper, cook on medium heat for 15 mins. Add the potatoes and continue cooking for another 5 mins before adding carrots and carry on cooking for another 10 mins.
Once the chicken is cooked and the stock has reduced by half, Stir in the mustard, add the peas and lettuce and cook for 5 mins.
Stir in the parsley and creme fraiche and serve in big soup bowls.

Autumn and a Toffee Apple Pudding


20130923-202320.jpgMy favourite time of the year is here! Yes while most people are mourning the short burst of summer I am digging out my autumnal coloured clothes and looking forward to walks amongst the gold and russet leaves followed by hearty meals and puddings and snuggling with my husband and cats under a fleece watching a movie!

On top of all that it love autumn food! I have just got back from spending the weekend with my family in Dorset. What a fab introduction to Autumn! And sent back home with an array of apples, fresh lain eggs, pickled beet root, beet root chutney and fig jam made by my mother. Yum!

So in my batch of apples I have plenty of the cooking kind so tonight I’m whipping up a toffee apple dessert. I make a similar version with blackberries which was suppose to be added to my previous entry but got devoured twice in a row before I could photograph it but tonight I promised to be patient!

Toffee Apple Pudding

Ingredients
140g self raising flour
100g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp baking powder
200ml milk
2 cooking apples, peeled cored and sliced into thick slices
85g butter, melted
1 egg
140g brown sugar
250ml boiling water

Have the oven heated at 180c, grease a shallow dish.
Mix the flour, caster sugar, salt and baking powder.
Beat the egg and mix with the butter and milk and stir into your flour mix.
Place your apple slices into the prepared dish and pour your batter on top.
Add sugar to boiling water and stir. Using the back of a spoon to break the fall pour the liquid on the batter. Don’t panic I know it seems odd and a lot of fluid but trust me here!
Bake for 40 mins.
Serve with cream or custard

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Competitive urban blackberry picking.


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It’s shocking that blackberries fetch such a high price in the supermarkets when they’re found in abundance all over the UK but I suppose it does make a sunny afternoon all that more satisfying picking a glut of blackberries.

I am fortunate enough to have a large nature reserve opposite my home with a huge supply of blackberries, elderberry and crab apples but there are plenty of other pickers eyeing up your treasure with envy and trying to suss out the best spot to find an unpicked bush. The early bird most definitely catches the worm here!

So I have a lovely batch of blackberries as my reward but what to do with them?