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My One-pot chicken pilaf Recipe

I love love LOVE cooking in the kitchen. But I think if I won the lotto my first splurge would be on a kitchen porter.  Sometimes the washing up just gets to me.  But no need for the help when making this beautiful and fresh pilaf, it’s made in one pot. The term pilaf is borrowed directly from the Turkish pilav. I actaully associate a rice pilaf with Indian Cooking, for my it’s very like Biryani.

If you could research the history of rice pilaf, you could tell the history of the world to at least as far back as Alexander the Great. It’s a dish that is ubiquitous across most of the world’s cuisines. This is probably because it is such a great dish for large gatherings. To make a large pot of rice pilaf is not much more difficult than to make a small pot.  And the washing up is also the same!

Every region adds their own distinct flavours to the dish. In India, rice pilaf is called pulao and it has many variations from region to region. It is most popular in the northern areas, such as Kashmir and Gujarat.  Alexander the Great is said to have first eaten pilaf in the Bactria region of Iran, which is now a part of Afghanistan. Bactria is where his wife, Roxana, was most likely born. I can imagine pots of fragrant rice pilaf being served at gatherings for ancient dignitaries, perhaps even his wedding (I’m just guessing here).

One-pot chicken pilaf

Chicken pilaf

Good range of colour in the ingredients

1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons of curry paste (choose your favourite, or make your own)
a third of a mug basmati rice
two-thirds of a mug chicken stock (hot)
1 mug frozen peas
1 mug of leaf spinach, washed.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the onion for 5-6 mins until softened.

Chicken pilaf

Still looks a little beige at this stage

Add the chicken pieces, fry for a further couple of minutes just to colour the outside, then stir in curry paste and rice. Cook this for another minute.

Pour in the hot chicken stock. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, then cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally . Scatter over the spinach, cover, then cook for 10 mins more until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender. Now add the peas, (in this case I added them too soon so they look like they’ve been sitting in a carvery for a month, but still taste good). Give everything a good stir, season to taste, then tuck in.

Lemon Traybake

There’s nothing like producing a cake when someone calls for tea.  It makes everyone feel a little special. And this is SO easy.  Start to finish in 45 minutes, including the washing up.

Lemon Traybake

Lemon Cake

Lemon Traybake Ingredients


225g Caster sugar

225g butter (soft)

4 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

225g Self Raising Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

2 lemons

1 tablespoon of milk


150g caster sugar


Cream the sugar and the butter VERY well.  Add the eggs, vanilla extract and the flour, baking powder in alternate additions.  Zest the two lemons into the mixture at this stage.  Keeping the lemons for juicing for the icing.  Add some milk if the mixture seems too thick. It needs to drop reluctantly when lifted up with a spoon.

Beat VERY well, and spread carefully into the greased and lined baking tray.  If you don’t have a suitable container, like the traditional swiss roll tin, then just use some sandwich cake tins, or even make the mixture into cupcakes.

Lemon Cake

Ready for the Oven

Bake either at 160oC, for 12 minutes for the cupcakes, and 25 minutes for the traybake.

Once out of the oven immediately prick gently all over the sponge with a skewer.


Mix the lemon juice from the zested lemons with the 150g of caster sugar, and pour this over the cake while it is still warm.
Lemon Cake
Leave to cool before slicing.




Tom Kerridge’s Lemon Pepper Chicken

The Recipe

Sometimes looking through cookbooks for recipes can be fun.  Other times you see a recipe that you REALLY want to make, but don’t have the ingredients… and couldn’t be bothered heading out especially to get them. This was my case here. I liked the look of the picuture of this dish  and  wanted to try it.

Tom Kerridge

I’ve been a Tom Kerridge fan for a long time.  And he’s on my places-I-want-to-eat-in-the-next-24-months list. Sooner if I can.  I love his use of ingredients.  In this case the green pepper salsa was intriguing.  I feel the green pepper is the least interesting or edible of all peppers.  I never eat it in a Chinese takeaway, I personally think of it as the bitter relative. Of course the other problem was that I had no green peppers.  Just red ones.

Red Pepper

So I got to work sorting out what ingredients I had, and had not got.

Chicken √

New Potatoes √

Onion √

Lemon (yup- but not particularly fresh) √

Honey (not runny though) √

Garlic, Olive oil, Mustard  √√√

Tom Kerridge

The Prep

No green peppers, no fresh herbs.  Fresh herbs are rare enough at this time of year, and my shopping budget doesn’t run to buying fresh herbs for a day to day meal.  Therefore the ole herb de provence was called into play. And I just subsituted the red peppers for the green.  BUT I got distracted- and the peppers took on more colour than I hoped.  So I added some creme fraiche to make a creamy sauce instead.

Note to self: don’t get distracted. Hmm.  Easier said then done.

My not-having-all-the-ingredients-take on Tom Kerridge’s Chicken dish

It’s a beautifully simple dish to assemble.  And you could, if you are more organised than me, marinade the chicken in the morning, or the night before.  And apart from the perfunctory chopping, there’s not much manual labour.

The result was very tasty indeed.  I think because I was using a non- runny honey it was less licky and thus caramelised a little- but then as Rory O’Connell always says- colour is flavour




The Blood Orange- a fruit of great beauty

It’s orange time of year.  Just when the body is at it’s lowest, mother nature responds with the season of vitamin C rich fruit.  Granted they are not native to our shores, but at least the majority we import are European.  The Seville oranges make such beautiful marmalade, but the blood oranges make beautiful ANYTHING.

blood orange

Blood Orange Beauty


The distinctive red flesh colour is due to the presence of anthocyanins (a family of antioxidant pigments not normally associated with citrus fruits.  The flesh develops its characteristic maroon colour when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.

You can use them simply as a snack, or add the juice to a fancy cocktail.  They are really good as an ice cream or sorbet ingredient too.  And can be used where an orange is called for in any baking or cooking.  But I feel unless you can show off their beautiful colour, just use ordinary oranges and save the blood oranges for the extraordinary occasion.

I’ve made a couple of things to showcase the most fabulous of citrus fruits. I feel slightly bad as I regularly turn to the humble lemon for a last minute dinner or dessert.  But there’s no denying it, the blood orange has a certain je ne sais quoi.

First I made Richard Bertinet’s Blood Orange Tart from his deliciousy lickable book “Patisserie Maison“. I wasn’t entirely happy with the colour.  But the flavour of the curd was like velvet.  A real treat worthy of the effort involved with any tart.

Blood Orange Tart

And as I had leftover oranges (*smiles*) I decided to be even more adventurous and try some macaron. I filled them with both raspberry curd and blood orange buttercream.

Blood Orange

Blood Orange Buttercream and Raspberry Curd

And they were DIVINE- and that’s saying something as I’m not the biggest fan.

Blood Orange Macaron


Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese

Pasta with cheese sauce casseroles have been around far longer than you imagine. In the 14th century in the Italian cookbook by Brian Liber de Coquina, one of the oldest medieval cookbooks, which featured a dish of parmesan cheese and pasta.  The oldest recorded recipe of a casserole with a cheese bechamel sauce, with pasta is from 1770.  But the doyenne of British cookery, Mrs Beeton, valued the dish so much that she put not one, but two versions of the now classic into her housekeeping book. Nowadays this type of cooking is classed as comfort food.  And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.

Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese


300g macaroni

1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets

75g butter

75g flour

600ml milk

150g your favourite cheddar, coarsely grated

75g breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon of herbes de provence

Heat the grill to its highest setting and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 4 mins, then add the cauliflower for a further 8 mins. Drain, reserving 100ml of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat and stir in the flour. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Bubble for a few mins, then remove from the heat. Add the cheese, the reserved cooking water and seasoning to taste.

Tip the pasta and cauliflower into a large casserole dish and stir through the cheese sauce. Mix together the breadcrumbs and herbs and scatter over the top.
Grill for 5 mins until bubbling.

Give this biscuit recipe a whirl….

I’ve taken to trying a different biscuit recipe each week. It’s tea and biscuit weather let’s be honest.  Well that’s my excuse.  My grandmother was very fond of Viennese Whirl biscuits, especially when she had people around for coffee.  I’ve tried various recipes over the years, and the biggest challenge is piping the mixture.  I think I’ve finally cracked the proportions of dry to wet.  At last!

Viennese Whirls

You can leave them undipped, but they are just lush dipped in chocolate.  The darker the better.  You can also make round ones, and fill them with jam and vanilla buttercream if you are going !all out!.


Viennese Whirls

Viennese Whirls


100g Butter, VERY soft

40g Icing Sugar

100g Strong Flour

1 heaped teaspoon of cornflour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon Vanilla paste

1 tablespoon of full fat milk

100g chocolate for melting


Preheat the oven to 140oC.  Line a baking tray with parchment or non stick reusable paper.

Cream the butter and the icing sugar very well in your mixer.  As this is a small amount you need to keep scraping down the sides until you get an even and consistency and a light colour.

Add the dry ingredients and the vanilla.  Mix again thoroughly, again scraping down the sides.  Add enough milk until you feel you can pipe it.  This is a tricky part. Too soft if won’t hold it’s ridges, too stiff it won’t pipe.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle.

Pipe 10cm lengths, and maybe a few rosettes.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Cool on the tray.

While the biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate in a smallish bowl (helps to keep the depth of the chocolate, therefore easier to dip).

Gently dip one end of each cooked biscuit into the chocolate and then leave to set on a parchment lined tray.



Crispy Beef Chilli Stir fry Recipe

Stir fry for me is a mid week fail safe.

Crispy Beef Chilli Stir Fry 

Beef Stir Fry

350g of thinly cut steak. Take your time with this step

2 tablespoons of cornflour

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

50ml sunflower oil

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 red chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

2 spring onions, sliced, green and white parts separated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

3 tablespoons of  rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of soya sauce

2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce

2 tablespoons of tomato puree

Noodles to serve


Put the beef in a bowl and toss in the cornflour and paprika. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan until hot, then add the beef and fry until golden and very crisp. Scoop out the beef and drain on kitchen paper. Pour away all but 1 tablespoon oil.

Beef Stir Fry

Add the peppers, half the chilli, the white ends of the spring onions, garlic and ginger to the pan. Stir-fry for 3 mins to soften, but don’t let the garlic and ginger burn. Mix the vinegar, soy, chilli sauce and ketchup in a jug with 1 tablespoon water, then pour over the veg. Bubble for 2 mins, then add the beef back to the pan and toss well to coat. Serve the beef on noodles, if you like, the green parts of the spring onions.

Beef Stir Fry

Crispy Beef Stir Fry


The Best Sticky Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

There’s something a little glutinous about eating with your fingers, and these Chicken Drumsticks begged to be lifted aloft off the plate and eaten with gusto.  I know it sounds a bit cheffy but I do joint my own chickens and then freeze, or use the different bits, then of course the carcuses are perfect for making chicken stock.  But you can buy drumsticks now in most supermarkets, and thighs work equally well with this recipe.

Sticky Chicken Drumsticks


100ml balsamic vinegar

100ml cup honey

75g light brown sugar

100ml soy sauce

3 garlic cloves, minced

12 chicken drumsticks

2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds, if desired

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley to serve


Combine the balsamic vinegar, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce and garlic cloves in a large resealable bag. Add the chicken to the bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. They can also be frozen in the bag at this stage, which I think helps the flavour.  No salt is needed as the soy sauce gives the marinade that level of saltiness that balances out the sweetness of the sugar, vinegar and honey.
 Preheat the oven to 200oC. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Top with a cooling rack, if you have one.  Remove the chicken from the bag, reserving the marinade, and arrange the drumsticks on the cooling rack. Bake until the skin is caramelized and dark, about 30 minutes.

Drumsticks marinating overnight

Drumsticks marinating overnight

Meanwhile, place the leftover marinade in a small saucepan, uncovered. Bring the marinade to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook over low heat until thick, about 15 minutes. Use a pastry brush to brush the cooked marinade on the chicken.  Return to the oven for 10 more minutes.

Place the chicken on a serving platter and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and the chopped parsley.


‘Tis the Season for Courgettes

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Courgettes.  I love them as they are such a great and versatile vegetable.  And I hate them as they come in a glut.  Too many all at once causes courgette overload.  And soup, always an option, isn’t that inspiring after the fifteenth batch.


Courgettes fresh off the vine- they come in every shape and size

It’s a little cheeky to call this a recipe at all- maybe a posh kind of canapé! As really there’s only three ingredients, and a small bit of slicing.

The trick is to cut the slices about 10mm thick.  I know this sounds very accurate for a recipe with just three ingredients- but trust me on this one.  Any thicker and they don’t cook properly.  Any thinner and they just melt.

The next crucial point is not to be stingy with the Parmesan.  And although I am a purist when it comes to grated cheese (I prefer to grate it myself- over processing dislike disorder)- in this case, if you are catering for a large crowd, feel free to buy your Parmesan grated.

Of course in America this would be called Zucchini.  Which sounds quite posh, and this variety of vegetable originated there- so it’s rather apt, although the name (zucchini) came about when it arrived in Italy.

Courgette and Parmesan tastes


Olive Oil

Parmesan Cheese



Preheat oven to 200°C.  Lightly grease a couple of baking trays.

Slice the courgettes into rounds approximately 10mm thick.

Brush with olive oil and lightly season with black pepper.

Top carefully with the grated parmesan and put in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Watch them carefully- you want the cheese to be a rich golden brown.

Try not to eat them all before you get to them to the guests!

Parmesan Courgettes

Parmesan Courgettes

Bananas about Baking

Everyone has bananas hanging around the house. And banana bread is always a fall back option.   But sometimes it’s good to change things up a little.  These could almost pass for breakfast. Almost. There’s oats, very good for you- bananas, lots of vitamins and minerals and chia- one of my favourite additions to give an extra dose of omega-3. Give them a try- easy baking to do with your little darlings aswell.


Sure it looks like breakfast???


Using  up Bananas Tray Bake


225g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

225g light brown sugar

150g porridge oats

150g plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons of chia seeds

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 bananas, chopped


Preheat oven to 180°C.  Lightly grease medium sized baking dish with butter and line with greaseproof paper. (I say medium as really, the banana bake will be either flatter of higher depending on the size of the dish, and I don’t want to put anyone off baking this as they don’t have the right size).

Mix the porridge, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Whisk the  brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in another large bowl until mixture is smooth. I use my Kenwood for this. But it doesn’t need an electric mixer really, I was just being lazy!

Slowly add the butter into brown sugar mixture, whisking constantly until well blended. Add the bananas and chia seeds to the dry ingredients; toss to coat. Stir into brown sugar mixture. Spread this into the prepared dish. Bake until the cake is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in dish. Cut into bitesize pieces.


Super Easy Banana Bake