smoked haddock ‘arancini’

Arancini is a very popular and favourite Italian snack, which is made of risotto & mozzarella with the addition of beef and peas. It is shaped into a ball, crumbed and deep fried.
I love haddock and had plenty of rice in my freezer so this is my version of arancini, which is fairly different to the original but I promise you, just as delicious!

These freeze really well, so pack it onto a tray, place it into the freezer for a couple of hours and then bag them in freezer friendly bags. Thaw overnight before dredging in flour, egg & crumbs and deep frying.

Serve these with a salad or sliced avocado and a dipping sauce of your choice.

ingredients | makes about 18 | a little effort
300g smoked haddock
1C milk
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
2 1/2 C cooked long grain rice
1C grated white cheddar
1C frozen peas
bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
handful chives, finely chopped
1t dried dill
1T fish sauce
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
1T olive oil
1T butter

to fry
2C panko crumbs
2 eggs, whisked with about 3 tablespoons milk
1/2C plain flour
cooking oil, for frying

method
In a small skillet, heat the milk and poach the haddock for about 8 minutes, turning halfway. Remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a small pan and sauté the onion & garlic until cooked. About 3 minutes. Add peas, stir to coat and cook for 1 more minute.
Tip the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of the poaching milk to the rice.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the rice except the frying ingredients.
Flake the cooked haddock into the rice mixture, add the onions and peas and now mix well, using your hands. The mixture must just come together to hold its shape. If you feel it is too wet, add a little more of the fine breadcrumbs.
Shape into golf size balls. Set aside.

In a deep, medium sized pot, heat enough oil to come about halfway up the rice balls.

In three separate bowls, prepare the panko crumbs, beaten egg and flour.
Roll each ball into the flour, then in the beaten egg and lastly coat with the panko crumbs. Repeat until you have coated each rice ball.

Carefully drop the rice balls in batches of about 4 into the hot oil and fry for about two minutes a side until beautifully browned and crisp.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel paper.

Serve warm.




cumin baked chicken

Cumin, a spice often used in my kitchen for various dishes, is an earthy, warm spice that adds the most beautiful hearty depth to any dish. A delicious match for meat, it also adds complexity to vegetarian dishes.

As part of last night’s dinner, I served these flavourful baked thighs and drumsticks with my lentil and grilled vegetable salad. This is a delicious and healthy dish that is as easy to prepare as it is to eat. With the skin moreishly crispy, the meat is succulent , tender and flavourful. A perfect and easy family go-to meal!

Serve with couscous, salad or grilled vegetables for a healthy family mid-week meal or serve it with a cucumber & yogurt dressing for a delicious, heart warming snack.

ingredients | serves 3-4 | easy
8 chicken thighs & drumsticks
2t crushed garlic
2t ground cumin
1t cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle & mortar
1T black pepper
1/3C olive oil
juice & zest of 1 lemon
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2t red pepper flakes, optional
fresh cilantro/coriander to serve

method
Place all of the ingredients into a large freezer bag and shake well to coat.
Place the bag into the fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a baking tray, season with a little salt and bake for about 40 minutes until cooked through.

Drizzle the roasting juices over the chicken pieces and garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro.

Serve warm.


pork sausage & veg tray bake

I do love the simplicity of a tray bake and, admitting, that it is a meal frequently enjoyed around our dinner table.
This is a meal that I return to again and again and will not easily tire of.
A great time saver as you can put it all together, store it in the fridge and then just pop it into the preheated oven come dinner time.

The added bonus, of course, is the clean kitchen after dinner. And this alone gets a very high mark in my book.
A healthy, comforting and nutritious meal that your family will love, without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

Good alternatives to pork sausage are beef / chicken sausage or chicken breast.

Serve with a side of couscous or buckwheat.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
8 pork sausages
300g baby potatoes, halved
400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red onions, quartered
6 garlic cloves, whole
punnet baby carrots, scrubbed
200g mushrooms
6-8 sweetcorn mini cobs
1/2C olive oil
2t paprika
1t dried oregano
1t dried thyme
1t cumin seeds, crushed
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper
4 rosemary stalks
150ml white wine

handful fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Put the rosemary stalks onto a large sheet pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, herbs, salt & pepper. Add the vegetables to the herb mixture and toss through to coat well.
Tip the vegetables onto the roasting tray and arrange in an even layer.
Rub the pork sausages with a little more olive oil and nestle them between the vegetables.

Roast in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes until the sausages are golden brown. Carefully remove the tray from the oven, turn the sausages over and toss the vegetables.
Pour the wine into the roasting tray and roast or a further 20 minutes until the sausages are cooked and the potatoes are tender.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with your choice of side.


porcupine beef meatballs

Porcupine meatballs, an American dish consisting of ground beef & rice were a staple during the Great Depression. Rice was added as a way of stretching the beef to yield more meatballs.
So called because the cooked rice sticks out of the sides of the meatballs.

To accommodate my 16 month old daughters’ palate and also include her in family dinners rather than cooking her a completely different meal, I like to keep weekday dinners simple yet delicious, flavourful and still nutritious.
Having a curious little human run around the house while trying to make a great meal can sometimes be a little challenging so I always suggest having a few easy, no-fail recipes that simplifies life and meal prep.

This is a hearty and comforting meal, cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Since the rice is added to the meat there is no need to cook a starch to serve alongside. You can, however, serve these on sweet potato or butternut mash.
As a vegetable side I suggest sweet roasted carrots or a mixture of buttered broccoli and cauliflower.

To make these meatballs extra nutritious you can add grated zucchini or carrot to the meat mixture. And for extra flavour, try adding finely grated parmesan or any hard, rich cheese.

ingredients | makes about 15 | easy
for the meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1/2 white onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2C long grain rice
1t dried oregano
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2C milk
1 egg
1/2t fine salt
black pepper
olive oil, for browning

for the tomato sauce
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can crushed tomato
400ml beef stock
2T tomato paste
2t paprika
2t mixed dried herbs / italian seasoning
1T brown sugar
2T Worcestershire sauce
1t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
handful fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro to serve (optional)
1T olive oil
2T butter

method
In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients together except the olive oil.
Mix well using your hands and then roll into balls the size of a golf ball.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or pan with a lid and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.
Without wiping the pan clean, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the butter. Heat and saute the onion & garlic until glossy. Add the tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for about one minute. Add the paprika and dried herbs and stir to combine.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet followed by the Worcestershire sauce & beef stock. Stir to combine.
Season with salt & pepper.
Drop the meatballs into the sauce and bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about one hour until the rice is cooked and most of the moisture have been absorbed.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro.







chickpea, walnut & wild rice stuffed chicken

Chicken is a low fat, versatile and healthy meat option, high in protein and nutritious. The mild flavour of chicken works as the perfect base for a variety of beautiful flavours that will leave the mouth watering.
The cooked carcass can be turned into a basic chicken stock, meaning that very little is wasted.
This dish is a guilt-free, healthy and nutritious meal, perfect for any family dinner table.

Serve with a side of green buttered vegetables, roasted butternut or a salad and a beurre blanc sauce or chicken gravy or lemon butter.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
1 whole chicken
2 red onions, quartered
6 whole garlic cloves, skin on & lightly crushed
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
80g walnuts, finely chopped
12g thyme, leaves only + more for garnish
200g cooked wild rice
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 lemon, halved
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2t crushed cumin seeds
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper
olive oil
2T butter
fresh cilantro / coriander, to serve

method
Preheat the oven to 200C/180 with fan. Cook the wild rice according to package instruction or use ready cooked wild rice from your local grocer.
Heat about one tablespoon olive oil with the butter & sauté the onion & garlic. About three minutes, until just cooked.
Add the chickpeas, walnuts & thyme and cook, while stirring, for about 8 minutes. Add a knob of butter and then roughly mash the mixture with a masher.
Tip the chickpea mixture into the rice, add the lemon zest and juice, parsley, cumin seeds, salt & pepper and mix to combine.
Using your hands, fill the cavity of the chicken with the stuffing, ensuring that it is not packed too tightly. Then stuff the chicken under the skin.

Rub olive oil into the skin of the chicken and season with salt & pepper.

Spoon the remaining stuffing into an ovenproof dish and place the chicken on top.
Add the quartered red onion & whole garlic cloves to the dish.
Stuff the halved lemon into the cavity so to close the cavity.

Cover the dish with tinfoil and cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 180C/160 with fan, remove the tin foil and roast for a further 1 hour, 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the skin is beautifully browned and crispy.

Rest the chicken for at least 15 minutes before carving and garnish with lots of fresh cilantro/coriander and thyme.