mediterranean chicken for the season

This recipe is so simple and can be made ahead of time. The chicken pieces can marinade for no less than 30 minutes or overnight and after that it is really just about combining everything together in one tray and baking it for about an hour.
The end result is fragrant, tender meat with a crispy skin and delicious, colourful vegetables, that remind me of the Mediterranean.
I served couscous alongside and homemade chilli paste.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
8 chicken thighs
2t crushed garlic
2 lemons, juice of 1 and the other one quartered
3 rosemary stalks
3T olive oil + more for vegetables
good grind of black pepper
1t dried oregano
1 whole garlic bulb, halved
2 red onions, quartered
8 baby potatoes, quartered
200g pitted green olives
bunch fresh thyme
2-3 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
1/2C dry white wine
1 chicken stock cube, crumbled
1/2C water
salt to taste

In a large resealable bag, combine the crushed garlic, lemon juice and quarters, rosemary, olive oil, oregano & black pepper and shake to combine. Add the chicken pieces, squish it around in the bag, seal the bag and place into the fridge to marinate.

Preheat the oven to 190C.
Combine the whole garlic, red onion, potatoes, thyme & tomatoes in a large ovenproof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil, toss and season with salt & black pepper. Add the crumbled stock cube, white wine and water.
Arrange the chicken pieces on top along with the remaining ingredients in the plastic bag.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Carefully remove the dish, add the olives and bake for a further 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the skin is crispy and browned.

Serve with your choice of couscous, rice, crispy bread or salad.


any occasion asparagus & leek risotto

This is another toothsome vegetarian meal, perfect for meat-free Mondays or really, any occasion. Risotto, a special kind of Italian rice that can easily absorb a fair amount of liquid without become mushy, is cooked with broth until it reaches a beautifully creamy consistency.
Some of the main ingredients used when cooking risotto are onion, white wine, parmesan, butter and broth.
Although it seems like quite a lengthy process, it really does not take much time to cook. Risotto simply needs a little patience and good fresh ingredients, to make it a mind-blowing meal.

ingredients | serves 4 | a little effort
1 medium sized white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
1C white wine
3C chicken or vegetable stock
3 leeks, sliced diagonally
200-300g fresh asparagus, sliced with tips left whole
1C risotto rice
juice & zest of 1 lemon
3T butter
1C cream, full fat
bunch fresh thyme, stalks removed
1C finely grated parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
2T olive oil
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
creme fraiche, optional (garnish)
chopped chives, optional (garnish)

instructions
Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Submerge the sliced asparagus and tips into the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute. (This is called blanche). Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and dunk it into iced water. Leave to cool for 1 minute, remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pot. Add the chopped onion & garlic and cook until glossy. Add the sliced leeks, stir to coat and cook for about 3 minutes.
Tip the risotto rice into the pot and stir to coat. Mix the wine and stock and pour a ladle full into the rice mixture. Cook on a low simmer until mostly evaporated before adding another ladle of the stock & wine mixture.
Repeat this process until you have used all of the stock mixture. Add the blanched asparagus, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and thyme, combine and cook for about 2 minutes while stirring.
Add the cream, lemon juice, zest and parmesan, combine and cook for about 5 minutes, while stirring, until thickened and the cheese has melted into the sauce.
Taste and season with salt & black pepper.
Stir the parsley through the mixture.

Garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, shavings of parmesan and chopped chives and serve with a side salad or roasted vegetables.



oriental chunky vegetable & pork

I love the sweet, savoury, umami flavours that ingredients like soya, honey and fish sauce add to a dish. Stir fries are easy, flavourful and healthy and right at the top of my list of good, nutritious meals. An old Chinese method of cooking, which is a little time consuming in preparation but only takes minutes of cooking.
It always reminds me of my travels to far away countries with beautiful cultures and cuisine and hot, summer days.

A wok is the best pan for stir-frying because its curved surface distributes the heat more evenly and more food can be fried in less oil. If you don’t have a wok, a sauté pan will make a good substitute.

Serve this dish with rice or noodles and extra homemade chilli paste.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
1 red onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 carrots, sliced into large sticks
4 zucchini, sliced into large sticks
200g button mushrooms, halved and quartered
1 red pepper, sliced
500g pork loin steak, cubed
1/4C honey
1/2C soya
3T sweet soya
1T fish sauce
1t sesame oil
1/2t red chilli flakes (optional)
2T olive oil & extra for browning meat
2T butter
1T sesame seeds (i used white and black)
1/2C cashew nuts, chopped
1C rosa tomatoes, whole or halved
large bunch fresh coriander, half chopped, half for garnish
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper

method
In a large wok or pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the cubed meat all over. Set aside.
In the same pan, without wiping it clean, heat an extra 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter and sauté the red onion for about 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and garlic, toss and cook, while stirring or tossing, for about 8 minutes.
Add the red chilli flakes, tomatoes and the meat, stir to combine and then add the soya, honey, sweet soya, fish sauce & sesame oil. Stir to coat and cook for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring until meat is cooked through. Season with salt & pepper.
Add the sesame seeds, cashew nuts, parsley & chopped coriander and stir to combine.

Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with steamed basmati rice or noodles.




wild rice pilaf

Pilaf is a rice dish that is cooked in stock or broth, adding spices and meat or vegetables. I think quite similar to a fried rice, without the egg, obviously.
For this dish I cheated a bit and bought ready-to-eat wild rice that I added to my fried vegetables. This really saved me a lot of time that allowed me to focus on other things like dessert and a bottle of good red wine.

I used vegetables that I had in my fridge, making this a fairly ‘rule-free’ recipe. I don’t, however, suggest using root veggies here. Keep it simple with ingredients that cook fairly quickly, similar to stir fry vegetables.

A delicious side dish or light meal.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
250g cooked wild rice
2 carrots, julienne
2 zucchini, cubed
200g button mushrooms, quartered
1/3C slivered almonds, toasted
3T soy sauce
handful fresh parsley & coriander, finely chopped
1t ground cumin
1/2t ground coriander
2T olive oil
3T butter
1 spring onion, sliced (optional)

how to
In a large skillet, melt the olive oil & 1 tablespoon butter. Saute the onion & garlic until translucent. About 4 minutes. Add the ground cumin & coriander, stir and cook for 1 minute.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, zucchini & mushrooms and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and julienne carrots, stir and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the soy sauce and almonds and cook for a further 3 minutes while stirring.
Stir the parsley & coriander through the rice mixture.

Garnish with sliced spring onion or coriander leaves.



grilled vegetable, lentil & couscous salad

Food is a big part of my daily life and I love eating well. Although I absolutely love rich pastas, decadent desserts and have a very weak spot for dark chocolate; healthy, hearty and nutritious food is what I enjoy most.
I like salads that are filling, heart warming, flavourful and comforting all at the same time and that is exactly what you can expect from this one.
As dressings go I am all for homemade, so take five minutes and shake up the zesty dressing ingredients that complements this salad so well.

This salad is perfect on its own with toasted ciabatta or served with a protein of your choice.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
3C cooked lentils (brown or green works well here)
1C cooked couscous
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, cut into small blocks
3 zucchini, cut into blocks
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into blocks
20 rosa tomatoes, halved
1 tub bocconcini cheese, halved
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
handful fresh mint, finely chopped
handful fresh coriander/cilantro, freshly chopped
chives, chopped
1 avocado, cut into blocks
1/2C pumpkin & sunflower seeds, toasted
2T olive oil
black pepper
1/2t garlic powder

for the dressing
2t crushed garlic
3T lemon juice
3T apple cider vinegar
1T brown sugar
1t dijon mustard
1/3C olive oil
1T fresh thyme leaves
pinch salt
black pepper

method
Preheat the oven to 190C. In an oven proof dish, coat the carrots, zucchini & red pepper with olive oil and season with garlic powder and black pepper. Place into the oven to roast until tender. About 20 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dressing.
Combine all the ingredients together in a jar with tight fitting lid and give it a good shake until emulsified. Set aside to infuse.
Tip the lentils & couscous into a large mixing bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients to the salad and gently mix to combine. Once the vegetables have cooled, add it to the salad and mix through.

Mix about half of the dressing into the ingredients and serve the remainder alongside.