Recipe – Chicken Breasts in a White Wine, Garlic & Anchovy Cream Sauce

Dissolving anchovies over a pan of hot water quickly yields a rich brown sauce and the addition of roasted garlic and cream will transform a simple wine-poached chicken breast into something unusually delicious. The anchovies add their indefinable richness and the garlic creates a hint of sweetness.

I recommend serving this with tagliatelle verdi (green ribbon pasta) for some color but if taste is as important to you as it is to me, I advise against the new style of ‘supergreens-enriched’ pasta, unless you love the overpowering aroma of really old grass cuttings. Dried kale, broccoli, parsley, zucchini and spinach sound like wonderful, healthy additions but your taste buds will revolt. Tagliatelle verdi is the only way to go.

Chicken in a wine, garlic and anchovy cream sauce


(Serves 6)


6 medium sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces each

5-6 fat cloves of garlic, unpeeled

1/2 pint (300ml) of white wine

The juice of 1 medium sized lemon

5 fresh bay leaves

One 2 oz (56g) tin of anchovy fillets

1/2 pint (300ml) of heavy cream

A good handful of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper  – and perhaps some sea salt


Preheat the oven to 325F (170C). Lightly oil a shallow gratin/baking dish and put half of the bay leaves in the bottom. Arrange the sliced chicken in a single layer on top with the remaining bay leaves over the chicken and the garlic cloves tucked in among the slices.

In a small saucepan, bring the wine and lemon juice to a boil and quickly pour over the chicken. Cover the dish tightly with foil and stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the garlic is tender.

Remove the chicken from the liquid, cover and keep it warm while you make the sauce.

Discard the bay leaves and set aside the garlic.  Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan and simmer to reduce it to about a third. It should be slightly syrupy.

Meanwhile, tip the anchovies into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. They’ll quickly melt into a brown creamy sauce. Squeeze the garlic out of their papery skins and push them through a sieve into the anchovy sauce. Add this along with the cream to the reduced wine/lemon liquid and bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, season generously with freshly ground black pepper and stir in the chopped parsley.

Pour the sauce over the cooked chicken and combine everything well.

Serve the chicken and sauce over your favorite (green) pasta. A mixed leaf salad with a lemony dressing on the side would be a nice accompaniment.

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Recipe – Carrot & Walnut Cake with a Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve been making this lovely moist carrot and walnut cake for longer than I care to remember. As a single layer cake, it’s not quite as guilt-inducing as those towering triple-layered confections, despite its luscious creamy frosting.

This is a more modest looking cake but there’s absolutely nothing modest about the taste and best of all, it’s very easy to make.

Carrot Walnut Cake, Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot & Walnut Cake with a Maple Cream Cheese Frosting


(Serves 8-10)


6 fl oz (175ml) of canola or corn oil

6 oz (150g) of sugar (caster sugar in the UK, regular in the US)

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

4 oz (100g) of walnut pieces, chopped (plus 8-10 walnut halves for decoration)

8 oz (250g) of ready-peeled carrots, chopped

6 oz (150g) of all-purpose (plain) flour

1 teaspoon (5ml) of bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon (5ml) of baking powder

1 teaspoon (5ml) of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon (5ml) of salt

For the frosting:

3 oz (85g) of full-fat cream cheese at room temp

2 oz (50g) of butter at room temp

2 oz (50g) of powdered sugar

1/8 cup (30ml) of maple syrup

8-10 walnut halves for decoration


Oil a 9 inch (22-23cm) loose-based cake pan and line it with baking parchment. Lightly oil the parchment.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C.

Put everything except the walnuts into a food processor and blend thoroughly, until the carrots are finely chopped. Fold in the walnuts then spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan.

Transfer to the center of the oven and bake for approximately 1 hr 15 mins. Check after 1 hour as ovens vary – press gently in the center of the cake, it should spring back and have begun to shrink from the sides. Cool in the pan for 5 mins then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy then add the maple syrup followed by the icing sugar. You can adjust the quantities of maple syrup to sugar depending on how maple-y you want it to taste.

Spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake and decorate with walnut halves.

The cake keeps well but I’d cover and refrigerate it due to the frosting…however, I like to serve it at room temperature.




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Recipe – Red Wine Glazed Beets

Sweet and earthy, these twice-cooked beets make a wonderful accompaniment to wild game or fowl and the red wine glaze intensifies their color, if you can imagine that.

Baking the beets in a sealed parcel first really brings out their natural sweetness. You could eat them right then but sautéing them in butter with leeks and red wine takes them to quite another level.

You can make this ahead; just reheat gently to serve.

Beets Braised in Red Wine

Red Wine Glazed Beets


(Serves 6)


8 smallish beets (beetroots) of equal size

2 medium sized leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed and thinly sliced

2 cups (500ml) of good red wine

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450F (230C). Wash and trim the beets then wrap them in a sealed foil parcel with a little space around them. Bake for about an hour, remove from the oven and allow them to cool. Slip the skins off and quarter them. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauté pan and cook the leeks gently until they’re soft, about 10-12 minutes. Add the quartered beets and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes then add the red wine – bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer until most of the wine evaporates. Add the butter and stir until it’s melted and the beets have taken on a glossy appearance.

Check the seasoning once more before serving.

Love beets? Try these recipes as well –

Roasted Beets with Almond Skordalia & White Anchovies

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with a Toasted Hazelnut & Orange Dressing

Roasted Beets with Red Onion, Orange & Bay Leaf

Beets with a Yogurt, Garlic & Caraway Dressing


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Recipe – Braised Lamb with Red Wine, Tomatoes, Olives and Aromatic Spices

This is a robust, hearty dish that’s full of Mediterranean flavor. It goes really well served with pasta and because it’s basically a stew,  serving it on top of a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes would also be good.

The lamb is cooked until it’s falling apart and the addition of cinnamon, allspice and cloves make it really interesting.

I’ve adapted a recipe that I found combining Greek and Venetian cuisine, harking back to the days of the Venetian occupation of Corfu. I think the addition of Greek kalamata olives makes it even more Greek-ish. You can also make it with beef but lamb seems more springlike.

Braised Lamb with Tomatoes, Red Wine, Olives & Aromatic Spices

Braised Lamb with Tomatoes, Red Wine, Olives & Aromatic Spices


(Serves 6)


2 tablespoons of olive oil

1lb 6oz (600g) of lamb fillet, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) chunks

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots cut into 3/4 inch (2cm) slices

4 fat cloves of garlic, crushed

2 sticks of cinnamon

2 cloves

A pinch of ground allspice

1 bay leaf

9fl oz (250ml) of good red wine

Half a cup (120ml measure) of pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and drained

2 x 14 oz (400ml) cans of tomatoes, chopped or whole

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

1lb (450g) of short tube pasta

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Heat half of the oil in a heavy pan. Season the lamb with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and brown in the hot oil in small batches – set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and gently sweat the onion until soft, about 8 minutes. add the carrot, garlic, spices and bay leaf. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the lamb along with any of the meat juices, followed by the tomatoes (and their juice) and red wine.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer for 2 hours then remove the lid and cook for another hour, until the lamb is falling apart and you have a thick sauce.

Check the seasoning, remove the whole spices, put the lid back on and allow it to rest while you cook the pasta according to instructions.

Serve the lamb on top of the  cooked pasta in warmed bowls and offer some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to pass around.






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Recipe – Very Easy Mango Chutney

I love mango chutney and there’s a vast quantity of recipes out there. I like the idea of a chutney that is not only fast and fabulous but one where the sweet mango flavor really stands out and isn’t swamped by too many aromatic spices.

So here it is; I’ve adapted this from a family member’s already-adapted recipe. Simple as it is, you do need to start the night before.

Very Easy Mango Chutney

Very Easy Mango Chutney


(Makes about 3 medium-sized jars)


4 large ripe but not too ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into smallish slices or chunks

A teaspoon of salt

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and diced fairly small

1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger

1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 cup (236ml) of white vinegar

1 and 1/2 cups (355ml measure) of sugar (white sugar preserves the color and flavor best)


Toss the mango pieces in salt, cover and chill overnight then rinse and drain.

In a large heavy pan, combine all the remaining ingredients and bring slowly to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the mango, bring to a rapid boil and continue to cook, stirring a few times until the liquid is reduced and syrupy – about 30 minutes.

Cool and store in sterilized glass jars. Keep in the fridge and consume within a couple of weeks after opening.

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Recipe – Spiced Corned Beef & Cabbage

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, although for the life of me I don’t see why this isn’t eaten year-round, because it’s absolutely delicious and would warm the heart of any ‘meat and potatoes’-type of person.

If you have a slow cooker, you can stick the brisket in there overnight and forget about it, otherwise it requires about 4 hours on the stove top.

Those vacuum packed briskets with little spice packets are ubiquitous right now and to keep things simple, I’m suggesting using one of those and tweaking it to a much higher level.

This recipe is very simple and very, very good.

Spiced Corned Beef & Cabbage


(Serves up to 8)


A 4.5lb (2 kilo) piece of brisket (with spice packet), rinsed thoroughly

1 large orange

20 whole cloves

4 teaspoons of caraway seeds

3lbs (1.4 kilos) of smallish Yukon gold potatoes, peeled

2.5lbs (1.15kilos) of big carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal at about 2 inches (5cm) in length

A large green cabbage, halved and each half sliced into 8 wedges

To serve – fresh flat-leaf parsley and an assortment of mustard


Stud the orange with the cloves and put it, the brisket, the contents of the spice packet and 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds in a large heavy pot (or slow cooker). Cover with water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the beef cook for 3 and half to 4 hours, or until it’s really tender.

(If you’re using a slow cooker, put it on high for a couple of hours then turn it to low and let it simmer overnight).

Once the meat is tender, drain it and keep 3 cups of the fragrant cooking liquid to serve. Cover the meat with foil to keep it warm.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes, carrots and remaining caraway seeds. Cook for 18-25 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes until they’re not quite cooked, then add the cabbage wedges and cook for another 8 minutes or so until the cabbage is just tender and the potatoes and carrots are cooked through.

Drain the vegetables and arrange everything on warmed plates (warm the cooking liquid if necessary). Scatter with parsley and serve the mustard and cooking liquid on the side to pour over.

‘Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!’



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Recipe – White Bean & Chestnut Soup with Prosciutto

This is a lovely comforting soup for a blustery day. I’m all for the shortcut of opening a can of beans but if you’re a purist and insist on soaking dried beans overnight, then go ahead but this soup takes less than 30 minutes to make.

You can find cooked chestnuts and chestnut purée in good supermarkets and they freeze well.

White Bean Soup with Chestnuts & Prosciutto

White Bean Soup with Chestnuts & Prosciutto



 1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

3oz (80g) of prosciutto, chopped and divided

1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes

A 15oz (400g) can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

6 oz (150g) of unsweetened chestnut puree or cooked peeled chestnuts

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary, divided

2.5-3 pints (1.5-1.75 liters) of chicken broth


Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion, garlic and half of the prosciutto until the onion is soft. Add the potato, drained beans, whole or pureed chestnuts, half of the rosemary (save the rest for decoration) and the stock. I recommend holding some back to adjust the thickness of the soup at the end and if you need more liquid, add water.

Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer for 18-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, fry the remaining prosciutto until it’s nice and crispy – set aside.

Once the soup has cooled a bit, pulse it in a blender, or use one of those hand held devices to purée it in the pan. Check the seasoning and add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. You can make it ahead to this point.

To serve, re-heat the soup over a low heat then ladle into warmed bowls, scatter with some crispy prosciutto and a few minced rosemary leaves.

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Soups | 1 Comment