Recipe – Fish Roasted with Potatoes & Fennel

Here’s a dish that’s full of robust flavor, is really simple to prepare and only takes about 30 minutes to cook – perfect for fall.

You do have to like fennel however. It isn’t overwhelming but it definitely has a presence.

Fennel roasted with potatoes would make a great accompaniment to chicken, pork or lamb but in this case it’s topped with fish just before the end of the cooking time. The fish only takes about 10 minutes to cook through, making this a speedy and satisfying supper and the olive and tomato vinaigrette is added just before serving.

Baked Fish with Roast Potatoes & Fennel

Baked Fish with Roast Potatoes & Fennel


(Serves 4)


1lb (500g) of small red potatoes, washed and cut into thick slices

4 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced lengthwise through the root into about 4-6 slices each

1 tablespoon of olive oil

4 skinless, boneless white fish fillets such as cod, halibut, Chilean sea bass, haddock or pollack

1 level teaspoon of fennel seeds, lightly crushed

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

2 tablespoons of wine or sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

2 medium sized ripe tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped

A few fresh basil leaves, chopped

About a dozen pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped


Combine all the topping ingredients, season with a little sea salt and black pepper, stir well and set it aside while you preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Toss the potatoes and fennel slices in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and arrange in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan and roast for about 20 minutes until they’re turning golden around the edges and are almost cooked through.

Arrange the fish on top of the potatoes and fennel, season with sea salt and black pepper and scatter the crushed fennel seeds over the fish –  put everything back in the oven for another 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

To serve, divide the fish and vegetables between 4 warmed plates and immediate scatter the topping over the fish.


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Recipe – Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples, Red Onion, Spinach & Orzo

Now that the weather is changing, I’m feeling nostalgic for childhood things like walking to school on misty, damp mornings with the smell of wet golden leaves all slick on the pavement, of bonfires and chrysanthemums – and the carpet of windfall apples that littered the lawn, far more than we could ever eat so they ended up as compost. Anyway, I’m now craving something with loads of autumn flavors and color.

Butternut squash, apples and maple syrup make me think of fall; add a few fresh herbs, onion, spinach and some really good olive oil and you have a side dish that would be excellent served with roast pork or poultry and one that also works very well on its own.

Buy ready-prepared butternut squash if you’re really pushed for time but it doesn’t take long to do it yourself and it’s more economical.

You can prepare the vegetables ahead of time but don’t add the apples until you’re ready to stick it in the oven –  the spinach and orzo pasta go in at the very end.

The dressing would also go very well with a simple salad of mixed greens, toasted nuts (hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts), dried cranberries and crumbled soft goat cheese.

Warmed-up leftovers with a poached egg on top is pretty darn good too.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples, Onion, Spinach and Orzo

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples, Onion, Spinach and Orzo


(Serves 4-6)


2.5lb (1.2k) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch (3cm) chunks

1 medium-sized red onion, peeled with some root left attached and cut into eighths

2 apples (braeburn, pink lady, honeycrisp or English cox) peel left on, cored and cut into eighths

1 tablespoon of runny honey

A couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped off the stalks and chopped

A few fresh sage leaves, chopped

4 bay leaves, preferably fresh

2 tablespoons of extra-v olive oil

5 oz (150g) of dry weight orzo pasta

7 oz (200g) of ready-washed baby spinach leaves

Sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing –

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of extra-v olive oil

1 teaspoon of maple syrup

2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard

1 clove of garlic, crushed


Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

butternut-orzo-salad-005In a large bowl, toss the butternut, apple, onion and fresh herbs with the honey and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Arrange in an even layer in a roasting pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until soft and tinged with brown here and there, stir everything around about halfway through.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo pasta according to instructions so that it’s ready and drained at the same time the squash comes out of the oven.

Take the vegetables out of the oven and add the spinach, tossing it around until it wilts. (Put it back in the oven for a minute or two if it’s resisting the wilt).

Stir in the orzo, transfer everything to a warm bowl then add the dressing, giving it a good toss before serving.


Posted in Salads & Appetizers, Vegan, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – Chunky Chicken Soup

I’m sure that anyone who makes soup from scratch has their own favorite version of chicken soup. I decided to share this recipe as it always gets rave reviews and I’m asked to make it on a regular basis. The ingredients change slightly depending on what’s in season, but the basics remain the same, including roasting the whole chicken first.

I must confess that there’s nothing ‘fast’ about this recipe. However, it is fabulous; a labor of love that’s worth every minute spent roasting, chopping, simmering, straining, shredding and everything else that’s involved in it’s general assembly – and also why I make it in large batches to freeze.

Just imagine coming home exhausted, hungry and definitely not in a mood to cook but you’re craving something delicious and wholesome. Having a few containers of this wonderful soup in the freezer means you’ll enjoy a heartwarming, nourishing, complete meal in a bowl, perhaps with some crusty bread on the side  – but I rarely bother with bread and you certainly won’t miss it here.

In warmer weather I’ll add lentils and maybe leave out the potatoes; when it gets a little chillier, I replace the lentils with pearled barley. I add potatoes, sweet potatoes and fresh green beans towards the end of the cooking time so that they don’t fall apart. Baby spinach is also great added at the very end as it wilts immediately and retains its bright green color.

I recommend staying away from watery veg such as zucchini (courgettes) – they just turn to mush and frankly don’t add much in the way of flavor, unlike swede (rutabaga) or baby turnips for instance.

The choice and quantities of vegetables are approximate and depend on your preference but what I’m suggesting here will create about 15 servings, so adjust the quantities based upon your needs and /or available freezer space.

You’ll definitely need a fork and spoon for this one.

Chunky Chicken Soup

Chunky Chicken Soup


(Serves approx 15)


A whole free-range chicken, preferably organic, weighing 5- 5.5 lbs (2.25 – 2.5 kilos)

3-4 quarts of organic chicken stock

1 cup (240ml measure) of barley or lentils, picked over and washed

A few sticks of celery, washed and chopped

A good handful of peeled baby carrots, left whole

2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, rinsed and chopped

A couple of parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks (turnips and swede/rutabaga are also very good)

A couple of medium sized onions, finely chopped – plus an extra half onion, peeled

1 or two large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) chunks

Half a dozen very small red potatoes of equal size, washed and halved

A bunch of kale, stalks discarded, leaves torn into shreds

A bag of washed baby spinach

A bunch of fresh parsley

A few stalks of thyme

A couple of sprigs of rosemary or tarragon or both

A bay leaf

Half a lemon

2 or three cloves of garlic, peeled

One large glass of white wine

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


chunky-chicken-soupStart with the whole chicken. Preheat the oven to 350F /180C. In a large, preferably cast-iron casserole/dutch oven with a lid, large enough to take the whole chicken, arrange half an onion, a stalk of celery and a carrot or two on the bottom. Tuck in the bay leaf, a sprig each of rosemary, tarragon (if using) and thyme, plus a good handful of parsley, stalks and all.

Remove the giblets from the cavity of the chicken and add those as well. Season the chicken cavity with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper then stuff the garlic and half lemon into the chicken’s cavity. Place the whole chicken on top of the herbs and veg, pour the wine over the chicken, season with sea salt and pepper then put the lid on and stick it into the oven for 20 mins per lb (1/2 kilo), plus another 20 minutes. You can do this ahead and assemble the soup later.

Take the casserole out of the oven and carefully transfer the chicken to a deep dish. Strain all the collected juices from the bottom of the pot into a bowl – discard the solids. This liquid with form about half a pint of wonderful jellified stock that goes into the soup. Set the stock aside and once cooled, cover and refrigerate it until you’re ready to make the soup.

As soon as the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip all the meat from the bones and shred it into roughly similar sized pieces. Discard the skin and bones (unless you want to use them to make another batch of stock). Be on the lookout for those really tiny bones that sometimes lurk in the flesh. Refrigerate the shredded chicken – it will be added at the end of the soup’s cooking time.

When you’re ready to make the soup, you’ll need a very large pot with a lid – maybe the same one you cooked the chicken in.

Add all the vegetables (except for the potato, sweet potato, green beans and spinach if using), barley or lentils, a sprig each of thyme, rosemary and a good handful of chopped parsley to the pot. Throw in the strained jellified broth from the chicken and pour over 3-4 quarts of chicken stock. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and bring everything to a boil. Turn the heat down, cover with a lid and simmer for 45 mins to an hour.

Check that the lentils (or barley), carrots and celery are cooked through, then add the potatoes and sweet potatoes. Cook for another 15 minutes then add green beans (if using) – cook for another 5 minutes then finally add the spinach followed by the shredded chicken.

Warm everything through, check the seasoning and serve in bowls, scattered with a little fresh parsley if you like. If you have room in your fridge, it tastes even better the next day and will keep for a couple of days, refrigerated.

Otherwise, cool the soup and store it in plastic containers in the freezer.

Posted in Poultry, Soups | 2 Comments

Recipe – Roasted Green Chili & Goat Cheese Frittata

This simple three-ingredient frittata was served to me by a friend in Arizona recently and it was incredibly good. Light and fluffy with lots of smoky fire – quite the perfect brunch dish, assuming that you like chilies.

Another plus is that it takes no more than 10 minutes to make from start to finish. Just open a jar of fire-roasted hatch chilies, beat up a few eggs, crumble in the soft goat cheese and apply the heat – that’s it!

Roasted Green Chili & Goat Cheese Frittata

Roasted Green Chili & Goat Cheese Frittata


(Serves 4)


6 eggs, preferably organic, lightly beaten and seasoned with a little sea salt

8 oz (227g)  of ‘505 Southwestern Flame Roasted Green Chilies’  – or similar

4 oz (115g) of soft mild goat cheese, crumbled

Vegetable oil


Roasted chili & goat cheese frittata 013Heat about a tablespoon of oil (suitable for hi-temp cooking) in a skillet and tip the chilies into the pan. While they’re heating through, preheat the grill/broiler.

Pour the eggs onto the chilies and stir gently to mix evenly. Once the frittata begins to bubble and set around the edges, scatter the goat cheese all over then stick the pan under the hot broiler/grill.

Watch it like a hawk – it shouldn’t take more than 4-5 minutes to become puffy and golden on top.

Divide the frittata between 4 warmed plates and serve immediately, perhaps with some salsa on the side.

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Vegetables / Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Recipe – Ceviche with Shrimp

Ceviche is a traditional Latin American dish that involves ‘cooking’ small pieces of raw fish in citrus juices, then adding other ingredients such as onion, avocado, chili, tomatoes and cilantro (coriander leaf).

However if you make it with shrimp as I have here, you must cook the shrimp first. On that basis,  you might want to think of this as a spicy shrimp cocktail with lots of bright flavors that dance on you tongue  – or perhaps ‘Ceviche for Beginners’, as there isn’t a piece of raw fish in sight.

Either way, it makes  the most wonderful appetizer served with corn tortilla chips.

You can cook the shrimp ahead and you’ll need to allow a total of 1.5 hrs before it’s ready to eat. Otherwise it’s really easy to make and this version is a favorite.

Ceviche with Shrimp

Ceviche with Shrimp


(Serves 4-6 as an appetizer)


1lb (half a kilo) of raw fresh shrimp, de-veined and shells removed

2 tablespoons of sea salt

2 quarts of water

The combined juice of 2 lemons, 2 limes and 2 oranges

1 cup (240ml measure) of hothouse (English) cucumber, peeled and cut into half inch (2 cm) dice

1/2 cup (120ml measure) of finely chopped red onion

2 jalapeno or serrano chilies, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup (240ml measure) of de-seeded chopped tomatoes

1 firm-ripe avocado, chopped into 1/2 inch (2cm) dice

1 heaped tablespoon of chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaf)

2 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano

1/4 cup (60ml) of extra-v olive oil

Sea salt – about 1/4 teaspoon


Bring a large pot (2 quarts) of water to the boil, add 2 tablespoons of sea salt followed by the fresh cleaned shrimp. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and allow the shrimp to sit for 3 minutes to cook through, then drain and allow them to cool slightly.

Chop the shrimp into 1/2 inch (2cm) chunks and put them in a *glass or plastic bowl along with the combined citrus juices, the diced cucumber, red onion and chili – refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove from the fridge and add all the other ingredients, giving it a good stir. Let it rest covered at room temp for 30 minutes to allow all the flavors to develop.

Serve in individual glasses with a small spoon and some corn chips for scooping.

*Use a glass or plastic bowl rather than metal which can cause the flavors to adjust  – and not in a good way.






Posted in Fish, Salads & Appetizers | 2 Comments

Recipe – Grilled Plums with Cinnamon, Brown Sugar & Amaretto

Stone fruits are so luscious at this time of year and I can’t get enough of them. Faced with a large bowl of ripe purple and yellow plums and lacking inspiration, I decided to simply grill them with a little brown sugar, cinnamon and a splash of Amaretto liqueur.

They only take a few minutes to cook and I recommend keeping your eye on them – my attention had wandered so the first batch I made were completely carbonized.

Cooked plums have a tangy quality that I love so I tend to hold back on the amount of sugar I use but add more if you want, or stir some into the crème fraîche.

These would also be delicious served with sour cream or some really good vanilla ice cream.

Grilled Plums with Brown Sugar, Cinnamon & Amaretto

Grilled Plums with Brown Sugar, Cinnamon & Amaretto


(Serves 4)

8 large ripe plums of any color, halved, stones discarded

2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar plus extra if needed

1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

A good splash of Amaretto

10 fl oz (300ml) of crème fraîche, sour cream or ice cream


Mix the brown sugar with the cinnamon and get the grill / broiler really hot. Arrange the plums snugly in a shallow heatproof dish. Sprinkle with Amaretto followed by the sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Place the plums about 6 inches from the heat and broil them until the fruit is soft and the sugar is bubbling and golden.

Serve warm.

Here are a few more ways to serve plums:

A Plum & Apricot Galette and a Plum & Walnut Crumble

A Very Easy Fruit & Almond Tart

A Very Easy Fruit & Almond Tart

A Very Easy Fruit & Almond Tart



Posted in Desserts, Gluten Free Desserts, Made in Under 30 mins | 3 Comments

Recipe – Blackberry, Lime & Polenta Cake

This is one of those cakes that you really need to eat with a fork as it’s so squelchy  – and I’m not going to pretend it’s low in fat or sugar either. However for the occasional treat, this is ridiculously good and better yet, if you have a food processor it takes no time at all to prepare as you throw all the ingredients in together.

If you prefer the type of cake that’s less messy to eat with your fingers, just halve the amount of elderflower and lime syrup that you pour all over it while still hot from the oven.

Blackberry Lime & Polenta Cake

Blackberry Lime & Polenta Cake


(Makes 16-20 squares)


8oz (225g) of self rising flour

2.5 oz (75g) of yellow cornmeal/polenta

9 oz (250g) of unsalted butter, softened

8 oz (230g) of fine white sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla

The juice and zest of 1 large lime

2 tablespoons of pouring cream

6 oz (170g) of fresh blackberries

For the syrup topping, combine the following:

3.5 fl oz (100ml) of elderflower syrup (IKEA sells it in the US)

5 tablespoons of fine white sugar

The finely grated zest and juice of 1/2  a lime


Preheat the oven to 375F (190C)

Combine everything except the blackberries and syrup topping ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have a thick batter.

Grease a 9 in x 13 in (23cm x 33cm) cake pan (approx size). Spread the batter evenly in the pan  – and equally spaced, arrange the blackberries on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is puffy and golden and as soon as you take it out of the oven, spoon the syrup all over and allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before slicing into it.

Posted in Desserts | 2 Comments