Recipe – Salmon Tagine with Lemony Couscous

Here’s a deliciously different  way of serving fresh salmon that’s been marinated in an African spice paste called chermoula. If you can’t find chermoula, make your own (*simple instructions below) – it will taste even better.

Served over a lemony, minted couscous, this colorful and rather exotically fragrant dish is loaded with vegetables – and if you don’t make your own preserved lemon, use finely grated fresh lemon zest to give the couscous a perfumed tang.

Start by marinating the salmon for an hour or better yet, overnight if you have time.

Note: I used little purple potatoes because that’s what I had  but for a brighter-looking dish, use baby white potatoes or the red-skinned variety.


Tagine of Wild Salmon & Vegetables with Lemony Minted Couscous


(Serves 4)


5 fl oz (170g) of chermoula paste (recipe below)

1lb of wild salmon fillet, skinned and cut into chunks

11 oz (300g) of wholewheat couscous

A good grind of sea salt

The thinly sliced rind of 1/2 a preserved lemon – or the finely grated zest of half a fresh lemon

3 tablespoons of extra-v olive oil (for the couscous)

A small bunch of fresh mint, leaves stripped and chopped (save a few for a garnish)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

12 oz (340g) of baby potatoes, washed and halved

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

2 fat cloves of garlic, minced

14oz (400g) can of chopped tomatoes and their juice

A handful of pitted kalamata olives, halved


Spread the chermoula paste over the fish, cover and chill for at least 1 hr or overnight.

Make the couscous: put it in a bowl with a grind of sea salt and pour 14fl oz (400ml) of boiling water over. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes then fluff it with a fork. Add most of the lemon peel (or fresh lemon zest), the extra-v olive oil and chopped mint. Set it aside.

In a heavy sauté pan, heat the remaining oil over a medium heat then add the sliced onion, carrots, potatoes, cumin and a good grind of sea salt. Sauté for 5-6 minutes then add the garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the canned tomatoes along with 10 fl oz (300ml) of water and the olives. Bring it to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender. Add the fish, gently tossing to combine, then simmer for another 5-6 minutes until everything is cooked through.

Check the seasoning and let it sit covered for another 5 minutes. Serve with the couscous plus a few mint leaves and the remaining lemon peel or zest scattered over.


Put the following ingredients in a blender and pulse until you have a thick, green-flecked paste:

250ml fresh cilantro (coriander leaf)

4 fat cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of white wine vinegar

The juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp of ground paprika

1 tbsp of ground cumin

1 red chili, seeds discarded

2 tbsp of olive oil

Posted in Fish & Seafood | 4 Comments

Recipe – Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

If you have a slow cooker and a can opener, this is one of the easiest, tastiest and most heartwarming soups imaginable and it only takes about 15 minutes to assemble – the next 5-6 hrs of simmering in a slow cooker can mind its own business while your working, skiing or whatever it is you like to do elsewhere.

The wonderful aroma that greets you when you return is just what you’ll need when you stagger home cold and exhausted.  Even if your’e bouncing with energy, this soup will make a delicious and fool-proof addition to your repertoire.

A meal in itself and bursting with spicy Southwestern flavors, there are many versions out there – I happen to like this one, adapted from a friend’s recipe.

Toppings can include crispy tortilla strips or chips, sour cream, fresh cilantro (coriander), sliced avocado, chopped chives, shredded Jack (or mozzarella) cheese…or not.

Either way, this hits the spot.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Soup


(6 servings)


1lb of boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 x 15oz can (425g) of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 x 15oz can (425g) or chopped tomatoes – preferably fire-roasted

12oz (340g) of frozen sweetcorn kernels

1 large red and 1 large green pepper, seeded and diced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 fat cloves of garlic, minced

A small handful of fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

1 bay leaf

1-2 large tablespoons of chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped (or chili powder)

1 teaspoon of sea salt

2 – 3 cups (480ml – 720ml) of chicken stock


Combine everything in your slow cooker and nestle the chicken breast somewhere in the middle.  Cook on low for 8 hrs or high for 5-6.

Before serving, use two forks to shred the chicken to distribute it throughout the soup.

To serve, top with all, some or none of the suggestions listed above.

Like many soups, this tastes even better the next day – just warm it through gently.



Posted in Poultry, Soups | 1 Comment

Recipe – Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Oat Bites

Just 4 ingredients; three if you leave out the nuts. You could also leave out the chocolate chips but why deny yourself? These chewy little cookie bites are ridiculously simple to make and are a delicious grab-and-go breakfast substitute or anytime snack, when your energy is lagging a bit.

They’re also yummy dunked in a cold glass of milk or served with a nice cup of tea.

This almost non-recipe comes courtesy of a friend. You know who you are and I want you to know that I’ve eaten six today already.

Oh – and they’re healthy.

And vegan.

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Banana Nut Choc-Chip Oat Bites


(Makes approx 16)


2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup (240ml measure) of quick cooking oats

1/4 cup (60ml measure) of chopped walnuts or pecans

1/4 cup of organic dark chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix the mashed banana with the oats until well combined then stir in the chopped nuts followed by the chocolate chips. Make sure everything is well blended then drop walnut-sized amounts onto the baking sheet, flattening slightly.

Bake for 15 minutes – cool. They store well in an airtight container for a few days – not that they’ll last that long.

Note – if you like your cookies dairy and wheat free, try these made with chocolate chips and peanut butter -they’re amazingly good, only take 12 minutes to bake and freeze like a dream!




Posted in Cookies & Edible Gifts, Vegan, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – Tagliatelle with Oven Roasted Baby Tomatoes, Basil & Goat Cheese

Baby tomatoes roasted with garlic, olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar create an intensely delicious sauce for pasta in just 20 minutes. Roast tomatoes are also fabulous served with grilled lamb.

I like it served over fresh tagliatelle, topped with torn basil leaves and a soft goat cheese.

A simple, hearty pasta and very easy to make.

Tagliatelle with Roasted Baby Tomatoes, Basil & Goat Cheese


(Enough for 4 servings)


2 pints/4 cups/1 liter measure of tiny tomatoes, any variety

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

A few chili flakes (for optional bite)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A good handful of fresh basil leaves, torn

3 oz/85g of soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Enough pasta for 4 people


Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a roasting pan. Season with sea salt and black pepper (add a few chili flakes if you want some heat) and toss well to coat the tomatoes. Roast them for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are starting to pop. Even if they don’t all burst open, they’ll still be cooked through. With a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a separate bowl and keep them warm.

Over a moderate heat, reduce the remaining liquid in the roasting pan by about half while you’re cooking the pasta.

Drain the pasta (if you use fresh pasta it only takes about 4 minutes to cook), tip it into a warmed serving bowl and pour the reduced sauce over, tossing well to combine.

Add the roasted tomatoes to the pasta along with any accumulated juices, then top with torn basil leaves and goat cheese.

Serve immediately (although it tastes wonderful at room temperature).

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Pasta, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – A Simple Pear Tart

It really doesn’t get much simpler than this. If you don’t have time to make an elaborate dessert but want to create something with lots of oooh-factor, then this luscious little fruit tart with a flaky crust is an absolute winner.

You also wont mind cheating by using frozen puff pastry (which incidentally, is usually vegan unless it mentions butter on the packaging).

All you need are a few ripe, juicy Bartlet pears, a scattering of flaked almonds, a splash of amaretto perhaps – and a sprinkling of sugar. That’s it.

Barely a recipe.

A Simple Pear Tart with Flaked Almonds


(Makes 6 individual tarts)


6 raw frozen puff pastry shells, defrosted

3 medium to large ripe, juicy pears, halved and cored, then each half cut into 5 wedges

A good handful of flaked almonds

A splash or two of Amaretto liqueur

A tablespoon or so of fine white sugar

A little beaten egg


Preheat the oven to 400F (200C)

Ignoring the fact that raw puff pastry shells are designed to rise and be stuffed with something, roll them out into a circle on a lightly floured board until they’re about 4-5 inches (10-12cm) across. Brush a little beaten egg around the edge and roll it in about 1/2 inch (1cm) and press lightly to create a rim. Transfer the pastry circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Arrange the pears slices in the center of each tart and scatter with flaked almonds. Give each a splash of Amaretto followed by a good sprinkling of sugar.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden and the pears are tender.

Allow to cool slightly before serving with custard, cream or vanilla ice cream.

So simple and so very good.

Posted in Desserts, Vegan | Leave a comment

Recipe – Spiced Peach Chutney

When you live in a State that produces numerous tree fruits plus varieties of grapes that end up as fine wine (on occasion) – although unexpected, it’s no surprise that people have peach, plum and apple trees growing in their gardens.

In this case, a friend’s peach tree planted from seed over 30 years ago, was so weighed down with big fat peaches, that a third of them had flung themselves off the tree to lie, nestled in the grass – no doubt to save the branches from snapping under their weight.

A basket full of windfall peaches was a welcome gift and as there were so many – and as I already have a fridge full of jam – I decided to make chutney. Spiked with fresh ginger, clove, cardamom and chili, this is a deeply fragrant relish that’s simply divine slathered over soft goat cheese, on a toasted baguette. It would also enhance other cheeses, such as a good sharp Cheddar and it works brilliantly with pork, lamb chops, sausages and cold cuts.

Spiced peach chutney is easy to make and keeps well in the fridge for about 6 months, stored in sealed glass jars.

Spiced Peach Chutney

Spiced Peach Chutney


(Makes approx six 8-oz / 0.23 kilo jars)


4lbs (1.8 kilos) of ripe peaches

1 and 2/3 cups (400 ml measure) of soft light brown sugar

1 cup (240ml) of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of grated fresh ginger

1 smallish red onion, finely chopped

12 green cardamom pods, lightly cracked to expose the seeds

4 whole cloves

1 dried red chili, seeds removed and crumbled

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt


If the skins wont peel off the peaches easily  without removing chunks of flesh, you’ll need to blanch them as follows:

Cut a small X in the base of each peach and put them in a large bowl. Have a separate large bowl filled with iced water to one side.

Pour boiling water over the peaches and let it sit for half a minute, then drain and dunk them in the iced water. Drain again and the skins should now slip off easily.

Cut the skinned peaches into smallish chunks and discard (or plant) the stones. Set aside.

In a large heavy pan, combine the vinegar, sugar, onion, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Bring it to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to soften (5-8 minutes).

Add the peaches, chili and salt. Stir well to combine and bring to a simmer. Cook for about an hour stirring at 10-15 minute intervals, until the peaches are translucent and soft.

Allow to cool a bit before ladling into *clean glass screw-top jars. Spiced Peach Chutney will keep in the fridge for 6-8 months.

*To sterilize glass jars for preserves, wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and dry in a 250F / 120C oven for 30 minutes.


Posted in Cookies & Edible Gifts, Sauces, Preserves, Condiments | Leave a comment

Recipe – Sausage & Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

These spicy little nibbles are the sort of thing you find served all over the US while people are watching football.

I don’t watch football, ever. But I’d happily down a few of these fiery bites with a chilled IPA, served in a frosted glass.

The original recipe calls for pork sausage but I substituted spicy chicken sausage meat. Vegetarians could use sausage meat of the ‘V’ variety or leave it out entirely, adding more cheese.

Best of all they take no time to prepare and are done in 20-25 minutes. You can assemble them 24 hrs ahead – just cover with cling film and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.

I like to serve these with a mild salsa because they have plenty of bite without adding more. If that’s still too much fire for you, serve them with a cooling ranch-style dressing.

Sausage & Cheese Stuffed Jalapenos

Sausage & Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeños


(Makes approx 40)


1lb (450g) of sausage meat

8oz (225g) of cream cheese at room temp

4oz (113g) of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

20 large firm jalapeño peppers, split lengthwise and seeds removed

To serve – mild salsa or ranch dressing


Preheat the oven to 425F (220C)

Arrange the pepper halves on a large baking sheet.

Cook the sausage meat in a heavy pan over a medium heat until it’s no longer pink. Set aside.

Combine the cheeses and add the sausage. Mix thoroughly and place a tablespoon of this mixture in each pepper half.

Bake for 18-25 minutes or until the topping is golden and bubbling.

Allow them to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.


Posted in Meat, Salads & Appetizers | Leave a comment