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09 November, 2012

Caribbean Fried Fish Balls

Chris at Caribbean Pot creates fantastic dishes, full of flavour and easy to prepare. This fits in with my food philosophy entirely, so I have linked him permanently in the right-hand column here. Be sure to check-out all his fabulous recipes.

With this quick and easy recipe, he has come up with yet another winner:

Mmmm those fish balls look good, and you get around 24 out of 450g of fish. I would put them in warm pitta bread pockets with some salad and some tartare sauce or hot pepper sauce. You could part fry them and freeze them too, then fry them until finished from frozen. 

Another great recipe Chris!

10 October, 2012

Spaghetti with Garlic and Black Pepper

This delicious yet simple dish is a Neapolitan classic that can be enjoyed at any time of the day or evening. This dish stands either on it's own or as an accompaniment to other dishes. Always source the best quality ingredients.

Serves 2


250g dried durum wheat (gran semola) spaghetti
Sea salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp of good quality olive oil
A knob of butter
Lots of freshly-ground black pepper
Chopped parsley for garnish


Cook the spaghetti in lots of boiling salted water until it is 'al dente' or slightly nutty in texture. Drain and set aside.

Over medium heat fry the garlic in the butter and olive oil. Stir and fry, taking care not to let the garlic burn. When the garlic aroma hits you, it is time to add the cooked spaghetti. Stir to combine the ingredients and remove the pan from the heat. Add lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper, and add sea salt to taste.

Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve.



I love to serve this with grilled fish and a Caprese (tomato and mozzarella) salad. You can also use soba (buckwheat) noodles as a super-healthy alternative.

09 October, 2012

Best Ever Fried Chicken

D.D. Shows you how to make her mouth watering Famous Fried Chicken! If you don't know how to make fried chicken then this step by step fried chicken recipe will teach you how! Enjoy!

KFC eat your heart out!

(360 F = 182 C)

Low n Slow Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks like to be cooked on a low heat for a long time, but I flash bake them on a very high heat to seal them before the slow-cooking process.


4 lamb shanks
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
4 carrots, cut into big chunks
1 small swede (rutabaga) cut into big chunks
1 litre of hot water, mixed with 2 lamb stock cubes
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp of dried)
1 tablespoon of soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon of plain (all-purpose) flour
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste


Crank your oven up to very high temp and allow 10-15 minutes for it to get hot. Brush the lamb shanks with a tablespoon of the oil and place them in a deep roasting tin. When the oven is very hot, place the lamb shanks in to seal for about 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan; fry the onion in a tablespoon of oil on a medium-high heat until it begins to soften slightly, add the garlic and all the veggies and keep stirring. Take care not to burn the garlic or it will taste bitter. Once the veggies have begun to brown, add the stock, rosemary and sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Salt to taste.

Your lamb shanks should have a nice seal on them by now. Carefully remove the hot roasting pan from the oven. Reduce the oven heat to low - around 120 degrees Celsius (250 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the stock and veggies to the roasting tin and seal the whole lot in 2 layers of cooking foil.

Slam in the lamb and slow-roast the shanks for at least 2 hrs 30 mins and no more than 4 hours, by which time it will fall off the bone. Carefully remove the lamb shanks to a deep serving dish. 

Now mix the remaining oil with the flour and add it to the stock and veggies, stir to thicken over a medium heat. Allow it to simmer for a minute and pour over the lamb shanks.

Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.


I like to serve these one shank per person on a bed of mashed potatoes, with a little mint sauce on the side.

10 September, 2012

Cat's 5-Bean Chorizo-Beer Chili

Try this delicious chilli recipe from my dear American friend Cat:


1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (approximately)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves large garlic, diced
2 lbs. chorizo sausage, cut in 1-inch lengths (bulk is ok, but not best)
2 lbs. cubed sirloin, cut in 1/2" cubes
1 can diced, unseasoned tomatoes (any size)
1-2 7-oz. can(s) tomato paste, based on preference
1 bottle beer (Dos Equis Amber is great!)
Beef broth, to desired consistency
1 T sugar
2 T chili powder
1 T salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste, if desired (Green is good if you want the flavor, but not the heat)
2-3 T chopped fresh cilantro, if desired (Forget it, if using dried)
1 15.2 (?) can dark red kidney beans
1 15.2 can light red kidney beans
1 15.2 can cannellini (white kidney) beans
1 15.2 can black beans
1 15.2 can black-eyed peas

1. Coat bottom of heavy stock pot or dutch oven with oil
2. When hot, reduce heat to medium and saute green pepper, onion, and celery until they begin to soften
3. Add garlic and lightly saute 
4. Add chorizo and beef and cook through (Be careful to stir often so garlic doesn't burn.)
5. Add diced tomatoes, paste, beer, broth, sugar, chili powder, salt, pepper, Tabasco, and cilantro and bring to a boil
6. Add beans and simmer for at least one hour.
Top with sour creme and/or shredded cheddar

Better on Day 2. Freezes well.

06 August, 2012

Finnish Red Root Soup (Punajuurisosekeitto)

This is a hearty soup and a staple in Finland. You need to find a source for 'smetana', a kind of specialist Russian/Finnish dairy product; but I am sure the hunt will be worth the time.

I was going to sanitise and re-write this recipe in my own style, but as you will see, my Finnish friend 'Mai' and I agreed to paste it direct. Here goes:

 Friend: i can give you the recipe to that red root soup but you neeeed smetana with it
 Me: I will use extra thick soured cream
 Friend: like a table spoon of it on top of on serving. tho i always shove two :D
 Friend: it has to be smetana
 Me: I will have to find a baltic grocer store then ;D
 Friend: yeah
 Friend: you put 1L of water to boil
 Me: Probably either the Latvian or Estonian version
 Friend: ad a vegetable stock cube or whatever the fuck you people call it
 Me: just that
 Friend: one red onion
 Friend: 500g beetroot
 Friend: 3-5 potatos
 Friend: 1-2 clove of garlic
 Friend: 2,5dl cream
 Friend: thyme (optional)
 Friend: pepper and salt
 Friend: i don't usually put thyme in it but i thought to give it a go and it works just fine and changes the taste a lot
 Me: I would try both, but I fancy it more without thyme
 Friend: boil the veggies and at garlic and spices and the cream and use the uh..well some sort of blender or smasher to make it into that soup stuff
 Me: Hand blender
 Friend: and then get some rye bread and fry it with butter, garlic and parsley
 Friend: and eat it with the soup
 Friend: and shove shitload of smetana on your plate cos it's awesome
 Me: hahahahaha
 Friend: i should make recipes online my way of writing it isn't that typical :D
 Friend: you can aslo just make a straight copy of the text and say "this is the recipe i got from my friend unchanged. that's her way of giving out recipes."
 Me: I think you could start a recipe blog like mine
 Friend: i'm too lazy
 Friend: easier to just give you the recipes
 Friend: i generally can't cook worth shit
 Me: Do I have your permission to paste?
 Friend: go ahead


25 July, 2012

Puy Lentils with Bacon and Peas

Puy lentils are both delicious and satisfying. In this recipe the lentils and peas are first boiled and then the flavour bomb of bacon, onions and garlic is added before serving.

1 cup dried puy lentils
1 clove of garlic, peeled and whole
1 cup frozen garden peas
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 rashers of smoked back bacon or Canadian bacon, cut into small pieces
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 cup fresh halved cherry tomatoes

Boil the lentils and garlic clove in unsalted water until the lentils are tender and succulent. Add the frozen peas and cook for about 6 minutes until the peas are done. Drain and keep warm. Fry the bacon in the olive oil until crisp and add the onion. Reduce the heat a little and stir and fry until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and continue to stir and fry until the onions are beginning to caramelise. Now add the lentils and peas and stir to mix and re-heat the lentils. Season to taste and garnish with chopped fresh tomatoes.

This dish can stand alone as a light lunch with a baked potato (pictured) or crusty bread and a rich shiraz, but it is equally at home on a buffet table or as a side dish to roasted meats and game.

22 June, 2012

Penne al Forno

Penne al forno is a classic Italian baked pasta dish and one of the world's greatest comfort foods. It is a winner with children too. Americans call it 'baked ziti' and use canned tuna or ground beef in the sauce. My recipe is cheap simple and tasty, using smoked bacon and cheddar cheese sauce.


250g dried durum wheat pasta quills (penne or ziti)
Plenty of boiling water
2 tsp of salt
4 tablespoons of olive oil
4 rashers of good quality smoked bacon, finely diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, mashed
1 500g carton of sieved tomato passata
1 can of chopped Italian tomatoes
A generous pinch each of dried oregano and basil
1 tsp of sugar
1 tbsp of plain flour
250g grated mature cheddar cheese
Milk as required (see Method)
Milled black pepper and salt to taste
Fresh basil leaves to garnish.


Pasta: Boil the pasta in plenty of salted water and a drizzle of olive oil until it is slightly soft and nutty in texture. Do not overcook it at this stage because the cooking process is finished in the oven as it bakes. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Sauce: Using the same pan wiped dry, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to heat until the oil is very hot. Add the finely diced bacon and fry until crispy. Add the onion and stir-fry with the bacon until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds to combine it. Add the passata and chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, then reduce to a fast simmer. Add the dried herbs and sugar. Season with milled black pepper and simmer for 20 minutes, adding more water if the sauce begins to dry up. Taste and adjust seasoning where necessary. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cooked pasta to the pan. Stir to mix then transfer the mixture to a baking pan or oven-proof gratin dish, leaving enough room on top to accommodate the cheese sauce.

Cheese sauce: In a small saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and add the flour. Stir to mix until all the flour is oily. Add milk and stir until the sauce thickens. Keep stirring and add more milk until you have a thick roux sauce. Add 2/3 of the grated cheese and stir to make a rich cheese sauce. Now layer the sauce over the pasta mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the sauce and season with more milled black pepper. Bake at 200 C (350 F) for 30 minutes until the cheese sauce starts to brown and bubble. Remove from the oven and allow it to stand for 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.


Serve generous portions on a plain white pasta plate with crusty Italian bread and a green salad on the side. Have plenty of Chianti Classico and/or Peroni beer to hand. Take your time and enjoy the food and the company - Italian style!

Dedicated to my dear friends and colleagues at Circle Housing Group.

04 June, 2012

Veggie Vegan Koftes in Curry Sauce

My introduction to this dish was cooked for me by a wonderful Sikh lady many years ago in Hong Kong. I have long striven to perfect the recipe and bring it close to the original. The genius of this dish is in the cross-cooking of the koftes from frying to poaching them in the sauce.

The original recipe calls for bottle gourd or dudhi (calabash), but courgettes (zuccini) are a very close approximation which is readily available to me.

Serves 4



Oil for deep frying
2 large courgettes (zuccini), grated
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of toasted cumin (jeera) seeds
6 spring onions very finely chopped
2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons of crushed garlic
1 cup of gram flour (besan)*

Curry Sauce:

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
A pinch of panch poran or cumin seeds (optional)
2 cups of finely chopped or blended onions
1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
4 cloves of crushed garlic
4 teaspoons of mild Madras curry powder
1 cup of canned chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup of garden peas
2 whole hot green chilli peppers
1 cup of good vegetable stock
A generous pinch of fresh coriander (cilantro)
salt and pepper to taste



Mix all the koftes ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to form a stiff batter, adding a little water if the mixture is too cloying, or a little more flour if too loose. Shape handfuls of the batter into small balls or quenelles and fry until brown. Set aside.

Curry Sauce:

Heat the oil until hot and add the panch poran or cumin seeds, fry until they start to pop. Add the onions then stir and fry over a medium heat until the onions soften and begin to brown. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to stir and fry until a characteristic sweet smell comes from the pot and the mixture browns as the onions caramelise. Add the curry powder and stir for 1 minute. Add the stock, peas, tomatoes and chillies and stir to mix. Simmer for at least 15 minutes then add the cooked koftes. Stir very gently so as not to break up the koftes and slow-simmer until the koftes are heated through. Season to taste then add the coriander garnish. 


I like to serve this on steamed basmati rice with Indian mixed pickle and a naan, pitta bread or other flat bread on the side. Excellent with a cucumber and mint raita or with Greek tzatziki.


I once served this dish to some of my army friends, and it wasn't till after the meal they discovered it had no meat in it; one of them asked me what meat it was, and I said, "Courgettes"!

The kofte mix can be fried in patties and served as veggie burgers. They also make nice vegan sausages.

Veggie koftes are a great snack, served like falafel with salad in warm pitta bread pockets with hot pepper sauce.

*You can use plain (general purpose) wheat flour, spelt flour, polenta or cous-cous instead of gram flour, but gram flour (besan) is best if you can find it. It is possible to make besan by grinding dried chick peas or yellow split peas (channa) in a coffee grinder until it is a fine powder.

Kofta, koftas, kofte, koftes, courgette, zuccini, bottle gourd, dhudi, vegetarian, vegan, veggie burger, veggie sausage

12 May, 2012

Thai-Style Chicken Rice with Chilli-Ginger Sauce

This is another of those amazingly simple dishes that is delicious, nutritious and satisfying. This is a Thai take on Hainanese Chicken Rice, versions of which are found all over South-East Asia. The combination of the delicious rice and chicken and the piquancy of the chilli-ginger sauce is a real winner.

Serves: 4

For the sauce:

5 fresh red bird eye hot chillies

3 garlic cloves

5 pieces fresh ginger, peeled

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of roasted peanuts or cashews

4 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chicken stock

Combine the ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth but not puréed. Set aside. 

For the chicken and rice: 

1 x 1.5Kg whole free range corn fed chicken, skin on, any excess fat removed.

1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of light soy or mushroom soy sauce

5 spring onions (scallions)

1 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled and sliced

8 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups Thai fragrant rice, rinsed and drained

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

For the garnish:
Finley-shredded spring onions 
Peeled and cut batons of cucumber
Slices of fresh tomato 

To make the chicken and rice, rub the chicken with the salt. Place the spring onions and 2 pieces of ginger in the cavity. Place the chicken in a large saucepan, add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered skimming off any foam, until the chicken is cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer the chicken to a platter and allow to cool slightly. Discard the  spring onions and ginger from the cavity of the bird and remove and discard the skin. 

Remove the breast meat, legs and wings. Discard the carcass. Slice the breast meat and separate the drumstick from the thigh. Return the meat to the platter and keep warm.

Measure 4 cups of the stock the chicken cooked in, retaining the rest for another use. In large saucepan, heat the oils over medium-high heat and add the garlic and remaining ginger slices.

Cook stirring for 2 minutes. Add the rinsed rice and toss until coated. Add the 4 cups of stock and bring to a boil.

Simmer, covered until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender about 15 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a serving platter. Top with the chicken, garnish with the spring onions and serve immediately with the chili-ginger sauce on the side.

Dedicated to my Thai food guru Wan and my bestie Conrad, who loves this dish and surpasses all human tolerance of chilli consumption.

11 March, 2012

Lumberjack Cake

Aussieangel writes:

This a dessert standby in our house.  Warm with icecream and cream for dessert, or for afternoon tea in the garden.


 2 large (400g) apples, finely chopped  
 1 cup (200g) chopped dates  
 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda  
 1 cup boiling water  
 125g butter  
 1 teaspoon vanilla essence  
 1 cup sugar  
 1 egg  
 11/2 cups plain flour  


 60g butter  
 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed  
 1/2 cup milk  
 2/3 cup shredded coconut  


Grease deep 19cm square cake pan, line base with paper, grease paper. Preheat oven to moderate (180 deg C) 
Combine apple, dates, soda and water in bowl, cover, stand until warm.  
Beat butter, essence and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and creamy, add egg, beat until combined.  
Transfer mixture to large bowl, stir in sifted flour alternately with apple mixture. 
Pour into prepared pan.  
Bake in moderate oven (180-200) 50 minutes. 
Spread with topping, bake about further 30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.   Put a tray on the rack below the cake in the oven, as sometimes the topping bubbles over the edge - if your cake tin isn't quite deep enough. 
Cool cake in pan.  


Combine butter, sugar, milk and coconut in pan, stir over low heat until butter is melted and sugar dissolved.  

Carrot Cake

This is a recipe from a dear Australian friend of mine.

2 eggs
1 Cup of castor Sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla
3/4 cup of  vegetable oil
1 cup of  plain Flour
1 tsp of  bi carb soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2  cups of  finely grated  carrot
1/2 cup of  chopped  walnuts

Combine  eggs,sugar, vanilla, oil  beat well. Sift  dry ingredients and  add  to mixture. Add grated  carrot and  walnuts. Mix  well. Pour  mixture into a  well greased 20cm  cake tin. bake in a moderate oven (180-200 celcius) for  40- 45 minutes

30g butter
60g  cream cheese
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 1/2  cups of  icing   sugar

melt butter. Add cheese and  beat  well.Add lemon rind and  sifted  icing   sugar. continue  to beat until icing is nice and  smooth