I am so in love with this recipe. Making this one is like a mini adventure, with a brilliant delicious reward at the end.
It’s a tender, heart warming chicken dish, perfect for Sunday supper. Prep this one early afternoon so it’s ready to roll a few hours later with steaming vegetables and a mellow glass of red rioja.
Taken from the amazing Nom Nom Paleo Cookbook, this clever slow cook chicken recipe delivers you beautifully succulent chicken, with a rich and incredibly more-ish vegetable gravy. It’s ever so simple, delightfully healthy and is now a thumbs up dinner winner for kids and grown ups in our house.
I have adapted the Nom Nom recipe slightly. I found the gravy too thick on the original. It’s a forgiving dish to change, so have a go and tweak away if you need to.
My preferred ingredients to make this are as follows:
Nice family sized chicken – one that can fit in your slow cooker!
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
3 chopped leeks – white parts only
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1/2 a mug of chicken stock
A tablespoon of dried herbs – I use tarragon, rosemary and thyme
1 teaspoon of fish sauce – trust me it works wonders here!
Pink salt and black pepper
And here is how to prepare the vegetables:
Fry the leeks and garlic in the oil till soft, before adding the tomato paste and chicken stock. Allow to simmer for a further 4 or 5 minutes.
Pop the soft vegetables in the bottom of your slow cooker and then move on to prepare the chicken.
Here’s how to prepare the chicken and finish the dish. It’s nice and easy:
Season the chicken inside and out with your herbs, salt and pepper.
Place the chicken breast down on top of the vegetables and sprinkle over the fish sauce.
Put the lid on and leave on the low setting for around 4 hours. You need to check on things towards the end. A larger bird will take up to 5 hours.
I turn my bird over for the last 30 minutes, just to ensure that all sides have been covered in the juices.
When the bird is beautifully steamed and soft, take it out to rest for 15 minutes, before breaking off the meat.
You need to ‘degrease’ the sauce. I do this by simply putting kitchen roll on top to soak up the fat.
Once you are happy, simply blitz up the vegetables with a hand blender. Check the flavours and season if required. If you want a lighter sauce add a little bit boiling water to thin it out.
Serve up with whatever works for you. Sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli makes perfect sense to me.
The ultimate beauty of this is the way the chicken stays so moist, cooking gently and soaking up the gorgeous garlicky flavours. Of course, there are so many other ways you could twist this towards your own favourite flavours.
I’ve not been very consistent with my posts this past few months. We’re winding into gear now. No really we are. We’ve got a timetable of post-school activities on the fridge. That is most definitely the green light, the go go go for routine and structure.
It doesn’t mean I’ve not been experimenting and trying out new recipes. In fact I’ve enjoyed not thinking too hard about it all and leaving the notepad and pen to one side for a while.
This week’s post features a fabulous Indian dish. I like the dry warmth of spices in this one, it’s lively but not powerful enough to take your breath away. In fact although spiced, this dish is rather fragrant and light.
It works well with both lamb and turkey. I’m just not a big meat eater personally and enjoy the lighter, leaner turkey version. To make enough for 4 people you will need:
For the meatballs:
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
500g turkey mince or lamb mince
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of hot chilli / regular chilli powder
2 birds eye chillies, chopped finely
1 large egg
For the rice:
A little coconut oil
1 large white onion
4 teaspoons of cumin seeds
4 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
200 grams basmati rice (white or brown)
450 ml water
A handful of fresh coriander
A good squeeze of lime
1 ripe sliced mango, natural yoghurt with chopped mint
To make, you’ll need around 45 minutes in total.
In a large bowl combine the meatball ingredients and season.
Wet your hands, then shape between 12 and 20 meatballs depending on preferred size.
Cover and place in fridge till you need, or at least for a few minutes to settle.
On a medium heat fry the meatballs in a pan till completely sealed with a brown finish.
Leave to one side until you’ve completed step 8. At this point place in oven for 20 minutes on 150 degrees Celsius.
To make the rice fry the onion in a frying pan till really soft – give this at least 10 minutes.
Add the cumin for 5 minutes before adding the bay leaves, cinnamon, water and rice.
Bring to the boil, then drop the heat low and pop the lid on.
Keep on the heat till the water is absorbed and the rice is steamed, soft and tender. This should take 20 minutes, but you need to test, potentially adding a little water too. Keep an eye on the process for the last 5 minutes.
When the rice and meatballs are ready, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon. Plate up with a generous squeeze of lime, some sliced mango, plenty of fresh coriander and a dollop of minted yoghurt.
This is more of an idea than a recipe. It’s a great idea though. If it becomes routine, it will change the way you clear out all your leftover veggies, as well as help you fill those occasional creative spaces for mid week mealtimes.
The idea is to use up all your vegetables in a simple rustic sauce, which can be used as the basis or accompaniment to lots of weekday meals. There are two tricks to this:
Halve the end product – keep one half as a brilliant ratatouille and pulse the other to make a smooth ragu. Children LOVE this. It is jam packed with vegetables but with no evidence of ‘bits’. I have fooled my children with this one for some time now.
Make more, way more than you need for one sitting. Portion up into freezer bags and label clearly. You can pull out as and when you need.
Here are some of the ways you can use the sauces:
For the kids I use the ragu on its own as a sauce for gluten free pasta. You can finish it with crumbled soft cheese or grated parmesan.
Most commonly for the kids I use the smooth sauce to accompany meatballs or minced beef. Simply brown meatballs or mince and then add the ragu, simmering the sauce until the meat is tender. My children prefer both the texture and taste of this over any other sauce I make.
Liven up leftovers by pouring the sauce over shredded roast chicken. Serve with rice and corn on the cob.
The chunkier ratatouille is superb served really hot with a simple bowl of brown rice, yoghurt and a generous handful of chopped fresh herbs.
The ratatouille is also fantastic with fish. Place two piece of white fish in foil, sprinkle some halved olives and a squeeze of lemon, then cover in a generous helping of the ratatouille. Oven roast for 20 minutes and enjoy a fab meal for two.
Try a few spoonfuls on top of steamed asparagus. Sprinkle the dish with parmesan, grill for 2 minutes and serve with rocket leaves.
To make this batch I used:
A tablespoon of coconut (or olive oil)
4 garlic cloves
A large white onion
3 red peppers
1 large aubergine
1 large courgette
A handful of small tomatoes
3 large carrots
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar
a teaspoon of oregano
400ml of passata or chopped tomatoes
Low salt vegetable stock cube
Salt and pepper to season
Chop the vegetables neatly into cubes.
Fry the onions and garlic in the oil until soft before adding all the remaining vegetables.
Add the herbs, puree, balsamic, passata and stock cube.
Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat right down, pop on a lid and leave to simmer for a good 45 minutes or so. The dish is ready when the vegetables are soft and tender. Add more water if needed, gauge the liquid based on how thick you want the ratatouille.
Blitz up half, then store what you need in airtight jars and freeze the rest in bags.
This time last week we were returning from a weekend in the sparkling city of Sevilla. Steeped in history, yet youthful in feel, it is a welcoming, warm and charismatic place to visit.
Seville offers some amazing culinary options with bodegas and tapas restaurants of varying degrees of formality lining the cobbled streets of the old town. Whilst there we sampled some amazing food, from modern tapas to a classic fine dining experience in the famous Alfonso 8th hotel. A real old treat.
Famous for its flamenco and its oranges, I managed to return with some dodgy dancing shoes for my daughter, marmalade and some orange infused oil. The latter of these inspired this wonderful fresh salad.
To make two generous salads or a large accompaniment for a meal for four, you need:
Mixed soft salad leaves
Half an orange chopped into small chunks
Half a large mango sliced thinly
Quarter of a small red onion finely chopped
Toasted pumpkin seeds for the top
Optional crumbled feta
For the dressing you need:
50ml orange infused oil. This will work well with olive oil, but add some orange peel into the dressing to bring out more orange flavour
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of greek yoghurt
Juice from half an orange (may need more once you have tasted at the end)
Around a tablespoon of fresh finely chopped mint
Salt and pepper to season
There is no real recipe here, but here’s the basic steps:
Prepare your salad in a bowl or plate. Layer the ingredients with leaves, fruit, then crumbled cheese (optional) and warm toasted nuts on top.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together and taste. You may need to tweak the flavours to your liking.
Pour the dressing generously over the salad and eat straight away.
I’m currently trying out various new ideas and recipes on the whole family. The objective is to find some new ‘dinner winners’. Tasty and healthy food that we can all enjoy. The top recipes will be rolled into our family favourites and called upon when we need a trusted result.
Like a lot of families, we can be really fragmented in terms of the food and times that we eat. It’s not unusual during the week for us to have three different meals at three different times. I appreciate we can’t completely change that. However I am on a mini mission with my Project Dinner Winner to increase the common ground. The key things:
The meals all have to be healthy and nutritious, made from unprocessed foods
They have to be easy to make and ideally freezable too
They have to taste great
So first up, these flavoursome little mini burgers. They’re incredibly tasty, jam packed with goodness and very simple to make.
The ‘big people’ version served with garlic roasted cauliflower, broccoli and chickpea:
The ‘little people’ version served with melted cheese and smiley face vegetables:
To make around 20 mini burgers (each around 75 calories) you will need:
2 tablespoons of oil plus a little to brush before cooking
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 grated carrot
120 g of gluten free/regular oats (or 100g breadcrumbs)
1 tsp oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic
And here’s how:
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil till translucent and soft.
Add the vegetables, balsamic and oregano and reduce on the heat till the spinach has completed wilted down and most of the liquid has evaporated (this is important for the consistency of the burgers).
Once cool use a hand blender or food mixed to blitz up the mixture so that there are no big chunks left.
Then in a separate bowl mix together the oats, turkey, eggs.
Combine both sets of ingredients in the mixing bowl with a spoon. The mixture will be pretty moist, not as firm as a classic burger, but stable enough to shape.
Make individual balls (each approximately 25/30g) and gently pat into neat dinky burgers. You can make all the burgers and fridge/freeze the ones you don’t need at this stage, or just freeze the mixture you don’t need.
Brush the ones you’re making with oil on both sides and gently fry until golden brown. Don’t blast them on too high a heat or they’ll char pretty quickly.
Once browned, pop them in an oven at around 180 degrees c for about 15 further minutes.
You can then add cheese and grill, or serve up with salad and roasted vegetables. Try adding some crunch to the plate as the burgers are soft in their texture.
The vegetables shown here were easy to make. Just chop cauliflower and broccoli into small florets and a garlic clove into slivers. Lay on a tray with a handful of chickpeas. Brush them all with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast till they start to change colour and the garlic has gone crispy. They add some good texture and a nice punch of garlic to the plate too. I’d definitely recommend having a go.
The tough critics here gave these mini burgers a clean plate thumbs up. I hope these work out well for others too.
I loved the whole BISH BASH BOSH concept that Jamie Oliver introduced us to in the late 90’s. He transcended the austere and seemingly grown up world of traditional TV chefs and authors, making cooking and creation more accessible for real 20 somethings like me. I loved it. Glass of wine in one hand, music on and a sense of relative chaos around the kitchen. There were sizable chunks of roughly chopped this and that, with glugs of olive oil and plenty of balsamic on the go. His recipes always turned out well and tasted great. Happy days.
Fast forward 15 years. Add pets, a husband and two children. I am now often clutching the Dyson Animal rather than the wine whilst preparing food for everyone. Some days there’s quite a bit of clutter and unintentional BISH BASH BOSHING. Other days I face culinary rejection from critics under the age of 6.
However, when there is calm and space of mind, I find complete peace in my time carefully preparing and creating good food. I have a stronger set of principles about what I eat these days. I actively look for ways to create good food that makes us feel nourished and whole. Knowing this means I enjoy the taste of delicious, well sourced food more than ever.
This recipe was adapted from my friend Natalie’s Ottolenghi cookbook. It features recipes from two bright chefs who produce beautiful mindful food.
Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing
This salad is stunning. It is vibrant, healthy and wholesome.
If you can, prepare your vegetables carefully and with love. Take time to taste the dressing. Leave the ingredients to settle a little before re-tasting and serving up. The vegetables will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days and the dressing for 3 or 4.
For a salad for 4 try this with:
2 aubergines cut into 1-2 cm slices
1 butternut squash cut into 1-2 cm slices
olive oil to brush vegetables
20g toasted pine nuts
For enough dressing for above with leftovers:
A small pinch of saffron strands
3 tbsp of hot water
180g greek yoghurt
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 – 3 tbsp lemon (go by taste)
3 tbsp olive oil
To prepare the salad:
Infuse the saffron in the water for a few minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl with the other dressing ingredients plus a little salt. Whisk up till you get a smooth sauce, then chill.
For the vegetables, brush with oil on both sides and lay on an oven tray, roasting at 220 degrees C for around 25 – 30 minutes till golden. Let them cool before serving.
Assemble either as a large salad or as individual servings.
I have served this with grilled goats cheese and roasted beetroots too. It is a very robust dressing and has enough flavour to stand up well to cheese, fish or white meat.
Here’s a simple yet wonderfully well balanced mid-weeker. Garlic, mushrooms, spinach and lentils make for such a warming bowl, but it’s the addition of tarragon that wakes up the flavour and makes this a complete dish.
Be brave with the garlic but be careful you get the right amount of tarragon. Just enough gives a hint of bittersweet, too much gives an aniseed flavour that overpowers the softer ingredients. The suggested measures below gives you leeway to add some more at the end if you want a bit more punch.
Things you might not know about tarragon…
Most tarragon we eat is French, the alternative being Russian tarragon which is less flavoursome.
Tarragon has a mild anesthetic property when used medicinally. It also has sedative properties and can be used in tea as an aid for insomnia.
Herbalists sometimes use the herb as an digestive aid because of its ability to breakdown meat fats and proteins.
Fresh tarragon is one of the highest antioxidant value food sources among the common herbs. It is packed with vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin A as well as B complex vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, niacin and riboflavin.
Tarragon is an excellent source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc.
I’ve served this one with red carmargue rice. It’s got a good nutty flavour that works well with the mushrooms. It’s also adds a bit of crunch to the dish.
To make enough for a hearty bowl for one or two small portions with rice you will need:
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 red onion
2 fat garlic cloves or 3 regular – it’s good to go BIG on garlic with mushrooms
100g cooked lentils
150ml veg stock (if using shop bought try the low salt Bouillon such as Marigold)
Tablespoon tarragon – but potentially more at the end of the cooking, see below
Serve it with:
25g – 40g red rice – which doesn’t sound a lot, but the dish doesn’t need anymore or the rice will become the main event
Generous spoonful of natural yoghurt
It’s a doddle to make, here’s how:
Wash the rice thoroughly in cold water then cover with water. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat slightly for around 20 – 30 minutes till the grains are squeezable in your finger tips.
While the rice is cooking, add your oil to a pan on a moderately high hob, add the onions and garlic. Give them a good five minutes to soften right down.
Add the mushrooms and lentils and keep on a medium heat for around 5 minutes until the mushrooms start to soften.
Add the stock and turn the heat down, allow the ingredients to cook for up to ten minutes.
Put the spinach and tarragon on top and wait for it to wilt into the other ingredients, stirring gently once or twice to help the process.
Make a final check on flavours and season, maybe adding some more chopped tarragon either now or to the end plate.
Things should come together around the same time. Drain your rice and give yourself half with a generous measure of the mushrooms and sauce.
Finish with a big spoonful of natural yoghurt.
(A serving with 25g rice and yoghurt contains approximately 220 calories)
Once made you can cover and keep this one overnight to reheat on the second day.
I hope you enjoy this simple and nourishing bowl of goodness.