Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicken Tagine with Dates and Almonds

Why, hello :) It’s been a while, I hope you’ve been keeping well over the past year and a half?

I thought I’d dust off the keypad and update my repository of recipes by giving you one that worked well for a pot luck dinner just this week. This chicken, date and almond tagine was originally cooked for me by my friends A&E. I then nicked the recipe off them and have been cooking it for dinner parties, many of my own meals - and a pot luck dinner.

As is my way, I made a few tweaks to the original recipe which called for prunes and green olives - I didn't have either of those so substituted the prunes for dates and left out the olives - the saltiness of these would balance out the sweetness of the prunes.

And contrary to popular belief, you don't need a traditional tagine to make this - just a large pot. The preparation involves putting in the uncooked chicken (no pre-searing required, yeah!) and layering the other ingredients on top - so easy. The cooking time of an hour and a half braises the chicken to super tender and reduces down the liquid to make a rich, tasty sauce. I cooked mine in about an
hour and it still turned out well. I made couscous to go with it and jazzed it up a little by making it with chicken stock, lemon zest and a dash of parsley.

Tagine of Chicken with Dates and Almonds

Adapted from Julie Le Clerc’s book, Made in Morocco, via Milly’s Kitchen


6 chicken thighs, cut into good sized chunks
1 large onion,thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ginger, cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar which I think made it too sweet)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


1. Place chicken portions in a medium-large pot. Scatter over remaining ingredients in the order listed, except the parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to the boil, then turn down the heat to simmer for 1½ hours, turning the chicken pieces once or twice, until the chicken tests cooked and the liquid is much reduced. The cooking can alternatively be done in an oven heated to 180°C.

3. Adjust seasoning of sauce if necessary before serving. Serve scattered with parsley.

Serves 4

Monday, February 13, 2012

S'mores - a quick and simple yet amazingly awesome snack

S'mores - short for 'some more' cos when you have one, you always want some more! If you are wondering, s'mores seem to originate in the US and is a popular camping snack - them American kids will take a couple of marshmallows and stick them on a stick, roast them over an open fire and then sandwich them between two 'graham crackers' which has a chocolate square on it.

Seeing as we're not American kids and don't know what graham crackers are, my extensive research tells me digestive biscuits are the closest thing to a graham cracker.

So, following the 'recipe' above, I took a McVities Digestive, popped 2 x dark chocolate Cadbury's buttons on top, then topped this with a Coles Smart Buy Marshmallow. A word on Coles Smart Buy Marshmallows, if I may. These, in my opinion, are the best marshmallows on the marshmallow market. They're not too sweet, they're big and soft and marshmallowy and best of all they're not doused in icing sugar with a weird cracked shell like some of those other imposter marshmallows out there. Plus, being Smart Buy brand, they're cheap as ... chips!

Back to the 'recipe'. I then put the assembled biscuit under the grill until it was a nice golden brown. (Please be careful if using a gas grill, as I found out...) I then placed a second McVities Digestive on top and by crikey, my s'mores were complete! The chocolate melts under the marshmallow; the marshmallow's a little bit crispy and oozy and when you bite into those crunchy biscuits with all of it together? Well, it's amazingly awesome. So much so, you'll want some more.... Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wholemeal Pizzas (no yeast)

Pizza ready to go into the oven
Delicious, crisp pizza fresh out of the oven
I've been looking for a wholemeal pizza base without yeast for ages but finally came across this one the day that I made those yummy rocky road cupcakes - double success! It was exactly what I was looking for.

It's perfect because it's healthier with the wholemeal flour but also because I made the dough in 5-10 minutes after work - no waiting for yeast to rise and it still resulted in a nice light, crunchy base without being soggy.
I didn't have any tomato paste on hand so I took half a tin of canned, chopped tomatoes, added a clove of minced garlic, chucked in a bit of dried oregano and seasoned with salt and pepper. I reduced the tomatoes down until it became a good consistency for the base of my pizza - not too runny.

My toppings were zucchini, mushrooms, onion, tomato, ham and tasty cheddar cheese. My first pizza was a bit bland so I took a tip from my local pizza shop and sprinkled my second pizza with the same toppings but added extra zing with a bit more dried oregano, minced garlic and a few chili flakes - it turned out as tasty as store-bought pizza! And pretty good washed down with a glass of beer too.

Wholemeal Pizzas Without Yeast
Adapted from Family Oven

2 cups self-raising wholemeal flour (note the original recipe called for plain wholemeal flour but turned out okay with self-raising flour)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
50g butter
2/3 cup milk
Tomato paste or puree
Pizza toppings of your choice plus minced garlic, dried oregano and chili flakes if desired

1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Grease tray lightly.
2. Put flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and rub in butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add enough milk to form a soft dough. Knead lightly.
4. Place the dough on the baking tray and pat out into desired shape and thickness (I like mine thin), pinch up edges to make a rim. Spread tomato puree on base and add sliced toppings, finishing with the cheese.
5. Bake for 25-30 min until cooked and golden brown. Serve hot or cold in slices. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Rocky Road Cupcakes

Deceptively delicious!

I've been on a bit of a hiatus from blogging but I've still been cooking. There's been Jacques Pepin's chicken with mushrooms and white wine (no oil required!), Beef Wellington, eggplant and four (maybe three) cheese cannelloni made with crespelle. I've even made chimichurri one day then turned it into the most delicious, garlicky parsley-walnut pesto the next.

But, apart from always forgetting my camera when its required, I just haven't had time. And now I've found time for two blogs in a row - because these two recipes are keepers.

The first is Rocky Road cupcakes. I made these for my friend P's birthday and they really were quite fabulous. A recipe that was quick to make while turning out light and lovely with lots of chocolately icing topped off with marshmallows, Turkish delight and almonds. Not quite the original rocky road but there weren't any complaints!

The second is a homemade wholemeal pizza base recipe with no yeast - more about this in the next blog. First up, here's the recipe for Rocky Road cupcakes. Happy Birthday P!

Rocky Road Cupcakes
Adapted from Womans Day

125g butter, chopped, at room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk

150g dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup of cream
A packet of mini marshmallows
A small bar of Fry's Turkish Delight
Roasted almonds

1. Preheat oven to moderate, 180°C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper patty cases.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder together. Lightly fold into creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Spoon mixture into cases until 2/3 full.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked when tested. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Topping: Combine chocolate and cream in a saucepan. Heat on low, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes until thickened slightly.
6. Spread icing over cooled cakes. Top with marshmallows. Sprinkle with chopped roasted almonds and Turkish delight.