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Lamb Tagine...

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So far my visit to Queensland has been wonderful. I’ve certainly been enjoying the sunshine and the early morning walks with my dad along the beachfront or through the mangroves. Mum and I have found a few charity / Op Shop treasures including a plant stand for the herbs I will be buying for her at Bunnings. We also increased her Fairy / Angel / Cat collection by three figurines (Dad is thrilled….).

The other night we decided to try something completely different and make a lamb tagine. It was the first time my parents used their fancy new tagine and we were excited to take it for a test run. It would have been wonderful if my sister could have been here with us too, but she probably would have pushed for an elk, bison, pheasant or yak tagine instead. I don’t think Mackay is ready for that……

We used this recipe from the brilliant website and highly recommend it.

Lamb Tagine


1.5 kg shoulder lamb, diced (we used 6 shoulder chops)
1 large Spanish onion, grated (we used 2 yellow onions, diced)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
1 cinnamon stick (we used ground cinnamon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger (we also used 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon saffron threads ( we left these out)
120ml ( 6 Tablespoons) olive oil
1 large piece of orange peel
800g chopped, diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
375ml Campbell’s Real Stock Beef
1 bay leaf we used 3
30g butter, diced
2 Tablespoons honey
240g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup green olives we used Kalamata olives
Chopped fresh mint to garnish


Combine lamb, onion, garlic, coriander, spices, oil and 1-teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 160C. Heat a non-stick frying pan, add lamb in batches and fry until lightly browned all over. As meat is cooked, place in a tagine or casserole dish. Add orange peel.

Drain tomatoes, reserving juice. Set tomatoes aside. Combine juice with tomato paste, then add to meat with stock and bay leaf. Cover and cook in oven for 1.5 hours.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a plate. Place dish over high heat ( if using a tagine you will need to transfer the liquid to a frying pan).

Add diced tomatoes and butter and reduce for 2-minutes, then add honey, chick peas, olives and meat.

Cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Garnish with mint.

My parents have a tagine with a stainless steel base, which made the whole process even easier as we didn’t have to worry about transferring the liquid and we were able to cook it on the hob rather than in the oven.


The leftovers were great on mashed potatoes!


Honey Sesame Chicken...


It’s fair to say that 2014 has not been the best year of my life, although I am currently enjoying a 6-week stint with my parents in Mackay, Australia – so things have certainly taken a turn for the better.

They paid for my ticket to Sydney, hotel room and then flight to Mackay plus they have kept me in Tim Tams and Negronis since my arrival a week ago. It felt only fair that I cook them special dinner to say thank you – so I pulled out one of my all time favourites – Honey Sesame Chicken.

This dish gives combines the naughtiness of a Chinese take away with the healthfulness of being able to control the ingredients. It is tasty, decadent and according to my dad an absolute triumph. I highly recommend this super easy recipe from Shelby Law Ruttan. Simply put this is one of the best recipes ever!

Honey Sesame a Chicken


12oz or 500 grams chicken breast ( I used thigh fillets) cut into bite sized pieces

1 Tablespoon light soy sauce

1 Tablespoon cooking wine (I used my mum’s Oyster Bay – shhhh!)

1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon sugar

2 Tablespoons flour

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


1 Tablespoon sweet chili sauce

2 Tablespoons tomato ketchup

1-2 Tablespoons runny honey

1 Tablespoon oyster sauce (I omitted this as I couldn’t find it)

2 Tablespoons light soy sauce

1/4 cup of water

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds ( I used waaaay more – like about 4 Tablespoons)


Marinate chicken in soy sauce, wine, sesame oil and sugar for about an hour ( or as long as it takes to drink 1 negroni and watch episodes of The Bold and Beautiful, Ben’s Kitchen and Millionaire’s Hot Seat)

Mix flour and cornstarch and place in a large Ziploc bag

Drain chicken and add to flour mixture

Shake gently to coat

Fry in hot oil (350 degrees) until golden brown ( I did mine in 2 batches)

Drain on paper towel

To make sauce

Mix chili sauce, ketchup, honey, oyster sauce, soy sauce and water in a medium sized sauce pan

Bring to a boil then simmer until sauce begins to thicken

Toss sauce with chicken pieces, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve


Prep time : 1 hour 10 minutes, Cook time: 15 minutes, Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

We served ours with sticky white rice and steamed pak choy with garlic and ginger


Frying the chicken


A negroni for the chef!

Chicken Soup With Rice...

Chicken Soup with Rice

One of my all-time favourite poems is ‘Chicken Soup With Rice‘ by the marvelous Maurice Sendak. I had this book when I was a child and I remember feeling cosy and warm as I read it under the blankets with a flashlight. Sadly it was not amongst my childhood books that had been kept in a Canadian storage container for the past 15+ years. It was most likely sold at a garage sale…or maybe it was lost during one of our many house moves. In any case I still love the poem and am delighted to see the book is still available to purchase….it is currently on my Amazon wish list.

One of my all-time favourite soups is chicken soup with rice. It has been cold and very wet here in the UK this winter (surprise surprise!) and I decided a large bowl of chicken and rice soup was exactly what was needed in order to bring the feeling back into my numb fingers and toes as well as warm my belly! The day before we had a roast chicken dinner, so the chicken carcass was ready to be boiled into a hearty stock. This soup is really simple to make and you can play around with what vegetables, herbs and spices you want to add. I was clearing the fridge so used what I had. Oh and for those of you unfamiliar with Maurice Sendak’s poem I have included it below – read and enjoy…preferably with a large, steaming bowl of chicken soup with rice.


Luna Raye’s Easy Chicken Soup With Rice (serves 4)

For the stock:

1-cooked leftover chicken carcass (mine was from a Sunday roast and had been seasoned with garlic, rosemary and fresh lemon)

3-celery stalks, roughly chopped

2-Spanish onions, peeled and quartered

1-cup shredded white cabbage

3-cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

3-bay leaves

9-whole peppercorns

3-sprigs of sage

1-teaspoon salt (I used M. de Turenne ‘Sel O Vin Blanc’ – white wine flavoured salt)

For the stock:

Add all the ingredients into a large saucepan and cover with 2800 ml (about 3 quarts) of cold water

Bring to boil and then immediately reduce heat

Allow stock to gently simmer, uncovered for 1.5 – 2 hours

Skim off any foam that comes to the surface

Remove the bones and strain the stock into a large bowl

Now here the comes the messy part…. I sift through the mesh strainer and pick out all the meaty chicken bits, including the skin. I also keep an eye out for small bones and tough gristly bits which I discard. Keep the chicken pieces to one side, separate from the stock, and get ready to make some fantastic soup!


Ingredients for Chicken Soup with Rice

1500ml (just over 1.5 quarts) of beautiful homemade chicken stock (of course you can always use store bought to make things easier)

1-cup cooked chicken (this is how much I ended up with, but it may vary depending on how much meat was left on your chicken)

1-Tablespoon olive oil

3-medium leeks, chopped

2-stalks celery, chopped

9-green beans, cut into quarters

2-cloves garlic, minced

1-cup uncooked long-grain white rice

salt and pepper to taste


Directions for Chicken Soup With Rice

Add olive oil to a large saucepan and gently sauté the leeks and celery for about 2-3 minutes

Add minced garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and give everything a good stir

Add the green beans and chicken pieces and stir to combine

Add all the stock and bring everything to a gentle boil before reducing the heat

Add the rice and allow the soup to simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the rice is tender

Check your seasoning and add any additional salt if needed

I do recommend giving the soup another crack of fresh black pepper before serving up

Enjoy it once! Enjoy it twice! Enjoy your chicken soup with rice!


Chicken Soup With Rice

In January it’s so nice, while slipping on the sliding ice,

To sip hot chicken soup with rice.

Slipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice.


In February it will be my snowman’s anniversary,

With cake for him and soup for me!

Happy once, happy twice, happy chicken soup with rice.


In March the wind blows down the door and spill my soup upon the floor.

It laps it up and roars for more.

Blowing once, blowing twice, blowing chicken soup with rice.


In April I will go away, to far-off Spain or old Bombay,

And dream about hot soup all day.

Oh my once, oh my twice, oh my chicken soup with rice.


In May I truly think it best to be a robin lightly dressed,

Concocting soup inside my nest.

Mix it once, mix it twice, mix that chicken soup with rice.


In June I saw a charming group of roses all begin to droop.

I pepped them up with chicken soup!

Sprinkle once, sprinkle twice, sprinkle chicken soup with rice.


In July I’ll take a peep into the cool and fishy deep,

Where chicken soup is selling cheap,

Selling once, selling twice, selling chicken soup with rice.  


In August it will be so hot, I will become a cooking pot.

Cooking soup of course.  Why not?

Cooking once, cooking twice, cooking chicken soup with rice.


In September for a while, I will ride a crocodile

Down the chicken soupy Nile.

Paddle once, paddle twice, paddle chicken soup with rice


In October I’ll be host to witches, goblins, and a ghost.

I’ll serve them chicken soup on toast.

Whoopy once, whoopy twice, whoopy chicken soup with rice.


In November’s gusty gale I will flop my flippy tail

And spout hot soup.  I’ll be a whale!

Spouting once, spouting twice, spouting chicken soup with rice.


In December I will be a baubled, bangled Christmas tree

With soup bowls draped all over me.

Merry once, merry twice, merry chicken soup with rice.


Merry chicken soup with merry chicken soup with merry chicken soup with rice.

I told you once, I told you twice all seasons of the year are nice for eating chicken soup, eating chicken soup with rice!

(Chicken soup, chicken soup with rice.)

Maurice Sendak


If You Build It They Will Come...

There's a froggy in my garden

There’s a froggy in my garden

I love the new RSPB ad on the telly at the moment. The message is simple; if we don’t make a home for nature there will be no nature. It is sad that in 2013 there is still so much short sightedness where nature and wildlife are concerned. Fortunately there are many organizations and individuals who are dedicated to protecting wildlife and making a ‘home’ for nature. Wildlife gardening is an easy way to provide sanctuary for all manner of creatures, from woodlice to hedgehogs.

The great thing about it too is that you don’t need to have acres and acres of land. A simple flower box filled with nectar rich flowers will attract bumblebees and butterflies to your garden. An upturned bin lid or washing up bowl will provide a wonderful habitat for frogs, newts and dragonflies. Wildlife gardening is also relatively fuss-free in that the less you disturb your garden the better. Forget fancy topiary and well-manicured lawns – this is definitely my kind of gardening! Plus there is nothing quite as rewarding as looking out the window to see wildlife happily going about it’s business.

For the past 3-years I have entered the Kent Wildlife Gardening Award Scheme. When I first applied I really had no idea what I was doing. To be honest I still don’t, but every day I learn a little bit more. My first year I remember talking to the Kent Wildlife volunteer who came out to assess my garden. I told her that eventually I wanted to have a garden big enough for a pond as I really wanted to create a habitat for dragonflies, frogs and newts. Her words, “what are you waiting for?!”, still ring in my ears. She gave me the tip about filling the base of a large flowerpot with water and putting it in a place where it would be undisturbed. The area next to my little greenhouse seemed perfect.

Within months I noticed a little frog sitting in the middle of it. This year I have put another flowerpot base down and within days a young frog was spotted sitting on the rim. It really is true what the new RSPB ad says: If you build it they will come! Please consider giving a home to nature in your garden, our wildlife really needs all the help it can get.

Here are some great websites to help you start gardening for wildlife.


Kent Wildlife Trust

Natural England





Either side of my greenhouse seemed like the ideal place to put my makeshift ponds. It is well protected by plants such as Virginia Creeper and Borage.  



Froggy close upHere is a close up of one of the frogs in my garden. I actually have no idea how many frogs there are but I have seen at least 3 of varying sizes. As far as I know this is a common frog.


If you haven’t seen the new RSPB ad campaign here it is (it always makes a little weepy…)


Nutty Bacon Bark...

Bacon and Chocolate - Yes please!

Bacon and Chocolate – Yes please!


When I went to visit my sister in Toronto a few months ago I was given a strict list of food do’s and don’ts. For starters there was to be absolutely no wheat or gluten related items within a 5-mile radius of her front door. Now that may seem a bit over the top, but she has had more than her fair share of dietary issues. Although she has been Gluten-free for 10-years she started having even more problems with her already tightly controlled diet. Some of these problems may stem from the fact she is a Type 1 diabetic (Juvenile onset) and there is evidence to suggest a link between Diabetes and Celiac Disease.

Feeling sick every time she ate prompted her to do some serious research into a variety of diets and eating plans. Fortunately she found Diane Sanfilippo’s book Practical Paleo. I think it’s safe for me to say it changed my sister’s life drastically. Basically a Paleo diet is eating the way our ancestors did before the modern practices of farming and processed foods came into being. It advocates eating plenty of lean-meat, fruits, and vegetables. While nuts, seeds, and starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes are allowed in moderation, dairy products, grains, soya, legumes, and processed foods are to be avoided.

Eating a more Paleo based diet, even for a short 2-week stay, made me feel better and I certainly felt more ‘balanced’ in terms of my blood sugar levels.  Although I’m not sure I can completely stick to it, I have decided to make 3 days out of the week ‘Paleo’ days. Well, it’s a start anyway.

This recipe for Nutty Bacon Bark has been adapted from the Practical Paleo book by Shelbi Brewer on the website The Paleo Cooking Lifestyle. I too have made a few minor adjustments; the cranberries were inspired by my sister, who often snacks on pieces of dark chocolate, nuts and cranberries (not in bark form – she just piles it all into a bowl). If the bacon makes you feel a bit funny just omit it and stick with cranberries (or other dried fruit) and nuts. This bark will satisfy even the most troublesome sweet tooth!


Nutty Bacon Bark


2 bars (150g each) of good quality cooking chocolate

4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup toasted mixed nuts (I used walnuts, pecans, cashews and hazelnuts)



Place bacon rashers on a cooking sheet lined with foil and cook at 200°C / 180°C fan / 400°F / Gas mark 6 for approximately 15-20 minutes or until bacon is crispy

Use a large frying pan and gently toast nuts over a low heat, once done set aside to cool

When bacon is almost done start melting the chocolate. You can use a microwave but as I don’t own one I used the double boiler method – see below

While the chocolate is melting cut the bacon rashers into small bite-sized pieces and set to one side (reserve any bacon grease)

When the chocolate has completely melted add whatever bacon grease you have. The original recipe says 3 Tablespoons but my bacon hardly had any grease so I used maybe 1/2 Tablespoon

Give the mixture a good stir and pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Sprinkle the bacon pieces, toasted nuts and cranberries over the top and set in the freezer for up to 2 hours

Remove from freezer and break into pieces

The bark can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but ours didn’t even last 3 days!



Double Boiler Method:

You will need 1 saucepan and 1 glass Pyrex bowl that fits securely over the saucepan

Fill saucepan with just enough water so that the water doesn’t come into contact with the bottom of the bowl

Break up the chocolate into pieces as this makes it easier to melt

Heat the water until it begins to simmer

Turn off stove and add the Pyrex bowl with chocolate to the top of the saucepan

Give the chocolate a few minutes and then begin to gently stir it with a spatula

NOTE: be very careful that the chocolate does not come into contact with water as this makes it seize up. For more tips on how to melt chocolate Elizabeth LaBau has an excellent article.

Baked Strawberry Oatmeal...

Baked Strawberry Oatmeal

Baked Strawberry Oatmeal


There had been grumblings in weather reports over the past week that more snow was on the way. I chose to ignore the warnings and looked optimistically toward spring. It wasn’t unreasonable, I mean the sun did make a brief appearance a few days ago and crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths were beginning to poke their heads up in my garden. So imagine my surprise (aka horror) when I looked out of the bedroom window yesterday morning only to be greeted by several inches of snow. My husband was ecstatic as he had a ‘snow day’ (I could almost hear the sound of teachers and students all around the UK jumping up and down with joy – parents and spouses….not so much).

It seemed appropriate then that I make a warming breakfast we could eat leisurely while watching daytime T.V. Bring on Homes Under the Hammer, Judge Judy and an unseen Columbo starring Robert Conrad  (that definitely made me jump up and down with joy)!

This recipe for Baked Strawberry Oatmeal on the GE Healthahead website caught my eye awhile back. A snow day in March seemed liked the perfect time to try it out. Not only was it really easy to make but it tasted fantastic. I will be making this again! We had some leftover which we had this morning for breakfast with warm milk. Yummy!


Baked Strawberry Oatmeal (serves 4)


250ml semi-skimmed (2%) milk

1 medium ripe banana, mashed

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

175g old fashioned oats

40g loosely packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

11/2 Tablespoons powdered flax seed (I used Linwoods milled flaxseed, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts and Q10)

100g chopped strawberries

100g dried fruit (I used a luxury dried fruit mix with sultanas,currents, dried apricots, dried pineapple, raisins and cherries)

Garnish: sliced strawberries, sliced bananas or other fresh fruit and semi-skimmed milk



Preheat oven to 190°C / gas mark 5

Lightly spray an 11- x 7-inch baking dish with nonstick spray (I used butter)

In a large bowl, whisk together first 4 ingredients until well blended

Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into prepared dish.

Bake at 190°C / gas mark 5 for 25 to 30 minutes or until top just starts to turn golden brown

Garnish with fresh fruit and add a splash of milk



March Snow Day!

Sautéed Chicken with Tarragon Sauce and Skinny Fr...

Sauteed Chicken with Tarragon Sauce and Skinny Fries


I usually work on Saturday but fortunately I don’t start until the afternoon. That means I have just enough time to watch Saturday Morning Kitchen and the lovely James Martin. A few weeks ago he prepared this dish. Instantly I knew what we would be having for dinner that night. In fact we love this so much we have had it every week since. It is warm and comforting – perfect for these cold, blustery winter nights. It also has a few of my favourite ingredients in it: Mushrooms, Chicken, Cream, and Tarragon! What’s not to like?

It’s probably for the best that we are not in possession of a deep fat fryer. The combination of my desire to attempt to deep fry every chocolate bar known to mankind and my accident-proneness make the idea of owning such a device more than a little scary. Using oven chips makes this an even easier, but no less tasty, dish to prepare.

In fact this is exactly what I am making for dinner tonight – my mouth is already watering! Oh, while watching the show the addition of the egg yolks was explained as adding richness to the dish and helping to slightly thicken the sauce. In fact the sauce is so good I guarantee you’ll be tempted to lick the plate!

Sautéed Chicken with Tarragon Sauce and Skinny Fries courtesy of James Martin and the BBC Food website


For the chicken

1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)

50g butter

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into chunks

2 shallots, finely sliced

125g pearl or baby onions

125g baby button mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms which I cut into thirds)

200ml white wine (plus an extra glass to drink while cooking 🙂 )

300ml chicken stock

150ml double cream

2 free-range egg yolks

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tsp fresh tarragon finely chopped (I used dried tarragon and kept the measurements about the same – but taste as you add it as it does have a strong flavour)


For the Fries

4 large chipping potatoes, peeled and cut into fine chips

vegetable oil, for deep frying

sea salt to taste


you can used oven ready chips and just pop them in the oven and cook according to package directions



For the chicken: heat a frying pan until medium-hot. Add the oil, half the butter and the chicken and fry until golden-brown and nearly cooked through (approx 3-4 minutes)

Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the shallots to the pan and gently fry for 2-3 minutes until translucent

Increase the heat and add the remaining butter, pearl/baby onions and mushrooms. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden-brown

Add the white wine and cook until reduced in volume by half, then add the chicken stock and bring to the boil

Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken and return to the boil

Cook for 2 more minutes or until the chicken is cooked through

In a bowl, whisk the cream and egg yolks together. Add to the pan and stir through. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finally, stir the tarragon through the sauce and keep warm until ready to serve


For the skinny fries:

Heat a deep fat fryer to 180C / 350F (Caution: hot oil can be dangerous. Don’t leave unattended)

Add the chips amd fry for 4-5 minutes until golden-brown and cooked through

Drain on kitchen paper then sprinkle with sea salt


To serve: spoon the chicken onto the plate then pile the fries alongside



Honey-Glazed Baby Onions...

Honey Glazed Onions cooked


Roasted onions are the best! Whenever we have a roast dinner I always chuck a handful into the pan. I love it when they go all sticky, sweet and oozy.  However I started wondering what rule had been set in place determining that these little gems could only be served with a roast dinner. I soon concluded that it was a nonsense and decided then and there that roast onions should be enjoyed whenever possible. Fortunately I am not alone in this belief.

All I will say about this recipe on the GE Healthahead website is that we have enjoyed it on a weekly basis since discovering it. It is simply that good! It is best to use smaller onions such as pickling, baby, pearl or shallots. These are delicious with roast meats, mashed potatoes, cheeses, in sandwiches and on their own. Seriously give these onions a try -they are amazing!


Honey-Glazed Pearl Onions


450g baby or pickling onions

250ml vegetable broth (I have also used chicken stock)

113g runny honey

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon dried sage (I have also used fresh thyme, fresh sage and bay leaves)

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt



Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas mark 4

Cut the root end and remove the papery outer layers from the onions, leaving them whole.

Place in a 9-inch square-baking dish sprayed with vegetable cooking spray. (I haven’t greased the baking dish at all while making this and so far haven’t had any issues)

Stir together remaining ingredients and pour over onions.

Bake at 180°C, stirring occasionally, for 50 to 60 minutes or until onions can be easily pierced with a knife.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.


Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Rice Krispie Treats For Santa...

For Santa

Every Christmas Eve I am haunted by the memory of a certain ‘treat’ my sister and I left out for Santa.

Our father was pretty insistent that, after travelling around the world, the perfect culinary pick me up for Santa would be a large plate of smoked oysters and a glass of scotch. As a 9-year old (me!) and 5-year old (my sis) we agreed in principle but also felt that lavishing large amounts of Heinz tomato ketchup over the oysters would make the whole thing better.

I have vague memories of our dad quietly sobbing in the corner. He did prevent us from adding Coke to Santa’s glass of Chivas Regal though. Apparently fizzy drinks don’t agree with Santa.

Anyway, I wish to offer my apologies to my Dad and Santa and offer up these treats instead. There is no Heinz ketchup in sight – I promise!

Decadent Rice Krispie Squares


3 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10oz – about 40) regular marshmallows -OR- 4 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 cups Kellog’s Rice Krispies cereal
Plain M&M’s about 1/2 a cup
Roasted, salted cashew nuts about 1/2 a cup


In a large saucepan melt butter over low heat
Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted
Remove from heat
Stir in peanut butter until melted
Add Kellog’s Rice Krispies cereal
Add M&M’s and cashew nuts
Stir until well coated
Using a buttered spatula or parchment paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan coated with cooking spray (or greased with butter)
Cut into 2 inch squares

Enjoy with a glass of milk or Chivas Regal

Nutmeg and I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and all the best for the year ahead.

Photo by my lovely hubby, Paul. xxx

Polenta with Peas, Pancetta and Parmesan...

This is a tough time of year. Here in the UK we have a tiresome combination of cold, dark, blustery and wet. Despite a real passion for cooking the seasonal blues take hold and drain my motivation, especially when it comes to midweek meals.

This recipe from Rachel Ray via the Food Network provides the perfect solution. It’s easy to make, absolutely delicious and ticks all the comfort food boxes. As a one-pot meal it also saves on the washing up – BONUS!

Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Polenta with Peas, Pancetta and Parmesan


1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2-3 slices of pancetta cut as thick as bacon, chopped (I have successfully used the following: thin pancetta, thick smoked back bacon and leftover roast honey-glazed gammon)

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup quick cooking polenta

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup frozen peas (thawed)

a couple handfuls of grated Parmesan / Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Grana Padano)



Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat

Add pancetta and cook until crisp (about 5-minutes) then remove to a plate

Add the chicken stock and milk to the sauce pan and bring to a boil

Whisk polenta into the liquid and continue to whisk for 2-3 minutes to thicken

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper

Stir through peas to heat through (about 1-2 minutes)

Remove from heat

Stir in cheese and adjust seasoning

Garnish with pancetta


Optional: garnish with a few slivers of the cheese as well (I have also started adding a knob of butter at the same time I add the cheese. For me it adds richness and makes it even creamier)


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