No-bake cranberry almond energy balls

This is a lovely and super simple recipe from the food blog “Skinny Me” Your kids will love them too and they will be able to help you make them

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1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup natural almond butter, (optional peanut butter)
1/4 cup raw honey
1/2 cup almonds, crushed
1/2 cup pistachios, crushed

In a medium mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Maple syrup roasted tomatoes

These are spectacular in any pasta dish or salad and are like candy to eat in on their own.

Serves 4 – 6 but can easily be increased

16 cherry or small tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 250 F
Arrange the tomato halves cut side up on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
Whisk together the syrup, oil, thyme and salt and pepper in a bowl and then drizzle over the tomatoes.
Bake until the tomatoes are half dried and concentrated, about 3 to 4  hours, depending on how concentrated you like them.

Uncomplicated golden overnight chicken/turkey stock in your slow cooker

I want to shout this recipe out loud because it makes the world’s best stock while you’re sleeping, it’s SO effortless and with only 4 few ingredients. I can hear you say, “What about the carrots, celery, thyme….?”  You really don’t need them! Try this recipe as is first, is all I am saying and you will realize it’s all you need.

In preparation for Thanksgiving or Christmas (and any other times you want the very best quality chicken or turkey stock), we woke up this morning to the beautifully pervading smell of turkey broth cooking in the slow cooker.
I’m getting ahead of the game by making the turkey stock for the gravy, and having made this recipe once, I swear there is no other stock recipe you will need.
It is so easy and with so few ingredients. Go to your local supermarket (I went to Wholefoods) and ask for 3lbs of their wings, that is all.
It’s a rich, golden, strongly flavored stock and usable in so many ways.
It would be the most divine broth just to have neat, especially if you’re under the weather and it will make the most wonderful gravy.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, go out and buy yourself one, (preferably 5 quart size or more) even if it’s just for this recipe. They are very inexpensive and well worth it.

Makes 3 quarts

4 lbs uncooked chicken or turkey wings
3 quarts water
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp salt, or more to taste

Place all the ingredients in your slow cooker.
Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours (I did mine overnight) or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.
Strain out the chicken/turkey parts, onion and garlic.
I put a large colander lined with kitchen towel over a large bowl and emptied everything into that and waited for 20 minutes until every drop had been strained through the towel, then threw all solids away.
The stock is now ready for use, or you might like to refrigerate it overnight and skim off the small amount of fat the next morning, freezing it for when you roast those potatoes!
Once defatted, you can use or freeze the broth for later use.
It’s as simple as that!


Romesco dip

This is great with my spicy chargrilled prawn recipe, raw crudites, cold chicken or salmon.

1 15 oz jar roasted red bell peppers
6 oz blanched almonds
4 to 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Makes about 3 cups

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Season to taste with the salt and black pepper, adding more of any of the spices to get exactly the pungency you want.


Rich, golden, satisfying chicken broth/stock

It’s time to prepare for those lovely warming dishes you’re going to cook over the next few months. Don’t throw away those roasted chicken carcasses! Put them into freezer bags and throw them in the freezer until you have a day when you can turn them into pure golden goodness.

It is beyond simple, but you do need a very large and tall saucepan or stock pan. It’s a great investment as I use mine a lot.

All you do is to wait until you have at least 4 or 5 carcasses frozen, then defrost them in the fridge overnight.

Put them all into the large saucepan, pushing them down into the pan and cover with water. Grind some black pepper and put in about 1 tbsp of dried oregano. Bring to a simmer and keep it simmering on VERY low for anything up to 8 hours or more. The lower you simmer, the clearer and golden the broth.

Occasionally stir the pot and push down the bones. When you are ready for the next step, remove the pot from the heat and set aside until it cools down a bit.

Get a large colander and pour the soup through it catching all the bones and meat in the colander while the juice goes in to the saucepan underneath it.

When the meat and bones have cooled enough to touch them, wash your hands then pick through all the bones and remove the meat.
Throw the bones away, put the meat into containers and freeze to use in pies, soups or anything else.

Put the remaining chicken juice in the fridge overnight to let the fat rise to the surface.

The following day, skim all the fat off the top of the stock and store the fat in a glass jar in the freezer to use for roast potatoes.

The broth should be really gelatinous if you’ve simmered it for long enough. Pour it into containers and freeze. You can use this very rich broth for soups, gravies, stews and almost anything. If you have stuffed your chickens with lemons, onions and fresh herbs when you roasted them, you will have all this added flavor to the stock.

Now sit down, look at your stack of golden goodness, pat yourself on the back and pour yourself a glass of wine.

I just had a bowl of neat steaming chicken broth and it was stunning!

Roast garlic puree

There are multiple uses for this and it’s well worth doing once a week. Thanks to the incredible Nigel Slater for this recipe.
Ideas on different uses for this wonder-condiment are below the recipe

4 large, juicy heads of garlic (the huge heads of elephant garlic are ideal, but if you can’t find these, use regular garlic)
a wine glass full of olive oil
fresh thyme sprigs
bay leaves

Slice the heads of garlic across the diameter. Put them in a shallow baking dish, cut side up.
Tip over the olive oil and tuck in a few sprigs of thyme and a couple of bay leaves.
Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 40 minutes, basting from time to time until they are golden and the cut edges are very slightly caramelized.
The cloves must be soft enough to squash between the fingers.

Scoop the soft cloves from their skins with a teaspoon and remove the tiny brown root. Mash to a puree using a pestle and mortar, wooden spoon or if you’re doubling or trebling the recipe, a food processor.
You should get a good heaped tablespoon from each head.

Now you have a jar of fragrant, honey colored garlic cream to play with!

*  Spread the neat puree thinly on toasted baguette as an appetizer
*  Mix with a little cream cheese as a spread
*  Make a suave, rich sauce by mixing 2 tbsp of garlic puree with 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of Marsala and about 3-4 oz heavy cream in a small pan over low heat. Cook till thick, then season with salt. It’s great with poultry!
*  Add a spoonful to a soup or stew during cooking.
*  Use instead of fresh garlic in stir fries
*  Store in an airtight jar in the fridge, with it’s surface covered by a thin layer of olive oil. it will keep for a week or two.

Moroccan Spice Rub

Makes over 6 tbsp

This is terrific on lamb instead of the usual Dijon mustard, rosemary and garlic.
Also try it on chicken or chicken pieces, pork tenderloin and just about anything else. Fire up that grill and use it liberally.
Store it in an airtight container and use within 2 -3 weeks as the flavors will eventually deteriorate over time.

2 tbsp ground cumin (I roast my cumin and grind it so it is more pungent)
4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp paprika, not smoked
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1&1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper, a few good grinds
1 tsp Chile flakes, more or less depending on your heat tolerance

Combine and store in an airtight container for up to a few weeks if not using right away.

Depending on how much meat you have really depends on how much rub you use.


The best, effortless, but unusual recipe book I have ever come across

I have never used this blog other then to post recipes, but I came across a recipe book sitting in my sister Felicity’s bookshelf in West Sussex while I was staying with her recently and having read through each and every recipe, I can say that I have NEVER come across a recipe book that provides effortless,  really interesting, unusual and wonderfully practical recipes like this one.
I would buy it for all my friends and family if I could and can wholeheartedly say that if you cook at home for your family whether you work or not, GET THIS BOOK!!
It’s called “Cook Simple”, effortless cooking every day  by Diana Henry

I have earmarked almost every single recipe to try!

Our newly terraced hillside with fruit trees and herbs

Before, it was a long steep slope covered with ivy and dog poop, now it consists of two 5 foot deep walkable terraces with 11 fruit trees on them, plus an area with 4 smaller terraces for herbs and some vegetables.  
Each morning we walk along the terraces to inspect the progress of the fruit. Very exciting!
So far we have Black mission fig, 2 x feijoas, 1 x Golden Dorset apple, peach, Kaffir lime, regular lime, Meyer lemon, apricot, aprium, nectarine and mandarin orange,
From the top patio it doesn’t even look as if we have a hillside below.
The orange/red flowers are Lantana which will cover the slopes between the terracing and be a riot of color many months of the year.