Curried tuna salad to put in sandwiches or pita pockets


Such a divine  filling for sandwiches or even just wrapped in a lettuce leaf.

2 cans (about 6 oz each) solid light tuna packed in olive oil, well drained and broken into large chunks
1/4 cup drained sliced pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp best quality curry powder
1/4 cup diced celery heart
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Granny Smith apple, unpeeled
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Gently combine the tuna, jalapenos, mayonnaise, lime juice, curry powder, celery heart, red onion, raisins, apple, basil and salt and pepper to taste, in a medium bowl.
Serve with bread or pita pockets.

Butternut squash, Brussels sprout and apple stuffing

A lovely stuffing filled with vegetables. This can go Gluten Free if you use a GF bread like millet.

Serves 6

1lb butternut squash, cut into 1/2 “cubes
1lb Brussel sprouts, halved
1 Gala apple, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tbsp olive oil, divided into 2 tbsp and 2 tbsp
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
10 thick slices of a bread of your choice: crusty sourdough dry cornbread, whole grain, GF….
*Prior to preparing the recipe, leave the bread out for a day to become slightly dry, then cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups vegetable,chicken or turkey broth (plus extra as needed)
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pecan or walnut halves, halved again
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F

Toss the squash, Brussel sprouts, apples and shallots in 2 tbsp oil and season well with salt and pepper.
Roast till the vegetables are very tender, even until the Brussel sprouts are a little burnt at the edges and remove from the oven.

Reduce the heat to 350 F

Heat the other 2 tbsp oil in a large deep pan. Saute the onion and celery till translucent, abut 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the bread cubes and allow them to get golden brown with the veggies in the oil. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
Add the roasted vegetables, broth, cranberries, pecan or walnut halves and seasonings.
Stir the mix till the broth has almost entirely absorbed into the toasted bread.
Transfer to a baking dish or sheet and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes.
Serve hot.

Cornbread dressing with sausage and fennel

A lovely recipe adapted from Bon Appetite magazine.

Make this weeks ahead, freeze and bring out the day before you need it, to thaw slowly.

8 cups cornbread cubes (dried out)
1lb bulk Italian sweet sausage meat or chorizo
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) butter
1 large fennel bulb, chopped, plus some fronds for serving
4 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
10 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Bosc or Comice pears, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other dry white wine
3 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp dried sage leaves
2 cups chicken broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 extra large eggs, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 300F
If you don’t buy the pre-bagged cornbread cubes, then divide your cornbread cubes between two baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until beginning to brown in spots, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage meat in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon, until dark brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage meat to a small bowl. Let cool

Reduce the heat to medium and heat 8 tbsp butter in the same skillet. Add the fennel, celery, scallions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Add the pears and wine, increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine is almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.
Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.
Combine sausage, fennel mixture, parsley, marjoram, thyme, sage and 1 1/2 cups broth in a large bowl.
Add the cornbread and toss to combine: season with salt and pepper and let sit for about 10 minutes, then add the remaining 1/2 cup of broth and toss, adding more broth if necessary. (The bread should be moist not soggy)
Add the eggs and mix gently just to combine.
Transfer the dressing to the prepared baking dish and dot with the remaining 2 tbsp butter.

Cover the dressing with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake until the dressing is golden and crisp on top, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
Serve topped with the fennel fronds.


Roasted sausages with grapes and chestnuts

Now Fall is coming, I think of roasted and baked dishes, especially this one with the woodsy flavor of the roasted chestnuts and sticky sweetness of the grapes along with the divine sausages. Some simple mashed potato would suffice here.

Serves 4

8 good quality pork sausages
7 oz cooked vacuum packed chestnuts
10 oz Portobello mushrooms, cut into thick chunks
9 oz sweet seedless grapes
1 large onion, cut into half moon shaped wedges
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 whole garlic bulb, all the cloves separated but not peeled
10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 good sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
10 fl oz red wine
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 F

Put everything except the red wine into a broad, shallow ovenproof dish.
Turn the ingredients over so that they get coated in the olive oil. Using a wooden spoon, crush about half of the grapes so they release their juices into the pan.
Put into the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
Put in the red wine, mix well and cook for another 25 minutes or so. You can turn the sausages halfway through the cooking so they get colored on both sides.
The sausages and vegetables will cook and brown beautifully and the wine will reduce, leaving you with a gorgeous dark and bubbling dish.


Egg and chile chorizo with pork sauce

A light brunch or lunch with a difference!  (Serves 4)

4 large organic eggs, at room temperature
1 lb ground pork
6 oz chorizo, diced small
2 tbsp Chinese chile oil
4 slices bacon, cut to the same size as the chorizo
3 sticks celery, diced small
3 shallots, sliced small
4 carrots, diced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
a good handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped  (coriander)
500 mls (16.9 fl oz) good chicken stock
oil for frying

To a hot skillet, add a couple of tbsp of oil and saute the celery, shallots and carrots over a low heat for 10 minutes until starting to soften.
Add the diced bacon and ground pork and cook, stirring, until the ground pork is browned.
Add the garlic and chile oil for a final minute.
Add the chicken stock, raise the heat until it is bubbling, and reduce the heat until low.
Leave to cook slowly while you prepare the eggs.

Take a smaller skillet and add water to about halfway up. Heat to simmering and turn down to very low.
Add the 4 eggs slowly and poach very gently until the white is just done and no more as they will keep cooking.

Serve the egg on tops of the pork with some scattered cilantro (coriander) over the dish.


Eternal slow-cooker chicken broth

I was reading about this today and went straight to the freezer where I had a bag of two organic roast chicken carcasses waiting for recycling.
What a great idea and to have the slow cooker on all day every day for a week (making the house smell divine) and just top up the slow cooker with water when necessary.
When removing any broth for use, strain it through some cheesecloth or a (spare) reusable coffee filter, so that all the herbs, chicken bits and vegetables stay behind, also producing a clearer broth, then replace the used broth with more filtered water.
Do this for up to a week, extracting every bit of goodness from that chicken carcass then throw it all away and start all over again with a new roasted chicken carcass or whole chicken.

This recipe is for you to improvise. It gives a guide to what you can put in the broth, but you can make an Asian broth by adding fresh ginger, lemon grass, star anise etc

1 whole chicken (or the carcass of a roasted chicken)
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp white peppercorns
1 large onion, chopped into chunks
2 carrot, chopped into chunks
3 stalks of celery, chopped into chunks
1 or 2 leeks, chopped into chunks
bunch of fresh thyme, sage and Italian parsley, stalks and all
Filtered water

Put the chicken or chicken carcase into the slow cooker then pile in everything else, stirring and mixing together.
Cover with the filtered water and cook on your lowest setting for ONE WEEK.
After 24 hours or so, you may begin using the broth.
As you need it, simply dip a ladle into the broth to remove the stock. Pour it through some cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer.
Replace the broth with an equivalent amount of filtered water.
If you are using a whole chicken, you can remove the chicken meat as you need it and use it in other dishes, like stir fries, soups or sandwiches.

At the end of the week, strain off any remaining broth, save or freeze, then discard or compost the bones. The bones by this time will pretty much crumble when pressed between your fingers.
The softness of the bones shows that most of the nourishment (minerals, amino acids etc) have leached from the bones into the broth you’ve been enjoying all week.

Wash the insert of your slow cooker and start al over again!

Winter wheat berry salad with figs and red onion

Serves 8

I just love unusual dishes, especially interesting salads that don’t use lettuce!

1 1/2 cups wheat berries
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tbsp honey
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried figs, chopped finely
1/2 medium red onion
3 large stalks celery
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest, from 2 lemons
1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
handful fresh parsley or mint, finely chopped
1 tsp flaky sea salt (I love Maldon salt)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put the wheat berries in a saucepan and cover with water.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and partially cover the pot.
Cook for 45 minutes or until the wheat berries are soft yet still chewy.
While the wheat berries are cooking, whisk the rice vinegar, orange juice and honey together in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil and add the raisins and chopped figs. Turn off the heat and let the fruit steep in the juice and vinegar mixture.
Finely dice the red onion; you will end up with between 1 and 1&1/2 cups. Finely dice the celery as well; you will have between 1&1/2 cups and 2 cups. Mix them in a large bowl.
When the wheat berries are tender enough to be chewed easily, drain them, then pour them into the large bowl with the red onion and celery.
Toss with the olive oil and lemon zest.
Add the vinegar and juice mixture and all the fruit and mix together.
Toss with the almonds, chopped parsley or mint  and with the salt.
Add ground pepper to taste.
Let the salad stand at room temperature for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors to mix and soak into the grain.
Serve warm or at room temperature
The salad can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Tomato Terrine

And now for something completely different and light.

This is a very elegant starter, especially when the heirloom tomatoes are at their best.

2 carrots, chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, peeled and chopped
1 shallot, halved
1 garlic clove
10 flat leaf parsley sprigs
10 black peppercorns
3 fresh bay leaves, or 1 dried

6lbs large firm ripe tomatoes, peeled. (a mix of colors makes the terrine look great)
1 tsp kosher salt plus more for extra seasoning
1 1/2 tbsp unflavored gelatine
1/4 cup thinly sliced chives
2 tsp red wine vinegar
non stick vegetable oil spray
sea salt

You will need two 8″ x 4 1/2 ” loaf pans

Bring the first 8 ingredients and 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the stock yields 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes.
Set a fine mesh strainer over a large measuring cup and strain the stock, discarding the solids. Cover and keep hot.

Set a fine mesh strainer over another measuring cup. Cut each peeled tomato into 4 wedges. Place wedges, cut side up, on a work surface. Cut away seeds and pulp from the tomato and transfer to a strainer.
Place the filleted tomatoes on a double layer of paper towels to drain; sprinkle with 1 tsp kosher salt. pat tomatoes with more paper towels. let stand for 30 minutes.

Press on the seeds to yield 1/2 cup of tomato juice. Sprinkle gelatin over the juice let stand for 10 minutes to soften. Add to the hot stock, whisk vigorously to dissolve the gelatin. Stir in 1/4 cup chives, vinegar and kosher salt to taste.

Spray 1 loaf pan with non stick spray, line with plastic wrap allowing for a 3″ overhang on each side.
Smooth out the plastic to remove any wrinkles as they will show on the finished terrine.
Pour 1/2 cup stock into the prepared pan. Chill until set, about 40 minutes. Arrange 1 layer of tomatoes in the pan, pressing down gently, then drizzle 2 tbsp stock mixture over. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes and stock. Pout the remaining stock over the fill the pan.
Cover the terrine with plastic wrap. Place on a small rimmed baking sheet.
Place the second loaf pan on top of the terrine, weigh down the terrine by placing 2 – 3  small canned goods in the top pan (some liquid mixture in the bottom pan may spill out). Chill the terrine until set, about 6 hours.
Do ahead.  This can be made 2 days ahead but keep it chilled.
Uncover the terrine when ready to serve and invert onto a platter. Remove pan and plastic wrap.
Slice the terrine and transfer to the plates. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with chives and sea salt.

Mock Potato Salad

This is just like a potato salad, but done with cauliflower. I am realizing what an amazingly versatile vegetable cauliflower is the more I try it in different dishes. I leave the seasonings to you to experiment with. I also like to give it a bit of cayenne pepper for those who like a kick!

Serves 8

1 head fresh cauliflower
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2 ribs celery, diced (I always peel celery with a peeler to get rid of the stringy bits)
2 slices onion, chopped
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
1 tsp pickle relish
salt, pepper, garlic powder, dill, paprika, to taste (experiment a bit with the amounts of these)
Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

Cook cauliflower until tender. Drain and pat dry. Let cool and pull into small floret pieces. Place in a large bowl.
Mix in remaining ingredients except paprika and parsley. Chill for 2 hours.
Before serving, sprinkle on paprika and garnish with parsley.