Wednesday, 2 March 2016


I have a dirty secret.

A terrible little habit I just can't kick. 

I like to pretend I have a bit of class. I like nothing better than doing my weekly shop in Waitrose & reading The Sunday Times from cover to cover at the weekend. But despite having an occasional penchant for the posher things in life like grinding my own coffee beans, there's one particular brand of trash that I just can't live without. And that is Closer magazine. Nestled inconspicuously between my glossy Marie Claire's & monthly editions of Red, sits it's slightly less educated counterpart. But I love it. Upon purchase I turn straight to the horoscopes, use it to plan my telly viewing for the week and I love it's food features like when it snoops in celebrities fridges to see what they eat in a week. Three of the recipes featured here came from Closer magazine. So there it is.

Jamie Oliver's Cypriot Chicken
Not this one though. This first recipe is actually taken from a Jamie Oliver cookbook. Luckily so many other bloggers have tried it that I am easily able to link you online to the recipe. I have made this countless times and can confirm that it is truly delicious. There is not a lot of amazing things to have ever come out of Cyprus. Except Halloumi cheese and Peter Andre (the second is debatable). But this recipe is ace. Try it.

Rachel Allen's Chicken & Olive Tagine
Sometimes I see a recipe and immediately write it off for having not enough ingredients. It's almost as if I'm scared of simplicity. Then I occasionally risk it only to discover that sometimes simplicity is key. Like this recipe I made recently from Rachel Allen's Entertaining at Home cookbook. Which is actually quite good if you can get past the silly and unrealistic front cover of her lighting candles and teasing floral arrangements in preparation for her dinner party. 

3 tbsp, olive oil, 200gm sliced onions, 4 large garlic cloves (minced), 2.5cm piece ginger (chopped), 600gm chicken meat, 400 ml chicken stock, good pinch saffron, 2 tbsps chopped parsley, 2 tbsp chopped coriander, 16 pitted olives, 1 teaspoon ras el hanout (this was not in the recipe but can be found in the spice section of most supermarkets and makes tagines amazing)

  1. Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan on a medium heat then add the onions, garlic and ginger. season and fry for around 5 minutes. This is where I added the ras el hanout
  2. Cut chicken into bite sized chunks and add to the pain. Cook for two minutes before adding the stock and the saffron. Stir then bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked. About 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and taste for seasoning then serve. I had this with cous cous, a dollop of greek yoghurt and some flaked almonds I found in the back of the cupboard.

Davina's McCall's Chicken, Spelt & Broccoli Salad
Ok so she got a bit smug. What with the 56164 exercise DVD's she has out now and those abs (to be fair I would be smug about those abs). But I had never tried a Davina recipe before and as she has another cookbook coming out so I thought I would give it a whirl. This chicken, broccoli & spelt salad actually tasted pretty good if you are being super virtuous and everything. I can't see Ava eating it though and most of your meat and two veg traditionalist men types would probably hate it. But I thought it was pretty tasty. 

Rachel Allen's Fusilli with Beans, Smoked Salmon & Olives

I'm aware that this sounds disgusting. I really am. But it's really not. This recipe serves 4.

150 gm smoked salmon, 250 gm dried fusilli pasta. 2 tbsps olive oil, half a red pepper (finely sliced), half a 400 gm tin of kidney beans (drained and rinsed), half a red onion (finely sliced), handful chopped mint, handful chopped coriander, juice of 1 lime, 8 olives (pitted and roughly chopped), 65ml creme fraiche 

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place salmon on a baking sheet in the oven and roast for around 10 minutes or until it turns pale coral. Break into pieces then set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the pasta according to pack instructions but remove from pan when al dente. Drain (reserving a small amount of the cooking water). Splash some of this water back into the pasta along with the olive oil and season. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool at room temperature.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients apart from the salmon and then mix together. Scatter the salmon pieces on top then serve.
  4. If you don't love it I will tweet Rachel Allen myself and give her what for.

Mary Berry's Squash & Lentil Stew
I've never made a Mary Berry recipe before but this was so good it went in the book.  I have a notebook I write my favourite recipes in. I have some romantic idea that it will be passed down through generations and Ava's great, great, great, great grand-daughter will use it to make my amazing lentil soup or bake my banana bread. The reality is that I will probably lose it in a house move or spill Merlot all over it. But this recipe I will definitely make again. I added a salmon steak on top but I reckon this would also taste pretty great with chicken.

Phil Vickery's Simple Turkey & Mushroom Miso Broth
This is a Phil Vickery recipe. The reason I am telling you this is because I had it in my head that it was a Nick Nairn recipe and I even tagged him on Twitter when I tweeted a picture of the finished product. The poor guy even liked my tweet. I have no idea if he knew it wasn't actually his recipe or not. I think maybe he was just being polite. Either way, sorry about that Nick. Anyway this PHIL VICKERY recipe is actually rather good so give it a try.

Remember to tag me on Twitter or Instagram if you actually make any these recipes. And by make I mean actually make. Not save to your blog reader under 'recipes to try' and never look at again.

One of my recipes has been featured in Furniture at Work's Healthy Desk Lunch recipe eBook!!!
You can download it here.

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