Chicken Barley

This thick, creamy potage is somewhere between a soup and a stew and absolutely delicious.

3 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunky batons
3 medium parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into chunky batons
3/4 cup pearl barley
6 bone-in, skin-off chicken thighs
5 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. English mustard
chopped parsley, to serve

Tip the veggies into a large pot the comes with a lid. Add the barley and the chicken. Pour the stock into a jug and stir in the mustard, then pour into the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring it now and then. If it looks dry, add a little boiling water.

After the hour, remove from the heat and remove the chicken thighs. Using two forks, pull the meat off the bones and return it to the pot. Serve in heated bowls topped with chopped parsley.

Serves 4-6

Potato and Onion Hash

This is written to serve 1, but it can easily be increased. The cayenne pepper is the key.

1 small onion, halved and sliced into half moons
1 tbs. olive oil
2 cups all-purpose potatoes, skin-on and cut into 1/2″ dice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 egg

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onion, then cook over a medium heat with a sprinkle of salt until softened. Tip in the potatoes and cayenne pepper, turn the heat down and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until the potatoes are tender and beginning to caramelize.

Turn the heat up and push the hash to one side. Crack the egg into the empty half and fry to your liking. Serve the egg over the hash.

Serves 1

Keralan Fish Curry

This tamarind-sharp curry is light and full of flavor. It’s from the Kerala region of India which is known for it’s refined and aromatic cuisine.

2 3/4 lbs. firm white fish, such as cod, sole, haddock or halibut
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tbs. vegetable oil
2 medium onions, halved and sliced into thin half-moons
2 long red chilis, sliced into thin rounds (seeded or de-seeded depending on your taste)
1 1/2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin strips
pinch ground cumin
13 3/4 ounces unsweetened coconut milk (1 2/3 cup)
1-2 tbs. tamarind paste (or to taste)
1 tbs. liquid fish stock or chicken stock

Cut the fish into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle them with 1 tsp. of the turmeric and a little salt. Leave them while you start the onions.

Heat the oil in a large, shallow pan and add the onions. Sprinkle with a little salt to stop them browning and cook, stirring often, until they are softened, 5-6 minutes. Add the chili, ginger, remaining tsp. of the turmeric and the cumin. Cook everything for a few minutes.

Pour in the coconut milk along with the tamarind paste and fish or chicken stock. Let this bubble for a few minutes. When you are ready to eat, add the fish and cook for a few more minutes until cooked through. Serve over rice.

Serves 4-6

Green Pasta with Blue Cheese

Four ingredients for instant comfort food.

8 oz. trottole verde or any curly pasta of choice
4 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled
4 cups baby spinach leaves
3 tbs. chopped, shelled pistachios

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt it. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain.

Return the pasta to the pot along with the gorgonzola and spinach. Put on the lid and leave to sit without heat for 2 minutes. Remove the lid, put the heat on low and stir everything together, adding as much pasta water as you need to thin out the sauce.

Take off the heat, toss in about two-thirds of the pistachios, then divide between 2 warmed bowls. Scatter over the remaining pistachios and a good grinding of black pepper to serve.

Serves 2

Pollo Alla Cacciatora

Usually Chicken Cacciatori is a lengthy affair to make. In this version, Nigella has simplified it without losing any of the slow-cooked, cozy, comfort-food qualities.

1 tsp. garlic-infused olive oil
1/2 cup pancetta cubes
6 scallions, chopped
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 4 pieces
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 cup white wine
1 x 14 oz. tin chopped tomatos
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 x 14 oz. tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
chopped fresh parsley, to serve

Put the oil in a pan with the pancetta, scallions and rosemary. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken, stirring well, and the celery salt. Pour in the wine and let it come to a bubble before adding the tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar. Put the lid on and let the pan simmer for 20 minutes.

Uncover, and add the beans. Cook for a bit longer, then serve with the parsley sprinkled on top.

Serves 4

Beetroot Orzotto

As beautiful and vibrant to eat as it is to look at!!

1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cups pearl barley
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
125ml dry vermouth or white wine
4 1/4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked beetroot cubes (not in vinegar)
150ml sour cream, plus more for serving
50g chopped pecans
3 tsp. chopped chives

Gently cook the onions in the oil in a deep, wide saucepan until softened. Stir in the barley and stir for about 2 minutes, then stir in the thyme. Tip in the vermouth and let it bubble up, then add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Meanwhile, puree half of the beetroot with half of the sour cream. Stir into the cooked barley along with the remaining cubed beetroot and warm through.

Spoon into a serving bowl and top with the pecans and chives and more sour cream, if using.

Serves 10-16 as part of a feast, or 8-10 if not

Coffee and Walnut Splouge Cookies

This lovely little cookies come together in a jot and are perfect with a cuppa.

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
14 tbs. butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 tbs. instant espresso powder
2 eggs
generous 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars, then add the espresso powder and the eggs. Stir in the flour mixture just to incorporate, then stir in the walnuts.

Using a smallish ice cream scoop or two spoons, drops mounds of the batter onto the baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden and just set to the touch. Cool on wire racks then store in an airtight container.

A Riff on a Caesar Salad

The classic salad is deconstructed here – and all the better for it! Top with a fried egg for the ultimate experience!

1 romaine heart
2 tbs. regular olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated or crushed
4 anchovy fillets (the kind packed in oil), finely chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon, plus lemon to serve
Parmesan cheese shavings

Heat the oven to 425°F. Cut the lettuce in half lengthways and lay both halves cut-side up in a baking dish lined with foil. Stir together the oil, garlic and anchovies, then spoon over the lettuce. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice, then cook for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to a plate and shave Parmesan on top.

Serves 2

 

Garlicy Roast Potatoes with Oregano and Feta

Inspired by chips served in Melbourne, these splendid spuds will delight you.

2 1/2 lb. potatoes, unpeeled and cut unto 1″ cubes
4 tbs. regular olive oil
6 fat cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled to give 1 cup loosely packed

Heat the oven to 425°F. Tumble the potatoes into a shallow roasting tin, large enough for the potatoes to sit in one layer. Toss in the oil, garlic and oregano. Roast for 50-60 minutes until golden, crisp and cooked through.

Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with most of the feta, then sprinkle the remaining feta on top. If you have any fresh oregano, sprinkle it on top.

Serves 4-6

Chicken with Tarragon Salsa Verde

Let’s be honest here, the chicken is simply the vehicle by which one gets to eat this wonderful and fragrant sauce.

For the chicken:

2 tbs. olive oil
4 chicken breast cutlets or boneless chicken thighs
small bunch fresh tarragon

For the sauce:

leaves from a small bunch fresh parsley (about 1 cup)
leaves from a small bunch fresh tarragon (about 1/4 cup)
1 scallion, green and white part roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Heat the oven to 425°F. Pour 1 tbs. of the olive oil into a shallow ovenproof dish in which the chicken will all fit snuggly. Arrange them skin-side up. Tuck 2 sprigs of tarragon around them and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine the parsley, tarragon, scallion, zest, juice, salt and half the olive oil. Using a food processor or immersion blender, whizz into a paste. Slowly add the remaining olive oil and blend well. Taste for seasoning.

Once the chicken has cooked, pour any pan juices into the sauce and blend again. Serve the sauce drizzled over the chicken.

Serves 4