Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

A French classic that’s been updated to use chicken thighs – quite rightly!!

2 tbs. regular olive oil
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
6 scallions, finely sliced
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
40 cloves of garlic, unpeeled (apprize. 3-4 heads)
2 tbs. dry white wine or vermouth
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
good grinding of black pepper

Heat the oven the 350°F. In a large Dutch oven (one that has a lid and will fit the chicken in one layer), heat the oil and sear the chicken pieces over a high heat, skin-side down. This may take 2 batches, so transfer the browned pieces to a bowl as you go.

Once the chicken is seared and resting in the bowl, stir in the scallions and the leaves of a few sprigs of the thyme. Add the garlic cloves, then arrange the chicken pieces on top, skin-side up. Pour in the vermouth and any juices left in the bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper, then add a few more whole thyme sprigs. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

Serves 4-6

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

These lovely little cookies will delight all ages. The cranberries and white chocolate look like jewels!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup rolled oats
9 tbs. softened butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tbs. caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

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

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and oats. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Tip in the flour mixture and stir to combine, then fold in the cranberries, pecans and white chocolate. Using a 1″ ice cream scoop, drop the dough onto the baking sheets and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden around the edges.

Let rest on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pork Tacos

Nigella used left-over pork for this recipe. Not having any, I recreated it using a pork tenderloin with delicious results.

1 pork tenderloin, cut into bite-size pieces and seasoned
1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1 large jalapeno pepper, deseeded and minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
juice of 1/2 lime
tortillas, to serve
shredded iceberg lettuce, to serve
pickled cabbage, to serve
diced avocado, to serve

Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the pork until just pink. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, ground cumin, smoked paprika, lime juice, then let everything bubble for 4-5 minutes.

Serve the pork inside warm tortillas and topped with shredded lettuce, pickled cabbage and diced avocado.

Serves 4

Steak with Anchovy Elixir

This lovely elixir can be served with crudities or cooked potatoes for dipping or drizzled over steak.

20 salt-packed anchovies
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled
2 1/2 tbs. lemon juice
175ml extra-virgin olive oil
125ml cold water

Soak the anchovies in a dish of cold water for 5 minutes. Throw out the water, add fresh water and soak for a further 5 minuets. Rinse each anchovy under running cold water and remove the tails. (Or use oil-packed anchovies that have been well-rinsed.)

Place the anchovies in a small food processor (or into a bowl if using a stick blender) with the remaining ingredients except the steaks. Blitz to a gloomily, fluid sauce. Decant into serving pieces.

Cook the steak to your liking, leave it to rest for 10 minutes, then serve with the elixir.

Serves 4 with steaks or many more as a dip

Croque Monsieur Bake

This savory bake is perfect for brunch because everything is done the night before.

6 slices multi-grain brown bread
1/3 cup dijon mustard
4 oz. Gruyere cheese slices
3 slices ham (3 oz.)
6 eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt ot 1/2 tsp. table salt
1/3 cup whole milk
4 tbs. grated Gruyere cheese
good sprinkling of Worcestershire sauce

Spread the mustard on the bread slices and make sandwiches with the sliced cheese and ham. Cut each in half making two triangles. Squish the sandwiches into a baking dish approx. 10 x 8″.

Beat together the eggs, salt and milk, then pour over the sandwiches. Cover and chill overnight.

Heat the oven to 400°F. Sprinkle the sandwiches with the grated cheese and sprinkle with Worcestershire sauce. Bake for 25 minutes.

Serves 4-6

Bulgar Wheat with Flaked Almonds and Nigella Seed

Nigella often says that if one has an ingredient with the same name, it would be rude not to use it! Here, Nigella seeds pair beautifully with bulgar wheat and it is ideal served with Salmon Scallops with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette.

1 tbs. olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 tsp. Nigella seeds
2 cups bulgar wheat
750 ml cold water
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
2/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted in a dry skillet
small bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy pot that has a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the lemon zest, thyme, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and Nigella seeds. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the bulgar wheat. Pour in the water and add the salt. Bring to a boil, then clamp on the lid, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. By this time the water should be absorbed and the grains soft.

Turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean tea towel, replace the lid and leave for 10 minutes. Use a fork to fluff the bulgar wheat and tip into a bowl. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, almonds and parsley.

Salmon Scallops with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

The simplicity of this lovely salmon is what makes it perfection and the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar is an ideal flavor pairing. It is wonderful with Bulgar Wheat with Flaked Almonds and Nigella seeds.

1 tbs. vegetable oil
8 thin scallops or fillets of salmon
6 tbs. balsamic vinegar
6 tbs. olive oil
small bunch chives, snipped (optional)

Heat a heavy-bottomed, well-seasoned skillet or a good non-stick skillet. Tip in the 1 tbs. of vegetable oil, then add the salmon and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or to your liking. Keep warm with tented foil.

In a small saucepan, heat the vinegar and the 6 tbs. of olive oil until warm. Serve poured over the salmon and sprinkled with chives.

Serves 4-6

Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese and Pecans

The taste of autumn in a lovely side dish.

4 1/2 lbs. butternut squash
3 tbs. olive oil
6 stalks fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried
1 cup pecans
1 cup crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese

Heat the oven to  425°F. Halve the squash, leaving the skin on, and scoop out the seeds. Cut into roughly 1″ cubes. Transfer to a roasting tin and toss with the oil and a bit of seasoning. Strip 4 of the thyme leaves over (or sprinkle with all of the dried thyme). Roast for 30-45 minutes, or until tender.

Remove to a serving bowl and scatter over the pecans and cheese. Toss everything together and add the last 2 stalks of fresh thyme, torn into small sprigs, to decorate.

Serves 6-8

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