Moroccan inspired casserole

What better way to celebrate our 100th blog and Anna’s birthday than with a Moroccan inspired casserole and a sweet bottle of muscat wine.  It has taken us a good seven to eight months to get to this point and we have really enjoyed sharing our culinary exploits.   Thank you for all those that have taken the time to read through, like and follow our blog.   We would love to hear from you and do share any thoughts and comments on improving some of the dishes.  So please join me and raise a glass to toast our next 100 blogs and Anna’s next … birthdays 🙂

Anna has been wanting to cook a Moroccan flavoured dish for quite some time (she has a dish in mind which we will write about in the near future) but I decided to use this as an inspiration to cook her a wonderful casserole for her birthday.

PS.  For the culinary purists – we know parsnip is not a typical vegetable in Moroccan dishes.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 500 gms boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds – toasted
  • 1 big onion sliced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 courgette cut in thick slices
  • 6 small potatoes halved
  • 1 large parsnip cut in chunks
  • 1 large carrot cut in chunks
  • 1/2 butter nut squash
  • 1 stick of celery roughly chopped
  • 1 large green pepper cut in big pieces
  • 400 gm canned chickpeas drained
  • 8-10 dried apricots
  • 4-6 green chillies
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp harissa paste
  • 2 preserved lemons sliced
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of coriander chopped for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

First marinade the chicken with 1 teaspoon of harissa paste and the toasted cumin seeds and leave for a few hours.   Heat a oven proof casserole dish and brown the chicken pieces, remove and add the olive oil.   Saute the garlic and onion for a couple of minutes before adding the green pepper, celery and green chilli.  Cook for a few minutes before adding the remaining vegetables, chickpeas, ground cumin, harissa paste, apricots, preserved lemons, stock cubes, honey and around 500 ml of water.   Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.  Cover the dish and cook in a pre-heated oven at 190 degree Centigrade for an hour till the chicken is cooked.   Garnish with some fresh chopped coriander and enjoy.

Gluten free penne with lamb meatballs

We tried making meatballs for the first time without the obligatory bread crumbs since going on our gluten free journey.  It turned out pretty good as we substituted the breadcrumbs with chestnut flour to act as the binding agent.   The meatballs maintained shape through the cooking process and tasted great.

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What do I need to make it?

Meatballs

  • 200 gms lean minced lamb
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp crush red chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 2 tsp chestnut flour
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce

  • 400 gm tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 small green chillies chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2-3

How do I make it?

Place all the meatball ingredients in a bowl and knead together.   Roll the meat mixture into small balls (should get around 20) and refrigerate for an hour.   Heat a pan with some olive oil and brown the meatballs off before placing them in a 200 degree Centigrade pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes or till the meat is done.

For the sauce, heat a pan, add the olive oil followed by the garlic and bay leaves.   Stir for 30 seconds before adding the onions and green chilli.   Sweat the onions for 5-8 minutes before adding the dry and fresh oregano.   Pour in the plum tomatoes (if whole crush or chop them first) with a cup of water and simmer over gentle heat for 20 minutes.   Add the sugar and adjust the seasoning.   Once the tomatoes have cooked through, add the meatballs and garnish the dish with fresh basil and parsley.   Pour over your favourite pasta and enjoy.

Salad therapy – fennel and apple salad

We tried pulling together this salad for the first time having watched many a Masterchef judge and Jamie Oliver extolling its virtues.  We must agree that this combination of core ingredients works – the dressing can be personalized but the net result is a delicious light salad.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 fennel bulb shaved using a mandolin
  • 1 Granny Smith apple cored and cut into match sticks
  • Handful of walnuts

For the dressing

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4 side salads

How do I make it?

Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a bowl till you get a nice emulsion.  Place shaved fennel, chopped apple and walnuts in a large bowl and pour the dressing over it.   Use your hands to gentle toss the salad and portion into bowls.  Enjoy.

Salad therapy – rocket, apple and cheese

Our local TESCO supermarket had some amazing regional cheeses on offer and the salad we had the other night featured a cheddar and garlic/mixed herb soft cheese whirl.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 bag of rocket leaves
  • 1/2 gala apple cored and sliced
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 3 tbsp red pickled jalapenos
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/4 large cucumber de-seeded and chopped
  • 100 gms of cheese whirl cubed
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp apple balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2 main portions or 4 side salads

How do I make it?

Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl.   Sprinkle the salt  and pepper before before drizzling the olive oil and apple cider balsamic vinegar.   Toss gently with your hands and portion into serving bowls.  Enjoy.

Gluten free caserole

We had an amazing homemade casserole for dinner last night for the first time and are now inspired to create different ethnic variations for future dinner options.  The casserole used very few spices, tasted wonderful and was the ideal dinner for the onset of winter  (yesterday was the first of many cold rainy days ).

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What do I need to make it?

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 6-8 potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 8 mushrooms halved
  • 1 stick of leek chopped
  • 2 carrots roughly chopped
  • 1 parsnip peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 baby onions peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapenos chopped
  • 200 gms tinned butter beans drained
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns crushed coarsely
  • 2 gluten free chicken stock cubes (we use Kallo cubes – taste great)
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped for garnish
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Wash and dry the chicken thigh fillets and marinade with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, dried mixed herbs and salt.    Let the chicken marinade for as long as you can – we cooked it after an hour.  Heat a cast iron casserole and brown the chicken thighs.  Remove chicken and add remaining oil to saute the whole onions and garlic for a couple of minutes.   Add the crushed red chilli flakes and leeks and continue sauteing for a couple of minutes before adding  remaining vegetables.    Give it a good stir and add the stock cubes, coarsely crushed black peppercorns and a dash of salt for taste.   Pour in 600 ml of water and add the butter beans and the chicken thighs.  over the casserole and cook in pre-heated oven at 190 degree for an hour.   Remove and check that most of the water has evaporated before garnishing with fresh chopped parsley.   Serve hot with a nice crusty bread of choice.

Salad therapy – Anna’s Surprise

My niece Nikhita was in town for a couple of days and I was keen to get her to like this salad as she is not too fond of fruits.  The first time I made this salad I threw in the remaining fruit in my fruit bowl and was surprised at how well it went with the dressing.   A few tweaks later I’ve rechristened it Anna’s Surprise to dedicate it to my better half (surprised her and others with the combination).   Having served this to Nikhi I think I have succeeded in getting her to eat fruit beyond bananas as she appreciated the salad.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 big bag of mixed salad leaves
  • 1 red apple
  • 1 pear  (the firmer the better – gives a bit of a bite to the salad)
  • 1 firm ripe mango
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 large cucumber de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 large mozzarella ball cubed
  • 5 artichoke hearts quartered (used the tinned variety)
  • 6-8 sun dried tomatoes in oil chopped
  • Handful of green and black olives
  • Handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make?

Chop all the fruit, veg and cheese into bite size pieces.   Wash and drain the salad leaves and place in a large bowl.   Add the fruit, vegetables, cheese and olives and season with a bit of salt and pepper.  Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad and toss gently.  Transfer into dishes and enjoy.

Gluten free spaghetti without sauce

Ever get tired of eating pasta or spaghetti with a tomato or cream based sauce – here’s an alternative which I personally love as it is simple to make and tastes great.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Handful of gluten free spaghetti cooked and drained
  • 1/2 courgette halved and sliced
  • 1 stick of celery chopped into bite size pieces
  • 4-5 button mushrooms quartered
  • 2 green chillies
  • Small onion/shallot sliced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

1 large serving

How do I make it?

Heat a heavy bottom pan and add olive oil and garlic – saute for a couple of minutes.   Add the sliced onions, chopped green chilli and celery and cook for 5 minutes till the onions go translucent.   Add the remaining vegetables and cook for 4-5 minutes.   Season with dried Italian herb, salt and pepper.   Add the cooked spaghetti and give it a good toss.   Finish with garnish of fresh chopped parsley, Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Salad therapy – figs & honey

I absolutely love figs both the fresh and dried variety and this is my humble tribute to the wonderful fruit.  There are some combinations that seem to be made for one another and figs and honey is one of them.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 bag of salad leaves
  • 2 figs quartered
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 baby cucumber
  • 100 gms feta cheese

For the vinaigrette

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp Greek honey
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp English mustard (adds a bit of heat to the vinaigrette)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side salad

How do I make it?

For the vinaigrette – mix the mustard and honey first and then add the oil.  Whisk with lemon juice, salt & pepper till you get a nice creamy vinaigrette.  Place the remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl – dress with vinaigrette and toss gently.   Transfer into serving dishes and enjoy.

Salad therapy – Mediterranean flavours

Had a lovely salad tonight using the last of our garden cherry tomatoes and an Apache chillie in the vinaigrette.   The vinaigrette was a bit of an experiment but I think the flavours work really well together.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 bag of mixed salad leaves
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 baby cucumber deseeded and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 100 gms of feta cheese cubed

For the vinaigrette

  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1 green chillie de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp of capers chopped
  • Lemon rind and juice of half the lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • Handful pomegranate seeds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2 big portions or 4 side salads

How do I make it?

Prepare the vinaigrette by add the oil to the chopped ingredients and then whisking in the lemon juice.  Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and dress the salad with the vinaigrette.   Transfer into salad bowls and enjoy.

Twice cooked corn chowder

Today’s lunch was inspired by a recipe posted on catholicfoodie.com.  Our Apache chilli plant has more chillies than we can give away or use and so we looked for ways to use more than one or two chillies in a dish.  The soup is a revelation and could feature as a starter for our next dinner party or barbecue.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 3 ears of corn roasted and shucked
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes (picked fresh from our garden)
  • 10-12 Apache chillies (reduce to taste – also picked from our garden)
  • 2 small capsicums (1 medium green pepper would work just as well)
  • 1 whole garlic pod (roast with skin on)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 100 ml single cream
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Place tomatoes, chillies, garlic and capsicum in a bowl and drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil to coat all the vegetables.   Then place in a pre heated oven at 200 degree Centigrade for 25-30 minutes till the vegetables begin to char and are roasted.   Remove garlic skins and place with remaining roasted vegetables in a blender and blend to a paste.  Heat pan with remaining olive oil and add chopped onions.   Saute for 5 minutes before adding the paste.   Stir for a couple of minutes before adding the stock cubes and about a litre of water.   Bring to a gentle boil, add the shucked corn, salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook for another 20 minutes on low heat.   Finish the soup with the cream, lemon juice and fresh coriander.