Archive for November, 2014

I think it is important to use seasonable produce when possible, partly because it is often cheaper than out of season produce and also because it is tastier and more naturally grown.

I make this fruit compote for my morning porridge, because isn’t my favourite thing to eat, so with just a spoonful of sugar…. You know the score 😉

The basic recipe for the spiced fruit compote is as follow:

· 500g seasonal fruit (I used plums, apples, raspberries, half a tangerine)
· Caster sugar, to taste
· 1/2 cinnamon stick & 1 star anise
· 1 teaspoon lemon peel
· 2.5 cm piece fresh ginger (optional)

Chop up all the fruit and discarding any stones. Place the fruit in a heavy based pan. Add the sugar. I added about 2 heaped teaspoons, but taste as you go along and add more as needed. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook on medium heat with the lid on.

When the fruit has softened, removed the lid and let the liquid reduce. Pour into clean glasses and leave to cool.

Serve on your morning porridge, on yoghurts and muesli.

Oh, and if you are wondering about those banana waffle recipe….. Well, it is on my to-do-list 😉




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In my extended sabbatical (much longer than I was expecting, to be honest) I have had a bit of extra time on my hand. And as many of you will know, food is important to me, and I especially like to cook honest, simple and tasty food. Of course my dream since I was younger was always to have a big kitchen, with a large dining table and colourful chairs and a bunch of happy, hungry people around, but we don’t always get what we want, but what we deserve, someone much clever than me said…. So making due with my small kitchen and sofa eating, I still enjoy cooking.

Currently making a spiced plum, apple and raspberry compote for my morning porridge and thinking of trying out some banana waffles.

Watch this space!


IMG_2385.JPGTwice cooked pork

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I found this recipe in a copy of Woman & Home (Jamie Oliver’s sticky chicken and Chinese noodles) while waiting for an appointment, and thought it looked pretty simple – so decided to give it a go. And yes, it’s really tasty! I particularly enjoyed the sticky chicken, and you could just use the five-spice and honey mix with rice and some stir fried vegetables. You could also use belly pork, which is my favourite meat. I try not to eat it too often, as it really isn’t very healthy.

The one thing I have noticed about Jamie’s Chinese recipes is that he uses olive oil, and I have to say I find that a bit strange. I don’t think olive oil features much in Chinese cooking. I much prefer sesame seed oil and you can use any other nut or vegetable oil.

This dish serves four or two very hungry adults, it takes about 45 minutes to cook and contains around 608 calories.


4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 heaped teaspoons Chinese five-spice
Olive oil (I used a mix of vegetable and sesame seed oil)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 x 227g tin of pineapple rings in juice
1 tablespoon low-salt soy sauce
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
4 nestles of fine egg noodles
1 x 400g tin of black beans
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1 carrot
1-2 fresh red chillies
1/2 Chinese cabbage
1/2 bunch of coriander
1 lime
Sesame seeds

Preparation is key, so ensure the vegetables are all done before you start cooking.

1. Peel and finely slice the garlic, onion and carrot along with the chilli and cabbage.

2. Toss the chicken with 1 heaped teaspoon of the five-spice and a pinch of salt & pepper, then flatten with your fist and leave for 15 minutes.

3. Chop the pineapple rings into 5cm pieces. Mix together the juice, soy sauce, vinegar and cornflour, and then add the pineapple chunks.

4. Rinse and drain the beans, then toss in a bowl with a bit of sesame seed oil and 1 heaped teaspoon of five-spice.

5. Put the chicken into a large frying pan with a little oil and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until cooked through, turning regularly and drizzling with the honey for the last minute or so, to glaze. Remove the chicken to a plate, returning the pan to the heat.

6. Fry the beans on a high heat for 5 minutes, or until crisp and burst. Remove from the frying pan.

7. Cook your noodles in a pan of boiling salted water as per instruction on packet, then drain.

8. Add your vegetables to the frying pan with a swig of oil and cook for just 2 minutes, then add the pineapples and sauce, the noodles, a bit of the cooking water and toss to coat. Taste & season with soy sauce, if needed.

9. Divide the noodles and crispy black beans between your plates. Slice the chicken and place on op, scatter with coriander, sesame seeds and a good squeeze of lime.


I certainly did 🙂


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Spicy spinach and lentil soup

I first posted this recipe on 7 September 2013, and I can tell you it has been a bit of a hit in this household. As I have been requested to make a new batch today, I thought I might as well re-post it.

Love, Natasja

Serves 6
Preparation time 1 hour


2 tbsp olive oil (I used 1/2)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp ground cumin seeds
2 tsp sweet paprika (unsmoked), plus extra to serve
1 tbsp tomato purée
250g red lentils
1.5 liters vegetable stock
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
400g spinach, washed, dried, large stalks removed
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

For the garlic yogurt (optional)

100g natural or Greek yogurt
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (optional)


1. For the soup, heat the oil in a large pan, then add the onion, carrot, garlic, chili flakes and some salt and pepper. Stir, cover and cook over a low heat for 7-8 minutes until soft and lightly golden.

2. Uncover the pan, add the ground cumin and paprika and cook for a few seconds, then stir in the puree. Add the lentils and stock and bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring now and then.

3. Meanwhile make the garlic yogurt by mixing all the ingredients with a pinch of salt. Chill until needed.

4. Add the diced tomatoes to the soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Season with salt & pepper.

5. Bunch up the spinach leaves and slice them across into fine shreds. Fill 6 deep soup bowls to the brim with the spinach, then ladle over the boiling hot soup and stir.

As soon as the spinach has wilted, serve topped with a spoonful of the garlic yogurt, sprinkled with a little paprika and with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Tip – add a few slices of chorizo just before serving


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Cinnamon cake

Winter is drawing closer day by day and while feeling cozy and snug inside (jobless still) I decided to make a cinnamon cake. Cinnamon is an all time favourite in the household and its warming character is perfect for winter with a nice cup of tea or a glass of milk.

After a quick search on the web I came across http://allrecipes.co.uk/ The description of the cake made my decision easy: “A luscious, buttery cake that is infused with the warm flavour of cinnamon. The cake is topped with an easy cinnamon drizzle at the end, ensuring it stays deliciously moist”. Thankfully I had all the ingredients in my larder.

250g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
3/4 teaspoon salt
140g butter or margarine
275g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
150ml milk

For the syrup:
100g caster sugar
6 tablespoons butter
75ml water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Prep: 30min    Cook: 45min    Ready in: 1hr15min

Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease and lightly flour a 25cm Bundt cake tin, or tube cake tin. Stir together the flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter or margarine, 275g caster sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating for at least 1 minute after each egg. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Pour the cake mixture into prepared tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack.

Remove cake from tin while it is still warm, and poke holes around the top of the cake with a fork. Pour the warm cinnamon syrup into the holes and onto the top and sides of the cake.

Cinnamon Syrup:

In a saucepan, combine 100g caster sugar, butter, water, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Heat and stir until butter melts.

Instead of the 25cm Bundt or tube cake tin, you can use two 20cm round cake tins, or two 23cm round cake tins. Or, if you haven’t got a tube or Bundt cake tin (illustration 1) – you can use a round cake tin and stick a small soufflé dish in the middle (illustration 2). I didn’t do this myself (only thought of it later) and the cake did not look wonderful – but it tasted great 🙂

1 2

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