Friday, 6 October 2017

Chicken Poussin

Chicken Poussin

This is an excellent Sunday Roast.  With four of us in the family, I cooked one each of these small succulent Chicken Poussin spatchcock style cooked with aromatic spices

Preheat the oven to 180C whilst you are preparing the poussins.

To Spatchcock place the Poussin breast size down.

Either using a sturdy scissors or I prefer a sharp knife, cut up along each side of the parson's nose and backbone to remove it, cutting through the rib bones as you go.  If using a knife make sure you are not cutting towards you.

Open the chicken out and turn over. Flatten the breastbone with the heel of your hand so that the meat is all one thickness as demonstrated in the picture below.

Roast the cumin, coriander, peppercorns, a small stick of cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp of dried cinnamon)
black poppy seeds in a small frying pan until you smell the aromatic aroma of the spices.  Be careful not to overcook the spices otherwise they will burn and they will lose the pungent smell you are trying to achieve.

Grind the spices and then mix in the olive oil and garlic.  Rub the mixture onto the skin of each poussin.  Place the poussins in a try with the preserved lemons underneath and cook for about 40 to 60 minutes on 180C.

Once they are cooked allow to rest for about 10 minutes and then place on a wooden board and serve with a green or couscous salad.


4 x 500g Poussin 
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 small stick of cinnamon (or 1/2 tsp of dried cinnamon)
6 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp black poppy seeds
1/4 x2 quarters of preserved lemons
2 tsp ginger
2 tbs olive oil

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Palm Oil

Palm oil is destroying rainforests in Asia and Africa. It is used in many food and cosmetics. Please act now to prevent this destruction by looking at using products that are better for the environment, some of these can be found in the following link.

The warm, humid climate of the tropics offers perfect growth conditions for oil palms. Day after day, huge tracts of rainforest in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa are being bulldozed or torched to make room for more plantations, releasing vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. As a consequence, Indonesia – the world’s largest producer of palm oil – temporarily surpassed the United States in terms of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. With their CO2 and methane emissions, palm oil-based biofuels actually have three times the climate impact of traditional fossil fuels.

Palm oil is high in fat which can lead to weight gain, heart problems, and other chronic disease, one tablespoon of palm oil has 120 calories and 13.6 grams of fat.

Palm oil is used in some lipstick as it holds colour well, doesn't melt at high temperatures, and has a smooth application and virtually no taste


Pizza dough
Palm oil is added to many frozen and fresh pizza to stop it from sticking together and to enhance texture.

author, Jon Sullivan

Instant Noodles
Palm Oil is up to 20% of the weight of a pack of some instant noodles.  It's used to pre-cook the noodles so that all you have to do is add hot water

Palm Oil is used as a conditioning agent that helps restore the natural oils of the hair that are stripped away by most shampoos

Tube, Shampoo, Empty, Cream, Container

Palm oil is used in margarine because it is solid at room temperatures and is free of trans fats.

Butter, Tub, Margarine, Article

Ice Cream
Palm oil makes ice cream smooth and creamy

Ice Cream, Cartoon, Ice, Food, Snack

Many products that use palm oil aren't clearly labeled.  Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under many names, including:

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Palm Oil and the destruction of our Rainforest

The other day I posted a picture on facebook of an Orangutang that had died in a fire caused by people burning virgin rainforest to make room for the production of palm oil. 

This shocked me and I decided to look into this more.

Palm oil is cheap and it's a common ingredient in lots of foods and household products, but just like with everything else that's 'cheap'- it comes at a horrible cost.
Huge areas of unspoiled rain forest are bulldozed to the ground each and every minute to make way for palm oil plantations in countries like Borneo, Sumatra, Indonesia and Malaysia.
This deforesting operation is being done on a scale and speed that is unbelievably staggering.
It's appallingly apparent that the people managing the palm oil business and the workers who are carrying out the actual clearing of the forest have zero regard for the fact that they're destroying the abundant and endangered wildlife that calls the forests home.
As a matter of fact the deforestation workers are instructed to get rid of any wildlife that happens to get in the way- and it doesn't matter how inhumanely they complete this task- including running over orangutans with their logging trucks.
Because of forests being cleared to make way for palm oil plantations, in just the last 20 years 90% of orangutan habitat has been obliterated. That's a difficult reality to let sink in.
If this kind of deforestation continues at the pace it's happening at now, orangutans could face extinction in the wild in 2016, and the jungle habitat that they call home could be entirely gone within 20 years. 
Nearly 50% of products sold in supermarkets contain palm oil. Palm oil is grown, at the moment mainly in Malaysia and Indonesia. But now the Congo is under threat. To see HOW YOUR DAILY ROUTINE CAN HELP THE RAINFOREST go to:

Animals threatened by Palm Oil development in the Congo





However, there is something that we can do to make sure that a disaster such as this never happens!
All we have to do is stop buying products that contain palm oil that is not a certified sustainable palm oil product as an ingredient, this will help reduce the insane demand for this incredibly unsustainable product.
Palm oil is found in many of the products that we use every day - from breadsticks to anti-dandruff shampoos - so for goodness sake, please check the label each and every time you buy.
A good site to visit for supermarkets and companies that use sustainable palm oil is

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Labskaus - Lobscouse – Lobsgóws

Labskaus - Lobscouse – Lobsgóws

The origin of the name is unclear but Labskaus was first mentioned in Germany in 1701 for a dish associated with sailors.  At that time they would be at sea for weeks and sometimes months and had to use provisions that would last a long time such as salted meat, potatoes and onions.  This dish can still be found on menus in Northern German, Danish and Swedish restaurant with many variations including the Schleswig-Holstein version which includes beetroot, gherkin and rollmops topped with a fried egg.  Takes a bit of getting use to as it comes out pink.

The seafarers from Northern Germany naturally came to Liverpool docks and passed on the recipe which was adopted to such an extent that those working in Liverpool docks were called ‘Scoucers’ after this dish.

In the 19th Century thousands of Welsh people flocked to Liverpool to find work.  They brought the recipe back with them and adjusted it slightly depending on where they lived, the local ingredients available and include either beef, lamb or pork.

Each family in North Wales will have their own version of Lobsgóws this is my version with a few added ingredients from the traditional.

Serves 4 to 5

500g Diced beef  (traditional shin beef but I tend to use stewing steak)
500g Diced Potatoes
250g Diced carrots
250g Chopped onions
250g Diced parsnips
250g Diced Swede
2 tablespoons
2 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
3 teaspoon Red Current Jelly
2 teaspoons Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon Thyme
¼ teaspoon Pepper
Stock enough to cover
Salt to taste

Add oil to a heavy base casserole dish and fry the meat in batches until brown.
Remove meat from dish and reduce the heat and gently fry the onion until soft.
Return beef to casserole dish add the stock, vinegar, redcurrant jelly, Worcester sauce, thyme and pepper.  
Place casserole dish in a preheated oven at 160ºC and cook for 1 hour.
Add the diced vegetables and more stock to cover if needed and return to the oven at 150ºC for a further two hours.  
Check after 1 hour to see if more water is required and taste, add more seasoning if required.
After cooking for 2 hours check if meat is nice and tender, if not cook for a further ½ hour.
This dish can then be served with crusty bread, but it will taste even better if left for one day and then reheated.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Chicken Basque with Blaen-y-Nant Chorizo

Chicken Basque with Blaen-y-Nant Chorizo

Chicken Basque ready for the oven

My mother-in-law is an exceptionally good cook and every time we go to stay with them we are spoilt by an array of excellent meals.  But occasionally my father-in-law takes over cooking duties and even though he does not have a wide range of dishes this recipe is one he conjures up and always goes down well. 

Even though this dish has a long list of ingredients it is quite easy to put together and does not take long to prepare.

I have used free range chicken pieces but also a locally produced chorizo from Blaen-y-Nant Farm which is located in the Hearathog Hills just above where I live. The farm is home to the Howatson family business, where livestock is lovingly cared for by the family.  The animals are then used to creat artisan cured meats ensuring full tractability, product provenance, low food miles and from experience superior taste.


8 pieces of Free Range chicken pieces
1 tbs Welsh Rapeseed Oil (Blodyn Aur)
1 red pepper
2 small onions
50g sun-dried tomatoes
3 garlic cloves chopped
200g Blaen-y-Nant chorizo sausage thinly sliced
220g brown balsamic rice
Either 300 ml of home made chicken stock or 1 Chicken stock cube dissolved in about 300 mls of water
1 tbs tomato puree
1 tsp Herbes de Provence 
1 tsp paprika
40g black olives (optional)
1 orange cut into thin slices
pinch of salt and pepper to season

Add the oil to a large heavy duty casserole pan.  
On a medium heat gently fry the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, tomato puree, chorizo and sun dried tomatoes and fry for a further minute.
Add the uncooked rice.
Place the chicken on top of the rice.
Sprinkle the herbs and paprika onto the chicken, add pinch of salt and pepper to season.
Add the olives and oranges.
Pour the chicken stock over the chicken and rice.  The stock should just about cover the chicken, if not add some more water.

Chicken Basque ready to be served.

You can either cook this on the hob on a medium heat for about an hour, check occasionally and if it is becoming to dry add some more water or place in the oven on 180C for about 1 hour then turn down to 170C for about 30 minutes. Again check after 1 hour that it isn't to dry, add about 100ml of water.  When ready place in a bowl and goes well with some rustic bread.

Served and ready to be eaten and enjoyed
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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Italian Style Welsh Lamb Chops

Italian Style Welsh Lamb Chops

This is an excellent, easy dish to prepare for an evening meal. Again I have used my local butcher, J. H. Jones in Denbigh who only sources lamb from local farms no more than 5 or 6 miles from his shop.  The sauce works well with this dish and for an additional option for a slight fiery kick add some bird's eye chillies.  When I served this with some couscous to my family there was nothing left on the plate except the bones.

When done the lamb is succulent and just falls off the bone.


8 Welsh Lamb Chops
1 tin 400g chopped tomatoes
2 small shallot onions chopped
4 cloves of garlic chopped
4 pieces of sundried tomatoes
1 tbs tomato puree
3 pieces of anchovies
1 birds eye chilli diced finely (optional
3 sprigs of rosemary (or 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary)
1 sprig of mint (or 1 tsp dried mint)
pinch of black pepper and salt to season
1 tbs Welsh Rapeseed oil (Blodyn Aur)
1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
200ml water

Add the oil to a heavy duty casserole pan placed on a medium heat on the hob.
Add the onion and garlic and gently fry for about 5 minutes.
Add the sun dried tomatoes. chilli, anchovies and puree and fry for a further minute.
Arrange the chops on top of the onions.
Add the chopped tomatoes, rosemary, mint, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
Top up with water until the lamb is just covered.
Place in a preheated oven on 180C and allow to cook for about 1 hour.

The lamb goes well with either couscous or mashed potatoes.

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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Salt and Pepper Squid

Salt and Pepper Squid

Salt and Pepper Squid ready to eat

These are easy to make and excellent as a side dish for a Chinese or Thai meal.  Ask your fishmonger to clean the squid for you if you prefer not to do it yourself.  Once prepared the squid takes less than a minute to cook but are sensational to eat.


400g Squid cleaned
60g cornflour
60g plain flour
2 tsp black pepper cracked
2 tbs ground szechuan peppercorns
2 tsp salt (Halen Mon)
Welsh Rapeseed Oil (Blodyn Aur)

Cut the squid into rings and cut the tentacles if they are too long.

Grind the pepper and peppercorns and add to the flour and salt.  Mix well together. Add the squid to the flour mixture and toss until they are coated all over.

Prepared Squid

I sallow fried the squid in enough oil to cover them once they were placed in the wok.  I cooked these in small batches for about 30 to 40 seconds each time.  I removed them and placed them in an oven proof dish and put them in the oven to keep warm on 120C until they are all cooked.

I served these with some sweet chilli sauce.  My children are my biggest critics but these were a big hit. 

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Saturday, 24 October 2015

Sa Va Tu'o'ng O't Prawn and Noodles Soup

Sa Va Tu'o'ng O't Prawn and Noodles Soup

Sa Va Tu'orn ot Prawn and Noodles Soup

I have gone Posh with this recipe.  Posh Pickles based in Cheshire recently sent me a jar of Vietnamese Sa Va Tu'o'ng O't relish to try out.

I enjoy using new ingredients also mixing and matching ingredients from different countries.  This lemongrass and chilli relish had a lot to prove being a Great Taste 2015 award winner plus Silver at the World Hot Sauce Awards.  It definitely did not disappoint with it's delicate lemony essence balanced by the chilli to give it a slight kick.

I am sure this relish would work well in a more robust dish but I wanted to see if it faired as well in a more delicate seafood dish using prawns and noodles.  I have also used a dash of mirin and teriyaki sauce which go well with seafood plus some sugar snap peas and baby sweetcorn.

The combination worked exceptionally well and it was a thumbs up from the family when I made it. I can highly recommend this relish and will definitely be using it again.

Ingredients Serves 4

350g Prawns
250g Noodles
2 tsp Sa Va Tu'o'ng O't
1 tsp Teriyaki sauce
1 tsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Mirin
75g Sugar snap peas
100g Baby sweetcorn
Sprig of coriander
Lime quartered (optional)
1000ml water

I buy my prawns from our local asian food store as they are much cheaper than the supermarkets.  I have to peel and devein them myself but this does not take long.

Prawns peeled and deveined
Chop up the vegetables ready to be cooked.

Baby sweetcorn and sugar snap peas ready to be chopped
In a large saucepan add the water, Sa Va Tu'o'ng O't relish, teriyaki, Mirin and soy sauce and vegetables.  Bring to the boil then Sa Va Tu'o'ng O't turn down and allow to simmer gentle for a few minutes.  In another saucepan with plenty of water cook the noodles for 5 to 6 minutes.

About 2 minutes before the noodles are ready pop the prawns into the Sa Va Tu'o'ng O't broth.

Once the prawns are ready drain the noodles and serve into 4 separate bowls.  Using a ladle add the prawn and Sa Va Tu'o'ng O't broth to each dish and serve with some chopped coriander and a quarter of lime which can be squeezed onto the dish.
The finished dish ready to be eaten
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