Chicken casserole with chorizo and peas

Winter has arrived and brings with it a slower pace and more time dedicated towards the old fashioned comforts of home. I love spending time in the kitchen on a rainy day cooking up favorite meals for friends and family….these are the moments that I adore.

This chicken casserole is best served with a simple rice pilaf. I love the full flavors from the paprika and chorizo – they remind me of days spend in Spain.

1 onion, peeled and diced
1 chorizo, sliced
1 stalk celery, trimmed and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic finely diced
8 chicken thighs, on the bone
1 x 400 g can diced tomatoes
splash of red wine
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 heaped tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 cup peas (frozen is fine)

In a large casserole pot, over a medium high heat, sauté the onion and chorizo in a little olive oil. Add the celery, carrot and garlic and sauté for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and cook until it starts to brown. Pour in the tomatoes and wine, together with a cup of water. Season with the salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and parsley. Lower the heat and simmer for about 45-60 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Add the peas and continue cooking for a further 4-5 minutes.

Serve with some plain pilaf.

Serves 4 – 6

Summer couscous salad

Summer is here and it is time to slow down. 

Dreamy summer holidays for me are all about relaxing, having lazy days, enjoying time with family and friends over long lunches that turn into dinner. Summer food includes the idea of simple cooking, and this recipe is not only simple but perfect for summer eating. 

Summer Couscous Salad

150 grams couscous
½ small watermelon
150 grams haloumi cheese, sliced
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 pomegranate, cut in half and deseeded
small bunch of mint


100 mls olive oil
50 mls white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste

flaked almonds to garnish

Prepare the couscous by placing the couscous in a bowl and adding150 boiling water. Cover with a plate and leave for 5-6 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Pour in a teaspoon of olive oil and fork up. Transfer the couscous onto a serving plate.

Cut the haloumi in small squares and pat dry. In a frypan heat some olive oil and fry the haloumi until golden and set aside.

Cut the watermelon flesh into pieces and add to the couscous. Place the haloumi on top and add the mint and red onion. Scatter the seeds from the pomegranate onto the salad. 

Place the olive oil, vinegar, pomegranate syrup, honey and salt and pepper into a bowl or jug and whisk to combine.

Dress the salad with the dressing, scatter with flaked almonds and serve.

Langham Masterclass MF&WF

Stuffed zucchini with avgolemono

8 white (Lebanese/white) zucchini
200 grams beef mince
¾ cup medium grain rice
2 heaped tablespoons chopped parsley
1 heaped tablespoon chopped mint
1 teaspoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon tomato paste or ½ cup tomato passatta
olive oil
salt and pepper

Avgolemono (Egg and lemon sauce)

2 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
juice from stock

Prepare the zucchini by washing and trimming the stalk end.  Carefully remove the pulp using a teaspoon or knife, making sure not to pierce the other end, and set aside.

Place the mince, rice, tomato paste and herbs into a bowl and season. Mix well using your hands and fill the hollowed out zucchini.  Place the filled zucchini into a large pan, add 1 cup water and a teaspoon of the tomato paste and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Cook slowly on the stove top, keeping an eye on it, for about an hour or until cooked.

Prepare your avgolemono. Lightly beat the egg whites in a small bowl using a fork, once frothy add the yolks and keeping beating   Add lemon juice gradually.

Slowly add a little stock into the egg and lemon mixture beating all the time, add a little more stock, continue mixing.  Pour the egg and lemon sauce over the zucchini stirring well so it doesn’t curdle.

Delicious served on its own with some fresh crusty bread.

Fish soup avgolemono

You can tell Spring is in the air.  The days are becoming warmer, getting longer and the kitchen will start bringing us lighter meals.

As I sit here at my desk writing I am feeling excited about spring and the beautiful  fruit and vegetables that will come to our table.

Here is my favourite fish soup avgolemono which makes two courses. Soup served as a starter followed  by a plate of vegetables and fish.

Fish Soup Avgolemono

1 ½ kilo fish (I like to use snapper)
olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, scrubbed and halved
2 zucchini, cut into quarters
2 celery stalks, chopped into quarters
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
10 peppercorns
white pepper to garnish
1/3 cup short/medium grain rice
Egg and lemon sauce

Cook vegetables together with peppercorns and salt in a large saucepan of water.

While they are cooking, wash and clean fish.  If the fish is large cut into half and place into the boiling water with the vegetables.  Simmer for about 15 minutes or until fish is done.

Remove fish and vegetables carefully with a slotted spoon and put aside.  Place the vegetables onto a platter and remove flesh from the fish and arrange onto the platter also.  Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice.

Sieve stock into a clean pot and bring to the boil, add rice and simmer until cooked.

Add egg and lemon sauce and season to taste.

Serve hot accompanied or followed by the fish and vegetables.

Avgolemono (Egg and lemon sauce)

2 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
juice from stock

Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl adding lemon juice gradually.

Slowly add a little stock into the egg and lemon mixture beating all the time, add a little more stock, continue mixing.  Pour the egg and lemon sauce into your soup or dish stirring well so it doesn’t curdle.

Stuffed red peppers (Yemista)

Yemista is the term used to describe stuffed vegetables such as capsicum, tomatoes and zucchini.  These are often stuffed with the same fillings, usually rice and ground meat, and baked together.  At times you may see wedges of potatoes added amongst the vegetables to extend the dish.

I love the aroma of the red peppers cooking in the oven and their glorious red color.

This is one of our family favourites.

Yemista (Stuffed Red Peppers)

8 medium sized red capsicum
700 grams minced beef
1 bottle tomato passata 680 mls
½ bottle water
450 grams medium grain rice
chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
I onion finely chopped

Wash the capsicum and slice the tops, keeping them to place back on after.

In a large frying pan sauté the onions in a little olive oil until soft.  Add the mince and tomato passata and mix well, add ½ bottle of water, the rice, parsley and season with the salt and pepper.  Cook only for about 5 – 10 minutes then spoon mixture into the peppers and put tops back on and place in a large baking dish.   You can lay them down or sit them up, whichever way they fit, it really doesn’t matter.   Drizzle a little olive oil on them and place in the oven at 200oC for about one hour or until cooked.  You may need a little water in the bottom of the dish.

Serve with a green salad, fetta cheese and fresh bread.

Spanish omelette

How do you like to cook potatoes?

The humble potato can be transformed into many delicious Mediterranean meals.

When my children were young, one of their favourite quick meals was fried potatoes (chips) with egg…delicious on its own or accompanying a stew for a more sophisticated dish.

I love the comforting combination of potato and eggs and it seems that each country has their own variation as to how they put these two together.

The Spanish omelette is perfect.

Spanish omelette

4 large potatoes
2 large onions, peeled and sliced
6 eggs
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare potatoes by peeling and slicing into thick slices, about 4 mms.

In a deep frying pan pour in some olive oil, about 1/3 cup and heat.  Add the potatoes and onions and cook on a medium heat, turning occasionally, until they are cooked.  This should only take about 10-12 minutes.  Pour out any excess oil from the frypan.

In a large bowl beat the eggs using a fork and season.

Pour over the potatoes and onions and cook over a medium heat.  When the sides are cooked you can slide it onto a plate and then place the frypan over the plate and return the omlette to the frypan upside down.  Return to the heat and cook the other side.

Serve hot or warm.

Cabbage rolls

I love these charming cabbage rolls.  I used to love helping my mother make them…they are a little fiddly, so it is nice to have someone to share the job.

My mother called these cabbage rolls ‘sarma’.  I never did ask my mother why this was, but I do think this name comes from the Turkish language.

There are many ways of serving and preparing this meal. In Northern Greece these cabbage rolls are prepared using pickled cabbage (toursi) and pork mince, which is also lovely.

They are delicious served with the traditional avgolemono (egg and lemon sauce), Greek yogurt or, my favourite, simply a squeeze of lemon…served with some fresh, crusty bread and feta cheese, it makes a perfect meal.

Delicious…serve your favourite way.

Cabbage rolls

I large cabbage
750 grams minced beef
1 onion finely chopped
300 grams medium grain rice
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
egg and lemon sauce (optional)

Wash cabbage well and with a sharp knife carefully cut into the core and remove it.  Place the cabbage into a large saucepan filled with water and bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove carefully, drain and allow to cool.  Start removing cabbage leaves one at a time when cool enough to touch and set aside.  You can put the cabbage back into hot water if it becomes difficult to detach the leaves.  Trim the hard stems of the leaves and cut into 2 or large enough to roll.

In a large bowl combine meat, onion, rice, parsley, seasonings, tomato paste and oil.

Line a large casserole dish with 2 or 3 cabbage leaves.

Place a cabbage leaf into the palm of your hand and place 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in the leaf, fold bottom over it, sides in and roll up.  Place in the casserole dish  seam side down, repeat until all the mixture is finished.  You may have more than one layer of cabbage rolls, make sure they are packed tightly.

Pour 1 cup hot water over and drizzle some olive oil.

Place a heavy plate upside down over the rolls to keep them in shape.

Simmer for about 45 minutes or until cooked.

When cool you can pour over egg and lemon sauce or if you prefer just a squeeze of lemon juice, which is what I prefer.


Cloves are small nail-like shaped flower buds that are dried…they have an aromatic sweet flavor, and can be bought whole or ground and are available all year round.   Ground cloves are commonly used in baking, and whole cloves flavouring sauces.

I love using cloves when stewing fruits such as apples and quince, making preserves, in sugar syrups and cakes.  I also love them in meat dishes with a red sauce with other spices… my favourite dish of course, being stifado – delicious.

I love the warmth of this dish, the sweetness of the cooked onions and the exotic aromas of the spices.  It is often made with rabbit, but I love it with either veal or beef.

Here is my recipe for –

Beef Stifado

2 kilos pickling onions
olive oil
1 kilo stewing beef (or veal) cut into chunks
1 x 680 mls tomato passata
¼ cup red wine
salt, to taste
3 bay leaves
10 peppercorns
10 whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Peel and cut off the tops and tails of the onions and put aside.

In a large casserole dish, heat some olive oil and brown the meat.  Add the onions.  Pour in the tomato passata and 2 cups water and wine.  Season with salt, add bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, garlic and peppercorns.

Cover and simmer for about 1 – 1 ½ hours or until meat and onions are tender and soft.

Serve hot.

Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Homemade filo pastry

Homemade filo pastry made into delicious savoury pies (pita) is something that I love to make and am still working on mastering, the delicate and light paper thin sheets.  I remember watching my mother, who was a master at this art, pulling at the pastry from each end over a table covered with a tablecloth until the pastry was silky and transparent.  Many have said that women from Northern Greece make the best pitas…I am not going to argue with that.

My filo recipe is basic and easy to make and work with.  There are many variations depending on which part of Greece you come from and each household may have their own version.  Some recipes add yogurt, others eggs but always olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice.

For many the idea of making your own filo pastry is frightening…but have a go as it can be very satisfying.  For those of you who have electric kitchen mixers and would like to use it, you can use you dough hook, that will also work.

Here is my recipe…

Homemade filo

500 grams bakers flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 cup warm water

Sift the flour and place into a large mixing bowl with the salt, sugar and baking powder.  Make a well in the centre and pour in the olive oil, vinegar and warm water.  Mix the flour into the liquid mixture slowly,  you can add more water if you need to.

Knead the mixture into a soft and elastic dough.  Make a ball with the dough, leave in the bowl, cover with a cloth and allow to rest for at least an hour.

When ready to use divide the dough into small balls and roll out into sheets using a long thin rolling pin.  Keep rolling all directions until you have made a large round very fine sheet.  When using these sheets brush with a little melted butter and olive oil between sheets.

To make pita filo which separates during baking, stack three or four balls of dough on each other brushed with a little melted butter together with olive oil.  Roll this stack into a sheet.

Ready now for your favourite fillings.