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by Blondie

Left-over Chicken

December 18, 2011 in Chicken, Mains

We’re rapidly approaching the season of left-over recipes and, being blonde, I’m doing mine before the turkey and/or gammon recipe onslaught … with chicken!

This is a recipe I adapted from one I got from my mother and it works a treat with leftover roast chicken – although you can use any leftover cooked chicken (I used some from my spatchcocked lemon & rosemary chicken this time) or you could even poach/steam a couple of chicken breast fillets to convert this into a non-left-over recipe!

It’s also a very adaptable recipe – this time I served it on rice, but I’ve often used it as a pie filling, using either bought puff pastry or (when I’m feeling domestic goddess-like) home-made pastry. In this case, just brush the pastry with egg & milk whisked together and bake in the oven at 220C for 30 mins.

Please note that the quantities I’ve given are very changeable depending on how much chicken you’re using – I had the equivalent of 2 chicken breast fillets left this time around.


cooked chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieced

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 punnet mushrooms, sliced

butter (I used about 3 Tblspns)

plain flour (I used about 3 Tblspns of this too)

milk, heated in the microwave (I used 500ml)

chicken stock powder (I used 2 tspns)

a dash or two of nutmeg

freshly ground salt & pepper

a shake or two of spice for chicken (optional)

2 handfuls of frozen peas

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan then saute the onion until soft and transparent.

Add the flour and stir until it forms a roux – cook for a minute.

Combine the heated milk & chicken stock powder and slowly add to the roux, whisking constantly.

Stir over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and starts to boil.

Add the mushrooms, nutmeg, salt & pepper, chicken pieces, chicken spice (if using) and peas and combine well (if you’re making a pie, transfer the mixture into your pie dish at this point).

Reduce the heat and simmer gently whilst the rice cooks, stirring regularly.

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by Blondie

Green chicken, mushroom & cashew curry

December 4, 2011 in Chicken, Mains

I’ve already ‘come out’ as an Indian in disguise as a blonde, so I make no apologies for posting another curry recipe here … although this is more Thai-style than Indian, so perhaps I should start looking deeper into my roots (my family history roots, not my blonde ones)!

This recipe is loosely based on one by Lynn Bedford-Hall, whose recipes are always successes (and delish), which I found in her aptly-titled book, ‘Scrumptious’.


1/2 cup raw cashew nuts, roasted (see how to roast your own just below the ingredient list)

2 Tblspns sunflower oil

2 tspns crushed fresh ginger (I use the bottled stuff, so much easier)

1 tspn ground cumin/jeera

2 stalks fresh lemon grass, just the white part with outer layer removed & bruised by pressing with the flat of a knife

1 punnet button mushrooms, sliced

2 – 3 Tblspns green curry paste (vary to suit your own taste if you’re not an Indian in disguise)

1 can coconut milk (or make your own – see how to do this below the recipe)

1/2 cup hot chicken stock

2 tspns soya sauce

1 Tblspn fish sauce (whatever you do, don’t smell this stuff unless you have a stomach of steel)!

1 bunch (5-6) spring onions, topped, tailed and chopped

500g chicken stir-fry (or fillets, cut into thin strips)

2 tspns cornflour

30ml water

3 Tblspns fresh coriander (dhania) chopped

To roast the cashews, preheat the oven to 175C. Spread the nuts in a single layer onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 10-20 minutes, stirring often. Watch carefully and remove from the oven as soon as they’re almost the right colour, as they go from pine to blackwood in a matter of nanoseconds! Set aside until needed. (If you want the cashews for eating, drizzle about 1 tspn oil over the hot nuts and stir to coat before adding salt to taste, stirring well until they’re the way you like them).

Now for the curry …

Getting started ...

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the ginger, cumin, lemon grass and mushrooms then cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms soften.

Add the curry paste, stir well and cook for another 1-2 minutes before adding the cocounut milk, stock, soya sauce, stinky-fish sauce and spring onions.

Bring to the boil then add the chicken strips.

Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the chicken is cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the cashews and stir through.

Combine the cornflour and water and add to the curry, stirring well, until thickened to taste. Stir in the coriander.

Remove the stalks of lemon grass and serve with rice, sprinkled with extra cashews (if you’ve been able to resist eating them in the meantime)!


This useful tip came from a brilliant Asian cookbook, with recipes from every Asian country – the usual ones, but also places like Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Singapore & Korea etc.

Pour 2 cups of desiccated coconut into the cup of your blender. Add 2 1/2 cups of hot water then blend for 30 seconds.

Strain through a fine sieve – discard the coconut and the liquid is your coconut milk!

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by Blondie

Spatchcock Lemon & Rosemary Chicken

November 20, 2011 in Chicken

Although I have no aspirations to be a goddess – domestic or any other kind – I’m a big fan of Nigella Lawson’s recipes and am a happy owner/user of three of her recipe books (and I covet those I don’t already own).

I also enjoy the humour which intersperses her writing. In her book ‘How to Eat‘, she introduces the chapter on Cooking for One with: ‘“Don’t knock masturbation”, Woody Allen once said, “it’s sex with someone I love.”‘!!

But before I digress any further along that topic, this recipe is one I’ve slightly adapted from her book ‘Forever Summer‘ and is one I’ve made countless times and always with great success. This recipe showed me that it’s easier-than-pie to spatchcock a chicken but there’s no reason why you can’t use a braai pack instead.


You’ll need 1 big chicken (mine had clearly been on steroids, weighing in at 2.6kg), but you could also use 2 smaller ones or a braai pack or whatever else takes your fancy (within limits, obviously)!

Lay the chicken breast side down on a large chopping board. If you’re blonde like me, you can work out which side’s which by standing the chicken on it’s legs (the drumsticks) – they stick downwards from the breast side.

Oy, don’t knock it … it works for me, ok?!?

Using a sharp pair of kitchen shears, cut down along each side of the spine (that’s the top-facing side) and remove the spine completely. Then turn the spineless bird over and flatten it out … you need to put some muscle behind this, but it’s quite therapeutic to punch the unfortunate chicken and watch it spatchcock obligingly under your fist.

Put the chicken into a large Ziploc freezer bag or marinating container that you can flip over without everything spilling everywhere.

Take the leaves of 4 long sprigs of rosemary and pop them into the bag then squeeze the juice of 2 lemons over the chicken, tossing the lemon halves into the bag as well.

Cut 2 large onions into eighths and bung them in with the chicken, pour in 200ml olive oil then seal the bag & squish everything together before refrigerating until needed (at least 4 hours, but I’ve kept it for 4 days this way before without any problem).

Bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 210C and line a roasting tin with foil. Lay the chicken in the tin, skin-side up, together with everything in the bag. Roughly tear up another 2 sprigs of rosemary and tuck these between the drumstick & breast.

Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, basting with the juices every now and then. You can leave it in the oven for ages longer, just reduce the temperature to about 150C and just make sure the juices don’t dry up completely (which is what I did today – I was having far too much fun nattering & drinking wine)!

When you’re ready to eat, take the chicken out of the tin and cut into 4 pieces, sprinkle with a little Maldon salt and serve with the syrupy juices (unless they dried out like mine did, which I don’t normally let happen), oven-roasted baby potato wedges and a salad.

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by Blondie

Jewel of India (and of Pietermaritzburg)

November 12, 2011 in Review

Last night I took my Dad out for a father-daughter evening to celebrate his 82nd birthday. He knew we were going out for dinner, but had no clue where.

In the car, I asked him to choose ONE thing he’d love to eat whilst my Mum’s away.

Without hesitation, he replied: “Curry!”

“Well then I guess you’re going to really enjoy dinner tonight!” I replied, watching his face light up with gleeful anticipation.

I’d heard good things about Jewel of India, which is located at the Invesco Centre and can be contacted on 033 – 342 0334 and was looking forward to giving it a try.

The decor is up-market Indian, with ornate and tasteful fitting and the background music is loud enough to appreciate, whilst being quite enough not to be intrusive. There is seating for 150 people and the restaurant is available for functions at a fixed price per head.

Much of the food is cooked in the Tandoor oven, which is visible (but glassed off).

The menu is extensive and the prices reasonable – and, good news, the restaurant is licenced and has a small but respectable wine list.

And they have REAL wine vases … I need to know where they get them from, as they’re amazing!!¬† At R20 per glass, you’re really getting value for money.

Dad and I decided to share a starter of Chicken Tikka (R36), which was probably the most succulent chicken I’ve ever tasted. The pieces were generously sized and wonderfully spiced and grilled in a Tandoor oven.

For his main course, Dad chose Lamb Vindaloo (R85) which had a 3-chilli heat rating, meaning ‘hot’!

It looked really tasty and, judging from his plate, Dad enjoyed it thoroughly!

I had Chicken Saagwala (R75) which is slivers of chicken cooked in green spices and spinach masala. I’d never heard of this type of curry before, but am now in hunt of the recipe, as it was sublime.

We weren’t able to find room for dessert, but there was a small selection including traditional and Indian choices.

I made sure I took a copy of their lunchtime take-away menu and will definitely be back again to sample more of the wares of this wonderful Jewel of a restaurant.

We were looked after by our hosts, Sagren and Shireen (the owner) who made us feel super-special.