Chocolate Week: Days 4, 5 and 6

It was going so well…each day a different chocolate with my coffee, plenty of choices in the stash then

BAM (imaginary comic book graphics round this word if you will)

its all went a bit wrong….

I woke up on day 6 and realised I FORGOTTEN to have any chocolate on days 4 and 5, totally forgotten.

I had none, zilch, nada.

So I set to rectifying the situation by trying out this


The orange gives it a marmalade-y sweet yet sharp edge while the fig adds earthiness and richness.

Was good and felt rather festive.

You’ll be please to know that back on track on day seven I do much better indeed…..


Ian’s secret cheaty meatball recipe

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to be treated my husband’s cheaty secret meatball recipe. For some reason when there’s meatballs to be cooked he always takes charge and I’m not allowed near – which is kind of great as I get to sit at the table and watch him work but means he can keep the exact recipe secret.

So how am I going to be able to share it with you? Well careful watching and tasting over many years has lead me to be able to identify the key ingredients (yes, meatballs is one of them) and below I’ve put down some basics that will allow you to create your own secret recipe based on this well tested original.

To start with you are going to need an onion, some tinned tomatoes (chopped or whole take your pick), some meatballs (that’s the big cheaty bit; get some good ready prepared raw meatballs). I’m mostly a Waitrose kind of girl so we have their beef, pork or lamb (all come in organic variants) to pick from – its another chance to make the recipe your own. The beef even come in two sizes, large and mini, the possibilities are becoming boundless.

Start cooking the chopped onion gently in some olive oil so it goes translucent (about 10 minutes) and meantime search in the store cupboard for your seasoning(s) of choice. This is when you can get creative. What meat are you using? Start from that, combined with your thoughts on what takes your fancy taste wise, to select your seasonings. Good options (though possibly not all at the same time) are tomato puree, oregano, thyme, chilli flakes, Tabasco, mushroom ketchup, thai fish sauce (but only a teeny bit).

The onions are looking nice and translucent – well now pop in the meatballs and brown them all over – about 5-10 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, seasonings of choice (plus salt and pepper of course) and perhaps a glug of red wine. Get it all simmering away, put on the lid and leave to cook for around 20-30 minutes.

Serve with pasta (spaghetti or tagliatelle) and as much parmesan as you like (proper stuff not the ready grated sawdust please – that’s cheating gone wrong – like so many things in life you have to know when to stop).

Last night we had the larger size of beef meatball (because they are on offer at the moment – 2 packs for £4.50) and I think the seasoning was leaning mainly to the oregano. Excellent as ever.

And there’s still some left for another day.

Roast chicken tonight

Wooo hooo.

Roast chicken for dinner tonight. Oh yes bring it on!

As you can guess I LOVE roast chicken. It’s got to be in the Top 5 and its probably right on up there at the number one slot. Soooooo delicious whatever you pair it with. And the all time favourite choice of birthday treat dish for me as a kid.

Of course my grandma cooked a really top-notch roast chicken and trimmings – but who’s Gran didn’t (and no way would you admit to it if they didn’t hey)? And, even though I say so myself, I think she passed on some of that skill onto me (quite how I don’t know because we never cooked roast chicken together – scones maybe but not a roast); it must be in the genes. 

Tonight’s chicken is ORGANIC (more about this in a later post). So we’ll be making it last quite a few meals and that’s part of the joy of a roast chicken, how far can you stretch it – keep checking back this week to find out what we do with it all (its 4.5lb and there’s only two of us).


I’ve stuffed it with some parboiled basmati rice mixed with lemon zest, crushed coriander seeds, chilli flakes, pine nuts and a few sultanas (inspired by recipes in The Legendary Cuisine of Persia). It’s been drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil (or possibly drenched in the case of the latter – oops) and sprinkled with black pepper and Maldon salt.

Now that’s what I call oven ready chicken.