Happy New Year!

It’s Chinese New Year – the year of the Rooster.  If you don’t think it’s inappropriate to celebrate by eating chicken (!) then try this delicious, family-friendly (not too spicy) and very easy roast recipe.  The slow cooker version can be found in my book – Slow Cooking.

Whole roast Chinese chicken with plums

Prepare 15 minutes, plus resting
Cook 1 hour 25 minutes
Serves 4

1.5kg whole chicken
1 tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp sesame oil
600g plums, halved and stoned
100ml dry fino sherry
200ml chicken stock
1 tbsp clear honey

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Place the chicken in a roasting tin and pat the skin dry with kitchen paper.  Mix the five spice powder and the oil together. Rub the mixture over the chicken as evenly as possible. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Place half of the plums around the chicken, and pour the sherry and stock over them. Return to the oven and cook for another 45 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining plums and continue to cook for another 25 minutes or until the chicken is golden (cover the chicken with foil if it is browning too fast) and the juices run clear when tested with a skewer inserted into the thickest part between the leg and the breast.
  4. Place the chicken on a platter and allow to rest in a warm place. Warm the plum mixture in the roasting tin over a high heat. Stir in the honey to taste and season well. Carve the chicken and serve with the plum sauce, steamed oriental greens and rice or noodles.

Image from Slow Cooking by Katie Bishop.  Photograph© David Munns





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Burn’s Night

Burn's night supper - haggis, neeps & tatties, whisky sauce by Waitrose

January 25th is Burn’s night.  Time to celebrate all that is Scottish and of course all that is haggis.

I think haggis is really delicious, so I will be cooking up a quick Burn’s Night mid-week supper to mark the day, as I do every year.  It’s always so easy – haggis is a most amazing ready-meal.

It’s warm and hearty and takes minutes to cook in the microwave if you’re in a real hurry.  If you have more time you simply put it into a preheated oven in a dish with a little water and leave it to heat through thoroughly.  So it couldn’t be easier.

A drizzle of whisky over the top just before serving will make all the difference, as will a simple whisky and cream sauce to spoon alongside.  If you want a guide give this tried and tested Waitrose recipe a go – as seen in their photo above.

Neeps and tatties are a traditional accompaniment.  Neeps actually refer to swede rather than, as the name might suggest, parsnips or turnips.  Mash them up with some butter and maybe a dash of cream, a little nutmeg and seasoning and you’re ready to eat.


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Winter warmer

This is such an easy recipe and a brilliant option when cooking for the family, or for friends.  If you like it, then why not try a variation with different fillings such as harissa and cumin seeds, or sundreid tomato paste, olives and pine nuts?

1-1.5kg rolled shoulder of lamb, bone removed
2 tbsp baby capers in brine, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled
50g tin anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
2 fresh lemon thyme sprigs, leaves only
2 tbsp cold water

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 6-8 hours, plus resting
Serves 4

  1. Remove any strings from the lamb and un-roll. Place it fat side down on a board.
  2. Place the capers, garlic, anchovies and the thyme leaves into a mini processor or use a pestle and mortar and blitz or pound to make a coarse paste. Spread the paste over the meat-side of the lamb. Re-roll the lamb to form its original shape and tie with kitchen string at 2cm intervals.
  3. Place the meat in the slow cooker dish and drizzle over the water. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until tender.
  4. Remove the lamb from the slow cooker, place on a board and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving into thick slices, discarding the string. Serve with roasted new potatoes and dollops of Greek yogurt.

Fab for the freezer, make in advance and freeze either raw or cooked for up to three months. Either way, defrost thoroughly before use.

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Comfort food

When the weather outside is frightful….there are few things better than battening down the hatches, retreating indoors and slamming the door behind you, then getting snug and warm preparing a deliciously nourishing, steamy bowl of something.  This recipe does just that.  I wrote it many years ago for Delicious Magazine and you can find the recipe here.

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