Festive Salad (serves 4)

photo - Festive Salad

Every once in a while during the Festive Season it can be nice to have a salad around – good with cold leftovers, counter balance to rich food. If you have a buffet it can be added to the mix. Or some people serve it as one of the courses during a more formal event. And, best thing is that it can be made in advance.

I blended together chopped lettuce (a nice crisp Romaine), good handful of dried cranberries, a little bit of finely chopped red onion, chopped walnuts and thin green beans (cooked ‘al dente’ and cut into small pieces). Dressing was a honey mustard dressing (1 tbsp. runny honey, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

If you have leftover turkey you can add it into the mix.


Cannellini Bean Dip

T’is the season for entertaining. I avoid most cocktail nibbles because I don’t know what is in them but this dip is fine and a little bit different.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 sprig of rosemary – leaves torn off and finely chopped

3 leaves of sage – tear leaf from stem and into little pieces

1 large clove of garlic – grated

1 x can of cannellini beans – drained

2 teasp. fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat oil in a small skillet/frying pan

When hot add rosemary and garlic and cook for several minutes (don’t let garlic brown).

Place cannellini beans in food processor and add lemon juice and garlic and rosemary mixture.

Transfer to bowl.

Add sage to the skillet and fry it until crisp in the remains of the olive oil.

Sprinkle the sage over the dip.


photo - bean dip

Jo’s Chutney (serves 4)

Jo’s Chutney (serves 4)

Dates seem to be flavor of the month. Have never really like them but thought I would give them a go – memories of them turning up on sideboard every Christmas along with walnuts needing cracking, tangerines and Turkish Delight and not tkers for dates!

I combined dates, dried prunes and dried apricots with some curry spices, garlic, ginger, a little oil, some apple cider vinegar, and water.

I realize that most chutneys contain sugar (needed none as that was taken care of by the dates which are sweet) and vinegar (used organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar but had no idea vinegar was used in chutneys).

It was all an experiment in my kitchen but it turned out well – in fact quite delicious. I am going to eat it with roasted cauliflower tonight.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves of garlic – finely grated

Piece of ginger (size is equal from thumb knuckle to joint od thumb – didn’t have a tape measure!) – peeled and finely grated

2 oz. each of dates, dried prunes and dried apricots – chopped into small pieces

1 teasp. curry powder

1/2 teasp. garam masala

Pinch of turmeric

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

4 tbsp. water

Heat olive oil in small skillet/frying pan and when sizzling add garlic and then turn down heat so garlic doesn’t brown.

Add ginger and spices.

When aromatic smells of spices arise add dried fruit, vinegar and 2 tbsp. water.

Cook slowly for 10 minutes with a lid on skillet/frying pan, turning  fairly frequently with a spatula.

Remove from heat and place in food processor and slowly add a further 2 tbsp. of water.

photo - Jo's chutney

Tuscan Pork

photo - Tuscan PorkTuscan Pork

Moving on from Umbrian Chicken, here is Tuscan Pork. I ate something like this in a small restaurant in Italy overlooking the wonderfully unspoilt (because it is protected by Unesco) Tuscan countryside.

Take a tenderloin of pork, pour over some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with fresh rosemary (bruise rosemary a bit first so smell is released). Roast in oven until cooked.

Take a can of cannellini beans and cook through.

Take a sprig of fresh sage and tear each leaf into small pieces removing them from the vein that runs down the middle. Then take a slice of prosciutto and tear into small pieces (these amounts will be enough for 2 people)

Pour 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil into a small skillet/frying pan and when sizzling add sage and prosciutto and cook until crisp.

Serve slices of pork drizzled with its juices (diluted with hot water) accompanied by the cannellini beans sprinkle with the crisp sage and prosciutto.

Depending on how many people

Chicken and Spinach Soup (serves 4)

Chicken and Spinach Soup (serves 4)

Home-made chicken broth/stock is something I only make if I have an organic, no GMO feed, no antibiotics, etc. kind of chicken.photo - spinach and chicken soup This particular chicken produced a really good jelly once it cooled down as I used the gravy/jus from my Umbrian Chicken recipe and then diluted it until all the chicken bits – legs, wings, carcass were 3/4 covered with liquid. I added 3 bay leaves, half an onion (cut into quarters) and two carrots (cut into chunks). I brought the liquid to a boil then simmered contents of pot for one and a half hours (turning chicken carcass over half way through). Cooled contents and put in fridge overnight, removed skin from bones and threw them away along with bay leaves, leaving me with chicken meat.

Placed chicken meat back in pot (cast iron casserole dish) along with 5 oz. spinach, seasoned it with salt and freshly ground black pepper, brought to boil and simmered for 20 minutes. Liquidized contents and there was my ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’.

Chicken Hash (serves 2)

photo - chicken hashChicken Hash (serves 2)

Finding myself with leftovers from a roast chicken, I pulled all the meat from the carcass and chopped it up into small pieces and as there was only enough for 2 hearty portions I used 1/4 of an onion (finely chopped), a clove of garlic (grated) and 1/2 a large baking potato (cut into small dice).

Poured one tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper into skillet/frying pan and when sizzling added onion and garlic. When onion was starting to brown I added the potatoes and cooked for a few minutes until they started to go brown. Then I added the chicken and some red pepper flakes to spice things up and cooked for a further 15 minutes.

Chickpea and Carrot Salad with a Chutney Dressing (serves 4 as a side dish)

Chickpea and Carrot Salad with a Chutney Dressing (serves 4 as a side dish)

Adapted this from a vegetarian sandwich I was offered on plane but couldn’t eat.

Take 1 can of chickpeas, 1 carrot (grated), handful of raisin/golden raisins and place in serving bowl.

Take 1 tbsp. mango chutney (Major Grey brand) and add 1 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk. Stir until blended. Pour over veg. and toss.photo - chickpea salad