Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Turkey meatballs with a simple tomato sauce.

We recently added a new member to our kitchen family. A microwave. It's actually very exciting even though it is one of those appliances which is a stock standard for some people. It was refreshing for a while not having one  - I felt like a bit of a rebel and I was determined it was better without... you know more bench space and... and... Ok lets face it, I was brought up with a microwave and I have missed the luxury and convenience of having one.

I can now soften butter for baking, defrost frozen meat in 10 minutes rather than 24 hours, warm milk up for a coffee in the actual mug (saving washing a pot up) and reheating leftovers are so much easier now for snacking! But the defrosting meat in minutes feels like such a revelation. The possibilities which are open to me as an unorganised cook during the week are now endless if I have a well stocked freezer and pantry. To say I'm excited is an understatement!

Turkey Meatballs with a simple tomato sauce by Salt Sugar and I

Early in the week I defrosted (still a novelty!) some turkey mince which had been floating around our freezer for a while as I never was quite organised to take it out the night before and I didn't feel like tackling a huge turkey ice cube in a frying pan to make some sort of sauce. I knew there were two recipes I have been wanting to try and it all depended what other ingredients I needed and had to which one I was going to make. Unfortunately I didn't have most of the ingredients for either recipe but with my now defrosted turkey mince and turkey meatball on the mind I thought stuff it. I can do this without a recipe.

Starting with a simple tomato sauce I fried off an onion and some crushed garlic in olive oil until soft then adding a splash of red wine which we didn't finish from the weekend and a can of chopped tomatoes brought it to a simmer. Adding a pinch of salt, pepper and half a teaspoon of sugar, I let it bubble away while I got on with the turkey-balls.

Turkey Meatballs with a simple tomato sauce by Salt Sugar and I

I placed a small brown onion, a couple of garlic cloves, a big handful of home grown parsley - stalks and all, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a good splash of extra virgin olive oil into a small food processor and blitzed until it was a rough paste. Emptied it into a mixing bowl then used the same food processor (no need to wash it) and threw in some stale bread that had also been floating around my freezer and gave it a whizz to get some rough breadcrumbs. I then put the bread crumbs into the mixing bowl along with the (defrosted!) turkey mince, an egg and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mixed it all together then rolled them into golf ball sized balls ready for frying.

I panfried these in some olive oil on a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until they were dark golden all over and cooked through. I always have to open one up to make sure (I have a fear of serving raw meat) but I never mind because it also means you get to have a quick taste - a little reward for the cook. I served these with pasta and a good snowing of parmesan cheese but these would be great with some fresh crusty bread if you don't want another pot to wash up. They didn't take very long to cook, in fact the washing up took longer I think so if your blessed with a dishwasher I envy you :) ... the next appliance on my wish list... just need a bigger kitchen/apartment first!

Turkey Meatballs with a simple tomato sauce by Salt Sugar and I

Turkey meatballs with a simple tomato sauce.

Serves 4 (approx. 20 balls)

Turkey meatballs:
1 small brown onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
a hefty handful of parsley, stalks and all
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 slices of stake crusty bread
500g turkey mince
1 egg
a good pinch each of salt and pepper
3 tablespoons regular olive oil (or vegetable oil), for frying

Simple tomato sauce:
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 clove garlic, crushed
a good splash of red wine - optional
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper

Pasta or fresh crusty bread
and parmesan cheese, to serve

- Start with your simple tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan then add your onion and garlic and fry until onions are translucent. Add your splash (or two) of wine, let it bubble then add your canned tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a simmer and let cook away wile your prepare the turkey-balls. Season with salt and pepper.

- In a small food processor put the onion, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil and give it a good whizz until it becomes a rough paste. Empty into a mixing bowl. Next add your stale bread to the food processor (no need to wash the food processor) and whizz until it becomes rough bread crumbs. Pour that into the mixing bowl along with the turkey mince, egg and salt and pepper. Give everything a good mix using a fork making sure you don't have clumps of any ingredients anywhere.

- Form mince mixture into golf ball sized balls. This will make about 20.

- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add your turkey-balls, turning regularly so they cook even and until golden on all over and cooked through.

- Serve them along side the simple tomato sauce with pasta or some fresh crusty bread, a sprinkling of parsley and a generous snowing of parmesan cheese.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

chilli mussels in a rich tomato sauce - a dinner worth sharing.

For the past two weeks during the weeknights Tristan has been away doing courses near Newcastle. This has meant it's been just Arthur and me. The first week I managed to have dinner at someones house nearly every night which was great except that Arthur was pretty pooy at me for never being home on time to feel him dinner.

The second week I had planned to be home some nights and did a small grocery shop so I wouldn't be tempted to get takeaway. I bought Tofu with the idea that Tristan doesn't like it so this was my chance to eat what I wanted without having someone complain there was no meat in it. I was a little excited on Monday but you know what it's not all it is cracked up to be.

I struggled.

I didn't enjoy anything I made and the tofu is still in the fridge, untouched. The idea of eating alone in front of the tv felt lonely.  I was completely unmotivated when there wasn't someone to cook for or share a meal with.

There was hopeful ideas for a few posts about cooking for one but I'm sorry to say I don't have any helpful hints or insightful knowledge on this subject. I don't really know how to do it myself so how can I tell all of you how to do it. So instead I will share this recipe for Chilli Mussels, which Tristan made last weekend when he was home that you can share with a partner, a friend, or a crowd around a table. It's a fun, full of flavour, finger-licking messy dinner which reminds me that cooking is all about sharing a meal with people who make you laugh and let you be you. What more can anyone ask for?

chilli mussels in a rich tomato sauce by salt sugar and i

chilli mussels in a rich tomato sauce.

serves 2 greedy people (or 4 with sides)

(Note: this can easily be double for a group, just increase the cooking times a little bit and obviously the size of your pot... don't do what I normally do and cram it all in a tiny pot then transfer it at the last minute and have two pots to wash up in the end.)

2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 - 2 red chilli's, finely diced (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 table spoons tomato paste
1 lemon, juice and zest finely grated
1 cup white wine
800g can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
Cracked pepper, to taste
1kg pot ready mussels
1 bunch parsley, stalks finely sliced and leave roughly chopped
Crusty bread and salty butter, to serve

- In a large pot heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the onion, garlic, chilli and parsley stalks. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions have softened.

- Next add the tomato paste and lemon juice. When the tomato paste starts to stick to the bottom of the pot (but not burn) add your wine and scrape all the tomato paste that has stuck to the bottom off. This is a flavour hit!

- Add the crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Taste and season with a pinch of pepper. You won't want to add any salt yet as the mussels let out salty water when they open as they cook.

- Once your sauce has simmered, add your pot ready mussels, cover with a lid and cook for about 2-4 minutes (if you have whopper mussels you will need to judge by eye). Check and see if they have all opened. If they haven't then cook for a further 2 minutes or sometimes all you need to do is leave the lid on with the heat off for an extra couple of minutes and they steam inside without over cooking.

- Stir through the parsley, take the pot to the table with plenty of napkins and dig in with a friend or two. Enjoy.

Note: any mussels that don't open in the cooking process (still jammed shut!) discard.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds.

Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds by Salt Sugar and I

Since it started to get chilly here I have been completely obsessed with soup. Yes soup.

Growing up there was a few soups we got the choice of; pumpkin soup with a swirl of cream on top, chunky beef with vegetable and lentils that always tasted better the next day and parsnip soup which was only ever made when Mum was hosting a dinner party and she made extra for my dinner as well.

Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds by Salt Sugar and I

The first soup I made was Nigella Lawson’s Minestrone soup from ‘How to Eat’ and it was about 7 years ago. I remember this soup being a huge deal. I searched for a perfect minestrone recipe for days and when I found Nigella's I had to have the exact amount of everything and chopped exactly as it was written in the book. I even insisted on making homemade bread from 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' to go with it which turned out like a large rock that just crumbled. My intentions were good and all I wanted to do was serve a homey meal and use the huge stock pot in the back of the cupboard but we ended up eating dinner at 10 o’clock at night and I’m pretty sure I yelled at one or two family members who attempted to enter the kitchen to see how dinner was coming along.

Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds by Salt Sugar and I

Had I cut the vegetables in the right sizes? What if mine were bigger than Nigella’s? What if they wouldn’t cook perfcetly? or what if they were smaller and they turned to mush? These were my worries when I made my first soup.

I’m feeling like a soup-pro these days and my soup making skills have come a long way since I was 19 and cooking in my mother kitchen. The chicken soup a made a few weeks ago was a revelation. I was amazed that I could create a chicken soup in less than an hour and that is had all the flavour locked in it still. The vegetable soup with a dollop of pesto on top is always a winner in our apartment but now I wanted to try Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds from Food 52's Genius Recipes. And by golly it's a winner!

I’ve been wanting to make something out of this cookbook for a couple of weeks now but haven’t gotten around to it until recently.

Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds by Salt Sugar and I

I made it for a couple of girlfriends who came over for dinner and I’ll be honest I was hesitant to make it...I mean potato soup isn’t the most appealing sounding dinner is it? But I trusted the reviews of the recipe and the fact that it was in a cookbook call ‘Genius Recipes’ and let me tell you it didn’t disappoint. I loved it! It was easy to make, ready within the hour and really freakin’ delicious.

You can easily double the recipe to feed more people like I did, (I made one and a half recipes) as I have nightmares of having people over for dinner and them leaving hungry…

I’m not really sure how else to explain this soup but Luisa from the blog ‘The Wednesday Chef’ (one of my favourite blogs) made this soup a few years ago and called the soup 'sexy'. I guess it kind of is but I don’t have a way with words like she does and can’t quite explain why. Just make it!

Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds by Salt Sugar and I

Anya von Bremzen's Potato Soup with Fried Almonds

(Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 for dinner)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
6 large garlic cloves
55g finely diced prosciutto 
680g Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & cut into irregular 1 1/2-inch chunks (I used ordinary 'washed' potatoes)
4 cups chicken stock
1 pinch saffron, crushed (I forgot to crush it...)
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar (I used verjuice as I didn't have any sherry vinegar)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Crusty bread & Salty butter, for serving

- Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the almonds and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes, adjusting the heat so the oil doesn't burn. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the almonds and garlic to a bowl to cool slightly. 

- Add the prosciutto to the pan and stir for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the soup.

- Meanwhile, place the almond and garlic mixture in a food processor and grind it. Add all but about 2 tablespoons to the soup. 

- Steep the saffron in a few tablespoons of the soup broth for 2 minutes, then add it to the soup. Simmer the soup, partially covered, until about half the potatoes have disintegrated, about 35 minutes. Continue to skim the soup as it cooks, and add a little more stock if the soup seems too thick.

- When ready to serve, break up some of the potatoes using a fork. Add the vinegar (verjuice) to the reserved ground almond mixture and stir it into the soup. Add the parsley and cook for a minute. Season with salt and pepper and taste, adding a little more vinegar (verjuice) according to taste. 

- Serve with bread smothered in salty butter.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

The first time I made this soup I was vegetarian for the second time around.


Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. salt sugar and i food blog.

Let me explain...I've gone through fazes. It's often when I feel I've needed a little control in my life and it's the one thing you can control, what you eat. The first time I was in high school and one day I just declared I was a vegetarian and so many people told me I wasn't  that I had to prove them wrong. So from that day onwards I didn't eat meat... I ate the occasional can of tuna so guess i was never really vegetarian but that was it. It lasted about 6 months and drove my mother insane having to cater for a fussy 16 year old.

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. salt sugar and i food blog.
The second time was only 2 years ago and that lasted about 8 months. It was Tristan's worst nightmare... but this time I was sneakier than the last when I told people, as I do most of the cooking I just started not cooking meat then announced one day that I hadn't eaten meat in 2 week and I was vegetarian again (still ate fish so again not really vego). 

Veggies are still probably one of my favourite food groups, there is so many things you can do with them and just so many of them too, but the thing I did miss was real bolognese sauce. I also dreamt about osso bucco a couple of times. But what turned me back to eating meat I am ashamed to say was when I came down with the flu and Tristan came home with chicken burgers... chicken burgers of all thing!!! ... my barriers were down and I was vulnerable. 

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. salt sugar and i food blog.
This Chickpea, tomato and bread soup was a recipe I made when all I had was vegetables in the fridge and I was lost with what to make. Having only one vegetarian cookbook at the time 'Plenty' by Yotom Ottolenghi, I used this book like my vegetarian bible. The other night when I looked into the fridge and saw endless vegetables and my basil plant looking a little sorry for itself I knew exactly what to make to warm us up. 

Firstly this is not a frumpy vegetable soup. I absolutely love fennel and can't help but pick one up nearly every time I see them in the supermarket, the fennel flavour in this is what makes this soup amazing and not the frumpy vegetable soup you might think this looks like. The herbs in this soup weren't as easy to find as the vegetables sitting in my fridge were so I used some dried and some fresh (I have listed what I used in the recipe below). A spoonful of home-made pesto on top gives it a hit of freshness, a last taste of summer but the bread in the soup is what warms your belly. I've always thought bread in soup would be unpleasant, a texture thing really but the bread in the soup gives it body and goes well against the textures of the vegetables and chickpeas.  

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. salt sugar and i food blog.

If you also make the pesto recipe it's a good item to have in the fridge to hold onto a little bit of summer throughout these cooler months as we all long for decent tomatoes to come back in season.

I hope I haven't offended any vegetarians out there with this post but that I have given my readers, vegetarians and meat eaters, another dinner idea this week when they look aimlessly in their fridge hoping that it will miraculously make the dinner and also do the dishes for them.

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup from Plenty.

Recipe by Yotom Ottolenghi (adapted ever so slightly)
(Serves 4-6)

1 large onion, sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled, and sliced
3 celery sticks, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato purée
250ml white wine
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped oregano (I used 1/2 teaspoon dried and 1 teaspoon fresh)
2 tablespoon chopped parsley 
1 tablespoon thyme leaves (I used 1/2 teaspoon of dried)
2 bay leaves (dried)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 litre vegetable stock
160g stale sourdough bread
400g can chickpeas
4 tbsp basil pesto (bought or freshly made; see recipe below)
handful of shredded basil leaves to serve (optional)
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C or 400 F. Place the olive oil, onion and fennel in a large saucepan and cook on a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking until the vegetables soften.

- Stir in the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and let it bubble making sure you scrap all the goodness of the bottom of the pan.

- Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the herbs, sugar, vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

- Meanwhile, place you bread in the oven to dry out for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool then break up into chunks.

-If you are making your own pesto start this now so it's ready to go; Place all dry ingredients into a small food processor and blitz until a paste. Add the olive oil slowly (or in intervals) and blitz again.

- About 5 minutes before you want to serve the soup, add the chickpeas to the soup and leave to simmer. Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for about 2 more minutes. 

- Taste the soup and season salt and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper.

- Ladle the hot soup into bowls and add a spoonful of pesto in the centre and finish with a generous amount of freshly shredded basil (I didn't have any or I would have) and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

(Note: this soup freezes really well)

Pesto - when you have no pine nuts in the cupboard.

Recipe adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes quite a bit - good to keep in the fridge/freezer.

30g fresh basil, washed and leaves picked
20g fresh parsley, washed and leaves picked
65g roasted almonds, chopped roughly
60g parmesan, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
good pinch of salt and pepper
200mL extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar

- Place basil, parsley, almonds, parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper into a small food processor and blitz well until it forms a paste. 

- Next add the olive oil slowly (or in batched of three) and blitz until well combined then add the vinegar and give it one last blitz. Taste and season if you think it needs it.

- If you want it thinner just add a little more olive oil.

Note: This can be stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks if you keep it covered with olive oil or in the freezer for about 1-2 months. The garlic looses it's punchiness but it's still delicious.

Monday, 25 May 2015

I'm still here...

This is just a short post to let you know I am still here. I have been a little naughty over the past week or two and I've been spoilt and had other people cooking me dinner :)

Last Monday we went out for dinner at the local Thai restaurant and had some amazing food. Coconut duck curry, soft shell crab salad, steamed dumplings, street food pork belly and of course pad see ew.

Tuesday we had 'Pete's Pasta' which I did make but I can't claim the recipe. It's a combination of bacon, chilli, crushed tomatoes, olives, cream, feta, parmesan and a healthy serving of pasta. It's so freakin' good!! (I might have to ask him for the proper recipe and put it in this space...)

Wednesday was dinner at my mums and we got roast lamb, potato bake and CAKE. Yes we got cake on a Wednesday... I told you we got spoilt this week.

Thursday we went to a friends place and we were meant to have 'Jools favourite Beef Stew' from Jamie Oliver for dinner but there was a pressure cooker issue so we ended up ordering pizza. Just as the boys went to pick the pizza up the cooker started to pressurise!! Which meant we got lunch for the next day... did I mention we got spoilt this week? (the stew was delicious! Thanks Kate and Pete x)

Friday I went to the movies to see Pitch Perfect 2 with my sister and got sushi train and a cheeky glass of bubbles as we always do.

Saturday I had a 'Bake Day' date with my girls Patty and Aleisha from TAFE. I love these bake days... we try and get together every month or two and all we do all day is potter around the kitchen, making sweet things we would never normally make by our selves and chat. We do a lot of chatting and laughing. This date we made 'Homemade Snickers Bars' from the blog Notwithoutsalt, Crack pie, Apple rose tarts, milk powder cake :) ... don't ask and about 5 different butter creams to test for wedding cakes. Aleisha makes beautiful cakes... you should check out her website and facebook page. She really is amazing!

I finished Saturday night with a naughty home delivery of pizza and Sunday consisted of selfies...

This week I will try and be better and actually cook and write :) but in the mean time here are a few links from my week and some photo's of the amazing Homemade Snickers we made.

Jool's favourite Beef Stew from Jamie Oliver.com

Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer - Very funny but think I still like the first one better.

Homemade Snickers from Notwithoutsalt blog - A-FREAKIN-MAZING!

Apple Rose Tarts - These look beautiful and will impress.

Put a Cake In It! - Aleisha's stunning cakes!

Sunday Selfies...

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

My take on a Mexican Layered Dip.

Over the weekend it was Mothers day here, and what better way to spend the day than all together as a family, eating all afternoon until you feel like you can't fit anything else in and you have to be rolled out the door? Sounds like a perfect Sunday to me.

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i
Lunch was at my sister's place and I was in charge of bringing nibbles and dessert. For nibbles I made my take on a layered Mexican dip with refried beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, served with lots of salty corn chips. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING trendy about this dip... no kale, no quinoa, no actual cooking really... and to be honest its very 90's daggy but I can't help it, I enjoy it every time. It probably isn't even Mexican at all but it's quick to make and someone always ends up wiping there finger around the dish after so I must be on to something.

I like the dip spicy so the sour cream has a contrast but you can make it mild if you don't like spice and also if you have a great guacamole recipe, use that in the guacamole layer instead!

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i

The only probably with this dip is finding perfectly ripe avocado's. You almost have to plan and buy commitment avocados so you know they will be buttery and mash-able in a few days time. I really really really want to buy an avocado tree but I don't think having it in a pot on the balcony would work well, plus it doesn't help that I have a black thumb not a green one.

For dessert I made a New York Cheesecake from Nigella Lawson's book 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' which I topped with strawberries and pomegranate. I also made some vanilla cupcakes for my nephews knowing they wouldn't be so crash hot on cheesecake. But I wont give too much away except ummm YUM!... post to follow shortly.

I hope every Mother felt as loved and got as spoilt just as mine did on the weekend!

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i

Mexican Layered Dip

Serves 4 - 10 people (depending on how much they want to share)

1 x 435g can refried beans - I use Old el Paso
1 x 200g jar hot taco sauce (you can use mild or medium if you like) - I use Old el Paso again
2 x ripe avocados
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 lime, juiced (use a whole one if not very juicy)
1/2 bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped (plus a sprinkle for the end)
pinch salt
180g sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

- In a bowl mix together the refried beans and 3 tablespoons of taco sauce until well combined, spread into the bottom of your serving dish.

- Place the avocados, finely diced red onion, lime juice, chopped coriander leaves and salt in a clean bowl and mash everything together using a fork. Spread on top of the bean layer in your serving dish. Careful you don't mix the two layers.

- Next spread the sour cream over the top of the avocado layer, then about 1/2 a cup of the taco sauce on top of that. Again being very careful not to mix the layers and make brown mucky (it'll still taste good mind you).

- Finally top it with the grated cheese and a sprinkle of coriander leaves.

- Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready then serve it alongside a large bowl of salty corn chips.

Note: this dip normally requires a spoon, or several to get all the layers on a chip.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Chicken Noodle Soup - adapted from Martha Stewart.

So my attitude towards not wanting wintery foods did a 180 pretty quickly over the rainy weekend... all I felt like was chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup... I could not get it off my mind.

I've never made chicken noodle soup before but have always thought that it was something that had to sit on the stove simmering away for hours, used a whole chicken and then be able to feed an army with the amount you made. It sounded a bit daunting to me to be honest and not a midweek dinner.

But my cravings for comfort food over came any doubt I might of had and I sought out this recipe from Martha Stewart for Chicken Noodle Soup that didn't require hours of cooking, a whole chook or feed an army AND you can have this soup on the table within the hour. I was sold.

Oh my goodness! how oh how have I never made chicken noodle soup before?? Seriously!? It is everything I ever dreamed the soup to be and better. Perfect for a cold night or if someone in your home has come down with 'man flu' or passed the 'man flu' onto you (cough cough).

I adapted the recipe slightly because I couldn't help myself and added parsley stalks, a knob of butter, a bay leaf and used parsley instead of dill because that is what I had in our herb garden and of course I added a few extra noodles.

This is a great midweek soup that doesn't take long to prepare or cook and definitely feels like you have put a whole lot of effort in. I want to try and make chicken soup using a whole chicken and home made stock this winter but will save that for a weekend of pottering about when it's too rainy to leave the house. Until then... I have found my winter saviour!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Recipe adapted - original recipe by Martha Stewart.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 knob of butter
2 sticks celery, diced small
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped into 1cm rings (or creative as you like)
1 brown onion, diced small
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
450g (approx.) skinless chicken breasts
220g think spaghetti (or angel-hair spaghetti or vermicelli)
small bunch parsley, chopped, stalks reserved

- Heat oil and butter in a large pot until butter is melted then add your celery, carrots and onions. Fry them on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and vegetables start to soften. Season with salt and pepper.

- Tie your reserved parsley stalks into a neat little parcel with some kitchen string (or you can let them wonder around but it's easier to take them out at the end it you tie them up - just don't do a Bridget Jones blue soup - google it!) and add them along with the bay leaf, stock and 4 cups of water into the pot and bring to a boil.

- Add your chicken breasts into the pot, clunk on a lid and simmer until cooked, about 10-15 minutes but it does depend on how large your chicken breasts are.

- Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot and shred using two forks or chop it into small soup spoon sized pieces. Return it into the pan and bring everything back up to the boil.

- Add your spaghetti (or vermicelli) and cook until tender according to the packet instructions. I used thin spaghetti and it took about 10 minutes but I know other noodles don't take as long.

- Give it a taste, season with more salt and pepper (if needed) and stir in the parsley. Serve and enjoy... mmmm