Archive for the ‘Quick Dinners’ Category

This is a super easy soup that full of freshness and packs a real flavour punch. I was first introduced to this at Leiths with Lucy. The same place that introduced us to the best ever crumble recipe.

This is the kind of soup that is enjoyable all year round and is very versatile. For fully loaded green goodness leave out the fish or go with the unsmoked variety if it isn’t your thing.  Or if it really really is, up the ante by adding crispy pancetta as a garnish at the end (just make sure you keep an eye on the saltiness by continuously tasting and adjusting the seasoning). I’ve also added some lemon juice and zest to keep it light and fresh. I urge you to give this a go, you won’t be disappointed if you’re after something healthy yet filling.

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Soup (adapted from Leiths) serves 4

Smoked Haddock and Spinach Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced as thin as possible (to cook quickly)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 litre stock (fish, chicken or vegetable – whichever you have on hand)
1 bag of spinach (approx 200-250g)
300-350g un-dyed, smoked haddock, skin removed (any smoked or unsmoked fish fit for poaching will do – ask your fishmonger if you’re not certain, but do make sure you get fresh and un-dyed)
grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
juice and zest of half a lemon (unwaxed)

1. Put the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and add the potatoes and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes making sure the potatoes and garlic don’t brown or catch.

Potatoes cooking

2. Add the stock, bring to the boil. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are cooked (5 minutes or so). **Keep in mind that if you are using smoked fish, go easy on the salt, you can always add more if needed once the fish has been added**


3. Add the spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the spinach has just wilted. Remove from the heat and give it a good stir.

Wilted Spinach

4. Add the soup to a blender in batches and pulse to liquidise. **You need to be very careful when you’re doing this as the soup (and steam) is hot. So tightly cover the lid with a tea towel so that your hands don’t get splattered and scorched**

5. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat slowly over a low heat.  At this point, taste and add some water if the soup is too thick or salty for your liking.

Spinach Soup

6. Gently add the fillets of fish and leave them to poach without stirring for 3-4 minutes. Once the fish has cooked (just turned opaque throughout) gently break up the fillets into large chunks.

Smoked Haddock

8.  Add the lemon juice. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper or a squeeze more lemon.

9. Serve piping hot with a sprinkle of lemon zest over each bowl. Tuck in feeling incredibly healthy and virtuous! x


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The end of summer holidays, everyone is back to school and the leaves already seem to be turning a rusty hue. However, the abundance of late summer vegetables such as courgettes, capsicums and tomatoes allow us to hold onto summer for a few precious weeks longer. I’m determined to fend off autumn for as long as possible and this baked chicken recipe with its summery mediterranean flavours is the perfect way to do it.

What’s great about this dish, is that you can mix it up, substitute the feta for halloumi, change-up the vegetables or experiment with different herbs. You can even leave out the olives or cheese if you don’t have them. Basically, it’s one of those helpful ‘use whatever you’ve got’ dishes. Even better, you just pop it all in a baking dish, whack it in the oven and pour yourself a wine while you wait for the chook to cook. And that’s what we all need when holidays are over and it’s back to reality!


Lemony summer chicken serves 2

– 2 courgettes, sliced in half lengthways
– 1 capsicum, sliced
– 2 chicken breast fillets, skinless and boneless
– 200g feta, thinly sliced (or halloumi)
– handful of Kalamata or black olives (preferably pitted)
– 5 sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, crushed
– cracked black pepper
– lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon (unwaxed)
– handful of small ripe tomatoes (cherry toms are best)

1. Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F).

2. Lay the courgettes in the bottom of a baking dish. Place the chicken breasts, capsicum and slices of feta on top of the courgettes.

3. Sprinkle over the olives and sprigs of thyme.

3. In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, black pepper, lemon zest and half the lemon juice. Taste and add the rest of the lemon juice if you think it needs extra tang. Pour the dressing evenly all over the chicken.

4. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes and continue baking for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Serve with a simple green salad and a few extra lemon wedges.

Now, fingers crossed the weather improves this weekend and we can squeeze in a couple more BBQs!

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The wonderful selection of fruit and vege at our local farmers market gets me excited every week at the moment. I think this is partly because the summer produce season in England is so fleeting. Asparagus lasts all of about 4 weeks and delicious English strawberries even less. So we treasure the juicy tomatoes, the fat broad beans and the bright plump raspberries just that little bit more. In stark contrast, summers in New Zealand seem to last and last.

When I think of summer, it’s always of Northland circa 1988. The school holidays along with the heat and humidity seem endless, and we’re playing cricket or riding around on our BMXs with all the neighbourhood kids at our bach up north. The other thing that epitomises summer for me is corn. Mum and Dad used to grow corn in our backyard. Next to the tennis court. In the middle of town. Yep, slightly random I know. Of course, back then, to an eight year old, totally normal! And what’s not to love about an endless supply of fresh corn on the cob! We also had a Pawpaw tree outside the back door, so there you go.

So for me, fresh corn means long, hot summers. Corn bought with the husks still on, boiled in salty water and slathered with butter and more salt. Or drizzled with a mixture of olive oil and soya sauce before grilling on the BBQ, yum.













However, what I’ve been doing a lot lately, is simply cutting the fresh kernels off the cob, toasting them for a minute or two in a fry pan before adding them to salads.

Sweet corn, avocado and quinoa salad


When I can’t be bothered with the toasting bit, I just add them raw. A few days ago I came across this simple guacamole-style avocado dressing and all I could think about was how well it would go with corn, fritters to be exact! But instead of waiting for the weekend to make my favourite brunch meal, I made this quick salad instead and topped it with the avocado dressing.

The dressing is so creamy and delicious, you’ll keep having to remind yourself that this is healthy. Which is great because you will want to have seconds and this is one meal where you definitely can! Here’s the recipe:

Sweet corn salad with avocado dressing
Serves 2-4 as a light main meal, 6-8 as a side dish

Sweet corn and green bean salad with avocado dressing












2 ears sweet corn, husked
– 1 big handful salad leaves (rocket, watercress and lambs lettuce are good choices)
– 3 big handfuls green beans, ends trimmed
– 1 handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
– 1 small bunch of chives, finely chopped
– 1 small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
– 1 handful of pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds or a mixture of both

Avocado Dressing
– 1 clove garlic, crushed
– 1/3 cup thick Greek yogurt
– juice of half a lemon
– 1 avocado
– sea salt to taste

1. Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil. Add the green beans for 1 minute, drain and refresh with cold water. Drain again and leave to cool completely.

2. Put a fry pan on medium to high heat and sprinkle in the pumpkin or sunflower seeds without any oil for a couple of minutes until they are nicely toasted. Keep them moving in the pan so they don’t catch.

3. Husk the corn and cut all the kernels off. Add to a large salad bowl along with all the other salad ingredients. Toss gently.

4. To make the avocado dressing, puree the garlic, avocado, yogurt and lemon juice together with a hand blender or mash with a fork thoroughly. Add a pinch of sea salt, taste and add more salt if necessary. Cover the dressing with cling film to stop the avocado from browning if you’re not planning to serve the salad immediately.

5. When you’re ready to serve, add the dressing to the salad and gently toss to coat everything evenly. Taste and season again if needed.

I added some warm, sliced grilled lamb and crumbled feta to turn this salad into a more substantial dinner. You could also add some nuts to the pan when you’re toasting the seeds, walnuts would be especially tasty. A sprinkle of cumin to the avocado dressing would be nice too. The ideas are endless!

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A quick post to share with you my hoisin glaze which I have used for years, mostly for salmon but it’s equally good with chicken or pork. This is perfect for when you want a super fast meal which is healthy, tasty but certainly not boring! These are the kind of things I really need at the moment to keep meals interesting and inspiring without any fuss. (more…)

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