The beauty of a good chicken stock

When a recipe calls for chicken stock, always try and make your own as it really is so worth the effort (which to be fair, is not a actually a big deal). Why? Well, because not only does it taste better, it has no additives, it is so good for you with naturally occurring antimicrobial properties from the bones, and if using a cooked chicken carcass you are also getting more out of your bird and there is less waste.

This recipe uses a whole, uncooked chook, but I adapt it whenever I have any chicken leftover from my Sunday roast. Basically it’s a win win recipe.

Homemade chicken stock

It is always best to make a chicken (or any) stock at least one day ahead of you needing it, as the fat needs to be removed, leaving you with a lovely clean clear liquid. Once made the stock is left to go cold and then it is ready to refrigerate overnight. This sets the layer of fat on the surface of the stock, which can then be more easily removed the next day.

In France (where I live) you can buy several different types of chickens including a boiling chicken, which is an older bird with a good flavour, but the meat is tougher, due to the age. If you can’t get this where you live, a regular large chicken will do. If you can stretch to it, always buy free-range chickens, for ethical reasons.

If you end up making the stock, but not using it within a day or so, then pop it in to the freezer, where it will sit happily for up to 3 months.


Makes: approximately 2L/8 cups (the one shown above has been reduced)

2 kg/4 1/4 lb boiling chicken, washed
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 leeks, sliced
2 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons sea salt

a few sprigs parsley

a few sprigs thyme
a few black peppercorns, lightly bashed

If you are using a raw chicken, wash and dry inside and out, then place in a large saucepan. Add all the remaining ingredients and cover with 2.5L/10 cups of cold water.

Bring the water to the boil skimming the surface with a large spoon to remove any scum. Simmer gently, partially covered, for 3 hours. Strain the stock and leave to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.

Carefully skim off the congealed layer of fat from the surface of the stock. You can now either use it as it is, or if you want a richer, deeper flavour then return it to the pan and cook again, uncovered this time, until it is reduced and has a depth of flavour you are happy with. Only at this point adjust the seasoning.

Tip. If using a cooked carcass, no need to wash it, simply pop it in the pan and continue as above.

Image © Ian Wallace

Recipe (not used from the book) ©Louise Pickford

Image published by Bauer Women’s Weekly Cook Books for More Slow Cooker

On the griddle

I love the first barbecue of year. Here are a few of my favourite recipes for grilling, indoors or out, so you can enjoys these dishes where ever you are in the world.

We kick off with super succulent spicy tiger prawns (cooked in the shells to help keep the flesh moist) with a lovely salty/sweet/sour salad with fresh mango – a throw back to my days in Australia where the mango season is a joy to behold.

Sausages are sausages are sausages, well no actually and these ones are a good quality pork variety from the butchers served with a homemade salsa rossa and a piquant mustard mayonnaise.

Aubergines are a great meaty alternative for a veggie burger. Here they take on a South American flavour with chimichurri sauce and wickedly delicious crispy fried onion rings.

No barbie would be complete without a good old steak, so add a Mexican twist with a spicy japeleno salsa.

If seafood is your thing, then you should definitely try barbecuing shellfish in either covered with foil in metal dishes or wrapped up in foil parcel . It’s a lovely way of keeping all those juices. Pared with chorizo they are really yummy.

Vietnamese sesame and soy prawns and mango salad


Serves: 4

12 large raw prawns

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 mango, peeled and stoned

1 cucumber

a handful fresh Thai basil, coriander and mint

125g grape cherry tomatoes, halved

4 tbsp salted cashews nuts, chopped


3 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp caster sugar

2 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1-2 small red chillies, thinly sliced and seeded if wished

sea salt

Thai crispy fried shallots, to garnish

Prepare prawns. Using small scissors cut down the back of each prawn, through the shell and carefully pull out the dark vein and discard. Wash and pat dry. Place in a shallow dish. Combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and sesame oil, stir well to dissolve the sugar. Pour over prawns and set aside to marinate for 2 hours. Drain and pat dry.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the mango and cut into long thin strips or julienne. Thinly slice the cucumber and cut into julienne. Place in a bowl and add the herbs and cherry tomatoes.

Whisk together dressing ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.

Thread the prawns onto bamboo skewers. Heat a barbecue or griddle pan until hot and cook the prawns for 2-3 minutes each side until charred and cooked through. Toss the salad and dressing together adding the cashew nuts. Serve prawns and salad topped with crispy shallots.

Griddled sausages with salsa rossa

Grilled sausages with salsa rossa A

Serves: 4

1 large red pepper

2 tomatoes, diced

  2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tsp dried oregano

100g good quality mayonnaise

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

8 premium pork sausages

Heat the barbecue or griddle pan until hot and cook the pepper for about 10 minutes, turning from time to time until charred all over. Set aside for 5 minutes and then slice open catching any juices in a small saucepan.

Chop the pepper, discarding the seeds and add to the pan with the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, oregano and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered for 25-30 minutes until thickened and the liquid is evaporated. Puree until smooth.

Stir the mayonnaise and mustard together.

Cook the sausages on the griddle for about 10 minutes, turning until charred and cooked through. Serve with the sauces.

Aubergine burgers with chimichurri and crispy onions


Serves: 4

2 medium aubergines, trimmed

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onions

100ml milk

1 egg, beaten

100g dried breadcrumbs

4 burger buns

50g rocket leaves

aioli (optional)

chimichurri sauce

1 bunch flat leaf parsley

1/2 bunch fresh coriander

125 ml extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

a pinch dried chilli flakes

salt and pepper

Start by making the chimichurri sauce. Whiz all the ingredients in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth and adjust seasonings to taste.

Thinly slice the onions into rings and place in a bowl. Cover with the milk and soak for 5 minutes.

Cut the aubergines horizontally into 3mm thick slices. Season the oil with salt and pepper and brush the slices with the seasoned oil. Heat the barbecue or griddle pan to high and once hot, grill the aubergine slices for 3-4 minutes each side until charred.

Drain the onion rings and dip firstly into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs to completely coat the rings. Heat 5cm vegetable oil in a wok until it reaches 180c on a sugar thermometer (or until a cube of bread crisps in 20 seconds). Deep-fry the onion rings for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Slice rolls in half and char-grill until toasted. Fill rolls with aubergine slices, rocket leaves, onion rings, chimichurri sauce and aioli, if using.

Barbecued beef skirt with jalepeno salsa


Serves: 4

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 garlic cloves, crushed

grated zest 2 limes

1 tsp each salt and pepper

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

650g beef skirt steak


2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ bunch coriander

2 jalepeno chilies, seed and roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

juice 1 lime

¼ tsp caster sugar

serving suggestions

cherry tomatoes, avocado and coriander

Place the rosemary, garlic, lime zest, salt, pepper and oil in a bowl and stir well to combine. Place the meat in a shallow dish, add the marinade, stir well and leave to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Return to room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

Make the salsa just before you cook the meat to keep the lovely vibrant green colour. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, season to taste.

Preheat a barbecue or grill pan until hot, spray lightly with oil and add the meat. Cook for 3-5 minutes each side, depending on how well you like the meat cooked. Transfer to a board and rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the salsa and some cherry tomatoes, avocado and coriander leaves.

Clams and chorizo cooked on the griddle


Serves: 4

1 kg small clams

150g chorizo, diced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

grated zest and juice 1 lemon

50ml white wine

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper

beer, to serve

Soak the clams in clean water for 30 minutes, then rinse well and drain. Divide between 4 small metal dishes (or make foil parcels).

Add the chorizo, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and wine to the pans and seal each one under a sheet of foil (or wrap the foil up tightly forming a sealed parcel).

Heat the barbecue or griddle pan until hot, add the dishes or parcels and cook for 3-4 minutes until the clams have opened. Check one parcel to see. Scatter over the parsley and serve with beer.


Recipe of the week………..chicken

Basque chicken with chickpeas and espelette pepper

Espelette is a town in South West France close to the Spanish border, an area known as French Basque country. It iss famous for the small red pepper named after the town. The dried and ground chilli has a wonderfully smoky flavour, not dissimilar to smoked paprika, but with a hint of citrus. It is so revered in it’s native region that it has replaced black pepper in all savoury dishes.

Basque Chicken with espelette 1

Serves: 4

2 kg free range chicken, cut into 8 pieces

400 g chickpeas, drained

1 onion, cut into thin wedges

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 lemon, sliced

150 ml white wine

150 ml chicken stock

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 sprigs rosemary, lightly bashed

2 tbsp clear honey

2 tsp espelette chilli pepper


herb couscous and aioli, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200c. Wash and dry the chicken pieces and place in a large roasting tin. Arrange the chickpeas, onions, garlic, lemon and rosemary around the chicken, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt. Add the wine and stock to the pan and transfer to the oven. Roast for 30 minutes.

Warm the honey, espelette chilli pepper and the remaining oil together until runny and drizzle over the chicken. Return the oven and roast for a further 10 minutes until the chicken is browned. Serve with couscous and aioli.


Recipe of the week……….chicken

Honey roasted chicken with lemon, olives and herbs

A great mid week meal, ready to pop into the oven in minutes. The roasted lemons infuse the chicken as it cooks and the honey is a lovely balancing of flavours. Serve with green beans or any other green veg.

Honey Baked Chicken

Serves: 4

1.5 kg chicken, jointed into 4

1 lemon, quartered

2 tbs olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbs clear honey

1 tsp Tobasco

1 tbs each chopped fresh thyme and rosemary

500 g small potatoes, scrubbed and halved

50 g pitted black olives

1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c and line a large roasting tin with baking paper. Place the chicken pieces in the prepared tin. Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl and reserve the skins. Add the oil, garlic, honey, Tobasco, herbs and some salt and pepper to the lemon juice and stir well.

Add to the chicken with the potatoes and the reserved lemon quarters and stir well until evenly combined.

Transfer to the oven and roast about 45-50 minutes until the chicken and potatoes are brown and tender. Add the olives and roast for a further 5 minutes. Scatter over the parsley and serve with some French beans.


Recipe of the week…….Chicken

Sumac Chicken 


Barbecued chicken with sumac, pomegranate molasses and mograbiah

Here I use a whole chicken, butterflied, so it cooks evenly on the barbecue. Alternatively use chicken thigh joints and cook for 10-12 minutes each side.

Serves 4

1.75 kg free-range organic chicken

4 tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 tbs ground sumac

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp clear honey

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

1 garlic clove, crushed

juice 1/2 lemon


200 g mograbiah or pearl couscous (see tip)

50 g picked watercress leaves

50 g dried cranberries

50 g blanched almonds, toasted and chopped

2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 tbs each chopped fresh mint and parsley

salt and pepper

Ask your butcher to butterfly the chicken for you. Combine half the oil, sumac, cinnamon and salt and pepper and rub all over the chicken. Leave to marinate overnight. Return to room temperature 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat the barbecue for 10 minutes until hot. Place the chicken skin side up on the barbecue plate, close the lid, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes. Flip chicken over and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (to test skewer the leg meat, if the juices run clear it’s cooked).

Whisk together the remaining oil, honey, molasses, garlic and lemon juice and season to taste.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a board, chop into 8 large pieces (a meat cleaver or large knife is good for this) and place on a large platter with any juices. Pour over the dressing over the chicken and leave to rest in for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Cook the mograbiah in lightly salted boiling water for 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh under cold water and drain again, shaking off excess water. Place in a large bowl, add a glug of olive oil, stir well and leave to cool. Stir in the watercress, cranberries, almonds, spring onions and season to taste. Spoon onto plates and top with the chicken using the beautiful juices to dress the salad.

Tip: Mograbiah is a larger variety of couscous often referred to as pearl couscous and is used in the same way. It is great in salads or can be used to thicken soups and stews. It is available from most larger supermarkets or specialist food stores.


Look what’s been “appening”

Last year Ian and I, working together as Snap + Stir launched our first app Midweek Meals which was very exciting. We were lucky enough to be asked to collaborate on this venture with a good friend and even better (or should I say genius) creative director of Sodus, a boutique design studio in Sydney who were launching a new brand called Handmag, a platform for apps based on magazines for the hand.

The idea was to offer anyone with a smart phone (starting with the iPhone and then following that all smart phones) or iPad instant access to more than 50 fabulous, easy and delicious recipes suitable for midweek dinners at the swipe of a finger. How often have you found yourself on the train or bus home, or even walking down the street, trying hard to think of what to eat for dinner tonight? Because everyone is time poor these days it’s so easy and tempting to pick up a takeaway or heat up a ready meal, we wanted to show just how easy it can be to cook something tasty without spending an age in the kitchen after a long day at work.

All the recipes can be on the table within 30 minutes whilst some are even quicker – under 20 and even 15 minutes. Not only that you will be eating something healthier than you would if you took a more convenient option. The only way to know exactly what we are eating is to cook as much as we can from scratch and although it is inevitable that you will be using some processed products, many of the recipes on the app use fresh ingredients with plenty of vegetables, fish, chicken and pulses, as well as some meat dishes.

There is a good selection of meat free dishes for veggies and one or two vegan dishes. There are recipes ideal for summer whilst others will help keep you warm in the winter. Every recipe has been beautifully photographed by Ian Wallace, celebrated food photographer, which will inspire you to cook yourself something yummy every night of the week. Here are a few of the dishes two wet your appetite and if you’d like to purchase the app at a very reasonable Aud $ 1.99. You can click on the link at the bottom of this page.

 Pork asparagus and walnut salad

Pork asparagus and walnut salad

Photo Ian Wallace

Pork fillet, asparagus, baby spinach and walnuts combine with a tangy orange dressing in this lovely warm summer salad.

Serves: 4

grated zest and juice 1 orange

1 tsp ground cumin

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

500 g pork fillet

3 bunches asparagus, trimmed and halved

100 g salad mache or rocket

50 g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1 tbsp whole grain mustard

salt and pepper

 spray oil, for cooking

Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan forced and line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine the orange zest, cumin and plenty of salt and pepper in a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the pork fillet and rub the mix all over the pork.

Preheat a frying pan and fry the pork for 2-3 minutes until browned on all sides. Transfer to the prepared try and bake for 15 minutes. Wrap loosely in foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the asparagus spears in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until tender. Using a small balloon whisk, whisk together the orange juice, remaining oil, mustard and some salt and pepper. Cut the pork fillet into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the asparagus, salad leaves and walnuts. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.

Tandoori chicken with cashew nut rice

Tandoori chicken with cashew nut rice

Photo Ian Wallace

Your own homemade tandoori chicken in under 30 minutes – far healthier than anything from your local takeaway.

 Serves: 4

8 skinless chicken thigh fillets

200 g natural yogurt

1 tbsp bought tandoori spice paste

2 crushed garlic cloves

2 tsp grated root ginger

2 tsp lemon juice, plus extra to serve

cashew nut rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil

125 g cashew nuts

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 tsp cumin seeds

6 cardamom pods, bashed

6 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick, lightly bashed

350 g cooked basmati rice

pinch saffron strands

50 g raisins

salt and pepper

coriander leaves, to garnish

Place the chicken thigh fillets in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients and some salt and pepper. Stir well and set aside until required (if you have time marinate the chicken for as long as possible).

Cook the cashew rice. Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and stir-fry the cashew nuts over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

 Add the onion, whole spices and a pinch salt to the oil and fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the rice, stir to coat with the oil and add a splash of water. Scatter the saffron strands over the rice, cover and cook very gently for 5 minutes until the rice is heated through. Remove from the heat, stir in the raisins and cashew nuts, cover and leave to sit for a further 5 minutes.

 Heat the grill to high. Arrange the chicken thighs on a rack over a foil-lined grill pan and cook for 5-6 minutes each side until charred and cooked through. Squeeze over some lemon juice and serve with the rice, garnished with coriander leaves.

 Herb crusted cod with peas

Herb crusted cod with peas

Photo Ian Wallace

A crispy crust with Parmesan, lemon and herbs sits atop cod fillets. They are oven roasted and served with fresh peas and a green salad.
Serves 4

50g sliced bread

1 tbsp chopped fresh basil, plus a few small leaves to garnish

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

grated zest 1 lemon

1 egg white, lightly beaten

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

500g vine ripened cherry tomatoes

4 x skinless cod fillets, about 175 g each

350 g frozen peas

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

 rocket salad, to serve

 Pre-heat the oven to 200c/fan-forced 180c and line a roasting tin with baking paper. Place the bread in a food processor and blend to make rough crumbs. Place crumbs in a bowl and add the herbs, cheese, lemon zest, egg and some salt and pepper.

 Brush the tops of each cod fillet with a olive oil and press crumb mixture on top of fish. Transfer to the prepared baking tray and arrange the cherry tomatoes around the fish. Bake for about 10 minutes until fish is cooked through and the topping is golden. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes.

 Meanwhile, cook the peas in a saucepan of lightly salted, boiling water for 2-3 minutes until cooked, return to the pan and stir in the remaining oil and balsamic vinegar and a few basil leaves. Divide between warmed plates, top with the fish and tomatoes and serve with a rocket salad.

Japanese mushroom noodle soup

Photo Ian Wallace

Photo Ian Wallace

Soba noodles, mushrooms, tofu, sugar snaps and seaweed all add a wonderfully flavour to this delicate Japanese soup.

 Serves: 4

200g dried soba noodles

2 sachets instant dashi stock (or veggie stock if preferred)

1.5 litres boiling water

75 ml salt reduced soy sauce

3 tbs Mirin

350g mixed mushrooms, trimmed and wiped clean

250g silken tofu, drained and diced

150g sugar snaps, trimmed and halved

50g enoki mushrooms

1 sheet nori seaweed, cut into strips

 seven spice seasoning, to serve

 Cook the noodles according to packet instructions, drain well in a large sieve, refresh under cold water and set aside until required.

Combine the dashi stock, water, soy sauce and Mirin in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently, covered over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mixed mushrooms, cover and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the tofu, sugar snaps and enoki mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.

 Meanwhile, boil a full kettle of water. Place the noodles still in the sieve over the sink and pour over the boiling water. Shake off excess water and divide between serving bowls. Spoon over the soup and serve sprinkled with the seaweed and Japanese seven spice.

 Autumn pasta with beetroot and goat cheese

Photo Ian Wallace

Photo Ian Wallace

 Beetroot, goat cheese, pecan nuts and rocket are stirred through freshly cooked pasta.

 Serves: 4

 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

500 g pre-cooked beetroot

400 g fusilli or other dried pasta

200 g goat feta or goat cheese, crumbled

60 g pecan nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

a handful rocket leaves, to serve

 grated Pecorino, to serve

 Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onions and garlic for 10 minutes until golden but not browned. Add the beetroot and cook gently for 3 minutes until heated through. Season to taste.

 Meanwhile, plunge the pasta into a large bowl of lightly salted boiling water, return to the boil and cook for 10-12 minutes until al dente. Drain pasta and add 4 tablespoons of the cooking liquid to the beetroot.

 Spoon the pasta into bowls and serve topped with the beetroot, goat feta, pecans and parsley. Drizzle over a little more oil and serve topped with a few rocket leaves and grated Pecorino.