November 21, 2015


lemon and oregano chicken legs

We were recently the lucky recipients of a bag of goodies donated by a friend who was closing up her home in France for the winter.  The contents included a pack of frozen chicken legs.

We are in the throws of working against the clock chez nous at the moment, having had a lot of building work done, hopefully the last tranche, and now trying to get the decorating done and the furniture out of the barn and back in the house before the weather gets too cold and damp.

In this game of “beat the clock”, time for shopping is seen as a waste of time, unless it’s an essential trip to the nearest DIY store, so we are doing our best to use up the contents of our own fridge and freezer.  This pack of chicken legs therefore came in very handy and provided us with an excellent late lunch one day.  We are finding that working in the morning while the light is good, having a late lunch and very little food in the evening after a second session of painting, seems to work well for us.

I spotted this recipe on the BBC Good Food website and adapted it using what I had in the house, i.e. chicken legs not thighs, maincrop potatoes not new ones and dried oregano instead of fresh.

lemon and oregano chicken legs2

The whole thing worked extremely well, providing a delicious and hearty meal and creating very little washing up.  We had ours with some greens which required only one extra saucepan.

lemon and oregano chicken legs3

The steps in the cooking allowed perfectly for preparing the ingredients, setting the table, slapping another coat of paint on a bit of wall and enjoying a glass of wine.  (There was wine in the recipe so why not?)

A great recipe to have under the belt for midweek dinners and equally for guests.  Definitely one I will be doing again and again.

lemon and oregano chicken legs4

As for the washing up, and those who may not approve of allowing the dog to finish the dish (there were no onions in it by then), there is a very good reason for it.  Now that we have our new fosse septique I am keen not to overload it with too much gunge so have got into the habit of wiping fatty dishes with kitchen paper which I then dispose of in the bin, along with all bits on the plate, thereby flushing less grease into the fosse.  With something like this I am happy for Lulu to help out and make the task easier!


500g maincrop potatoes, washed and halved then sliced into roughly 1cm slices

2 tblsp garlic oil

4-5 chicken legs, skin on

5-6 shallots, peeled

100g bacon lardons

1 lemon, cut into eight wedges

1 tblsp dried oregano

100ml white wine

200ml chicken stock (made from half an Oxo cube*)

*use Marigold powder for a gluten free version


Preheat the oven to 220°C / 200° fan / gas mk 7.

Put the potato slices in a bowl with 1 tblsp of the oil, season with salt and pepper and stir to coat all the slices.  Tip into a large roasting tin or baking dish and spread out evenly.  Bake for 20 mins.

While the potatoes are baking, remove any excess or flappy bits of skin from the chicken and season with salt and pepper and prepare the shallots.  Check your paintbrush isn’t drying out.

After the first 20 minutes, remove the tin from the oven and add the chicken on top of the potatoes.  Scatter the lemon wedges, lardons, shallots and oregano over the top and drizzle with the other 1tblsp of oil.  Return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

During the second phase of cooking, set the table, prepare any additional veg, open the wine, pour yourself a glass and slap another coat of paint on the wall over the fireplace!

When the timer pings, pour the wine and stock over the chicken and return to the oven for a third 20 minutes, after which the chicken should be cooked and the potatoes tender.

Serves 4

November 13, 2015

FRIDGE BOTTOM QUICHE (or a free lunch)

fridge bottom quiche

Quiche is one of my favourite ways  of using up leftovers.  We have enjoyed many a unique quiche over the years, each one dependant on what’s lurking in the depths of the fridge or freezer and in fact it’s almost worth keeping a pack of pack of pastry in just for the purpose of making a fridge quiche when it’s the right time.

Enjoy with a nice glass of chilled rosé or white wine, wrung out of the bag in the wine box before you put it into the recycling.  Toast the good health of yourself and your friends and feel happy and virtuous that you have done your bit to not waste food and therefore, in your own small way, to save the planet.

Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

I’m linking this post to the “No waste food challenge” organised by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and hosted this month by  Tracy of “It’s not easy being greedy” blog.  You can see the details here.


1 pack of ready made, ready rolled puff pastry, oblong or round

2 tblsp oil or a large knob of butter

2 rather tired leeks

2 slices of ham, dried edges trimmed off

the noggle end of a St Maure goat’s cheese

half a pack of well scary Camembert

1 rather squidgy tomato, mouldy bits cut off

3 eggs

a few blobs of the cream that died the other day (or crème fraîche)

milk (skimmed or full cream)


Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Unroll the pastry and line a suitable flan tin, patching up as necessary.

Heat the oil or butter in a frying pan.  Trim the leeks to remove any grotty bits and slice thinly.  Cook in the pan on medium heat until softened, not brown and crunchy.

Arrange the leeks over the pastry base.  Add slices of ham and cheese, add slices of tomato last.

Put the eggs into a jug and beat.  Add your cream or crème fraîche and enough milk to make up to 350ml, season with pepper and whisk together.  (There is usually enough salt in the ham for our taste but add salt as well if you like.)  Pour gently over the filling and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is almost completely set.  A slight wobble in the middle is fine.

Serve warm with a salad made from rescued wrinkly lettuce, any bits of tomato and cucumber you can find and maybe that one last piece of beetroot.

Serves 4, for free, or almost.

November 2, 2015


It’s that time of year again.  Charity cake stall time.  About twelve years ago I started a cake stall at work to raise money for “Children in Need” and the first year we made £135.  At the point where I retired we were regularly making over £1,000 each year.  I still contribute some cakes, even though I retired over two years ago, but nowadays only two or three cakes, not the usual seven or eight.  You can read more about how we raise so much money here.

ginger cake

This year we will not be in the UK on the actual fundraising day so I made some cakes that would freeze well and gave them to my colleague to put in her freezer.  I made the ever popular chocolate Guinness cake to Nigella Lawson’s recipe, which usually sells out early in the day.  I decided to freeze it with the topping on as a friend told me it freezes ok, and handed it over with instructions to sprinkle liberally with icing sugar if it looks like a dog’s dinner when it thaws out.  A dusting of icing sugar can do wonders for most less than perfect cakes I find.

The second cake I made was another Nigella recipe; a vanilla spice bundt cake.  More about that later but having never made it before I can’t wait for a reason to make it again.

Nick is also now retired and happy to pass an afternoon baking.  He chose to make a ginger cake to a Delia Smith recipe.

ginger cake2

It’s one of those cakes that fills the house with beautiful aromas while it’s in the oven.  Once it was made we were very tempted not to give it away but to eat it ourselves, it looked and smelled that good.  But we did the right thing, wrapped it up for freezing and handed it over.  The next day we made another one!

According to the recipe you should keep it for a day before eating.  We were setting off for France the following morning so we wrapped it up in foil and parcelled it up to bring with us – but we simply couldn’t resist just one slice between us before the day was up – quality control of course!

It was scrumptious.  Dark, sticky, dense and almost chewy, with a heady taste of ginger and the other spices.  Several days later it was just as good as when we first tasted it.  What more could you want from a cake?

Perfect for Bonfire Night too, you can find the recipe in “Delia’s Cakes” or see it here.  I can’t recommend it enough and as soon as I get the chance I will be making it again.

Cuts into 10-12 thick slices.