Monday 25 January 2021

Apricot Harissa Chicken And Vegetables

 So I made the harissa last week in readiness for this recipe.  I find Cook, eat, repeat (Nigella's latest) more like her tv shows - very lyrical and wordy, and personal - in a good way.  I was saying to Mr P. the other day that I've learned most about cooking from my mum (of course), then Nigella and the marvellous Delia Smith. 

I still remember making a roux for white sauce, then adding the (cold) milk and stirring, stirring...  I used to sit on a high stool as I was - mm - rather short as a small child.  But who could forget Delia's marvellous method for bechamel?  Chuck everything into a saucepan and let it rip; i.e. stir madly till it all comes together.  Oops, sorry, that has nothing to do with this recipe.  Concentrate, woman!

ready to eat


900g./2 lb sweet potatoes - or use a mix of sweet and regular

2-3 red capsicum (about 400g./14 oz)

2 leeks or a mix of brown onions, French shallots and spring onions

45 mL/1.5 oz EV olive oil

60 mL/2 oz apricot harissa

1 kg/2.2 lb chicken thighs - choose bone-in, skin-on OR go for thigh fillets as I did, as Mr P. hates bones and skin:-)

2-3 limes, juiced (you want about 2 tbs)

2 tbs maple syrup (optional)

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp sea salt flakes

a wee bit (or a lot) of ground black pepper



On goes the oven at 200C/400F

Scrub and/or peel the sweet potatoes, and chop into 4-5cm chunks

Chop the capsicums into 4-5cm chunks (get rid of the seeds)

Clean and slice the leeks, or roughly chop the onion, shallots and spring onion

Cut each thigh fillet (if using) into three pieces; leave the bony ones whole

Grab your biggest roasting tin (or 2 as the case may be) and throw in the olive oil and harissa

Stir them together with a fork (or your hand), then in go the veg. and chicken, and toss very well together - I suggest using a food-safe glove as this is messy!

Now add the lime juice, the maple syrup, the oregano, salt and pepper and give it another toss

This will take 50 mins to 1 hour to bake: skin-on and bone-in thighs will take the hour most likely

Nigella says to serve with a salad; we did what we were told:-)


Nigella suggests a tray that is 34 x 37 x 5cm.  Mine was smaller, so I needed 2 trays

I used one brown onion, 3 French shallots and one fat spring onion.  Much to my surprise, Mr P. doesn't like leeks.  Who knew?!

I decided to add the oregano, maple syrup and pepper just for... They added a delicious frisson of flavour

ingredients gathered

and chopped

I used this chicken - vego fed!

seasoned and ready to go into the oven

baked till tender after 50 mins.

I'm hungry ...

I'm going in - as Nigella would say

and for those interested in Naked Ginger ...

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Monday 18 January 2021

Apricot Harissa a là Nigella

Happy New Year, my friends.  I hope you had a lovely festive break, and feel full of vim and vigour for 2021.  I'm not sure how I feel lately; life, blogging, writing, drawing, reading - they all seem a teensy bit hard right now, but let's keep on keeping on (as Martin Luther King once said).  So here's my first food post for this year - a recipe from Nigella's new book Cook, eat, repeat which Mr P. gave me for Christmas.  I am a big Nigella fan, and I love her new book which has lots of lovely essays as well as recipes.

During the Christmas break, Mr P. and I headed west to Murgon and Kingaroy, small Queensland towns.  He is designing a cultural centre in Murgon, and wanted to check the lay of the land.  We stayed in Kingaroy, the peanut capital.  And yes their peanuts are fabulous.  We loved the heritage-listed peanut silos out there - soooo huge!

the back end of the peanut silos

silos silos everywhere ... (built in 1938)

Silos to the right of us, silos to the left of us ... And a massive storm rolling in!  Anyway, back to the recipe.  Just so you know, I always re-write recipes from books, etc.  Re: copyright - a list of ingredients does not come under copyright but prose does, so I always re-write the method in my own words (and the ingredients if poss.).


20g. large dried chillies or 15-20g. small fresh red chillies

1 tsp cummin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp caraway seeds

the seeds from 4-5 cardamom pods

45g. soft dried apricots, chopped into 2 or 3 pieces

1 tsp ground turmeric (or 15g fresh turmeric, sliced)

4 juicy cloves of garlic

25g. fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

a few small pieces of naked ginger (uncrystallised ginger) (optional - my idea)

2 tsp dried rose petals (optional - my idea)

2 tsp sea salt flakes or 1 tsp fine salt

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

60 mL (4 x 15 mL tablespoons) olive oil

1 tsp vinegar (I used raspberry 'cos that's what came to hand first, tho' Nigella says to use apple cider vinegar)


If using dried chillies, put them in a bowl and pour over 500 mL of boiling water, and let them soak for 15 minutes

Tip the four kinds of seeds into a small frying pan, and let them toast carefully over medium heat - watch them, my friends as they can burn so very easily!  Give them a bit of a shake often as they toast.  When they smell delightful after a few minutes, take them off the heat and tip into a bowl to cool

Grab your food processor (I used my small one), and throw in the apricot pieces, turmeric, garlic, ginger, naked ginger, rose petals, salt and paprika

Drain the dried chillies, take off the stalks, and chuck 'em into the processor - or if using fresh chillies, de-stalk and throw into the processor

Add the cooled spices, the oil and vinegar and blitz to a lovely, fiery paste - Nigella suggests using a bowl and a stick blender but I think the processor was a better bet


Try adding another couple of apricots if you want a fruitier flavour, and less chillies if they bring you out in a sweat

I only had small, fiery red chillies in my freezer so that's what I used - phew!  hot hot hot ... la la la ...

Naked ginger is ginger that has been infused in cane sugar syrup, and then allowed to dry out, with no crystals of sugar on the surface

gather your ingredients (this is 20g. small chillies BTW)

dry-toast your spices (no oil needed)

ready for zapping and blitzing

beautifully blitzed!

keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge

all ready for my next blog post :-)

artwork © Sherry's Pickings

Friday 1 January 2021

In My Kitchen - January 2021

Happy New Year, friends!  This is a quickie post:-)  I'm enjoying a bit of time off with Mr P. (and believe me, this is a rare occurrence).  He is a dedicated fella who almost never stops working.  He has worked from home forever, so we never escape his work.  Sorry!  Just slap me; I'm grumbling.  

I hope you've all had the most wonderful Christmas/festive break, and that you're looking forward to an amazing 2021.  I know I am!  Things can only get better.  And am I allowed to say how very happy I am that I won't have to look at the Orange Man ever again?!  You know who I mean.  Weird isn't it?  We're not even in the U.S., and yet many Aussies will be super happy that he is out the door.  

In My January Kitchen:

I made pineapple chutney with fresh QLD fruit

and I made my annual batch of Worcestershire sauce + plums this year!

I bought a trio of organic miso made by Yoko, a Japanese cook in Melbourne

I got cute measuring spoons from my cousin for Christmas

and my curveball - L'il Dusty

This cute little resin sculpture is handmade and painted by Dion Parker, a Gold Coast artist.  This is the fourth piece I have bought from him.  I guess I just can't resist L'il Dusty!  (He's a dog, in case you can't see.)  

That's it for now, my friends.  Well, what a year we have all had.  I started off Covid feeling stressed and scared and depressed.  I was in a bit of a downward spiral for a while there, but we were lucky here in Queensland: our tough (but fair) Premier got it under control.  She was vilified by some down south for her tough stance, but she just shook her head and told 'em to stuff it.  Well, figuratively speaking...

I had some great things happening in 2020 also: I had two stories published; I learned some new things about myself; I got tough, and I happily threw FOMO out the door.  'Don't wanna go out?  Then stay home.  Can't be bothered doing that thing/seeing those people/attending that event?  Then don't, my friends, just don't!'

Anyway, all the best to you all, and see you in the New Year.  I am taking a blogging break till mid-January so see you on the other side.  Don't worry if I don't comment, or whatever.  I will be back.  Email me if you have any queries or worries!

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