~ Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney ~

Oh boy, what a treat! Mike cooked dinner for me tonight and it was deeee-lish. I only managed a quick iPhone snap before I absolutely demolished this plateful.  I promise to re-make this curry with a proper ingredients list and some better food photography – because this does not do it justice. Fresh, green, healthy, different and mouth-tinglingly hot.

The main reason I’m posting today (despite showing off that my wonderful husband-to-be is a fabulous cook) is for an update on the mango chutney I made last week. I’m definitely counting it as a success. Sweet, tangy, spicy and fragrant – I won’t be buying the supermarket stuff again.

I’m planning to give a few jars out to friends and family so I might have to make another batch.



~ Spanish Chicken ~

I’m a big fan of recipes that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less for those days when you get home from work and just want to flop on the sofa with a bowl of something hot and tasty. I had a fairly rubbish day at the office yesterday, so Mike and I pulled out an old favourite: Spanish chicken. It was ready in 25 minutes and is spectacularly easy.


(Serves 3-4)

~ 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
~ 1 large onion, sliced
~ 1 red bell pepper, sliced
~ 8 chicken thighs, boned (or drumsticks – not chicken breast)
~ 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika (smoked or regular – I like smoked in this)
~ 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
~ 1 good-quality chorizo sausage
~ A handful of your favorite olives (I like green, Mike likes black – I won last night!)
~ A 400g tin of butter beans (the best ones are the fancy artisan ones in tomato sauce, but I can’t seem to find those readily in Norway. Plain is fine.)
~ 2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
~ 1 tablespoon tomato puree
~ 1-2 tins of chopped tomatoes (depending on how saucy you like it!)
~ 1 teaspoon oregano
~ Salt and pepper, to taste

For the quinoa:

~ 50 g quinoa per person
~ 100 ml (ish) of stock per person
~ A blob of butter

To serve: A good dollop of creme fraiche per person, some basil leaves.

1) Heat the oil in a heavy-based, deep frying pan with a lid. Fry off the onions and pepper until just starting to soften.

2) Bash out the chicken thighs and slice them in half. Rub in the paprika, chilli and a little salt, then add them to the frying pan. Don’t substitute chicken breast – it just goes dry. You can add a splash more oil at this stage to make sure the onions and peppers don’t catch and burn – but I usually add a bit of water instead to keep the fat content down.

3) Meanwhile, prepare your quinoa – remember to keep jiggling the chicken, onions and peppers about every now and again. Rinse 50g per person of quinoa thoroughly in a sieve. Pour into a saucepan and add water in a 2:1 ration (i.e. 100ml water for each 50g quinoa). You can use stock rather than water for extra taste. Cover and leave to simmer away for 15 minutes. If it runs out of water and looks dry, just add another splosh of liquid.

4) Slice the chorizo and add it to the large pan. We usually add a whole chorizo sausage, which is probably a bit much for some people – you can just put in as much as you fancy on the day. Wait until it goes a little bit crispy on the outside.

5) Add the rest of the ingredients and bubble away until the chicken is properly cooked and the sauce is reduced. 

6) When the quinoa is ready, it should have tripled in size and the grains will have a little spiral-tail. Add a blob of butter and stir through for extra richness.

7) Serve in a big bowl with a huge dollop of creme fraiche. Deeeee-lish.

Let me know if you give it a go…


~ Gladmaten 2014 ~

Photographing Gladmaten.

Photographing Gladmaten.

Gladmaten is an annual food festival in Stavanger; the locals all get really excited for this one and now I see why! It ran from Wednesday to Sunday and I headed there 3 times over its duration. It was a great place to take some photos, so I had my Pentax out and hope to get the film developed this week. For now, I’ve posted a couple of iPhone snaps and an overview of all the lovely things we ate!

The harbour in Stavanger was transformed into a Mediterranean-feeling walkway last week, lined with lots of small – and some larger – stalls and tents selling every kind of food you can imagine. With everything from traditional Norwegian bakeries and fish restaurants to Indian, Italian and French cuisine, there was almost too much to choose from! The smells were incredible, the food visually appealing too, and the atmosphere happy and relaxed (despite the ongoing terror threat from Syria).

French patisserie stall.

French patisserie stall.

On Thursday I headed along with a couple of ladies from work. We sat in the sun and drank pink wine and champagne before enjoying some of the more traditional Norwegian food. I had a lamb fricasse which was absolutely beautiful, and one of my colleagues had a seafood platter. Mike joined us for a drink later and was nearly dribbling over Anita’s lobster, so we decided to head back again the next day.

A happy Mike and his iced shellfish platter.

A happy Mike and his iced shellfish platter.

After work on Friday Mike and I had a lovely meal (and a couple of cold beers) at Fisketorget, Stavanger’s fish market, which has a lovely restaurant attached to it. Mike ordered the shellfish platter, which came with crab, king crab, lobster, oysters and prawns. It was an order-by-weight dish, so he missed out the oysters and just took 200g of everything else… Which turned out to be quite a lot! He thoroughly enjoyed it, though. I had the “catch of the day”; a salmon dish that was quite frankly the best salmon I’ve ever eaten. Two beautiful pink fillets sitting atop boiled waxy potatoes, parsnips and a lovely seafood sauce, with salmon roe sprinkled over the top. I’m not usually a fan of caviar – my marine biology degree being the main reason I don’t like eating fish very much – but this was absolutely fantastic. I even tried a bit of Mike’s shellfish (crab: yuck, lobster: OK, prawns: surprisingly tasty but not worth the hassle of peeling).

Catch of the Day at Fisketorget.

Despite two lovely meals on Thursday and Friday, I was desperate to go round all the smaller stalls and have some of the little tasters they were selling for a few NOK. Saturday turned out to be yet another gorgeous day of sun – the 7th in a row with a temperature of 30-31 degrees C. We had a bit of a wander round the town, then back along the stalls. We tried a slice of pizza from Al Forno which was lovely (one of their restaurants is right by our apartment so we’ll have to try it one day), then a couple of dishes from one of the Indian stalls. I had green garlic chicken and Mike had a tandoori spiced chicken, then we shared a vegetarian samosa. All delicious, but Mike’s was definitely the winner – and the garlicky raita  and salad that was served on the side deserved a spoon to ensure every last drop was demolished.


Samosa and grilled chicken with raita from one of the Indian stalls.

Stavanger is such a lovely city to host festivals in; the harbour is a brilliant central point and affords lovely views out to the mountains and North Sea, too. The city itself is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen and incredibly arty and cultural. There are sculptures everywhere you look, and local graffiti artists have been allowed to spray huge murals on lots of the blank walls in the centre. One day I’ll do a post about them and take photos of my favourites, but for now, this one of a colourful lady caught my eye (and the eye of the little girl who is trying to copy her stance underneath).


The locals here really dive into events like Gladmaten and I lost count of how many Norwegians at my work encouraged me to attend. I’m so glad that the “concrete” but “unspecified” threat from Syrian extremists on Norway that is forecast over the next couple of days did nothing to dampen the spirits of everyone who enjoyed the festival. That would be letting the terrorists win, and we can’t have that.


~ Mango Chutney ~

The mangos in the supermarket at the moment are just beautiful – so ripe you have to be careful not to bruise them on your way home, dripping with juice, fragrant and sweet. I’d seen a recipe in Good Food magazine a few weeks back for mango chutney, so last night I gave it a go. I adjusted some amounts and cooking times for the recipe below, but the original is here.

Ingredients for Mango Chutney


~ 3 large ripe mangoes
~ 2 tbsp sunflower oil
~ 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
~ Thumb-sized piece fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into thin shreds
~ 10 green cardamom pods
~ 1 cinnamon stick
~ 1 tsp cumin seed
~ 1 tsp ground coriander
~ ½ tsp black onion seeds
~ ½ tsp ground turmeric
~ 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (they were meant to be Bramleys but I used pink ladies as it’s all the supermarket had!)
~ 1 large red chilli, finely sliced
~ 300ml white wine vinegar
~ 400g golden caster sugar
~ Juice of 1 lemon
~ 1 tsp salt

1) Heat the oil in a large, deep sauté pan – the wider the better for cooking the chutney down later – and fry off the onion for a few mins until it starts to turn translucent. Stir in the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 mins until the onion is golden. Stir in all of the spices, except the turmeric, and fry until toasted.

2) While you’re waiting for your onions to soften, peel and chop your apples, discarding the core. To prepare your mangos, cut the flesh from around the stones of the mango, trim off the skin and chop any big lumps into chunks. I used very very ripe mangos, so half of my fruit was pulped by the time I’d peeled it – it doesn’t seem to matter for this recipe, though.

3) When your onion is golden and your spices toasted, add in the turmeric, apple and 300ml water, then cover the pan and let it boil vigorously for 10 mins. Stir in the mango and chilli, then cover and cook for 20 mins more until the apple is pulpy and the mango is tender.

4) Pour in the vinegar, stir in the sugar and salt, then leave to simmer uncovered for 60 mins, stirring very frequently (I have a few ‘caramelised’ bits in my chutney!) until the mixture is pulpy rather than watery. Spoon into sterilised jars.

Mango Chutney - Jarred

I have taken a lot of liquid out of the original recipe and increased the cooking time, as I was up until midnight trying to get my chutney to a good consistency! Also note: the Good Food magazine authors think you will get 4 x 500ml jars out of this – not likely, I got approximately 8-10 small jars out of my mix.

Now the big question… Can I wait for a week before opening the first jar to taste? I’ll make a follow-up post when I do!


~ Upside-Down Fruit Cake ~

pineapple cakeI’ve got a hankering for pineapple-upside-down cake today. It’s my Dad’s favourite and I always make him one for birthdays and Fathers’ Day. Our dog, Molly, seems to quite enjoy it too!

My Easy-Peasy Cake Recipe:

~ 3 eggs
~ self-raising flour, butter and caster sugar (I’ll get to the amounts in a minute)
~ a teaspoon of baking powder
~ small handful of ground almonds
~ vanilla essence
~ fruit of your choice (pears work well, as do berries, tinned fruit and frozen fruit)
~ a couple of tablespoons of golden syrup (optional)

The oven needs to be pre-heated to 180 (fan).

1) Weigh your eggs – shells still on. Whatever they weigh (probably approx. 170 – 200g depending on size), measure out the same in flour, sugar and butter.

2) Blend sugar and butter until fluffy.

3) Add eggs one at a time and beat carefully so that the mix is silky and not separated.

4) Add in the flour. Sifting is a waste of time in my opinion – I’m an impatient baker. Mix in the baking powder, too.

5) Add a few drops of vanilla essence and a handful of almonds – enough so that the mixture has a “dropping consistency”, i.e. plops off a wooden spoon in a lackadaisical fashion.

6) Grease and line a baking tin. When making a fresh fruit cake, it is imperative that you line the tin! Lay out the fruit on the bottom of your tin – you can make it look fancy with slices and geometric shapes, or just tip in a handful of berries and have done with it. Add a few spoonfuls of golden syrup if the fruit is tart.

7) Spoon over your cake batter, making sure you run it to the edges of the tin to form a seal over the fruit.

8) Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes; timing will vary depending on the type of fruit you’ve chosen – and its water content – but you’re looking for a golden colour, the sponge beginning to come away from the side of the tin, and a knife to come out clean when you stab into the centre of the cake.

9) Leave to cool – but only for 5 minutes! Turn out upside-down onto a plate, so all the shiny fruit is on the top. Peel off the baking paper and marvel at how pretty it looks.

10) I occasionally drizzle with a little runny icing… Usually it doesn’t need it though.

Good enough to enjoy with a blob of creme fraiche, custard or ice cream while still warm, or packed into a lunchbox to scoff with a mid-morning coffee!

I’d love to know if you try it.



~ Avocados and Marinated Chicken ~

I managed a bit of baking this weekend… Mum bought and shipped over Tori Haschka’s new book, “Cut the Carbs!” for me – what a treat. I flicked straight to the puddings and conjured up a lovely chocolate cake whose main component was a tin of black beans (no flour, no butter). Aside from me leaving it in the oven for about 5 minutes too long – a real error for chocolate cake which is always prone to being a bit dry anyway – it was absolutely delicious and didn’t taste any different to a regular cake. I should have taken a picture to blog, but in typical Kirsty style, I hadn’t really left myself enough time to bake it before taking it round to the recipient’s house. Next time.

Other tasty treats this weekend included mostly grilled protein and salads – the avocados in the shops are just fantastic at the moment so they’re on the side of everything I make! Here’s Mike cooking the chicken he marinaded in cumin, turmeric, fresh ginger, chilli, garlic and olive oil… Fantastic with salad, crumbly feta and a cold glass of Sauvignon.

Grilling in the last of the sun!

Grilling in the last of the sun!