Tag Archives: Lemon

Greek Stylie Pork & Veggie Kebabs

‘Tis barbie season finally and we’ve been making the most of it this week, partly because of the great weather and partly because we’ve had our seventeen year old nephew James staying with us. I’m not terribly sure how we’re going to cope without his super-nannying skills when he leaves this afternoon (both with kids and dogs!). I’ve mainly been doing a few of my usuals on the barbie, various veggie and meat kebabs, my fat b*****d blue cheese stuffed burgers, chilli pork chops etc, all recipes that I’ll be blogging shortly plus a few exciting newbies on the block.

For today it’s my Greek Stylie Pork and Veggie Kebabs with fresh oregano. I’ve no idea how many times I must have made these last summer. At least twenty times I’m reckoning, and later in the summer using peppers, aubergines, courgettes and onions fresh out of the garden. I can’t wait to be able to do that again, rock on summer! They tend to be more of a side dish rather than a main event for me, but served with hummus and/or tzatziki, a greek salad and pitta bread they make a very substantial main. Great also with chicken instead of pork or without any meat at all (just up the quantity and variety of veggies).

The meat and veggies are best left to marinade for a good few hours, so try to make in advance if you can. And if you’re short on time, as I always am, it’s particularly handy to get all the hard work done in advance anyway, then all you have to do is a bit of skewering up just before barbecuing.


As I grow oregano in abundance I love to use it as generously as possible. It’s the chief flavouring in these kebabs, but if you don’t have a source of fresh oregano you can replace with three teaspoons of dried. I’m entering this post to the Herbs on Saturday blogging challenge held by the lovely Karen at one of my favourite blogs, Lavender & Lovage. I’ve been meaning to take part for quite a while now, but my organisational skills are not the best at times! Have a look at her blog as there’s sure to be plenty of herby and other delights on offer.

Oregano growing in my garden

If you do lots of barbecues I’d think about investing in some metal skewers, they’re so much better than the flimsy easily burnable throw away ones. My Mum and Dad gave me a set years ago that they’d brought back from Istanbul. To be honest they sat at the back of a drawer unused for some time before I got into barbecuing recently, and now they’re used countless times every summer.

Enough for six to eight kebabs:

a medium onion, white or red

a large pepper (any colour)

½ an aubergine or a small courgette or both!

the juice of a lemon

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

a generous pinch of salt

a handful of fresh oregano sprigs, leaves removed and roughly chopped or 3 teaspoons of dried oregano

350g of pork loin pieces

Start with preparing your meat and veggies. They should all be cut to a similar size so everything cooks fairly evenly. Half the onions, then half again then again into eighths. Then roughly separate the layers. Cut the aubergine in quarters lengthways then slice into pieces about 6/7mm thick. If using courgette slice  into 6/7mm thick rounds. Cut the pepper to a similar size. Finally dice the pork the same size as the veggies.

Now put together the marinade ingredients in a large non-metalic bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt & black pepper and oregano leaves.

Tip the pork and veggies into the marinade and give everything a thorough stir. I use my hands. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade away in the fridge for a few hours.

Just before barbecuing, remove from the fridge and skewer up, alternating the veggies, onions and pork. Brush any remaining marinade over the kebabs.

Cook on a hot barbecue, turning every few minutes until they’re evenly browned on all sides and the pork and veggies are thoroughly cooked through.

Great served hot with pitta breads, hummus, tzatziki and a large greek salad on the side (again made with plenty of lemon juice and fresh oregano) or as a side dish to the rest of the barbecue. Any leftovers are fab eaten cold in a pitta sandwich.


A Summery Chicken, Asparagus & Lemon Cassoulet

Family Dinners, Grown Up Dinners

I love cassoulet. It’s probably one of my favourite winter dinners, but boy is it filling. Way too heavy for this time of year anyway. So here’s a fabulous recipe for an altogether much lighter and healthier take on a cassoulet using chicken instead of duck and adding lovely in season asparagus to replace some of the beans.

I wish I could say I devised this recipe myself, but alas no it’s from my beloved Leon book by the inspirational Allegra McEvedy. Ever since I’ve had the book I’ve been excited about trying this particular recipe and have rather impatiently been waiting for the asparagus season to commence. And now we’re in it, I’ve made cassoulet three times already and always a success. Equally great for a family supper, a lunch or dinner party. Everyone seems to love it and it’s surprisingly quick and easy to assemble.

The original recipe calls for chicken supremes but I’ve successfully replaced with cheaper whole chicken legs but feel free to go with the original if you prefer breast meat. When I made the cassoulet for a dinner party I cut down on the asparagus (as 3 bundles was just a tad too expensive at E4.50 a pop!) and used half asparagus, half sliced courgettes and this worked marvellously.  I’d also say that you could omit the chicken altogether and replace the chicken stock with veggie to make a really interesting vegetarian dinner.

Try to start this dish the day before and leave the chicken to marinade in the fridge overnight, or at least for a whole day.

By the way that’s Dotty in the background. She’s the newest member of the Foti clan, a gorgeous little fluff ball of a Collie pup. And no she didn’t get to eat any!.

Enough for 4:

2 unwaxed lemons, zested and juiced

6 tablespoons of olive oil

8 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 bay leaves

black pepper & salt

4 whole free range chicken leg pieces, skin removed

2 bunches of asparagus, or 1 bunch and 1 large courgette

2 medium onions, diced

2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

a large glass of white wine

400ml of chicken stock

8 tablespoons of breadcrumbs plus a little extra olive oil for drizzling

4 lemon wedges to serve

Place the lemon zest and juice, two thirds of the olive oil, half the garlic, the thyme and bay leaves, a generous grinding of black pepper and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the chicken and rub the marinade thoroughly in. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade for the day or ideally overnight.

The next day preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Heat the remainder of the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, set aside the marinade. Fry the chicken on all sides until a little golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Now add the remainder of the garlic and the marinade and fry for a couple more minutes. Tip in the beans and the white wine. Give everything a good stir and leave to bubble away for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced by half.

Meanwhile prepare your asparagus. Remove and discard the woody ends and cut the stems into roughly one inch lengths ensuring the heads remain whole. Retain four whole asparagus stems for the top. If using a courgette slice in half lengthways then slice across in roughly 0.5cm slices.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the asparagus (and courgette if using). Have a taste check and season really well. Place the beans in an appropriately sized ovenproof dish then tuck the chicken legs in.

Pour over the chicken stock until you can just see the liquid level below the beans.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top and place the four whole asparagus spears on the crumbs. Drizzle a little olive oil over everything.

Place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour. The crumbs should be golden and edges bubbling.

Great served with a light salad and lemon wedges on the side.

Here’s another couple of fabulous Leon recipes to try The Best Chilli Ever, and Chicken, Pumpkin & Borlotti Beans.


Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto

I’m very excited it’s Asparagus season again. Though here in France, like the rest of Northwestern Europe, they favour the grown in the dark white asparagus over the open air green tips more commonly found elsewhere. And it’s the green I definitely prefer. Asparagus happens to be one of my favourite veggies, and one I’d really like to grow myself once I decide on a permanent spot in the veg patch for it. It’s a dauntingly long wait of a couple of years from seed sowing to cropping…which undoubtedly will test my un-patient self, but once cropping the plants can last up to a lengthy twenty years!

This is my first spring risotto of the year, and possibly my favourite risotto recipe ever. So light and delicately flavoured, rather than the heavier meatier and rootier winter risottos of our last few months. Ideally this should be made with fresh peas, but as my pea plants are still very much in their infancy and no way near ready for picking, I used good old shop bought frozen ones, which I actually don’t have a problem with at all. Here’s one of my baby pea plants….hurry up!:

I don’t know why exactly but risottos tend to be the domain of the grown up folk in the Foti household, usually something I put together once the wee ones are snuggled up in bed. Hence the recipe for two…just double up for a family. Little Miss F is never too keen on them but will eat under duress, and Master F would willingly eat most things, especially anything with rice and his beloved peas in!

I’ve entered the recipe into this month’s ‘One Ingredient’ challenge, hosted by Nazima at Working London Mummy and Laura at How to Cook Good Food. This month the one ingredient is lemon.

Enough for 2:

20g of butter

a tablespoon of olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

150g of arborio or other risotto rice

a glass of white wine

600ml of hot weak chicken or vegetable stock

a bunch of fresh green asparagus

110g of fresh or frozen peas

the zest of an unwaxed lemon plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of the juice

a heaped tablespoon of half fat creme fraiche

40g of freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

salt and pepper

Prepare the asparagus by removing and discarding the woody white ends.  Cut the tips to about an inch in length and the remaining stalks to a 1 to 2cm length. Set aside.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of butter and oil. Pour in the white wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once the wine’s almost evaporated add a ladleful of the hot stock and continue to stir from time to time.

Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice add another ladleful. Once this has been absorbed stir in your third ladleful of stock together with the asparagus. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last lot is absorbed.

When the rice is nearly cooked stir in the peas, lemon zest and a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Once the peas, rice and asparagus are all cooked remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche and Parmesan. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit, plus further lemon juice if you like.

Here’s two other risotto recipes you might like to try, Sausage & Courgette Risotto and Squash & Goats Cheese Risotto


Sticky Apple Pudding

As I’ve said before I don’t make many baked puddings these days as our gas oven is so awful they tend to come out with a barely cooked top and a very burnt bum. But after steaming christmas puddings a few weeks ago I had a rather rare brainwave that I could steam a pud and bypass the dratted oven altogether. Amazing.

So here it is, christmas pudding aside, my first ever steamed pud, and what a triumph. Not a pretty triumph, but a wonderfully sticky and ever so naughty triumph….and a triumph not too suitable for those sticking to a New Year diet! And even if you don’t have a dodgy cooker like me please try a steamed pud, they’re so moist and sticky and utterly delish. Watch out for lots more Chez Foti steamed pud recipes coming up.

I set out to make an apple pud, as we still have lots of stored surplus from our apple harvest in the Autumn, and besides we all love an appley pud. So I took a normal steamed apple pud recipe (which is essentially just the same as a sponge cake recipe but with apples on the top) and stickied (loving my new word there) up the apples with some good old Golden Syrup and added lots of lemon zest to the sponge base. Yum. Combining the lemon and apple together worked marvellously, my winter pudding heaven!

Enough for 4:

3 tbsps of golden syrup

65g butter, at room temperature

3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into a small dice

a little flour and butter to grease and line the pudding basin

65g caster sugar

1 lemon, zested

1 and a half eggs, beaten

85g self-raising flour

3 tbsp milk

Place the golden syrup in a deep frying pan or saucepan along with 20g of the butter. Heat until bubbling a little and add the diced apple. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Meanwhile  beat together the rest of the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, preferably with an electric whisk. Add the lemon zest and beat in the eggs. Then beat in the flour and milk.

Grease and line a small pudding basin. Add the sticky apples first, then pile the cake mixture on top.

Cover the basin with a couple of layers of foil or baking paper forming a pleat on the top, and tie round the sides with string to secure firmly in place.

Place the basin in a saucepan of simmering water (the water level should come to about two thirds of the height of the basin) and simmer for an hour with the saucepan lid on. It’s cooked when you can insert a fork or skewer and it comes out clean.

When cooked turn out on to a plate and serve immediately with lashings of custard.

If you like this recipe, how about trying my Bread & Butter Leftovers Pud


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