Monday, 21 November 2011

brussels sprouts w/chestnuts, bacon and parsley

I think I can say for sure that this recipe is the only one you'll ever see on this blog that contains bacon. I fully realise that it's not health food but Brussels sprout definitely is. A few years back, I was preparing for Christmas with the TV on in the background. Suddenly I recognised Nigella Lawson's voice. They were showing some Christmas cooking series and she was preparing a turkey meal. I quit what I was doing to watch the show. As we always cook turkey at Christmas Eve or Day, I was interested in ideas for side dishes. Before I knew it Nigella was mesmerising me with her Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, pancetta and parsley. She of course makes everything look so easy and when I tried her recipe it really was. As I couldn't get pancetta I simply used luxury bacon and I've used it ever since. This side dish has become a tradition in our home at Christmas and we serve it with almost all our fancy meals. Believe it or not, our children love it. I think those who dislike Brussels sprouts simply haven't tasted Nigella's. As I never use butter I skip it and I usually skip the Marsala wine, so I'm making it optional. I often use chopped cashew nuts instead of chestnuts; it simply depends on my mood. Sometimes I use only about 800 g of Brussels sprouts, especially if I'm making many side dishes. Here is my version of Nigella's recipe but the link above will take you to the original one. Below are some notes on the difference.



  • 1 kg Brussels sprouts
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 200 g luxury bacon, preferably organic/free-range
  • 100-150 g vacuum-packed chestnuts or cashew nuts
  • optional: 4 tablespoons Marsala wine (60 ml)
  • 1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • optional: sea salt

According to Nigella's recipe you should use 250 g of pancetta cut into 1.25 cm (0.50 inches) cubes, but I find 200 g enough. According to her you should also use about 225 g chestnuts but I only use 100-150 g. Sometimes I use more; it sort of depends on what other side dishes I'm serving with the meal. There is no sea salt in Nigella's recipe, except that she boils the Brussels sprouts in salted water, but I like to sprinkle some on top.


  1. Slice the bottoms off each of the Brussels sprouts, cutting a cross on the base as you go. Place the Brussels sprouts into a large saucepan of salted boiling water and cook them for 5 minutes, or until they are tender but still retain a bit of bite
  2. While the Brussels sprouts are cooking, cut the slices of bacon but don't make them too small. If using cashew nuts instead of chestnuts, chop them in a food processor or with a knife
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and drain the excess water. Allow the Brussels sprouts to sit in a colander until you use them (I like cutting them in half before adding them to the frying pan. If you have time I recommend it, but allow them to cool first)
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large clean saucepan or frying pan, add the cut slices of bacon and cook until they are crisp and golden-brown in colour, but not cooked to the point of having dried out
  5. Add more coconut oil if you need to and add the chestnuts (or the already chopped cashew nuts). Use a wooden spoon or spatula and press down on the chestnuts to break them up into pieces. Once the chestnuts have been warmed through, turn the heat up and add the Marsala wine to the pan, if you use it, and cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly
  6. Add the Brussels sprouts and half the parsley to the saucepan and mix well (usually I add all the parsley to the saucepan or two-thirds)
  7. Season with freshly ground black pepper and before serving, sprinkle some sea salt on top and the remaining chopped parsley

Monday, 7 November 2011

rice and almond pudding (risalamande)

© Lisa Hjalt | Lunch & Latte
Please find the rice and almond pudding (risalamande) recipe on my blog Lunch & Latte (follow the link).

Thursday, 3 November 2011

french rosemary chicken stew

About two years ago I tried this recipe, then called autumn stew, for the first time and I have to admit that the family members and I weren't all that impressed. In my opinion there was too much chicken and rice, and the rosemary flavour was very dominant. However, there was something about the recipe that I really liked; I liked cooking these ingredients because of the wonderful aroma in the kitchen so I didn't quite write it off. About a year later I felt the need to try it again, made some changes, added organic dijon mustard, and we all loved it. There was something very French about it after the dijon had been added and the rosemary flavour became subtler. That's why we changed the name to French rosemary chicken stew. To me, this is the perfect autumn stew. I serve it in a bowl with bread, preferably home-made, fresh from the oven, and it doesn't hurt to enjoy with it one glass of red wine. I make the stew with organic/free-range chicken and I don't peel the potatoes as I only use organic vegetables in it.



  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets, preferably organic/free-range
  • 500 ml water (2 cups)
  • chicken stock cube, organic
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (450 g)
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon organic dijon mustard
  • 3 potatoes, quartered
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary, fresh or dried
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning (I use ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, ¼ teaspoon dried basil and a touch of ground coriander)
  • optional: 1 bay leaf
  • ¼-½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 600 ml boiled Basmati rice (2½ cups)


  1. Start with rinsing and boiling the rice. I always boil 375 ml rice (1½ cup) in 750 ml water (3 cups) to make sure I have enough for the stew (and even to use on the side for those who want more rice). It only takes about 10 minutes to boil Basmati rice. (If you are insecure in the kitchen, simply boil the rice before you start making the stew. Start with bringing the rice to the boil without a lid. When the water starts boiling, turn the heat down to low and put a lit on the saucepan, just tilting it to begin with so you allow the steam to escape. When the rice is done, allow it to sit in the saucepan with the lid on until you use it in the stew.)
  2. Now we start making the stew: Put the chicken breast fillets in a large saucepan with 500 ml water (2 cups) and the chicken stock cubes. When the water starts boiling, add the finely chopped onion and let it simmer until the fillets are cooked through (it'll take a few minutes). I usually turn the fillets once
  3. When the fillets are cooked through, use a fork or tongs to remove them from the saucepan, put them on a plate and set aside
  4. Add the can of tomatoes to the saucepan and 400 ml water (simply fill the empty tomato can with water and then you have 400 ml)
  5. Add the dijon mustard and stir gently
  6. Add all the vegetables, herbs, salt and pepper (if your Italian herb seasoning does not include bay leaves I would recommend cooking the stew with one bay leaf and remove it from the saucepan before serving
  7. Cut the fillets or simply tear them in your hands and add to the stew. Stir gently. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for 25 minutes
  8. Add 600 ml boiled Basmati rice (2½ cups) to the saucepan, stir and cook further for about 8-10 minutes
  9. I serve the stew in bowls and I allow it to cool for a few minutes, as the vegetables are very hot straight from the saucepan

If you are only cooking for two then I recommend making only half recipe. You can use one can of tomatoes and simply skip the extra 400 ml water and the one tomato.

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