Tag Archives: bouillon cube

Bacon And Ham Soup With Broken Spaghetti (serves 4)

Necessity is most certainly the mother of invention when it comes to dinners some nights in my house, and this soup-y dish stretched that saying to the maximum. I suppose I could have called this “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink”  but I wanted it to sound as sophisticated as it turned out to be.

Bacon And Ham Soup with Broken spaghetti

Bacon and Ham Soup with Broken Spaghetti

I love to cook but don’t always love to shop for ingredients (unless it is a great outdoor market in some far-flung part of the world, or a really dynamite foodie emporium like Eataly in New York City!), especially if it is just to rush for supplies to my dreary supermarket for one measly dinner.

I was down to the dregs as far as choices go but was determined to find what I could and make a meal out of it. I literally put the pot on the stove with the bacon and onions before I knew what I was making. As I found things, I just added them to the pot (like the cooked ham I had mistakenly tucked into the cheese drawer in my fridge).

I ended up with a really great zesty soup that appeared out of nowhere and disappeared quickly. So, never underestimate the power of a bouillon cube, a few stripes of bacon and a 1/4 box of spaghetti!


You will need:

1 tbs olive oil

1/2 lb cooked ham, large dice

1/2 lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 medium onion, (yellow or sweet), diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

juice of 1 small lime (3 tbs approx)

1 cup peas (I used frozen baby peas)

6 cups spinach leaves (if they are large, chop them)

1 tbs curry paste (I used a Patak brand medium paste)

1 tsp cayenne pepper flakes

1 veggie or chicken bouillon cube (I used Rapunzel brand)

10 cups water

1/4 lb spaghetti, broken into short pieces


1 – Prep all ingredients and put large soup pot on medium heat. Add oil and when it is warm add the chopped bacon and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the onions and garlic and continue to cook for another 8 or so minutes (until onions are soft and bacon more crispy). Next add the other seasonings (pepper flakes, stock cube) and stir.


Cook the base ingredients

2 – Turn heat up to high and add the water and curry paste.  Bring liquid to a boil.


Add the liquid

3 – Add the peas, spinach and bring stock back to a boil, while giving the pot a stir.

add greens

Add greens

4 – Turn the heat to medium and add the spaghetti, lime juice and diced cooked ham.


Add pasta, ham and lime juice

5 – Cover and simmer until pasta is almost cooked (about 6 minutes). Turn heat off and let pot sit for about 10 minutes, in which time the broth will thicken and the pasta will completely cook through. Taste and add seasonings to your taste (sea-salt and/or freshly ground black pepper)

add ham and cook spaghetti

add ham and cook spaghetti

Serve in warmed bowls with lots of crusty bread, more cayenne flakes or sriracha sauce.

serve with toasted bread

Serve with toasted bread

Smokey Pork With Capers & Penne – So Good! (serves 6 in a hurry!)

A few days ago I posted a recipe just to demonstrate how frozen pork tenderloin could be sliced and used handily, (Pork Stir-Fry). Well, here is another one.

I cannot tell you how convenient it is to have ingredients like a quick-cooking meat and baby peas in the freezer. 

Yes, I come off as being boringly organised in the kitchen, but it is because I am just the opposite that I make sure to have food like this stashed away! It rules out a lot of thinking and planning. I will say that I am good at winging-it in the kitchen, so not knowing what I am going to cook each evening is more of a joy than a challenge (my one talent).

So Good

But, if you’re not a fly by the seat of your pants style cook, this is a great recipe for you. It is also ideal for a crowd, so double the amounts and have a party!


You will need:

1 lb pork tenderloin, thinly sliced (if the pork is semi-frozen it is very easy to slice)

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 good quality veggie or chicken bouillon cube (try to keep Rapunzel cubes on hand)

3 heaped tbs capers with their briny juice

1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup peas (I used frozen baby peas)

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbs unsalted butter (optional)

1 lb penne, mini penne if you can find it (I use Barilla brand)

freshly ground black pepper

pasta water and cream as necessary


1 – Slice the pork and set aside. Put water on for pasta and when it boils add some salt and cook according to instructions. The pasta should be cooked right about the time you need to add it to your pan. *Do not rinse pasta and reserve about a 1/2 cup of the cooked pasta water for use later*

sliced pork tenderloin

2 – Put large saute pan on low/medium heat, (large enough for the whole dish). Add the oil and when it warms swirl in the stock cube and stir until dissolved.

oil and bouillon

3 – Add the capers and stir to cook in for a minute. Add the paprika and pepper flakes and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Add capers, then smoked paprika

4 – Turn heat up to close to high and add the pork. Arrange on the pan in an even layer and let it cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes, (it will get liquid-y).

add pork

5 – Turn and allow to cook for another 3 minutes or so, after which point it should be nice and tender.

saute pork for 4 or so minutes

6 – Add the peas and cook for another minutes. Turn heat down to low (or just above) and add the cram and water. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes. Taste for addition of salt and pepper and add accordingly.

add liquid

7 – Add the cooked pasta and the optional butter and mix together. If you need to loosen up the pasta you can add a little more cream and/or the reserved pasta water until you are satisfied with the consistency.

add pasta

Serve in warmed bowls or put one large bowl on the table and let everyone help themselves.

add things like black pepper and chili flakes

If you are a condiment-type person I suggest more pepper flakes and black pepper. Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano would be delicious too.

Curried Chicken With Dried Cherries (serves 4) & More Fun With My Brother

Curried Chicken With Dried Cherries

Last Friday I paid an overnight visit to my brother’s, and I had so much fun that I decided to do it again! This time however I brought my two kids with me. I set off last week with the relishing thought of being away from everyone, but the honest-to-goodness truth is that I missed them. When I am with my son and my daughter they spur me on to do things I wouldn’t do when alone, like looking for frogs at the pond or going out for ice cream after dinner, and perhaps even turning the car stereo up really loud and singing at the top of my lungs (actually, I will admit to doing that last one solo on many occasions!)

My brother’s back porch

We arrived in the afternoon and after dropping in to my brother’s work place to say “ciao” we headed to the house armed with the ingredients for dinner. I put a bottle of prosecco in the fridge to chill and then off we went to catch frogs.

Anyone for late night badminton?

By the time Pascal arrived home, dinner preparations were in full swing, a movie underway and the bottle of prosecco half drained. I love nothing better than a loud kitchen with lots of happy people milling about amidst the wafting aroma of food. It has the magical effect of making you think everything is alright with the world, and if creating that illusion is a simply matter of preparing dinner I’m all for making the effort every evening that I can.

We ended the day with a riveting game of badminton, and although playing in flip-flops is not recommended, don’t let it stop you for a second!


*This is also a Blood Type A diet Dinner. if you do not want to use the flour (which is neutral), just omit and you will end up with a lovely, but brothier version*

You will need:

4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

4lb cut-up chicken

1 white onion, large dice (yellow or sweet onion will do also)

3 celery ribs, including leaves, sliced

1/2 lb white mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup dried cherries

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 sprigs fresh oregano

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 1/2 tbs madras curry powder (or other aromatic variety)

3 tbs all-purpose flour,

4 cups veggie or chicken broth (or, 1 good quality bouillon cube & 4 cups water)


Prep all veggies before you start cooking

1 – Place big all-purpose pan (with lid) on medium/high heat and add the oil. When it is hot, sear the chicken in batches until surface is golden brown. Transfer to a plate as you go.

Sear Chicken in batches

2 – Turn heat down to medium/low and add the garlic, onion and celery. Saute for about 5 or so minutes, stirring occasionally.

Saute onions, garlic & celery

3 – Add the mushrooms, cherries, and herbs and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Add cherries, mushrooms & herbs

4 – Add the curry powder (and bouillon cube if using), and stir for a minute, then add the flour and mix well.

Add curry powder, then flour

5 – Add 1 cup of broth/water and stir well. Continue to add water/broth and turn heat to high. When mixture comes to a bubble, add the chicken in an even layer. Turn heat down to low (a simmer) and cover. Simmer gently for 1 hour.Turn off heat and let everything rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Add liquid

Serve alone, or with a pasta, rice or crusty bread. I served our dinner with tagliatelle (egg noodles) and it was really tasty.

Simmer on stove-top for 1 hour

Another lovely visit

Whole Chicken Cooked with Creamy Celery (serves 4)

 When the cupboards are getting bare, I usually have onions and celery in the house. They keep for a long time and do wonders for anything they are added to.

If you are not sure what to keep on hand for those days you do not want to go shopping (that would be me), or, it is just that time of the week when you generally run out of ingredients, put 3 things on your list of staples; onions, celery, chicken broth, OR, good quality bouillon cubes. If you have these few things, you will never be stuck.

I buy a really great vegetarian bouillon cube  which has herbs and sea-salt added. In a pinch, they are all I need to pull together a soup or stew-like dish. They also make a great base for various pasta sauces (will be posting about this wonder-cubes in my pantry section tomorrow!)

This was a wonderful and simple method to coax the most flavor out of my chicken dinner!

Yes, it is also a good idea to have a couple of chickens in the freezer, and a stock of canned goods such as plum tomatoes.

It is also worth mentioned that this dinner costs pennies to make.

Last night I put all my stables to the best possible use and whipped together yet another amazing chicken dinner! It took little or no effort on my part and the flavors were not compromised. I give all the credit to a few sticks of celery and a couple of onions.


You Will Need: 3 1/2 lb whole chicken, 4 big celery ribs, including leaves, sliced, 2 medium onions (yellow or sweet), large dice,  2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tbs unsalted butter, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 14oz can plum tomatoes, including juices, 2 cups chicken broth (or, 1 good quality veggie or chicken bouillon cube & 2 cups of water), 1/2 cup heavy cream, sea-salt and freshly cracked pepper to season chicken.

Preheat oven 425*

saute veggies, then add liquid

1 – Put heavy-lidded casserole on medium heat on stove top and add butter and oil. Add the onions and celery and cook for 15 or so minutes. add the cream, tomatoes, thyme, and broth and bring to a simmer.

add chicken

2 – Lay the whole chicken on top of everything and spoon some of the juices and greens over the skin. Place the lid on your pot and place in the oven for 70 to 75 minutes.

3 – Transfer chicken to a plate and cover for 10 minutes to rest and cool down a little.

Whole chicken cooked in Creamy Celery (my son had some rice in his broth)

This dish has lots of yummy broth so serve in shallow bowls giving each person a big piece of their favorite part of the chicken. You can also serve it along with rice, pasta or crusty bread.