Mexican Red Rice

This rice dish is full of flavour and texture and is great side for almost any savoury Mexican dish or just on its own with avocado and tangy salsa.



2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1-1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice

3 cloves garlic, minced

2-1/2 cups vegetarian/chicken stock (from the cubes is just fine)

400g passata/canned chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 cup frozen petits pois

salt to taste

chopped spring onion/coriander for serving (optional)


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes or until softened and translucent.
  2. Add the dry rice and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until rice becomes a golden brown colour. Do not allow the rice to burn. Add the garlic to the rice and cook for one more minute.
  3. Add the passata/chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, petit pois, chilli powder and salt, mix well, lower heat and cover with a lid.
  4. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.



Chicken with Prunes, Saffron & Paprika

Rick Stein is one of my absolute favourite TV chefs. He seems to me such a good personality, with his never ending passion for food that it’s almost infectious. He also is great story teller, with a good sense of humour. I loved his ‘Long weekends’ episodes and after watching it, I discovered Bologna. My sister lives just an hour away from Bologna, but every time visiting her, I never considered to visit this place, thinking of it more like a ‘bus or a train stop’ on the way to Tuscany or further a field. And only after watching an episode on Bologna by Rick Stein we decided to pay a visit, and so glad we that we did.

Then again, inspired by his other trip, we went to Sicily and fell in love with the country and its FOOD.

By coincidence, a friend of mine gave me his book (‘Long weekends’) for my birthday, I was thrilled. Not only does it take me back to those wonderful locations from the series and my own travels, it’s also packed with amazing food ideas, tips and techniques.

One of my highlights from this book is this recipe below. It takes only a few ingredients and no time to prepare at all, mainly waiting for it to be cooked.


(from Rick Stein’s ‘Long weekends’ book)


8 skinless chicken thighs

1 litre water

pinch of saffron

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 red onions, finely sliced

1.5 tablespoon sweet paprika

20 pitted prunes

1 teaspoon salt

blask pepper to taste


  1. Place the chicken thighs in a saucepan with the water and the saffron. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and allow to poach for 10-15 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed pan heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and gently sweat the onion util very soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the paprika, cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken thighs, about 700ml of the cooking liquid and the prunes. Season with the salt and pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes, until heated through.
  4. If at the end of the cooking it remains very watery, remove the chicken, prunes and onion with the slotted spoon and keep it warm while you reduce down the sauce until desired consistency.
  5. Serve it with some rice dish of your choice. I also love it with plain buttery buckwheat.

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (Paprikás Csirke)

Here is the classic, authentic, easy to prepare, one of the most famous Hungarian dishes – Chicken Paprikash  (Paprikás Csirke). Having tasted and cooked a few versions of the this dish myself, this recipe (below) is the closest to authentic as you can get. You can serve it with rice, pasta or potato, but I recommend to serve it with homemade Spaetzle.

Chicken Paprikash



about 650 g chicken – drumsticks and thighs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tablespoons paprika

1 cup water/chicken stock

2 tablespoons plain flour

1/2 cup sour cream

salt to taste


  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat until hot, add oil.
  2. Season the chicken pieces with salt.  Then add the chicken to the pan and fry the chicken undisturbed until golden brown on both sides, turning over half way. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.
  3. Drain the excess oil from the pan, then add the onion, garlic, sauté until it golden and translucent. After about 7 minutes, add paprika and pepper flakes, fry, stirring constantly for 3 more minutes. Add the water or chicken stock, return the chicken pieces back to the pot along with any accumulated juices, season with salt to taste. Continue cooking on a medium heat until the meat falls off the bone, for about 45 minutes or longer if necessary.
  4. Mix the flour and sour cream into the paste. To avoid the sour cream to split, add some cooking liquid from the chicken a spoonful at a time to the cream mixture and stirring after each addition.
  5. When the chicken is ready, add the sour cream and flour paste to the pot and stir to combine. Cook until mixture is thick. Do not allow to boil otherwise that sauce will split.

Hungarian Dumplings



2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

¾ cups water

1 tablespoon butter, melted


  1. Preferably if you make the spaetlze while you are waiting for chicken to cook, as these dumplings are the best eaten as soon as they are made.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  3. Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs, water and butter. Stir until the batter is smooth and thick
  4. Drop batter into boiling water with a spoon, dipping the spoon into the water each time. You can make these larger or smaller as you prefer. Alternatively, you can use a Spaetzle Maker.
  5. Stir the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, so that the dumplings will rise to the top. After the dumplings rise to the top, let them boil about 2 minutes more.
  6. Remove to a large colander and drain. If you wish, you can add some olive oil or butter to the dumplings. It is not essential, but I like the taste and it’ll help avoid dumplings sticking together.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls or ‘golubtsy’ (“go-lub-tzy”), how we call them back home is one of the most authentic and popular dishes. However, there are many interpretations of this dish (using different fillings, types of meat, cabbage, sauce, etc) in many other countries-Russia, Turkey, Israel, Greece, Armenia, Poland, etc. This dish originated from the idea of using up the leftovers and that means that it is very adaptable to incorporate whatever food you have to hand. The only thing, at home only white cabbage is normally used for this dish, but I found white cabbage in UK is very different to the one we have at home (it is much smaller, tighter, hence it is difficult to separate the leaves and leaves are not as flavoursome), so like many people, I opted for Savoy cabbage instead, which is also perfect.



1-2 Savoy cabbage heads (depends on the size of the cabbage. I used two).

Note on the cabbage: I also tried using a few leaves of Pointed Cabbage (you will see on a photo), but I can conclude now that it also worked but I still prefer Savoy cabbage.

For the sauce:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cans chopped tomatoes in their juice

2 tablespoons sugar

50ml red wine (optional)

salt & pepper

For the filling:

500g beef mince

600g pork mince

1/2 cup of uncooked rice

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped herbs (parsley/thyme)

1.5 teaspoons salt

0.5 teaspoon pepper


1. Start with preparing sauce first. Heat up the olive oil in a large pan, add chopped onion, cook it until soft. Add tinned tomatoes, sugar, wine, salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, make sure it’s seasoned well, cover with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, set it aside.


2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare the cabbage by carefully, with a paring knife, removing the core of the cabbage. (Don’t worry if it’s not accurate, ass long as you managed to remove most of the hardest part of the core, it’ll help you to separate the leaves). Then place the prepared cabbage head into the water for a 4-5 minutes at least, or until you are able to peel off the leaves one by one, using tongs (or you might find it is easier to use fork and knife). Set the leaves aside. Depending on the size of your cabbage, you will need approximately 14-16 leaves.


3. Preheat the oven to 170C and make the filling. For the filling simply combine the beef mince, pork mince, beaten eggs, chopped onion, rice(uncooked), herbs, salt and pepper, add 1 cup of the prepared tomato sauce and mix it all lightly using a fork.


4. To assemble, place 1 cup tomato mixture in bottom of prepared baking dish (preferably heavy bottom/cast iron dish/Dutch oven). Take the cabbage leaf, carefully, with the small knife, remove the hard triangle rib from the base of each cabbage leaf. Then place few tablespoons of filling in the middle near to the rib edge of the leaf and roll up towards the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll, forming the sort of parcel shape. Continue the same with the rest of the leaves and filling. Them place half of the rolls on the bottom of the dish seam side down, cover with few cups of sauce, then layer of rolls and finish with the rest of the sauce. Cover the dish with the lid and bake for an hour and a half or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender. Serve it hot on its own or with roasted potatoes, or at home we used to eat it with rye bread and dollop of soured cream.


And, I have to apologise for the absence of the photos with the end of process, as in a moment of haste, I managed to delete them somehow. So, I have to turn to the good old Google and found THIS for you, to see the finished result.