Just In Time For Mother’s Day: Lesley Ann’s Famous Chicken



About 10 years ago, in a far away land, I married the love of my life. The wedding took place on a game reserve in Johannesburg, which was owned by very dear friends. We had all sorts of people come to the wedding, from far and wide, including my husband’s family from the US. My In Laws had yet to meet my parents, and the first time this happened was 5 days before the wedding when my mom invited everyone over for lunch. This is what she served, and neither I nor anyone who was there, will forget it. I have made it 100 times since then, and always think of my mom, and that day, which is a lovely memory. So, in time for Mother’s Day, this post is dedicated to the best mother in world whom I miss so much every day. And despite the huge distance between us, 7970 miles to be exact, I am grateful that I can feel close to her through these recipes. Happy Mothers Day, Mom. I love you more than words can say.

The beauty of this dish is its simplicity. Except for a few key ingredients, you can add or take away whatever you don’t like.
Here is the recipe:

Serves 4 to 6

6 – 8 chicken thighs, preferably organic
Flour for dredging
3 tspn Mustard Powder
1 tspn thyme
1/2 tspn chilli powder (optional)
Salt and Pepper
3 large garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olives (optional)(if the olives are not pitted, make sure to warn your guests)
1 cup roughly chopped vegetables of your choice (zuchinni, butternut, carrots,beans, whatever you like, or don’t add any at all)
I cup of low sodium chicken broth, plus extra if neccessary (organic if possible)

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350F
Grease (with spray on olive oil or butter) an oven proof dish which is big enough to hold 6 to 8 thighs.
Dredge thighs in enough flour to coat well.
Place in the dish and sprinkle with mustard, thyme, chilli and whatever other spices you like.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chopped vegetables and the olives to the dish, placing randomly between the thighs.
Add the chicken stock – the liquid should just about cover mid-thighs, but leaving the skin untouched.
Add the garlic to the liquid, then add the lemon juice.
(if it’s easier, do these last 2 steps in a separate bowl – add the lemon juice and minced garlic to the chicken stock and pour into the ovenproof dish)
Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes until skin is browned and crispy.

Serve with rice, bulgur or quinoa and a crunchy green salad. Make sure to spoon lots of the lemony vegetable liquid over your chicken and rice.

PS the picture of the recipe is taken with an iPhone, so apologies for the quality :-)


Kale Salad with Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette


I do realise that the minute anyone mentions ‘anchovy’, a myriad of facial expressions present themselves, from pure delight to utter horror. I was, for the longest time, in the latter category, but then my taste buds grew up. I don’t think I’m quite ready to eat them straight out the jar, in a nicoise for example, but in a dressing such as this, they are sublime.
The thing about the anchovy is that it forms a ‘base’ taste….a level of saltiness that you cannot get from salt, if that makes sense. Add them to most dishes while cooking and you will taste the difference.

I first experienced this salad at a shoot here in New York. We had ordered lunch from a well known establishment called ‘Wichcraft. Best breakfasts, and mighty good sandwiches. But along came this kale salad, purely by accident, and I was addicted. It became my breakfast and lunch, every day, for a week. I’m still not sick of it.

I got the recipe from one of my favourite blogs, FOOD52. They in turn got it from ‘Wichcraft, and I have a feeling it’s going to become one of those standard recipes that just carry on forever.

I won’t regurgitate the recipe because the ladies at FOOD52 do a magnificent job, and you can get it here, but please take note when they ask you to do things like massage the onions and fresh thyme with a large pinch of salt, and to leave for 10 minutes. And especially take note to literally massage the kale leaves with the vinaigrette. The longer you leave this salad to absorb the vinaigrette flavours, the better it will be, hence making it an excellent salad for parties. If, for some reason, you can’t find kale, you can use spinach or swiss chard….or any other hearty green leaf.


Perfect Tomato Bruschetta

Sometimes, the simple things in life are the best.
Take these bruschetta’s for example. Dress ’em up, dress ’em down. Make them spicy, or give them a Meditteranean feel. Add red onion, olives, preserved lemon and chilli. Some shopped thyme, a squeeze of lime. Make each bite a sensation.
Here’s how to begin:

Dice a bunch of tomatoes – make sure they are as colourful as possible: red, green, orange, yellow, dark red/purple etc.
Place in a bowl, add a splash of olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
Tear up some basil leaves, and if desired, add some chopped capers, de-pipped olives, red onion and red pepper flakes. Mix well and let sit.
Light the grill and brush some olive oil on both sides of some sliced sour dough bread.
Grill until lightly toasted on both sides.This can also be done in the oven under the broiler/grill.
BE VERY CAREFUL AS IT CAN BURN VERY EASILY- always watch it from start to finish. It will only take a few minutes.
And here is the magic step to delicious bruschetta: As it comes off the grill / out of the oven, rub a clove of peeled garlic over one side of each slice of grilled bread, using 2 cloves if necessary for the whole loaf. It will ‘melt’ into the bread.
Place the toasted bread on a platter or two and spoon the tomato mixture onto each slice.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary…adding a little more coarse sea salt and black pepper.
Garnish with some fresh parsley (torn or chopped into smaller pieces),and sliced mozzarella or buratta cheese if desired.

Cut each slice into two for easier handling.
Squeeze half a lemon over bruschetta, this finishes it off and helps to bring all the flavours together.

Enjoy with a lovely glass of chilled white wine, or rose.

After all, what could be more simple, or more delicious!

Homemade Pizza with Kale, Caramelized Red Onion, Bacon and Gorgonzola

Encouraged by the abundance of Kale on the menus of New York restaurants these days, I thought it would be great to share this recipe with you. It’s from a shoot I did with my friend Paul Lowe, also known as Sweet Paul, and if you know me by now, you’ll know I’m a big fan of his work. There is nothing better than homemade pizza. Even if you don’t want to make the dough yourself, and you use the store bought variety, it still beats the taste and quality you’d find in most pizza parlours. And not only that, it will make your home smell amazing too!

This pizza has crispy bits of bacon, caramelized red onions, and plenty of melted cheese interlaced with the kale. Paul never uses tomato sauce, and he likes to use gorgonzola, but if you don’t like gorgonzola, replace it with fontina, gruyere or any other cheese that melts easily.

Ingredients For Dough: (makes one large pizza, serves 4)

Paul has a very simple recipe which I can vouch for:
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
I tablespoon dry yeast
2.5 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of corn meal for sprinkling on the stone/baking tray

– Mix water, honey and yeast in a bowl
– Leave it for 5 minutes so that the yeast starts to work
– Add flour, salt and oil
– Work the dough well together
– Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature for about one hour

Or, you can buy store bought dough which really, is much easier!

Ingredients for the Toppings:
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of sugar
6 rashers of bacon
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 bunch of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
5 oz crumbled gorgonzola or gruyere
3 oz grated good quality mozzarella
half a cup of fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

– Preheat the oven to 450 F / 230 C and place a pizza stone (if you have one) inside.
– if you don’t have a pizza stone, use an inverted baking tray/cookie sheet
– Put the onions, olive oil, and sugar into a pan over medium heat and cook,
stirring frequently, until the onions are wilted and brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat if the onions are browning too quickly. Set aside to cool a bit.
– In the same pan, cook the bacon until crispy (or to your liking).
– Remove and add to the onions. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the fat.
– Now place the kale in the same pan and cook until it wilts slightly, but not completely.
Add a few tablespoons of water and cover, if necessary.

– Roll out the dough, and place on the heated pizza stone* (it will be VERY HOT! PLease be careful!)
– *Sprinkle some corn meal on the stone/baking sheet to prevent sticking
– loosely place the bacon, onions and kale on the dough, making sure to get an even mix.
– sprinkle gorgonzola and mozzarella on top
– drizzle with olive oil
– place in oven and cook until cheese melts, about 12 to 15 minutes
– pull the pizza out, and let cool for 5 minutes.
– Sprinkle the chopped parsely on top, along with some course sea salt and black pepper
Cut the pizza up into as many slices as you like, and, for an added bonus, add half of a sliced
avocado. You won’t regret it!


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