Roasted fennel potatoes and chicken bites

Roast chicken breast and potatoes illumina.jpg

Roasted fennel potatoes and chicken bites, photo Illumina Media  [the food in this photo was prepared for a live audience on TV]

‘This one-pot roast with fennel potatoes and bite size boneless chicken pieces  can be prepared in 5 minutes, then roasted in the oven for 55 minutes making a fresh meal in an hour.   You can barely distinguish the chicken from the potatoes after they are cooked and they are also delicious served cold on toothpicks with drinks.   

In Malta roasted fennel potatoes are nearly a must for Sunday lunch.’

You will need:
500g medium size potatoes
500 g chicken breast
1 large purple onion
1 natural stock cube in 50 ml water
2 tablespoons fennel
4 tablespoons olive oil plus more to drizzle prebaking if desired
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
A few fresh marjoram leaves
Sea Salt and Freshly Crushed Pepper

Preheat oven to 200C.
Chop the onion into thin slices.
Lightly crush the fennel.
Cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces.
Wash the potatoes and chop them into bite size pieces skin on.
Add the chicken pieces, lemon zest and onion slices to the potatoes. Add the olive oil.
Use your hands to turn them over a few times so that all the pieces are coated in olive oil Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Prepare an ovenproof dish by brushing it lightly with olive oil.
Place the chicken, onions and potatoes into an ovenproof dish.
Pour the stock.
Scatter the fennel seeds and marjoram leaves on top.
Season again with more pepper.
Drizzle some more olive oil.
Roast at 200C for 40 minutes. Check and if the top is crispy enough for you lower the oven temperature to 180C for the last 15 minutes. (we like ours very crispy)
Allow to rest for 10 minutes uncovered before serving.

Tip: ‘Scatter some pieces of Maltese Sausage meat before you add the fennel seeds for more amazing flavors’

My fresh herbs and vegetables come from Big Fresh, chicken and Maltese Sausage from Falzon Butcher, fennel seeds by Schwartz, natural stock cubes by Kallo at Good Earth and kitchenware by Tescoma.

#recipeoftheday Chicken Cacciatore

chicken cacciatore 2

I served my chicken cacciatore with tagliatelle topped with salsa verde, photography Felix Cesare

‘You will find my recipe for this classic Italian braised chicken dish on   Add a touch of Rinatura Apple Vinegar and prepare this dish the day before as the flavors improve and it makes it worth rushing home to after a day’s work….

Source: Recipe: Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Bake with Spinach and Jerusalem Artichokes

Chicken bake with spinach and jerusalem artichokes  Photo Felix Cesare

Chicken bake with spinach and jerusalem artichokes Photo Felix Cesare

There is nothing more delicious than this quick chicken bake. I am making use of the fresh spinach and Jerusalem Artichokes available at the Farmers Market this week.

250g spinach, barely cooked
250g jerusalem artichokes, peeled, chopped and poached in water with a few drops of lemon juice
2 chicken breasts, sprinkle some Provence Herbs chopped and cooked in the oven at 180 C for half an hour
2 tablespoons Gran Padano
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup yoghurt
a grating of nutmeg
1 clove garlic or use minced garlic
1 onion, finely chopped and sautéed in a touch of olive oil or use freeze dried onions if you are in a rush
Salt and Pepper

Heat oven to 180 C.
Chop the cooked chicken into bite size pieces.
Use Non stick baking spray. Lay chicken neatly on the dish. Cook at 180 C for half an hour. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients together but do not over mix. Keep a spoon of each cheese to sprinkle over the top of the dish.

Bake in a preheated oven for half an hour.

Take out of oven and let it stand for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the ingredients to firm up.

Quick, fresh and Delicious !

Photography FelixCesare

Photography FelixCesare

Jasmine rice with chicken and broccoli


I get cravings from time to time for Oriental flavors and this quick dish is one of my favorites, ideal for those who do not usually cook oriental style meals at home. Always stock your store cupboard with a bottle of soy suave and sesame oil, necessities…. 🙂 You will need:

500g minced chicken
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, immersed in hot water for 20 seconds and drain
1 large clove garlic, grated
1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 spoon good oil
200g jasmine rice
Toasted coconut flakes for garnish
Drizzle of sesame oil
Drizzle of light soy sauce

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack. drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft. Add mince and the other ingredients except the sesame and soy sauce. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up mince and lower heat just before it starts getting crispy. Drizzle some light soy sauce. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly. Remove from heat. Drizzle with sesame oil.
Top with toasted coconut flakes and serve.


Chicken with Orange and Sage


I featured this dish on TV today. It is a quick, delicious weekday recipe that looks and tastes wonderful without taking up a lot of time to prepare !

You will need:

1 chicken
1 chopped apple with skin on
2 oranges chopped into segments with skin on
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Sage leaves
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Pink peppercorns (optional)

600g – 1kg Potatoes with skin on, chopped
1 onion
Handful chopped flat leaf parsley
1 spoon sesame seeds

To reduce cooking time when i am in a hurry, I ask my butcher to half the chicken lengthwise and lay the pieces out side by side. You can still produce a healthy and home cooked meal in under an hour.

Lay chicken halves near each other on a lightly oiled dish with a layer of chopped apples, oranges with skin on, onions, garlic and parsley. Garnish with a slices of orange and sage. Drizzle with olive oil, salt pepper and fresh pink peppercorns if you have any. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the potatoes.

Cook in a hot oven as required at 200 C for 45 minutes. We like our chicken to have a crisp skin but you can adjust cooking time according to your preference.

Garnish with more fresh sage and pink peppercorns before serving and you can take the whole roasting tray on the dinner table as it is.

Serve with freshly steamed vegetables.

This will also make an effortless Sunday lunch !



Quick chicken and barley stew


This is literally a whats-in-the-fridge stew using seasonal fresh vegetables. You will need a kilo of vegetables to every 500g of meat used. Add a grain or pulse and the result is a great home cooked meal that can be prepared the day before as it improves when left overnight in the fridge. It is such a good feeling to know you have a meal waiting for you after a day at work.

For my stew today I have used :

500 g skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 small broccoli head, cut up into large pieces
1/4 cauliflower, but up into small pieces
1 chayote, peels and chopped
Handful of chopped parsley
1 spoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 chopped carrots
3 potatoes, chopped
2 liter chicken or vegetable stock or use water
150g pearl barley
1 glass wine
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cans chopped tomatoes
salt and black pepper to taste
Parsley, chopped to garnish


Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Cook onions until transparent, add the chicken, then the rest of the vegetables (not the tinned tomatoes) and herbs. Add the wine, stir and after 5 minutes add the stock or water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Then stir in barley and chopped tomatoes. Stir cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Check that the vegetables and barley are cooked. Do not let the liquid dry up, add more if necessary especially if you are going to eat it the next day as the barley will keep soaking up the juices overnight.

Season to taste if required. Heat up when ready to use.


Chicken and Pumpkin Mash Pie


This is a quick delicious meal with as little added fat as possible. The fresh sage with the chicken and pumpkin is a delicious combination.

500g chicken pieces, I used breast, cut into cubes
50g smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, ground until it is puréed
1 onion, finely chopped
300g pumpkin, chopped
Pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon good oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped up

For the mash
6 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
200g pumpkin, chopped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
20g butter (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Parsley to garnish
Two tablespoons grated cheese for the topping

Sauté the onion and garlic in oil on medium heat. Add the bacon, stir and cook. Add the chicken and brown. Then add the chopped cooked pumpkin which retains a lot of water and the herbs. Cook until the pumpkin breaks down, around 20 minutes. Stir and do not let the mixture dry up, add some water if necessary. This depends on how soggy your pumpkin is. Season and turn off heat.
Grease an ovenproof dish and spoon the mixture into the dish. Flatten the surface.

For the mash, boil the potatoes and pumpkin in salted water. When they have cooked through, turn off heat and drain out all the liquid. Add the nutmeg, olive oil and butter if you are using it. Mash the vegetables or as I have done this time, use a hand held blender to cream them. I personally prefer the mashed topping with more texture but it is all about choosing what you prefer.

Spoon the creamed or mashed vegetables on top of the chicken and pumpkin layer.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Lea’s new book  Good Food Everyday is available via Midsea Books.

I use chicken by Falzon Butcher Rabat, organic pumpkin by Barbuto, spices by Schwartz at PJ Sutters,  olive oil by Costa d’Oro at J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Polish Rosol

I have just returned from Lapanow in Poland where the Festival of Broth takes place every year.

Rosol is a traditional clear Polish broth served with fine noodles or dumplings that are preferably home made.


I had the opportunity to taste many versions made from old family recipes or those that are typically used in villages. Although very similar and using more or less the same ingredients, each soup had its own identity in appearance and flavor.


Thr Polish are proud of their Broth. It is served at weddings, Christmas dinners, special occasions and also fed to someone who is ill and the healing properties must also come from the care and attention that has gone into the preparation of this broth.

I was given several similar recipes and you will need:

1 whole chicken
2 carrots, peel and cut into small cubes
Some chopped garlic
Flat leaf parsley
1 celery, cut into large pieces
½ leek, cut into large pieces
1 whole onion, delicately charred on a skillet
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
cooked angel hair noodles, to serve
fresh parsley, to serve
salt and pepper


Place the chicken in a large soup pot and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Bring the water to boil, skim very well, then lower the heat and simmer for another hour.

Add the carrot, parsley, celery, leek and onion to the soup, with some salt, peppercorns and bay leaves. Simmer over low heat for an additional hour.

Remove meat and vegetables, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Strain the soup.
Remove some of the fat floatimg at the top.
Serve with cooked angel hair pasta, chopped carrots and fresh parsley.

With thanks to the local action group of Dolina Raby


Today’s paper


Grilled chicken and peach salad


So many peaches in the market this week. Peach season is now with us. I met local farmer Joseph and the ambundance of peaches on his land is almost surreal. I love the combination of peaches with grilled chicken. Here is something light and a wonderful marriage of flavors.


You will need :

1 large peach, skin on cut in thin segments
1 scallion (finely chopped)
1 red chili deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
4 boneless chicken thighs (cut into chunks)
Arugula according to preference
2 spoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon peanut oil and a few drops sesame oil mixed in three spoons of mayonnaise
Handful of cranberries
Handful of toasted flaked almonds
Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange the arugula leaves on a plate and place the peach slices around the dish. Put the chunks of chicken into the middle of the plate. I grilled my chicken pieces with just a bit of sea salt, olive oil and freshly ground pepper on baking paper. The boneless thighs are delicious.

Squeeze some lime juice all over. Make the dressing using peanut oil, a few drops of sesame and mayonnaise and three spoons of water. Stir until the mixture combines and has a smooth and even texture.

Sprinkle the ground coriander all over the dish very lightly and then pour the mayonnaise mix sparingly over the chicken. Sprinkle and garnish with toasted flaked almonds and the dried cranberries. Cut a few very fine slivers of fresh red chili and again sprinkle sparingly on the chicken with dressing. Use a lime slice as garnish.


Homemade Burgers


Making burgers from scratch allows you to put exactly what you like into your burgers. Lean meat that is still juicy and moist after it is cooked and the best way to do this is to ask your Butcher to help you with your choice. You can also opt for the less traditional burgers and use ground rabbit or veal.

Hamburgers are associated with food that is not healthy but this is not necessarily so especially when they are homemade. Here additional ingredients purely for flavor rather than for bulk.

To avoid sogginess toast the bun and arrange the lettuce under the burger. Use a serrated knife to cut tomatoes, drain out all juices and seeds.

For 4 burgers you will need:
4 burger buns and you can find a fresh variety from the in-house baker in the store
1 tablespoon vegetable oil for cooking

Condiments and extras: American type, grain or dijon mustard, ketchup, red onions, fried eggs, picked cucumbers, coleslaw, mayonnaise, bacon, lettuce, cucumber, cheddar, blue cheese

For Beef Burgers

1 small onion, finely chopped
400g Ground Beef
2 sprigs parsley, finely choppd
Sea Salt, fresh ground pepper
1 egg
3 galletti crushed
3 burger buns


For Pork Burgers
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh chili, deseeded and chopped
400g pork mince
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 egg
salt and freshly ground pepper


For Maltese Sausage Burgers
200g Maltese sausage meat
200g lean ground pork
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 hard white gbejna grated
1 egg
4 galletti


For Chicken Burgers
1 egg
1 small onion, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 spoons dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
400g lean ground chicken
1 tablespoon tahini



* in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes turning them once after 10 minutes.
* the traditional way on a bbq.
* Here we use a griddle pan also available from the store. Wipe the pan with vegetable oil using a kitchen towel and heat up the pan to maximum heat.
In a pan, saute the onion until soft. Remove, place on kitchen towel to absorb oil. Finely crush the galletti in a food processor.
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
Divide the mixture into 4. Wet your hands and form patties about 2 cm thick.
Cook your burgers, they usually take 3 minutes each side. Make sure that pork and chicken is cooked through.
Prepare the buns by halving and toasting them.
Slide your cooked burger onto your buns and stack up the extras according to your preference.