Sefton Park Palm House and Morrocan Chicken pie

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I really did not know where to start with this post, as recent events have overshadowed the frivolity of writing a blog. But then I thought of all of you who had messaged me to see if I was safe, and said to myself, no, it is not frivolous, here we are creating a community of like-minded, tolerant, supportive and genuine people from all walks so of life from all over the world, from many different religious and cultural backgrounds, each with their own story to tell, and each telling it in their own unique way. Through writing, sharing poetry and philosophy, photography, gardening, cookery, loving nature and celebrating life.

I have travelled to wonderful palaces with ‘The Green Eye’, explored Italian villages with ’Ishita’, experienced the oppression of living in an Arab state with ‘Lynz’, listened to a Rabbi with a dog’s ears with ‘Rachel’, eaten amazing breakfasts with ‘Mila’ and been cooking in the kitchen with ‘Karina’ making her wonderful salads.
I have listened to bells with ‘Osysth’ and learnt all about Annie Sloane paint from ‘Zoe’.
Whilst ‘Michelle’ has taught me what I can eat from the garden and brought a wonderful sense of balance, and Marisa has given me my ‘Christmas Baking Challenge!
Plus many others of you who have enriched my life in your own unique and special way.

I was tempted to post some lovely positive images of Paris, but my originally intended ‘next’ post was the last from my recent trip to Liverpool, so I am going to stick with that, as to deviate further would be allowing terrorists to continue to have influence.

So here goes……. Sefton Park is a beautiful 375 acre ‘landscaped garden’ in south Liverpool on the site of the ‘Royal Toxteth Deer Park’ dating from 1591.
In 1867, 375 acres of this area was designated to the creation of a park, with £250,000 for its development being donated by the then Lord Sefton, hence the name.

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Sefton Park Palm House

Sefton Park ‘Palm House’, which opened in 1896 is a grade II listed three tier domed conservatory.
The Palm House is integral to my childhood and I visited here almost every Sunday, no matter the season or weather, on our after lunch family walks with family.


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Me sitting on my favourite chair when I was a little girl (my feet still do not reach the ground!)

When I was a child going into the Palm House, was like entering another world that seemed to me enormous, mysterious and a little bit scary.
I can still remember the warm damp air enveloping me as I went inside, and the musty, earthy smell of soil and plants and the green moss that clung to the marble statues.

Giant Tropical plants and recently cleaned statues!

The Palm House is in fact surrounded by statues of the ‘great and the Good’ including ‘Andre Le Notre’ who designed the gardens at Versailles.
Somewhere in a battered cardboard chocolate box with purple and yellow crocuses on the lid, are photographs of me mimicking the poses of these statues’.

André La Notre and Christopher Columbus

I will return in spring or summer and do a more in depth post on the park itself, as I think that it is worth it.

Usually I have some clever way of linking the culture to the cooking, but this time, my dubious talent has deserted me and my only defence is that this recipe is SO good that I just wanted to share it immediately with you all, the fragrance of the spices and the contrast between the tender chicken and light crisp filo pastry topping is sublime.
This dish can be eaten equally as a light lunch with salad, for dinner with the addition of some steamed baby potatoes, or a smaller portion as an entrée.
It is also excellent to serve as part of a buffet, and this will be going on our table at some stage over the Christmas period
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but they are mainly spices and this dish is really very simple.

Serves 2-3 as a main course, 4 as an entrée

2 free range skinless chicken breasts cut into ‘stir fry’ size portions 4 sheets of filo pastry

A good handful (une poignée) of raisons (raisons secs)

A good handful of flaked almonds (amande enfillé )

A good handful of fresh, or small handful of dried coriander leaves

1 medium Shallotte grated or very finely chopped

1 clove garlic crushed (une gousse d’ail ecrasé)

1 tablespoon (2 cuillers a soupe) of olive oil

1-2 tablespoons of melted butter (du beurre fondu)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 teaspoon (1 cuillers a café) of:- Ground cinnamon (canelle en poudre), ground ginger (gingembre), paprika (piment)

½ a teaspoon of:- Turmeric, cumin, freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground sea salt to taste


Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion over a low heat for 3-4 minutes

Add the garlic and all the spices and cook for a further minute

Add the chicken and coat in the spices

Add 200ml of hot water and the raisons and season generously with the salt, bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for around 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken and set aside keeping warm

Stir in the lemon juice and reduce the liquid as the mixture should be moist, but not ‘soupy’

Add the almonds and coriander and return the chicken

Cut two sheets of pastry to line the bottom of a baking dish and cover with a damp tea towel

Brush the bottom of the dish with the melted butter and top with one of the filo circles

Brush this with more butter and top with the remaining circle

Transfer the filling into the dish

Cut a further two sheets of pastry to cover the top, brush one with butter and ‘scrunch’ it onto the top

Scrunch the second sheet onto the top and finish by brushing this with the remaining butter

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees/gas mark 4 for 30-40 minutes until the top is crisp and golden

The smell while this dish is baking is beyond words – you will just have to make it and savour it for yourselves…….

P.S. in summer I add a little fresh mint to this dish also – happy cooking





6 thoughts on “Sefton Park Palm House and Morrocan Chicken pie

  1. Osyth says:

    Right you! YOu brave lady, you quiet inspiration, you kindred you reader, you follower you person I want to meet some day. Right. The pie. I will be cooking this in Liverpool next week. That is a promise. I’m over and up for a short hop and I will recognise your bravery (BECAUSE YOU ARE BRAVE – YOU GO TO WORK EVERY DAMN DAY IN PARIS) and I will eat something delicious. Oh! A question … the kakis – sitting in my bowl waiting to go to England with me … do you peel them for the mousse? And Sefton. YTu see I remain ignorant. thank you thank you thank you – I will visit and I will enjoy (and my feet will touch the ground because I’m brushing 6′ tall and I wish I was plus petite – always wished that but I’m not) and I will think of you in Paris and in Liverland and I will bless you for your lovely blog which I am priviliged to follow.

  2. lindaravello says:

    Oh my Olyth, I don’t think I merit this, you got me quite choked. I am not brave, I am just doing what thousands of Parisians are doing, as we have no choice…..
    YES we will meet, in fact I a going to take a bit of ‘time-out’ Decision taken on Thursday evening and cemented Friday morning, so before all the tragic events, number of reasons and situations all coming together at the same time.
    Donc, I will be in Liverpool for at least all of January and part of February probably, staying at my flat, that I have taken off the rental market for the time being. So lovely how about you, I and our two lovely daughters’ hooking up for a cook-in chez moi???
    Ha ha ha this will be fun when we go out together in town – I am 5’2″
    YES, peel the kaki fruit, I do not know how good they will be, as it is the end of the season and the last ones that I bought left my mouth feeling a little dry, should be ok in mousse though and definitely caramelised with vanilla sugar hmmmmm.
    Oh definitely give Sefton Park a visit – there is so much more (as I said it merits an entire post) boating lake, jockey sands, bandstand, fairy glen, statue of Peter Pan, nice little cafe etc.
    Thank you so much for your kind (if undeserved) words xxx

  3. Ishita says:

    Thank you Linda for thinking of me and my blog for this wonderful post. You are right we have no choice. Let’s try and make the best of our time here with fellow travelers and like minded souls.

  4. Lynz Real Cooking says:

    Hi dear Lyndy! It is an honor to be your friend!! I am so glad you posted and this looks amazing! Wonderful pictures! I am reading you and Osyth’s comments and I do hope you two meet up one day! I want to hear all about it!! Love the post as always! I really want to make this yummy pie!

  5. Four Pesky Hobbits Mama says:

    I couldn’t sleep tonight and was thinking of you in Paris, I picked my phone up to write and then read this Lindy, Osyth is absolutely right-YOU ARE BRAVE. Getting on with everyday things like going into work and writing your blog is BRAVE. I’m sure it can’t be easy being in Paris at the moment, I try but know I can’t imagine however hard I try, and I’m so glad you are taking some time for yourself next year. Its important understand the need for some time-out, we all do. I’m touched that you should think of me when you have so much on (and incidentally I have a fresh tin of AS but no time at present!) im thinking of you everyday in Paris and hope after today things return to some sort of normality, though doubt it will ever feel the same.

    This recipe looks delicious and I might have to give it a go myself. Take care lovely much love xxx

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