One day I was clutching a hot water bottle in my arms in the vain hope that I'd be able to defrost my frozen fingers...the next day I was holding an iced water bottle to my sweltering brow as I tried equally unsuccessfully to cool down.
Despite the overly warm welcome, it's just wonderful to be home, and I am loving rediscovering all my favorite shopping haunts and catching up with special friends, family and students.
My kids stayed on in South Africa for a couple of extra weeks - they don't suffer from withdrawal symptoms to my home comforts as badly as I do - and so I've had plenty of time to test recipes for my upcoming 'Festive Flair' class.
It isn't possible to include ALL of these winning recipes in a single workshop - though students who have booked for this action-packed lesson will see that I've attempted to do so - and so my Delicious! newsletter makes the ideal forum to share these tried 'n tested gems with you.
This simply sublime chicken recipe is adapted from a recipe shared with me by my friend and fellow foodie Debbie and, with its honeyed sauce and plump apricots, sets the perfect tone for a sweet New Year.
POT ROASTED CHICKEN WITH HONEY & APRICOTS
1 whole chicken
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise*
1 heaped tablespoon chicken stock powder
2 - 3 cups water
1/2 cup Kiddush wine
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon wholegrain seeded mustard
Finely grated zest of one orange
1 cup soft, dried apricots
1: Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
2: Heat the oil in a large pot with a tight fitting lid and brown the chicken on both sides then remove from the pan.
3: Add the onions to the pot and fry till browned.
4:Add the remaining ingredients - apart from the apricots - and place the chicken back in the pot.
5: Place the lid on the pot and cook the chicken for 30 minute.
6:Add the apricots and simmer for another 30-40 minutes until the chicken is done and the sauce thickened.
* Star anise is a star-shaped spice available from any spice shop and it delivers a wonderful depth of flavor.