LEE Conetta is Glasgow food royalty, with many years’ experience helping to run one of the city’s biggest restaurant groups.

Each fortnight in Times Out, she will share memories of her life less ordinary, and the food she loves to cook.

This week, Mrs Conetta recalls the time her life took a decidedly ‘Sound of Music’ turn when she stood up for three troubled nuns, and she shares her take on a chicken dish with Portuguese roots…

Glasgow Times: Cooking with Mrs Conetta

JOE and I were in Spain on holiday one year, when we received the sad news a friend’s family member was very ill.

We decided to drive to see her to show her support, and first of all, to go to Fátima, a Portuguese town which is home to a Catholic pilgrimage site, in order to get rosary beads for her.

When we arrived, Joe dropped me off at the shop, where I purchased the rosaries and made my way along the street to where he had parked.

What a sight greeted me.

Joe was standing between two police officers, who were arguing with him. I could not believe it - what had he done?

“What has happened?,” I asked as I reached them.

“They are saying we came the wrong way up a one-way street and the fine is 100 euros,” Joe replied.

I was furious. There was no sign anywhere to indicate it was a one-way street, so how could we have known?

Just then, another three cars came up the street, the same way we had driven.

I protested: “There are no signs, look – all these people are coming the same way we did. This is not fair.”

The officers ignored me, however, and pulled over the third car, to charge them 100 euros too.

Three nuns got out.

READ MORE: 'My holiday was a series of disasters' - Mrs Conetta's travel tales

I was furious again. I approached the car and said, ‘Sisters, you are going to be charged 100 euros for coming up this street.’ They had a look of horror on their faces.

“Don’t worry,” I said, glaring at the police officers. “I will pay it for you.” Turning to the officers, I said: “You are not going to charge these Sisters, are you? This is a holy place. Why would you do that, when there is no sign?”

He started writing out the ticket, so I told him I would pay and he asked me why on earth I would do such a thing.

In my best Portuguese, Spanish and Italian all mixed up into one, I said: “Because I, unlike you, am a human being.”

The nuns – Sister Monica, Sister Agnes and Sister Veronica - were very grateful – they were cheerful and smiling and had travelled from Huelva in Spain where they ran an orphanage. It was like something out of The Sound of Music. They told me I should visit them someday in Spain, but I haven’t quite got around to it yet….

In honour of our brief Portugal trip that day, I’m sharing my recipe for an Algarve speciality, peri peri chicken.

Known also as Chicken Piri Piri, it is a delicious and traditional Portuguese dish involving as many chillies as you dare…buon appetito!

Glasgow Times:



1 whole chicken 

4 red chillies, chopped

3 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp chopped parsley

2 tbsp olive oil

METHOD Put the chillies and garlic in food processor with good pinch of salt and blend to a paste.

Add the paprika, red wine vinegar, parsley and and oil.

Mix well then smear over the chicken.

Leave for at least one hour, or overnight if possible.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade or Gas Mark 6 and cook for 40 minutes on a baking tray until golden and the juices run clear.

To char the skin, grill for a further five to 10 minutes.

Serve with a little tabasco.