In Spring, I like fresher and lighter meals but sometimes I still want these to have a wholesome, restorative content. This is a both a fragranced and subtle dish, perfect for springtime, but with lots of tasty and meaty juices. Use a crisp dry wine wine – something full of flowers like a Sancerre or a Gaillac would work a dream but a dry Moravian Riesling such as ones we tasted in Prague a couple of weeks ago would have also been perfect. Of course,the winter version of this would be the very classic “Coq au vin”!
The combination of lemon, wine and garlic is irresistible and good for body and soul. The paprika lifts the lemony flavours nicely and prevent them from getting too sweet or syrupy, with its peppery kick.
- One plump organic chicken
- Lemon in brine or fresh sliced lemons (unwaxed)
- Garlic cloves, 4 to 5
- White wine, 500ml
- Stock, 250 ml
- Carrot, 1 medium
- Bay leaves, 2
- Paprika, 1 Tbsp ( choose a hot version)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Choose a nice organic chicken and a good dry white wine and this recipe is foolproof! Beyond these two ingredients, and so long as they are tip-top quality, you can relax and play around with the rest…
A smattering of flowers
This was inspired by a long sunny week-end in Prague where we tasted some fantastic local Moravian wines, all dry, crisp and wonderfully flowery ; a proud reflection the beautiful spring flowers adorning the city : From the lilac in blooms along the river islands to slopes of blossoming orchards on Petrin Hill. The lemon and paprika flavours are very present in Czech cuisine and so I decided to blend all of these memories into a simple and humble dish, such as this casserole. The sort of dish you will feel proud to put in front of your guests because of its wholesome quality and simple but stricking flavours.
Wash and pat dry the chicken but leave it whole – it will be very easy to carve later. Fry the garlic cloves in a deep dish with a little rapeseed oil. Add the chicken and brown all of its sides in the garlic oil. Try not to burn the garlic so move things around briskly.
Add the wine, chopped carrot and seasoning and get it to a high boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered for about 45 min to one hour, adding the stock along the way so there is always about 2 inches of liquid around the bird. Leave the chicken breasts down so they soak up the juices as they cook and infuse in the lemon and garlic flavoured sauce. If using freshly sliced lemons, put those slices in at the beginning but if using lemon in brine, put them in half-way through as they will cook quicker than fresh ones.
Serve when the meat is falling off the carcass and you have no need for a knife ! I accompanied this meat with a celeriac and sweet paprika purée (mashed with olive oil) which worked really well.
Here to enjoy a view of Prague in Spring, from the balcony room of Terasa U Zlaté Studnē.
My best restaurant addresses in Prague:
- Terasa U Zlaté Studnē, GoldenWell Hotel, U Zlatē Studnē 4/166, 11800 Prague
- Bellevue, Smetanovo Nabrezi 18, Prague 110 00, Czech Republic
- Wine bar in Snemovni square, near Saint Nicholas church in Mala Strana
- Letna Beer garden, in Letna park, overlooking Prague
Weekending in Prague
A dish for spring:
Falling apart in the pot…
A Mallorcan recipe of melting lamb in a reduction of wine, thyme and rosemary.
This is the perfect hot-pot to serve guests at a dinner party because you will have left it to cook in the oven all night and therefore only need to reheat and serve – leaving you lots of time to : A/lay a really lovely table, B/concentrate on pudding or C/ do your nails and get yourself pretty!
Spring is the new lamb season so this dish really comes into his own now but do check with your butcher that he is giving you a spring lamb and not anything he’s had in the freezer for a while. Though you can also try this with a tougher goat or kid joint and it would be just as delicious and tender.
- A shoulder of lamb (with bone in)
- A bottle of spanish Rioja or Mallorcan red (some body and flavour!)
- A mix of diced carrots, onion and celery (or other root veg) to flavour the juices
- A bundle of thyme and rosemary, tied in a string, with bay leaf optional
- Salt and pepper to season (always towards the end)
- OPTIONAL: Add 6 to 8 dry or fresh figs towards the end – you will love this!!!
Rinse and pat dry your joint.
Make a pretty bundle with the herbs, tie in string.
Brush and chop the vegetables. I do not tend to peel them. It is easier and healthier with skin on so why bother…
Put the ingredients in a large pot with a lid and pour the wine over. The liquid should be at two third of the meat. Add some water if needed.
Leave to cook, covered, in the oven for at least 8 hours at 160°. I put it around 11pm when I go to bed and stop it when I get up at 7:30.
Season with sea salt and black pepper. Leave it to cool, then remove the fatty blob bits that solidify at the surface – it is worth doing this if you have the time, to get a leaner dish.Taste then reheat just before serving, leaving the dish uncovered.
I promise you the house will smell like the farmhouse restaurant, lost in the hills of Mallorca, where I first tasted that dish. It was generously soaked in the rich wine juice and tasted as if the meat had been infused in thyme and grape juice for a long long time – which it had!
Recently, I have been switching to goat milk for my family yogurt making and here it is, a very easy treat!
- Fresh full fat goat milk 1L
- Live unsweetened yogurt 1 pot
- Powder semi skimmed milk 1 potful (use the empty pot above!)
- Orange blossom water 2 Tbsp
Use the milk at room temperature. If it is fresh and pasteurised, there is no need to heat it.
Add the live yogurt, the powdered milk and the orange blossom water. Mix it all in, avoiding all lumps, and pour in one large pot or individual terracotta or glass jars.
Leave overnight into a warm oven on lowest setting (usually 40 degrees) or use a steamer with a yogurt setting and leave for 8 hours. I use the Magimix steamer and leave it overnight to wake up to deliciously creamy set yogurt.
You can add berries, jam or honey to this but I just prefer it straight with nothing added, just the freshness of the milk and the orange blossom water.
Obviously, you can do the same recipe still with organic whole cows milk.
Mix and pour
Sark island kid goats
Nutrition notes: Goat milk is generally better digested than cows milk and is part of a traditional Mediterranean diet in the shape of both cheese and yogurt. Try and choose organic milk for it contains less antibiotics and hormones than non-organic ones.
All the flowers of the Mediterranean shores in one gulp!
A yogurt with aga agar
I present you one gorgeously velvety yogurt : sugar free and (almost )dairy-free!
Ingredients list ( for 5 yogurt pots)
- Almond milk, 700ml
- Greek yogurt 2 percent fat, 80g
- Agar agar flakes, 3 tsp (levelled) or 4g
- Orange blossom water, 2 tbsp
Boil a small cup of almond milk: dust the agar agar over the surface and bring to a slow boil for 3/4 minutes, turning all the time.
Mix it back into the rest of the milk and beat the Greek yogurt into it. You can take this ingredient out if you are lactose intolerant or vegan – it is really there for yogurty flavour in the mix so not essential but groovy.
Add the Orange blossom water (not extract!) or any favoured flavouring (vanilla extract, sugar, honey or anything else).
Pour into small jars, cover with foil and put in the fridge overnight.
You will have a very low-dairy, skinny yogurt that tastes like a dream. The agar agar is a bit tricky to use at first so experiment for the ideal consistency but it is a great help to create creamy dairy free and sugar light puddings…
I ate this straight, as I do yogurts, but feel free to add orange blossom honey or sugar if you like.
The beach is near…
When I tasted this I felt immediately transported into a mediterranean grove crowned with almond and orange blossom… I love this oh-so fresh combination of tastes: it is super dreamy and makes you feel like you are about to go on holiday! Reach for a picnic blanket and go for a nap in the orange grove…
I am very excited about sharing this recipe! Maybe it is its simplicity, or its taste combination, or maybe it is the fact we are approaching Easter but I feel really excited about posting this…
It was in a cold train station, very early one morning, that I tasted this dish and was instantly hooked! This little cream pot with a soft runny egg in the middle revived memories of the ham and egg “oeuf cocotte” I used to be served as a child – a comforting, protein-packed and tasty starter…
If you don’t want to splash on truffle oil or truffle paste, you can just replace it with chopped ham and a pinch of sweet paprika. Both versions work just as well but I had bought Truffle oil and Truffle paste from Tartufaia Truffles in Borough Market as a Christmas treat and a dash of both elevated a simple family dish to new heights of deliciousness!!! I prefer using duck eggs for this because there is more of it and they cook slower than hen ones so you are less likely to overdo them ; but any egg will do – just adjust the cooking time to the size.
Duck egg in truffle cream
Steams in 10 minutes
- Duck egg
- Crème fraîche, 1 large Tbsp
- Truffle oil and/or shaved truffle, 1 tsp
- Sea salt
Take an oven-proof small dish like a “ramequins” or dariole mould and put a large dollop of crême fraîche in it. Push the curved side of your spoon in to create a dip. Crack your duck egg inside the dip. Dribble some truffle oil and add some truffle shavings (or use some Tartuffaia truffle paste if you can). Truffles are an expensive treat but you only need a little oil or paste to release the most powerful aroma so it is worth making the effort.
Steam in an electric steamer or in a pan with a little water for under 10 minutes. Stop the cooking as soon as the yolk start to set. The white will set before the yolk does and so the result is a soft boiled egg in a dish!
Serve boiling hot with a small pinch of sea salt. Add some buttered “soldiers” on the side! This is regressive and blissful cooking…
For the ham and paprika version: Just chop some cooked ham over the cream and add a pinch of smoked paprika on the egg. Success is guaranteed!
Posted in 3 to 4 ingredients, family favourite, pot luck, spring
Tagged Borough Market, cream, duck egg, Easter, easyfood, kidsfriendly, lunch treat, oeuf cocotte, savoury, truffle oil, truffles