Friday, 26 July 2013

Crispy chicken thighs with griddled peaches, rosemary and honey

The promise of a glut of Autumnal fruit is swelling in the hedgerows. I think that our year of strange weather has been beneficial in it's own off-kilter way; the brambles along the lane jostle with little green blackberries, while there also looks to be a good crop of Wild cherry plums (albeit a late one, as everything is this year). In the interim we're making the best of the strawberries from the Pick your own, plus sunshine fruits like peaches and apricots. This subtly spiced chicken dish is perfect for a dusky evening supper, washed down with a crisp glass of dry rose.

2Tbsp Plain flour
2Tsp Ground cumin
6 Chicken thighs (skin left on)
3 Large peaches, cut in half with stones removed
A sprig of rosemary, leaves stripped from stem
2 Red onions, roughly chopped
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 Cinnamon stick
2 Star anise
2Tbsp Honey
Salt & pepper

1 Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Mix the flour and cumin on a plate with a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Coat the chicken in the flour, then fry in a splash of oil until golden. Pop onto a baking dish and cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
2 While the chicken is cooking, drain any excess fat from the frying pan and place back on the heat. Add the rosemary, garlic, onions, cinnamon and star anise, then keep on low so that the onions start to soften. Heat a griddle pan with a brush of olive oil, then cook the peach halves; cut side down first, then for a slightly shorter time on the underside.
3 Stir the honey into the softened onions, then spoon over the chicken and peaches.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Gooseberry and elderflower pies

I love the ease of a free-form fruit pie. No need for a tin or dish; just gather up the sides of the pastry and carefully press around the filling. You've essentially created a scruffy-looking pastry bowl; one that looks all the better for it's irregularity and absence of uniformity. Gooseberries are at their best right now; there's a wonderful Pick Your Own just down the road from us, and these little jade marvels were half the price of the Strawberries a few rows down - always a bonus. Makes 4 small pies.

700g Gooseberries
100g Granulated sugar
A generous splash of Elderflower cordial
600g Shortcrust pastry
1 Egg, beaten
Demerara sugar

1 Heat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Simmer the gooseberries on a low heat with the sugar and elderflower cordial for about 5 minutes; the berries need to soften slightly but still retain their shape.
2 Roll the pastry out on a floured surface until approximately 3mm thick. Place a dinner plate onto the pastry before trimming to leave a circular disc of pastry. Gently position a smaller, saucer-sized plate in the centre of the disc, then use the blunt back edge of a knife to lightly score an inner circle.
3 Spoon gooseberries into the inner circle, taking care not to go over the score line. Bring the pastry sides up around the sides of the filling, then shape around the fruit. If the filling sits a bit low in the pie once the sides have been brought up, spoon in a few more gooseberries. Brush the pastry with beaten egg, then sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
4 Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crumbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whatever takes your fancy.