Herby Bean Salad (4)

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Beans, particularly cannellini, beans, are a staple in my kitchen cupboard. They are so versatile, can be served in both cold and hot dishes, are filling and are also good for you. This recipe is just a simple cold dish and uses a great blend of fresh herbs – mint, parsley and cilantro – and a little red onion. It is best left for half an hour or so before serving to let the flavors develop.

1 can of cannellini beans – rinsed and drained

1 heaped tbsp. red onion – finely chopped

1 heaped tbsp. each of fresh parsley, cilantro, mint – finely chopped

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl place beans, red onion and herbs and mix together.

Then add the vinegar, oil and seasoning and mix again.

Leave to stand for some 30 minutes before serving.

 

 

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Citrus Honey Chicken (4)

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Chicken often needs a sauce or herbs or a good gravy to make it less bland and because I poached the chicken in the citrus juices it was also very moist. At the end of cooking some of the juices were added to a honey and soy sauce mixture and then poured over the chicken.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

2 chicken breasts

1 tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1 orange

Juice of half a lemon

Juice of half a lime

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp. gluten free soy sauce

1 tbsp. honey

Tear off a piece of aluminum foil big enough to wrap the chicken breasts in and put it in a roasting pan. Place chicken breasts on top and pour over the oil followed by the various juices then season well. Wrap the chicken breasts well in the foil ensuring that none of the juice escapes.

Cook for 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes.

When cooked remove the chicken, cut into slices and place on a warm plate.

For the sauce mix the honey and soy sauce together then add 2 tbsp. of the citrus juice that the chicken was cooked in.

 

Mother’s Mint Sauce

Mother’s Mint Sauce

Whenever my mother, the great cook, serves roast lamb it comes with homemade (and homegrown) mint sauce. So simple and quick and best made ahead of time and left so flavor can develop but essential to a Sunday joint and chops too (along with redcurrant jelly) I asked how she made it – fresh mint, sugar and red wine vinegar – but no quantities were given. She just goes by taste. Here are approximate amounts.

2 tbsp. fresh mint – finely chopped

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. sugar (and more if needed)

Combine chopped mint and red wine vinegar.

Add sugar, stir and taste (adding more sugar if needed)

Fresh Mint Sauce (serves 4)

Fresh Mint Sauce (serves 4)

Mint sauce is a tradition with lamb in the UK (also redcurrant jelly). Growing up we had a large vegetable garden which was both a pleasure and a burden as no one wanted to waste any of the fruits and vegetables and then there were the birds and rabbits to fight off. I seemed to spend a lot of my childhood rather reluctantly picking strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, brussel sprouts, zucchini/squash, digging for potatoes and carrots, shelling peas and broad beans/fava beans – it all sounds idyllic, which it was, but I wanted nothing better than to read my book! Herbs also grew in the vegetable garden  – parsley was always on hand (parsley sauce with haddock/cod – delicious), horseradish (mixed with double cream and served alongside Roast Beef), and mint.

Pre-packaged products did not exist as they do today but my mother (an excellent cook and keen follower of  Elizabeth David) preferred to cook from scratch. To this day she has never bought mint sauce and if mayonnaise is called for she makes her own.

Mint sauce consists of fresh, finely chopped mint, vinegar and sugar. The blend of the three ingredients is rather vague as some people like their mint sauce tart and others prefer to add more sugar. So, basically, start with 1 oz or 1/2 cup of finely chopped mint (obviously just the leaves). Heat 4 tbsp. red wine vinegar in a saucepan and pour over the mint. Add 1/2 teasp. Agave nectar and stir. Taste and adjust accordingly. No need to season.