Three spring recipes from my King’s Cross kitchen:
Grilled Lamb Cutlets with Panzanella
Panzanella, singing with extra mint, capers and anchovy in perfect harmony with some grilled lamb cutlets makes for a quick al fresco lunch.
12 Lamb cutlets (trimmed and seasoned with sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
A spritz of lemon juice
And a jigger of extra virgin olive oil
4 Slices good quality white sour dough bread (cubed)
8 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
4 Large marinda or camone tomatoes (cubed)
20 Cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 Jar roasted piquillo peppers (drained and sliced thinly)
3 tbsp Roughly chopped mint and torn basil leaves
½ Fennel bulb (sliced thinly and soaked in iced water)
1 Red onion (peeled, sliced thinly and soaked in iced water)
1 Celery stick (sliced thinly and soaked in iced water)
3 tsp Red wine vinegar
1 tbsp of Lilliput capers (drained and rinsed)
1 Small tin Ortiz Anchovies (drained and chopped)
Salt & pepper (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas 6).
Drizzle the bread cubes with about half the olive oil, then bake on a tray in the oven for about 10 to 15 mins until golden. Drain well on absorbent paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes, roasted pepper, anchovy, capers and chopped herbs. Drain and dry the fennel, red onion and celery and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then dress with the remaining olive oil and the vinegar. Toss together and then, just before serving, mix in the bread cubes.
Heat your grill or griddle to high and griddle or grill the lamb cutlets for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until the fat is crisp and the meat is browned on the outside and pink in the middle. Then let rest for 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve on top of the panzanella.
Asparagus, Yellow Zucchini and Pea Risotto
A gorgeously green spring risotto, ripply and wavy on the plate and ready to eat with a spoon!
300g Arborio risotto rice
200ml White wine
750ml Chicken or veg stock, in a saucepan pan bubbling hot
1 Small onion (finely chopped)
1 Garlic clove (crushed and finely chopped)
1 Bunch of asparagus (trimmed and sliced into thin pencil rounds)
1 Yellow courgette (diced into cubes)
250g Podded fresh or frozen peas (blanched)
50g Picked mint leaves (chopped)
150g Unsalted butter
80g Parmesan (grated)
In a saucepan over a medium heat combine about 100ml olive oil with 100g butter. Add onion and garlic and fry for 6 to 8 min till soft but not coloured. Add the rice and season with salt, then cook for 2 min.
Raise the heat and add the wine and let it evaporate, then add the asparagus and courgettes and start adding hot stock little by little, stirring constantly, adding more as it becomes absorbed by the rice. Add the peas half way through the process of adding stock. This process should take about 18 mins.
Taste to make sure the rice is al dente to the bite. The consistency should be loose.
Add the remaining butter and Parmesan and stir very thoroughly and then take off the heat, cover and allow to rest for a few minutes.
Finally stir in the chopped mint and a good grinding of black pepper, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve.
Chicken, Artichokes and Black Olives
A robust lunch for a sunny spring day to transport you to the shores of the Mediterranean.
4 Free range or organic chicken thighs with skin on, bone in
6 Fat cloves of new season wet garlic (crushed flat, but left whole)
500g Datterini tomatoes
1 Bunch of baby artichokes (about 6 in number)
200ml White wine
12 Kalamata black olives (pitted)
Handful of fresh marjoram (picked)
Lemon peel from an unwaxed lemon
3 tbsps of Olive oil
To Prepare the Artichokes
Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a large bowl of water.
Discard the outer leaves of each artichoke. As you do so, and as you continue cleaning the artichokes, dip them into the lemon water to stop the cut sides from browning. Use a paring knife to peel the base and stems. Slice off the top third of each artichoke and slice the artichokes in half lengthwise. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the hairy chokes inside, pulling out any prickly leaves as well. Slice each half into two pieces.
Put trimmed artichoke pieces in lemon water until needed.
To Prepare the Chicken
Heat a large sauté pan that can accommodate the chicken thighs in one single layer. Add the olive oil, season the chicken thighs with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place skin side down in the pan to brown, this will take 6 to 7mins – you want to get a good colour on the skin. Once coloured, turn over the chicken thighs and cook for 3 more minutes. Take the chicken thighs out of the pan, pour off some of the oil, leaving about 2 tablespoons.
Then add the garlic cloves and fry gently, but be careful not to let it burn, they should be golden brown. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping around the pan to make sure you get all the gubbens. Add the tomatoes, artichokes, marjoram, lemon peel and black olives and put the chicken thighs back in pan, cover with a lid and cook slowly for 20 to 25 minutes.
Take off lid and taste the sauce, it should be thick, gutsy & robust, humming with garlic and salty from the olives. Season as required and a spritz of lemon juice wouldn’t go amiss.
Then let it rest for 5 minute before serving with plenty of bread to mop up the juices.