Spring is here and I thought I would share a recipe that is ideal for this time of year, it can be served with so many different sides dished depending on the day and who you are going to be sharing the meal with.
Chicken is a regular on the menu in our house, so I am always looking for new things to do with it.
A slow roasted chicken dish that just melts in the mouth.
Don’t get me wrong I love cooking and being in the kitchen, but sometimes it’s great to just put everything together in the oven and then get on with the other elements, either the sides for the dish or the dessert maybe.
The house is always filled with fantastic smells when this is cooking, the heady mix of lemons and garlic…. just delicious.
This recipe works better with chicken on the bone, the long slow roasting tenderises the chicken and the meat just falls off the bone when it is finished cooking with all the flavours cooked into the chicken.
Depending on how many people are coming to dinner I usually work on 1 chicken leg (thigh included) per person, with a few additional, just in case.
Using a roasting tray that is just big enough to hold all the chicken, chopped and add the onions to the bottom of the roasting tray and then place the chicken in top, then top with the crushed garlic and lemon zest and then squeeze the chopped lemon over the chicken before pouring in the chicken stock into the baking tin, and season with salt and pepper.
Tip : using a baking tray ‘just’ big enough, ensures chicken can cook in the juices that are released. If the tray is too big, the juices are usually lost and cook away.
I pre-heat the oven to 160c conventional/140c fan/Gas 3, and then pop the tray into the oven, I usually leave the chickens in the oven for 1 hr before checking how they are doing, then go for another hour and then after that it will depend on how brown and crispy they are on top. As long as there is still some liquid in the bottom of the roasting tray your chicken will be succulent and moist.
This chicken can be served hot, warm or cold, depends on what you are serving with it.
For this dish I was serving the whole plate as a hot dish, so I left the cooking until about 2 and half hours before it was being platted up and left the chicken in the oven until I was ready.
I like to have a bit of sauce with my chicken, so I usually pour off some of the roasting pan juices into a pot, bring it to the boil and add a little cornflour and water mix and stir until I have the consistency I want.
I served it with roasted broccoli and pan-fried gnocchi, it was absolutely delicious, I do hope you enjoy it too.
Chicken with Lemon and Garlic
Delicious chicken dish with fantastic lemon and garlic cooked into the meat. Perfect for an alternative Sunday lunch or even cold on a buffet table.
Pre-heat the oven 160c conventional/140c fan/Gas 3.
Peel and chop the onions, toss them into the baking tin.
Place the chicken legs on top of the onions. Crush the garlic over the chicken legs, then zest the lemon and add to the top of the chicken legs, chop lemon into pieces, and squeeze over the chicken.
Make up the chicken stock with the knorr chicken stock pot and 200ml of boiling water and add to the roasting tin. Pour the stock around the chicken so as not to 'wash' the lemon and garlic off of the chicken legs.
Place the roasting tray into the oven and back for 1 hr, remove the chicken from the oven and check that there is enough liquid in the base of the tin. Spoon some of the liquid from the bottom over the chicken legs and return the chicken to the oven for a further 1 hr until the chicken skin is crispy and golden.
Remove the roasting tray from the oven and pour off some of the juices from the tray, into a sauce pan and bring to a slow simmer.
Place the cornflour into a cup/jug and add 2-3 tablespoons of cold water. You are looking for the consistency of milk.
When the juices in the pot are simmering, slowly pour some of the cornflour mixture into the sauce pan, stirring as you do. Pour just enough of the cornflour mixture to get a nice coating consistency, not too wet, not too thick.
Once you have the right consistency, turn off the heat until ready to use.
Place some of the onions from the tray onto a plate and then top with the chicken legs, place a piece of the roast lemons onto the plate and serve.
Ensure the roasting tin is just big enough for all the ingredients to ensure that the mixture stays moist and succulent.
If you are making the chicken ahead, when it is fully cooked remove the roasting tray from the oven and cover with tin foil until it is required.
Well I was asked by a friend to make her a Lemon Drizzle cake the other day, which I was more than happy to do (of course).
I used my recipe as it is tried and tested and loved by all those who have eaten it, especially us (my hubby and me).
I called my friend to let her know that the cake was ready to be collected and her husband appeared about 10 minutes later, eager to enjoy the cake, they were having some guests around in the evening for aperitifs and they were thinking about sharing, only ‘thinking’ about it. (ha ha)
I checked the following day and they had not shared the cake with their guests so I didn’t know if it hit the mark.
Anyway a few days later they dropped into to say hello and I asked about the cake. There was a pained look on her face and she confessed that it is was not what she had expected, she was looking for a soft sponge cake with a layer of lemon icing on top. The cake I had made was indeed Lemon Drizzle cake, her hubby interjected to say that he really loved it and it ticked all the boxes for him. So I guess 1 out of 2 is not bad.
So that left me with a dilemma, did I try to resolve the situation (no real situation), by making another cake and hope this time, it is what she is expecting. Of course you know the answer is YES.
So based on the description by my friend I have set about baking a new cake, primarily the same recipe with a few tweaks but the major difference is the icing topping. Rather than the Lemon drizzle, this is a layer of icing and lemon curd.
I swapped the bread tin for a tray tin, and just needed to keep an eye on the baking time, a little less time, just making sure the cake was ‘just’ cooked and not over cooked.
I weighed the butter into a bowl and popped it into the microwave for 20 seconds to make sure it was nice and soft but not melted.
Add the sugar to the bowl and using an electric whisk, whisk until the mixture is nice and fluffy, this really helps to ensure the sponge is light.
Weigh the flour and baking powder into a bowl ready to add to the mixture.
I like to add the eggs one by one, whisking in between and added a spoonful of flour between each egg. This helps to make sure the mixture does not curdle. (If it looks as though the mixture is curdling, just ask more flour and it will come back together).
When all the flour is added, then add the milk and lemon juice and zest and mix again to just combine.
I like using a spatula for this stage to get the mixture out of the bowl and into the baking tray, again I always line the baking tray, it just makes sure you can get the cake out of the tin with no problems.
Use the spatula to smooth the top of the cake and place in the oven for 35 minutes until golden brown. Test the cake with a tooth pick, in the centre, make sure it comes out clean. If there is any crumbs on the tooth pick, place back into the oven for 2 minutes and test again.
Once the cake is cooked, I removed it from the oven and left it in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a cooling rack until completely cold. It took about 1 hr for the cake to feel cold. I then placed it in the freezer for 20 minutes to just make sure it was really cold.
While the cake is baking I made the lemon curd, I didn’t need much lemon curd, so only made enough, well actually a little bit more, but it stores well in the fridge.
I weighed the sugar and lemon juice into a small saucepan and then added the egg, whisked it all together and then placed on the cooker on a low heat until the sugar was melted, then I added the butter 1 cube at a time and waited until the butter melted before adding the next cube. Once all the butter was added, I then cooked for another 5 minutes until it thickened, then turned off the heat and leave to the side until needed.
Next was the icing topping, I added the icing sugar to a bowl and added the lemon juice 1 teaspoon go begin with, then added the remainder a little at a time until I had a thick paste. I covered it and left it until the cake was cold.
Once the cake was cold, I gave the icing a quick mix and then poured it over the top of the cake, and used a spatula to spread it across the top, just to the edged. Then I poured some of the lemon curd into a small piping bag and piped the lemon curd across the top in parallel lines, you need to do this quite quickly before the icing sets.
I used a tooth pick and drew it across the top of the icing, to create a pretty pattern.
Then it was time to test.
It was delicious even if I do say so myself.
But of course its not me that I needed to test it on, I called my friend and said I had a surprise for her and I needed her to test a cake for me.
I jumped in the car drove to my friends house. They were happy to see me and the cake. I left them with the cake as it was near to supper time and asked them to let me know what they thought.
It wasn’t long before I got an email to say it was “just perfect”. So my job was done.
I hope you enjoy this cake too. It is well worth it.
Lemon Slice Cake
Delicious light lemon sponge cake topped with a thick icing and lemon curd. Ideal for any teatime treat.
Pre-heat the oven to 180c Conventional/160c Fan/Gas 4.
Line a baking tray. (20cm x 25cm)
Add the butter to a large bowl and place in the microwave to soften as necessary.
Add the caster sugar to the butter in the bowl and whisk to light and fluffy.
Weigh the flour and baking powder into a bowl.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time and add a spoonful of flour in between each egg and whisk to combine.
Add the remainder of flour and mix to combine.
Add the lemon juice, zest and milk, mix to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the lined baking tray and smooth the top.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until golden on top.
Test with a cocktail stick to ensure it is cooked in the centre, no crumbs. If needed place back in the oven at 2 minute intervals.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before topping with the icing and lemon curd.
Place the sugar, lemon juice and zest and egg into a small saucepan.
Whisk the mixture in the saucepan until fully combined.
Gently heat the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.
When the sugar is dissolved add the butter 1 cube at a time and allow to melt before adding the next cube. Continue stirring the mixture as the butter is melting.
Continue cooking the mixture until it thickens.
Place the icing sugar into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice 1 tsp at a time and mix until you achieve a thick, sticky paste.
Icing the cake
When the cake is cold, add the icing to the top of the cake, use a spatula to spread the icing across the top of cake.
Pour some of the lemon curd into a piping bag with a small hole.
Draw vertical lines across the cake.
Using a toothpick, pull the toothpick through the icing and lemon curd, drawing a pattern as you desire.
This cake uses 2 lemons, 1 for the lemon curd.
Use juice of 1/2 of the 2nd lemon for the cake and the other 1/2 for Icing.
At this time of year we are all stuffed with the traditional Christmas food and of course the leftovers.
I had some friends coming round for a cuppa this morning and wanted to have something a little lighter and fresher than the usual Christmas cake.
I had quick think and look in the cupboard to see what I had and decided on a Lemon Drizzle Cake….. just what the doctor ordered.
So I set about gathering the ingredients together, self raising flour, eggs, sugar, butter and lemons of course.
Put the oven on, found the loaf tin, the mixer and we were ready to get started.
I weighed the sugar and butter into a large bowl, put it into the microwave for 25 seconds to soften the butter.
I then mixed the sugar and butter together before using the electric whisk to whip some air into the mixture and some lightness, whip until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time and whisk the mixture after the addition of each egg, I also added some flour after each egg.
So mix the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, add one egg, whisk until it is incorporated, add some flour, mix again, add another egg, mix again and so on, until you have added all the eggs, and then add the remaining flour, whip the mixture for 1 minute to make sure it is well combined and then add the zest of the lemon and mix for 10 seconds to distribute the lemon zest into the mixture.
I lined the loaf tin with some grease proof paper and poured the mixture into the tin, it didn’t really ‘pour’ in, as it was nice and thick, but once all the mixture was in the loaf tin, I smoothed out the top and popped it into the oven.
I set the timer and put the kettle on, I wanted a cuppa before the cake was ready, no harm in that!
The timer was set for 35 minutes to start with, so I can see if I needed longer and if the temperature needed altering.
The bell rang on the timer and I recovered the cake from the oven, the smell was delicious. I could see that the cake needed longer, although there was a nice golden colour on the cake and it was risen in the centre, it was still ‘wobbly’. So I returned the cake to the oven at the same temperature and set the timer for a further 12 minutes.
Again the bell rang and I brought this wonderful cake from the oven again. It was looking a lot better, but when I tested it with the toothpick, it was still wet in the middle, not just a wee bit, but it was wet……
So back into the oven, another 12 minutes on the timer and I turned the oven down to 170c as I didn’t want the ends to over cook.
The bell rang and this time, it was just perfect, the outside was a wonderful golden brown and the toothpick came out clean.
I placed the cake on the top of the cooker to cook slightly while I prepared the lemon drizzle for the ‘drizzle’.
While the cake was cooling I used the toothpick to pierce the top of the cake all over. I used the full length of the toothpick to make sure the drizzle would reach through the cake. It was about 10 minutes from the time I removed the cake from the oven and before I started to add the drizzle.
I used a small bowl to mix the lemon juice and sugar, the sugar didn’t complete dissolve in the lemon juice, but enough so I had a nice sticky lemon mixture. I used a small spoon and gradually ‘drizzled’ the lemon syrup over the top of the cake. Allowing the syrup to soak in between each ‘drizzle’.
My friends arrived about 20 minutes later, so the cake was still a little warm and had soaked up all the lemon syrup, I couldn’t wait to try my creation.
Oh my it was well worth the wait. The drizzle had just enough sugar and lemon, a wonderful citrus flavour with a hint of sweetness a success even if I do say so myself. The cake was light and moist a hit with everyone.
Luckily there is a little left for later for me to enjoy with another cuppa.
This is really worth giving a go, a very easy recipe and not a lot to work through, took me about 15 minutes from start to finish to complete the mixing.
Next time and there will definitely be a next time, I think I will replace some of the lemon drizzle with a lemon icing, with a little grated lemon zest on top just to jazz it up.
I can see another invite to friends very shortly, and of course I will just have to bake another cake.
I don’t really need an excuse, but it’s nice at this time of year.
I do hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do, there are so many variations for this recipe, this can be your go to recipe.
Lemon Drizzle Cake
Delicious, light and zingy lemon drizzle cake. Ideal at any time of the day.
Pre-heat the oven to 210c.
Line a 1lb loaf tin with grease proof paper.
Weigh 225 grams of sugar and butter into a large bowl and place in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften the butter.
Mix the butter and sugar together and using a whisk, whip the mixture together until you have a light whipped mixture.
Add 1 egg and mix until all combined, add a little flour and mix again.
Repeat adding the eggs and flour alternatively until the four eggs have been added and then add the remaining flour. Mix lightly until the mixture is fully combined.
Grate the zest of the lemon and add to the mixture. Whip again for 10 seconds to distribute the lemon zest through the batter.
Smooth the mixture into the loaf tin and place in the oven.
Turn the oven down to 200c, bake for 35 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and check to see if the centre is cooked, test with a cocktail stick.
Return the cake to the oven and reduce the oven to 170c and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Test again with the toothpick, this time it should be clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cook for 10 minutes before drizzling with the Lemon syrup.
Using the toothpick, push it into the cake all over the top, using the full length of the toothpick so the lemon drizzle will work down into the cake.
To make the lemon drizzle, weigh 70 grams of castor sugar into a small bowl and squeeze the juice from the lemon. Stir the mixture together to dissolve some of the sugar.
Leave the cake in the tin and pull the grease proof paper up so that when you pour the lemon drizzle over the top of the cake it can run down the sides of the cake and not the tin.
Gradually spoon the lemon drizzle over the top of the cake, I did this in 3 stages, allowing the drizzle to soak into the cake between each addition.
Allow the cake to cook slightly before slicing, this will allow it to firm up slightly and makes it easier for cutting.
This recipe is ideal for any loaf cake, swap the lemon for orange, grapefruit etc, what ever you fancy and you can make an icing for the top instead of the drizzle, with a little zest on top.
Wow, what a wonderful few days, the sun has been shinning and it is really starting to feel like summer is on its way.
I have been looking at new recipes (nothing new there) and decided that it needed to be salmon, I do love the wonderful pink shades of fresh salmon, a lovely summer dish and this one is ideal as a mid week dinner or it is elegant enough for a dinner party.
Once you have tasted the roasted broccoli, you won’t cook broccoli any other way.
When we find salmon, either fillets or whole, then its a must for me, so hopefully you will enjoy this recipe/meal as much as we did.
This meal is cooked in 30 minutes, it takes a little preparation, but probably about 10 minutes, so a great one for a mid-week meal, we thoroughly enjoyed this dish, I know it will be on the menu again next week without a doubt.
I prepared the broccoli but cutting off the main stock and cut the florets into smallish pieces, and then tipped them into an oven tray, then poured over the olive oil, lemon and garlic mixture over the broccoli, mix them all together to make sure they are well covered in the oil mixture and then I place in the pre-heated oven (240c), I like to use a very hot oven, so you can get the charred edges, there is just something that this type of cooking adds to the broccoli, it reminds me of the crispy seaweed you can get from the Chinese takeaway restaurants in Scotland. (I digress) Anyway the flavour is just fantastic.
Then I took the beetroot, I used 2 medium beetroots from a vacuum pack, they are already cooked, so it is again the charring that makes all the different to the beetroot. I cut each beetroot into quarters and placed into an oven proof dish and drizzled over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Popped them into the oven with the broccoli and then it was time to get the salmon fillets ready.
I placed the salmon fillets into a microwave dish, yes a microwave dish, this is the easiest and best way to cook Salmon, it takes no time at all, and they are cooked and still moist and delicious.
Cooking the salmon this way, reduces the fishy smell in the kitchen, there are lots of ways to cook the salmon, but this is my favourite.
So back to the salmon fillets, as I said, place them into a microwave dish, and top with the pesto, then cover with some cling film (plastic wrap), ready to be cooked when the vegetables are ready.
After the vegetables have been in the oven for 15 minutes, remove them and turn over so you can get the charring on all sides, place the trays back into the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.
When the vegetables are cooked, remove them from the oven and place the salmon fillets into the microwave and cook on full for 2.5 minutes. Remove the salmon from the microwave and leave for 1 minute will your place the vegetables on your plates.
Transfer the broccoli and beetroot to your plates and then the salmon.
Again, this is a fantastic dish, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Salmon Fillet with roasted broccoli and beetroot
Delicious pesto topped salmon fillets served with roasted broccoli and beetroot, a wonderful mid-week dinner and elegant enough for a dinner party. Once you have tried the roasted broccoli, you will not eat it any other way.
Delicious pesto topped salmon fillets served with roasted broccoli and beetroot, a wonderful mid-week dinner and elegant enough for a dinner party. Once you have tried the roasted broccoli, you will not eat it any other way.
Pour the olive oil into a small bowl, add the crushed garlic and the zest and juice of the lemon, add a pinch of salt, mix together.
Take the broccoli and break into the florets, cutting off the thick stocks.
Transfer the broccoli to a baking tray and pour over the oil mixture, using 2 spoons, turn the broccoli around in the dressing to ensure it is well covered.
Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the broccoli from the oven and turn over the florets, and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes, until the florets are charred on all sides.
Cut the beetroot into wedges and place into an oven proof dish, drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and place in the oven for 25 minutes, remove after 10 minutes and turn over, then return to the oven for the remaining 15 minutes.
Place the salmon fillets into a microwave dish, spread the top with the pesto and cover the dish with cling film, once the broccoli and beetroot is ready.
Place the salmon into the microwave and cook on full for 2 minutes.
Transfer the roasted broccoli and beetroot to the plate and then the salmon.
I usually serve 150 - 200 grams of salmon per person.
So here we go with the first for many (hopefully) posts on the recipes we have enjoyed at TheSecretGarden-France. We have been trying a few ideas and decided that this was a winner, and it was fun, there is not a lot of cooking to be fair but the results were fantastic.
The building blocks for this recipe start with the Lemon Curd, I don’t know about you, but I like to search for ‘the ultimate recipe’ that JUST feels right, I flick around a number of recipes until I get the RIGHT one, so for me this is it…..
4 Lemons – juice and zest
120g of softened unsalted butter, cut into smallish chunks
3 medium eggs
1 tsp of cornflour
185g of white caster sugar (better as it melts quicker)
Get all the components of the recipe together before you start making the curd. Start by zesting and juicing the lemons, pour the lemon juice and zest into a cup or small bowl and add the corn flour, mix well.
Take a good sized pot/pan and break the eggs into the pot and whisk until broken and with a bit of volume, next add the lemon mixture (with the corn flour), the sugar and mix all together then add the butter. Put the pot onto a low heat and start to mix, either with a wooden spoon or whisk, you need to keep the temperature at a reasonably low temperature as you really don’t want Lemon scrambled eggs (not nice).
Keep mixing, moving the mixture in the pan, the butter should start to melt and mix into the other ingredients. This stage can take between 8-10 mins, so be patient, (you don’t want lemon scrambled eggs), once the mixture starts to thicken, keep whisking using a whisk until you get the consistency you want, (you are looking for a thick custard texture) it will thicken more as it cools.
Take of the heat and continue to whisk for 1-2 mins as the bottom/sides of the pot will still be warm and you don’t want the curd to scorch on the bottom of the pot.
You can leave the curd in the pot to cool if you are making it for the Lemon Meringue Cheesecakes or you can transfer into jars for later. (This recipe makes about 500 ml)
If you are transferring into jars, ensure you use sterilised jars and pour the hot curd into the jars, top with a wax paper and put the lids on, it will keep for a few weeks, but must be kept in a cool place.
This lemon tart has a lovely crumbly shortcrust pasty and a wonderful creamy lemon filling. The lemon cream has the sharpness of the lemon with a wonderful creamy sweetness, a great inclusion to any dinner party or afternoon tea.
Short crust pastry
225 g plain flour
150 g cold butter
75 g caster sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
Cut the butter into 1cm cubes. Combine the flour and salt in a roomy bowl and add the butter. Gently rub the butter into the flour with the tips of your fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
Mix the egg and egg yolk together and add a little at a time to the flour mixture, ‘cut’ the the egg and flour together with a rounded knife. Add a little more egg mixture until the mixture begins to come together, start to bring the mixture together into a ball.
Knead once or twice very gently, then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge to rest for half an hour or so.
125 g caster sugar
Juice and finely grated zest of 2 lemons
200 ml of double cream
Preheat the oven to 190c (375f)
Take the short crust pastry from the fridge, place between 2 sheets of cling film and start to roll out into a round about 3 mm thick. Dust the counter with a little flour and peal off the top layer of cling film, place on top of the flour and remove the bottom layer of cling film, cut the pastry to fit your moulds, base and sides. Pop the pastry into the freezer for 10 mins.
Blind bake the pastry cases, line the cases with grease proof paper and fill with baking beans, bake for 15-20 mins until the pastry feels dry. Remove the paper and beans, brush with a little egg white and return to the oven for 2 mins. Take out the oven and put to one side while you prepare the filling.
Lower the oven to 120c (250f)
Place the eggs and sugar in a medium sized bowl and whisk until pale and creamy. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix for 5 mins, add the cream and continue whisking for a further 5 mins.
**Make sure your oven has cooled before placing the Lemon Tart in the oven as the lemon cream will soufflé up if it is too warm.
Place the pastry cases onto a baking tray and place in the medium rack of the oven, carefully pour cream into the cases right to the top. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins or until the filling has just set in the centre. (There should be a wobble when you slightly shake the tins)
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 mins before removing from the tin and transferring to the plate of cake stand.
This Lemon Tart is a classic for me, the key is to keeping your eye on the filling with the oven lower than you would expect as you don’t want a lemon soufflé.