Hi everybody! Remember me? I won’t blame any of you if you don’t. Heck, not even my computer could recall where I usually save my recipe files. I don’t even remember the last time I used my desktop to write a piece for my blog. For the record I won’t say that I’m totally back writing on here either, because the thing that scares me still and after a very long sort-of sabbatical, writing an actual blog post feels daunting.
However there’s always a fresh start and I’m here, which to me, is all that matters. So I’m starting with something small and hopefully I will push myself up again slowly and gradually. I eventually will go into the reasons why I decided to take a very long break from blogging regularly, but not in this post. I need to find the words first. What I will say now is only one word: time. I needed time. And loads of it.
Enough of that for now. Onto the recipe. This one is the first I wanted to try from the book The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo. Was she really living the dream, in the City of Light, surrounded by butter, eggs, fresh baguettes and luscious pastries, and riding in a bike to shop for groceries? Life in Paris may not be as idyllic, and many people would tell you that it’s not, but that’s exactly how Rachel made it seem anyway. Without sounding too cynical, that image definitely worked, and that made me want the book.
However the recipes were also very good and simple enough to be tried by a simple homecook like me. Back then I made most of them, and they all worked so well. So the dream of good food in Paris wasn’t a dream at all – at least Parisian-style food with a twist, in my little Surrey kitchen. Not bad at all.
Rachel’s Lemon and Lavender Chicken has to be one of my favourites. All standard storecupboard ingredients plus the chicken, which can be sourced easily enough, and the lavender. Where was I going to get it from? A few years back I had no clue. So I let it be. I did ask a couple of friends though, but we couldn’t come up with anything.
One gorgeous sunny summer’s day in Surrey, I went to the monthly market in Guildford, my town – Apart from the treasure trove of vendors with the best products and produce, I passed by a charming stall where they sold everything lavender: tea, soup, marmalade, jams, cordials…everything that can be humanly made with the stuff. (Excellent!) I asked if I could purchase dried lavender by weight, but they couldn’t help me. I bought a packet of their tea and two bottles of lemon and lavender cordial and returned home, and I forgot about the recipe for the rest of the day.
A few days passed and I bought some chicken pieces. I opened the contents of a couple of lavender “tea” bags and mixed them into the marinade. Two summers ago J and I went to Crete and on one of our exploratory walks we stumbled upon a little shop selling dried herbs. I bought a huge bag of lavender. Problem solved.
The idea for this recipe is taken from Rachel’s book, but I adapted it with the quantities and ingredients I had at the time.
- 8 large chicken thighs/pieces
- 2 tablespoons dried lavender
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons plain runny honey
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
- pinch of salt
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
To make the marinade, crush the lavender as much as you can either with a mortar and pestle, with the back of a spoon or with a rolling pin. Tip it in a large container with the olive oil, honey, thyme, lemon juice and zest. Give everything a good whisk. Add in the chicken thighs or pieces and coat them well with the marinade. Cover the container and leave the chicken to marinate for a minimum time of 30 minutes, but preferably for more if you can – up to 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. (If you’re working with a convection oven 180°C will suffice.) Place the chicken and all the marinade in a roasting tin and sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Add the crushed garlic cloves and the roughly chopped onion on top. Roast the chicken for around 45 minutes, making sure to turn the pieces half way.
You will know when the chicken is done by piercing the thickest part of the flesh with a knife or skewer. The juices should run clear. Don’t worry if it needs more time to cook. Just leave it for around 10 more minutes or so.
Serve the chicken with the juices, a fresh green salad and some new potatoes. Such a delightful spring dish.
Recipe adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo, Michael Joseph, 2012.