Medlar

 

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Looking out through the rain right now – unbroken vertical rods punctuated with waves of lacy mizzle, since you ask – it seems hard to imagine that about a month ago summer was on the doorstep. Easier to imagine, regrettably, that since then I haven’t managed to scribble even so much as a bleat about how much I loved meeting (and eating of course – but mostly MEETING) the beautiful food that we were presented with one sunny Saturday lunchtime at Medlar. The BSG and I strolled down there through the park on a golden morning beneath clouds of pale blossom, thinking that life possibly couldn ‘t get any better on such a day.

I am definitely a substance over style girl when it comes to grub, but in this instance, I admit I was bowled over. Luckily, it tasted as good as it looked.

Perhaps its because I have been doing some exciting things recently (they call it work, apparently) with lots of wonderful people who make, scribble, style and shoot food for a living – with mouthwatering results – that the art of food has taken on extra resonance… Or perhaps its because I don’t have proper time to sit and pen a proper few paragraphs… Whatever the reason, I will leave you with a few pictures from a lovely, early summer lunch, with wonderful friends, washed down with a pale Provence rose.

Just this once here are the pics with not much else, because food this pretty spoke for itself (even with my terrible phone mugshot plate-shots). S’pose we’ll just have to go back…for research.

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Crab raviolo with brown shrimp and samphire. Gosh – that bisque…

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Halibut with trompettes, scallops, cauliflower bits and Bayonne ham

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Rhubarb pannacotta cheesecake with crumble (yes all at the same time – genius!)

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Neil’s braised octopus – it looked amazing (the German word is Futterneid, I believe…)

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No time…St Nigella to the rescue

 

One pot wonder #1: Nigella’s Spanish Chicken with Chorizo and Potatoes

Spanish chicken and chorizo

Life’s a bit of a whirlwind at the moment, if ever there was a positive whirlwind. Think a helpful spiralling gust, stacking a pile of leaves neatly – just there… yup, there, in the corner – exactly where you want them, even better than you’d imagined. That is my whirlwind at the moment and I am hugely enjoying the weather conditions. The downside is that I barely have time to cook let along scribble about it (which feels distinctly like a busman’s holiday right now, I must admit).

At a time like this, when I need easy-to-assemble food, the first person I turn to is my satin-robed culinary heroine, Nigella. She is very frank about such a situation, when you can barely bring yourself to get a knife and board out. This recipe is absolutely fuss free and tastes deliciously of sunny holidays, whatever time of year you choose to make it. It went down a storm for a crowd over the weekend but was so mindless that when the thanks came – profusely – I passed them on to St Nigella in silent prayer. Some inspiration, then, for a one-pot wonder for when time is scarce or you can’t be bothered but when happy company is paramount.

I feel a few more of these coming on….

Serves: 6

  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons regular olive oil
  • 12 chicken thighs (bone in, with skin)
  • 750g chorizo sausages, whole if baby ones, or cut into 4cm chunks if regular-sized
  • 1kg new potatoes, halved
  • 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • grated zest 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Put the oil in the bottom of 2 shallow roasting tins, 1 tablespoon in each. Rub the skin of the chicken in the oil, then turn skin-side up, 6 pieces in each tin.

Divide the chorizo sausages and the new potatoes between the 2 tins. Sprinkle the onion and the oregano over, then grate the orange zest over the contents of the 2 tins.*

Cook for 1 hour, but after 30 minutes, swap the top tray with the bottom tray in the oven and baste the contents with the orange-coloured juices.

*the BSG suggested another drizzling of olive oil at this stage, which made for extra chorizo-ey juices to mop up with stray potatoes and pieces of bread from the tray plonked between us, proving his expert ‘improving-on-perfection’ skills. If you have just one enormous tray, this seems to do for it all just as well as two.