Thursday, 25 August 2011

Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

Roast Chicken & Radicchio Salad in Yogurt Dressing

Part 1: A Nice Summery Salad...

Friday was a lovely day. It was warm, summery and the day before the weekend, but most importantly it was my day off. Not just a day of holiday either but a bonus day; a day in lieu. Sometimes working overtime really does pay off!

I had persuaded my mum to go with me to Petersham Nurseries for coffee and a cake as I had heard such good things about it and really thought I better go and see what the fuss was about. By the time we had arrived though, it was very nearly one o’clock and it seemed a shame to just have cake when it was so clearly lunch time! For matters of time and budget we opted for the tearoom over the café, which serves up seasonal light lunches of salads, quiches and charcuterie. We sat in their conservatory / greenhouse on carefully chosen mismatched chairs and tables, which offers a very laid back and attractive dining room. The tearoom is self service and the selection on the menu is limited but, as we discovered later, this really doesn’t matter when everything tastes so good! We opted for a three different salads for £12.95; chicken with radicchio in a yogurt and cumin dressing, grilled aubergine and tomatoes and yellow and green courgettes in a very garlicky dressing. My mum’s only adventurous difference was to swap the courgettes for tomato and mozzarella.

If anything should be said about this lunch of ours, it is this: good quality ingredients can make even the simplest things taste good. The mozzarella was like no mozzarella I have had for a very long time (if ever). The vegetables were so bursting with flavour that it was somehow OK to have a salad of just two different coloured courgettes. I can only imagine that the veggies are grown on site and I would urge people to go to Petersham Nurseries, if only to understand the importance of good quality produce!

I suppose the stand out dish was the chicken and radicchio salad. Slightly more complex in its makeup, this was the only one of the salads to be served separately as a main course in its own right. Both my mum and I said that we would love to try and make it again and both of us have tried, with varying degrees of success (!). We have struggled a bit with the recipe(How is the yogurt so thin yet not obviously thinned out by anything? and, How can we avoid this just being a bit like Coronation Chicken? but most importantly, Where do I find radicchio??), but finally I have a recipe that I am happy with, although not pretending it is nearly as good as theirs, and I present it to you now. As I was completely unable to find radicchio, I have used crunchy little gem lettuce and red chicory so that I still have the lovely colour of the red against the creamy yogurt dressing. If you don’t like the bitter taste of chicory, then shredded red cabbage will do just as well:


1 small roasted chicken
200g natural yogurt (not fat free)
2 little gem lettuces - torn
3 red chicory or half a small red cabbage – shredded
2 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 – 2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 teaspoons cumin

1.       Roast the chicken as per the instructions and leave to cool. Once cooled, remove all the meat from the chicken and tear or chop this into bite size pieces.
2.       Pour the yogurt into a large bowl. Whisk as you slowly add the olive oil and then the milk until the yogurt is thinned and rich.
3.       Add the cumin, mint and salad leaves and mix.
4.       Add the chicken and mix until everything is combined and covered in the yogurt dressing.
5.       Serve with bread and extra salad leaves if desired.

Total cost of ingredients: £10.40 (I already had cumin and olive oil)

This should serve 4-6 people which I think makes it quite a bargain!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Madsen, South Kensington

Roll Mop Herrings & Dill Potatoes

A couple of weeks ago we (me and Ben) went to Madsen for supper, a lovely little restaurant in South Kensington that serves up a mix of “modern Nordic dishes” as well as some of those old Scandinavian favourites. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant either but Ben was adamant that we try something new, having just interviewed Tom Kevill-Davies (The Hungry Cyclist) and discussed how he had just sampled cuisines from A-Z in restaurants around London. Madsen was his Danish addition and it happened to be just around the corner from Ben’s office, so along we went.
Having been looking forward to something a bit different, I ended up choosing an old favourite; thick bacon with creamy parsley sauce. I haven’t had this since I was little girl and I couldn’t resist it! Although delicious, it doesn’t really fit in with my plan of trying new and exciting things so I’m going to gloss over that and talk about my starter instead; rollmop herrings with dill potatoes. I’d never had rollmops before but I certainly have since! The starter was delicious and if my recreation is even a fraction as good then I will be very happy:
6 – 8 large new potatoes
2 heaped tablespoons crème fraiche
1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Healthy bunch of chopped dill
250g or a small jar of rollmop herrings (3-4 per person)
Handful of finely sliced radishes
Dried cranberries
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.       Scrub the new potatoes and cook until soft.
2.       Drain the potatoes, allow them to cool and then neatly cube to about 1 ½ cm width
3.       Mix the potatoes, crème fraiche, mustard, dill and lemon juice in a bowl until the potatoes are entirely covered. Season with salt and pepper.
4.       Heat some vegetable oil (about a cm deep) in a pan and when very hot, add a handful of dried cranberries. Fry for a couple of minutes and then lift out and place on kitchen roll to get rid of the excess oil.
5.       The presentation is down to you. I like to make a bed of watercress, pile the potato salad in the middle and heap with 3 to 4 pieces of rollmop. Top with the radish and cranberries and finish with a grind of black pepper and sprinkle of chopped dill.

Total Cost of Ingredients:             £7.46

This should serve two people for a light meal; I hope you enjoy! The cranberries are sweet and chewy and contrast the creamy, sharp potatoes and the bitter watercress very nicely. The herrings hold their own amongst these flavours and, to my mind, the whole thing is really quite nice!

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