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Chicken and Ham Lasagne

(Lasagne noodles are somewhat different over here.  They're  not long and ruffle edged.  They are flat edged, and about 4 by six inches in size.)
I had some cooked chicken and some cooked ham that needed using up today.  I could have made a cordon bleu type of casserole, but I wanted something different.   I was craving pasta . . . which as you know Todd hates.  I think I finally found a pasta dish he sorta likes though.


Chicken and Ham Lasagne.  I found the recipe in a cookbook I love. Rachel Allen Home Cooking.  I didn't follow it exactly . . . I rather adapted it a bit, but then again . . . that's what I like to do.  I find a recipe that works for me and then I adapt it to our tastes and my rather lazy way of cooking.

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I have always loved Rachel Allen's recipes and her cookery shows.   The food she cooks is real food.  Nothing artsy fartsy there.   You don't  have to run out and buy special ingredients or equipment.  That's my kind of cooking.  Simple and wholesome ingredients.   Simple cooking methods.  Economical use of what you have in the larder . . .

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I added some frozen spinach to the recipe  I like to get veggies in wherever I can.   I also added extra cheese to the top . . .

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. . . because we like cheese, and that's how I roll.   You can never have too much cheese to my way of thinking.   Its like bacon . . . more is . . . delicious.  Things just taste better if there's cheese and/or bacon involved.

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This was quite simply fantastic!   It helped me to use up my leftovers.   It was cheap to make.  The Toddster loved it.  Ok, so maybe love is a bit of an exaggeration.  I LOVED IT . . . he just  kinda liked it . . . a lot.  That's as much as he would concede.

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I think he's afraid that if he actually ever admitted to loving anything with pasta in it . . . that would open a dam or something . . . pasta would start raining down on him like cats and dogs . . .

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And for someone like Todd . . . that just wouldn't do.  (He did really really like it though . . . trust me on this.  He had two servings.)

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*Chicken and Ham Lasagne*
Serves 4 to 6
Not your traditional lasagne.  Deliciously different and makes good use of leftover cooked chicken and ham.

75g unsalted butter (1/3 cup)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
50g plain flour (1/2 cup)
700ml of milk (scant 3 cups)
300ml chicken stock (1 1/4 cup)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 cubes of frozen leaf spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
400g of cooked chicken, diced (scant pound)
200g cooked ham, diced (1/2 pound)
8 sheets of dried lasagne (you will need three layers)
250g of strong Cheddar cheese, grated ( 2 cups)

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Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter an 8 by 12 inch baking dish.  Set it aside.
Melt a third of the butter in a saucepan.  Add the onions and cook gently for a few minutes until it begins to soften without browning.   Add the garlic.  Cook for a further two minutes.  Scoop out and set aside.  Add the remaining butter to the pan.   Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste.  Slowly whisk in the milk, until it is completely mixed in and smooth.  Whisk in the chicken stock as well.  You should have a thickened sauce which coats the back of a spoon.  Season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.

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Mix together the ham and chicken.    Place half of it into the bottom of the baking dish.   Cover with half of the spinach.  Spoon 1/3 of the sauce over top.   Top with four lasagne sheets.   Spoon the remainder of the ham/chicken mixture and the spinach over top.  Spoon over another 1/3 of the sauce.  Top with the remaining four sheets of lasagne.  Spoon the remaining sauce over all and sprinkle the cheese over top to cover.
Place onto a baking sheet and bake in the heated oven for 55 minutes until it is deliciously golden brown and bubbling.  Allow to stand a few minutes before serving.  Cut into squares to serve.
Marie Rayner
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A Nice set of Kitchen Scales and some tasty Herbed Oatmeal Pan Rolls

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One thing which I discovered very early on when I first moved over here to the UK, was the fact that a good set of kitchen scales were going to be a must when it came to do any baking etc. using British recipes.   All recipes here in the UK are written according to weight, instead of volume.   Cups just don't cut the mustard . . .  at least as far as dry measures go.   Things of a solid nature, such as sugar, solids fats (butter and shortening) and flours . . .

The first set of scales I bought were a cheap set that I got at an el cheapo shop.  Not very good to say the least,  and the measuring container held but a mere pittance.   Needless to say I didn't hang onto those for very long.

In culinary school they had digital scales . . . battery operated and they worked very well, so long as you had batteries . . . if the batteries ran out, you were out of luck until you replaced them.  One advantage to them however, was being able to put your mixing bowl right on the scales, adjust them back to zero and then re-measure ingredients, adjusting them back to zero with each addition . . . and they measured in different tares . . . millilitres, grams, ounces, etc.

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When I cheffed at the Manor, this is the exact scales I had . . . the Hanson Traditional Cream Mechanical Kitchen Scale by Salter Kitchen Scales.  I have to say I loved them and had long wanted a set for myself to use at home.

I am happy to say that the people at Salter recently sent me a set to use, and I have been putting them through their paces for a couple of weeks now.

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I have been using them to measure flour and sugar . . . 

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and butter for all of those goodies you have seen me creating  . . . even pasta shapes . . .

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It is a beautiful set of scales . . .

I have found them to be perfectly precise and simple to use, accurately weighing and measuring my ingredients. It's stylish traditional metal design is very attractive, and looks quite retro, which I love.  The scales feature a large and easy to read dial with a brilliant red pointer for easy of use and reading.

They also boast a simplistic but precise manual tare function dial for enhanced accuracy for adding and weighing and these scales display the weight in either imperial or metric measurements.  This scale can hold up to 5kg/11lb capacity and the removable bowl will fit the scales inside most cupboards for easy storage after use. They wipe clean with a damp cloth and come with a 10 year manufacturer’s guarantee for user piece of mind.

The dial is large and easy to read.   This is a real bonus as I find that as I am getting older, large print, etc. comes in very handy as my eyes don't always work the way they used to!

 The graduations in weight go in 20g/1 ounce increments, which covers just about everything solid that you may have to measure.

And they are very well priced and good value for money spent in my honest opinion, ranging every where from £10.99 and up at a variety of locations.

I give these scales the "English Kitchen" seal of approval!  10 out of 10!  5 Stars!  Two thumbs up!  Many thanks to Simon of Salter Kitchen Scales for sending them to me! 

And now . . . for something tasty I have used them to help me create . . .

 *Herbed Oatmeal Pan Rolls*
Makes 9 pan rolls
Printable Recipe

Wholesome and delicious. These tasty rolls are perfect with soups, stews or even on their own, buttered with some tasty strong cheddar on the side.

250ml boiling water (1 cup)
40g rolled oats (not old fashioned) (1/2 cup)
2 TBS butter
200g strong white bread flour (2 cups)
65g granary bread flour (1/2 cup, multigrain)
2 TBS caster sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 TBS easy bake yeast (bread machine, quick rise)
1 large free range egg, at room temperature

For the herby topping:
2 TBS butter, melted
1/4 tsp dried basil leaves
1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp finely grated Parmesan Cheese 


Combine the boiling water, oats and 2 TBS butter in a small bowl, stirring to melt the butter. Let stand and cool to just warm before proceeding.

Measure the white and granary flours into a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, salt and yeast. Beat the egg into the warm oat mixture. Stir this into the dry ingredients until all are well incorporated. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead dough until you have a smooth, soft dough, which is not sticky, adding more strong white flour as needed. Shape into a ball and cover with the bowl. Let rest for 20 minutes. 


Grease a 9 inch square metal baking tin. Punch the dough down and then press it into the baking tin to fill all the corners. Take a sharp knife and cut down through the dough to the bottom of the pan, cutting it into 9 equal squares. (3 cuts across and 3 cuts down.) Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes. 


Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Once the oven has heated bang the pan of rolls into it and bake for 15 minutes. While they are baking, stir together all the ingredients for the herby topping. At the end of 15 minutes, remove the partially baked rolls from the oven. Brush the tops with the herby topping. Return the pan to the oven and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown and they sound hollow on the bottoms when turned over and tapped lightly with your fingers. Tip out onto a wire rack to cool to warm. Best served fresh, but can be revived by a gentle reheating in a warm oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Marie Rayner
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Warm Apple Pudding Cake

Warm Apple Pudding Cake

You would be quite forgiven for looking at this cake and dismissing it at first glance . . . after all it is not the  most attractive cake . . . kind of brown and nondescript.   

But if you were to pass it by, I am not afraid to tell you that you would be passing by a real gem.

Warm Apple Pudding Cake

It's moist and spicy and delicious.  Stogged full of sweet and juicy apples . . . vanilla . . . and the warm spice of cinnamon and nutmeg . . . 

sooo good . . . with the added crunch of toasted English walnuts. 

Warm Apple Pudding Cake

On it's own it is a fabulous cake . . . smells good.  Tastes good.  

 Just fabulous . . . but do make the sauce because when you make the sauce this cake . . .

Warm Apple Pudding Cake

Becomes magical.  Fantastic even . . . all that buttery goodness . . . sweet and sticky and just a tad bit boozy  for those who are so inclined.  

I don't do alcohol unless it is really cooked out, so I use apple juice instead . . . it's still good nevertheless, at least I think so . . .

Warm Apple Pudding Cake

Warm apple cake . . . moist and sticky . . . crunchy from the walnuts . . .  with all that warm sweet and buttery sauce soaking into it's delicate crumb.  

What more could you want?

What more indeed!

Warm Apple Pudding Cake

*Warm Apple Pudding Cake*
Makes one 8 inch round or square cake 

Moist and delicious with a warm calvados sauce to spoon over top.  Serve warm or at room temperature.   Store any leftover in the refrigerator.  

For the cake:
395g of grated peeled Granny Smith Apple (3 cups lightly packed)
4 TBS butter, at room temperature
245g of soft light brown sugar (1 1/4 cups, acked)
1/2 tsp salt
1 large free range egg
1 large free range egg yolk
1/1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
175g of plain flour (1 1/4 cups)
1 heaped tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
85g of toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped ( 3/4 cup)  

For the sauce:
140g of butter, cut into bits (10 TBS)
100g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
100g soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
pinch salt
80ml calvados (1/3 cup)

Warm Apple Pudding Cake

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter an 8 inch square or round baking dish well.  Set aside. 

Cream together the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl along with the salt until well combined.   Stir in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla.  Stir in the grated apples.   Stir in the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix very well together.   Stir in the flour and then the walnuts, until well mixed.   Scrape into the prepared pan. 

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, just until firm.   Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.   Serve warm or at room temperature. 

To make the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat.   Stir in the sugar, brown sugar and a pinch of salt.   Stir and heat to dissolve the sugar.   Remove from the heat and whisk in the calvados.  Heat through and serve warm. 

NOTE:  If you do not do alcohol and we don't, use apple juice instead.

Marie Rayner
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Easter Basket Sugar Cookies

Easter Basket Sugar Cookies

I think it is around the holidays that I miss having family around the most.  I was always one to make special treats and such for those special occasions like Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Father's Day, etc.  

I always got a great deal of joy out of doing it and I hope that my children have some special memories of the things I did.   Gingerbread houses, special cookies, cakes, etc.

Easter Basket Sugar Cookies

My mother's oldest sister Thelma was much the same.  There was not a holiday that passed without her baking some type of special treat and she would bake extras to send up to us. 

 I especially loved my Aunt Thelma's Easter and Christmas Breads.   She would decorate them with icings and candied cherries.  It was such a treat!  

She didn't have much and it was a gift that was surely appreciated by each of us.   God bless her kind heart.

Easter Basket Sugar Cookies

I don't have any grandchildren here to bake for, but a lot of my friends do and so I recently made some of these delicious Easter Basket Sugar Cookies to share with them.   T

hey are just so darned cute and so easy to make.  I wanted to share them with you too.

Easter Basket Sugar Cookies

Big soft sugar cookies . . . a drop cookie.  I used my small pampered chef ice-cream/cookie scoop to scoop out the dough so that I had uniform sized dollops. I know how kids are if everything isn't the SAME size!)

Easter Basket Sugar Cookies

Topped with a simple fluffy icing and decorated with green tinted coconut and some mini chocolate eggs.  You could also use jelly beans if you want.  

I had the eggs, extra tiny ones and they are really cute.  These are real kiddo pleasers.  I do admit I am a bit partial to them too.  I do like pretty things.  I hope that you do too.

 Easter Basket Sugar Cookies

*Easter Basket Sugar Cookies*
Makes two dozen

Soft sugar cookies, decorated beautifully for the kiddos, just in time for Easter.   They'll love these! 

For the cookies:
10 TBS butter, at room temperature
160g of white vegetable fat (White flora or Crisco, 2/3 cup)
290g of granulated sugar (1 1/2 cups)
2 large free range eggs
1 TBS vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
465g of plain flour (3 1/3 cups)  

For the frosting:
120g of white vegetable shortening (1/2 cup)
585g of sifted icing sugar ( 4 1/2 cups)
1 tsp vanilla extract
60ml plus 1 TBS milk (1/4 cup plus 1 TBS)  

To Decorate:
75g of flaked sweetened coconut (1 cup)
few drops green food colouring (don't use too much)
small candy covered chocolate eggs, or jelly beans  

Easter Basket Sugar Cookies  

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F.  mark 4.   Line several baking sheets with baking paper.  Set aside.  

Cream the butter and shortening together until fluffy.  Beat in the sugar.   Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder and ssalt.   Beat this into the wet mixture just to combine. Drop by heaped TBS onto the prepared baking sheet, or use a small cookie scoop.   Leave about 2 inches between dollops.   Bake for about 10 minutes, or just until the cookies begin to get golden brown.  Cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before proceeding.  

Beat the shortening and icing sugar together.  It will look like coarse sand.   Slowly add the milk and vanilla, beating for about two minutes until smooth and fluffy.  

Put the coconut into a large jar along with the food colouring.  Don't be tempted to use too much colouring.  A little goes a long way.  Shake, shake, shake until the coconut is evenly coloured with green.    

Top each cookie with a quantity of the icing, swirling it a bit.   Top with a ring of green coconut and place several of the chocolate eggs or jelly beans in the centre.   Allow to set before storing in an airtight container. 

Easter Basket Sugar Cookies 

This content (written and photography) is the sole property of The English Kitchen. Any reposting or misuse is not permitted. If you are reading this elsewhere, please know that it is stolen content and you may report it to me at mariealicejoan at aol dot com. 

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Marie Rayner
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Luxury Chocolate for Easter

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Established in 1902, Prestat is one oldest chocolate companies in the world and holds a Royal Warrant to HM The Queen.  I was recently sent one of their Easter Chocolate Line of products to try out, The Prestat Hazelnut Chocolate Truffle in a Real Egg Shell.

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Yep, that is a real egg shell there, all pretty and bright pink, with cute polka dots painted all over it.   They come in a variety of bright colours.These pretty eggs are perfect for hiding in nests around the garden and peeling off the shells only heightens the anticipation of biting into the chocolate truffle inside. Prestat isn’t revealing exactly how the chocolate finds its way inside the eggshells but they guarantee that each one is sterilised before it is filled with the irresistibly moreish hazelnut truffle and lovingly painted.

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A sharp crack on the table and I was into that luxurious chocolate hiding inside that pretty shell.

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I can just imagine how much fun a child would have breaking into one of those shells . . .  but I don't think there are that many children which would truly appreciate the quality and flavour of this beautiful chocolate hazelnut truffle!

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This deserves to be enjoyed by someone who can truly appreciate the taste of fine chocolate . . . someone like me!  This was delicious, rich, creamy and moreish.

 It's a tough job but . . . hey, somebody's got to do it!!

 COCOA and MILK SOLIDS: Cocoa Content: Milk Chocolate: 23% Milk Content: Milk chocolate: 3%

 INGREDIENTS and ALLERGENS: The Prestat kitchens handle many ingredients including cream (milk), nuts, gluten, eggs and flour so even products that do not contain these as ingredients may contain traces of them. The eggshells have been sterilised prior to being filled. They do NOT use any genetically modified ingredients and they do Not have peanuts in any products.

Price £3.95 for a solid truffle 50g luxury chocolate egg.

Many thanks to Prestat and Lucy for sending me this delicious egg to try out.  It was really yummy!  (And I did share some with Todd, so he got to have a nibble too.  I promise.)

Check out the Prestat web page to find out about all of their luxury chocolate goodies.
Marie Rayner
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Learning more about Olive Oil, and some tasty recipes using it

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Olive Oil World, the Europe-wide promotion of the European Union's Olive Oils, has joined forces with Greek producers to bring it's initiave to the UK.  I recently received a D.O.P. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasting pack so that I could do a personal tasting myself.

Olive oil tasting is an art equal in terms and complexity and difficulty with wine tasting.  It requires highly skilled and trained experts and is carried out through a strict and detailed procedure and scoring card created by the International Olive Oil Council.

An Extra Virgin Olive Oil is always superior in terms of quality, containing the following qualities:

Fruitiness -  a sensation of freshly cut olive fruits and leaves when smelling the olive oil.
Spiciness - a peppery sensation at the back of the throat and a slight "Burning" on the throat when tasting olive oil.
A pleasant hint of bitterness -felt at the upper part of the mouth and tongue when tasting olive oil.

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There was a booklet contained with the testing kit which explained the proper way to taste olive oil. I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued at how involved it was, and how similar to the procedure for tasting fine wines.

1.  Place about 1/2 an ounce of extra virgin olive oil in a small cup or wine glass.
2.  1st smelling . . .  Slightly heat cup/glass with your hands and then smell, try to detect the fruitiness.   The aroma should be pleasant, reminiscent of freshly mown grass, olive fruits and olive leaves.
3.  Tasting . . . take a piece of bread, preferably white and unflavoured, and dip it inside the olive oil.  Try to detec the slight spiniess and pleasant bitterness in our mouth.  Other flavours may appear as an aftertaste of a great olive oil, try to detect green apple, almond, artichoke or green tomatoes, banana or pineapple, asparagus, avocado.

Note - If you decided to take a small sip instead of dipping bread, please note you must ONLY take into your mouth a minute quantity, not more than about a teaspoon.

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I was amazed at the different qualities which came through as I tasted each oil.  I am by no means an expert and it really took me a few tries to get what I thought I should from this, but with perseverence I was able to detect an almost grassy peppery flavour . . . and the scent was very green I thought, very reminiscent of trees and leaves, not at all unpleasant, and I even thought I could taste asparagus, but that could have been my imagination.

I have been using olive oil in my home for a long time firstly because I like it and secondly because of all the positive implications of using olive oil.   Olive oil is rich in various antioxidants which play a positive, biological role in eliminating free radicals the molecules involved in some chronic diseases and ageing, and in extending life expectancy, which has been demonstrated in several epidemiological studies.

Many age-related diseases are influenced by diet, in particular osteoporosis and deteriorated cognitive function.

Olive oil and osteoporosis -  Olive oil appears to have a favourable effect on bone calcification, and bone mineralization is better the more olive oil is consumed.  It helps with calcium absorption, thereby playing an important part during the period of growth and in the prevention of Osteoporisis.

Olive oil and cognitive function -  Olive-oil-rich diets may prevent memory loss in healthy elderly people.  Less possibility of suffering age-related cognitive decline has been observed in a study conducted on elderly people administered diets containing a large amount ofonounsaturated fats, and in particular olive oil.

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We have long been told that foods which are high in anti-oxidents are very good for us and are indeed called "super-foods" helping in the prevention of heart disease and high cholesterol.  The high antioxidant content of a Mediterranean diet appears to contribute significantly to it's effect on longevity.   These antioxidants are to be found in frest fruit and vegetables.  Because it is the only oil to be obtained from a fruit, olive oil retains a host of substances, antioxidants and vitamins that give it added nutritional value.

In addition "virgin" olive oil, or olive oil which has not been refined or industrially treated, is particularly rich in these substances and has a strong antioxidant effect, protecting again damage from free radicals and against the formation of cancer.

All in all I think it's pretty safe to say that Olive Oil is really very good for you and I can attest to the fact that it tastes good too. 

*Olive Oil Focaccia*
Makes one 11 by 15 inch pan
(cuts into 10 to 12 pieces)
Printable Recipe

Although I am not a very good bread baker, or at least I don't think I am, this is one bread I can do that always turns out fabulously for me. It's quite like making a pizza dough in a way, which I can handle quite well. I like to strew fresh herbs across the top of mine before baking. I normally use a mixture of garlic, rosemary and parsley. Just be sure to chop them up really fine.

435ml warm water
1/4 ounce of active dry yeast
1 tsp honey
2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
600g all purpose flour
mixture of chopped fresh herbs for topping (optional)

Put the water, yeast, honey, half of the olive oil and three handfuls of the flour into a large bowl. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Cover and leave for 20 to 30 minutes until it is all frothy and foamy on the top. Mix in the rest of the flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt If you have a dough hook, mix it with the dough hook for 4 to 5 minutes. If you don't have a dough hook, then you will have to use your hands. The dough will be quite sticky so just kind of slap it from one side to the other in the bowl, until it is smooth. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or so.

Lightly grease an 11 by 15 inch baking tray with some vegetable shortening. Punch down the dough to flatten it and then spread it out into the tray, spreading it right out to the edges as evenly as you can. Try not to tear the dough. It may take a bit of perseverence to keep it spread, but eventually it will stay in place. Cover again and let rise for another 45 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 220*C/450*F. Mix the remaining olive oil with 1/2 cup hot water and 1 tsp salt. Stir until the salt dissolves. Make dimples in the top of the bread all over it's surface with your fingertips. Brush well with the saltwater mixture. Sprinkle with the herbs, if using.

Bake in the heated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and a bit crusty here and there. It should sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. Remove from the oven and cool a bit before cutting or tearing into pieces. We like this best warm, but it is also good served at room temperature or split and filled with meat and cheese.

*Warm Potato Salad with a Green Olive Dressing*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

A delicious warm potato salad with a tangy dressing. Moreishly good!

3 1/2 pounds of salad potatoes, scrubbed, but not peeled (Nicola, Pink Fir, Charlotte,
you want a waxy potato, small in size)
70g pack of pitted green olives with herbs and garlic (about 1/2 cup), finely chopped
2 tsp of pickled capers, drained and finely chopped
the finely grated zest of one lemon
the juice of one lemon
2 spring onions, finely chopped
a small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
125ml of extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the potatoes into a large saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and then cook until just tender, about 15 minutes. (The tip of a sharp knife should slice in and out easily.) Drain and cool slightly.

Place the olives, capers and spring onions in a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Beat with a fork to combine.

Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then gently toss in the dressing while they are still warm. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

*Herb and Lemon Roasted Chicken Breasts*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This is a delicious way of preparing chicken breasts which keeps them moist and very flavourful. I like to buy whole chickens and cut them up myself. Plan ahead as the chicken needs to marinate for about an hour before cooking.

4 bone in chicken breasts, skin on (you can do this yourself, or ask your butcher to do it for you)
2 fluid ounces of extra virgin olive oil
the finely grated zest of two unwaxed lemons (cut the remainder of the lemons into thin slices and set aside)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 TBS finely chopped fresh chives
4 TBS finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
4 TBS finely chopped fresh tarragon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix together the olive oil, lemon zest and minced garlic. Remove the leaves from the thyme and rosemary and mince. Stir them into the olive oil along with the chives, parsley and tarragon. Mix all very well together. Lift the skin from the chicken breasts and rub half of the herbe mixture underneath and replace the skin over top. Rub the remainder of the herb mixture over all of the chicken. Lay each breast in a flat plastic container, placing each one on top of two lemon slices. Lay another two lemon slices on top of each breast. Cover and chill for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 5. Have ready a shallow baking dish. Place the chicken breasts into the dish, keeping the lemon slices on the bottom of each breast and the slices on top of each breast. Sprinkle with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast in the heated oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are cooked through, with the juices running clear and the skin is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving. These go very well with oven roasted potato wedges and purple sprouting broccoli. I sometimes roast the potato wedges in the pan with the chicken, which gives them a fabulous flavour as well. Delicious!

*Grilled Bread Salad with Basil and Cherry Tomatoes*
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

Toasty  bread, tossed together with cherry tomatoes, basil, and mini mozarella  cheeses in a red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing.  So delicious!

1 medium ciabatta loaf, sliced lengthwise into
1 inch thick slices (about 1/2 pound)
4 ounces extra virgin olive oil (1/2 cup), plus
extra for oiling the grill pan
fine sea salt
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and halved
1 pint of cherry or baby plum tomatoes, halved
(I keep mine on the counter, where they ripen really nicely)
8 spring onions, trimed and thinly sliced (both the white and green parts)
12 large fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
2 ounces good quality red wine vinegar (1/4 cup)
8 ounces fresh mini mozzarella's
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat  a heavy grill pan over medium high heat.  Brush with oil.  Lightly  brush the bread on both sides with some of the olive oil, and season  lightly with salt.  Place into the heated grill pan and cook until it  gets nicely browned, and gets some good grill  marks all over.  Turn  over and grill the other side.  Remove from the pan and rub all over on  both sides with the cut side of the garlic.  Discard the garlic when  done. Set the bread aside to cool.

Place the halved tomatoes into  a large shallow bowl along with the spring onion and basil.  Cut or  tear the bread into one inch cubes.  Add to the bowl along with the  tomatoes.  Whisk the remaining oil together with the vinegar.  Sprinkle  over the bread mixture and toss together well.  Let sit for a time at  room temperature before serving.  (Can allow to sit for up to 2 hours)   Just before serving add the mini cheeses and season all with a bit of  sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Many thanks to Simon for sending me this tasting kit and affording me the opportunity to learn more about Olive Oil!  I love learning new things!  I do so hope you will try some of these tasting techniques out on some of your favourite olive oils.  It's quite a fascinating exercise!
Marie Rayner
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