My favorite winter roast chicken recipe

This roast chicken recipe has my favourite ingredients such as chicken, salted black beans, fresh shiitake, ginger and herbs.

Why this chicken dish is good for you
The chicken nourishes blood and therefore strengthen your energy. The shiitake mushroom strengthens the stomach and spleen therefore helps make blood. The black beans have detox and anti-bacterial properties. And the ginger warms and protects the stomach. So together energetically this roast chicken dish will help fortify you for the winter season.

Winter chicken roast

Winter chicken roast

How to prepare and cook

• one good size organic chicken
• 250-500 grams of shiitake mushrooms (organic if possible)
• 2 table spoons of salted black beans (you can find it in your local Chinese grocery shop)
• sliced fresh organic ginger (a good chunk of the root)
• salt (and herbs such as thyme and spices such as chili to taste)
• sherry or Chinese wine: two table spoons
• one organic onion or shallot
• sesame oil

Clean the chicken. Rub the salt all over the chicken. Pour sherry over chicken. Put ginger and black beans in a bowl, after slicing the ginger and dicing up the black beans together with the sesame oil – and then crush it together gently to release the juices.  Once you have done that rub the mixture all over the chicken. Also put some of the mixture in between the flesh of the chicken and the skin on the breast. Slice as soon as you can the shiitake mushrooms.  Stuff some of the mushrooms in the cavity of the chicken. Then put the rest of the mushrooms around the chicken in the baking tray. Place the sliced onion or shallots under the chicken.  The chicken is now ready to go in the oven. Put at 200° C for about an hour and a half.  After about 45 minutes check your chicken and if it is nice and brown you can add some of the gravy on top for another 15 minutes and then you can turn it to the other side for the rest of the time. After about two hours of cooking take out the chicken and test it to see if it’s cooked.

This roast chicken is best served with rice.

Serves four. Preparation time 20 min. Cooking time 1.5-2 hour depending on the size of the chicken.

Summer’s Perfume – Rose Cordial Drink

Summer's Perfume - Roses in 2013

Summer’s Perfume – Rose cordial drink 

Collect the roses when the flowers are full. Pull off the petals and put in a bowl. Pour 2 Litres of boiling water over the petals, allow to infuse overnight with a lid over the bowl. The next day strain the liquid out into a saucepan. Add 1 or 2 table spoons of xylitol (natural, alkaline and very healthy option to sugar) or honey to taste, and one lemon with peel and juice. Bring to the boil and pour into sterilised bottles and seal. Leave to cool and use as desired. Dilute to taste. This is a summer drink and will keep you cool. This recipe can also be used for elderflower (traditionally used for a summer cold, so it’s very handy to have in the house. Latin for elderflower is sambucus nigra). Pick the flowers only in sunshine. This way the maximum amount of vitamins are absorbed. With elderflowers shake before you add the water so as to get rid of the little insects and pollen beetles which also love his special summer flower.




Nettle soup

Nettle soup

Nettle soup

Nettle soup
The picture shows the top of the nettle. This is the only part of the nettle I recommend that you use and harvesting should be done with a rubber glove. Wash the tips. The amount to collect varies but about half a bucket full should suffice for a soup. There are various recipes that you could find on the BBC food website but they are all similar. Chop about 2 shallots and sauté in olive oil and a little garlic, wild garlic is also in season so that could be used instead. Add some chopped potato (2, or 1 large) once the shallots and potatoes are soft add some stock. About a litre or more depending on how much of the nettles you have decided to use. This is a basic potato soup with nettles, so if you have decided to use more of the nettles then perhaps a litre and a half of vegetable stock is advised. Chop the nettles then add into the stock and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Salt and pepper is added for flavour and if you are happy with the taste take off the heat and use a blender or food mixer to make a smooth soup and so avoid the stringy nettle bits.To serve I would recommend a drizzle of olive oil and or some smetana or sour cream.

A little post script about nettles. Although it is probably the scourge of some gardeners it was a vital part of British life for natural dyes and fodder for animals. Crushed it is used in cattle food and dried and powdered used in poultry food. The flowers of the nettle are loved by butterflies. So always keep some nettles in the garden as they need all the help they can get. Medicinally the Old Herbalists used it as an anti asthmatic, mainly the juice of the roots and leaves are extracted for this. The seeds have been used for stings and venoms, also as an antidote for hemlock and henbane. This information I have retrieved from a wonderful old book called A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve. First published by Jonathan Cape in 1931. I am not recommending that you try the seeds of nettle for poisons but just sharing some ancient knowledge when there were no Glaxo Smith Kline or Astra Zenca!