In this dish, chicken breasts are marinated first in a mixture of gin, lemon, thyme, chilli, tomatoes, honey and olive oil. Slices of red onion are added, then these are cooked in the drained marinade until meltingly soft. The chicken breasts are roasted in a hot oven for a short time, so they remain succulent and moist.
juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
half a small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 heaped tsp honey
2 tbsp passata
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 boneless chicken breasts, with skin on
25g butter, melted
To make the marinade, place the gin, lemon juice, thyme, chilli, honey and passata in a large bowl, along with a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Whisk together, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the onions, then the chicken. Toss gently, to ensure the chicken and onions are coated with the marinade. Cover and place somewhere cool for an hour.
Preheat the oven to its highest setting (240C/ 475F/gas mark 9). It could take half an hour to reach this temperature, so do it well in advance.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with kitchen paper. Using a pastry brush, paint the chicken breasts all over with the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper, then place the chicken, skin-side up, on a lightly buttered baking tray. (Be sure they are well spaced, not touching.)
Using the pastry brush again, dip into the marinade and lightly brush some of this over the top of each chicken breast. Place these on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for ten to 14 minutes (depending on the thickness), until just cooked. Test after ten minutes by piercing the thickest part with a sharp knife: the juices should run clear. Remove the chicken and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes.
Meanwhile, tip the marinade (with the onions) into a heavy-based saucepan. Bring this slowly to the boil, making sure the honey is dissolved, then boil rapidly, uncovered, for four to five minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, still uncovered, for another ten minutes, or until the onions are meltingly soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.
Using a slotted spoon, place the onions in the middle of a large round serving platter. Then, using a fish slice, place the chicken breasts on top of the onions, and serve at once with salad and bread.
MARINATED TUNA WITH ROASTED-TOMATO RELISH
Thick, succulent tuna steaks are first marinated in a simple dressing, and then barbecued until just cooked. They are served with a warm roasted-tomato relish flavoured with basil and coriander.
4 thick tuna steaks (about 175g each)
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp coriander
1 red chilli, peeled and chopped
juice of 1 lime
6 plum tomatoes
Place the tuna steaks in a non-metallic bowl. Mix together a tablespoon of basil, a tablespoon of coriander, the chilli, lime juice and 50ml of olive oil with plenty of ground pepper. Pour this over the tuna and leave for up to two hours, stirring gently once.
For the relish, halve the tomatoes and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Pour over a tablespoon of oil and place in a preheated oven (220¼C/ 425¼F/gas mark 7) for about 30 minutes, then remove and tip the contents into a saucepan.
Once the fish has been marinated, remove it from the bowl. Pour the liquid into the saucepan containing the roast tomatoes and bring it slowly to the boil. Once it is bubbling, boil for one minute, then remove from the heat and stir in one tablespoon of chopped basil and one of chopped coriander. Taste and check the seasoning.
Place the tuna on a barbecue for two and a half to three minutes on each side, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Serve with the tomato relish.
Salad is always good, too...
NOODLE SALAD WITH CRAB, GINGER AND MANGO
This is ideal for a buffet table, as it can be made up to six hours in advance, kept in the refrigerator and simply tossed well before serving.
1 heaped tbsp freshly grated root ginger
150ml sunflower oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
several shakes of Tabasco (or hot chilli sauce)
2 x 250g packets dried egg noodles
500g white crabmeat
6 large spring onions, chopped
3 heaped tbsp freshly chopped coriander, plus whole leaves to garnish
2 large mangoes peeled and diced
1 large papaya, peeled and diced
Make the dressing by shaking together the ginger, sunflower oil, lime juice, fish sauce and Tabasco in a screw-top jar. Taste, add salt and pepper and add extra Tabasco if you want it hotter.
Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, then drain well and toss in the dressing while they are still warm. Allow to cool then add the crab, spring onion, coriander, mangoes and papaya, tossing gently to ensure everything is mixed evenly. (At this stage the dish can be covered and chilled for up to six hours.)
Just before serving, toss again and pile in a mound on a serving plate. Garnish with whole coriander leaves.
Maybe a couple of desserts?
While this tastes just as good with a green-fleshed melon such as galia, it looks better if you use an orange-fleshed variety such as charentais.
Approx 500g melon (peeled and deseeded weight)
100g golden caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
150ml double cream, very lightly whipped
Whizz the melon, sugar and lemon juice in a processor or blender and then fold in the cream. Whisk lightly until smooth, then churn in an ice-cream machine until firm. Put the ice-cream into a plastic container and leave in the freezer until you are ready to serve.
SUMMER FRUIT AND BERRY SLUMP
A slump does just that: the light cobbler-like scones on top slowly slump into the deep puddle of blueberries and nectarines underneath. To make it even more scrumptious, there is a layer of creamy mascarpone between the fruit and the topping, which melts seductively between the two. Yum.
500g nectarines or peaches, pitted, thinly sliced
75g caster sugar
90ml orange juice
250g tub of mascarpone
175g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
50g caster sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 large orange
50g butter, melted and cooled slightly
Place the berries and nectarines (or peaches) in a saucepan with the sugar and orange juice. Heat slowly until the sugar dissolves, then boil for two minutes. Remove from the heat. Dissolve the cornflour in 11/2 tablespoons of cold water, then add this to the fruit. Stirring gently, so the berries do not break, return to the heat and cook for three minutes. Pour into a round, 20cm-deep, ovenproof dish and allow to cool.
To make the topping, beat the mascarpone until soft and creamy. Using two dessert spoons, drop six dollops over the fruit, spacing evenly. Resist the temptation to spread all the blobs together.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then stir in the sugar and orange zest. Make a well in the centre and pour in the juice of the orange and then the melted butter. Combine gently but thoroughly. Using the same action - with two spoons - drop six spoonfuls of scone mixture on top of the mascarpone blobs. Do not panic if the scones do not cover the surface - it will all slump anyway.
Place in a preheated oven (220¼C/425¼F/gas mark 7) for about 20 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the mascarpone is oozing out from the golden-crusted topping. Wait for five minutes, then serve.