Potato, Fennel and Radicchio salad

This would be a constant favourite if not for the fact that our local waitrose doesn’t stock radicchio (shock! horror!) and it appears only sporadically on the North End road market stalls. The salad has wonderful flavours and texture, we usually add bacon to it as we find that very few things cannot be improved by addition of bacon. The secret to balancing the bitterness of radicchio and strong flavour of fennel is sweetness of orange juice in the dressing.

The recipe is straight from Tangerine Dream Cafe book of recipes. This is a casual eating place in one of my favourite summer hang outs – the Chelsea Physic Garden in Swan Walk.

Serves 4

500g salad new potatoes
1 fennel head
1 radicchio head
40g parsley
15 olives (optional)

juice of 1 orange
60ml white wine vinegar
90ml olive oil

Boil the salad potatoes to just cooked – we use baby Jersey Royals in season, but Cornish Mids or Charlottes also work well. Drain and place in a bowl. Liberally sprinkle with olive oil and add salt.

Thinly slice the fennel and place on top. Halve the radicchio and de-core, tearing the remaining leaves into large uneven pieces. Scatter on top together with the olives and lightly toss the salad to just reveal the potatoes. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, add to the salad and serve.

Chicken with olives and lemons

A very delicious and light way of preparing whole chicken. One of those first time recipes that will definitely be repeated. I buy King olives in the North End road market in one of the Middle Eastern shops, probably for a fraction of price I’d pay in a supermarket or a deli. 🙂

Serves 6

1 very large chicken (I used corn-fed chicken from my local butchers which wasn’t that large but was enough for 3 people plus one left over portion)
3 whole lemons quartered (I used 2 due to smaller size chicken, see above)
24 green and purple giant olives (I used about 18 olives from a jar of king olives I found a jar in a middle eastern deli in North End Road, which were fabulously flavoursome)
1 kg new potatoes
60ml olive oil (these days I use light & mild olive oil)
salt & pepper

Heat the oven to 170C / gas 3. Season the chicken inside and out, fill its cavity with most of the lemon pieces and olives and shake.

Take a large cast-iron pot and put the potatoes in the bottom. Mix the oil with the rest of the lemon pieces and olives and squash them slightly. Put the chicken in the pot on top of the potatoes and pour the oil and lemon mixture over it, letting the bits roll off on to the spuds. Season well, then put the pot in the oven and shut the door for at least 90 minutes.

Check the chicken is cooked by sticking a skewer between the legs and breast. If the juice runs clear, it is done, otherwise put it back in the oven.

When done, lift the chicken from the pot and pour all the bits from inside the cavity over the potatoes. Place the pot over a high heat and bring to the boil while you cut the chicken into big chunks. Add the chicken pieces back to the pot along with any juices, turn off the heat and take the whole lot to the table.

Everything just fit into my new Le Creuset oval pot roast dish, but any larger chicken or more potatoes would be too much in which case I would use 26 cm casserole Le Creuset. I added some green peas on the side, both for taste and colour.

I served the meal with white Burgundy: Blason de Bourgogne Montagny 1er Cru

1. Nick adds turmeric to the dish for colour.

2. originally found in the Sunday telegraph but google search only shows the same recipe in the Times online.