I had a night out at the theatre this week, or rather a ‘night out at home’ with lockdown theatre. I was fortunate to get some tickets for the Old Vic’s live, performance of ‘Lungs’ starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith who were acting at social distance(?!). 24 hours before the production began, we were sent a link and had to be in our seats or rather on our sofa’s for an 8pm prompt start on Saturday – just like an evening at the theatre! I decided to take our ‘night out/in’ very seriously and dressed up as if we were really going out – this is how desperate I am becoming under lockdown at home!
As of course there are very few restaurants serving pre-theatre dinner, I had to cook it myself! I didn’t want to be slaving over the stove just before the main event, so I needed something that I could put in the oven and forget about whilst I took my time getting ready and having a pre-theatre cocktail – an Old Fashioned! A perfect dish for this, needing no last minute attention, was a recipe which I have for Lemon Chilli Chicken, whilst for dessert, I decided on one of the simplest desserts possible, an Affogato.
‘Lungs’ was a great success, I must admit that I was a little sceptical before Saturday night’s show, but I was extremely impressed with how powerful the performances were despite being broadcast via Zoom; the evening felt particularly special, knowing that they were acting live, just down the road from us at the empty Old Vic. Apparently the recorded production will be shown via YouTube sometime in July, so watch out for it – I would definitely recommend it; if you have a family or are contemplating one, the subject matter will be particularly moving (no spoilers!).
My pre-theatre dinner (including the cocktail!), is one of this week’s menus on Menu Mistress – as I demonstrated it is an extremely easy dinner to prepare, you just need to remember to marinate it 24hrs beforehand. The other menu is a fresh tasting prawn stir fry, the vegetarians among you could substitute the prawns for cashew nuts and baby corn or cauliflower florets, either way serve the stir fry with the slightly spiced cucumber salad, perfect for a summer evening!…
Lemon & Chilli Chicken, Salad and a Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette
Lemon and Chilli Chicken
This is a recipe that I came across years ago in a magazine, despite having chilli in it, it is not a spicy dish, as there is also honey in the marinade; I use orange blossom honey as is has a delicate floral flavour, great for a summer dish, but you could use any runny honey. The key to this dish is remembering to marinate it 24hours beforehand as it really makes a difference, other than that this dish sorts itself out – just pop it in the oven and serve with a large salad (and if you are really hungry some potatoes or rice).
8 chicken thighs
12 unskinned garlic cloves
2 small red chillies, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons of orange blossom honey (see note above)
4 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Sea salt and black pepper
- Halve the lemons and squeeze out the juice, reserving the squeezed lemon halves.
- Skin and crush two of the garlic cloves, mix them with the lemon juice, chillies, the honey and seasoning. Stir well and pour over the chicken, pack the lemon halves around the chicken. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight (see note above), turning once or twice.
- When you are ready to cook the chicken, turn the chicken pieces skin side up and scatter over the remaining garlic cloves(unskinned), keep the lemons packed around the chicken pieces.
- Place in a preheated oven 200’c fan, for about 45mins until cooked through and well browned.
- Scatter over the parsley; serve with the lovely pan juices and the garlic cloves which will now be beautifully soft, ready to be popped out of their skins! (you can use the lemon halves for decoration).
Salad with a Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette
Make up a salad as desired and dress with this honey-mustard vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil
Finely grated zest and juice of half an unwaxed lemon
1 teaspoon of honey
Sea salt and black pepper
- Whisk all the ingredients together.
Prawn Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime served with Rice and a Spiced Cucumber Salad (Serves 4)
This recipe is taken from Diana Henry’s cookbook ‘How to Eat a Peach’, it is a beautiful book (the cover is textured like a peach skin!), the recipes are grouped into menus according to the season. This recipe is super easy to cook, just prepare all the ingredients so they can be quickly thrown in the pan, ready to cook in minutes. The cucumber salad is an important accompaniment as its subtle spice gives the whole dish more depth. Start by preparing the rice, I like long grain white rice with this stir fry. Whilst the rice is cooking prepare the cucumber salad and all of the ingredients for the stir fry, then start cooking it just as the rice is cooked. If you are gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce for the cucumber salad. *For a vegetarian option I would replace the prawns with a large handful of cashew nuts and some baby corn or cauliflower florets!
*You can see the video of this dish being made by clicking on this link to my instagram page
Prawn Stir Fry with Basil, Chilli & Lime
350g raw, shelled king prawns (defrosted if frozen)
200g sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
2 red chillies and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced (use less according to taste)
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Juice of lime
20g basil leaves, picked
unsalted peanuts, chopped, to serve (optional)
- Dry the prawns on kitchen roll – the drier they are, the better they fry.
- Halve the sugar snap peas along their lengths, so that the peas peep out.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok, when hot, add the sugar snaps, fry for about 30 seconds.
- Add the prawns, chillies and garlic, reduce the heat a little and cook until the prawns turn pink.
- Add the fish sauce, sugar and lime, stir it all around until the sugar has dissolved, finally throw in the basil leaves.
- Serve straight away, with rice and the spiced cucumber salad (sprinkle with chopped peanuts if using).
Spiced Cucumber Salad
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon of caster sugar
1-2 teaspoons mild chilli powder (according to your taste)
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 teaspoons of sesame oil (optional)
Black sesame seeds (optional)
- Cut the cucumber into wafer thin slices
- Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and chilli powder in a bowl (depending on how spicy you would like it, you can add more or less chilli)
- Toss the cucumber into the bowl along with the spring onions, and if using, also add the sesame oil and seeds.
Menu Three – A Little Treat!
An Affogato and an “Old Fashioned’ Cocktail!
These two final recipes are two treats, a quick fix for any evening!…
I am sure you all know the recipe for an affogato, but I think we often overlook its simplicity, and forget to make it (or rather I do!), so I thought I’d remind us all with the recipe. The word ‘affogato’ in Italian literally means ‘drowned’ and that is exactly what this recipe is – ice cream drowned in a shot of espresso coffee…
1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
1 shot of espresso coffee (hot!!)
- Place the scoop of ice cream in a small bowl or cup and pour over the hot shot of espresso coffee.
- That’s it!….The perfect pick me up!
An ‘Old Fashioned Cocktail
This cocktail is my guilty sin! Make sure you make it with bourbon, not whisky, as the flavour of bourbon is sweeter whereas whisky has a smokier flavour – it really makes a difference in this cocktail, I like to use ‘Makers Mark’.
60ml Bourbon (see note above)
A piece of orange peel
1 teaspoon of sugar syrup
3 dashes of angostura bitters
Add the sugar syrup and the angostura bitters to a glass and with a few cubes of ice, hold the orange peel over the glass and squeeze it ‘to express the oils’ and then drop it into the glass, give everything a stir.
Add the Bourbon, stir again and serve…ahhh!