chicken with marigold petals & rampant herbs – may in my kitchen

My chicken with red peppers & marigold peppers was inspired both by Sophie Grigson and a visit to herb guru Jekka McVicar’s herb farm. I loved the open day at Jekka’s fabulous Herbetum and came away with some enticing new herbs to plant and enthusiastic plans for cooking with the herbs already to hand outside my kitchen. DSC07308 DSC07316 DSC07322 I reached for a copy of Sophie Grigson’s herbs, which I bought a few years ago from a second-hand bookshop and adapted her recipe for ‘Chicken Red Pepper and Marigold Fajitas’ to use up some of the leftover cooked cockerel I had in the freezer from Easter lunch: Chicken with Marigold Petals & Red Peppers 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 1 tablespoon coriander seeds 1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into strips 1 onion sliced 2 garlic cloves sliced 1 chilli, sliced A handful of cooked, leftover chicken A teaspoon of chopped fresh lovage juice of 1/2 lime petals of 3 marigold flowers A handful of chopped fresh parsley Dry fry the cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan until they give off a heady aroma. Grind them in a pestle and mortar with the oregano. Heat the oil in a wide frying pan over a moderate heat and cook the peppers, lovage, onion, garlic and chilli for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle over the spices, season with salt and pepper, stir, cover and reduce heat to low then leave to sweat for 10 minutes or until tender. Raise the heat and add the chicken, stir fry until heated through then stir in the lime juice and serve strewn with parsley and marigold petals. This would be fabulous with fajitas as Sophie suggests, or with rice. I’d been baking focaccia with rosemary (Ruby’s fingers are still perfect for those indents where all the lovely olive oil, rosemary and sea salt gather) that morning – we had a weekend away around the Jekka McVicar herb farm visit and much as I enjoy the treat of a couple of meals out, I’m always crazily keen to cook when we return home. So we happily scoffed a tasty mismatch of food at lunchtime. DSC07323DSC07324 Skipping away from my kitchen for a minute and back to that wonderful herb farm, it was brilliant to see such an amazing selection of unusual herbs. The brilliant thing about Jekka’s Herbetum is that you can also see well established versions of the herbs that are on sale growing in lovely raised beds, with great labels that suggest ways to use them, often culinary. For instance I couldn’t resist buying a ‘Jekka’ thyme after seeing this lovely profusion of flowers and being very taken with the suggestion of using the thyme flowers in salads. DSC07267 And when we felt how soft this low-growing thyme ‘Minimalist’ was, both Ruby and I Ioved the idea of planting it somewhere where we could walk over it. DSC07268 I hadn’t seen mace growing before and couldn’t resist buying some to cook with at home. DSC07273 So many lovely herbs to choose from: DSC07283 Ruby decided she wanted to buy a herb too and found it as hard to choose as her Mum: DSC07262 My enthusiasm for planting seems to have rubbed off too. In a dubious way. For Ruby, it’s not herbs in pots; my daughter decided she’d love to grow dandelions in her hair: I’ll spare you the pics of the shower cap propagation method she used later. DSC07302 Back home, the rampant herbs that I spy from my kitchen window are tempting me to experiment more in the kitchen: DSC07307 I’m hoping the bergamot seeds I bought will germinate as I enjoyed a wonderfully fragrant tea made simply with dried bergamot flowers at Jekka’s herb farm and am hoping to replicate it at home. While I wait for bergamot to grow, I’ve been enjoying some lovely tea samples kindly sent by Teavivre. Sipping some freshly brewed Ripened Tangerine tea while watering my seedlings or savouring the organic fragrant black tea has made me realise how much of a rut I’ve got into with my mid morning coffee. Will definitely be varying it now, especially as I’m finding a morning cup of green or black tea very refreshing in the lovely sunshine we’re having. These teas are much more interesting than reaching for a tea-bag:

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I do like what Teavivre told me about their visits to the Tea Plantations in China too: “Our regular trips allow us to not just find the best teas, but also visit our supplier’s farms to personally verify their growing and production methods.” They tell me that they use organically farmed tea wherever possible. Will write more about my herby experiments soon, wondering about making tea-bread while I have these interesting teas too. In the meantime I’m off to have a peep at some other kitchens around the world in Celia of  Fig Jam & Lime Cordial’s fab In My Kitchen. Although I seem to have meandered away from my kitchen in this post, growing and planting are so intertwined with what I cook, so would love to join in. And as this is a very herby post, would love to join in this month’s herbs on Saturday which Karen of Lavender and Lovage hosts. If you like growing and cooking with herbs too, it’s a great place for recipe ideas. lavenderandlovage_cooking2

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25 thoughts on “chicken with marigold petals & rampant herbs – may in my kitchen

  1. Andrea, what a wonderful recipe – I can’t wait to try it!
    My mother always puts marigolds into salads, which is so pretty, but I’d never thought of putting them with chicken – I think it will be a great combination.
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Emma 🙂

  2. Outstanding – that sounds delicious.
    I bought some Mexican corn four this week (Masa Harina) to experiment – it’s not the same as the regular corn flour we buy in supermarkets here. I made a mess of some tacos, but they still tasted good and would go very well with your chicken 😉

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa

  3. Andrea, Ruby is growing up so quickly! Look at how tall she’s getting! Beautiful photos of your beautiful daughter! Sophie Grigson and Jekka McVicar – two familiar names from books and tv, how nice to take a tour of Jekka’s Herbetum with you, thank you. Love the low growing thyme as well, but I always have a problem with eating something that we’ve all walked on (which is why we ended up feeding all the purslane growing on the paths to the chooks). Your focaccia looks delicious, as does that stunning chicken. Might need to go raid my marigold petals.. 🙂

    • Thanks Celia. She is definitely getting very grown-up, comforting though that she was still pretending to be a boiled egg (!) on the trampoline today! I have to admit that the same thought crossed my mind about feet and edible herbs – think I may have to stick to snipping the other varieties for the kitchen.

  4. I love that Ruby chose flowers for her hair to match her wellies! Your visit to the herb farm sounds really good – you did well to come home with just a few pots, it must have been tempting to buy one of everything.

    • It’s very tempting, I could’ve spent a fortune. You would love it. I have kept quiet so far about the perennial basil and the tangerine sage though. And the rock samphire….

  5. That looks like a wonderful place to visit, shame it’s too far away for me :(.

    We planted a thyme lawn a few years ago it started off as four small plants and has spread beautifully, including to other parts of the garden! We now have a small lawn under an arbour which we hang a hammock across which was why we wanted the lawn there as any other plants would get damaged. It smells wonderful as you lie in the hammock……

    • Thank you and sweet cicely is romping around the herb bed here too – I found it tricky to get going then once established it spreads crazily. Definitely too pretty to be ruthless with.

  6. Marigolds are so useful in the garden & the kitchen aren’t they – and thanks for being kind about the garden, it’s rapidly feeling like a wilderness. A very lush wilderness though with all this rain.

    • Definitely – in the depths of winter, I’m so grateful for those hardy, woodier herbs and now, when everything looks so lush yet there’ s still a wait for summer veggies, herbs are brilliant at providing inspiration.

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