Lucy Boyd – Head Gardener and Culinary Director of Petersham Nurseries – shares recipes from her new book, inspired by her mother, Rose Gray
Camone tomatoes arrive at the beginning of spring, imported from Sicily. They are sold on the stem with medium-sized greeny-red fruits. They have a tangy quality that reflects the lack of sun that sweetens the tomatoes later in the season. I love the firm texture and taste of this tomato, which goes so well with the light and creamy ricotta and the deep earthy and sweet flavours of the coppa.
Camone tomato, coppa di parma and ricotta salad
- Serves 4
Ingredients1 small bunch of fresh marjoram, leaves picked from their stems, washed and dried (about 3 tbsp of leaves)
Extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 ‘Camone’ tomatoes (or ‘Marinda’, another early variety with a firm, slightly crunchy texture and fantastic flavour)
12 Slices of coppa di parma (cured pork shoulder)
150g buffalo ricotta
A few leaves of broad-leaved rocket or lamb’s lettuce, washed and dried
Sea salt and black pepper
2 Slice the tomatoes in half crossways (not through the stem) and then cut roughly into pieces so that you have odd shapes. Season with a little salt and pepper and coat with a little extra-virgin olive oil.
3 Put a few pieces of tomato on to each plate, divide the coppa up and curl it through the tomatoes as if it were unfolding. Spoon teaspoons of the buffalo ricotta over the salad and add a few rocket or lamb’s lettuce leaves. Dribble the salmoriglio sparingly over the top.
My sister Hester is a very organised person and over the years has kept notes of recipes from friends and family. This recipe (main picture) is taken from the notes that she wrote while watching Rose (who had recently returned from Kerala) pounding and grinding the many spices that make the lemony chicken so fresh and vibrant. It became a regular supper in the house whenever we wanted something spicy and, as long as you get all the ingredients prepared first, it is fairly quick and easy to make.
Lemony chicken with fresh coriander
Ingredients20g fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped into small chunks
3 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 medium-sized chicken, jointed into its various parts (the butcher will do this for you)
3 tbsp olive oil juice of 1½ lemons
1 fresh green chilli, stalk removed, then finely chopped (deseed if you prefer it less hot)
1 small bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked from their stems, washed, dried and finely chopped sea salt and black pepper
Put the garlic, turmeric, coriander and cumin seeds and cayenne pepper into a pestle and mortar and pound together.
Season the chicken pieces well all over with salt and pepper.
Heat a drizzle of the olive oil in a shallow, heavy-based pan, add the chicken pieces and brown them on all sides –it may be easier to brown them in batches if your pan is too small to fit them in without overlapping. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl.
Put the garlic and spice mixture into the still-hot pan (you may need to add a little more oil) and stir to release their flavours. Add the ginger and chopped chilli and stir-fry for a minute or so. Add the chicken pieces and any juices that have been released, then add 8 tablespoons of water and the lemon juice. Stir, then turn up the heat and bring to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and turn the heat right down to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove the lid and scatter the chopped coriander over. Serve with spiced basmati rice.
Su Rogers, one of Rose’s oldest friends, was also our guardian for a time when we were growing up and Rose was living in Italy. She is one of the best cooks I know and now spends much of the year at her house in the south of France, surrounded by orange trees. This is her recipe, and she recommends eating it day after it’s made.
Orange and almond cake
- Serves 6
IngredientsKnob of butter, for greasing the tin
plain flour, for dusting the tin
4 medium eggs, separated
125g caster sugar
grated zest of 1 orange
50g ground almonds
50g flaked almonds, finely chopped
FOR THE SYRUP
3 oranges, juiced to give about 300ml
75g caster sugar
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 tbsp orange liqueur
Mix in the orange zest and the almonds. Fold in the egg white mixture gradually to maintain volume. Pour into the cake tin, level the surface and bake for about 45 minutes.
To make the syrup, simmer the orange juice with the sugar and cinnamon stick until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the liqueur. When the cake has cooled, use a skewer to pierce the top with little holes, then pour the syrup over so that it soaks into the holes and is completely absorbed.