Any self-depreciating child of the Eighties will understand me when I say that The Party Bag has the wherewithal to make or break relationships. The contents of those three flimsy seams are what you, as a child were judged on. And this judgement extended to the parents. If they had (god forbid) forgotten to spend weeks planning said contents, there was no question of ‘let’s do without’ oh no, blue light run to the nearest supermarket to sweep the shelves of…. all things miniature.
Yes, it’s true, things in mini are just…. Better. As someone who knows far too well, what you lack in stature, you make up for in personality. A huge sharing bag of Smarties has NOTHING against those teeny rectangular boxes of pure joy. Yes, you are the proud owner of perhaps five little technicolour shiny pebbles (plus the obligatory browns), but you treasure each individual one as if it was your last. Same goes for raisins…. My canny mum used to buy the industrial sized bags of raisins purely to fill up those teeny tiny boxes to keep her little brood happy (savvy point noted for future).
And that is why the tiny, verdant miniature vegetables of late spring are just so delicious. Tiny incarnations of what they are destined to be, but ripe to bursting with juvenile sweetness. Here, paired with delicately poached fragrant chicken and mayonnaise with just a kiss of Lavender, they are just as delightful as that mini box of smarties.
1.5kg Organic Chicken
2 Small Onions, halved
1 tbsp White Tea Leaves
3 Sprigs Parsley
50ml White Wine
1.5 litres Chicken Stock, unsalted
1 Celery Stick
Handful Spring Greens, chopped
½ tsp Lavender Buds, culinary grade
400g New Potatoes, scrubbed
1 Bunch Asparagus, woody stems removed
1 Bunch Runner Beans, tails removed
4 Spring Onions, finely shredded and soaked in iced water to curl
1 Bunch Radishes
100g Frozen Peas
Salt, Pepper & lemon juice to season
Thai Basil to garnish
6tbsp Homemade Mayonnaise
1tsp Lemon Juice
¼ tsp Culinary Lavender Buds, finely chopped
1. Mix all the ingredients for the mayonnaise and set aside in the fridge.
2. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pop the celery, parsley and onions inside the cavity.
3. Allow to come to room temperature and pop into a large casserole pot, breast side down with the wine and stock. Add the spring greens, tea and lavender and bring to a simmer.
4. Cook for 45 minutes on a gentle simmer, flip over and cook 40 minutes more.
5. Remove the chicken and allow to cool for 10 minutes on a large plate before slicing into chunks.
6. Meanwhile, strain the stock bring up to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes before adding the radish. Keep adding the vegetables, finishing with the peas and cook until only just tender.
7. Taste the stock and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to your liking.
8. Spoon the vegetables into bowls with a ladle of the broth. Add the chicken with a spoonful of lavender mayonnaise and garnish with Thai basil before serving.