After Brexit, flooding and now Coronavirus, the weather was suddenly kind to us this week and the sun shone, buds burst out, primroses and crocuses bloomed – and even the hens took to sunbathing! Hope restored, and looking forward to Spring, I visited the local garden centre and bought new plants and seeds to start off in my potting shed. (With the help of the hens), I planted about 150 snowdrops and crocus, cleared some new areas, moved some old plants about and started planning this year’s crops. The last thing I was thinking of was some complicated cooking to take up my time from outside so looking at ease, quickness and time, this week we are cooking en papillote (using baking parchment, found with the foil and greaseproof paper section of wherever you shop) – all the ingredients thrown into little parcels and popped in the oven – you can even save time on washing up if you eat straight from the packet! 3 versions – fish, chicken and a vegetarian one – should cover all bases – and, if gardening is not your thing, just pour yourself a glass of something nice and sit in the sunshine with a good book, knowing you are not going to be pulled away from its pages any time soon.
- 1 boneless salmon fillet
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 dessertspoon dill (roughly chopped)
- 6 – 8 cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 6 medium white button mushrooms (thinly sliced)
- 4 – 6 thick asparagus spears (if in season – otherwise use tenderstem broccoli)
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon capers (optional
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Season salmon fillet with salt and pepper and set aside. Use two pieces of parchment paper big enough to fold in half once all the ingredients have been added. Evenly distribute minced garlic and asparagus in the centre of each of the pieces of paper and top with salmon fillet. Add cherry tomatoes and mushrooms around the salmon and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle dill and capers on top of fish and vegetables and drizzle extra virgin oil. Squeeze a little lemon juice and close the paper by folding the edges over several times, until it is completely sealed. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until salmon is almost fully cooked and flaky. Serve with rice, new potatoes or noodles – or just some crusty bread.
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 grated garlic clove
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1/2 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 artichoke hearts (from a 14-ounce can), quartered
- 6 Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
- 2 teaspoons capers
- crumbled feta
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano (optional)
- 1/2tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a 12-inch squares of parchment paper on a work surface. Place chicken breast on one half of each square, leaving a 2-inch border; season with salt and pepper. Dividing evenly, top chicken with garlic, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, capers, and feta. Sprinkle with oregano and oil. Fold parchment over ingredients, and crimp edges to seal. Place packet on baking sheet. Bake until chicken is opaque throughout, 20 to 22 minutes and serve, as above with new potatoes, rice or noodles.
Shiitake Mushrooms and Brown Rice
- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- Coarse salt and pepper
- olive oil to drizzle
- fresh greens
- Lemon wedges
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper, 12in square. Lay in rice and top with mushrooms and thyme. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Bake on a baking sheet until packet is puffed and mushrooms are cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with greens divided among plates and squeezed with lemon wedges.