Caroline Velik food stylist mint jelly

Cooking with herbs

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Fresh herbs are a simple addition to any meal, providing loads of fresh flavour.
With such a variety, available throughout the year, there’s no excuse for not adding some fresh herbs to your cooking. However, most bunches are larger than that required for a single recipe. What are you meant to do with the leftover bits of the bunch?
My friends know that I am a fan of food storage bags that prolong the life of cut herbs, drawing excess moisture out. You could also wrap them in paper towel and store in the fridge in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid, to achieve a similar effect. Instead of storing leftover herbs in a bunch, where you could easily forget about them, why not whiz up a marinade or a pesto as this keeps in the fridge for up to a week and becomes an instant flavour hit to whatever you’re cooking. Otherwise, try freezing your leftover herbs. Simply pick the leaves, then chop finely or use a food processor for the task. Add enough water to form a thick paste, then freeze in ice cube trays. When frozen, place in labelled freezer bags and you’ll have instant flavour to add to sauces and soups. This works well with basil, parsley and tarragon.
And if you’ve got lots of mint, why not make some old-fashioned mint jelly. It’s perfect with crumbed cutlets or a lamb roast.
Herbs are also easy to grow in your garden, even if you only have room for a few pots on a windowsill. Then, it’s quite convenient to duck out the back and pick something fresh to add to dinner.

Caroline Velik food stylist. Lamb Cutlets

Crumbed lamb cutlets with mint jelly

Don’t forget that herbs make a tasty addition to breadcrumbs!

2-3 slices stale bread to make breadcrumbs

½ (half) cup grated parmesan for breadcrumb mix

½ (half) cup fresh parsley, chopped

zest of 1 lemon

12 lamb cutlets

½ (half) cup plain flour

1 large egg

½ (half)  tbsp milk

2 tbs olive oil

roasted potato wedges and mint jelly, to serve

Make breadcrumbs in food processor, add parmesan, parsley and lemon zest and process until fine.

Flour cutlets, dip in egg wash then coat in breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large frypan. Cook cutlets for a few minutes each side until golden brown.

Serve with roasted potato wedges and homemade mint jelly.

serves 4.

Good old-fashioned mint jelly

1 kg Granny Smith apples
1 litre water
½ (half) cup lemon juice
2 cups fresh mint leaves, plus 20 leaves extra, finely chopped
3 cups sugar (approx)
3 drops green food colouring (optional)

Cut apples into thick slices, but do not peel or core. Combine apples, water, lemon juice and 2 cups mint leaves in large saucepan, bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes until apples are soft.
Strain mixture through muslin lined sieve, over a bowl and stand overnight.
Measure strained juice and return to a large clean saucepan. Add 1cup of sugar for each cup of juice and stir over heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil and boil rapidly for 15 minutes or until setting point is reached. Add a few drops of food colouring to give desired colour.
Remove from heat and add chopped mint leaves. Allow to stand for 10 minutes and stir the mint through to disperse evenly.
Pour into sterilised jars.

Makes approx. 3 ½  cups.

Caroline Velik food stylist. Mint jelly
Caroline Velik food stylist. Marinated Chicken skewers with chermoula

Marinated chicken skewers with Chermoula

Chermoula is a marinade used in Moroccan and Tunisian cooking. I have used it here as a sauce. Also delicious with fish or grilled meat.

750 g chicken thigh fillets
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ (half)  tsp cumin
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 (half) tsp salt


1/2 (half) tsp ground coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
3 cloves garlic, crushed
100ml olive oil
1 ½ (one and a half) tbsp red wine vinegar
1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1 cup parsley leaves, picked

Cut the chicken into 2 cm cubes and place into a large ceramic or glass bowl. Add the garlic, spices, oil, lemon juice and salt. Mix well and pour over the chicken, turning to coat all sides. Cover and marinate 1 hour or more in the refrigerator. Soak 12 bamboo skewers.

Prepare the chermoula. Heat the 3 spices in a small pan about 30 seconds until fragrant. Combine with the garlic, oil and vinegar and whisk well until thick. Stir in the coriander and parsley. Set aside.

Thread the chicken cubes onto skewers. Grill on high heat on a grill plate or barbeque. Serve with the chermoula drizzled over.

Serves 4.

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