MMom calls it “chicken anyway” because you can make chicken any way you want: I like to bake it in the oven (so I can forget about it); my mom likes to do it on the hob (to keep more sauce); and my boyfriend, Henry, likes to grill it on the BBQ (so it’s smoky and crispy),” says Melissa Hemsley.
“However you do it, I recommend making more so you can shred it into soups, wraps, noodles and salads later in the week.”
Filipino Chicken with Mango-Tomato Salsa
4 large chicken thighs with skin and bones (about 600g)
Sea salt and black pepper
2 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally, for serving
For the Filipino sauce:
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp-1 tbsp fish sauce or additional 2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons (coconut) sugar or maple syrup
2 star anise
¼ teaspoon chili flakes (or to taste)
For the mango-tomato salsa:
1 large handful of fresh cilantro
100g cherry tomatoes, quartered
100 g peeled ripe mango, pineapple or stone fruit, diced
2 cm finely grated fresh ginger
½ clove of garlic, finely grated
1 jalapeño or other pepper, seeded and diced
Juice of 1½ lime
4 spring onions or 1 small red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A dash of hot sauce (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas fan mark 9. If you are using a barbecue, light it now.
2. Mix all the sauce ingredients together. Place the chicken thighs in a baking dish large enough to arrange the pieces about two centimeters apart (but not so large that you lose all the sauce when cooking in the oven), then add the sauce, coating each piece of chicken from the mixture and let stand a few minutes, if desired.
3. Place chicken thighs skin side up in pan, sprinkle a little salt and pepper on each and roast for 25 minutes or until cooked through and juices run clear when cooked. they are pricked with a knife.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the salsa. Roughly chop the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stems, then add to a serving bowl with all the other ingredients, mix well and let sit for 20 minutes (while the chicken cooks).
5. Serve the chicken sprinkled with spring onions and with the salsa on the side.
Fried Halloumi and Rainbow Chickpea Salad
“Do it without hesitation!” enthused Hemsley.
“It’s also delicious stuffed in a wrap or served with rice or quinoa. Halloumi should be served immediately, so make it chilled. Replace the halloumi with paneer or use extra-firm tofu, patted dry, for a plant-based version of this dish.
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
400 g can of drained and rinsed chickpeas
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
225g halloumi, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons of maple syrup
Sea salt and pepper
For the salad:
A little diced red onion or chopped spring onions
1 large carrot, washed and coarsely grated
1 handful of diced ripe tomatoes
For the cashew-cilantro-mint chutney (double):
4 tablespoons cashews or other nuts
4 handfuls of fresh coriander
2 small handfuls of fresh mint leaves
2 fresh green chillies, seeded if preferred, chopped or a good pinch of chilli flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of 3 limes
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1. Prepare the salad and arrange it in two bowls.
2. Heat a large skillet and toast the cashews for the chutney over medium heat for three to four minutes, tossing halfway through cooking, until lightly browned, then stir in half between them in the small bowl of a food processor and save the rest. for garnish.
3. Put the pan back on the heat, melt one and a half tablespoons of ghee and sauté the chickpeas (making sure they are well dried in a kitchen towel before so they don’t spit in the oil hot) over medium heat for four minutes with half the spices and a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally. Ladle into a bowl, scraping up the delicious bits from the bottom of the pan as you go.
4. While the chickpeas are frying, add all the other chutney ingredients to the food processor – saving some herbs for garnish, if desired – along with about three tablespoons of water, then mix, season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Return the pan to the heat with the rest of the ghee and once melted, sauté the halloumi over medium heat for about two minutes on the first side (keep the halloumi pieces spaced apart) then flip, sprinkle over the remaining spices and fry for about a minute on the other side until lightly browned and crispy around the edges. Immediately add the fried chickpeas and maple syrup, then toss with the halloumi and sauté for 30 seconds to warm the chickpeas and the maple syrup to bubble and thicken.
6. Divide the chickpeas over the salad bowls with the halloumi on top, drizzle over half the chutney and garnish with the remaining walnuts.
Chewy no-bake hazelnut bars
“All nuts and seeds work in these delicious bars. I’ve made them with just hazelnuts before for a nice praline flavor,” says Hemsley.
“You might like to swap the vanilla extract for a dash of peppermint or orange extract, or add a splash of rum and a few raisins or toasted coconut flakes.
“These are best served straight from the fridge for the ultimate moistness!”
150 g coarsely chopped mixed whole walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds
200g dark chocolate (50%-70%), broken into squares
5 tablespoons coconut oil
240 g pitted Medjool dates
200g ground almonds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
80 g coarsely chopped pistachios (or pumpkin seeds), for garnish
1. Begin by toasting whole walnuts (not pistachios) for five minutes in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant and just golden brown. Toss them in the pan as they cook and watch them hawk after three minutes!
2. Next, prepare a bain-marie: place a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water), add the chocolate and two tablespoons coconut oil and let melt until smooth, stirring occasionally. Once melted, allow to cool slightly.
3. Add dates, ground almonds, vanilla, remaining coconut oil and salt to a food processor and process until combined and paste-like. Add 50 grams of toasted walnuts (about a third, it doesn’t have to be exact) and pulse again briefly until coarsely ground but still with slightly larger chunks, then turn machine off and stir in pistachios or pumpkin seeds for a nice balance of soft dough and crunchy nuts and seeds.
4. Line a rectangular pan about 25 centimeters × 20 centimeters and four centimeters deep – and transfer the mixture from the food processor to the pan. Press very well with your hands to create a nice flat compact layer.
5. To finish, pour the shiny melted chocolate mixture over the top to create a thick layer, using a spatula to get the last nice drop from the bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining toasted walnuts and chopped pistachios and refrigerate for three hours, until the chocolate layer is nice and hard, making it easy to slice and chewy.
6. Take the mold out of the fridge for 10 minutes before cutting it into 16 squares. Keep refrigerated. These will last a few weeks in a sealed container.
Melissa Hemsley’s ‘Feel Good’ (published by Ebury Press, £22; photography by Lizzie Mayson), available now.