Loving the warmer weather, we caught up with Hampshire chef and cookery demonstrator Gee Cartwright and the Cocktail Car’s Oliver Gray for some outdoor entertaining inspiration. Here they share some of their favourite al fresco recipes…
Gee’s Chicken, Fennel and Orange Traybake
3-4 large bulbs fennel (approx. 1kg)
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 eating orange and juice of 1 lemon (about 100ml of juice)
2 tsp. sea salt
4 tsp. fennel seeds
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
12 chicken thighs with skin and bone still in
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 medium red onions, peeled, cut into thin wedges
12 unpeeled garlic cloves
200ml marsala, madeira or sherry
• Remove the fronds from the fennel and cut out the core. Cut the bulb into quarters
and then each quarter into three.
• To make the marinade, place a large freezer bag inside a wide-necked measuring jug
or similar, pour in the oil, add the orange zest, juice and lemon juice and spoon in the
salt, fennel seeds and mustard. Stir briefly to mix.
• Add a quarter of the chicken pieces, followed by a quarter of the fennel pieces, and so
on until everything’s been used up. Seal the bag tightly at the top and lie the bag in a
big dish. Squelch it about so that you make the small amount of marinade cover
everything. It might look like there is very little, but it will be enough. Leave in the
fridge overnight or up to 1 day.
• Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 10-12 minutes
until they are beginning to soften. Transfer them to a roasting pan (which will fit
everything in snugly) and add the unpeeled garlic cloves. Place on a medium heat and
add the Marsala. Bring to a simmer, bubble for a few minutes.
• Remove the marinating chicken and fennel from the fridge and tip the contents into
the roasting tin with the onions. Arrange the chicken pieces so that they are sitting,
skin-side up, on top of the fennel. Leave it for 30 minutes or so, to come up to room
temperature while you preheat the oven to 200ºC / 400ºF / gas 6.
• Drizzle some more olive oil onto the chicken and cook in the roasting oven of the Aga
for 50 mins or in the preheated oven for 1 hour, by which time the fennel will be soft,
and the chicken cooked through and brown on top.
• Put the chicken, fennel, onion and garlic onto a warmed serving plate and put the pan
over a medium heat and boil the juices, stirring until it turns syrupy.
• Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.
• The chicken can be marinated 1 day ahead. Store in fridge until needed.
Gee’s Summerdown Mint and Pistachio Chocolate Fridge Cake
Makes 24 Bars
300g dark chocolate (72% cocoa) roughly chopped
2 drops Summerdown peppermint oil
100g golden syrup
120g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Pinch of salt
100g dried cranberries or cherries, soaked in 2 tbsp of rum for 30 minutes
170g digestive biscuits, roughly broken into small pieces
100g pistachios roughly chopped
• Line a 28cm x 18cm baking tray with greaseproof paper.
• Put the chocolate, peppermint oil, golden syrup, the butter and a pinch of salt in a
large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water (without the bowl
touching the water) and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and all is
• Stir the cranberries / cherries and their soaking liquid, the biscuits and about half of
the pistachios into the chocolate mixture. Use the bigger bits of the nuts and keep the
powdery bits for later.
• Stir so that everything is covered in chocolate and pour into the prepared tray.
Smooth out the surface and top with the remaining chopped pistachios.
• Allow to cool slightly and then cover tightly with cling fil and pop in the fridge for
two / three hours until set. Cut into the bars and you should get 24 small bars. Serve
cold from the fridge.
Make well ahead, cut up and keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve really cold
and they will keep well in the fridge for a week and a month in the freezer if they last! I
actually love serving them straight from the freezer.