Epicure Recipe Card #17: Spring chicken with asparagus, peas and broad beans

My first ventures into ‘cooking’ involved grilling cheese on toast around the age of 13. It was an interesting experience as, up until that point, we had only ever had ‘plastic’ cheese in our household. You know, the smooth but saggy type that comes individually enveloped in plastic wrappers? And although I would have consumed it without knowing, it would be several years later before I discovered ‘real’ cheese and how it would brown and melt with stretch as opposed to the strange plastic stuff which would go goopy and form a skin when I went to grill it.

And then I started baking, from packet mixes at first before slowly becoming more adventurous. It stemmed from my love of cakes and the fact that my Chinese mother does not bake.

At all.

The light in the oven had died so many years ago that I don’t have any recollection of it ever working, but no one cared too much as the oven had mostly just been a tool with which to heat up frozen pizzas and fish fingers. Oh, how I envied other kids at school when we had fundraising cake sales on. Them with their plastic containers full of yummy sweet goods prepared lovingly (or, perhaps, cursedly – you never know) by their mothers and me with my packet of whatever purchased from the supermarket.

Along with no baking, there was also no roasting in our household. Our poor neglected oven! However this also meant that our oven remained remarkably clean even as the rest of our kitchen grew more and more used. Not that I had a chance to experiment with our oven for savoury dishes as ours was pretty much strictly a Cantonese food household. So picture my delight when Monsieur Poisson and I were dating and I started frequenting his place to discover a pristine oven due to his no-cook (skills and) habits. I am proud to say that I christened his oven and have been using it on a regular basis ever since.

So when this recipe card said to pan-fry then oven-cook the cuts of chicken, I thought that I’d just throw it in the oven from the start to save myself the trouble. Of course if I had bothered doing this step then I would have ended up with much crispier skin but I am lazy, you see. The recipe also asks for spring vegetables to be blanched then dressed with a walnut oil vinaigrette. Not being the correct season for these vegetables and with me not wanting to invest in a bottle of walnut oil for which I would have limited future use, I instead roasted some vegetables I had in the crisper and threw in some walnut pieces for toasting at the end. (Not actually following these recipe card recipes is starting to turn into a habit of mine, hmmm.)

We had a serve of vegetables left over as we had some bread with our meal as well. The bread you see above alongside the chicken is from my wonderful baker friend, Ms Sourdough, spread with the remains of anchovy chilli butter.

Roast Chicken with cauliflower, beans and peas (serves 2)
(adapted from The Age – Epicure 50 Best Recipe Cards, recipe by Jill Dupleix)

·         2 chicken Marylands
·         1 tbs olive oil
·         1 tsp mixed dried herbs
·         ½ medium cauliflower, separated into florets
·         250g round beans, topped and tailed
·         1 cup frozen peas
·         handful of walnut pieces (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Rub skin of chicken Marylands with olive oil and dried herbs before placing cut-side down in a roasting pan. Season liberally and roast for 35 minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower and beans, season, and roast a further 10 minutes. Throw in peas and walnuts (if using), turn the oven off and allow the lot to sit in there for 5 minutes. Remove the roasting dish from the oven and let sit 5 minutes for the chicken to rest before serving. 

happy cooking!


  1. It's so interesting with different cultures and how it is shown in cooking and eating! See I grew up with my mum baking at least once a week every week and we use the oven all the time! Haha This chicken looks very delicious too!

  2. The beauty of cooking is mixing and matching....especially when you know straying can't get you into much trouble! It does look lovely too!

  3. gah plastic cheese, :( It has its place, but not for grillz

  4. Spooky. Sounds exactly like my childhood growing up! I only knew plastic cheese, my mother never ever baked.. I also (forcibly) ate rice for every meal (it wasn't complete without rice) and my mother cooked everything in a wok - including steak. Sound familiar?

  5. It sounds like my husband's household. TO this date, my MIL's oven is still very new! :)

    I grew up in VIetnam, so no oven for us. But it was normal there... :)

  6. My Phillipino neighbour (moved to Australia last year) came over to ask me how to turn on her oven once, because they never had one when she lived in the Phillipines. I was stunned.

  7. Sounds like my childhood too! Plastic cheese was all I knew and the oven was rarely used. It broke down and didn't even bother to be fixed! LOL! My parents did use a turbo broiler heaps though, did your parents have one of those?

  8. What gorgeous photos - such a pretty looking dish. Great use of alternative, in season veggies too. Love the idea of spreading anchovy butter on toast to go with it!

  9. Haha I remember plastic cheese! And it'd get rubbery when you microwaved it. And lol at your honesty about your laziness :)
    Chicken looks good still and I like the vege combination.

  10. my goodness this looks delicious! i bet your hubby was very very happy!

    my parents oven rarely gets used too. Must be a cantonese thing, very rare to see my dad cook anything in the oven. hehe

  11. Please don't start following the recipe cards, your interpretations are wonderful and fun to read :)

  12. LOL. I totally know where your coming from in regards to the oven. i think I am the only person that uses it in my mum's place!

  13. That last photo looks like a painting that belongs in a museum!

    Ahhh yes... I do remember the plastic cheese days.
    I used to do packet mix cakes too.
    How far we have come =)

  14. Slowly but surely! Nicely done. :)

  15. Hey Maria, it was definitely an interesting experience growing up with a culture at home which is not the culture of where you're living!

    Hey Kitchen Butterfly, I think that's why I don't buy many cookbooks and magazines anymore - I use them for more for inspiration rather than following what they tell me to do! =p

    Hey Fiona, haha, I'm hoping I don't instil memories of plastic cheese into my future children's childhoods!

    Hey Forager, for me, distinctly plastic cheese and no avocado (another story). We ate rice pretty much every night, but not every meal - don't forget the noodles! ...yeah, and steak which is made in a wok =D

    Hey Anh, Mum just recently commented that because of my cooking habits that I would have - oh goodness - a dirty oven! *gasp, faint* I told her it gets cleaned, just like the rest of the kitchen =p

    And, no, we didn't have an oven when we were living in Asia either - just doesn't come as standard in kitchens there.

    Hey Anna, in Hong Kong the new apartments come barely furnished so there's no stove or blinds etc when you move in. And an oven just isn't standard fare because it's not part of the cultural cooking landscape.

    Hey April, what is a turbo broiler?

    Hey Laura, learn to love your oven! Seriously, it's really nice to stick something in like a lasagne and have it cook itself =D

    Hey Sarah, thanks for dropping by =) Anchovy butter was easy to make and a hit. Must do it again sometime soon, I think.

    Hey Lily, there is no use hiding my laziness, nor my distaste for plastic cheese! =p

    Hey Leona, hubby was happy but he's not a fussy eater either, which I'm very grateful for.

    The oven just isn't a part of our cooking culture - wonder why?

    Hey Sara, heh, you enjoy seeing me fiddle with the recipe cards?! =D

    Hey Amy, funny fact: Mum always thought that baking paper would burn in the oven and insisted I use foil to line everything, including cakes etc!

    Hey Shellie, haha, thanks *blush blush* Oh, and look at all of us thinking back to our plastic cheese days!

    Hey Penny, I only change the recipe coz I wouldn't be bothered cooking it otherwise! =p


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