10 AUGUST 1985, Page 36

Here's herbs for happiness I THINK tarragon is y most

favourite herb, tying closely with basil. Here is a curious but very delicious receipt incorpor- ating the former.


1 lb fresh spinach leaves 1 onion chopped finely 10 stalks of tarragon Good bunch of parsley 4 hard-boiled eggs 8 anchovy fillets 8 sardines out of a tin 4 oz of butter

Strip the leaves off the tarragon. Have a pan of boiling water ready. Throw in the spinach, onion, tarragon and parsley, blanch for five minutes. Drain through a sieve squeezing all the moisture out, then press through the sieve or put through a processor. Mash the sardines, anchovies and butter together, combine with the green purée and chopped eggs, season with ground black pepper and salt if you need it. Pack into a suitable china dish and refriger- ate for at least six hours. Serve with hot brown toast and butter.

The tarragon dish I never tire of is the cold chicken sunk in a sauce of its own stock, cream and egg yolks. It is from Madam David's stable yet I rarely find it in other people's houses. It is the ideal summer dish and is best prepared the day before. Do try it.

Cold chicken with tarragon cream sauce

1 31/2 lb roasting chicken 1 onion 4 carrots 1 stalk of celery Bouquet of bay leaf, parsley stalks and thyme

4 tablespoons of white vermouth (Chain

bery) 1 tablespoon of cognac Lemon juice 4 large egg yolks 3/4 pint of thick cream Bunch of tarragon

Place the chicken in a snug saucepan with the carrots, onion, celery, bouquet, a squeeze of lemon juice and the vermouth. Just cover with cold water and put in a tablespoon of good salt. Bring to the boil rather gently, then simmer until tender, about three-quarters to an hour; turn it over at half-time. When cooked put it on a platter to cool then remove all the flesh in nice pieces laying them in a dainty dish which can also receive a pint and a half of sauce. Put all the bones and skin back in the liquid and simmer for a further hour thus producing a richer stock. Pour the stock through a fine sieve, refrigerate until the fat is solid on the top then remove it. Now for the sauce. Beat the egg yolks and cream together very thoroughly, take a pint of the chicken stock, bring it to the boil in a saucepan then pour over the eggs and cream stirring with a wooden spoon. Transfer this mixture to a large frying pan set on an asbestos mat over a very low flame; continue stirring until the back of the spoon retains a faint coating (as in making custard if you ever do), add some lemon juice, salt and ground pepper, the cognac and a good heaped tablespoon of tarragon. Take off the fire and let it cool a bit giving it the odd stir; we don't want scrambled eggs forming at the bottom, then pour over the chicken. Chill until set. Sprinkle some toasted almonds over the top and a few artily placed whole tarragon leaves. Good with a rice salad.

Here we are in a summerless summer in the middle of the summer pudding season. I made a beauty last week with raspberries and redcurrants but raised to great heights with a generous slurp of framboise won at the Oratory's fête, excellent! Then I thought, why not make one with tomatoes, I love tomatoes and soggy bread so here goes.

Tomato summer pudding Tomatoes

Tomato passata or juice Wholemeal bread (decrusted) and sliced Garlic, basil, lemon juice, Worcester sauce, sugar

Get enough tomatoes to fill the bowl you have in mind; pour boiling water over them then skin. Chop roughly, grind salt and pepper over them and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sugar. Pour the passata or juice into a flat soup plate, season with lemon and Worcester sauce, salt and pepper. Soak the bread slices in the juice briefly and line the bowl with them. Add crushed garlic (as much as you fancy), about 20 basil leaves torn apart and a good measure of olive oil to the tomatoes and pour the lot into the bread-lined bowl. Put more soaked bread on top. Place a saucer and weights on top, leave overnight; turn out, surround with hard-boiled eggs and serve with sour cream or mayonnaise.

Jennifer Paterson