By Carina Contini

A TINY part of me has to admit that deep down the lockdown has felt like getting a day off school when I was eight years old due to the February snowfalls. My more conscious awareness is of a fear for an unknown future, but like everything in life we must all try and make the best of the situation we are presented with.

Let's take this time and savour it. It may be the only time we have with our families – if, like me, you have your three children at home before two of them are hopefully able to start their next adventure at colleges across the country.

We traded our city home in Edinburgh for a one in the country about nine years ago. The one-hour long commute is torture during normal times, but being here today it feels like a little bit of heaven.

Our kitchen garden, normally only for the restaurant, is providing deliveries for our community and a little salad for ourselves. The weather has been so good I’ve even been helping my husband Victor with the planting. Up until now I’ve been a fair-weather harvester only.

So if you can, enjoy the outside space you have. Make the most of it as the warmer weather approaches. If you don’t have a garden as I know many won’t, enjoy a Pimm’s with the window open. It will be much better for your knees, I can assure you.

Carina Contini is owner of Contini George Street, Edinburgh; Cannonball Restaurant & Bar, Castle Hill, Edinburgh; and The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant – located at the gardens entrance of the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

Three great recipes to get you in the mood for summer

Classic Pimm’s & Lemonade

I know it’s not Scottish. It’s not even Italian. But it’s delicious and it feels fun when served in a big pitcher and you can feel the sun on your face.


• 300ml Pimm’s No 1

• 1 litre lemonade

• 1 cucumber

• 6 sprigs of fresh mint, washed

• 1 orange, cut into slices

• 12 strawberries, washed

• 12 ice cubes


1 You’ll need a large jug to make the punch.

2 Leave the bottle of Pimm’s and lemonade in the fridge overnight as it keeps the drink colder.

3 Wash the cucumber and slice into diagonal strips about 4mm thick. When they are this shape it’s easy to pick them up and eat them.

4 Add the cucumber, mint, orange and ice to the jug. Add the Pimm’s and top up with lemonade. Decorate with the strawberries and relax.

Chilli BBQ Chicken

This recipe can be cooked in the oven or on a BBQ.

Serves 4


• 3 green chillies, seeds removed and finely chopped

• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled

• 1 whole unwaxed lemon or 2 preserved lemon, pips removed

• 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

• Generous pinch of salt

• Large handful of fresh parsley, leaves only

• Large handful of fresh coriander, leaves only

• 1.5kg/3lb 3oz free-range or organic chicken, backbone removed and squashed flat and lay skin side up on a roasting tray


1 Cut the lemon in half and remove any seeds.

2 Mix all of the ingredients in the blender or food processor until smooth.

3 Pour this mixture over the chicken and gently rub in. Leave to marinade for at least an hour.

4 Sprinkle some more salt over the chicken and a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.

5 Roast at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for 15 minutes so the skin becomes lovely and tasty then lower the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and cook for another 40 minutes or so until the leg of the chicken easily removes from the carcass.

Strawberry Pavlova

With the first of the Scottish strawberries hitting the shops this is the perfect dessert.

Serves 4


• 200g free range egg whites (about five medium free-range eggs)

• 400g caster sugar

• A pinch of salt

• 1 heaped tsp cornflour

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• 1 tsp white wine vinegar

• 2 x 250g punnets of fresh strawberries, stalks removed and cut into quarters

• 1 x 250g punnet of fresh raspberries

• 10g icing sugar

• 600ml of double cream


1 Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2

2 Carefully separate the egg whites and beat with the pinch of sugar until very stiff. Very slowly beat in the caster sugar. I do this one teaspoon at a time to ensure the air stays in the mixture. When all the sugar has been added, mix the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour and then beat into the meringue.

3 Rather than using a baking sheet lined with parchment I use a ceramic pie dish (approximately 28cm wide) and oil very lightly. I serve the pavlova in this dish so it looks pretty and stops the chances of the meringue breaking.

4 Fill the dish with thick scoops of the mixture to form the pavlova shape and bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes then turn off the oven and leave for a further 20 minutes.

5 Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool.

6 Meanwhile heat one punnet of raspberries with the icing sugar in a pan until the raspberries start to pop and the sugar has dissolved. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, stirring to ensure the mixture doesn't burn. Cool and then sieve the seeds to make a coulis and add the strawberries to the coulis.

7 Whip the double cream until soft peaks form and then spoon the cream onto the pavlova and then dress with the strawberry mixture.