Tuesday, 20 August 2013

If it walks like a duck...

Don't be fooled into thinking that duck is difficult to cook - it's really not. 
And, it's quick..   you can have a perfect duck breast, crispy skin and meltingly, tender pink meat, on the table in under 20 minutes.
The added bonus for me, is that it goes with all sorts of fruit...  cranberries, pears, cherries, plums, pomegranate.. 
I do love fruit in my food :-)

Here's my quick, warm duck salad with blackberries.

For the salad I mixed together some cooked green beans, salad leaves, cooked beetroot, feta cheese, blackberries and walnuts.
I made up my own dressing of 2 tbsp cranberry sauce, 1 tsp wholegrain mustard, 50ml olive oil, and 20 ml white wine vinegar.
Just before serving toss the salad gently with the dressing. 
I like his type of salad at room temperature too - those flavours just don't come out if everything is cold from the fridge.

Duck breast.
Preheat the oven to 190C/ 170 Fan
Score the skin on the duck breast and season it well.
Put your pan on a medium heat and place the duck breast in it - skin side down. You want that skin to get nice and crispy. There's no need to add any oil.
Cook for 6 - 8 minutes, until the skin is golden brown. 
Transfer to the oven and cook for a further 6 minutes  (slightly more if you don't wan't your duck pink).
Take the duck out and let it rest for a few minutes.

Now is the time to add the dressing to your salad, and pile it onto plates. 
Slice the duck breast and place it on top. Eat!! :-)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Experimental Thursdays

Thursday's tea can be an interesting affair. What I've planned to cook usually goes out the window, as I try and use up whatever is lurking at the bottom of the fridge.
It can be a bit hit and miss ;-)

Last Thursday was a big hit. 
This puff pastry tart was delicious and it's something I will definitely make again. 
It would be a great thing to throw together when you have unexpected visitors.

All you need is the puff pastry sheet and you can make a filling out of just about anything.

I covered my pastry base with some black pepper Boursin cheese, leaving a 2cm border all the way round.
Then, I fried some onion and diced pancetta and cooked my broccoli, and scattered everything on top of the cheese.
I finished by grating some cheddar over the top (about 100g) and brushing the pastry border with a little beated egg.

Who knew broccoli could taste so good!   :-)
Cook for about 15mins in a pre-heated oven - 220C / 200 Fan, until the pastry is risen and cooked through and the cheese has melted.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Weekly Menu Fri 16th - Thurs 22nd August

Friday - roast chicken with waldorf salad
Saturday - slow cooker lasagna
Sunday - cheeseburgers
Monday - salmon in watercress sauce
Tuesday - spanish pork stew with chorizo
Wednesday - sweet & sour fish with pineapple rice
Thursday - tuna nicoise

Monday, 12 August 2013

Delicious Frangipane

Flipping through a stack of old food magazines last week,
a recipe for Strawberry Bakewell caught my eye.
I love frangipane, but for some reason I have never made a bakewell tart before.
I thought I'd better put that right ;-)

 Who knew Bakewell Tarts were so easy to make - especially following this recipe from Nigel Slater.

24cm pastry case.  You can make your own, but I am lazy and used a shop bought one.
Oven 180C / Fan 160C

175g. softened butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
150g ground almonds
75g plain flour
200g jam (A sharper jam is better to contrast with the sweet strawberries. I used blackcurrant.)
400g strawberries, hulled
6 heaped tbsps icing sugar
a little lemon juice.

Spread the jam over the base of the pastry case.
Cream the butter and sugar together, until smooth and pale.
Add the lightly beaten eggs, a little at a time.
Mix in the ground almonds and flour.
Spoon this almond filling over the jam and smooth down gently.
Bake for 30 - 35 mins, until risen and lightly firm.
Allow to cool a little before decorating with the strawberries.
Mix the icing sugar with a little lemon juice to make a lemony icing, and drizzle over the strawberries.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Weekly Menu Friday 9th - Thursday 15th August

Friday - grilled lamb with greek salad and tzatziki
Saturday - wedding food!!
Sunday - southern fried chicken with green salad
Monday - summer poached chicken with greens
Tuesday - paprika pork with new potatoes
Wednesday - cajun steak with smoky baked beans
Thursday - spinach samosas with indian salad

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Love Your Leftovers

Don't throw those leftovers away - 
make them into pasties, for a packed lunch or a picnic in the park.

I made Ham & Pea Pasties, but you could use anything you have leftover - 
curry, Sunday lunch, chicken in sauce, cauliflower cheese...

I used ready made shortcrust pastry.
Roll the pastry out and use a small saucer to cut out rounds.
Place a spoonful of your filling into each round, wet the edges with water, then fold over and pinch together.
Mark the edges with the back of a fork and brush all over with beaten egg.
Bake in a pre-heated oven (200C/180Fan) for 20 - 30 mins, until cooked and golden.

You can even make these sweet, by using fruit or jam as a filling and sprinkling caster sugar over them before baking.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Weekly Menu - Sat 3rd to Thur 8th August

Saturday - chilli, lime roast chicken with fresh peas and honey chantenay carrots
Sunday - asian chicken, mandarin and cashew nut salad
Monday - baked pork tenderloin with fennel
Tuesday - duck salad with blackberries
Wednesday - turkey meatball and pineapple curry
Thursday - roast salmon with vine tomatoes

Thursday, 1 August 2013

C is for Crab

One of my earliest memories is of my Dad cooking crab, on a little stove, in a seaside caravan.
I think that's why I love it so much.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get fresh crab meat for this dish - I found a tub of it in the chiller cabinet and thought it would be better than canned, but it was a little disappointing.
Thanks to a fabulous dressing though, the salad was still tasty.

If you see some fresh crab this is definitely worth making. It's low fat, low cal and very quick to make. 
The recipe is in the Good Food Mag (August), but doesn't seem to have made it to the website yet.
It's basically crab, rice noodles, courgette, cucumber, spring onions, coriander and mint.
I tweaked the dressing a little and it was delicious.

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
2tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp soft brown sugar
juice and zest of 1 lime