Duck Ragu with Pappardelle

Duck Ragu with Pappardelle

A deeply flavoured dish which is surprisingly light – duck legs are simmered in a tomato and red wine based sauce spiked with fresh herbs and a little star anise.

Whilst this ragu would be delicious served on its own, it really shines when paired with top quality pappardelle – the slight bite of the pasta adding contrast of texture.

Duck Ragu with Pappardelle
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Ragu: 4 Duck Legs (Trimmed), 100g Smoked Bacon (Chopped), 2 Garlic Cloves (Crushed), 2 Onions (Chopped), 1 Celery Stick (Chopped), 2 Small Carrots (Chopped), 1 Bay Leaf, 1 Star Anise, 2tbsp Tomato Purée, 2 Tins Chopped Tomatoes, 200ml Red Wine, 2 Thyme Sprigs, 500ml Chicken Stock, Sea Salt, Black Pepper

To Finish: 250g Pappardelle, Large Handful Chopped Parsley, Shaved Parmesan, Black Pepper

Method:

1) Place a large casserole dish on the stove top. Add the duck legs (skin side down) and fry over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the fat has rendered. Turn and fry for a further 5 minutes. Remove the duck and set aside. Add the bacon and fry until crisp and golden. Next add the onions, celery, carrot and garlic and fry for 10 minutes or until tender.

2) Turn the heat up high and add the red wine – allow to reduce by half. Add the tomato purée and cook for 5 minutes, stirring well. Add the star anise, bay leaf, chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a slight simmer. Season with pepper and a little salt. Place the duck legs in the stock and simmer low for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the duck is pulling from the bone.

3) Once ready, remove the duck legs from the sauce – keeping the sauce simmering. Shred the duck legs into large pieces, discarding the bones, and return to the sauce. Meanwhile, cook the pappardelle. Add the chopped parsley to the sauce and check the seasoning – fold to combine.

4) When cooked, drain the pappardelle into a large saucepan over a low heat and add the ragu – folding carefully to combine. Serve with shaved parmesan and a good crack of black pepper.

Enjoy!

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream

The quintessential English dessert revisited – a simple cream panna cotta with fresh strawberries and strawberry coulis.

An ideal dessert for warm evenings in the garden – a light glaze of vanilla paste over the panna cotta and a subtle garnish of fresh tarragon make for a deliciously rich and satisfying dessert.

Strawberries and Cream
Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Panna Cotta: 450ml Double Cream, 400ml Semi-Skimmed Milk, 4 Gelatine Leaves, 50g Golden Caster Sugar, 50g Caster Sugar, 2tbsp Groundnut Oil, 1tbsp Vanilla Bean Paste

For the Coulis and Garnish: 450g Fresh Strawberries (Chopped), 25g Caster Sugar (Optional), Fresh Tarragon

Method:

1) Bloom the gelatine leaves in a little cold water. Meanwhile, combine the cream, milk and caster sugars in a large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring, then remove from the heat. Drain the gelatine leaves and add to the mixture – whisking to combine.

2) Grease 6 ramekins with a little groundnut oil. Divide the panna cotta mixture between the ramekins and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to the fridge and allow to set for at least 6 hours.

3) Meanwhile, make the strawberry coulis by combining half of the chopped strawberries with the icing sugar (if required to sweeten) in a blender and blend until smooth. Pass through a sieve and set aside.

4) When set, turn out the panna cotta and glaze with a little vanilla bean syrup. Serve with the strawberry coulis, some chopped strawberries and a little chopped tarragon.

Enjoy!

Onion and Butternut Bhaji

Onion and Butternut Bhaji

These have to be the most moreish and satisfying snack imaginable! Beautifully crisp and spiced, a mixture of butternut and onion makes for a great balance of texture with a subtle sweetness. These will knock the version from your local takeaway straight out the ballpark!

These bhajis are best served as a dish in their own right – with raita and a liberal sprinkling of mint.

Onion and Butternut Bhajis
Makes Around 15 Bhajis

Ingredients:
2 Medium Onions (Sliced)
200g Butternut Squash (Peeled and Grated)
250ml Water
3tbsp Gram Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
100g Mild Curry Paste (e.g. Korma)
1tbsp Garam Masala
1tsp Turmeric
Sea Salt

Method:

1) Mix together the flour, baking powder, turmeric and garam masala in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the curry paste and water – slowly add this to the dry ingredients, whisking to form a thick batter.

2) Add the onion and butternut to the batter and fold to combine.

3) Deep fry tablespoonfuls of the batter in either a deep fryer or wok at around 150C for around 5 minutes, turning often, until golden brown and cooked through.

Best served with raita, chopped mint, chopped cucumber and rotis. Enjoy!

Thai Prawn Rice

Thai Prawn Rice

A deliciously simple recipe – perfect for midweek suppers or as a BBQ side. Spicy, fragrant fried rice and vegetables are paired with grilled jumbo prawns tossed in chilli flakes and fresh lime.

Using pre-steamed coconut rice and pre-made (homemade) curry paste minimises fuss and cooking time – this dish can be ready in under 10 minutes.

Jumbo grilled prawns offer the best contrast of texture and can withstand the heat of the curry paste. However, this recipe will work equally as well with smaller prawns which are more readily available.

Thai Prawn Rice
Serves 2

Ingredients:

For the Prawns: 6 Jumbo Prawns (or 12 smaller), Juice 1 Lime, Sunflower Oil, 1/2tsp Chilli Flakes, 1/2 Garlic Clove (Crushed), Sea Salt.

For the Rice: 1 Red Pepper (Sliced), 100g Tenderstem Broccoli, 100g Peas, 8 Spring Onions (Chopped), 250g Pre-Steamed Coconut Rice, 2tbsp Thai Green Curry Paste, Small Handful Fresh Basil (Chopped), Sunflower Oil.

Method:

1) Place a wok over a high heat and add a little sunflower oil. Stir-fry the spring onions, broccoli and red pepper for 2 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for a further 2 minutes.

2) Add a splash of water and the rice to the wok – tossing well to break up and combine. Continue to stir-fry until the rice has warmed through (around 2-3 minutes). Add the chopped basil just before the end of cooking.

3) Meanwhile, place a large griddle over a high heat. Add a little sunflower oil and add the prawns, chilli flakes and garlic. Cook the prawns until ready (size dependant). Before removing from the heat add the lime juice and sea salt.

4) Serve the rice with the griddled prawns and an extra squeeze of lime.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooked Duck Pancakes

Slow Cooked Duck Pancakes

I haven’t had much time for cooking these last couple of weeks as I have been sitting my law finals. Thankfully I have now been unshackled and I can spend a great deal more time in the kitchen!

This classic recipe is usually only destined for the table when ordering takeout. However, its simplicity means we should be cooking it at home more often for a healthier and fresher tasting dish.

A great way to use up leftover duck or as a sharing starter, using pre-bought sauce and pancakes makes this recipe even simpler. The duck is twice cooked, meaning you can start the recipe a day ahead to minimise the cooking time.

Slow Cooked Duck Pancakes
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 Whole Duck (or leftover meat on the bone)
Salt
Five Spice Powder
1/2 Cucumber (Finely Sliced)
8 Spring Onions (Finely Shredded)
Good Quality Hoisin Sauce
Pre-made Pancakes

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 170C. Salt the duck and roast in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove and allow to cool and chill if cooking a day in advance or move onto step two if serving the same day.

2) Turn the oven up to 220C. Dust the duck liberally with five spice powder and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes until the skin is golden brown.

3) Remove the duck from the oven when ready and allow to cool slightly. Shred the meat from the carcase and serve with warmed pancakes, hoisin sauce, cucumber and spring onions.

Enjoy!

Almond Lamb Curry

Almond Lamb Curry

This curry went down a storm at my friend’s birthday – aromatic with a good amount of heat, ground almonds and poppy seeds impart a deep richness.

No cream or coconut milk makes this dish surprisingly light. Using good quality leg of lamb which has been well trimmed will cut down the cooking time meaning this can easily be ready within a couple of hours with little attention.

Best served with homemade raita, naan bread and saffron rice.

Almond Lamb Curry
Serves 4/5

Ingredients:
For the Sauce: 4 Medium Onions (Diced), 2 Cinnamon Stick, 6 Cloves, 8 Curry Leaves, 6 Cardamom Pods, 5 Medium Tomatoes Diced, 1tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste

To Finish the Curry: 1kg Diced Leg Lamb, 1tsp Mild Chilli Powder, 2tsp Hot Chilli Powder, 2tbsp Ground Coriander, 1tsp Turmeric, 2tbsp Tamarind Paste, 300g Ground Almonds, 2tbsp Poppy Seeds

Method:

1) Heat a little oil in a large casserole dish on the stove top over a medium heat. Add the cloves, cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks and curry leaves and cook for 1 minute. Add the diced onion and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown. Then add the ginger-garlic paste to the dish and cook for 1 minute. Finally add the diced tomatoes and allow to cook down for 10 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, brown the lamb in a separate pan over a high heat – in batches if necessary and set aside.

3) Once the onion and tomato mixture has cooked down, transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth. Return to the casserole dish and place over a medium heat. Add the ground/powdered spices and cook for 5 minutes. Add the lamb and 400ml of water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour uncovered over a very low heat until the lamb starts to become tender.

4) Add the ground almonds, poppy seeds and tamarind paste. Continue to cook on low for another half hour or until the lamb is fully cooked and tender. Once ready, serve topped with some freshly chopped coriander.

Enjoy!

Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce

Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce

This delicious sauce is very simple to prepare and, with a surprising depth and slight sweetness, pairs well with any type of game.

The delicate aromatics imparted by a little blossom honey and fresh cherries work best with seared duck breast and steamed purple sprouting broccoli tossed in a little butter – with the slight hit of port helping cut through the richness of the duck.

Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 Duck Breasts
1 Garlic Clove (Bashed)
1 Rosemary Sprig
1 Shallot (Finely Diced)
10 Fresh Cherries (Stoned and Halved)
1 Good Glug of Port
100ml Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp Blossom Honey
25g Unsalted Butter
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

Method:

1) Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper then place them skin side down into a cold sauté pan with the garlic and rosemary. Place the pan over a medium heat and cook for around 8-10 minutes skin side down until the fat is fully rendered. Flip the breast and cook for a further 5 minutes or until cooked to your liking (I aim for an internal temperature of around 62C).

2) Once cooked, remove the duck breast and allow to rest. Wipe the pan clean (leaving a trickle of fat) and return to a medium heat. Add the shallot and fry for 1 minute. Add the port, cherries, chicken stock and honey and reduce for 3 minutes. Whisk in the unsalted butter and keep the sauce warm until ready to serve.

3) Carve the duck breast and serve with the cherry sauce.

Enjoy!

Venison, Olive Oil and Lava Salt

Venison, Olive Oil and Lava Salt

The simple pairing of venison loin with salt and olive oil, influenced by a tapas dish served at Bodega El Placer in Mijas, Spain, is a personal favourite and has featured in many of my recipes.

Seared venison loin and olive oil acts as a great canvas for trying different types of salt. Here I have used lava salt harvested in Hawaii which imparts a great mineral taste to the venison. The dish works equally as well with smoked sea salt.

The venison is best served well done to bring out its iron richness. Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can get your hands on to ensure best results.

Enjoy!

Carrot and Walnut Cake (Gluten Free)

Carrot & Walnut Cake (Gluten Free)

My mum’s tried and trusted recipe for gluten free carrot cake is always a winner! Hands down the finest example I have tasted, a zingy citrus drizzle keeps the cake super moist whilst lots of chopped walnuts add great texture.

This cake is sandwiched and iced with orange cream cheese frosting and topped with a few whole pecans, but any thick frosting will work well!

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

For the Sponge: 100g Walnuts (Toasted and Chopped), 200g Gluten-Free Plain Flour, 175g Soft Dark Brown Sugar, 200g Grated Carrot, 2 Large Eggs, Juice and Zest of 2 Clementines, 150ml Sunflower Oil, 1tsp Xanthan Gum, 1tsp Bicarbonate of Soda, 100g Sultanas, 3tsp Ground Cinnamon

For the Drizzle Syrup: Juice of 2 Clementines, Juice 1 Lemon, 75g Soft Dark Brown Sugar

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line two 8″ round baking tins.

2) Beat the eggs, sugar, clementine juice and zest and oil together in a large bowl. Fold in the (sifted) flour, xanthan gum, bicarbonate of soda and ground cinnamon to make a smooth batter.

3) Into the batter mixture, fold in the carrot, walnuts and sultanas.

4) Divide the mixture evenly between the two sandwich tins (I usually weigh them).

5) Bake in the middle of the oven for around 35 minutes – or until a metal skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

6) Meanwhile make the syrup by combining all the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat. Heat to dissolve the sugar but do not boil.

7) When the cake is ready, remove from the oven and pierce each cake several times with a metal skewer. Pour the syrup over each cake. Allow to cool in the cake tins.

8) Once cooled, remove the cakes from the tins. Sandwich the cakes with your favourite icing – saving some for the topping and top with a few pecan nuts.

Enjoy!

Pork Loin with Caramel

Pork Loin with Caramel

This unique and delicious recipe is from a fantastic book by Claudia Roden on the food of Spain – a must for any fan of Mediterranean cooking.

A slight adaptation of the original recipe, Pork loin is cooked in milk and spices on the stovetop – some of the milk is then used to create a caramel sauce which is heady with the aromatics of the cooking liquor. Cooking the caramel right to the edge imparts a slight bitterness which stops the sauce from becoming too sweet. Cooking the pork in milk also keeps it super tender.

This really is a must try!

Pork Loin with Caramel
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1kg Pork Loin
1.5 Litres Semi-Skimmed Milk (Warmed)
8 Peppercorns
5 Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick
Zest 1 Lemon (In Strips)
Zest 1/2 Grapefruit (In Strips)
25g Butter
Olive Oil
6 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Water
Sea Salt

Method:

1) Melt the butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a casserole dish on the stovetop over a medium heat. Brown the pork well on all sides.

2) Add the milk to the dish along with the zest, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cloves and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil then half cover the dish with a lid. Simmer for an hour and a half.

3) Near to the end of cooking, make the caramel sauce. Combine the sugar and water in a large saucepan and place over a high heat. Bring to a dark caramel. Remove from the heat and add 1 tbsp of the cooking liquor (avoiding the zest and spices) – allow to bubble up. Add a ladleful of the milk and after it has bubbled up, add another ladleful. Return to a medium heat and reduce for 5 minutes.

4) Transfer the sauce to a blender and blitz until smooth. Return to the saucepan, season with sea salt and keep warm.

5) Once the pork is ready turn off the heat and allow to rest for 10/15 minutes. Remove from the dish and carve. Serve with the caramel sauce.

Enjoy!