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Cover: A dish for all seasons

April, 2012

25Apr 12

Duck Fillet Stir Fry with Noodles

Duck Fillet Stir Fry with NoodlesI am sure that you have all tried a chicken stir-fry before, but have you tried it with duck? My recipe uses a meat that not many think to use very often.

Duck season runs from September to the end of February in the UK.  Duck fillet stir fry with noodles is a succulent, tasty, speedy, and low fat recipe – what more could you want?  It only takes 10 minutes to make, and is fit for a special occasion.

What you need:

  • 250g mini fillets of Gressingham Duck
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 100g broccoli, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 300g straight to wok medium noodles
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Handful of cashew nuts, unsalted, whole

What to do:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a large wok or heavy-based frying pan and stir-fry the duck, broccoli and carrot for about 5 minutes on a high heat.
  2. Mix the hoisin and soy sauces together with the honey in a small bowl and leave to one side.
  3. Empty the packet of noodles into the frying pan with the duck and the vegetables, cooking them for 2-3 minutes, until they are piping hot throughout.
  4. Add the cashew nuts and continue to stir fry until the duck is thoroughly cooked. You will know it’s done when it is brown throughout, with no pink areas.  Once cooked, pour over the honey sauce, stir it in, and sprinkle over the spring onions.
  5. Serve in pretty bowls and eat with chopsticks!

10 minutes to prepare and cook

Makes: 2 main courses

A little more about the Gressingham duck…

There are many varieties of wild duck in the UK, but perhaps the most renowned and desired for cooking these days is the Gressingham duck, which is a crossbreed of wild Mallard and Pekin.  It’s well known for its high proportion of breast meat and great flavour.  At the right time of year, you’ll find Gressingham duck in most major supermarkets and in some independent shops.  It’s a domestic duck that differs from all others.  Whilst most breeds live in nature and across continents, the Gressingham duck is a recently developed breed which is produced exclusively by one company in East Anglia.  It has rapidly developed a very high reputation for quality.

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18Apr 12

Yellow Thai Fish Curry

Yellow Thai Fish CurryThis curry uses cod and potatoes as the main base; simple, humble ingredients that when mixed together with the curry spices, make a tasty dish.

Cod is a good fish to put in a curry (like this green fish curry with coconut milk and bramleys) because it has a subtle flavour, and it’s soft and falls apart nicely into the texture of the curry.  Cod is one of Britain’s most sought-after fish, and although stocks are declining somewhat, they are still plentiful throughout the cold months of the year. This also happens to be when caught fish tend to be at their largest.

What you need:

  • 4-6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 medium to large potatoes, skins on, sliced into thin chip strips, then chopped into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp Cock Brand yellow Thai curry paste
  • 250g cod pieces, ideally skinless, but if the skins are on, you can remove them easily during the cooking process.  You can use fresh or frozen cod.
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 240ml water
  • 2-3 125 ml pots of natural sweetened yoghurt
  • 500 g of Thai rice

What you do:

  1. Fry the onions with the oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat for 7-8 minutes until softened.
  2. Add the curry paste, stirring in well, then add the potato cubes.  Try to coat all of the ingredients in the paste gradually as the paste softens in the heat.  Cook like this for about 10 minutes on a medium heat.  As the curry paste is quite dry, you may find that you need to add a little more oil as you go.
  3. Add the cod pieces, coat in the paste, and fry for 3-4 minutes before crumbling in the stock cube and pouring in the water.
  4. Bring the liquid up to the boil, then turn down and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and tender.
  5. Whilst the curry is simmering, cook the rice.
  6. Once everything is ready, take the curry off the heat and gently stir in the yoghurt.
  7. Serve the curry and the rice together, and enjoy with a glass of crisp dry white wine.

10 minutes preparation time.  About 45 minutes cooking time.  Ready in under an hour.

Makes: 2 main courses

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15Apr 12

Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Lemon Butter

Minty Jersey Royals with Chives and Herby ButterJersey Royal Potatoes come into season in April.  They are chock-full of fibre and contain vitamin C, amongst other nutrients.  They are delicious cooked very simply in well-salted water to bring out their natural flavour, but today I’m going to share this minty Jersey Royals with chives and lemon recipe with you, which is just one of the ways of enjoying this distinctive seasonal gem.

Look out for potatoes with a papery-thin, flaky skin and try to buy them unwashed, washing them yourself quite carefully so as not to remove all of the skin, which has a lovely flavour and also contains many nutrientsJersey Royal new potatoes are best eaten within a few days of buying them.  Serve this herby salad dish warm or cold, at your spring barbeques, or to accompany grilled meat and fish like this grilled trout with tarragon and lemon butter.  And why not make some home-made lemonade to go with it?  Fresh tastes of spring!

What you need:

  • 1kg Jersey Royal new potatoes, washed gently to remove any dirt and left whole
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped, plus a couple of sprigs for the cooking water
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, cut into 1cm strands
  • The juice of 2 fresh lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 generous pinches of Malden sea salt flakes
  • Fresh ground black pepper to season
  • A little olive oil

What to do:

  1. Put the washed, whole Jersey Royals in a large heavy-based saucepan.  Put the large potatoes at the bottom of the pan, and the smaller ones on the top.
  2. Bring a kettle of water to the boil and pour the water over the potatoes, almost covering them.
  3. Season really well with a few pinches of sea salt, add a couple of mint sprigs and a swirl of olive oil before covering the pan with a well-fit lid and simmering the potatoes gently for around 20 minutes.
  4. Whilst the potatoes are cooking, take a mixing bowl, put the butter in, and then sprinkle over with all of the herbs, the lemon juice and zest.  Stir the ingredients together and leave to one side.
  5. Once the potatoes are cooked (check one or two for tenderness and firmness with a sharp knife – and try not to overcook them), drain them, mix in the herby butter to the pan, then season again with sea salt and grind over some black pepper before serving.

20 minutes to prepare, 20 minutes to cook

Makes: 4-6 servings

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11Apr 12

Home-made Lemonade

Home-made lemonadeHome-made lemonade is incredible stuff.  It’s so very tasty and is simply bursting with vitamin C.  Great for kids and grown-ups alike!  I make jug loads of it throughout the spring and summer, usually to enjoy with friends when they come round to share good food with us on the terrace, but also for us to enjoy as a family. (If you prefer a more adult drink, try this refreshing mint julep.)

You can keep it covered in a jug in the fridge for a couple of days, but it’s so refreshing, especially if you drink it really cold with plenty of ice, that you’ll find it won’t last that long.  My mum used to make this regularly for us as kids.  We loved it, and still do!  This recipe makes fairly sweet lemonade, so if you prefer it a little more tart, vary the sugar accordingly.  If once you’ve made it, you decide that it’s too sweet for your palate, you can simply add more lemon juice to correct the balance.

 

What you need:

  • 250g sugar
  • 250ml water (to make the syrup)
  • 250ml juice of fresh lemons (4-8 lemons)
  • 1 lemon to slice for serving
  • 700 – 950ml cold water (for diluting)
  • Plenty of ice for serving
  • Sprig of mint to garnish

What to do:

  1. First we are going to make simple sugar syrup.  Put the sugar in a large heavy-based saucepan, and add the 250ml of water.  Gently heat the contents of the pan until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  2. Whilst you are dissolving the sugar into the water, squeeze the juice of around 4-6 lemons to make up the 250ml that you need.  Lemons can vary enormously in the amount of fresh juice that you can squeeze out of them.  You may need more lemons if you are squeezing them manually, or less if you are using a mechanical juicer.
  3. Pour the sugar syrup mixture into a large jug and stir in the freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Add the cold diluting water to taste (between 700ml and 950ml).
  4. Pop the jug in the fridge until you are ready to serve the lemonade with plenty of ice, a sliced lemon and the sprig of mint, or serve it immediately in the same way.

15 minutes to prepare

Makes 6 servings

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09Apr 12

Roast pork with apples and cider

Roast Pork with ApplesPork fillets are tender and succulent, and in this roast pork with apples and cider recipe are cooked fast. This means that you can prepare a roast from start to finish in less than 45 minutes, and it’s delicious!

What you need:
2 x 350g fillets of pork
3 x large cox apples, core removed, skin on
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices
20 Cloves
40g butter (plus a knob of butter to grease baking tray)
1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar
225ml English cider
2 tablespoons crème fraiche (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
2. Cut slits into the pork fillets and insert the garlic slivers inside – do this all over the meat.
3. Push cloves into some of the spaces between the garlic, around 5 cloves per side of each piece of meat.
4. Butter a baking tray and scatter with the sliced onion.
5. Melt the butter in a bowl and stir in the cider. Lay the pork over the onion on the baking tray, and brush the meat all over with the cider mixture. Then season with salt and pepper.
6. Cut the apples into wedges, toss them in the cider and butter mixture and place them in the tray around the outside of the pork.
7. Place the tray in the hot oven on a high shelf and roast for 25-30 mins, or until the pork is thoroughly cooked (roasting time will depend on the thickness of the pork).
8. When cooked, remove the pork, keeping it warm by wrapping it in silver foil, then put the baking tray on the heat on top of the cooker, add some cider and stir loose the apples and onions to make a wonderful sauce, let the liquid reduce by about a third – this should take about 5 minutes.
9. Add the crème fraiche (if you are using it) to the cider, apple and onion sauce, let it warm through on the heat, taste and season further if necessary.
10. Carve the pork into nice thick slices and serve with the apples.

1 hour to prepare – 45 minutes to cook
Makes: 4 main courses

Note: If you enjoy my recipe, I also recommend this spiced roast ham or pork with juniper berries.

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05Apr 12

Steamed Spring Vegetables with Toasted Pine Nuts

Steamed Spring Vegetables with Pine NutsAn incredibly fresh and healthy accompaniment to any meat or fish dish that you are preparing – steamed spring vegetables with toasted pine nuts are particularly delicious alongside herb crusted salmon with salsa rosso.  In fact, I sometimes eat a big bowl of this and nothing else for my supper, when my body is calling out for greens, greens and more greens, as it often does! 

Asparagus and broccoli are in season in the spring in the UK.  They are bursting with vitamins and minerals, as well as flavour, when you dress them up in a little tasty topping.  Also works well as a starter. You can add Parmesan cheese to top it off at the end, but that is up to you!

What you need:

  • Bunch of fresh asparagus tips
  • Large handful of pine nuts
  • 12 stems of broccoli
  • 30g snow peas
  • 2 generous pinches of Malden sea salt flakes
  • Extra virgin olive oil to fry the nuts and to drizzle over the dish
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
  • A hearty drizzle of a good balsamic vinegar

What to do:

  1. Wash and prepare the asparagus.  Bend each stem, and if it is really fresh, it will break naturally to give you perfect tips.  Lay them to one side.  Wash the broccoli and trim off the ends. Rinse the snow peas.
  2. Prepare your steaming equipment and steam the prepared vegetables for 10-15 minutes, or until they are tender but retain a slight crunch (if you like them al dente like me).
  3. Whilst the vegetables are steaming, toast the pine nuts in a little olive oil over a medium to high heat on the hob.  This should only take a few minutes.  Sprinkle them over with a pinch of the sea salt, remove them from the heat and leave them sitting in the pan to keep warm.
  4. Once the vegetables are cooked, drain them and then serve them into pretty bowls or side plates.  Top with the pine nuts, and then drizzle over a generous helping of olive oil and swirl over with the balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle all over with the fresh basil and season well with salt and pepper.  Cover the vegetables in the topping rather than just the centre.

Note: For a change, try substituting the balsamic vinegar for the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon.

10 minutes to prepare, 15 minutes to cook

Makes: 2 generous servings

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03Apr 12

Easter Hot Cross Buns Part 2

This is where we continue with the creation of the dough.  We will bake the Easter hot cross buns and decorate them with the classic piped white cross shape.  You will need to visit part 1 of this recipe for the ingredients and instructions on the first part of the dough creation.

What you need:

For the topping

  • A little vegetable oil for greasing
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup for the glaze, hot
  • Cinnamon powder for dusting

What to do:

  1. Clean and re-flour the work surface, and divide the risen dough into 12 even parts.  Roll each piece into a round, then with the palms of your hands, flatten each ball a little into a bun shape.  Re-cover the buns with the tea towel for another 10 minutes.
  2. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and move the buns to the tray.  Wrap parchment paper around the tray and buns and put it inside a large plastic bag (a clean shopping bag, for example), tying the bag tightly to seal out the air.  Once again, leave the buns in the airing cupboard for another 45 minutes to rise some more.
  3. Take a deep breath, and preheat the oven to 240ºC.
  4. Whilst the buns do their final rise, make the cross topping.  Put the plain flour into a mixing bowl and stir to a smooth paste with 2 tbsp cold water.
  5. Once the buns have risen, remove them from the bag and paper, put the cross topping into a piping bag and draw a cross shape with the mixture onto each bun.
  6. Bake the buns on the tray in the oven for 8-12 minutes, until they turn a pale golden brown.  Remove them and brush them over with hot golden syrup, then dust with cinnamon powder.  Leave them to cool on a wire rack or enjoy them fresh and warm.  You deserve it!

More than 2 hours to prepare – 10-20 minutes to cook
Makes: 12 hot cross buns

Note: For an extra twist on the classic recipe, try these cherry and walnut hot cross buns.

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03Apr 12

Easter Hot Cross Buns Part 1

Hot Cross Buns -1This is quite a time-consuming little project, making your own traditional Easter Hot Cross Buns. But believe me, if you can make the time, it’s worth it to eat them fresh from the oven; lavished with butter, or topped with a thick layer of seasonal rhubarb and ginger jam.  It’s also a great idea for something to do with the kids during the Easter holidays, if you find yourselves stuck in on a rainy day. (Try this especially kid-friendly hot cross bun recipe.)  I’ve split this recipe into 2 parts.  Visit part 2 for instructions on finalising the dough, baking and decorating.

What you need:

For the buns

  • 630g strong white flour
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, use a tiny bit for greasing the baking tray
  • 90g caster sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ tsp yeast, fast-acting
  • 275ml milk, slightly warmed to tepid
  • 1 medium egg
  • 130g mixed dried fruit

What to do:

To start the process of making the dough

  1. To make the buns, sieve the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt over a large mixing bowl.  Peel the lemon with a zest peeler and leave to one side.  Add the butter to the flour, rubbing it into the mix with the tips of your fingers.  Create a well shape in the middle of the mixture. Next, add the sugar, yeast and the lemon zest.
  2. Beat the egg together with the tepid milk and add that to the well.  Mix everything together to create a soft and pliable dough.  Gently combine the dried fruit into the mixture.
  3. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough onto it gently and lightly for about 4-6 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.  Shape it into a ball.
  4. Warm a plastic or ceramic mixing bowl in the microwave for a few seconds, grease it with butter, place the dough ball inside, cover it lightly with a clean tea towel, and leave it in the airing cupboard or somewhere warm to rise for one hour.
  5. On your floured work surface, knead the dough again, but roughly this time, for a few minutes – to knock-out some of the air and return it to the shape it was before you left it to rise.  Shape it back into a ball, pop it back into the bowl, cover it again and leave it for another half an hour to re-rise.

 continued in part 2

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