Duck tagine with clementines

As duck is still on special offer in Sainsbury’s I decided to make this recipe, which I found yesterday whilst looking for something to cook for Fig. Unfortunately Sainsbury’s is currently out of duck legs, which the recipe specified, but had a special offer on duck breasts, so I used them instead and simply reduced the cooking time a little. I also fiddled with the recipe a little by adding less stock and a tin of chopped tomatoes and some cherry tomatoes so I’ve written out my version, rather than the original version. I was initially sceptical about the use of clementines, but they really worked in the recipe. They go crispy and slightly caramelise which, along with the honey, gives the dish a sweetness which nicely complements the rich meatiness of the duck.

Serves 2

2 duck breasts
2 tablespoons of olive oil
10 medium sized shallots, peeled and cut in half
1½ teaspoons of ground coriander,
1½ teaspoons of cumin
1½ teaspoons of ginger
1½ teaspoons of paprika
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
350ml of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons of clear honey
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 small, firm clementines, peeled and divided into sections of 3 or 4 segments
1 tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves
1 440ml tin of chopped tomatoes
6 cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato purée

Pre-heat oven to 190.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Put the duck breasts in the pan, skin side down and cook gently for 10 minutes or so until crispy.

Turn the duck breasts and gently cook for a further 10-15 minutes until browned.

Remove the duck breasts to a roasting dish, cover with foil and place in the bottom of the oven to keep warm whilst you make the sauce.

Pour half of the duck fat off into a bowl to use later.

Add the shallots to the remaining fat in the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until lightly coloured.

Sprinkle in the spices and mix well.

Add the stock, honey, lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Stir well to combine and bring to the boil.

Transfer the sauce to the tagine, retrieve the duck breasts from the oven and sit them in the sauce. Scatter the cherry tomatoes around, place the lid on the tagine and cook it in the oven for 35 minutes, until the duck is tender.

Whilst the tagine is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of the reserved duck fat in a frying pan, add the clementines and fry for 3-4 minutes until glistening and starting to brown all over.

After the 35 minutes of cooking time have elapsed, add the fried clementines to the tagine, tucking the pieces around the duck breasts and cook, with the lid off, for a further 15 mins.

Serve with couscous and sprinkled with the chopped coriander.



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Salt duck with spinach, potatoes and bacon

Last night Fig was over for dinner and Doctor Who (The Stones of Blood this week!) and so I decided to make this lovely dish. Partly, I must admit, because Sainsbury’s has duck legs on special offer at the moment! This is tasty, easy to do and full of lovely flavours. The recipe says to leave the duck legs, covered in salt, overnight, which I didn’t have the time to do, so I simply covered them in salt for about 20 minutes – that seeemed to work quite nicely.

The recipe as listed serves 6, but I scaled it down for just the two of us.

6 duck legs
2 tablespoons of sea salt
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
500g button onions (Sainsbury’s didn’t have button onions so I used small shallots instead and cut them in half)
500g of small waxy potatoes
175g of smoked bacon lardons (I had some smoked pancetta slices in the fridge so I used that instead, cut into postage stamp sized pieces)
A handful of fresh sage leaves
200g of baby leaf spinach
2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

The day before cooking place the duck legs in a dish and sprinkle over the salt, rubbing it into the skin. Cover with cling film and chill. (As I say, I only did this for 20 minutes, not overnight and it seeemed fine to me.)

On the day, rinse the duck legs under cold water to remove the salt and pat dry with a clean towel.

Heat oven to 160.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Place the duck, skin-side down, in the pan and cook gently for 15 minutes until crisp and golden.

Turn the duck and pour off the excess fat into a small bowl. Retain the duck fat for later.

Cook the duck for a further 15 minutes and then transfer to a roasting dish.

Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes or so.

Whilst the duck is cooking, put the onions in a pan with 1 tablespoon of the reserved duck fat and gently cook for 15 minutes until golden.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes for 15 minutes in a pan of salted water, then drain, peel (or not – I was using new potatoes so I didn’t bother peeling them.) and leave to cool.

Tip the remaining duck fat into the frying pan and add the potatoes, bacon, and sage to the onions.

Fry for 10 minutes until golden, then add the spinach and cook for 4 minutes to wilt the spinach.

Then add the sherry vinegar and turn up the heat to bubble off any excess liquid.

Serve with the cooked duck legs


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Glazed teriyaki pork belly

On Friday I decided to cook another meal from the The Family Meal cookbook. This time I only did the main course, not the full three courses. I’ve done this pork belly recipe once before and it is delicious but it takes a while. Also, of course, it is just meat, so I did a small vegetable stir fry to accompany it. I also cheated slightly and bought an Oriental Snack Pack from Sainsburys – 4 pieces of sesame prawn toast, 4 mini-spring rolls and 4 won tons. That make a perfect starter for the meal.

Serves 2

400g joint of belly pork
1 litre of water
2 pinches of salt
8-10 black peppercorns
½ an onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
200g of teriyaki sauce

Put the belly pork in a large saucepan and cover with water.

Add the salt, peppercorns, onion and garlic.

Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook the pork for 1½ hours until cooked through. (You may need to top up the water during cooking.)

Once cooked, remove from the water, drain well and place on a chopping board.

Cut into thick strips – about 2cm thick.

Pre-heat the oven to 180

Place the pork slices in a roasting tin, in a single layer, and cover with the teriyaki sauce.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes, regularly basting with the teriyaki sauce to glaze it.

Tasty and tender.

I accompanied this with rice and a few vegetables quickly stir-fried in Hoi Sin sauce.


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Raspberry ripple ice cream

The final course for Thursday’s three-course dinner wasn’t from the Family Meal cookbook but was, instead, some home-made raspberry ripple ice cream that I’d actually made on the Monday evening.

It’s fairly easy to do and came out rather well

For the ice cream

350ml of single cream
4 drops of vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
4oz of caster sugar
150ml of double cream

For the ripple sauce

250g of fresh raspberries, rinsed
30g of caster sugar
3 tablespoons of water

First make the ripple sauce.

Place the fruit, sugar and water into a large saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring regularly. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering, then continue to simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the fruit has broken down.

Strain the fruit mixture through a sieve into a clean pan, squeezing any additional juice out of the fruit by pressing it down with the back of a spoon.

Return the strained fruit juice to the heat and bring it to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the mixture resembles a thick syrup. Set aside until completely cooled.

Whilst the ripple sauce is cooling, make the ice cream.

Place the single cream and vanilla essence in a pan and heat to just under boiling point.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until fluffy, then whisk into the hot cream.

Place the bowl over a pan of hot water and stir until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Leave to become cold.

Whip the double cream until thick but not stiff and fold into the custard.

I then spooned the mixture into my ice cream maker and churned it for half an hour. The ice cream maker churns and thickens the ice cream and chills it as it goes.

Once the ice cream is sufficiently churned and chilled, spoon a third of the ice cream mixture into a lidded freezable container. Spoon over half of the cooled ripple sauce.

Repeat the process until the container has three layers of ice cream and two layers of ripple sauce. Using a spatula or blunt knife, marble the ice cream and ripple sauce lightly, then cover the container with a lid and freeze for 3-4 hours, or until solid.



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Lamb with mustard and mint

And so this is the main course to follow up the chickpeas and spinach. It takes about three hours to cook so it’s not something that can be done in a rush. I used less water to cook the lamb in than the recipe suggested as I used a small roasting dish and so the full amount of water would’ve swamped the lamb. Using less water did result in a slightly stronger tasting sauce than would otherwise have been the case. As the dish is just meat I decided to couple it with mash and steamed spring greens.

Serves 2

1½ lamb neck fillets
8 sprigs of fresh mint
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of wholegrain mustard
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 litre of water (I used about 500-600ml in the end)

The neck fillets need to be cut in half lengthways to make a couple of large ‘chops’. I asked the guy at the butchery counter at Sainsbury’s to do that for me.

Pre-heat the oven to 180.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and brown the neck fillets until golden on each side.

Transfer the lamb to a roasting dish and spread the mustard over the lamb.

Add the soy sauce, Worcester sauce and water. Place the mint sprigs on top of the lamb, cover with foil and roast in the oven for 3 hours, turning occasionally.

Finely chop the remaining mint leaves.

Serve the lamb with the chopped mint leaves sprinkled over the top and the sauce from the roasting dish poured over it.


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Chickpeas with spinach and egg

On Thursday evening I decided to cook a meal from the Ferran Adrià cookbook The Family Meal. I’ve mentioned this book before – it lays out 31, three course meals, complete with a full list of ingredients and a timeline for organising the production of the meal. You can mix and match the courses, swapping around the various dishes to suit. Which is what I did here. This – chickpeas with spinach and egg is the starter from Meal 24, whilst the main is from Meal 3. The dessert meanwhile is some home-made raspberry ripple ice cream, which I actually made on Monday!

Let’s start with the starter

Serves 2

65g of baby leaf spinach
3 ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves
¼ of a teaspoon of cumin
320g of cooked chickpeas, drained
200ml of chicken stock
1 teaspoon of cornflour
1 teaspoon of cold water
2 eggs

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and blitz with a hand blender until pulped.

Place the tomato pulp in a sieve, place over a bowl and leave for 15 minutes.

Roughly chop the spinach and place in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.

Finely chop the garlic. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the garlic and tomato pulp. Fry for 30 seconds or so, then add the chickpeas and cumin and cook for a further 30 seconds.

Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for a couple of minutes whilst you cook the eggs. (Ideally start the eggs before you start frying the garlic.)

I poached the eggs – try to keep the yolks runny. (I didn’t manage that this time. Hey ho.)

Stir the spinach into the chickpeas and stock.

Mix the cornflour with the cold water and mix to a smooth paste.

Add the cornflour mix to the chicken stock and chickpeas and stir until the sauce is slightly thickened.

Divide the chickpeas and sauce between two bowls and top each with an egg.

Very tasty. Alberto loved it! It’s a bit filling to I made sure that the starter was ready about an hour before the main course was due so that there was plenty of time to digest.

Now, on to the main course…


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Chipotle and lime chicken with Mexican rice

Last night I had my friend Abigail (a new Brighton resident, having just moved into the flat that she bought a month ago.) over for dinner and Doctor Who and Alberto was off out so, before he went, I made this for the three of us. I sort of threw it together after finding a forgotten jar of chipotle paste in the cupboard! It turned out rather well if I do say so myself. The amounts listed here are to serve three.

For the chicken

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 chicken thighs per person
2 red onions, one sliced, one chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of chipotle and lime paste
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
1 440g tin of chopped tomatoes
300ml of chicken stock
1 red pepped, deseeded and diced

For the rice

I detailed the rice recipe once before, here:

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and gently fry the onion and garlic until golden.

Turn up the heat and place the chicken thighs in the saucepan, skin side down and fry for a 3-4 minute, until the skin of golden.

Turn over and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so until browned.

Add the chicken stock and stir well.

Add the chipotle paste and stir well to combine. You can add more or less chipotle paste, depending upon how spicy you want the dish to be. I found that two teaspoons was just about right to make spicy enough for me but not too spicy for Alberto.

Add the tomatoes and tomato purée, season, stir well, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so.

After 20 minutes add the diced pepper, stir well and continue to simmer for a further 20-25 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.

Whilst the chicken is cooking make the rice!

This was really rather tasty given that I just chucked it together.


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Spiced lentils

Sorry – I seem to have slipped behind a bit in updating this blog. To be fair, it’s been a busy week – Fig on Tuesday, Matt (and cancelled theatre) on Wednesday and then re-scheduled theatre on Thursday. So, this is Monday night’s dinner. I spotted it in my The Food of Morocco cookbook when I was looking for the tagine I cooked the other day. It looked tasty and simple and I took the liberty of adding a little sliced chorizo to the mix – very tasty! The recipe listed here serves 4 – I scaled it down for just me and still had enough for lunch the following day. (accompanied by a nice crusty roll.)

375g of green lentils
2 large, ripe tomatoes
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 a teaspoon of ground cumin
½ a teaspoon of ground coriander
½ a teaspoon of turmeric
½ a teaspoon of paprika
⅛ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of chopped coriander
100g of chorizo, sliced

Place the lentils in a bowl and rinse through three times, then drain, tip into a large saucepan and add 1 litre of water.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, skimming the surface as required.

Whilst the lentils are cooking, halve the tomatoes, de-seed and grate down to the skin. Set the grated tomato aside until later.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, over a medium heat, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.

Stir in the garlic and spices and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant, stirring continually.

Add the sliced chorizo and cook until crispy. Then add the pepper and grated tomato.

Add the tomato purée, parsley, coriander and 250ml of water, stir well to combine and then add to the cooked lentils.

Season, partly cover with a lid and cook on a medium/low heat for 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the sauce has thickened.



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Cheesy biscuits

I made these lovely little biscuits on Saturday evening as I had Dan and Nick over for a couple of games of Kill Dr Lucky. I got the recipe from my colleague Jane who made them for a work leaving party the other week. The recipe is originally a Nigella recipe called Cheesy Feet but I don’t have any foot shaped biscuit cutters, however, I did find a nice little sun shaped cutter in Lakeland, so I used that instead.

The biscuits are easy to make and tasty. I added a little cayenne pepper, mustard powder and paprika to the mix, which gave them an etra bit of bite. The mix as listed here made about 16 biscuits

100g of strong cheddar, grated (I used Shropshire Red which is very tangy and gives the biscuits a nice orangey colour)
25g of soft butter
50g of plain flour
¼ teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of mustard powder
¼ teaspoon of paprika
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Place all of the ingredients in a mixer and mix well until the dough comes together. (this can take a little while but will happen – I started with beaters to mix everything up well and then switched to dough hooks to form the dough.)

Form the dough into a fat disc, wrap in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until about 3mm thick and cut out biscuits until all the dough is used up, re-rolling and cutting as required.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lay out the biscuits. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack – they will continue to cook for a couple of minutes after you remove them from the oven so take them out whilst they’re still a little soft in the middle.


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Greek lemon lamb with new potatoes

Last night I had my lovely friend Matt over for dinner. (and an attempt to fix my desktop. He didn’t manage it (dead motherboard) but he did save all my data, which is brilliant. He really earned his dinner!) I decided that I wanted to cook this recipe – it’s a really tasty, summery one, with lots of very distinct flavours. I’ve not made it for ages, so I thought it was about time to make it again. Technically it was the first ever recipe I blogged on here, but I just gave a brief overview then as I hadn’t quite settled on my ‘style’. (for want of a better word!)

So here’s the full thing, and with lemon, garlic and mint it’s deliciously full of flavour with a lovely, syrupy sauce.

Serves 4 (needless to say, I scaled it down)

New potatoes for 4 (I went for 5 potatoes each – they were medium sized new potatoes), scrubbed
2 bunches of spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
150g of baby leaf spinach
1 tablespoon of olive oil
25g of butter
500g of lamb mince
2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche
3 tablespoons of chopped, fresh mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the potatoes in half and boil in lightly salted water until tender. Try and time it so that they are ready at the same time as the lamb mixture. It will, obviously, depend upon the size of the potatoes

Using a potato peeler remove 5 very thin slices of lemon zest from the lemon – about 1cm across by 2cm long. Finely chop.

Rinse and trim the courgette and then roughly grate.

Boil some water in a small saucepan and cook the spinach for 30 seconds or so. Drain in a sieve and splash with cold water. Squeeze out as much water as you can and squeeze into a ball. Roughly chop.

In a large, deep frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter over a medium heat and then stir in the spring onion and garlic.

Cook for a couple of minutes and then increase the heat and add the meat. Cook, stirring well, until nicely browned.

Season well and add the chopped lemon zest and then squeeze over the lemon juice.

Cook until the lemon has mixed well with the buttery meat juices and amalgamated into a syrupy sauce.

Stir in two tablespoons of the mint and then add all the courgette. Cook for a couple of minutes until the courgette starts to weep. Don’t overcook.

Stir in the chopped spinach and remaining mint. Then add the crème fraîche, stir in well and heat through.

Serve over the cook potatoes.

Delicious, light, summery and flavoursome!

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