I love duck! What is not to like about BBQ duck? Absolutely nothing. And it doesn’t come better than when it is smothered in hoisin sauce and rolled up in a delish soft pancake with a sliver of crunchy cucumber and spring onion. This dish is a hit at my place and there are rarely any leftovers. The BBQ roast duck is so simple to make and the results are a crispy skin and succulent flesh. I make my own pancakes because I simply can’t find pre-made ones anywhere! But although they make this recipe a bit of a labour, they’re easy to make ahead of time and store in the fridge until needed. Continue reading
Sausage rolls are an absolute favourite of ours. And these pork and apple ones are the best. I have really lovely memories of buying these as a treat for my eldest son and I when we lived in York in the UK when he was a wee toddler. The place I rented was right next to the York railway station and we just loved the train sounds. My son was a huge fan of Thomas the Tank Engine; we had all the videos (yes, you heard me right…) and I loved listening to Ringo read the stories to the model trains jiggling about on their sets. I have Thomas to thank for teaching my son his colours, his numbers and the joy of reading. Every Saturday, we would go for a walk to the station, and he’d get his jollies looking at all the trains (I’m so cheap). Sometimes, I would lash out and take him to the National Railway Museum, where you can see the replica of Stephenson’s Rocket. I was always way more impressed with the Chinese Engine at the museum. If you have never been there and you are visiting York, You Must Go! Now my eldest is 16 and he still loves pork and apple sausage rolls and will never admit to liking trains. Making sausage rolls from scratch sounds a bit tedious, but it’s not at all. I love how you can change things around, play with the flavours. Sometimes I make these with pork, pear and blue cheese, sometimes chicken mince and sage… I tend to avoid lean mince for sausage rolls, as they tend to be drier. Higher fat content = juicier sausage rolls. Here comes the recipe…. Continue reading
There’s a lot to like about Spanakopita, or feta and spinach pie (or just feta pie as an easy sell for the kids). This delicious Greek pie combines fresh spinach, mixed with the salty tang of feta cheese and egg, flavoured with shallots and nutmeg and wrapped in crunchy light filo pastry. Continue reading
Lamb has to be about my most favourite meat and rack of lamb is one of my favourite cuts. I don’t eat this very often, as this little beauty is not cheap. But for a special night in, it’s worth it. I modified this ever so slightly from a recipe in Nigella Lawson’s “How to Eat” cookbook – because her recipe is pretty darn simple. I love cinnamon with lamb and in keeping with the somewhat Moroccan theme, I made a reduction of pomegranate to serve with roasted beetroot, cocktail onions, potatoes on the side, with some contrasting green beans for colour and garlicy toasted almonds for extra crunch. Continue reading
Whenever I go to a new Indian restaurant I always try the tandoori chicken, garlic naan and saag paneer (or palak paneer). These are my benchmarking dishes and I am not ashamed to say my taste for Indian food is not much more complicated than these dishes. If I was stuck on a desert island (apart from feeling like I was in paradise) I’d be pretty OK if these dishes were all I had to eat.
Paneer is a simple cheese, made by heating milk with lemon and separating the curds from the whey. It’s also pretty easy to get in supermarkets these days, though I find store-bought can be a bit hard and the texture a little chewy. Technically this dish made with spinach is palak paneer, as saag can mean spinach or any other ‘greens’, such as mustard leaf.
This is a fantastically easy meal to make quickly, is super tasty and freezes pretty well too. Pity it’s a difficult meal to make look pretty in a photo! Continue reading
I’ve recently discovered quinoa and even more recently discovered red quinoa. I’m sure everyone has heard of the health benefits of quinoa TO DEATH, but it’s also quite yummy. I love its slightly nutty flavour and it makes my boring lunch salad more interesting. It’s also very nutritious and high in fibre. On a sadder note, I have read that its rising popularity has increased its value as a crop so much that it is now no longer affordable as a staple to those who grow it and most rely on it for their nutrition. I hope that the crop can expand in a sustainable and ethical way so that everyone can enjoy and benefit from it.
Quinoa is quite expensive, but a little goes a long way and this wonderful bread is a great way to enjoy it (OK, maybe not for the gluten intolerant!). I love the addition of walnuts and honey and the mustard gives it a slightly complex edge. This bread is a meal in itself, but works wonderfully with poached eggs for breakfast and even with just jam. I use a breadmaker to mix and prove the dough, because I’m crap at kneading bread.
Question. What can you do on a weeknight for dinner with left over goat’s cheese, a leek, a rapidly ripening pear and some dairy odds and ends from the weekend? How about making a light tasty tart? For this, I used store-bought frozen pastry (as this was a weeknight meal not a lazy Sunday afternoon!). So to jazz this up a bit, I rolled crushed walnuts into the pastry case (for extra flavour and texture) and added some fresh breadcrumbs drizzled with olive oil before baking. This tart is perfect for a mid-week light supper or as a starter. It’s lovely and light with the sharpness of the goat’s cheese offset by the sweetness of the pear. Another use for left-over goat’s cheese is this fabulous little snack. Did I mention bacon? Bacon makes everything better.
Goat’s cheese tart with leek, pear and bacon
Makes: 4 mini tarts
- 1 sheet frozen shortcrust pastry
- 25 g walnuts, toasted then crushed
- 1 large leek, thinly sliced
- 2 rashers middle bacon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 75 g single (35% fat) pouring cream
- 50 g cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons white vermouth (or dry white wine)
- Few sprigs of fresh sage and a handful of chopped fresh chives
- Salt and ground white pepper
- 100 g goat’s cheese
- 1 pear, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced).
- Defrost pastry on bench then scatter the crushed toasted walnuts over the pastry, fold in half and in half again (to make a square), then roll out to the same thickness as you started with.
- Line four mini (8 cm) loose bottom tart tins with pastry and blind bake by covering each pastry case with baking paper and filling with dried rice or pie weights, then baking for 10 minutes before removing the paper and baking a further 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and turn oven up to 200°C (180°C fan forced) while making the filling.
- In a wide pan, sauté the leek and bacon with the butter over a medium heat until soft (but not browned). Add the flour and stir over a medium heat for a minute until the flour is cooked.
- Add the cream, cream cheese, vermouth and fresh herbs and cook for a minute or two over a medium heat until sauce is thickened.
- Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
- Crumble over the goat’s cheese and gently fold through with the sliced pear.
- Spoon filling into individual mini tart cases and cover each with breadcrumbs and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
- Bake tarts in the middle of preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the top is crisp and browned.
- Allow to cool for five to ten minutes before removing from pie cases and serving.