Wednesday, 19 August 2009


Am I alone in my love of peas?
Am I by myself in thinking that pretty much every dish can be improved by a handful of frozen green spheres?
I know so many people who dislike peas, but I say what is there not to love, chuck a few in to a seemingly fat laden, unhealthy slut of a meal and it is immediately redeemed into being vaguely healthy and with one of your five a day.

All hail the mighty Pea.

I am a little sad that the podded pea season is drawing to a close for another year, but am truly thankful for the bags of little green balls of sunshine sitting in my freezer.

To prove my point I took a very simple spag bog and turned it into a colourful pasta bolognase with the aid of peas, chunky cut red peppers and chopped mushrooms, served on a bed of Riccioli - my new favourite pasta shape. Voila!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Family BBQ

As mentioned in my previous post, whilst my brother and his family were over from Holland we held a little family soiree - mainly because we never seem to get together enough. Whilst not everyone was able to attend at such short notice we got a pretty good turn out.

The weather was terrible - as expected, but luckily Mum & Dad found a very large marquee which was great to house most of us away from the rain.

Food wise I prepared some of my Chicken Chompers and Smokey Bacon & Tomato Tart, a wonderful wild rice salad which I will have to make again as I forgot to take any pictures of and will post the recipe for it when I do. We also had Anita's delicious marinated belly pork strips and potato salad along with three single ribs of beef which were cooked on the BBQ and turned out wonderfully rare and were a real treat.

I had also been to see Gordon the Fishmonger a few days before to order a whole salmon, when I explained that I had never poached a whole one before and the reason why I wanted it he very kindly offered to poach, skin and put it on a platter for me at no extra cost - what an absolute star he is! Hubby then spent a long while putting slices of cucumber for scales on it and adding a plethora of shell on prawns to the dish - turned out well.

I must offer my thanks to Jo, Stu's sister for bringing two homemade cakes with her - just perfect for afternoon tea before everyone left. The recipe for her light lemon soaked sponge will be on here shortly, once I have made it.

On the day of the soiree, it did chuck down with rain, but we all had so much fun, together again after so long and in some cases I had not seen family members for over 10 years that we did not even notice the weather. I was totally worn out at the end of the day, too busy chatting and making sure everyone else was fed and watered to eat to drink much myself - luckily there was enough of the beef sliced wafer thin to make a sandwich with lashings of horseradish sauce.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Duck Braised in Orange Juice with Star Anise

Busy, busy couple of weeks, my brother and his family have been over from Holland and trying to organise a last minute family party took its toll on my time, but I have plently of recipes to post later on that, for now I just had to post this one dish.

We were catching up with Rick Steins Far Eastern Adventure, so many brilliant dishes, but he said that if we only cook one dish from the whole series then make it this one - we were hooked. I had in the freezer a Gressingham Duck waiting for a special occasion and a special recipe.

Duck Braised in Orange Juice with Star Anise

1 Duck, cut into serving pieces
2 tsbp Vegetable Oil
3 Cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3cm Root ginger, peeled and sliced
3-4 Spring onions, cut into 4cm lengths
6 Star Anise
3-4 whole Chillies, I used 2 super hot small green chillies, would have used red birdseye if available.
1 Stalk lemongrass, bruised
2 tbsp Fish sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
Juice of 3-4 oranges
Liberal grinding to black pepper

Fry the duck pieces in oil until the fat is rendered and the skin brown and beginning to crisp. Pour off all but a tablespoon of fat.
Add garlic and ginger and stir, then add the orange juice, enough to not quite cover the duck. Add fish sauce, star anise, lemongrass, sugar and chillies along with a ground pepper. Stir and simmer covered until the duck is tender - approx 1 hour.

Add the spring onions about 10 mins before the duck is finished.
Remove the duck pieces and lay on a bed of rice (I used basmati). Remove the lemongrass and Star Anise. Mix cornflour with a little water and pour into the sauce to thicken. Spoon over the dish add a little garnish of chopped spring onion stalks.

What can I say, this was the most delicious dish ever, I was sorry when it was finished. Definitely a dish to be remembered and tried out for a dinner party - certainly has the wow factor.