Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Sweet Chilli Jam

The second thing I made was some sweet chilli jam. This is absolutely delicious and can be served as a chutney (e.g. with cheese or cooked meats) or used as a stir fry sauce or dipping sauce.

It's very easy to make. It's just all wizzed up in a food processor and then cooked for a long while until it's thick and sticky.

How hot the end result is depends on the heat in the chillies so taste a little piece first and select the strength of chilli depending on your taste or the taste of whoever it's for.

Here is the full recipe.


8 red peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
10 red chillies, roughly chopped
Finger sized piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
8 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
400g tin of tomatoes
750g caster sugar
250ml red wine vinegar
Tip the peppers, chillies (with seeds), ginger and garlic into a food processor, then whizz until very finely chopped. Pour into a heavy-bottomed pan with the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, then bring everything to the boil. Skim off any scum that comes to the surface, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally. Once the jam is becoming sticky (1-2 hours depending on the size of the pan), continue cooking for 10-15 mins more, stirring frequently so that it doesn't catch and burn. It should now look like thick, bubbling lava. Cool slightly, transfer to sterilised jars, then leave to cool completely. Keeps well in a cool, dark cupboard - refrigerate once opened.

Adapted from a Good Food recipe


Onion Marmalade

On Saturday I spent the morning making chutney's and promised to post the recipes, so here goes the first, onion marmalade aka caramelised onion chutney. It really is worth the patience needed to caramelise the onions as the result is simply yummy! It is fab as a chutney with cheese or cooked meats or in sandwiches. I would also recommend using it to make a sauce next time you have a steak. Cook the steak and whilst it is resting deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine add a spoonful of the chutney, a splash of balsamic vinegar and maybe a few fresh thyme leaves. Perfect speedy sauce!

The original recipe uses red onions and far more alcohol and vinegar, but I use less liquid and normal onions as they are cheaper and the end result doesn't seem to suffer any detriment to flavour. I also add the sugar at the same time as the liquid otherwise caramelising the onions in the sugar causes havoc with the pan and is a nightmare to clean.

This will make about 4 jam jars.

Here is a photo of the chutney before the lid is on.

And the final product ready for wrapping.

Here is the full recipe

2kg onions
4 garlic cloves
4 tbsps olive oil
A knob of butter
140g caster sugar
A bunch of fresh thyme leaves
250ml red wine
200ml red wine vinegar

Quarter and thinly slice the onions, then crush the garlic. Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the onions and garlic and give them a good stir and reduce the heat slightly. Cook uncovered for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little water or more oil if they start to stick.. The onions are ready when all their juices have evaporated, they're really soft and sticky and smell of sugar caramelising. Slow cooking is the secret of really soft and sticky onions, so don't rush this part.

Add the sugar and thyme and pour in the wine and vinegar and simmer everything, still uncovered, over a high heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring every so often until the onions are a deep mahogany colour and the liquid almost all reduced. It's done when drawing a spoon across the bottom of the pan clears a path. Leave the onions to cool slightly in the pan, then scoop into sterilised jars and seal. Can be eaten straight away, but keeps well in the fridge.

Adapted from a recipe from Good Food


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Christmas Hamper

Today I went to my friend house for a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. She creates all the dishes she would have if she was at home and hence I'm now feeling very full, sleepy and on a sugar high! She said she'll let me have the recipes so I'll give them a try and post the results!

I might not see her again before Christmas so took along a hamper full of goodies I had made.

From top right going clockwise there is a lemon crunchy top cake, a bag of candied citrus peel, a mulled spice bag to make mulled wine, apple butter and double chocolate chip cookies.

The recipe for the lemon cake can be found here

The recipe for the candied citrus peel is here I dusted them all in caster sugar before putting them in a Lakeland gift bag and tying with a ribbon.

For the mulled spice bag I simply tied a couple of sticks of cinnamon, some dried orange rind, 5 juniper berries, 10 cloves, 5 cardamom, 2 bay leaves and 10 black peppercorns in a square of muslin and attached instructions to place it in a pan with 75cl of red wine and sugar to taste and then gently heat the wine without letting it boil.

The apple butter recipe is here and I just decorated the jar with a square if brown paper and a ribbon.

Finally the double chocolate cookies I have written two posts about before here and in my first ever post


Friday, 25 November 2011

Spiced Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup

At this time of year I mainly eat soup for lunch so like to try different ones. Here are some more recipes
Today's recipe is a lightly spiced but still very tasty squash soup. It could also be made with pumpkin or other squash.

1.5 litres of chicken stock (use vegetable if you need the dish to be vegetarian)
200g dried red lentils
1-2 tsp crushes sumac
6 garlic cloves
1 small, diced carrot
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tap paprika


Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the peeled, deseeded and cubes squash, garlic and carrot in a large roasting tray in a single layer (use two trays if you need to) drizzle with olive oil, spices and season and bake for about an hour or until the veg is soft and caramelised. Put the veg in a clean pan along with the stock and roughly blend so there is still some texture. Add the lentils and cook for about 20 mins until they are soft. Ladle into bowls and serve with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of sumac.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Apples, apples and more apples

I've been making presents for Christmas for a while now and love @vanessakimbell's push to #letsmakechristmas.

As I mentioned on twitter I've been collecting windfall apples (apparently an old type of Golden Delicious) from my parents garden. This is on top of some I was given by a friend (Bramleys) and some wild ones (no idea what variety). There is something I find very satisfying about making something from ingredients I have picked or foraged. The only slight issue was what to do with them all. After peeling and blanching what seemed like 3000 apples to put in the freezer I wanted to try something else!

Apple Butter

I keep reading and hearing about Apple Butter. It seems to be an American recipe which is a bit like a thick fruit compote. I love cooked apples so it sounded right up my street! Basically you roughly chop 4lbs of apples and put them in a large pan including all of the skin, cores, pips etc (this is for two reasons. Partly as there is a lot of flavour in these parts and also as there is a lot of pectin which helps the butter to set. Plus it was a massive relieve given I was a little bored of peeling and coring apples). This is an awful lot of apples and although the pan was large they barely fit, luckily they cook down pretty quickly. I used a mixture of golden delicious and bramleys to get the sweetness and sharpness of the different varieties.

I then added about a cup of water or apple juice and a good splash of cider vinegar and cooked until the apples were very soft. This will take about 30mins depending on the type of apple.

Once the apple is cooked it's time to sieve it to get a smooth purée. Use the back of a spoon to gradually push the apples through the sieve until you are only left with skin, core, pips and so on.

Now for every for every cup of purée you have add 1/4 cup of caster sugar and add the zest and juice of one lemon. At this stage you can also add spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg but I decided to make plain.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for an hour or two, stirring every so often until the mixture is very thick and slightly browner.

Place the mixture in sterilised jars. I made 4 jars.

I tried a little of the apple butter in 0% Total Greek yoghurt and it was delicious. It is also supposed to be great on toast or as a filling for pancakes.

Rowan and Apple Jelly

I picked to rowans for this ages ago and put them in the freezer. Apparently if you pick them before the first frost it's good to freeze them to allow them to break up more. This also meant they didn't go off whilst I was too busy to make them into anything.

I absolutely hate waste so imagine my delight when this recipe called for the cores and peels of apples but not the rest of the flesh which I could then prep for the freezer (fortunately I realised this before I got fed up of peeling!)

You start by taking the rowan berries off their stalks and then add an equal weight of apple cores and skins. Add water to about half way up the fruit, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer until it is soft and broken down. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag or piece of muslin over a bowl and drain for a good few hours or over night. Don't push the fruit through otherwise the jelly will be cloudy. For every litre of juice at add 750g caster sugar plus a couple of cloves and a few strips of lemon zest.

Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar and then slowly increase the heat to a rapid boil for 10 mins or 106C if you have a sugar thermometer. Remove the zest and cloves and pour into sterilises jars to set. This still has quite a dry flavour but goes well with meats and cheeses.


Friday, 18 November 2011

Food Bloggers Gift Swap

Today was the Food Bloggers Gift Swap event at Fortnum an Masons organised by @vanessakimbell and judged by @dan_lepard.

Fortnum's always reminds me of Christmas. When I was small we used to go into London to see the Christmas lights each year and go and see various Christmassy things such as Harrods and Fortnum's. I'm still almost overwhelmed by all of the lovely things to see and buy in the food hall and today was no exception. What was a surprise though is what else is in there as I'd never made it beyond the ground floor before and there are floors of beautiful household items, jewellery, bags and so on. Plus no less than 5 places to eat/drink. Who would've known! The event was on the 4th floor in a private room just off the restaurant where afternoon tea is served and what a wonderful place for afternoon tea, traditional whilst not being too stuffy.

Anyway I digress, back to the event. We all had to make some food gifts which were to be judged and then swapped at the end so we all got to take some home. The gifts I made and the recipes can be found here

When we arrived the gifts were all placed on tables and there was such a great selection and surprisingly hardly any duplications.

We all chatted and compared notes over cups of tea and little cakes whilst the items were judged.

I was lucky enough to take home three lovely gifts, some pumpkin and apple chutney, a decorated gingerbread house with a surprise ginger cake in the middle and some peppermint crunch.

Here are the photos of each and details of who made them.

The Gingerbread house was made by Sue from http://talesfromthegiantswood.blogspot.com

The pumpkin and apple chutney and peppermint crunch were made by Heidi from www.HeidiRobertsKitchenTalk.blogspot.com

And we also got a gift bag from Fortnum and Mason with these lovely White Chocolate and Cranberry Florentines

The whole event was organised so well and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. A huge thank you to Vanessa, Dan, Fortnum and Mason and everyone who helped and attended!

Merry Christmas and #letsmakechristmas!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Let's Make Christmas!

Let's Make Christmas!

Today I'm taking part in the Food Bloggers Gift Swap, arranged by @vanessakimbell and judged by @dan_lepard, as part of 'Let's Make Christmas'.

See here for full details http://writingacookerybook.blogspot.com/2011/10/lets-make-christmas-food-blogger-gift.html. Basically the concept is that instead of buying things for people for Christmas we surprise them with lovely homemade gifts. With my friends and family it won't be so much of a surprise as I make some of my gifts most years, but they seem to appreciate them and I'm always on the lookout for new ideas!

I was even more excited when Let's Make Christmas was extended to become an event held at Fortum and Manson where food bloggers could meet and swap their gifts, with the added twist of a dose of healthy competition. It will be wonderful to meet people I've spoken to online and over twitter and also new people too.

We are all allowed to enter up to three categories. I decided to enter an individual Christmas pudding in the baking category. It is a lovely Peyton and Byrne recipe that I'm very pleased with. I put it with a small bottle of brandy for flaming the pudding to serve it.

Here is a photo of it all wrapped up. I buy the plastic gift bags from Lakeland and the ribbon was from an online ribbon shop, I'll try and dig out the details of the website and add them to the post.

For the preserves category I have made a lovely piccalilli. It's one of my favourites, and this recipe is especially good. The veg are also nice as pickles before you add the spicy mustard sauce.

In the final category of sweets I made some little chocolate wafers. The white chocolate ones are flavoured with rose water and topped with crystallised rose petals and the dark chocolate ones are topped with some homemade candied orange peel, although you could top them with any of your favourite accompaniments.

And here they are all together. I just have to hope they make it all the way to Fortum and Mason in one piece!

Here are all of the recipes in case you'd like to give any of these a go #letsmakechristmas!

Christmas Pudding

200g raisins
150g currants
100g flaked almonds
75g dried chopped apricots
75g dates chopped
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 medium carrot grated
1400g suet
140g plain flour
140g demerara sugar
75g fresh breadcrumbs
2 beaten eggs
4tbsps stout
Juice and zest of one orange
Juice and zest of one lemon
2tbsp brandy
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

This recipe makes 1 large and 4 small Christmas puddings. The recipe could be reduced, but they are lovely to give as gifts (and you also need to keep one for yourself!). It’s best to make this recipe approximately 3 months before Christmas.

1. Place the dried fruit and all of the liquid (apart from the eggs) in a bowl and soak overnight.
2. Add the remainder of the ingredients and place in well greased pudding bowls. Cover the top of the mixture with a small circle of baking paper, and then cover the whole of the top of the bowl with two layers of foil, securing with string.
3. Place the basins in a saucepan on a trivet, or a scrunched up piece of foil, and fill the pan approx. half full with boiling water.
4. Place on the heat, bring to the boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer and put the lid on.
5. Once you think it is cooked, check by carefully unwrapping the pudding and inserting a skewer. If it comes out clean it is cooked. The small puddings take about 3 hours and the large 4.5 hours.
6. Once cooked, put clean baking paper and foil on the pudding and leave to cool. Once a month carefully peel back the cover and 'feed' with a splash of brandy. Store in the fridge or a cool dark place until Christmas.
7. To reheat, repeat the steaming process but for 2 hours this time (approx. 1 hour for the small puddings). Turn out the pudding onto a serving dish, sprinkle with sugar and top with a sprig of holly. Pour over some brandy and set alight. Serve with brandy butter.

Here is the mixture ready to put in the basins

Here they are in the basin

And here they are steaming

Recipe adapted from ‘British Baking’ Peyton and Byrne.

225g salt
2.25 litres boiling water
1 medium cauliflower (about 450g of small florets)
225g small pickling onions, peeled and halved
225g runner beans, topped and tailed and cut diagonally into 2.5cm pieces
¼ large cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds removed and then into 1cm chunks
110g courgettes, topped and tailed and cut into 1cm chunks
About half a jar of small gherkins
135g caster sugar
750ml distilled malt vinegar, plus an extra 5 tbsp
1 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ tsp whole nutmeg, grated
¼ tsp ground allspice
25g plain flour
12g mustard powder
12g turmeric powder
7g ground ginger
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Piccalilli is a traditional British preserve. It is well worth making as in my opinion it is far superior to any that can be bought in a supermarket. It is best served with cooked meats and cheese, for example on a buffet or in sandwiches.
1. Mix the salt with the boiling water. Leave to cool, divide between two large bowls and add the cauliflower and onions to one bowl and the runner beans, cucumber and courgettes to the other. Cover with a plate to keep the vegetables submerged and leave for 12-24 hours.
2. Drain the vegetables and rinse them well, still keeping them separate.
3. Put the sugar, garlic and 750ml of vinegar into a large pan. Bring to the boil, add the cauliflower, onions, allspice and nutmeg and cook for just two minutes. Add the beans and the cucumber and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. The vegetables only want to be just cooked, with still a little crunch left in them. Sieve into a large bowl saving the liquid and set aside.
4. Mix the flour, mustard, turmeric and ginger powder with the rest of the vinegar and enough water to make a smooth paste. Add a little of the hot vinegar mixture, stir into the rest left in the pan and bring to the boil, stirring. Simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Stir the sauce into the vegetables and the gherkins. Spoon into warm sterilised jars and seal with vinegar proof lids. This will make 5-6 jars.

Here is a photo of the veg cooking so you can see the sizes I cut it all into

Here is the mustard mixture made from good old Colman's

And the finished product before it was decorated.

Recipe adapted from ‘Food Heroes’ Rick Stein.

Little Wafers – White Chocolate with Rose – Dark Chocolate with Orange

100g organic dark chocolate (70%)
100g organic white chocolate
1 tbsp crystallised rose petals
A couple of strips of candied orange peel (see below for recipe)
A few drops of rose water

This is an easy recipe, but looks very effective. You can always buy the candied peel, but the homemade version is delicious (see recipe below). The chocolates are also lovely with chopped nuts, dried fruit or toffee.

1. For the wafers, melt the chocolate in two separate bowls. To ensure you get a shiny finish, it is best to temper the chocolate. Stir the rose water into the melted white chocolate.
2. Take a large piece of baking parchment and draw circles on it as a guide (a milk bottle top is a good size). Turn over the parchment so the ink doesn’t go onto the chocolate.
3. Take about half a spoonful of chocolate and carefully use the back of the spoon to fill the circles you have drawn.
4. Whilst the chocolate is still wet sprinkle the dark with chopped candied peel, and the white with the chopped, crystallised rose petals.
5. Allow to cool thoroughly, and present them in a pretty box tied with a ribbon.

Candied Orange Peel:
2 medium oranges
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp black peppercorns, lightly crushed
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1. Using a small knife, score the orange skin into quarters and carefully remove the peel from the orange.
2. Cut each quarter into strips of approx. 1cm wide. Place the fruit to one side to use for something else
3. Place the strips in a sauce pan, and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain through a colander and repeat twice more with clean water to remove any bitterness from the peel.
4. Wash and dry the saucepan. Place the sugar and 200ml water in the pan with the pepper and cardamom. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Add the blanched orange peel and cook for 2-3hrs on a very gentle simmer, until the peel is very tender and translucent.
5. Use tongs to remove the peel from the syrup, draining off any excess and place on a large piece of baking parchment in a single layer. Leave the peel to dry and crystallise. This can take 2-3 days. You will only need a couple of strips for the chocolate wafers, so you can pop the rest in a clear gift bag as a separate gift. This recipe can easily be doubled or made with other citrus peel, such as lemon or grapefruit. The syrup can also be put into a small sterilised jar and used for adding to coffee, cocktails, fruit salads or cakes.

Here is a photo of the peel cooling. I used a mixture of orange, lemon and lime.

And one of the syrup in a jar to keep

Recipe adapted from ‘Gifts from the Kitchen’ Anne Rigg.

Mary Berry's French Apple Tart

Along with my mums guidance I was taught to bake by Mary Berry. More precisely by her Ultimate Cake Book, which is by far and away my most loved and used recipe book. From a very young age I'd try her recipes and this is an old favourite. It's time consuming and a little messy, but the end result is well worth it. This time I decided to use almond pastry instead and replaced just under half of the flour with ground almonds. Either pastry works well so just pick your favourite.

I've recently picked a lot of windfall apples from my parents garden so this is a perfect use for them. The recipe also works well as individual tarts for a gift.

Here is the flan before it goes into the oven.

And when it came out

French Apple Tart Recipe from Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book

Serves 8-10

90g butter
1.5kg cooking apples, quartered, cored, and cut into chunks
3 tbsp water
6 tbsp apricot jam
125g caster sugar
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
375g eating apples, quartered, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp caster sugar
6 tbsp apricot jam

For the pastry

250g plain flour
125g chilled butter, cubed
125g caster sugar
4 egg yolks

For the apple topping and glaze

250g plain flour
125g chilled butter, cubed
125g caster sugar
4 egg yolks


Make the pastry: put the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, then the egg yolks and a little cold water to make a soft dough. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line the flan tin. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and add the cooking apples and water. Cover and cook very gently for 20–25 minutes until the apples are soft.

Rub the apples through a nylon sieve into a clean pan. Add the jam, sugar, and lemon zest. Cook over a high heat for 15–20 minutes, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has evaporated and the apple purée is thick. Leave to cool.

Bake the pastry case blind in a preheated oven at 190°C/gas mark 5 for 10–15 minutes. Remove the beans and foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Leave to cool.

Spoon the purée into the case. Arrange the apple slices on top, brush with lemon juice, and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake for another 30–35 minutes until the apples are tender and their edges browned.

Heat the jam, work through a sieve, then brush over the apples. Serve warm or cold.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Incredible Roasted Shoulder of Lamb Courtesy of Jamie Oliver

There is something magical about Sunday roasts, especially in the autumn and winter. They always remind me of growing up and my mum cooking a big family meal. Apart from a phase of being veggie in my teens I have always loved the smell that fills the house as the roast cooks hours before it's time for dinner. For me meat either has to barely see the heat or be cooked very low and slow for hours and hours. This recipe is the latter. Fortunately I always prefer to eat Sunday roasts at dinner time as if I eat a big meal at lunch I never feel like doing much after! If is wanted to eat this at lunch I would've had to be up at a seriously unpleasant time for a Sunday...

This is a super simple way to give a shoulder of lamb a lovely dressing up.

Similar to the duck pasta in my last post this is a recipe I have made lots of times so I have played with it a little.

Jamie just says to place the rosemary and unpeeled garlic cloves underneath and on top of the lamb, but if I have time and can be bothered I also chop some of it up and make deep incisions in the meat with a sharp knife. I then push pieces of rosemary and garlic into the slits in the meat. Today I also added some small slices of anchovies as I had them in and lamb loves anchovies. If you don't love them as much don't worry they totally melt away and just leave a lovely savoury flavour.

I still put the lamb, in an oven proof tin or pan, on a bed of rosemary and unpeeled garlic cloves and then more on the top. A whole bulb of garlic sounds like an awful lot but when garlic is roasted it changes from being quite potent to a lovely mellow flavour.

Next it's time to roast the meat. Start by heating your oven as high as it will go. Once it's up to temperature then put the meat in and turn the temperature down. Jamie says to roast it for 4 hours but I like to do it at a slightly lower temperature (140C) for about 6-7 hours.

Once it's cooked remove it from the tin and leave it to rest in some tin foil. Just before serving pull the lamb from the bones using two forks.

Pour most of the excess fat from the tin/pan and then use the delicious juices and scrummy bits to make the gravy. It is well worth making the gravy it is far far superior to gravy made from granules and not at all difficult. The gravy is finished with chopped mint which really lightens the gravy and means you don't also need mint.

Jamie serves it with smashed root veg and greens which it delicious, but as it was sunday. I decided to go for roast potatoes (skip these for a paleo and clean option), greens and carrots instead.

You can find the full recipe on the Jamie Oliver website here http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/lamb-recipes/incredible-roasted-shoulder-of-lamb-with_1

Here is the lamb ready to go into the oven

And here is the shoulder once it has been cooked ready for resting.

Gorgeous Slow Cooked Duck Pasta Courtesy of Jamie Oliver

I never used to like duck and not just because I was a vegetarian for most of my teenage years. I always thought it was a bit of a fatty meat. Roll forward a few years and duck is a real treat, the breast served pink, the leg as duck confit or this gorgeous pasta dish from Jamie Oliver. It's not at all difficult but does take a very long time so it's best to give it a go when you need to be at home for the day anyway or even roast the duck the day before. It's great to impress friends in an understated way. I'm still staying at my parents and on Friday had this for dinner.

The first time I make a recipe I always try to follow it exactly, but as I have made this a few times I have tweaked Jamie's recipe a bit so I hope he doesn't mind!

You start by slow roasting the duck. For four people I only use half a duck but use the same amount of sauce as Jamie recommends. Mainly due to the cost of duck and that I think there is still plenty of meat for four people. If you were using wild duck you'd need more, probably a whole one.

Next, it's time to make a yummy tomato sauce with pancetta and cook it for about an hour until it is quite thick and all the flavours have melded together. Jamie then says to add the shredded duck and cook for half an hour but I think it needs more like an hour. Ten minutes before the end add sultanas and pine nuts. They aren't critical but add a good extra dimension.

Once the sauce is nearly cooked it's time to put the pasta on. Again I use much less than Jamie says, 300g for 4 people, which is more than enough served with a bit of salad. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, drain (retaining some of the cooking water) and stir the pasta into the sauce. Finish the dish by taking it off the heat and stirring in the orange zest (careful to get just the orange outer part of the skin not the white pith as it's very bitter) and juice (I only use half of the orange and still think it tastes very orangey, but taste it and add a whole one if you think you need it), chopped parsley, a good slosh of vinegar, butter and Parmesan. Give it a good stir adding a little of the pasta cooking sauce if it's a bit thick. Serve with more grated parmesan on the top and a green salad.

Here are the photos of the finished dish.

Recipe for Gorgeous slow-cooked duck pasta from Cook with Jamie

1 duck (or leftover roast duck)
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1 orange
1 lb pasta (rigatoni or occhi di lupo work well)
2 knobs of butter
1 large handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
a small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 orange
red wine vinegar
For the sauce:
olive oil
6 slices of pancetta, finely diced
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely diced
6 springs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 stick of cinnamon
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2x14 oz cans of good quality plum tomatoes
1/2 a 750 ml bottle of fruity red wine (Valpolicella of Barbera works well)
chicken stock
a handful of raisins
a large handful of pinenuts
Preheat the oven 350ºF/180C
Stuff a duck with a quartered orange; rub the outside with olive oil, salt, and pepper; and roast, breast-side down in a roasting pan, for two hours, turning every 30 minutes. Let it cool, and pull off all the meat.
Pour some olive oil into a large pot. Fry the diced pancetta until golden. Add red onion, carrots, celery, rosemary, cinnamon stick, and sliced garlic cloves. Cook slowly until it all softens up (about 10 minutes). Add the plum tomatoes and red wine. Let simmer for about an hour. Shred the duck meat and add it to the sauce. Cook for another half hour, adding water or chicken stock if it becomes dry. Remove the cinnamon stick, and add a handful each pine nuts and golden raisins. Continue to simmer while the pasta cooks.
Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water. Drain (preserving some of the cooking water).
Toss the pasta into the sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in a knob of butter, a handful of grated Parmesan, the zest and juice of 1 orange, chopped parsley, and a splash of red wine vinegar.
Loosen the sauce with the reserved cooking water if necessary. Check seasonings. Served with parmesan.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Random Bakes of Kindness 4: Thank You to the Doctors and Nurses

Since reading about Random Bakes of Kindness on @vanessakimbell blog I have tried to do one every month and this month's effort is for probably the most deserving cause yet. My wonderful nan recently passed away, the post can be found here, and the doctors and nurses who cared for her during her short stay in hospital were nothing short of amazing, both to her and to my family whilst we stayed with her. Enough to restore your faith in the NHS!

To say a small thank you I wanted to take them some baked goodies and made some cupcakes, a tiramisu cake and a lemon drizzle cake. Now this probably sounds like a very large Random Bake of Kindness, however I was helping my sister make a three tier celebration cake and 100 cupcakes for her work's 10th anniversary party so it wasn't very difficult to make enough extra batter and play with the flavours where necessary.

For the tiramisu cake I used a 10oz mixture of vanilla sponge cake. See the full recipe here http://sarahskitchendiary1.blogspot.com/2011/10/tiramisu-cake.html?m=1. Unlike my last blog post I decorated the edge with chocolate coated biscuits and the top with a few chocolate covered coffee beans.

For the cupcakes I used about 4ozs of vanilla sponge and decorated them in a similar way to these
http://sarahskitchendiary1.blogspot.com/2011/10/bridesmaids-cupcakes.html?m=1 However due to the season I substituted the surprise strawberry for a spoonful of homemade raspberry jam and topped with white chocolate icing. Made in the same way as the previous post but adding 100g of slightly cooled melted white chocolate at the end.

I had to make a lemon drizzle cake as it was my nan's favourite. I've never posted the recipe before but it's very simple. I used about 4ozs of sponge batter before the vanilla went in and added the zest of one lemon instead. Once cooked but while it was hot and still in the tin I made holes all over the cake with a skewer and poured over a mixture of the juice of one lemon with granulated sugar mixed in.

If a cake isn't going to have icing in the middle I always use these fab liners from Lakeland. They save lining the tin, transport well and look professional if it's for a gift. Win win!