Stir-Fried Duck

A whole duck tends to have lots of fat and not so much meat. Duck breasts, although pricy, have no wastage, and when cooked on a rack in a very hot oven, the skin goes really crispy and the meat stays nice and moist.

Serves : 4
Prep : 2 mins
Cook : 10 mins

Ingredients:
2 duck breasts
15ml (1 tblsp) runny honey
15ml (1 tblsp) dark soy sauce
30ml (2 tblsp) hoi-sin sauce
15ml (1 tblsp) stir-fry oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
340g pack prepared carrots cut into sticks
125g (4oz) beansprouts
5 spring onions trimmed and cut into strips
50g (2oz) sprouting beans (optional)
160g jar sweet and sour sauce

Step One : Preheat the oven to Mark 7 / 210oC / 420oF. Place the duck breasts on a roasting rack resting in a tin. Thoroughly mix together the honey, soy and hoi-sin sauces and brush generously over the skin. Cook for 10 mins.

Step Two : Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add the garlic, carrots, beansprouts, spring onions and sprouting beans (if using) and stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes.

Step Three : Add the sweet and sour sauce and heat till just warmed through, making sure that the vegetables stay slightly crunchy. Thickly slice the duck breasts and toss into the vegetables. Offer prawn crackers to serve alongside the stir-fry.

Tip : Look out for Hoi-sin sauce in the Chinese section of large supermarkets. It’s also perfect to use as a speedy glaze for spare ribs or as a dipping sauce for Peking duck.

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Rich Chocolate Mint Whip

Serves : 4
Prep time : 15 mins, plus chilling time

This scrummy dessert can be made with orange zest instead of the peppermint.

Ingredients:
7oz (200g) milk chocolate
7oz (200g) white chocolate
9oz (250g) fromage frais
2 drops peppermint flavouring
3 egg whites
Mint leaves, to decorate

Step One : Melt 6oz (175g) of the milk chocolate and 6oz (175g) of the white chocolate separately over pans of simmering water. Grate the remaining chocolate and set aside. Remove the chocolate from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Divide the fromage frais in half and stir one half into each bowl of chocolate then beat well.

Step Two : Add peppermint essence to the white chocolate mixture. Whisk the egg whites until they just hold their shape. Stir a spoonful into each bowl to lighten the mixture. Divide the remaining egg white between the two mixtures and fold in.

Step Three : Place alternate spoonfuls of the mixtures in four tall glasses. Or if you want to serve six, put it in six ramekins.

Step Four : Decorate with remaining grated chocolate and mint leaves. Place in fridge to set.

Tip: For a lower calorie pud, replace the full fat fromage frais with a low fat version.

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Classic Fish Bisque

Serves : 6
Prep : 1 hour 20 min
Cook : 30 mins

Ingredients:
8oz/225g shrimps or prawns with shells on
2 bay leaves
1 leek, trimmed and sliced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
6 peppercorns
2oz/50g butter
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1oz/25g plain flour
2 tblsp/30ml tomato puree
3 tblsp/45ml dry sherry
8oz / 225g cod fillet, skinned
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tblsp/15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tblsp/45ml double cream
Salt and pepper

Croutons:
4 slices white bread
3 tblsp/45ml olive
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tblsp/30ml chopped fresh parsley
4 tblsp/90ml single cream

Step One : Peel the shrimps or prawns, reserving the shells and set aside. Place the shells in a large pan with the bay leaves, leek, celery, carrot and peppercorns. Pour over 1pt/600ml cold water and bring to boil. reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Step Two : Strain the stock through a sieve lined with muslin and set aside. Melt the butter in a large pan and fry the chopped onion very gently for about 10 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle over the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Step Three : Gradually pour the stock over the onion, stirring until thickened slightly. Stir in the tomato puree and dry sherry. Add the peeled shrimps or prawns. Cut the cod fillet into bite-sized cubes and add to the pan. cover and allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes.

Step Four : Stir in the cayenne and lemon juice. Allow to cool a little then liquidise in a food processor, in batches, until very smooth. Return to a rinsed out pan and stir in the cream and seasoning to taste. Heat through until almost boiling.

Step Five : To make the croutons, remove the crusts from the bread and cut into small squares. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic for 1 minute. Add the cubes of bread and cook gently on both sides until just golden. Drain croutons on absorbent kitchen paper then toss in the chopped parsley.

Step Six : Spoon the fish bisque into warmed serving dishes, top with a few croutons and add a swirl of cream to serve.

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Thai Chicken Curry

Serves : 4

Ingredients:
175g (6oz) open mushrooms
6 spring onions
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 125g (4 ½ oz) each
1 tblsp olive oil
4 level tsp thai red or green curry paste
150ml (¼ pt) water
2 tblsp light soy sauce
400ml (2/3 pt) can coconut milk
Salt and ground black pepper
Fresh coriander to garnish

Step One : Wipe the mushrooms clean with damp kitchen paper. Cut each mushroom in half, then each into four.

Step Two : Trim 6 spring onions just above root end then peel away outer layer. Cut off the dark green leaves. Cut diagonally into 5mm slices.

Step Three : Using a small sharp knife, and working on the cutting board, cut 4 chicken breasts and fillets into bite size pieces.

Step Four : Heat 1 tblsp oil and 4 tsp curry paste in a large frying pan. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes.

Step Five : Pour in the water, the soy sauce and the contents of the can of coconut milk and bring to the boil, stirring to mix thoroughly.

Step Six : Stir in the mushrooms, spring onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Serve garnished with coriander.

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Smoked Haddock Fishcakes

Home-made fish cakes really are worth every minute spent making them.  For a change, try adding a few chopped cooked prawns to the basic mixture.

smoked haddock fish cakes

Makes :   10
Prep time :  30 minutes plus chilling
Cook time :  30 minutes

Ingredients:
450g (1 lb) floury potatoes
25g (1oz) butter
Salt and pepper
700g (1 1/2lb) smoked haddock fillet, skinned
100ml (4 fl oz) milk
125g (4oz) sweetcorn
Grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tblsp (30ml) each chopped fresh chives and parsley
Salt and pepper
50g (2oz) plain flour
2 eggs
125g (4oz) fine fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tblsp (15ml) sunflower oil

Step One : Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, drain well.  Mash with the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Step Two : Meanwhile, poach the haddock fillet in the milk for about 10 minutes or until it begins to flake.  Drain and break up fillet into large pieces.

Step Three : Add the cooked fish, sweetcorn, grated lemon rind, chives, parsley, salt and pepper to the mashed potatoes.  Leave to cool.

Step Four : Shape the mixture into tend equal sized rounds.  Season the flour.  Dip each round into the seasoned flour, then the beaten egg, followed by the fresh white breadcrumbs to coat.  Chill until ready to cook.

Step Five : Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook the fishcakes for about 3-4 minutes each side or until they are golden brown.  Keep warm in a low oven if cooking in batches.

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Easy Paella

You can make and serve this great family favourite all in the same dish

fried-rice-chicken-cartoon-vector_53734-13

Serves : 6
Prep time : 40 mins
Cook time : 50 mins

Ingredients:
¼ tsp saffron
900ml (1 ½ pints) boiling chicken stock
8 chicken thighs, skinless
225g (8oz) chicken or turkey sausages
1 tblsp paprika
2 tsp sunflower oil
¼ tsp chilli powder
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 courgettes, sliced
250g (9oz) American easy cook rice
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp sun-dried tomato paste or ordinary tomato puree
125g (4oz) stuffed green olives
2 tblsp parsley, chopped

Step One : Dissolve saffron in boiling stock. Coat the chicken and sausages with paprika. Heat oil in a large pan, add chicken, sausages and chilli powder and brown for 5 mins. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Step Two : Fry onions, garlic, pepper and courgettes for 10 mins. Add rice and stir for 1 minute, then mix in tomatoes, tomato puree, olives and 1 tbsp parsley. Pour on the stock, stir and return the chicken and sausages to the pan. Bring to the boil.

Step Three : Simmer paella uncovered for 30 mins, then sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Tip: Turkey or chicken sausages have only half the calories of the traditional pork and beef sausages and they’re really tasty too.

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Walnut Griddle Cakes

Serves : 4-6

griddle cakes cartoon

Ingredients:
100g (4oz) plain flour
3tsp baking powder
Salt
50g (2oz) semolina
1 tblsp caster sugar
2 eggs, large, beaten
150ml (5fl oz) milk
1 tblsp margarine or butter, melted
50g (2oz) chopped walnuts.

Step One : Sift the flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt and the semolina into a bowl. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Make a well in the centre of the mixture then add the eggs and the milk. Beat thoroughly until the mixture forms a thick, creamy batter. Stir in the melted margarine or butter and add the walnuts.

Step Two : Heat a well-greased griddle or thick frying pan with butter and heat. Drop tablespoonfuls of the batter, how many depends on the size of cakes you prefer, and cook until golden brown on one side, after 2-3 mins. Turn the cakes and cook for a further 2-3 mins on the other side.

Step Three : Repeat the process until all the batter is used. Serve with butter and golden syrup.

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Toffee Apple Pudding

Who can resist this indulgent sticky treat? The rich toffee sauce completely coats the apples and melts right through the delicious steamed sponge.

toffee appleServes : 4
Prep time : 20 mins
Cook time : 2 hours

Ingredients for the topping:
2 cox’s apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
Juice of 1 lemon
50 g (2oz) butter
150g (5oz) caster sugar

For the sponge:
175g (6oz) butter, at room temperature
175g (6oz) caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
250g (9oz) plain flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder

Step One : Toss the apple chunks in half of the lemon juice and put into a greased 1.1 litre/2 pint pudding basin. Warm the butter, sugar and remaining lemon juice in a heavy based pan. Stir the foamy mixture occasionally until it becomes a golden brown toffee colour and then pour the mixture over the apple chunks in the basin.

Step Two : Make the sponge mixture by creaming together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs – don’t worry if the mixture begins to curdle. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder. Spoon the mixture over the toffee apples and smooth the top of the pudding with a palette knife.

Step Three : Cut out two circles larger than the basin, one from foil and the other from greaseproof paper. Pleat each one down the centre – this allows the pudding to rise. Use them to cover the basin, scrunching up the sides to form a seal or secure with string if you prefer. Place a folded strip of foil underneath basin to help lift it.

Step Four : Half fill a large pan (preferably with a steamer) with boiling water, lower in the pudding, cover and simmer for 1hr 45 mins – 2 hrs. Top the pan up with water as needed. Carefully remove the lid and pudding, put a plate on top and slowly turn the pudding over. Serve with ice cream, cream or custard.

Tip: If you don’t have a steamer, use a large saucepan instead. Place the pudding on an inverted saucer and half fill the pan with boiling water. Put on a tight fitting lid and simmer for one and a half hours. When topping up the water during cooking, take care not to splash the pudding – or yourself.

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Roast Lamb with a Veg Medley

Lamb.jpgServes : 4
Prep time : 10 mins
Cook time : 30-35 mins

Ingredients:
1 French trimmed rack of lamb, fat trimmed off
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
Half a bunch of spring onions, trimmed
25g (8oz) baby carrots
175g (6oz) baby courgettes
175g (6oz) sugar snaps

Step One : Preheat the oven to Mark 6, 200oC, 400oF. Score the lamb with criss-crosses using a knife.

Step Two : Make incisions with a small knife and push in the sprigs of rosemary and garlic. Season, to taste, and then roast for 30 mins until the meat is tender.

Step Three : Plunge the vegetables into boiling stock, cook for 7 mins, until tender, and then drain.

Step Four : Remove the cooked lamb from the oven and rest it for a few minutes. Then, slice down between the bones and serve on top of the vegetables with some dry roasted potatoes.

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