Monday, 10 November 2014

Roasted Duck Leg Ragu with Raisins

roast duck leg ragu with raisins
Serve with lots of Parmesan!
Who doesn't love ragu? I love it, and I'm usually partial to a long stewed beef ragu. I decided to see what I could do with some duck. I had an idea for a long time that duck would be good stewed as a ragu. When I got hold of some duck. it was duck legs on the bone and instead of boiling or deboning the legs I decided to roast them. After I roasted the legs I took the meat off the bone and then started the sauce. The result was amazing, in my opinion of course. I admit the idea for using the raisins wasn't just from a recipe that I previously read from Jamie Oliver, but I think the similarities are spot on and he knows what he's talking about here. Mostly when you cook something for a long time, it tends to get bitter. When cooking different types of cuisines that play on that sweet and sour note, you tend to have an instinct to throw in a dried fruit of some kind to counteract the bitterness that sometimes tinned tomatoes can cause. My mom and most recipes when cooking a bolognese call to add a bit of brown sugar or something. The raisins seemed to be a perfect hit and really fell apart and dissipated in the sauce and you'd never know they were there. Everything about this recipe is great especially the fact that you can do it ahead. You can roast the legs well in advance and take the meat off the bone and let it sit for a few days if you want. The sauce itself only takes a bit of boiling for about 45 minutes, and the results are really amazing.

I think this is a fantastic dish for anyone to try if they want minimal amount of work to impress someone. If you make the duck ahead of time then there's little to nothing to do for the sauce. I served this with store made fresh pasta and the second time I made it I tried to make my own pasta. I don't recommend ruining such a nice dish with your own experimentals, but definitely get hold of some good tagliatelle or pappardelle, something nice and thick to soak up the sauce. Serve with some nice garlic bread and a rocket salad. This recipe serves 2-3, but you can easily double the ingredients for a larger amount.

2 duck legs
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 medium carrot
1 rib celery
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
250ml red wine
¼ c. raisins or sultanas
1 sprig rosemary (leaves removed and chopped)
½ tbsp. Olive oil
Salt and pepper

To Start:
Place the duck legs in a small pan and roast for a couple of hours on 180C.
When done set aside and cool to room temperature, then remove the meat from the bone.

For the Ragu:
Dice the onion, celery and carrot and crush the garlic.
In a medium saucepan heat the oil, when hot add in the celery, carrot and onion saute for about 5 minutes.
Next add the wine and boil for another 2-3 minutes or until the alcohol evaporates.
When it's at least reduced by half, add in the tinned tomatoes and the can of water.
Bring to a boil and then add in the garlic raisins and duck meat.
When the sauce is back up to a boil, turn down to a low-medium heat and boil for about 30-45 minutes. You want a thick consistency, and check for salt and pepper at the end.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Filo Wrapped Salmon with Pesto

This is a recipe revamp today and I'm surprisingly excited to share it. It was good when I wrote it about 4 years ago and it's been one of my most popular recipes. The original photo is here but, I decided to re-photograph it and just revisit it to make sure it still tasted good! And from my new perspective on food and eating, I needed to see if it would fit in my diet! To be honest, it didn't fit in my daily week day meal plan because it just tipped the scales over 500 calories per portion, which is too steep for me. But it's a great weekend meal for me and lower calories than most of my weekend meals. Anyways, forget about that. It was delicious. I added pesto to the salmon to give it a nice twist. The nice thing with pesto is it has a nice flavour, even though it's high in calories and fat, you only have to use a tiny bit to make the flavour go far.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with salmon. I actually think it's one of the most boring fish out there. I personally don't think it's very versatile. It's one of the stronger flavoured fish, not that it tastes fishy but it has a distinct flavour. If I'm going to eat it, I normally have it on it's own without anything else with a strong flavour like simple boiled potatoes and a salad. Today with the pesto I just had some steamed broccoli along side. You use whatever you have and you should be right as rain. Try this recipe if you want a twist on salmon.

filo wrapped salmon with pesto
Serve hot with fresh vegetables.
2 125g salmon fillets skin removed
2-3 tbsp. Pesto
6 filo sheets

Since you have to work with the filo dough simply make sure all of the ingredients are at hand and ready to go.
Lay out 2-3 sheets of pastry and brush a tiny bit of the pesto around the edges.
Lay the salmon at the bottom of the square or recatangle.
Spoon 1 tbsp of pesto on top of the salmon, and fold the ends over the salmon and then roll it up.
Repeat for the next one.
Brush the tops with any remaining pesto.
Bake at 200C for 20 minutes.

The 21st Century Housewife Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Party food: Pecan Crusted Cheese Balls

So if you're like me, at this time of the year you're trying to get ready for all the unexpected events over the next few months. Perhaps you're having a party, or a get together to celebrate the season and want to get ahead of the game and have things prepped for just an occasion. These cheeseballs are so easy to make, and they really are a crowd pleaser. I make mine months in advance and wrap them in cling film and foil and they last up to a year in the freezer! There is tons of variations you could do with this, I was even going to try a goats cheese next year in addition to soft cream cheese. This recipe was inspired by my friend Nichole who really loves the holidays and gave me her own recipe; where she got it I don't know. I tapered it to my own likings and my own ingredients and what I had available to me. I have made these two years in a row and they really are perfect for entertaining. Just take them out of the freezer at least 12hrs ahead of time, you can leave them on the counter and it should be fine. Enjoy!
pecan crusted cheese balls for holidays
Serve with apples, celery and crackers!

200g room temp. light cream cheese
100g room temp. light cream cheese with chives
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
150g grated mature cheddar (I use Davidstow lighter)
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. smoked paprika
¼ tsp. garlic powder
pinch pepper
pinch cayenne powder
100g chopped pecans

In a bowl mix together all of the ingredients really well. This will take some time to ensure that the spices are blended properly so take your time.
Place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to harden.
While the mixture is hardening, chop the pecans finely and lay on a large flat surface like a plate.
Take the bowl out and (I used my clean hands) form two large balls.
Take each ball and roll in pecans and set on cling film.
Wrap carefully in cling film, then in foil and freeze immediately.
This recipe makes 2 large balls suitable for 10ppl.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Easy Peanut Butter Banoffee Pie

To be clear, I had no idea what a banoffee pie was until I moved to the UK, and I didn’t realize how easy it was to make until I made this one. I have wondered since then why I haven’t made one more often? The traditional way to make it is a biscuit crumb base (like a cheesecake base), then a layer of caramel, bananas, cream and some chocolate on top. I just like the idea of peanut butter and banana so I thought for my first attempt at this banoffee pie I would just go all out and experiment. To be honest I’m not sure if I can bring myself to make it the original way because the added peanut butter was amazing! If you’ve made banoffee pie and like it, this is for you, if you haven’t this is for you, if you want to then this is for you….get it? This recipe is for you! Eat eat eat…but I warn you, try to pawn some of it off before you eat it all yourself. This makes…a serving for one or a few more, depending on how much you want to share!

Peanut butter banoffee
Okay, so it's not the prettiest photo; but it's the best!!

200g digestive biscuits (or you can use an American pre-made graham cracker crust)
50g melted butter (for the biscuits)
400g tin caramel or make your own
2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter
500ml double cream
2 fresh bananas slightly green still
Dark chocolate for shaving on top

If you haven’t got a pre-made crust, wiz up the biscuits in a food processor or bash them up into pieces and combine with the melted butter.
Press the crumbs into a pie tin and put in a fridge for 30miniutes.
In a bowl mix the caramel and the peanut butter until smooth.
Take the pie out of the fridge and spread the caramel and peanut butter over the bottom as evenly as possible, you can obviously use as much or a little as you want.
Next slice all of the bananas and lay them on top of the caramel.
Return to the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until you want to serve it.
When you’re ready to serve it, whip up the double cream until stiff and spread over the top of the bananas.
Grate chocolate on top, slice and serve!

What could be more easy?

Monday, 20 October 2014

Oven Cornflake Fried Chicken and Leek Macaroni and Cheese

I decided that I am going to make one big post so bear with me. This was a weekender meal so it’s not that calorie conscious but I’m completely on the 80/20 perspective where I’m healthy 80% of the time and 20% of the time I’m letting lose and eating some extra calories. I have no idea of the nutritional value down to the calorie but I do know the macaroni and cheese is somewhere in the vicinity of 250 calories a portion.

I had previously made oven fried chicken a long time ago, and I apologize there isn’t a better picture of it. As most bloggers know it’s a curse to blog something you’re eating for dinner because by the time it’s ready you’re starving and you just snap a shot of it and it may or may not be good! But you’ll have to use your imagination. I am a bit annoyed I didn’t get a better photo because I am doing this as a recipe revamp, but to be honest, with the old recipe, no picture might have been better than the actual photo used! This is definitely not fried chicken, but it’s a nice alternative if you’re hankering for something lighter and oven made. This recipe is just for two but can easily be doubled for more. Enjoy!

Oven fried cornflake chicken and leek macaroni and cheese
The chicken is hiding in the back!

2 bone in chicken breasts
600ml buttermilk
1 tsp. tabasco sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
6-8 cups crushed corn flakes
1 c. seasoned flour

Mac and Cheese:
125g macaroni pasta
1 large leek
1 clove garlic
300ml milk
50g butter
50g flour
50g low fat cheddar cheese
20g parmesan cheese
50g light Philadelphia cream cheese

To Start:
Pour all of the buttermilk in a bowl and put the chicken in to marinade for at least 5 hours.
When you’re ready to cook your chicken, drain all of the buttermilk from the chicken, wiping off as much as you can but reserve about 150-200ml.
Add to that reserved buttermilk the Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and egg.
Mix thoroughly.
Make sure you have a dish out for dredging the chicken in seasoned flour and a dish with the crushed cornflakes.

To make the Chicken:
Dip the chicken in the flour, coating completely, try to cover all wet areas with flour.
Next dip the breasts into the buttermilk/egg mixture and then into the cornflakes.
Once properly dredged set aside on a foil lined baking tray and bake in a 200C oven for about 45 minutes.

For the Mac’n’Cheese:
Cook the macaroni according to directions and set aside.
Melt the butter in a non-stick pan.
Slice the leeks up finely, and mince the garlic and sauté in the butter until well soft.
While the leeks are cooking, shred all your cheeses and measure out everything.
When the leeks are soft, sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine and cook out the flour; about 3-5 minutes on low heat.
Next add the milk stirring frequently while it thickens.
When it’s thick add in the cheeses, leaving a little parmesan behind for the top.
Taste for seasoning, and mix in the cooked macaroni noodles.
Top with the remaining cheese and add some cornflakes on top if desired.
Bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes or until brown on top.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Blackberry and Chambord Cupcakes

So all of the last blackberries have been picked and foraged and many of us have put some in jam jars to keep in the coming months. I know I did! I had a random jar lurking around in the fridge and I thought I’d use it up. I’m such a sucker for cupcakes these days, I think it’s because you can pick one up without feeling as guilty as cutting a slice of a huge cake! However this logic works, it proves to be highly illogical because it’s quite easy to get more than one! Never mind. Anyways, I decided to just try some cupcakes, and I made the icing out of a little yogurt milk and icing sugar, and of course some blackberry jam. Really easy to make and you could use any type of jam you like. Makes 6 cupcakes, enjoy!
blackberry and chambord cupcakes
Lovely and moist, perfect with a cuppa!

80g butter
80g self-rising flour
80g caster sugar
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. vanilla
Pinch salt
2 eggs
1 tbsp. Chambord (or milk)
¼ c. blackberry jam + 1 tbsp.
50g greek yogurt
Icing sugar

To Start:
Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.
Next mix in the vanilla and eggs.
Slowly sift in the flour, salt and baking powder.
Stir well to combine.
Put into muffin tins and bake for about 10-15minutes.

For the Icing:
*The reason I haven’t given exact measurements is because for me this isn’t a science, it’s very little by little adding some and eying it. So with that said….
Add a tablespoon of greek yogurt a tablespoon of milk and keep adding icing sugar and yogurt until it’s the consistency you like.
Add about 1 tsp-1 tbsp. jam to get the colour and consistency you like.
Keep adding sugar until it’s firm enough to ice.

To Finish:
When the cupcakes are out of the oven and cool, take a small teaspoon and dig out a tiny portion of the middle, you don’t have to take much just a little to get a nice blackberry filling.
Dollop a good half tablespoon to tablespoon into the hole keeping it in the middle.
Put the icing in a bag and pipe two large circular layers around the jam and then they’re ready to serve!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Bread Mix Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

I have been thinking lately that it would be nice to have pumpkin cinnamon rolls. I absolutely adore good cinnamon rolls but they’re definitely few and far between here! I also know that it can be difficult to make the right dough for them. Putting my thinking cap on I thought why I don’t try to make some with some kind of premade dough! Enter; bread mix. I really think I’m on to something here guys; this is a fantastic shortcut that took ages off the time to cook these. Sure the texture is a tiny bit off from those big thick delicious buns from back home but this is all so much easier! The kicker here is that the pumpkin isn’t actually in the dough, I’ve made it so that it’s a spread in between the the rolls so you get it in every bite and I’m sure it’s a bit more prominent than if I had made it in the dough itself. I made my own apple butter for this recipe, because I had some laying around…but you could skip this all together and add ¼ c. more pumpkin and add ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. nutmeg and an eighth of a teaspoon of cloves to replicate the flavour. This makes 9 rolls and they are amaze!

1 500g white bread mix (I used Wrights)
50g muscovado sugar
50g chopped walnuts
½ c. pumpkin
½ tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp. apple butter (I made my own)
50g melted butter
2 tbsp. honey
100g icing sugar
100-150ml milk
100g Philadelphia lightest cream cheese

To Start:
Follow the instructions on the bread mix.
While you’re waiting for it to rise in various stages, mix up the pumpkin, apple butter, walnuts, muscovado sugar in a paste.
When the bread mix requires to be put into a loaf pan, this is when you’ll flatten and stretch it out into a big square and get it as big as you can, about 12x12.
Spread the pumpkin mixture all over the stretched out dough and roll up.
Slice into 9 even slices and put into a square dish.
Set to prove for a further 30 minutes in very warm place.

To Bake:
Melt the butter and brush it all over the tops.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey.
Bake in a 200C oven for about 20 minutes, check as times vary by oven.

For the Icing:
Mix the Philadelphia cream cheese and sugar and milk very carefully until you’ve got a nice runny texture.
Make sure to sieve any lumps out or sieve the sugar before mixing it.
When the cinnamon rolls come out of the oven drizzle the icing all over the hot rolls and eat up!