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Crispy skin duck breast – weird but it works!!

9 Feb


This is a John Torode recipe. Take your duck breasts and score the skin all the way through the flesh. Season the skin (and only(!) skin) with salt and black pepper. Take a solid, heavy frying pan and turn the heat to 3/4 on your stove. Lay the duck skin down in the cold (!) pan and put over the heat and turn the heat down to 1/2. Now DO NOT touch anything. Leave it alone for good 10 minutes.

The fat under the skin will slowly melt and the skin will go brown and crispy. You should have a good 1 cm of duck fat at the bottom. When the skin starts to colour around the outside you’re ready to move on. Season the flesh side now and turn the duck breast down. Cook for 2 minutes and turn the heat to full, cooking the duck for further 1 minute. Take the pan from the heat and leave the breasts in the pan for 5 minutes.

You can keep the fat for further cooking – for example for roasted potatoes 🙂


Crab Bonbons

15 Apr

seabass crabI’m a huge fan of crab – probably my favourite seafood. Here’s a quick recipe for ‘crab meat balls’, which can work as a starter/appetizer with some aioli or as part of a main meal to add a bit of crunch and texture. I did the latter this time and served it alongside some pan fried sea bass, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, rosti and samphire with a langoustine bisque.


  • Crab meat (I used white claw meat)
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Chives
  • Parmesan
  • Salt & Pepper


  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Egg
  • Flour

Depending on how ‘meaty’ you want it to be, add more or less ricotta. Mix it all and make little balls. Roll the balls in plain flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs. Quickly fry in some vegetable or olive oil to get a nice brown colour. Drain on a piece of kitchen roll to get rid of excess fat. Tuck in!

Ultimate Fish Cakes

28 Feb

fishA yummy fish cake from Angela Nilsen (BBC Good Food). Great to serve as a starter or main. Have made it lots of times and everyone absolutely loves it!





  • 125ml mayonnaise
  • 1 rounded tbsp capers , roughly chopped (rinsed and drained if salted)
  • 1 rounded tsp creamed horseradish
  • 1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot , very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp flatleaf parsley , finely chopped



  • 450g skinned Icelandic cod or haddock fillet (I use the Fish Pie Mix found in supermarkets as I love the smoked haddock)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150ml milk
  • 350g Maris Piper potatoes
  • ½ tsp finely grated lemons zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh white flatleaf parsley , chopped
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives
  • 1 egg
  • flour , for shaping
  • 85g fresh white breadcrumbs , preferably a day or two old
  • 3-4 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil , for shallow frying
  • lemon wedges and watercress , to serve



  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together. Set aside. Lay the fish and bay leaves in a frying pan. Pour over the milk and 150ml/¼ pint water. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 4 mins. Take off the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 mins to gently finish cooking the fish.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes into even-sized chunks. Put them in a saucepan and just cover with boiling water. Add a pince of salt, bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 mins or until tender, but not broken up.
  3. Lift the fish out of the milk with a slotted spoon and put on a plate to cool. Drain the potatoes in a colander and leave for a min or two. Tip them back into the hot pan on the lowest heat you can and let them dry out for 1 min, mashing them with a fork and stirring so they don’t stick. You should have a light, dry fluffy mash. Take off the heat and beat in 1 rounded tbsp of the sauce, then the lemon zest, parsley and chives. Season well with salt and pepper. The potato should have a good flavour, so taste and adjust to suit.
  4. Drain off liquid from the fish, grind some pepper over it, then flake it into big chunks into the pan of potatoes. Using your hands, gently lift the fish and potatoes together so they just mix (see pic 1). You’ll only need a couple of turns, or the fish will break up too much. Put to one side and cool.
  5. Beat the egg on a large plate and lightly flour a board. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet. Divide the fish cake mixture into four. On the floured board, and with floured hands, carefully shape into four cakes, about 2.5cm thick (pic 2). One by one, sit each cake in the egg, and brush over the top and sides so it is completely coated (pic 3). Sit the cakes on the crumbs, patting the crumbs on the sides and tops so they are lightly covered. Transfer to a plate, cover and chill for 30 mins (or up to a day ahead).
  6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. To test when ready, drop a piece of the dry breadcrumbs in – if it sizzles and quickly turns golden brown, it is ready to use. Fry the fish cakes over a medium heat for about 5 mins on each side or until crisp and golden. Serve with the rest of the sauce (squeeze in a little lemon zest to taste), lemon wedges for squeezing over and watercress.

Grilled Mustard and Herb Chicken

28 Feb

mustard chicken






  • 8 chicken quarters, de-boned
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped, heaping
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, heaping
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar



  1. De-bone chicken.
  2. Mix the oil, herbs, mustard and vinegar.
  3. Coat chicken and marinade overnight in the fridge.
  4. Get bbq, grill or the griddled frying pan sizzling hot.
  5. Place chicken skin side down.
  6. Expect smoke and sizzling.
  7. Cool until skin is brown and crispy, turning after 4-5 minutes.
  8. Continue cooking until juices run clear – roughly 4-5 further minutes.
  9. Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.

Yummy (and easy!) Onion Gravy

30 Jan

bangers and mashIn my opinion, one of the real ‘finds’ in British cuisine is the lovely ‘bangers and mash’. Can food be more comforting on a cold winters night?

The key to getting it right is letting the gravy take its time and getting really nice quality sausages (I like Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Cumberland Pork Sausages).

Here’s the simple gravy recipe I tend to use:


Serves: 4
  • 75g butter
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 100ml red wine
  • 400ml chicken or beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • salt and black pepper

Preparation method

Prep: 15 mins | Cook: 45 mins

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy pan and cook the onion over medium heat for 10 minutes or until soft. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the onions are brown, around 30 minutes in total.
  2. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute and then add the wine, stock, Worcester sauce and mustard.
  3. Bring the gravy to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
Cook sausages as per the instructions on the pack. Serve with creamy mash and garden peas.