Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Asparagus Tart

Use good pancetta and good parmesan for this, it makes all the difference to the flavour. We served it with a tomato and basil salad, which went very well with the tart.

To make the pastry

200g plain flour

50gbutter chilled

50g parmesan cheese finely grated

3 tbsp cold water

pinch sea salt


85g pancetta

300ml thick double cream

2 organic eggs

1 organic egg yolk

85g parmesan cheese

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley

175g frozen peas

6 asparagus, lightly blanched

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180

Sift the flour into a food bowl and add a pinch of sea salt. Add the butter (I like to grate it into the flour. Make sure it’s nice and cold and keep dipping the butter into the flour) and cheese, crumble till it’s like breadcrumbs. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, until the pastry forms a ball. Wrap it in cling film and chill for about an hour.

Grease loose-bottomed tart tin with butter. Roll the pastry into a circle and line the tin. Brush the pastry with a little egg wash and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Heat a frying pan and fry the pancetta until just beginning to crisp.

Remove the tart base from the oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes then place on a baking tray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs, Parmesan and parsley. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then stir in the peas and pancetta.

Pour the mixture into the base, then lay the asparagus on top. Cook the tart for another 20-25 minutes, until it is just firm to touch.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Roast Duck with Sour Cherry Sauce

Sainsbury's had a special offer on Gressingham Ducks (£5.00 each - you'll read this in years to come and I guarantee it will seem extraordinarily cheap) so we had roast duck for Sunday lunch.

The recipe below comes straight from Delia Smith (on line). The only thing I changed was that I put the duck directly on a wire shelf in the oven and placed a roasting tin on the shelf underneath it. After the first time of getting rid of the duck fat I put par boiled ( for five minutes) potatoes in the roasting tin. I also made a potato and celeriac mash (boil the celeriac with the potatoes and mash together) as well as cabbage and carrots.

From St Delia

This is it – the best method of roasting duck I've found to date, and of all the lovely sauces, this one – made with dried sour cherries – is the loveliest. It's important to remember, however, that the duck should be as dry as possible, so buy it 24 hours in advance, remove and discard the wrapping and giblets, dry it in a clean tea cloth and leave it uncovered on a plate in the fridge till needed.

Serves 4


1 x 4 lb (1.8 kg) Gressingham duck
fresh watercress, to garnish
coarse sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the confit of sour cherries:

3 oz (75 g) dried sour cherries
7 fl oz (200 ml) dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, for example)
1 oz (25 g) golden granulated sugar
1 tablespoon good-quality red wine vinegar

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8, 450°F (230°C).

You will also need a roasting rack or some kitchen foil, and a roasting tin measuring 9 x 11 inches (23 x 28 cm), 2 inches (5 cm) deep.

You need to start this recipe the day before you want to serve it by first soaking the cherries for the confit in the red wine overnight.

The next day, prepare the duck by wiping it as dry as possible with kitchen paper. Now, using a small skewer, prick the fatty bits of the duck's skin, particularly between the legs and the breast. Now either place the duck on the roasting rack in the tin or make a rack yourself by crumpling the kitchen foil and placing it in the bottom of the roasting tin. Season with coarse sea salt and freshly milled black pepper, using quite a lot of salt, as this encourages crunchiness. Now place the tin on the centre shelf of the pre-heated oven and roast the duck for 1 hour and 50 minutes. During the cooking time, using an oven glove to protect your hands, remove the tin from the oven and drain the fat from the corner of the tin – do this about 3 times (the fat is brilliant for roast potatoes, so don't throw it away).

Meanwhile, to make the confit, place the soaked cherries and wine in a saucepan, along with the sugar and wine vinegar. Bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer, give it all a good stir and let it barely simmer, without a lid, for 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring from time to time. What will happen is that the wine will slowly reduce so there's only about 3 tablespoons of free liquid left.

When the cooking time is up, allow the duck to rest for 20 minutes or so, then carve and serve garnished with the fresh watercress, with the sour-cherry confit poured over each portion and the rest handed round separately in a jug.

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two.