Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Duck in a Pineapple and Ginger Sauce

I had some left over duck to use up and was wondering how to prepare it to serve for dinner.   It’s very hot at the moment so I was looking for something hot and tasty to ofset weather.

I remember that many years ago…..far more than I am going to admit I often stayed in a family run hotel in Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast.   I probably visited there six or seven times a year  with my work and usually stayed for a week.  Of course, visiting that regularly allowed me to get to now the family and staff of the hotel very well.  It was a lovely hotel right on the seafront at Aberystwyth.

One evening, I went down to dinner and the chef told me he had prepared duck in a pineapple and ginger sauce, which was truly delicious.    I guess this was about 35 years ago so maybe the fact I still remember it is testament to just how delicious it was!!!

This is the recipe for my own version.   I hope you enjoy it.


Duck in a pineapple and Ginger Sauce

I used left over duck cut into small chunks.

First, prepare the sauce:-


1 large tin pineapple pieces
3 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar (adjust according to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh red pepper (cut finely) (no seeds)
2 teaspoons cornflour
1/4 cup cold water


Set aside the red pepper, cornflour and water.

Put the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Mix the cornflour and water before slowly adding to the sauce. Make sure to keep stirring continuously to avoid any lumps forming The aim is to just thicken the sauce and you may not need all the cornflour/water mixture. The sauce should become thicker and coat the back of a spoon.

Bring back to the boil for about a minute.

Remove from heat and stir in the red peppers.

Once the sauce is ready put the chunks of duck in an oven to table dish and pour over the sauce.

Place in the middle of a hot oven and allow to cok for about 30 minutes.  Ensure the meat is piping hot


I served it with some boiled new potatoes and a few broad beans,  however, the sauce would also be delicious as a pouring spicy/sweet accompaniment to many other meats especially pork.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Liver and Bacon Casserole

I had a couple of guests coming for dinner last night and was looking for something very tasty that would chase away the cold winter blues.

I settled on a four course meal with Liver and Bacon Casserole as the main.    I coupled it with a liver pate for the starter to keep the liver theme going and then served a quinteplet of French cheeses before finishing with my own cherry crumble, using cherries I picked back in the autumn and froze.


  • · 1lb liver –pig or lamb
  • · 4 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped
  • · 2 onions, chopped
  • · 14oz tin of chopped tomatoes
  • · 6 carrots
  • · a little bit of oil for frying
  • · some seasoned flour
  • · 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
  • · ½ pint beer (light)
  • · 100 gms mushrooms (sliced)


  • · Peel and slice the carrots and boil in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes
  • · Fry the onion and bacon together in the oil for a few minutes to soften,
  • · Put in casserole dish.
  • · Chop the liver into bite-sized pieces, lightly coat in flour and fry gently
  • · Add into casserole dish
  • · Deglaze the frying pan with boiling water and a splash or red wine
  • · Add the beer to the water/wine mix and bring to boil
  • · Add to the granules to make gravy, stirring until smooth
  • · Add tinned tomatoes and Worcester sauce and bring to the boil
  • · Stir well and pour into the casserole dish.
  • · Cook, covered at 210C for 45/60 minutes.

I served this with boiled potatoes but I think it would be nice with a mashed potato and peas.  

Hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tomato, Onion and Potato Tart

Firstly, yes, I am still alive and I can only offer my sincere apologies for the extended delay since my last post.    I’ve not been in very good health and have had a spell in hospital.

The other day a couple of things happened that made me decide to do this post.    My neighbour and farmer arrived with  a couple of sacks of tomatoes, potatoes and onions, all of which he had grown on the field I own.    When I first moved here, the land I bought included a couple of agricultural fields.   I’m no farmer, and the two fields together were not enough to do much with so I spoke to my neighbour and we agreed he would manage them on my behalf.   He grows a few kitchen vegetables, wheat and straw or hay and I pay him for managing them with the produce.  In fact these days, we just split the produce between us, lovely warm produce straight from the field or bails of straw to add to my own kitchen garden

After he had gone another friend invited me for supper  and I decided I could use the fresh produce to make a tart.  I’m afraid I didn’t measure anything but I’ll tell you what I did.   


First I blind baked a pastry tart shell, about 30cms by 20cms (12” x 8”)   I used a rectangular pie dish and lined it with greaseproof paper.

tomato onion and potato tartI took about 4 good sized potatoes and  cut them just enough to get them into my food processor, where I used the very finest slicer to produce wafer thin potato slices.  I blanched the potato for just a couple of minutes in a little salted water, taking care not to let them burn.   I didn’t use too much water as I wanted them to say rather firm.  Once blanched I immediately dipped them into cold water to arrest the cooking, then drained them.

Next I took about three of the medium onions and sliced them  and to the sliced onion I added about 5 cloves of garlic also sliced.  I fried the mixture, adding a touch of salt and black pepper until the onions started to caramelise.  Then I put that dish aside.

To assemble the tart, I started by layering about half of the blanched potato in the bottom.  The potato was a bit wet still so I added just a dessert spoonful of rice under the potato to soak up any juices.

On top of the potato I layered tomato, sliced fairly thickly.   Again seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.

Next, another layer of potato.

Then a layer of the fried onions and garlic before putting the final layer of tomatoes on the top.

I scattered some fresh basil leaves over the dish and returned it to the oven to bake at about 180C (350F) for 20 mins

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Oaty Cherry Crumble

Friends coming for lunch has forced me out of my cold hibernation in front of the fire, and back into the kitchen.

Luckily a thaw has arrived here, so the extreme temperatures (for us) have abated a little and we are no longer seeing –18C (about 0F), or anywhere near that cold.

All that being said, I still thought I ought to make a hot dessert to accompany my fairly traditional British main course of Cottage Pie

In the depths of my freezer I still have several bags of cherries from the summer, so I quickly decided on one of my favourite dishes Cherry Crumble.  But, as ever, I decided to look for a new twist.  My usual crumble Cherry Crumble was posted on here back in 2010.

At times like these, I tend to turn to the Internet for inspiration.  I don’t usually cook anything I find but pick off pieces and ideas from several sources  before combining them in my own version.  It usually works, although I’m sure you all realise that this is by no means a guaranteed route to success!!

Oaty CrumbleOn this occasion. after rejecting all the usual cherry tart recipes, one of which advocated taking a ready made pastry tart base and adding a can of Cherry tart mix!!!!  which, whilst I agree is simple, in my mind hardly represents the best of home baking and, to be honest, if you are going to do that why not just buy a delicious ready made cherry tart? 

Anyway, I digress.  I eventually came across a recipe for adding oats to the crumble.   I didn’t much like the recipe itself, but the idea of adding oats appealed, and so, my Oaty Cherry Crumble was born.

I took this photo before  cooking it, but when it came out of the oven, it went straight to table and, well, to be honest, there wasn’t enough left to photograph.  I suppose that is a compliment though.

A friend recently emailed me saying that she loved the way I often incorporate a bit of history in my pieces.  However, I don’t know very much about the origins of crumble.  But here goes.  It appears that what we call crumble is the same as crisp in the US.   I’m sad to admit, that from all my research I have to admit that it seems to have originated in the USA.   Many early settlers to the US came from England and other parts of Europe.  These settlers carried with them their favourite recipes, such as fruit pies.    Pies , in Europe, date back to Roman times when a mixture of  flour and olive oil was used to seal meats etc. and were very popular by the time the early settler to the US set sail.

These early settlers were, by necessity very resourceful and when they found that they didn’t really have the basic ingredients to make their pies, they compromised and came up with a simple mixture of flour, sugar and fat that they could easily combine into a coarse crumbly topping for fruits.    The topping goes crisp on baking, which is why in the USA it is know as Crisp.     Interestingly enough, many people suggest the crumble, now a traditional British dessert originates in the second World War.   I tend to disagree with this interpretation, merely suggesting that, in my opinion, the shortages caused by food rationing in Britain during the Second World War caused the same inventiveness in the Britsh that those early settlers had found.  And believe me, if I could have found a way to attribute it to Britain, I would have!    However, it is very likely that those early settlers were, in fact, British, trying to do what the British abroad continue doing to this day!  Smile

Here is what you do…

Pick a bowl full of cherries, or, at this time of year, defrost them out of the freezer.

Remove stalks, wash and destone them

Enough cherries to half fill an ovenproof dish.

A few drops sweet white wine

A tablespoon of brown sugar.

Oaty Crumble Topping

150g  flour 
150g brown sugar 
150g butter 
75g rolled oats


180degrees C

15 + 20 minutes (pre-warmed oven)

This oaty crumble is a simple 1:1:1, flour, sugar, butter mix with 1/2 portion of oats added

and I find I like golden granulated sugar for this crumble....

I put the cherries in an oven proof dish.....oven to table dish...... and then sprinkle some sugar over them. The cherries will be wet from washing and destoning so I add only a few drops of sweet white wine.    Add a knob of butter and bake until the cherries are just cooked. (about 15 minutes).

To make the crumble topping I put everything in a blender and pulse for a few seconds until it appears, well,  “crumbly!”

Add the crumble mixture on top of the fruit...not underneath or it gets messy...on top of the cherries and return to the oven for a bit longer.... About 20 minutes

Cook for about a further 20-25 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown.

Eat with lashings of a runny cream, or, even better, custard

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Spag Bog… Well, not really.

Spaghetti Bolognese is a popular dish across Europe, the USA, Australia and as far as I know, much of the rest of the world, and just as it is popular in many countries and households so, there are just as many recipes for it.

Spaghetti Bolognese, however, is not truly an Italian dish.  Any self respecting Italian will politely explain that if you are making a rich meaty sauce, such as Bolognese, then you need to marry it with a broad pasta tube which is capable of swallowing the sauce whole!  I’m not very well up on Italian pasta names as I have never lived in Italy, and indeed, despite it is only a few hours drive away, have rarely visited it.  All that having been said, I love the textures and flavours generated by the thin spaghetti and the rich sauce.

The next thing is that, apparently, a Bolognese sauce should have little if any tomato content.  Well again …  I’ve never been served Spaghetti Bolognese in Italy (surprise surprise), but I have eaten it in France, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the USA and every time it has been a delicious tomatoey meaty sauce!

Finally, I know that a true Bolognese sauce takes many hours to make.  I never have enough time, although I do prepare this sauce in advance and leave to develop overnight.  I finish the sauce, store in the fridge, and then gently reheat it when I’m ready to serve.  But I also know that, following the recipe and cooking the sauce immediately before serving is great too.

Many years ago I had a young lady staying here with me and one day I duly served my version of Spaghetti Bolognese.  She watched me cook it with interest and not a small smile on her face, before announcing that what I had made looked delicious but was not Spaghetti Bolognese, which got us into a big discussion about what it truly was. However I duly continued with my recipe and after lunch there were several clean plates.   It’s also true to say that the same afternoon, (It was the middle of summer) we were all sunbathing by the pool when the said young lady got in the pool, immediately complaining that my lunch was making her sink.  I simply pointed out that as she was swimming sans maillot, she didn’t have the added buoyancy afforded by such apparel.

So here is my recipe for a  dish I better call

Spaghetti with a rich meaty sauce

Serves 4 people

Preparation about 15 minutes

Cooking time about 30 minutes


For the Sauce

400g minced beef (lean)

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves of Garlic (finely sliced)

4ozs mushrooms (chopped)

4 rashers streaky bacon

Herbes de provence

Tinned tomatoes

Tin Tomato puree (4oz)

Cup of sweet white wine

Grated parmesan cheese

For the Pasta

You need a pasta that is large enough to hold the meaty sauce, or, do like I do and ignore everybody and use Spaghetti



Chop the bacon into small pieces then In a large casserole, fry till crisp,

Add the minced beef and onions and fry everything till the onions are translucent

Add the apple, peeled, cored and chopped into small pieces

Add the wine, garlic, herbes de provence and tinned tomatoes

Bring to the boil and stir in the tomato puree

Bring to the boil again and add the mushrooms

Simmer about 15/20 minutes(while you cook the pasta)

(At this point the sauce can be kept overnight to allow the flavours to develop)

Bring a pan of water to the boil

Add the pasta and boil for 7 to 10 minutes depending on preference

Drain pasta and rinse with more boiling water, then add a small amount of olive oil to the pan and heat. Add the pasta back into the pan with the oil and shake pan to coat pasta

Serve pasta, and sauce, and sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top


I often add chorizo, but on this occasion I knew one of my guests didn’t like Chorizo so I omitted it.

I served it with garlic bread and a glass of wine!


Hope you enjoy it as much as we did

Friday, February 10, 2012

Clam Chowder


It’s been very cold here recently with temperatures getting down to –18C (about 0F) overnight.  We even had snow.  About a week ago just over 6” of it fell and unusually, it is still lying on the ground almost unchanged.

I was trying to think of a nice warming fish dish for this evening’s supper to combat this particularly cold snap.  I started off thinking about a basic fish stew.  The French do a great fish stew called Bouillabaisse and are famous for it in it’s home town of Marseille.   Bouillabaisse comes from the old Occitan language which was spoken across this part of France. and really simply means to boil then to simmer.  I guess that is how you make Bouillabaisse after all.   Interestingly enough, a local farmer neighbour  of mine, in his late 80’s still speaks Occitan and myself, along with many of my neighbours, both French as well as British, have a certain amount of difficulty understanding him.

But Bouillabaisse is really a warm climate dish and the one thing I don’t feel we have here at the moment is a warm climate, so I started to think about other fish stews from colder parts of the world:  Ukha from Russia, Lohikeitto from Finland, or even the Bergensk Fiskesuppe from Bergen in Norway.  Moving away from Europe I thought of Canada, but couldn’t really find a traditional local fish stew so moved on to the USA where I found, of course the wonderful chowders and in particular my own favourite New England Clam Chowder.

In fact, I have made this stew for many years and have slowly developed my own recipe along the way.   It uses tinned clams rather than fresh, but I usually chuck a few fresh ones into the pot for decoration and with it’s rich creamy thick stew is just the thing for a cold winter’s evening.

It’s really easy to make and tastes superb

Clam Chowder

Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes
Makes enough for 6 people



4 Rashers finely chopped streaky bacon
1 cup diced onion ,
4 cups potato cubed
1 grated carrot
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt 
good pinch ground black pepper
fresh chopped thyme
2 cups water
4 cans clams (8oz) 
2 cups single cream
A few Fresh clams
¼ cup butter



  • Sauté the bacon and onion in a little olive oil then transfer to a large saucepan;
  • add potatoes, water, carrots, salt and pepper
  • bring to the boil then simmer until the potatoes are cooked
  • Slowly stir in the soup, clams and clam juice, cream, butter and thyme
  • Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Sprinkle with a little chopped fresh Thyme and serve whilst still piping hot.

And there it is, a delicious Chowder.


I usually make this dish a day in advance as I think it improves as all the flavours round together.

Reheat slowly until the dish is almost, (BUT NOT!) boiling.  If you allow it to boil the cream will curdle.  Then add the chopped thyme and serve

I can’t always get clams here, (either fresh or canned) so I have made this dish very successfully with other seafood, such as prawns

Serve with a lovely crusty bread.   I especially like this with my home made olive bread.

I hope you enjoy it, I know I shall.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mediterranean Fish Casserole

Many, many years ago I decided that I wasn't eating fish on a regular enough basis and I resolved to eat a fish meal at least once every week.   It didn't take me very long to discover that, even though I had my resolution, weeks would sneak by and I would discover that, once again, I'd not eaten fish for another week.

Reflecting on this, after one particularly long fish free period, I decided on a new resolution.   Every Friday, I would consider whether I had eaten enough fish in the past week, and if not, I would make a fish supper.

Of course, for a fish lover like me, the answer is very rarely, yes I've had enough fish this week.

Today was just such a day.  I considered what fish I had eaten in the past week....  I had a Jacket Potato with a tuna topping, I had a salad with shrimp and surimi in a hot marie rose sauce, and a tuna sandwich for lunch.    Oh only two meals, so No, that's not nearly enough!

I looked around to see what I had.

There were left over shrimp from the salad.

There was also a bag of frozen hake.

I decided to throw together a fish casserole

Now, many of you will know that when I say throw together a dish, that is exactly what I mean, so no accurate measurements for today.

I took 3 fillets of hake out and left them to thaw.

At the same time I also emptied a good handful of tiny cocktail shrimp to drain.

I found a casserole with a good fitting lid.  I didn't want to let too much moisture out whilst the dish was cooking.

The fridge also revealed a good handful of green olives, which I pitted.

In the stock cupboard I had some lemon juice and a bag of Herbes de Provence.

I found a couple of cloves of garlic, which I crushed and peeled.

In the casserole, I first put the hake, cut into about 2" squares.

Then I added the shrimp and the olives

I sprinkled the herbs over and added a splash of olive oil and the zest and juice of a couple of lemons.

It looked ok but a bit dry, so I added just a small splash of cider, (left over from the pork in cider)

Then I put the lid on and put it to cook in a hot (240C) oven for about 30 minutes

Finally, after 30 minutes cooking, I took the lid off, stirred everything and put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes

I enjoyed it with some sweetcorn.