Parmentier au Confit de Canard

The French parmentier is the closest thing they do to a cottage pie. This one is a luxury version made with Confit de Canard, which is now readily available in the UK.

4 confit duck legs, 650g starchy potatoes, 500g ready to eat chestnuts (in a jar or sachet), 200ml milk, 50g butter, 60g hazelnuts, 2 onions, 4 shallots, 2 cloves garlic, a sprig of thyme, salt and pepper.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into pieces; heat a pan of salted water and cook the potatoes with the peeled garlic cloves, the sprig of thyme and one chopped onion. When the potatoes are tender, add the chestnuts and continue to cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain and take out the thyme, and mash the rest. Add the butter and milk to obtain a smoother, but still firm texture. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Toast the hazelnuts in a hot oven for 5 minutes, allow to cool and chop coarsely. Take off any fat of the duck leg and remove the skin. Shred the meat with a fork. Chop the shallots and remaining onion, sauté until transparent on a low flame, adding a bit of the duck fat. Add the duck meat and fry stirring all the time until the meat is browned and crispy in parts. Remove from heat and add the hazelnuts.

Spread half the mash into the bottom of a gratin dish, followed by the meat and top with the rest of the mash. Put into a hot oven for a few minutes to heat it through. Serve with a mixed salad.

Illustrations by Alice Ray

02 May 2012

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Lamb Shanks with Orange and Saffron

With the unexpected cold snap we'll all want to go back to warming and sustaining winter food. This zesty dish does the trick without being dull.

4 lamb shanks, 2 large onions, 4 untreated oranges, preferably organic, 1 lemon, 1 bunch coriander, 60g slithered almonds, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground cumin, a pinch of saffron threads, 60g golden raisins, 1 tbsp. caster sugar, 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper.

Mix the juice of the lemon with a tablespoon of sea salt and rub it all over the lamb shanks. Set aside for 15 minutes, then rinse off the mix and pat dry. Rinse and dry one of the oranges and finely zest the skin. Peel the onions and grate them coarsely. Mix the zest, onion, cinnamon, cumin, sugar and the oil and cover the shanks with this mixture all around. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile lightly toast the almonds in a dry frying pan. Set aside.

Brown the lamb shanks gently for 12-15 minutes in a casserole dish or a tagine with the flattened, unpeeled garlic (crush lightly with the back of a knife). Pour over the juice of the 4 oranges and add half the coriander tied together with cooking string as a bouquet. Cover and simmer for 1h30 turning the meat regularly. Remove the garlic and coriander and add the saffron and the dry raisins to the cooking liquid and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Serve hot with the toasted almonds and remaining chopped coriander scattered over the top.

Illustrations by Alice Ray

02 May 2012

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Pain d'Epices à l'Orange

We have some wonderful vintage cake tins from the North of France in our shop for Christmas. They are in the shape of a gingerbread house and this recipe would work well, although it is meant for a loaf tin. This recipe makes a lovely moist cake which improves after a few days and is served sliced.

First make your own gingerbread spice from: 25g ground cinnamon, 5g ground ginger, 7g cardamom pods and 7 g cloves (the latter ground together in a spice mill or coffee grinder). Sift and keep in an airtight container. The mix is more than you need for this recipe.

For the gingerbread you will need: 200g orange marmalade, 90g milk, 1 level tsp. salt, 2-3 whole star anise, 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon, 80g soft butter, 1 good tbsp. of the spice mix, 175g flour, 25g cornflour, 2 eggs, 1 sachet of baking powder (2 tsp.), 275g acacia honey. 1 untreated orange.

Boil the milk with the star anise and let it infuse for 10 mins. and cool. Warm the honey, whizz the orange marmalade in a food processor and reserve a tablepoon of it for decorating the cake later. Cream the butter, add the flour, cornflour, eggs, cinnamon and the spice mix. Add the honey and marmalade and mix well. Reserve a tablespoonful of the cake mix for later. Pour the mix into a loaf tin and bake for 1 hour at 170C. Meanwhile cut the orange into 5mm slices and cook for 3 mins. in boiling water, drain and reserve. After testing with a skewer take out the cake and spread the reserved dough on top and arrange the orange slices on it. Bake for a further 5 mins., then glaze with warm orange marmalade.


16 February 2012

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Brussels Sprouts in Beer

These brussels are good with roast pork or pork chops.

Wash and prepare 600g of brussels sprouts by cutting a cross into their base. Melt 30g of butter in a sauté pan and add two teaspoons of sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Add a sliced onion and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the sprouts and cook for a short while before adding 20cl of beer, season with salt and pepper; cover the pan, turn down the heat and cook for 15 minutes.

Illustrations by Alice Ray


30 November 2011

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Tarte Tatin de Courgettes au Chèvre

This is a savoury version of the classic Tarte Tatin, so it's cooked upside down. Using ready-made pastry it's quick to do and is bound to go down well on a summer buffet or picnic.

1 round of puff pastry around 250g ready-made, ideally with butter not hydrogenated fats, 5 courgettes, 400g fresh soft goat's cheese, such as Petit Billy, 2 shallots, 1 clove garlic, 9 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. Herbes de Provence, salt, pepper.

Peel and finely chop the shallots. Peel and crush garlic. Wash the courgettes and with a peeler peel of the skin only every few centimetres (roughly 3 strips of skin removed and 3 left on). Cut them into cubes. In a pan heat the oil over medium heat and saute the courgettes with the garlic for about 8 minutes. Scatter the Herbes de Provence over them and set aside.

In a bowl mix the cheese, shallots, cumin and 2 tbsp. of the olive oil with salt and pepper to a smooth paste. Oil a mould suitable for Tarte Tatin (mustn't leak) with the rest of the oil, put the courgettes on the bottom of the tin and spread the cheese mixture evenly over them. Cover with the pastry, pushing it down the sides with your fingers. Bake for roughly 20 minutes at 210ºC. Unmould upside down straight out of the oven and serve immediately.

Illustrations by Alice Ray

05 September 2011

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