Monday, 3 October 2016

Five spice Mallard with damson relish

4 Mallard breasts, skin on
Chinese five spice powder 
200g Damsons
A small piece of fresh root ginger, grated
1/2 Red onion, thinly sliced
4Tbsp Caster sugar
A splash of rosehip vinegar
The zest and juice of 1 orange
1 Star anise
Groundnut oil for frying

1 Gently soften the ginger, onion and orange zest in a small pan while you de-stone the damsons. Stir in the fruit, sugar, star anise, orange juice and vinegar, then cook for a further 10 minutes (if your damsons are a bit on the sharp-side you may have to add a little extra sugar along the way). Leave to cool.
2 Spoon 3 tablespoons of five spice onto a large plate, then add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Score the skin on each breast with a sharp knife, then roll in the spice mix.
3 Fry the duck breasts skin side down for 7-10 minutes until the skin is crispy. Turn over and cook for a further 5-7 minutes. Rest, then serve with thinly sliced cucumber, spring onions and a good dollop of the relish.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Roast pork loin with with Austrian apple & horseradish sauce (Apfelkren)

Apfelkren is traditionally served with roast beef, but I find it an equally favourable accompaniment to pork - the horseradish kick works wonderfully when paired with the sharp sweetness of apple sauce.

For the roast pork:
1.2kg Pork loin on the bone, skin on. This piece fed 4 people; it's easy to upscale though - just add 30 minutes extra cooking time for every 500g extra added weight. If you can, ask the butcher to saw a groove across the ribs at the base of the joint; it makes it a lot easier to pull the meat
away from the bone when carving.
Salt and pepper
A few Rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves

For the apple and horseradish sauce:
3 Medium-sized Bramley apples
50g Caster sugar
50g Freshly grated horseradish
Juice of 1 lemon

1 About an hour or so before cooking, take the pork out of the fridge. Crosshatch the skin with a Stanley knife, then rub with salt. Set to one side - the salt will draw moisture out of the skin (which equals better crackling), while the time sat before cooking lets the pork warm to room temperature (which is better for roasting). Now's the time to season the rest of the meat, make small incisions in the flesh and poke in a few garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs.
2 Heat the oven to 240c/220 fan/Gas 9. Stand the meat on a roasting tray with the skin facing up and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 190c/170c fan/gas 5 and cook for a further hour, or until the core temperature has reached 160c when checked with a meat thermometer. Rest in a warm spot for 15 minutes before serving; don't cover - you'll spoil the crackling if you do so.
3 Core, peel and roughly chop the apples. Tip into a saucepan with the sugar and a splash of water, then stir on a medium heat until for 10-15 minutes until they have broken down to a near-purée. Take off the heat, cool for 10
minutes then stir in the horseradish and lemon juice.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Monday, 8 February 2016

Cherry, matcha & sakura mousse cake

It's early days, but a gentle flourish of pink has begun to scatter across the branches of the large cherry in the orchard. I'm careful not to overdo it, but confiscating a small handful of flowers shouldn't have much impact on this year's cherry crop - today's storms are more of a worry in that respect. The Japanese love eating cherry flowers, or 'Sakura'; I've used Matcha in the sponge - the subtle green tea notes work perfectly with the sweet cherry mousse filling.

For the cake:
100g Butter
100g Caster sugar

2 Eggs
85g Plain flour
15g Matcha powder
1Tsp Baking powder

For the cherry mousse:
600g De-stoned frozen cherries
3 Leaves of sheet gelatine
3 Egg whites
150g Caster sugar
300ml Double cream

To decorate:
Icing sugar
Cherry blossom (optional)

1 Heat the oven to 180c/160 fan/gas 4. Whisk the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then beat in the eggs. Sieve in the flour and matcha powder, then beat again until you have a thick batter. Pour into a lined 20cm loose-based cake tin and bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when poked into the top of the cake. Transfer to a wire cooling rack with the bottom of the cake facing upwards.
2 Soften the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Tip the frozen cherries into a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Blitz to a purée, pass through a sieve and then add the gelatine. Stir until it has dissolved, then set aside to cool to room temperature (but don't refrigerate).
3 Wash the cake tin, then line with cling film, allowing for a generous overhang all the way round. Sit the cake on a work surface, this time the right way up. The cake should have risen nicely with a domed top; two level tiers of sponge are needed here though so use a bread knife to trim off the curved top and make the cake level. Cut the levelled cake into two equal-sized discs, then put the top half into the lined tin.
4 Whisk the egg whites until light and fluffy, then whisk in the sugar bit-by-bit until thick, glossy and forming stiff peaks. Whip the cream in a separate bowl until it starts to thicken, then fold into the meringue with the cooled cherry mixture.
5 Pour the pink mousse over the sponge base, level with the back of a spoon and then top with the other half of sponge (with the bottom of the original cake facing upwards). Gather the cling film up over the cake and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours before serving - overnight if possible. To serve, dust with icing sugar and cherry flowers.