Pan roasted duck breast

Duck is so delicious, and very hard to get here. Most higher end supermarkets will have duck, either whole, breast meat or legs frozen, but getting it fresh can be a real challenge. By accident I found these duck breasts and the joy was great.
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Rinse the pieces, and cut the skin two ways to make a diamond pattern. This is to distribute the heat into the meat evenly and to ensure a crispy skin. Season generously with salt and pepper.
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Place the meat skin down in a cold pan. Then turn the heat to medium high. The reason for this is that you want to melt off some of the fat in the skin, and if the pan is hot to begin with, you’ll sear the skin and it won’t release the fat the way you want. Cook like you would a pork chop, 5-6 minutes on one side, 4-5 minutes on the other, depending on the thickness.
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 When the duck is done, transfer the meat to a piece of foil, and wrap the duck breasts. let them rest for at least 10 minutes before you slice it thinly against the fibers of the meat. Note that duck meat has a red hue, so don’t get scared off when you slice it. If you’ve cooked it until grey it has been overcooked.Serve with red cabbage and boiled potatoes.
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 Serves 2:

  • 1lb duck breast
  • salt & pepper

Cooked red cabbage

This is a very traditional Danish side, sweet, tangy and a great way of preserving cabbage. We have it with roasts and poultry and is a necessity at Christmas time. Danish cuisine can be a challenge, but I have yet to meet a person who did not love this dish. This is an adjusted version based on what we always have in our pantry.
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I took half a head of red cabbage, removed the stem, cut it in half and chopped it into thin slices, no more than 1/8 inch thickness. You can use a mandolin or food processor, but honestly, with a good knife, it’s over before you know it and with a lot less dishes to do afterwards.
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 Add the cabbage to a pot, and pour in about 3/4 cup of white vinegar.
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 Add about half a cup of sugar and the peel of one orange finely grated.
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Add the juice of the orange and half a cup of craisins. Let the cabbage simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the cabbage is tender and there are no pieces with a lighter purple colour. You may want to add salt to the cabbage, but I don’t think it needs it.
20140921_194307  This is the end result.

Please disregard the change of pot. I forgot it on the stove, and as a service, I can tell you that hot water, vinegar and baking soda will clean a pot  burnt black in the bottom with sugar and cabbage…

Asparagus Omelet

This recipe uses the other half of the ham that I used in the Halloween soup recipe and makes for a delicious breakfast for one. I find that 2 eggs per person is right for an omelet.
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Slice a few mushrooms and half 5-7 asparagus spears and saute them in a non-stick skillet with a bit of oil. I always prefer olive oil, but that’s up to your preference.
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Add a splash of milk, about 1/4 cup and a dash of red chili flakes. My measuring terms are very exact, I know – but it all depends on your preference.
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 Here’s where it gets interesting. I bought truffle salt the other day and it is so good with anything high in protein or fat, meats, eggs, cheese, butter, you name it. Add a pinch of salt to the eggs, the same amount as you’d normally use. The truffles will add a rich earthiness.
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Once the vegetables are cooked soft, turn the heat to medium low, like a 3 out of 10. Whisk the eggs together with a whisk or a fork, I prefer a fork as I make less mess with it. Pour the eggs over the vegetables and sprinkle the ham on top. Now is the time to any clumps of filling, if you want an even look.
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 Cover with a lid and cook the omelet low and slow – about 10 minutes until the egg is almost stiffened. With a vegetable peeler, slice thin pieces of cheese, I used Manchego, but cheddar, parmesan or any other full-flavoured cheese will do. Layer the cheese on top of the omelet, and put the lid back on.
20140927_081843 Once the omelet has firmly set, shake it loose and pour it onto a plate, folding it in half as you do – this will keep the omelet warm for longer and the cheese melted.

If you’ve cooked the omelet on a non-stick pan at low enough heat, you should be able to shake it loose; if it sticks in places, loosen it with a spatula.

 Serves 1:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp truffle salt
  • 5-7 spears asparagus
  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 4 oz. ham
  • 1.5 oz cheese

Halloween Soup

I found these super cute Halloween pastas in the store the other day and knew they had to be made in to a bloody, fear-inducing and yummy tomato soup. I’m a big sucker for tomato soups, and this one is too easy to call it a recipe. The pasta shapes are bats, spiders, pumpkins and what I believe to be an elf.
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Start out with V8, yes V8. Vegetable juice has all the things you need without you having to chop, dice and puree. Just get the low sodium kind. Other brands will do of course, but I had V8.
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Add half a teaspoon of dried thyme, a handful, roughly half a cup, of pasta, and half a teaspoon red chili flakes to the pot.
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Let the soup come to a boil. Take a slice of ham, this is an 8oz piece, you’ll only need half, so save the rest for another time. Add the diced ham to the soup and let the soup cook until the pasta is al dente.
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 Serves 1:

  • 2 cups low sodium V8
  • 1/2 cup pasta
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 4 oz. diced ham

Sweet Wine Slushie

We recently took a trip to the finger lake area in upstate New York and while visiting a lovely winery and microbrewery, Miles Wine Cellar, I tried this lovely, refreshing slushie made on one of their sweet wines – absolutely perfect for a warm September day. This is their recipe.
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It’s 2 parts ice, 1 part Wisteria wine and half part confectioner’s sugar.

Wisteria wine is sweet and fruity – if you aren’t a reasonable drive from the Finger Lakes, a sweet white wine or rose can be used as a substitute.

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Add 4 cups of ice cubes to a blender with a cup of confectioner’s sugar and pour in two cups of chilled Wisteria wine.

Blend until the ice is crushed and the sugar has dissolved. Pour into glasses and serve straight away. This recipe serves 4.

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Chicken rice soup

 We love chicken rice soup, loads of flavour, a little spice and perfect on cool days.
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 I really dislike over cooked chicken in my soup, so I cook about a pound  of chicken legs in the oven first. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper and bake at 400F for about half an hour. Let the chicken cool.
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With your hands, remove the skin and break the meat off the bones and tear it into bite sized pieces. Skin and excess cartilage will be discarded. Put the bones and any juices left in the baking pan into a large soup pot and cover with a box of low sodium chicken broth.
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Heat up the broth and boil for about 20 minutes. Remove the bones. This way you get all the flavour out of the bones. Add half a cup of rice to the soup.
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Add a tablespoon of minced garlic and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the soup and let it come to a boil for about 15 minutes until the rice are nearly done.
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Slice up two carrots, two 5-inch stalks of celery and about half a cup of leeks. I can only buy leeks in bunches of 3-4 leeks, so I rinse and slice them up and store them in the freezer, so I can use what I need without feeling bad for not using it all up.

Add the vegetables and salt to taste to the soup and let it come to a boil.

Add the chicken pieces to the soup and turn off the heat. The soup is hot enough to heat up the chicken, but won’t dry it out. Serve piping hot with some good bread and a glass of wine.

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 Serves 4:

  • 1 lb chicken legs
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 cup leeks
  • Salt to taste

Apple Oatmeal

The weather is definitely turning colder, the trees are turning, the squirrels are running around gathering nuts, and the house is chilly in the morning – it’s time for oatmeal.
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Use a microwaveable bowl.Take half a cup of oatmeal, add a sprinkle of salt; this will make a real difference, though make sure that you only use a pinch. I use the big rolled oats, I find they  hold their texture the best, and won’t get as sticky. I have not tried steelcut oats, but I will experiment with that soon.
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Add about 1/4 cup of craisins, and a cup of milk. You can use any fat-content or do half milk-half water, soy milk, almond milk, but in my experience using another liquid than just water helps prevent the sliminess that most people that dislike oatmeal associate it with.Microwave the oatmeal for around 3 minutes. Do not take your eyes off the oatmeal for the last minute. Once it boils violently and bubbles all the way up to the edge of the bowl, the oatmeal is finished, and you need to stop the microwaving to avoid accidents.
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Be careful, the bowl is VERY hot! Stir the oatmeal and then let it rest for a few minutes so the oats can absorb any excess liquid. This step is important to get the right texture.
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 Add about 1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce and finish the bowl with a good sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar
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 Serves 1:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 pinch fine salt
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 tsp cinnamon-sugar

You can of course vary this into the infinity, brown sugar, raisins, butter, syrup, fresh apple pieces, nuts etc. Your base is oats, milk and a pinch of salt – the rest is up to you.

Coconut Shrimp

Coconut shrimp are delicious – but we don’t deep-fry our food. It’s one of the few rules in our kitchen.

So the alternative is to bake them. With a light breading and a short bake-time at a high temperature they’ll come out nice and crispy.

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Preheat the oven to 400F. Take a pound of large shrimp and de-vein them by running a knife down the outer side of the shrimp, about 1/8 inch into the shrimp. There will be a natural kind of pocket in there where there will be a vein and perhaps some shrimp-poo. Wash this out as no one really want to eat that.
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 Pour half a cup of breadcrumbs onto a plate and add a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of ground pepper and a teaspoon of chili powder. Mix well to make sure all the spices are evenly distributed throughout.
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 Add 1/4 cup grated coconut to the flour and give it a good stir.
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Crack an egg into a bowl and whisk it with a fork. Take each shrimp and first dip is in the egg and then coat it well with the coconut crumbs.
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Lay the shrimp out in one layer and sprinkle them with a wedge of lime. Bake for 15 minutes at 400F.

Serve with new potatoes, a salad sprinkled with dried cranberries and pine nuts and a couple of lime wedges.

Serves 3:

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 egg
  • a lime

Prosciutto Sandwich

Some times, simple is best and just let the ingredients speak for themselves.Prosciutto is one of those things – salty, creamy delicious – and perfect when paired with gruyere cheese. Prosciutto is sliced super thin and is best when it is fluffed up.

I found a great wholegrain ciabatta bread, asking to be made into lunch sandwiches.

Cut of a suitable piece and sliced it. I spread it with a light mayonnaise on both pieces.

Slice the gruyere cheese and lay them on the bottom half.

Add a few slices of prosciutto on top of the cheese.

Take a handful of arugula and put on top. Arugula has a nice peppery taste, and the crispiness gives a nice contrast.

Put the top piece of ciabatta on top, and slice it into a more manageable size.


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Pork Tikka Masala

We love curries, but most Indian restaurants use cream in their sauce base, and it just gets a bit heavy to eat on as regular basis as we’d like – so I play around with making curries myself. Some times I mix the spices myself and other times I use a premix, like today, when I used a Paneer Tikka Masala mix. I didn’t want to use paneer, so I pretended that it didn’t say that on the pack, and used pork in stead.
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I chopped up a red onion, to 7″ celery sticks, 2 carrots and a cherry bell chili. I try to get as many vegetables into our diet as I can, but the feedback on this curry was not too positive, so I may need to mince it finer next time.
I used boneless pork ribs, I wanted a nice marbled piece of meat and this seemed the best choice.
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Add oil to a pan, heat it up and add the meat in an even layer. Brown off the pork on all sides and add the vegetables.
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Add a heaped teaspoon of minced garlic. Stir well and let it cook under a lid for a few minutes to let the onion soften. Add a can of chopped tomatoes. Put the lid back on and cook for 20-30 minutes until the meat has cooked all the way through and started to soften. If you have time, you can cook this dish in a slow cooker.
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When the meat is cooked and the vegetables are soft, take the spice-mix and add it to half a cup of milk (the pack said a bit more, but there was plenty sauce in the pan already and I didn’t want it too runny) Mix well to get all the lumps out and pour it into the pan. Let the sauce simmer for a little while and let it thicken up. Add salt to taste.
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Serve the curry in bowl with naan or rice and a nice chutney, like this tomato chutney
Serves 4:

  • 1 lb boneless pork ribs
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 cherry bell chili
  • 2 7″ stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 package of tikka masala spice mix
  • salt to taste