There are many recipe variations for this Italian classic duck ragu, some focusing on spice and meat, others red wine and a rich tomato sauce. Traditionally duck was considered food for the poor and its ragu was served with a sturdy rustic pasta made from buckwheat, called bigoli (also made with duck eggs). Nowadays most recipes will suggest serving the ragu with pappardelle or gnocchi. Both are a good match, but I also like finesse of these paper-thin handkerchief pasta. They allow the rich heavy sauce to dominate, whilst adding a light texture to the dish. All you need to finish it off is a generous drizzling of good olive oil, and some shavings of parmesan cheese.
4 duck legs
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small carrot, grated
1 stick celery, finely sliced
1 dried red chilli
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbs chopped parsley stalks
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs tomato paste
250ml red wine
1/2 cup water
400gm tin plum tomatoes
Salt and pepper
FOR THE PASTA:
200gm 00 flour
2 medium eggs
2 large pinches salt
1 tbsp olive oil
Fine semolina for dusting
1. Fry the duck legs in some olive oil until sealed and skin is browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. In the duck fat, fry the chopped onion on a medium – low heat for 10 minutes until soft. Add the grated carrot and celery, cook a further 5 minutes, before adding the garlic.
3. Next add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 1 minute or so before adding the oregano, nutmeg, cinnamon and chilli. Cook for a further 1 -2 minutes.
4 . Pour in the wine and bubble away until liquid is reduced by half.
3. To this mixture you can now add the canned tomatoes and water. Stir well and return the duck legs to the pan. There should be enough sauce to cover the meat nicely. If your sauce is to thick you can add a little more water until the consistency is right.
4. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil, cover with a lid, and turn down to simmer for 1 hour. Check ragu occasionaly to make sure the sauce does not become too dry. You can add splashes of water as you go if needed to loosen up.
5. While this is cooking away you can make the pasta: Combine all the ingredients and mix into a dough, kneading until smooth. This may take up to 10 – 15 minutes so be patient. The dough should not be dry and falling apart. If this happens you can add the tinniest drop of water, bit by bit until the dough is smooth and forming well. Be very careful though as once you add to much water and the dough is wet it becomes harder to save. If your dough happens to be to wet, you can add a little more flour until the consistency is right. The trick is in the kneading, you must keep going until you have a silky smooth dough.
6. Wrap your pasta in cling film and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
7. To create the pasta shape: Dust the pasta pieces with the semolina as you go, and gently feed through your pasta machine, narrowing the setting until the pasta is approximately 1mm thick. Keep dusting with the semolina to prevent it from sticking together. Lay out your pieces and cut into squares or rectangles, whatever size you like.
8. Remove duck legs from the sauce, and with a fork shred the meat from the bone. Discard bones and return meat to the sauce.
9. In a large pan of boiling salted water, gently boil the pasta for 1 – 2 minutes.
10. Place the pasta sheets evenly onto a large plate or bowl and spoon over the ragu sauce. Drizzle generously with olive oil and shavings of parmesan cheese.
These salads feature is the crunch of the parmesan breadcrumbs – perfect with the fresh lettuce leaves, aromatic fennel, and salty capers. it’s a combination that goes well as a side to fish, grilled vegetables, halloumi cheese… or just on its own. My ideal way to eat it would be along with some marinated bbq sardines and an ice-cold beer or glass of white wine – preferably with the sun shining.
100g mix-leaf salad
1 fennel + fennel tops
1 tbsp capers
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 large tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Squeeze lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper
1. Slice fennel as thin as you can, squeeze some lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt over the fennel and set aside while you prepare the rest of the salad. Reserve tops for garnish.
2. Wash lettuce and dry well (preferably with a salad spinner).
3. Rough chop capers.
4. In a small frying pan, dry roast breadcrumbs on a low heat until they start to brown, then add grated parmesan and immediately remove from the heat. Stir the mixture so cheese covers breadcrumbs evenly. The cheese will melt quickly and breadcrumbs should be stuck together. Set aside to cool, and then with a knife chop crumbs into small pieces.
5. Mix oil, vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper together and beat with a fork.
6. To assemble the salad: In a bowl mix lettuce and fennel together. add chopped capers followed by the salad dressing, mix together well. To finish sprinkle with parmesan breadcrumbs and reserved fennel tops.
This is a wonderful breakfast to wake up to – porridge made with coconut milk topped with summary fruits, toasted almonds cinnamon and a sprinkling of brown sugar. It’s probably one of the only posh meals you can make in under 10 minutes! Porridge is a popular breakfast dish as not only does it fill you up until lunchtime, its carbohydrates slowly release energy. It is also contains nutrients and minerals that aid carrying oxygen to the muscles and other areas of the body, as well as high levels of vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin and antioxidant which helps reduce risk for chronic disease. Apart from many recognised health benefits, it’s also just tastes mighty good when dressed up with fruits, nuts, spices and puree. Don’t be put off using tinned fruits for your puree. If your lucky enough to live in a country where quality fresh fruit is available most of the year, then you can use fresh mango to make the puree. For this recipe I have substituted tinned mango as I know I can easily gets it on a weekly basis without having to travel all over town to find it fresh. Once the puree is made it keeps in the fridge for days, and ready to be used each morning for breakfast with no hassle. Fresh peaches are readily available in my supermarket for most of the year, but you could also use banana if yours doesn’t stock them. The finishing crunch of toasted almond flakes and sprinkling of cinnamon complete the dish perfectly.
The recipe is for 1 serving of porridge. All you need to do its multiply the oats and coconut milk for more servings.
50g porridge oats
200ml coconut milk
Pinch of salt
1 tin mango slices
1 fresh peach
2 tbsp flaked almonds
Cinnamon for sprinkling
Brown sugar for sprinkling (optional)
1. First prepare the mango puree: Drain mangos from juice, reserving a little liquid. Blend mangos pieces adding enough of the juice to make a smooth puree. There will be enough for a few servings so what you don’t use can be kept in the fridge.
2. Slice your peaches into wedges.
3. In a non-stick pan dry roast almond flakes, keeping an eye on them so they don’t brown too quickly.
4. Pre-pare porridge. Place oats, coconut milk, water and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil then turn to simmer and continue to stir until oats are ready – approx 5 minutes.
5. To serve. Place oats in a bowl, top with mango puree, sliced peaches, flaked toasted almonds and a sprinkling of cinnamon and brown sugar.
A Turkish inspired chicken salad with tomato, cucumber, red onion salsa, charred green peppers and home-made cacik. Delicious and healthy!
For the Salsa:
1 small red onion
Handful chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
For the Salad:
1 whole roast chicken
1 large head green gem lettuce
1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
2 large pickled cucumbers/gherkins, sliced
2 – 2 large Jalapeno peppers
For the Cacik:
250ml plain Turkish or Greek-style yoghurt
1 small lebanese cucumber (or 1/3 of a large one)
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped and mashed to a paste
1. First prepare the Cacik: For the Cacik: Chop the cucumber into tiny pieces, as small as you can, and place in a bowl. Cover the cucumber with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. The cucumbers will start to exude their juices which will flavour the yogurt nicely.
2. Put a griddle pan on medium – high heat, cover the peppers with olive oil and start to char.
3. Cut the tomato and cucumber into medium pieces. Slice the red onion as thin as you can. Chop the parsley fine. Place all ingredients in a bowl and cover with a the juice of 1 lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour, stirring a couple times, so it starts to exude juice.
4. Tear the lettuce into mouth-siazed peices. Cut the red cabbage into thin slices. Grate the carrot. Mix together in a bowl.
5. Tear the chicken into large pieces and add to the salad.
6. Remove the tomato salsa from the fridge. Drain the juice and keep for later. Now add the tomato, cucumber, parsley onion mix to the chicken salad, as well as the sliced gherkin.
7. Lay out the salad on a large plate or chopping board. Serve with the charred peppers, cacik, salsa vinaigrette and some chilli sauce.
Some evenings you just want to eat a tasty meal without the fuss of long preparation and cooking, and worst of all, dishes. That’s why one pan / one-pot cooking is one of my favorite ways to create a meal, its easy and hardly makes a mess. This recipe was inspired by my trusty Chasseur griddle pan ( you can pick one up here from Viking-direct.co.uk ) – A Mexican fajitas with charred chicken and peppers – quick cooking that heats ingredients evenly and maintains plenty of flavour.
The best thing about Mexican food is the mix of cooked and fresh ingredients. Lots of fresh salad, lime juice, avocado, coriander and sour cream – flavours that go well with charred vegetables and marinated meat. The best thing about cooking in a griddle pan is the small amount of oil needed. I rubbed my peppers with a little oil very lightly before charring, and the end result was juicy fresh tasting green peppers bursting with flavour, minus the coating of grease.
The chicken turns out equally as tender and full of flavour, charring the marinade into the flesh. You should always heat your griddle pan slowly from low to high to avoid warping and ensure even heating. This will cook your meat at the same temperature throughout, keeping it tender and juicy.
400gm Chicken Breast, cut into long bite size pieces
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp chipotle sauce (optional)
1 garlic clove crushed
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cornflour
Splash boiling water
30ml white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove crushed
1/2 tsp cumin
2 large handfuls coriander, chopped
150ml olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch brown sugar
2 Green Peppers, sliced into strips
1 red onion, sliced into strips
2 tomatoes cut into small chunks,
1/2 iceberg lettuce, shredded
4 Tortilla Wraps
1. Mix ingredients for the chicken marinade together. Coat chicken well and set aside to marinate while you prepare other ingredients.
2. Heat griddle pan from low to medium heat. Rub your sliced onion and peppers lightly in a little oil. Place in the griddle pan and cover with foil for 2 – 3 minutes. Remove foil, turn over onion and peppers and cooked until nicely charred.
3. Make Mojo Sauce. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend approx. 2/3 with a blender or hand blender. Leave 1/3 leaves unblended for texture.
4. Place shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, charred peppers and onions in a serving bowl.
5. Remove onions and peppers from griddle pan, brush a little olive oil into the pan and cook chicken on both sides until charred but still tender.
6. Wipe down griddle and lightly toast tortillas on each side.
7. Set the table with bowl of charred peppers, onion, tomato, lettuce, tinga chicken, tortilla, mojo sauce and sour cream. Build your wrap and eat!