26 January 2009

summer tray bake salmon - in winter

I seem to be pursuing new recipes with great enthusiasm at the moment. Tonight's treat was Summer Tray Bake Salmon, another delicious Jamie Oliver invention. It was lovely and lemony, and the suggested garlic mayonnaise accompaniment is a must in my opinion. Go cook it!

Jamie's Summer Tray Bake Salmon

25 January 2009

jamie - saving my bacon

Been going through a new recipe phase this week. Tuesday night it was Griddled Lamb Chops with Chunky Salsa, served with Best Ever French Beans, both from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food book, which was a Christmas gift from my mum.

Wednesday night was Good Old Chilli Con Carne from the same book.

The lamb was quick, easy and tasty, but the chilli was competing with our usual chilli made with a jar of Asda Hot Chilli Sauce, so it wasn't quite as quick to make, but it did make enough for us to freeze - thus saving time another day. It certainly had fresher deeper flavours than the jar and brought with it the satisfaction of having cooked it completely from scratch. Definitely recommended.

Friday night it was Asian Squash Salad with Crispy Duck from Jamie At Home. Jamie excelled himself with this one. It was a taste explosion - seriously delicious. I am going to share the recipe here as Jamie has already been on US TV with this, and the receipe is already on the web, so I consider it as being in the public domain.

You will need:
a whole duck
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped

For the roasted squash:
1-2 dried red chillies, crumbled
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large butternut squash or 2 onion squash, quartered
olive oil

For the dressing:
zest and juice of 1-2 limes
extra virgin oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely grated
5 green onions, white parts trimmed and finely sliced, green ends finely chopped
a large bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Wash the duck and pat it dry, inside and out, with paper towels, then rub it all over, inside as well, with salt and pepper. Place it in a pan and roast in the preheated oven for around 2 hours, turning it ever now and then. Halfway through, you'll probably need to drain away a lot of the fat from the bird. (I did as Jamie suggests and kept the fat in the fridge for roasting potatoes).

In a pestle and mortar bash up the dried chillies and coriander seeds and add the ground cinnamon and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Scoop the seeds out of your squash and put them to one side. Cut the squash into wedges, place them in a roasting tray, and drizzle over enough olive oil just to coat. Sprinkle over the ground spices and give the squash a good toss, spreading the pieces out in one layer. Once the duck has been in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, add the pan of squash to the oven and roast for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse the squash seeds after removing any fibres. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toast them in a dry frying pan until they're golden and crisp, and put aside (I didn't bother with this bit).

To make the dressing, put the lime juice and zest into a bowl and add the same amount of extra virgin olive oil, plus the sesame oil and the soy sauce. Stir in the sugar, chilli, garlic, the green onion ends and coriander stalks. Taste and adjust the sweet-and-sourness and the seasoning. You want it to be a little limey, to contrast with the rich duck.

After 2 hours, if the duck is nice and crispy, and the squash soft and sticky, take both pans out of the oven. If they need more time, leave them in until perfectly done. Using two forks, shred the duck meat off the bone and put into a large bowl. (OK, I did everything by the book and my duck wasn't crispy, but I really don't think it needs to be. I also did not find that the duck could be shredded off the bone with two forks, and after a frenzied attack on the duck with a large carving knife I managed to get most of the meat off the bird. All I am saying is don't expect it to be falling off the bone.)

While the duck and squash are still warm, toss with the toasted seeds, half the coriander leaves, half the mint and half the white onion slices. Pour on the dressing and toss together. Serve sprinkled with the rest of the coriander, mint and white onion slices.


I promise you, it's one of Jamie's triumphs and you will really impress your dinner guests.

Look out for Jamie on TV this Thursday 29th January as part of Channel 4's Great British Food Fight season. In 'Jamie Saves our Bacon' he will be showing us the ins and snouts of the pig industry and hopes to encourage the nation to buy British.

20 January 2009


Before Christmas (in fact the day before we went to South Africa) we attended the wedding of our friends Jill and Chris at Leez Priory in Essex.

The lovely Mr and Mrs Bond
Then last weekend we went to the wedding of my old school friend Nicola and her new husband Martin in Ponteland, the village where I grew up.

The new Mr and Mrs King
Both brides looked so beautiful and despite the winter season both had enough clear weather for some outdoor photos, even if it was bloody freezing!

That completes our wedding marathon of six weddings in the last seven months (seven in nine months if you include our own). 2008 was definitely the year to get married!

15 January 2009


We spent Christmas and New Year in Cape Town, South Africa.


On Christmas day we just had to go to the beach. This is Camps Bay, just a short walk from our holiday home. We ate lunch in Blues Restaurant, then went back to the beach to sleep it off!

View from the table at Christmas dinnerOn 27th we took a long drive along the False Bay seaboard to Cape Point stopping off along the way for a swim and lunch at Fish Hoek, and to see the penguins at Boulders Beach. It was a fantastic day.

Dom with penguins at Boulders Beach On 29th we did tandem paragliding - it was wicked!

Paragliding off Signal Hill We spent the last day of 2008 hiking up Table Mountain. We reached the top in about 2.5 hours then spent an hour or so doing a summit walk to Maclears Beacon, then took the cable car down which took 4 minutes! The 360° views were incredible.

View from Maclear's Beacon on Table Mountain On New Year's Day we drove out to the breathtaking scenery of the winelands. We stopped for lunch at the pretty town of Stellenbosch, chilled under a huge tree at the Boschendal wine estate and sampled some of their fine tipple, wandered round the postcard town of Franschhoek and drove back to Cape Town via the Huguenot Mountains.

Wine tasting at Boschendal On the 2nd we went early morning sea kayaking from Mouille Point and saw dolphins! We were so close to them as they jumped out of the waves, but they were too fast to capture on camera.

Kayaking In the afternoon we wandered around Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens On our last day we came across the Cape Minstrels parade and watched it pass through the Bo Kaap, there was so much music and dancing. It went on for hours, but we headed off to Milnerton for a look back at Cape Town and Table Mountain and one last swim.

Cape Minstrels on paradeTable Mountain viewed from Milnerton Beach