Confit Duck with Broad Beans, Peas and Pancetta

Sunday lunch in my family has always upheld been as the best meal of the week, mainly due to Mum’s roast I think. A quick Sunday lunch with my brother still needs to be a bit special and the duck recipe in this months Gourmet Traveller fits the bill perfectly.

It was the first time I had made confit duck, so easy peasy. The only thing you have to watch in this recipe is that you cook the duck on the stovetop at the lowest heat possible. I think I panicked and let it get to a low simmer a few times and I thought it ended up a little overcooked. I did a one stop shop for this and they only had pancetta, not speck, so that’s what I used. It’s a acceptable substitute.

Otherwise this is an easy recipe, from Press Food and Wine in Adelaide, that I would make again. You can find the recipe on the Gourmet Traveller website here.

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Beetroot-Cured Salmon and Homemade Bagels

Beetroot cured salmon….for such a long time I have wanted to make this. I don’t know why it has taken so many years for me to get around to it, because it’s so simple. I like the idea of curing my own salmon and the dark pink hue of the beetroot looks so beautiful against the coral salmon. Make sure your salmon is fresh. I’m a bit paranoid so I went to the fish markets.

Now the bagels, on the other hand, are part of my monthly Gourmet Traveller Challenge. Never had I made them before but I was so pleased with the results, I went off to work singing (now that’s a first!).

Beetroot-Cured Salmon

300g fresh thick salmon fillet

50g brown sugar

50g sea salt

5-6 black peppercorn seeds, crushed

1 small beetroot, grated

1 small bunch dill

Mix the sugar, salt, crushed peppercorns, beetroot and half the dill finely chopped. Lay the salmon, skin side down, in a non reactive tray (use ceramic, glass or plastic). Make sure all the bones are removed, pack the salmon with the curing mix. Cover with cling film and sit anther tray on top of the salmon, inside the tray and weigh down with two tins of whatever is to hand. Leave refrigerated for 1-3 days. Wash off the curing mix, dry and top with the remaining chopped dill.

To make the bagels I followed the recipe in the September issue of Gourmet Traveller. If you don’t have a copy it’s online here. They are pretty simple to make and very satisfying not to buy the shiny perfectly smooth round supermarket ones. Instead you will have real ones that look homemade, which is much more impressive.

To serve thinly slice the salmon and serve with toasted bagels. Serve with aïoli, crème fraîche with freshly grated horseradish, sour cream or whatever you fancy.

Braised Duck, Beans and Bacon

Ahh The July French Issue Gourmet Traveller Challenge landed on my doorstep halfway through June. Don’t you love it when a new one arrives and I used it well.

At the beginning of July I held a 6 course dinner party at a friend’s house. The story goes like this….

My friend, Louise “Would you like to come over for a dinner party on 7th July?”,  Me “sounds fabulous”

Louise “lets meet to plan the menu”, Me “sure, what did you have in mind to make?”

Louise “well I thought you’d have some ideas, it’s all about you and what you’d like to cook for us”  Oh I get it now, sneaky girl. Louise bought all the ingredients and all I had to do was to come and cook! Such a great deal. Sneaky girl, she knew I’d love it.

We ended up doing the main course together and made duck with puy lentils and prunes from a past Gourmet Traveller issue, the recipe is on the website here. It may have been the fact she bought the duck from Terry Wright Butchers, but it turned out so well, falling off the bone. I will be making this one again.

I didn’t take pictures on the night, I needed to make something else so you knew I completed this months challenge. Seeing the month was flying, as usual, and life was so busy I thought I would do something simple.

I made this fish soup recipe by Colman Andrews, well he describes it as a recipe a friend used to cook for him in his tiny Marais flat. It was awful. Sorry, it was. I’m not even going to put up the picture of it. It was that bad. BUT voilà….

I got there in the end, cooking a braised duck, beans and bacon recipe. I guess it’s a take on cassuolet minus the Toulouse sausage. It’s a simple recipe, found here on the website.

Tips and Tricks

I added a few more ingredients to the recipe. When softening the onions I also added a diced stick of celery and a diced small carrot. It’s a rich dish and I think it benefits from the milder flavour.

There is alot of liquid in this dish, I think I would only add enough water to just cover the duck. I threw in a dash of Noilly Pratt to deglaze the pan after searing the duck. If it wasn’t frozen in the depths of my freezer I would have added a Toulouse sausage as well. And yes I do have them in my freezer, I love them.

Oh yeah, I also added finely chopped parsley to the breadcrumbs, purely to add some colour. Just be careful when you sprinkle them on the top before baking that you concentrate them on top of the duck. If you put them over the liquid and beans they soften into it making bread soup, unless you like that sort of thing of course.

Mackerel with pickled cucumber and horseradish

I never thought I’d say this but I need a break from comfort food. After the rainy long weekend when I hibernated in my flat I couldn’t take it any longer. I spent the weekend reading, perusing cookbooks and eating way too much.

There are so many great recipes in the June ‘British issue’ of Gourmet Traveller. Sometimes though, you have to be sensible. You can’t cook a family size pork pie for one and be eating it all week (as much as I kinda wanted to).

There were the Eccles cakes, my favourite and a much loved St John treat, scotch eggs and apple pies. The article on Brett Graham though really caught my interest. An Australian who has made his home and his name in London at The Ledbury and The Harwood Arms. I was surprised they included the recipes for Harwood favourites, those scotch eggs and that soda bread!

I’ve tasted (in large quantities) the bread and tried to attain the recipe, now I have it! Although I haven’t had the scotch egg. I copped a bit of flack for that and I hope to rectify that, now the famous recipe has been revealed.

In the mean time this mackerel is just what I need to bring me out of a winter stodge slump. It has been slightly adapted from the Gourmet Traveller.

Mackerel with pickled cucumber and horseradish

Ingredients

1 fresh as they come, mackerel

1 small thumb size piece of fresh horseradish

1/2 cup loosly packed mixed parsley leaves and dill fronds.

Pickled Cucumber

1 lebanese cucumbers, sliced finely (ideally with a mandolin)

100mls apple juice

100mls water

20mls white wine vinager

1/4 nori sheet folded into a small rectangle and finely sliced

1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves

1 pinch of sea salt

Method

Combine all the pickling ingredients, except the cucumbers, in a food processor and blend well. Pour liquid over a sieve and into a plastic bowl. Discard the bright parsley and nori left (shame). Add the cucumbers to the pickling liquid and leave to steep in the liquid for a few hours (2-3).

Fillet your mackerel (or have the fishmonger do it, but it’s not as fun). Lightly season with salt and olive oil, place skin side down in a hot pan. Hold the mackerel down lightly for a 30 seconds to make sure all the skin is in contact with the pan. Leave the fillets in the pan (don’t be tempted to turn them) for about 3 minutes. Then flip over and cook on the other side for a minute.

Drain cucumbers from the pickling juice. Arrange on plate, place mackerel on, crispy skin side up, add herb leaves and finely grate horseradish over. Be warmly generous with the horseradish.

Serves 2

Roast Fennel and Garlic Soup with seeded olive oil crackers

As you all know I love soup! It’s amazing what can be done with so few ingredients, even the crackers are easy to make.
It’s the second time I’ve made this type of this crisp bread and I’m telling you it’s so easy that I really should make them more often. They are expensive to buy but easy to make with little ingredients. I think it’s just the mental hurdle of what they look like that you have to get over, you can make them!

If you don’t have time to make the crackers, make some quick croutons or even just toasted sourdough. The soup needs the contrast in texture and flavour.

You can get the recipe here on the Gourmet Traveller website.

Trick and Tips

The soup recipe called for crème fraîche to be added at the end. I had sour cream and greek yoghurt in the fridge so I used a combination of the two. I think it would have benefited from the sweetness of the crème fraîche, but if you don’t have any use cream, pouring or thickened would be fine.

The Gourmet Traveller Challenge. February: The Montpellier Public House’s potted trout with dill cucmbers

Gee it’s nearly the end of the month and I haven’t made my monthly GT recipe challenge, and this is only month two! Time seems to fly so quickly, if only the weekend had one more day…

After my recent visit to The Montpellier Public House, there was no question what I wanted to make from this months GT magazine.

Last month I had enthusiastically made my first pickled cucumbers, so I didn’t really see the need to make them again when I still had some left. The recipe was much the same anyway.

I also didn’t read the recipe properly before I went shopping and bought a fillet instead of a whole fish and because I thought the recipe called for a fillet and the fishmonger had none I bought ocean trout instead of rainbow trout. I think it worked out ok anyway.

The recipe is simple (ok, so I think I’m going to break my own rules everytime). Here is the link to the recipe on the Gourmet Traveller website.

If you like the aniseed flavours of fennel and dill your going to love this recipe. It’s perfect for an easy dinner or a light lunch. I think it would be great for a picnic too. For me, it will be perfect for those nights I finish work late and am too tired to cook and nearly too tired to eat. I guess the trout will keep for a few days. The cucumbers will keep for a few weeks or sealed in a sterilised jar for 5-6 months.

The Gourmet Traveller Challenge. January: Porteño’s barbequed calamari with chickpeas and preserved lemon

If your anything like me, you are a Gourmet Traveller magazine addict. I used to buy it when I used to live here 10 years ago, then when I left, I packed them up and kept them.  Still having Gourmet traveller magazines from 1996 may be slightly obsessive and lean toward being a crazy hoarding woman, but hey they are interesting to browse through though and to see how far we have come. OK, I know I have to get rid of them.

Even when I lived in London, my local newsagent kindly used to order it in for me and text me when it arrived. Now that is service!

And so the obsession continues. I have noticed, however, that I hardly EVER make anything from them. Shocking isn’t it. So that is my challenge this year, to make something from every issue. There are a few simple rules I must follow:

1. Make at least one recipe from each issue

2. Choose something I may not usually make.

3. Don’t choose something easy just to complete rule 1.

So January brings the BBQ issue. Every month there is a section where they fulfil the request of diners, by gathering favourite recipes from their loved meals. I was drawn to the Porteño offering.

The recipe was not difficult, except for the calamari. I wanted this to be a one stop meal so after popping into Broadway Harris Farm Market,  I road the escalator to the seafood shop above in the shopping centre. I could only see calamari from Thailand so I asked if they had any Australian. Bargain squid at $3.99/kg, but I would have to clean them myself. What! is this a new Sunday sabbath, no clean rule for fish shops? Anyway, no problem, I quite enjoy the satisfaction of cleaning my own anyway, thanks to a little stint at Rick Stein’s Seafood School.

But it was squid, and a big one. I only cooked the tentacles (which should be more tender), but they were still a bit tough. I think a young calamari would be much more tender. The recipe suggests buying ones only about 12cm long, and not squid twice the size, as mine was. My remaining squid was thrown into the freezer in preparation for a slow cooked red wine and blood orange stew.

Other than my squid dilemma, it was a great dish. The chickpea base was lovely with the yoghurt, and the watercress leaf makes a great change from the over used rocket. I think I will use the leftover base and watercress with some wedges of roasted pumpkin. If you’d like to make it you can find the recipe here.

I encourage you all to take up the challenge and cook something from the food magazine that you subscribe to! Please tweet me some photos if you do, I’d love to see them.