Sicilian blood….

oranges and lemons were routinely wrapped in tissue paper when I was a child and each paper carried colourful pictures and strange words hinting of far off lands which at the time seemed impossibly distant and exotic. Now, even though it is many decades later the magic persists and I find it impossible to walk past a store selling fruit wrapped in tissue paper without buying a totally unreasonable number of oranges, lemons, etc. .So last week when I made my regular weekly visit to my favourite greengrocers, Roots and Fruits, here in Glasgow I found it impossible not to buy some Galletto Blood Oranges from Sicily, wrapped as they were in their blood red tissue papers.

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Of course they made a colourful addition to the kitchen but they deserved a better fate than pure ornaments and the obvious answer was to use them in a salad, combining the sweetness of the orange with the saltiness of dry black Greek olives and the flavours of finely sliced fennel combined with a blood orange dressing (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/217313/orange-and-fennel-salad/).

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A great combination of flavours and a wonderfully refreshing summer salad. If you haven’t any fennel to hand try chicory whose bitter leaves work as a superb contrast o the sweetness of the orange segments.

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Roast Duck Legs & Stir Fry Vegetables in a Rich Plum Sauce

This dish is one of my favourites not the least because of its simplicity but it also tastes and looks great! However, be warned, it is not a quick meal to prepare with the duck legs taking 90 minutes to cook but actual hands on time is very short and the wait is definitely worthwhile! Although many would regard it as cheating the dish relies on a ready made . Sharwoods Plum Sauce, a gloriously sticky, sweet and spicy concoction. Strangely the sauce is becoming increasingly difficult to find here in Glasgow but both the Coop and Tesco continue to stock it.

Ingredients

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The meat

2 x Duck legs (I used ones from Gressingham which are widely available. Don’t use wild duck as the legs are much smaller and contain a lot less fat).

For the stir fry

1 x Red Onion, medium sized 

1 x Red Bell Pepper

1 x Yellow Bell Pepper

1 x Pak Choi

6 x Chestnut Mushrooms

You will also need

Soya sauce

Olive Oil

Plum Sauce (Sharwoods)

Maldon Sea Salt

3-4 Star Anise

 and rice; white long grain, 1/3 of a cup per person.

Method

  1. Place the duck leg in an oven proof dish, sprinkle about a teaspoons worth of Maldon sea salt over the skin of the duck legs, add the star anise, cover with a tightly fitting lid (I first cover the dish with a sheet of aluminium foil and place the lid of the dish on top of this) and placed in the oven at 180oC to cook for 60 minutes.
  2. While the duck legs are cooking cook the rice in boiling water, depending on the type of rice that you are using this will take around 15 to 20 minutes after which time the rice can be tipped into a sieve and be left to drain with the sieve hanging over the pan used to cook the rice and loosely covered by the pan lid. When it is time to plate up the rice is gently fluffed up using a pair of chop sticks and rinsed with a litre or so of boiling water. I am sure that many people will think that this way of cooking rice is heresy but it works for me and adds a great degree of flexibility to the timing of the cooking of the other dishes.
  3. After 60 minutes in the oven the duck legs will have released any excess fat and water and this should be poured off before returning them to the oven, this time uncovered, for a further 30 minutes.
  4. KG150413641a1bWeb1During the final 15 minutes of cooking the duck legs roughly cut the peppers, pak choy and onion into chunks about 2 to 3 cm square and stir fry in a hot wok in a little olive oil.Stir fry red and yellow peppers with red onion
  5. Once the onion and pepper begins to soften add  thinly sliced mushroom and continue to stir fry all the ingredients in the wok. I  prefer to keep working the contents of the wok with a broad wooden spatula while more accomplished chefs will  undoubtedly keep things moving with a simple flick of the wrist.Stir frying peppers onion and mushrooms
  6. As the sliced mushroom begins to take on a little colour add a splash of soya sauce and the pak choy, again cut into 2 to 3 cm squares, and mix well.
  7. Remove the duck legs from the oven and place on a chopping board and using a couple of forks pull the meat off the bones in large chunks and add to to wok together with a third to a half of a jar of plum sauce and continue to work with the spatula so as to ensure that the sauce evenly coats all of the vegetables as well as the meat.
  8. Finally reheat and rinse the rice that you set aside earlier with about a litre of boiling water, allow the rice to drain for a minute or so and then plate up onto a warm plate.

Sharwoods plum sauce makes a wonderful addition to a duck stir fry

Enjoy!

Chicory (endive) with Colston Bassett Blue Stilton and Caramelised Walnuts

Chicory or do I mean endive and then of course there is frisée or is it curly endive

Frisée - Curly Endive

and lets not forget radicchio,

raddichio

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escarole, treviso, witloof or do I mean Brussels chicory?! Clearly it’s complicated! Essentially there are two species of plant Cichorium intybus and Cichorium endivia and in the UK we call Cichorium intybus chicory while in the US and elsewhere it is perversely called endive and Cichorium endivia is called chicory! I can feel a smug smile of intellectual superiority developing as I write this but given the complexity of the names for these plants including names in local languages as well as the number of different varieties which have been created by plant breeders I could have it all wrong! If you feel inclined to learn more I suggest you start with the Wikipedia entry for endive and look forward to hearing back from you in a few months time!

Regardless of what they are called all of these vegetables are characterised by a rather bitter but not unpleasant taste and they have a real crunch to them, especially in the case of the white and red chicory and they can make the base of a really great salad or they can be sautéed or grilled as is often done with Little Gem lettuces or even braised like leeks. However, chicory only indirectly came into use as a vegetable being originally grown for its roots which were used as a coffee substitute and can still be widely found in Britain where it is sold as “Camp” coffee and chicory essence and is frequently used in baking. Of course when it comes to “salad” chicory it is not the root that we eat but instead it is a large tightly packed leaf bud. Like forced rhubarb, chicory is grown from root stocks which are arranged on trays and are left in the dark to sprout.

Belgium endive

The dish featured here is simplicity itself and there are countless variations making use of the boat shaped leaves as containers which can be made and served as hors-d’oeuvres or as an elegant starter.

Chicory (endive) with Colston Bassett Blue Stilton and Caramelised Walnuts

Chicory (endive) with Colston Bassett Blue Stilton and Caramelised Walnuts

Sweet walnuts, tangy stilton and biter nutty chicory with a light balsamic and olive oil dressing – flavours combining and and working together to make something greater than the individual ingredients.

Enjoy!

Baked Cauliflower Cheese

Amazingly cauliflowers, sprouts, broccoli, kale and cabbages not only all belong to the same genus, i.e. Brassica but they all belong to the same species, oleracea! The fact that the single species, Brassica oleracea can produce so many wildly different cultivars is a reflection of the important role these plants have in agriculture right around the world as well as the length of time that they have been under cultivation.

Initially at least there can be no doubt as to the cauliflower’s cabbagey credentials wrapped in a cocoon of heavily ribbed outer leaves, even here in this relatively young specimen where only the inner leaves remain the whole appearance shouts CABBAGE but remove these leaves and the central white mass or curd of the cauliflower is revealed. The curd as the name cauliflower suggests is the immature flower head of the plant.

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Cauliflower has a long, though not necessarily glamorous place in British cooking; those of us of a certain age will remember how, like all other vegetables, it was boiled to the point of destruction before being triumphantly served. However, when cooked sympathetically and with respect this vegetable with its unique flavour has a lot to offer and it finds its way into numerous recipes, especially Indian ones but on this occasion I am going to focus on that all time comfort food dish of cauliflower cheese. The secret to a really good cauliflower cheese is ensuring that the cauliflower does not become too wet or over cooked before adding the cheese sauce. In this recipe the soft mellow creaminess of the cheese sauce and baked cauliflower is contrasted  against the salty intensity of Smoked Black Forest ham combined with a dusting of the wonderful and too little used spice, mace (for more about mace see http://wholespice.com/blog/?p=1468).

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Baked Cauliflower Cheese and Smoked Black Forest Ham

Ingredients

Serves 2-3 as a side dish or if you prefer not to share you have a perfect warming super for one.

 1 x cauliflower medium-sized (approx 15 -20 cm in diameter)

4 x  slices of Schwarzwälder Schinken (Black Forest Smoked ham from Lidl)

olive oil

550 ml milk

1 x bay leaf

2 x cloves

50 g plain white flour

50 g butter

125 g grated cheddar (try using other cheeses that you have to hand either for the sauce and / or the topping)

ground mace (freshly grated nutmeg could also be used)

freshly ground black pepper; crush a few peppercorns in a pestle and mortar

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Here’s How

To start begin making the sauce. Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil and then remove from the heat while adding the bay leaf and cloves and set to one side so as to allow the flavours to develop.

Switch on the oven and set to 190oC (fan oven) and leave to warm up.

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Prepare the cauliflower by removing the leaves and then break the curd into roughly equally sized florets while cutting off any thick stems. Place the florets in a steamer and steam on top of wok for 5 – 10 minutes using a skewer to judge when the florets are cooked through; they should still be firm. Do not over cook. Remove the steamer from the wok and leave to cool with the lid off the steamer; this will help the cauliflower lose any excess water.

Complete making the cheese sauce by mixing the butter and flour together over a low heat to form a roux. Remove the bay leaf and cloves from the milk and gradually add all of the milk to the roux, mixing all of the time so to ensure a smooth lump free sauce. Increase the heat slightly and slowly add all but a small handful of the cheese to the sauce while continuing to stir. As the cheese melts into the sauce the mixture will become thicker and after stirring for a further minute or so the sauce should be taken off the heat.

To assemble the dish place the florets in a suitable oven proof dish and pour over the cheese sauce. Finish with a light sprinkling of mace as well as the remaining cheese and place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

At the same time place the slices of ham on a lightly oiled baking tray in the oven and cook for 5 -10 minutes until they are crisp but not burnt. When done remove the slices and place on some kitchen towel to mop up any excess fat or oil.

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Once the sauce on the cauliflower has begun to colour the dish is ready and can be removed from the oven. Pieces of the cooked ham can then be sprinkled over the cauliflower and the dish served.

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Be careful it will be extremely hot!

 Enjoy

 

 

 

 

The Colours of Summer

Last year around this time David Craig and his team at Clyde Valley Tomatoes were making a great splash as they entered the market (http://www.greenshootsphotography.com/#!clyde-valley-tomatoes/c21si). Since then the company has gone from strength to strength with the tomatoes not only being a regular and much appreciated feature of the farmers markets both here in Glasgow as well as those in Edinburgh but you will now find their tomatoes in a lot of shops and delis ranging from Waitrose and the Whole Food Supermarket through to Roots and Fruits and the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar at Cairndow as well as many other places I am sure.

I am a great fan of tomatoes and it is one of the hardships of winter that even with the year round availability of fruit and vegetables coming as they do from right around the world tomatoes always taste and smell their very best when they are at their freshest and local.

The following pictures give a little taste of all that summer goodness; each of these tomatoes is as packed with flavour as it is with colour!

 Market Fresh

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Summer JewelsMixed Varieties of Tomatoes

Summer Sunshine

A simple snack: slice fresh tomato, a slice of grilled ham or bacon, a slice of toasted Ciabatta ad  a sprinkle of sea salt together with a little basil and you are close to heaven!KG140525029bWeb1

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2014. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Schwarzwälder Schinken & Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is, by far, my favourite breakfast dish but I am so often disappointed when I order it in a restaurant. Restaurants seem to specialise in making this most tasty of meals as sterile and as unattractive as possible. Traditionally the dish consists of an English Muffin (despite its name an essentially American concoction!) cut in two and each half is then topped with a round of ham, followed by a poached egg and finally a spoon or two of Hollandaise sauce. The result, while potentially tasty, is often bland and visually sterile – don’t believe me, do a Google image search, there are notable exceptions of course but the majority of the pictures can hardly be called appetizing!

So how to improve on this sorry state of affairs? First, ditch the muffin! A couple of slices of toasted Ciabatta make a far superior foundation for the dish while ensuring that there is enough bread to mop up the egg yolk and sauce without totally dominating it.

Next comes the ham and please, not slices of bland, watery processed ham, Iberian ham is perfect but expensive, back bacon works well but increasingly I find myself using smoked Black Forest ham (Lidl, for more details see the earlier post  https://brunchatgoodies.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/schwarzwalder-schinken-and-shopping-at-lidl/). This ham is amazingly versatile and after baking on a good quality (i.e. heavy and non-stick) metal tray together with a drizzle of olive oil at 190 oC for 8 -10 minutes or so you will have wonderfully thin crisp slices of intensely flavoured ham, (any spare slices should be kept in the fridge in a sealed box for several days until required).

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Slices of crisp oven baked ham make a perfect accompaniment for eggs benedict

 

 

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Slices of crisp oven baked ham make a perfect accompaniment for eggs benedict.

Tomatoes drizzled with a little olive oil are roasted in the oven, again at 190 oC, for around about 20 minutes; its worth preparing the tomatoes some 10 or so minutes before the eggs are ready to allow them to cool down, it is impossible to appreciate the flavour of a tomato no matter how good it is if it is scalding hot!

As for the eggs I have for long been a fan of both Burford Brown and Cotswold Legbar eggs from Clarence Court® (frustratingly these eggs are becoming increasingly hard to find in and around Glasgow and are no longer stocked at my local Morrisons, instead I have to trek right across the city to go to Waitrose or in the opposite direction to the Whole Food supermarket (who, for some as yet unfathomed reason sell Cotswold Legbar eggs lose). Both of these eggs have incredibly rich golden yolks and while the colour probably doesn’t add directly to the taste the difference between these eggs and so many others which are in comparison only pale imitations make me feel that these eggs do indeed taste better!

For the Hollandaise sauce I always “cheat” and buy mine ready-made from Maille which has the advantage of both convenience, being able to use just the amount you need while keeping the rest in the fridge for as long as 4 weeks. The Hollandaise is carefully warmed in a bowl over a pan of freshly boiled water which is then kept on a very low heat; be careful not to let the sauce get too hot or it will split.

Assemble the dish on a warm plate building up from the Ciabatta, followed by the Black Forest ham and Hollandaise sauce and roast tomatoes. Finish of with fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of oil from the bowl the tomatoes were cooked in.

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Rich runny yolks are a must!

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Rich runny yolks are a must!

Enjoy!

A more detailed recipe can be found at: https://brunchatgoodies.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/eggs-benedict/

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.