Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Recipe - Glynn Purnell's Duck with spiced plum jam

As a member of the BBC Good Food Show blogging community I was asked to take part in Stoves Winter recipe recreation.

A little bit about Stoves UK; Founded in 1920, Stoves is one of the UK’s best loved cooking brands. It is also one of the only major kitchen appliance brands still committed to manufacturing in the UK with 100% of its freestanding cookers, built-in ovens and hobs and range cookers assembled at its Merseyside headquarters. All products are designed and built in the UK specifically with British cooks in mind. Stoves is a founding member of the Made in Britain campaign championing British manufacturing.

As a regular visitor to the BBC Good Food Show's, I love to catch some of the live cookery demonstrations on the Stoves stand. Over the four days there were a host of celebrity chefs cooking up a storm; from Brian Turner to Phil Vickery, Glynn Purnell to Rachel Allen.  One of the recipes that caught my attention was Glynn Purnell's duck with spiced plum jam and watercress. I love duck and I have to admit it's something I don't cook that often as it can be a bit pricey... This was just way too tempting though. I added some shredded sweet potato to make it more of a substantial evening meal, baked in the oven for 20 minutes then finished off tossed in the remaining duck fat!

Glynn Purnell's Duck with Spiced Plum Jam and Watercress

Glynn says: "Big, juicy, spicy plums! Ooh errr, missus!


That’s what you need to cut through that rich duck and crisp pak choi to blend and balance. Duck is a fab meat either spiced up or classically served. I cook duck a lot and the kids love it. Fat and delicious!"

Ingredients
  • 4 duck breasts
  • 2 heads of pak choi
  • A bunch of watercress
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
For the plum jam:
  • 6 plums, stoned and chopped
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 medium chilli, chopped
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • Pinch of ginger powder

Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas 4.
  • Begin by making the plum jam. Heat the sugar and vinegar until it starts to thicken.
  • Add the chilli and chilli powder, garlic, lime juice and soy sauce. Add the chopped plums and cook until tender.
  • Add the coriander, take off the heat and season with salt and ginger powder.
  • Break the pak choi into individual leaves and split each leaf down the middle. Put to one side.
  • Heat a frying pan. Slash the duck skin and place the breasts, skin side down, on the warm pan. Cook until the skin has caramelised (about 3 minutes). Pour off the excess fat and put it to one side.
  • Lay the duck breasts, skin side down in a baking tin, and cook in the oven for 7–8 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes.
  • Pour the excess fat back into the frying pan and place on a medium heat. Once hot, add the pak choi and toss in the hot duck fat. Remove from the pan and season.
  • Carve the duck into slices, arrange on top of the sweet potato (if using), serve with the pak choi and plum jam, garnished with watercress.
Enjoy xx

Recipe - Rachel Allen's Chicory, Blue Cheese, Pecan and Cranberry bites

As a member of the BBC Good Food Show blogging community I was asked to take part in Stoves Winter recipe recreation.

A little bit about Stoves UK; Founded in 1920, Stoves is one of the UK’s best loved cooking brands. It is also one of the only major kitchen appliance brands still committed to manufacturing in the UK with 100% of its freestanding cookers, built-in ovens and hobs and range cookers assembled at its Merseyside headquarters. All products are designed and built in the UK specifically with British cooks in mind. Stoves is a founding member of the Made in Britain campaign championing British manufacturing.

As a regular visitor to the BBC Good Food Show's, I love to catch some of the live cookery demonstrations on the Stoves stand. Over the four days there were a host of celebrity chefs cooking up a storm; from Brian Turner to Phil Vickery, Glynn Purnell to Rachel Allen.  One of the recipes that caught my attention was Rachel's quick and easy festive canapĂ© of Chicory boats with blue cheese, pecan and cranberries... Delicious. I turned this into a more substantial winter salad by adding some avocado (for protein), some stuffed baby peppers and a mixed salad of rocket, spinach and watercress. I drizzled a little of the dressing over the salad to bring it all together.

Rachel Allen's Chicory, Blue Cheese, Pecan and Cranberry Bites

Ingredients

  • For the dressing:
  • 3 tbsp hazelnut or walnut oil
  • 1 and a half tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • A quarter of a tsp Dijon mustard 
  • Salt and black pepper to season
  • For the bites:
  • 12 pecans
  • 225g (8 oz) Cashel Blue Cheese, cut in to small cubes
  • 1 head chicory
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries, chopped very roughly
Method
  • Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a jam jar.
  • Toast the pecans on a baking tray at 180’C/350’F/Gas mark 4 for 5-10 minutes – don’t leave them as they burn easily. When cool, chop or crumble them roughly.
  • Trim the chicory and separate the leaves. Combine the cheese, nuts and cranberries in a bowl and toss with a little dressing. 
  • Place the chicory leaves on a plate and spoon in the nut and cheese mixture to serve as a simple festive canapĂ©.
Note - this can also be served as a winter you salad served on watercress leaves.


Saturday, 16 January 2016

Umbria - Italy's green heart (day 3)

Our last day included a visit to Narnian ancient hilltown that overhangs a narrow gorge of the Nera River in the province of Terni. It is very close to the Geographic center of Italy. There is a stone on the exact spot with a sign in multiple languages
Like many of the smaller towns of Umbria, Narni is still of strikingly medieval appearance today, with stone buildings, and narrow cobblestone streets. The town is famous for one of the largest Roman bridges (Ponte d'Augusto]) ever built, by which the Via Flaminia crossed the Nera. One arch of the bridge still stands; it is some 30 meters high.
Other sights include:
  • Duomo (Cathedral).
  • Eroli Museum with a Domenico Ghirlandaio's altarpiece.
  • Church of Santa Maria Impensole.
  • Communal Palace (13th century).
  • Palazzo dei Priori, located in the ancient Roman forum's site.
  • Rocca Albornoziana (Albornoz' Castle), overlooking the town, now hosting temporary exhibitions.
  • Romanesque church of Santa Pudenziana, just outside the town.
  • Church of Sant'Agostino, decorated with 18th-century tromp-l'oeil frescoes.
  • Benedictine abbey of San Cassiano.

I love that the imaginary land of 
Narnia, described in the works of C. S. Lewis, was named after Narni after he came across the name in an atlas as a child. Magical!


Our visit concluded with a tour of Narni Sotterranea, situated under St. Dominic's monastery area, the entrance is in a 12th century church, discovered just 30 years ago. This church still preserves some of the most ancient frescos of the city. Through  a passage in the masonry we enter into a large room with a roman cistern, which is probably the remains of a roman house, a "domus". Then, through a long narrow passage, we reach a large dark room which was the Tribunal of the Inquisition, where the accused heretics were put on trial. Several documents, discovered in the municipal and Vatican Archives and Trinity College in Dublin, and the traces left on the masonry by the torture instruments , prove the existence of these trials. A little cell, unique in this way in Italy, gives evidence, through graffiti on its wall, of the pain suffered by those who were imprisoned there to be put on trial. One of them left a message in a graphic code that still isn't completely decoded.
A photogaphic exibition shows the instruments used by the Tribunal to extort confessions from those accused of heresy. The tour of "Narni Underground" ends in the big cistern of the medieval "Lacus", under Garibaldi Square.

Our tour was conducted by one of the original founders of the caves, although he spoke little English, and me even less Italian, I was captivated by his story. 

  
   
  
  
  


A meander through the streets of Narni, more pretty doorways and intriguing alleyways... couldn't you just wander for hours!
  

Our next stop, the fortress Rocca Albornoz which houses an interactive museum through 14 rooms of medieval history. On display were weapons that were used in battles and tournaments, costumes and fashions depicting the standards of beauty of that time; an exhibition of musical instruments; a true discovery of the myths, legends, truths and secrets of the Middle Ages.

Not to mention a fantastic aerial view of the hillside towns around Narni.



Unfortunately, this is where our tour of Terni stopped. I look forward to visiting again with family and exploring even more of Italy's beautiful green heart. Umbria.

For further information on the areas visited, please click below;
Narni
Terni

Julie xx