My favourite Autumn dish!

As the leaves turn golden brown, the cooler nights draw in and thoughts of Halloween & Bonfire Night spring to mind so does Toffee Apples, Hot Chocolate and Duck with Blackberry Sauce!

An odd combination I know but definitely one of my favourites and it’s delicious! Game season begins in September so you can replace the duck with Venison or Guinea Fowl and it works just as well. Why not swap blackberries and red wine for cherries and port at Christmas for a festive alternative to Turkey!

Ingredients – Serves 2

2 duck breasts

150g blackberries

1 tbsp caster sugar

½ shallot, finely chopped

100ml red wine

100ml chicken stock

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C, gas mark 4. Score the skin of the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern and season. Place them skin-side down in a cold frying pan and set over a medium heat. Cook for 20 minutes, tipping excess fat out of the pan as it cooks. Meanwhile, put the blackberries in a small saucepan with the sugar and simmer for 5 minutes, crushing the berries with the back of a fork; set aside.

2. When the skin is golden and crisp, turn the breasts over and cook the flesh side for 2 minutes, then transfer to a roasting tray and place in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, wrap loosely in foil and rest for 5 minutes.

3. While the duck breasts are in the oven, spoon all but 1 tbsp fat from the pan. Set the pan over a medium-low heat and cook the shallot for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the wine and stock to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes over a high heat, until reduced and syrupy. Stir in the blackberries and any resting juices from the duck and simmer until warmed through. Slice the duck and serve with the sauce, plus some steamed Autumn green vegetables.

Enjoy x

Fancy a little something on the side?

stilton scones

If you’re like me and are in for a busy day this Christmas you will look forward to waving the last of the crowd off, putting your feet up and catching up on who’s wedding went off with a bang and who snuffed it on the soaps! Trouble is after the cooking, the present unwrapping and the clearing up, the nibbles start to nag (even though I’ve consumed enough food to last me to February!).

My Stilton & Rosemary Scones are perfect for this time of day and if you’re very organised you could make them a couple of days before the 25th and keep in an air tight container. They are the perfect partner for my homemade chutney (this chutney is so easy, once you’ve made it you will never buy another jar!).

This delicious duo is excellent with a glass of your favourite red and what better way to end the craziest day of the year, indulge and enjoy!

Quick Caramelised Onion, Port & Cranberry Chutney

  • 5 onions finely sliced
  • 3tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1tbsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp dried cranberries
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Soak the cranberries in the port.
  2. Fry the onions in 1tbsp olive oil allowing to brown and caramelise.
  3. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper & port-soaked cranberries & cook out for a further 20 minutes or until liquid is reduced by three quarters.

Stilton & Rosemary Scones

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 25g butter
  • 75g Stilton cheese
  • 1tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 large egg & a little milk
  1. Combine flour, baking powder & salt.
  2. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Mix in the Stilton and rosemary.
  4. Mix in the egg and a little milk, enough to create a sticky dough.
  5. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and roll to 2cm thick.
  6. Cut shape with a biscuit cutter.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven (200c fan) for 8 mins.
  8. Cool on a cooling rack.

Are you ready for the Blackberry season?

Blackberry honey creams

It’s that time of year when the humble blackberry decorates our hedgerows and our spare time is filled with searching out brambles. Armed with Tupperware containers, baskets and a brolly (for holding back branches!) we will set out to fill our kitchens with enough blackberries to feed an army!

There is a fine art to blackberry picking, look for plump, dry & dark fruit that are not too firm nor too squishy. You need them to survive the journey home (minus a few tempting ones!), you also need them ready for storing.

The best way to store blackberries is to keep them dry and cool and eat within a day or two. Blackberries freeze extremely well, simply spread a single layer on a tray and freeze until solid then pop them into an air-tight bag, you can then defrost at room temperature to use for cooking or eat them frozen with a warm white chocolate sauce!

I always use my surplus blackberries to make Blackberry Honey Creams, they are absolutely delicious and so easy to make, follow my recipe below for a speedy dessert or a nutritious breakfast!

Ingredients

  • 500g Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tbsp runny honey
  • 300g washed blackberries
  • blackberry coulis (bring to the boil 250g blackberries & 50g caster sugar, add teaspoon of vanilla extract, when fruit is soft leave to cool and then whizz to a puree in a blender, and sieve before serving).

Beat the yogurt with honey to taste. Divide half the berries between 4 glasses, drizzle with some coulis and spoon over yogurt. Top with the remaining berries and some coulis. Serve immediately with the rest of the coulis.

Blackberries are available from August through to October but do you remember the old wives tale? Don’t pick a blackberry after Michaelmas Day (October 11th) as it’s rumoured the devil will make them unfit to eat by stepping & spitting on them! There’s probably some truth in this as when the wetter and cooler weather arrives this often causes the fruit to become mouldy. Therefore you haven’t got long to enjoy the seasonal delights, but it’s a great time to try your hand at making jam, cooking & baking!

Enjoy x

How to spice up your BBQ!

BBQ foodI’m sure your nostrils have had the delicious waft of your neighbours al fresco cooking and you’ve often wondered why your chargrilled sausages don’t smell quite that good! Well wonder no more simply follow my mouth watering recipes below and you will have your taste buds trembling with delight!

Grilled Corn

Boil the corn for 5 minutes until bright yellow but not yet cooked through; cool under cold water and drain well. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and kept in the fridge). For cooking the coals should be white and glowing before you begin cooking. Cook for 10 mins, turning often, until the corn is tender and golden. Brush with a little soft butter (garlic butter is perfect) as it cooks. Transfer to a dish, top with more of the butter and let it melt.

Burgers – Aussie Style!

  • 1kg minced beef
  • 2 finely chopped red onions
  • 5 crushed garlic cloves
  • large handful of chopped parsley
  • 75ml tomato ketchup
  • 50ml oyster sauce
  • 2 egg yolks

To make the burgers, mix together all the ingredients and knead well so everything is thoroughly mixed. Separate the mix into 6 large balls, then shape into burgers. Put them in the fridge and, if possible, leave to chill for at least 1 hr.

To cook the burgers, get the barbecue good and hot with the coals glowing. You don’t need to add any oil to the burgers. Put them on the barbecue and leave for a few minutes until the edges start to colour, then turn over. Repeat the process, then turn again. Remove to the cooler side of the barbecue and leave to cook for a good 15 minutes if you like them well cooked.

To serve:

  • 6 smoked back bacon rashers
  • 6 slices fresh pineapple
  • 6 slices good melting cheese, such as cheddar
  • 6 burger baps, split in half
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 12 slices pickled beetroot
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 Cos lettuce, separated into leaves

While the burgers are cooking, BBQ the bacon and pineapple. Top the burgers with the bacon, then add the cheese and put back on the barbecue to melt. Warm the baps over the barbecue, too, if you like. Divide the mayo between the bap bases and top with the burgers. Add the pineapple, beetroot, tomato and lettuce, then put the lids on top.

Frango churrasco (Grilled lemon & garlic chicken)

  • 900g boneless chicken thighs (skin-on if possible)
  • zest and juice 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp mild piri-piri sauce
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped

Place the chicken in a shallow, non-metallic dish and cover with all the other ingredients and mix everything together. Cover and chill for at least 2 hrs, orovernight if possible. Bring to room temperature 1 hr before grilling.

Thread half the thighs onto 2 large metal skewers, or wooden ones soaked in water for 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining thighs and another 2 skewers. Heat an outdoor barbecue until very hot. Place on the grill for 6 minutes on one side, then turn over and cook for 4 minutes. Cook for a few minutes more on each side if they are large – keep the heat on medium so they don’t burn. Remove and keep warm under foil.

That’s it folks! Easy!

All you need to do is serve the above with a fresh crispy green salad and a nice chilled beer, your guests will be amazed and your neighbours nostrils will be twitching for hours!

Recipes courtesy of BBC good food guide http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/barbecue