Tag Archives: cooking

Roast duck breasts with parsnip purée

Roast duck breasts with parsnip purée

Roast Duck Breasts with Parsnip Purée  is a classic dish. The duck breasts used for this recipe are called magrets. This is a duck breast that has been completely removed from the bone and has no wing attached. This breast can then have the skin removed or left on. Leaving the skin on gives a crispy finish. The magret refers to the breast of a Moulard duck that has been reared for foie gras. A Moulard duck is a cross between a Muscovy drake and a Pekin hen, and is a sizable bird with a well-developed breast. It also is the preferred duck used to produce foie gras, because of its large size and hearty constitution.  Magret duck breasts usually come vacuum-packed from France and are ready to cook. If you can’t get magrets, simply roast duck breasts still on the carcass, then remove them from the bone once cooked and rested. 

Linguine with rocket

Linguine with rocket

Linguine with rocket can be a very nice, fashionable lunch, that is so quick and easy to make at home. Rocket has an excellent peppery flavour that combines beautifully with the Parmesan cheese. Linguine is an egg pasta and looks rather like flattened strands of spaghetti. Spaghetti, fettucine or pappardelle could be used instead. Dried pasta cooks in 10-12 minutes, but an even faster result can be obtained by using fresh pasta. Simply add it to a large pan of boiling, lightly salted water, making sure that all the strands are fully submerged, and cook for 2-3 minutes. The pasta is ready when it rises to the top of the pan and is tender to the taste, with a slight firmness in the centre. Fresh Parmesan keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a month, if wrapped in greaseproof paper.

Green beans with pine nuts

Green beans with pine nuts

Green beans should have a bright, strong colour, with crisp pods with a satin-like sheen. They should not look wilted, discoloured or brown. They are best eaten when young and tender. To tell how fresh they are, snap one in half. The ‘snap’ should be clean and clear. Don’t buy them if the ‘snap’ is lacking, and if the insides do not seem juicy when you break them open. Home-grown green beans are in season from June to September. Thin green finger-length beans that are also called French beans or haricots verts. They also include the fatter snap or bobby bean, and the yellow wax bean. Confusingly, green beans are not always green; some varieties you might find at farmers’ markets and farm shops are yellow or purple – but all are delicious.

Red velvet cake

Red velvet cake

Red velvet cake is traditionally prepared as a layer cake topped with cream cheese or cooked roux icing. The cake can be a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. When foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beet juices to enhance the color of their cakes. Beets are found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also serve to retain moisture. Traditionally, red velvet cake is iced with a French-style butter roux icing (also called ermine icing), which is very light and fluffy, but time-consuming to prepare. Cream cheese frosting and buttercream frosting are variations which have increased in popularity. The rich red colour of this recipe makes this cake very attractive and well-known around the world.

Marinated eel

Marinated eel

Eel swim thousands of miles from their birthplace in the Sargasso Sea (off the American coast) to the rivers of Europe. In Italy they are found at the mouth of the river Po, in the Tiber, and in Sicily and Sardinia. A favourite Roman recipe at Christmas is capitone, a mature female eel which is cut into chunks, marinated and cured in oil, vinegar and herbs, then grilled over charcoal. This recipe is using smaller eels and reversing the process, frying the eel chunks first, then marinating them. Marinated fish are popular in Italy and are usually eaten at the start of the meal as an antipasto. Eels are most often sold live, although they are sometimes available as steaks. A live eel is quite something to manage, so ask your fishmonger for advice. There are serious concerns surrounding the sustainability of eels, both wild and farmed (as even these are raised from wild elvers).