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Monday, September 13, 2010

Padron with love

Sauté until soft in your best extra virgin olive oil for three to five minutes, sprinkle with lots of sea salt and ENJOY!

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Thursday, September 9, 2010


This is the delicious dessert, Bonnet, from the Hotel Villa Rita on the island of Elba. I'm posting the recipe as it came to me from their chef, Vincenzo.

Preheat oven to 160C
Serves: 10


6 eggs
100g white sugar
1-tablespoon cocoa powder
125m1-cup filter coffee
125ml Amaretto liqueur
350g caster sugar and 4 tablespoons water to make up a caramel
Amaretti biscuits to garnish
 10 ramekins, greased


Combine all the above ingredients.  Make up the caramel by placing the sugar in a heavy based pan and slowly melt and cook until it turns a golden honey colour. Remove from the heat and very carefully add 4 tablespoons water. Stir and pour a little caramel into the bottom of each ramekin. Pour in the rest of the mixture.

Place the ramekins in an oven proof dish lined with a tea towel and pour enough boiling water to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Cook for one hour or until set. Remove and chill under ready to serve.

Unmould each ramekin and turn upside down on individual serving plates. Scatter a little crushed Amaretti biscuits over the top and serve with fresh cream or ice cream.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magret with a duxelles farce

I like to stuff duck breast (magret) even though it is a moist meat with many layers of fat. The inclusion of stuffing just adds to the succulence and even more so when the stuffing is a mushroom, eschallot and herb duxelles.  Technically the duxelles mixture should be moisture free but I think it works better here if the mixture is a tiny bit moist.

To make a pocket in the duck breast: lay the breast fat side down on a board on a non-slip surface. Place one hand in the centre of the breast to ensure full control, take a very sharp knife in the other and make an incision at the fattest end of the breast. Using your steady hand as a guide, to feel the point of the knife inside the breast, carefully work the knife through the meat by edging it into the corners until you have achieved a large cavity. Care is required not to pierce the fat or flesh. Remove the knife. Turn the breast over and score the fat very lightly. It is most important not to score too deeply. The breast is now ready for stuffing and salting. Cover and refrigerate until required.

Duxelles – for two thick duck breasts

500g mushrooms, wiped clean
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped eschallot
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
100ml dry white wine

Whiz the mushrooms in a food processor. Turn out onto a clean cloth or paper towels and ring the moisture out. Place the mushrooms, butter and eschallots in a small saucepan and cook until the eschallots are soft. Add the wine and continue cooking until the liquid has completely reduced. Add the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.

I have just given you the method for preparing traditional duxelles but I tend not to be too particular about the mixture being very dry. As I said, I think it works better if the mixture is still a little moist. Cool the duxelles and fill each duck breasts cavity. Lightly salt the fat side of each breast with sea salt.

Cook the breasts as follows: 
The breasts are delicious served rare. Set your fire early and burn the charcoal down to the glowing red ember stage. Place the breasts fat side down and slowly cook melting the thick fat during the process but be prepared for flare-ups. Once the fat is reduced, turn each breast over and cook for another four or so minutes. Remove the breasts from the heat, cover to keep warm and rest for five to ten minutes. Slice across each breast into thick slices and serve. 

Breast served this way do not need a sauce.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Octopus tapas

I seem to be cooking octopus on a weekly basis at the moment. In fact I can't get enough of it. See my recipe from last summer it's as easy as pie but there is another way to prepare octopus. Just place the washed octopus in a large shallow pan and place a lid on top. Gently cook on a low heat for about an hour and a quarter until tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife. The octopus will release its own juice and in this juice it slowly cooks and it just as delicious without the use of herbs, spices and vinegar. Remove from the heat when cooked, cool down completely in its own juice then clean it up under a running tap. The loose dark skin will fall away leaving soft pink flesh ready for slicing. 

Cut the octopus into small rings, hold two or three rings together with a toothpick. Drizzle over some olive oil, a sprinkling of pink sea salt and a little paprika.

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