Fennel and Chocolate

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Curry

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This is a spicy curry, sweetened by fresh pineapple and perfumed with basil. It is a subtle blend of Asain flavours you may use chicken instead of the duck meat if you prefer.

Serves 4

 2 tablespoons oil for frying

400 g cooked duck or chicken meat, roughly chopped

4 spring onions, sliced

3 tablespoons red curry paste

3 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons demerera sugar

3 basil leaves

500 ml coconut milk

2 lemon grass stalks, crushed

2 onions finely chopped

400 g fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped

 Heat the oil in a wok, add the curry paste and coconut milk and bring to the boil.

 Add the lemon grass, cooked meat, onions and pineapple. Turn down the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes. Then add the sugar, fish sauce and torn basil leavesand continue cooking for a further five minutes. Remove the lemon grass stalks and serve with plain boiled rice.

Braised Pork with New Onions

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The most difficult part of this dish is the shopping but it is worth the effort as the result is always tender, succulent pork in a rich sweet onion sauce. Served with some creamy mashed potatoes and Spring cabbage it is always a winner.

Serves 4

1 piece of boneless pork shoulder about 1.5 kilos in weight

1/2 a kilo of new onions, peeled and roughly chopped

1 garlic clove peeled and sliced

250 ml stock or white wine, as you wish

1 bay leaf

A sprig of Rosemary

2 or 3 sage leaves

25 g butter

Salt, pepper

Stud the meat with the slices of garlic

In a large pot melt the butter. Add the meat and fry gently on all sides until browned and golden. Add the onions and continue to cook gently for a further twenty minutes. Add the herbs and the stock or wine and simmer for at least an hour and a half, turning the meat halfway through the cooking time.

Season the sauce, slice the meat and serve.

Garlic Caramel Cream

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If you are an adventurer, if you dare to go where others fear to tread, this is a dessert you will want to try…..just because it’s there.

 

Serves 4

 

For the cream

300 ml single cream

1 egg

2 egg yolks

50 g  caster sugar

1 garlic clove, peeled

 

For the garlic caramel

Half a head of garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 6.

In a bowl whisk the egg and egg yolks until thick and pale.

In a saucepan, over a medium heat bring the cream and the garlic clove to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly then whisk the cream into the eggs and sugar. Strain the mixture into a jug, discard the garlic clove. Divide the mixture into four dishes. Place the dishes in a bain-marie and bake in the oven for ten minutes or until lightly set.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Meanwhile pass the peeled garlic cloves through a garlic press. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and the sugar and cook until golden and then use the garlic caramel to top each of the four dishes.

Chill well before serving.

Country Style Nettle and Dandelion Leaves

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I went out it the garden but had to come back in as it was just too depressing. A moment of weak Spring sunshine and everything has sprung, pardon the pun, into life including the weeds. Not to be defeated I came up with this dish which is easy to prepare, truly frugal and a different taste after the long, wet Winter. Serve it with eggs either fried or hard boiled and enjoy it while you can.

Serves 4

500 g young dandelion leaves
500 g young nettle leaves
300 g smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled, finely chopped
200 ml milk
1 level tablespoon of flour
Salt, pepper

Blanche the nettle and dandelion leaves in a large pan of boiling, salted water. Drain well, pressing out any excess water and then finely chop the leaves.

In a pan fry the bacon and onions until golden, add the flour and allow the mixture to bubble, Add the milk and the cooked leaves, stir well and allow to cook for several minutes.

Season and serve with eggs and bread.

Quick Prawn Bo Bun

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400g  cooked rice noodles
200 g bean sprouts
2 carotts peeled and finely grated
1/2 cucumber cut into thin strips
1 lettuce heart shredded
16 cooked and shelled prawns
Chopped mint, handful
Chopped coriander, a handful

For the sauce
100 g caster sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
The juice of two lemons
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bird’s eye chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Salt

Cook the noodles as per the instructions on the packet. Drain and rinse in cold water. Divide between four serving bowls.

Make the sauce by disolving the sugar in the fish sauce and lemon juice.  Add the chilli, salt and garlic then mix well

Divide the herbs and vegetables between the bowls, top with the prawns and pour over the sauce. Easy.

Sweet and Salty Black Olive Ice Cream

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Salty black olives wrapped in a sweet vanilla cream sounds an unlikely combination but have faith, it works. Infact, it works especially well with baked apples, no I don’t know why it should, it just does.

 

Serves 4

 6 egg yolks

75 g caster sugar

500 ml milk

250 ml single cream

100 ml olive oil (not extra virgin)

100 g stoned black olives, roughly chopped

1/2 a vanilla pod

Place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy.

In a saucepan bring the milk and cream to the boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla pod and olive oil and allow to infuse for twenty minutes. Remove the vanilla pod from the mixture and then pour it onto the eggs and sugar, beating all the time.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and stir the mixture over a gentle heat until it has thickend sufficently to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Add the chopped olives and churn in an ice cream maker until thick and creamy. Place in the freezer in a suitable container for at least two hours before serving.

Camembert and Apple Spiced Pancakes

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I am a purist and freely admit I like nothing more than a pancake straight from the pan with a sprinkling of sugar and nothing else. However what to do with the leftovers? This turns a forgotten pancake into a quick lunch or interesting supper.

 Serves 4

4 large pancakes

4 apples

15 g butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 small Camembert

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

Salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade or Gas Mark 6.

Peel, core and thickly slice the apples. Melt the butter in a frying pan,  add the apples and sugar. Cook over a gentle heat until caramelised then divide the apples between the pancakes.

Slice the Camambert and divide the slices between the pancakes.  Sprinkle each pancake with some of the cumin seeds. Roll up each pancake, place in a baking dish and then bake in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes. Season and serve.