Duck and Broccoli Stir-fry

We bought our first house because there was a chopping board in the kitchen piled high with sliced vegetables, and because the owners were playing ‘The Beatles’ on vinyl.  They suckered us into believing that if we lived there, we would never again leave a turnip or a green pepper to pucker and shrivel in our fridge.  And to some extent, it proved to be true.  I actually used to make my own spring rolls in that house.  When we moved into the current house, however, we found a bag of weevil-infested flour in the cupboard, but the less said about that the better.

Anyway, try to rally from that piece of information in order to enjoy this vitamin-filled recipe!  The sauce is quite runny.


Serves 2 – 3

1 bunch spring onions, sliced

2 inches ginger, peeled and sliced

1 chilli, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 head broccoli, including stalk (slice the stalk and halve each little floret)

150 -200g sliced duck fillet

Soy sauce (Kikkoman, preferably)

Dry sherry

Sesame oil

1 teaspoon cornflour

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Rice, if that’s what you’re having with it


 Marinate the duck fillets in the cornflour, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and a tablespoon of sesame oil.  Don’t do this is advance; it’s fine to do it just as you’re starting to cook.
Now put your rice on.  Dinner only takes about 10 minutes to cook from this point if everything is prepared.

Fry nearly all of your spring onions with the garlic and ginger in some hot, hot, oil for about 30 seconds.  Add the duck fillets and fry until they start to colour.  The bottom of the pan will soon start to look sinister and burnt because of the cornflour marinade sticking.  Deglaze with about 3 tablespoons of dry sherry, stir, and then add about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and a further splash or two of water.  Add the broccoli and the sugar and pop a lid on.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 – 8 minutes, depending on how you like your broccoli.

Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the leftover spring onions.








Bread Buns

I did actually make twice the amount of dough last night so that we could have these warm for breakfast this morning.  And they were delicious!  Break up your dough, which has risen again slightly in the fridge last night (covered with cling-film) into about 8 pieces.  Sprinkle with flour and bake on a lined baking tray for 12 – 20 minutes (180 degrees).  Remember to pick them up as you’re checking them, as often it’s the underside which burns the quickest.  I can’t recommend enough that you invest in a decent baking tray for this kind of thing as it stops them from getting scorched.






If you roll the dough thinly enough, this amount of dough is enough for the whole family.  Use 2 big baking trays covered with a non-stick sheet.

Perfect served with a rocket salad and either a nice glass of wheat beer or a Riesling.

Stir together 500g strong white flour, a sachet of easy-blend yeast and 2 teaspoons of salt.

Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of honey into a measuring jug, and top up the jug with warm (not too hot) water up to the 300ml mark.  Stir.

Don’t be too eager; you probably won’t need all of the liquid.

Pour in about half of the liquid, then use your hand to work in a bit more.  Keep pushing and pulling the dough around the bowl until all of the flour is incorporated, adding a little bit more liquid until it feels right.  Don’t worry if it goes sticky.  It can easily be rescued with a bit more flour.  Knead for at least 10 minutes, until it forms a smooth ball.

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave anywhere not too cold for about 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry about 4 thinly sliced onions in one frying pan and a packet of streaky bacon (finely snipped with scissors) in another.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Divide the dough into four pieces.  Flatten and work each piece with a rolling pin, then put them onto the two baking trays.  Make sure they are really, really thin.

Smear each piece of dough with a few tablespoons of crème fraîche, right up to the edges.  Sprinkle the bacon over the top, finishing with a generous flourish of onion.  You might want to grind some black pepper or nutmeg over the top.

Pop into a hot oven for 15 – 25 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Of course, you could turn half of the dough into pizzas or garlic bread.  Or save some for your breakfast bread rolls.  All that domesticity with one batch of dough!

Lemon, Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

Too much?  I don’t think so!

260g plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

110g golden caster sugar

85g butter, melted and slightly cooled

100g white chocolate, chopped or white chocolate buttons

About 12- 18 frozen raspberries; keep them in the freezer until THE MOMENT you need them, unless you’re going for a garish Halloween theme

Freshly grated lemon rind

240ml milk

1 large egg


Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

Sift the flour, baking powder and sugar into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg, then add the milk and finally the butter and lemon zest.  Stir.

Pour the liquid into the dry mixture.  Using a metal tablespoon, slowly scrape the bottom and edges of the bowl until the flour is hardly visible. Stop.  It’s important not to overstir.

At this point, put the chocolate in, but don’t stir.

Take the raspberries out of the freezer and break them as you add them to the mixture. I like to find small bits of raspberry in my muffin rather than whole ones, and fresh ones can’t really be broken without making a big mess.

Scrape around the bowl once or twice more, so that absolutely no flour can be seen, then fill 10-12 muffin cases with the mixture.

If you want to sprinkle some oats or demerara sugar on the top you can.

After 15 minutes in the oven, turn them round 180 degrees to ensure an even bake, then give them a further 5 – 10 minutes, depending on your oven.  They are done when they are golden brown and hardly wobble at all as you touch them.



Chocolate Chip Cookies


I promise that I won’t do this to you very often!  These cookies are the loveliest, squidgiest homemade cookies ever, but after all Nigella’s done for us, it wouldn’t be right to post her recipe here.  If you want it, you’ll have to buy her book ‘Kitchen’.  The only things I’ve altered are that I use light muscovado sugar instead of soft brown sugar (not a huge difference, is it?), and two random bars of any chocolate we have in, cut up into large chunks.


Chicken and Coconut Curry



This feels like such a cosy, healthy dinner.  There aren’t many comfort foods which are as good for you as this curry.  And if you’re suffering from the rainyday blues, I’d really recommend it!

2 onions, finely sliced

a little olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 – 3 stalks lemongrass, peeled and finely chopped

1 – 2 chillis, sliced and de-seeded, if you want

1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

4 – 8 crushed cardamom pods, husks removed

4 chicken breasts, whole

juice of one lemon

1 tin coconut milk (Shop around:  Even within the same supermarket, it can vary from 80p to £1.80)

handful fresh coriander

salt and pepper

vegetables (optional)

Gently soften the onion in the oil and salt before adding the garlic, lemongrass and chilli.  Fry for a further 2 – 3 minutes, turn the heat up a little and add the whole chicken breasts.  Allow to brown slightly and then add the ground cumin, cardamom and a teaspoon of turmeric.  Stir thoroughly to cover the chicken and onions in all of the lovely spices.  Add some pepper.

Pour in the tin of coconut milk and use an extra splash of water to rinse out the tin.  Put the lid on the pan.  Simmer gently for about 10 minutes before taking the chicken out, cutting it into thick slices and returning it to the pan.  At this point, add any vegetables ( beans, carrots) if you’d like to, and start cooking your basmati rice.

When the rice is ready, rinse with boiling water.  Add the juice of half a lemon to your curry.  If it needs more, add the rest of the lemon juice.  Stir in half of the coriander and save half to sprinkle on top.



Pasta with Bacon, Mushrooms and Tomatoes


It’s not terribly original, but it’s a Monday night family dinner which takes about thirty minutes from start to finish, and that’s got to be good.  The only essential ingredients are the onion, chilli, bacon, tomatoes and pasta.  Everything else is just a bonus.

1 onion

1 chilli

100g mushrooms

1 small packet good quality lardons

1 tin chopped tomatoes


4 – 5 leaves swiss chard

a tablespoon pinenuts (quickly dry-fried for a minute)

fresh and dried basil

salt (be careful – the lardons will be salty!) and pepper to taste

Fry the onion and chilli in a tiny bit of oil, adding the lardons after just a minute. Increase the heat just enough to brown the lardons, but keep stirring and turn down again if the onion starts to catch.

When they are cooked, add the mushrooms and continue to stir over a medium heat.

Add the tomatoes and dried basil, plus a third of a tin of water.  Pop the lid on and cook gently.  After about 10 minutes, start cooking your pasta, and at the same time,add the finely chopped chard to your tomato pan.

When the pasta is done, serve it with the tomato sauce, sprinkled with basil leaves and the toasted pinenuts.