Duck Leg Confit

Last time I roasted a duck, I separated the legs and practically just cooked the crown.  This has always been a dilemma, as the leg always comes out tough when the breast is perfectly cooked. Roast for longer, and the breast meat is dry as.  Confit-ing seems to be the perfect solution.  Besides, anything cooked in (duck) fat sounds delicious to me. 

So, I salted 2 legs of duck, plus the giblets, and kept them in the fridge overnight.

The following day, l confit-ed the legs and the giblets using the fat rendered from the crown, a bit of stock, 3 bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, 5 cloves of garlic and a few whole peppercorns. The cooking liquid should be Kept at just below boiling point, at the lowest setting on the hob. I left it there for around two hours while we had the last beer of the new year. This resulted to really tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. Lovely.
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Duck leg is such a delicious meat. So simple and easy to prepare. It takes awhile to cook but the result is just mouth-watering. You can buy duck fat in supermarkets now. The other ingredients easy to find, practically staple. Do your laundry, ironing, or blogging while this is gently simmering in the background. Hardly any effort and you will be greatly rewarded. I’ll have mine wrapped in Paleo Pancakes tomorrow morning for breakfast. How are you go in to serve yours?

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Paleo Fish Pie

O, the humble fish pie. Comforting, filling, and simply satisfying. On a cold winter’s night, it brings feelings of warmth and homeliness.

In this instance, the classic British dish was given a paleo twist. Still as hearty as the original, but just a tad healthier. 🙂

You will need:

1 kg sweet potato
1 kg skinless white fish (frozen is ok)
250 g smoked haddock/cod
1 can coconut milk (arroy brand is best, personally)
2 × 50g butter
3 pcs bay leaves
2 to 3 tbsps sweet potato flour
Salt and pepper, to taste

Wash the sweet potato and cook in the microwave for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the flesh is soft. No need to peel as it is easy to cut through the skin and scrape off the flesh when cooked. When done, make a sweet potato mash with 50g butter, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk plus half a can of water on the hob. Dunk the bay leaves in and season with salt and pepper. When nearly simmering, place the fish in to gently poach for about 10 minutes. When this is done, take the fish out and just flake with a fork. Take away the bay leaves too. Set aside.
Make a rue by melting 50 g of butter in a separate pan then adding the sweet potato flour in. Mix until it forms into a paste consistency. Transfer this paste into the cooking liquor, heat, and gently stir until just thickened (coating the back of a spoon). Ta da!! Bechamel sauce 😉 Season to taste
Place the flaked fish in an oven dish, pour the sauce over the fish, the spoon the mash on top. Don’t flatten out the top. The uneven surface will create nice little burnt mash that tastes caramel-y.
Enjoy with your choice of veggies.
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Tuna Sweet Potato Burgers

This is one thing I totally made up.  Knowing that fishcakes occasionally have potatoes in them, I reckoned the paleo equivalent will be made with sweet potatoes. See the genius there, u-huh! 😉

Had some leftover uncooked sweet-pots from the supper club and a few canned tuna in the cupboard so I tested my hypothesis. Here’s how it went:

2 large-ish sweet potatoes, grated
3 cans of tuna, drained
3-4 eggs, depending on size
Salt and pepper

Before I start, can I just say, a food processor is a gift from the heavens. Dunno how I survived without it. Grates food in less than a minute!

Moving on, squeeze out some excess water from the sweet-pot and transfer into a microwavable bowl. Zap for about 3-4 minutes to partially cook.

Thereafter, mix in the tuna, eggs, salt and pepper. Form patties. Pan-fry in a little oil, making sure not to move them until they have somehow set (maybe after 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of the patties.)

Serve with steamed veg drizzled with sesame oil. Maybe with a bit of lemon or lime. Quick and simple. 😀

 

PS. Forgive the picture quality. They tasted good though!

 

Green Tea Cakes

Clearing up the mess inside my bag, I spotted a tear-out from the Metro (free daily newspaper). It was a simple recipe I quite fancied trying which just slipped out of my mind. Green Tea Cakes.

This occured months ago, prior to me adopting the paleo lifestyle.  I have a treat very occasionally so I reckoned this will be it. I used:

125g salted butter
3 tbsps honey
3 egg whites
2 tbsps caster sugar
150g ground almonds
green tea powder  (3 bags of Clipper, see note)
40g rice flour
sesame seeds

Make a beurre noisette – butter in pan, on heat, until the butter solids just turn ever so slightly golden. Take off the heat right away to cool.  The solids will continue to brown with the residual heat. Add the honey to loosen it up a bit. Stir and taste: just like salted caramel HEAVEN!!! Set aside.

Hand-whip the egg whites then gradually add the sugar when a decent foam has formed. Maybe until just before soft peak. Fold in the ground almonds, tea and the beurre noisette. Then mix in the flour.  Rest in the fridge for a bit while you pre-heat the oven to 160C.  Spoon into moulded trays and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool and eat. Enjoy. 😀

NB1. The original recipe calls for matcha tea powder. It actually makes the cakes look very green. In this case it’s just a super-pale green.

NB2. I partially substituted the sugar with honey.  Actually if I used honey altogether, it wouldn’t have had made a difference. Mix all the honey in the butter and not put any sugar in your whisked egg whites. More paleo-friendly. Also, the original recipe called for plain flour.  I used rice flour for a gluten-free treat.

NB3. A mixture of black and white sesame seeds will make the cakes prettier.  😀

 

Lutik (Spiced Squash & Sweet Potato in Coconut Milk)

In a bid to make vegetables more interesting, I have tapped into my roots for some inspiration.  (For those who do not know, I come from the Philippines – Baz.) 😀

One of my favourites is called lutik, a simple dish of squash in coconut milk. The type of squash normally used is the green-skinned variety, but I reckoned butternut squash will do as well.  This would also make a good paleo dish.  I added a bit of sweet potato for a novel twist, and used dried little shrimp instead of guinamos (shrimp paste – google it!). Here is a list of what I used:

Butternut squash, skinned and cubed, about 1.5 kg
Sweet potato, skinned and cubed, fist-size
Coconut milk, 400mL
2 big handsful of dried little shrimps (from any Oriental shop)
Garlic, 6 cloves, minced
Shallots, 6 bulbs, sliced
Cumin, half a teaspoon
Cayenne pepper and Salt, to taste

Sweat the shallots in a little oil until just transparent, then add the garlic and cook for about a minute.  Add the shrimp, and cook some more until they brown just a bit. Dunk the veggies in and about half a glass of water.  Bring to boil, cover. and let it simmer.

When the squash and potato have just about softened, pour in the coconut milk.  Stir and let simmer until only about half of the liquid remains. Season with cumin, pepper and salt. Taste and re-adjust until you get the right balance.  This will taste a little bit sweet, because of the sweet potato and the other natural sugars in the squash and coco milk.

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If you cannot find the dried little shrimps, you can use normal prawns but add them at the very last minute when you are nearly ready to serve; otherwise they will turn rubbery. And if you love it spicier, add one dried chilli at the simmering stage. Or add some baby spinach leaves near the end to up the vitamin content. Blitz it for a nice hearty soup. Enjoy!

Seeded Turkey Breasts

Faced with the necessity of making quick, healthy and lean after-work meals, I made up an alternative to breaded turkey.  While I am not averse to crumbs, I pondered there should be a way to make it healthier and interesting. Then it hit me, ‘Why not use seeds instead?’ That would make good use of the Omega Sprinkle from Holland & Barrett – a mix of linseed, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  Added omega fatty acid benefits, too. Shhhha-ting!!  And to make them stick to the poultry, the versatile mustard came to the rescue.   Ever-so-easy to make, you’ll need:

Turkey breast slices
Enough seed mix (partially ground in the mortar and pestle, just to break the big ones)
Mustard
Salt / Pepper

Season the seed mix. Coat the turkey slices in mustard, sprinkle the seeds on the surface and press with the back of the spoon. I find this works better as the mix tends to stick to the fingers. Be as generous as you can but make sure they actually stay on the meat.

Fry in a medium hot pan with little oil (or use non-stick) for 5-7 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Or afterwards pop under the low to medium grill for an additional 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your meat.

Devour.

NB. Free range chicken breast slices work good too, as well as boneless chicken thighs.  The latter is the best option of the three.  And promise, I’ll wipe the plate next time. 😉

Vietnamese Pork / Beef Skewers

Inspired by Luke Nguyen who I stumbled upon on YouTube, this recipe of Vietnamese Pork and Beef was just too good to resist.  I had to tweak it a little bit just to make it more practical and slightly leaner.  The original recipe calls for pork fat and pork skin / rind which make the finished meat lollipops very moist.  As I can’t find pork fat, I used suet instead but only used about half the amount.  The meat mixture is then traditionally wrapped around a lemongrass stalk, but this would have cost so much to make, considering one stalk is 40p at the supermarket (booooo!).  Bamboo skewers make good alternative.

So, to make these, you will need:

250g mince pork (I used free-range for a clear conscience)
250g mince beef (FR too, I should be a saint!)
Small handful of suet
4 tsps sugar (add a little bit more if you want a sweetish caramelised coating)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fish sauce
6 cloves grated garlic
6 finely chopped kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk finely chopped and bruised lemongrass
1 finely chopped chilli
Grated lime rind

For the dipping sauce:

Juice of 1 lime
Fish sauce
Chilli, to taste
Sugar, to taste

Mix all the ingredients well, form into little sausage shapes and insert the skewers through. Job done. If you cannot get hold of the ingredients, e.g., lime leaves, don’t fret. It will still work.  Maybe add a bit of lemongrass and more lime rind to achieve that Southeast Asian aroma.

A barbeque grill is very ideal to cook this as the will fat drip over the coal, giving the meat a smoky flavour. A conventional grill will do ok, too. Cook under the lowest setting for about 15 to 20 minutes turning every now and then.

For the sauce, stir in all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.  Fire away!!! 😀

Rosemary Garlic Bread

Having been stricken by the flu, I called my manager to stay at home and work remotely. At this helpless state, I could barely concentrate in front of the PC. The after-effects of the past evening’s night nurse have yet to wear off, too.

At around lunchtime, I desperately needed a distraction. Anything.

Searched the fridge and found some fresh rosemary. Searched Google and found me a recipe for rosemary garlic bread. And as Keith Lemon remarks (in high-pitched voice), ‘Shhhh-tinggggg’!

Foremost, apologies to whoever I based the recipe from, my mind was not at its most alert stage yesterday.  Here’s what I can remember I used:

2.5 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Quarter cup of milk or so
About 2 heaped tbsp of fresh rosemary (a little extra for topping)

Whole head of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil

1 pack fast-acting yeast
¾ cup lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar

Soon enough, I had the yeast in the sugary water solution. Left it there for about 10 minutes until frothy and smelling of beer.  Meanwhile, I packed the garlic and 1 tbsp of olive oil in foil and baked it at 170C for about 45 minutes. This mellows the garlic taste and turns it into a spreadable garlic paste.

That done, I mixed the flour, salt, oil, milk, rosemary and the yeasty brew. The dough was a little bit wet, so I added just a tad more flour. Then onto the countertop for the kneading process. I did about 7 minutes of kneading, until dough became elastic and smooth, then left it to prove in the boiler room for about an hour.

Break over, I went back to work until the garlic’s done, which I just simply squeezed out of the individual cloves, mixed with a bit more olive oil, and pounded in the good ol’ mortar and pestle.

When the dough’s done proving, I poured it back on to the countertop, divided it into 8 pieces.  I rolled each piece to about 18 inches and twisted each of them to form a braid.  Now, I got this bit of inspiration from the Hairy Bikers the night before. Apparently, the ‘braid’ has more surface area; hence, more crust; therefore, bread is crunchier. Ding-ding! Thanks Simon and Dave!  I laid these on the baking sheets and allowed them to rise for another 20 minutes. I brushed the garlic-y oil mash over them, and sprinkled the extra rosemary and some salt on top, then banged them into the pre-heated oven at 190C for 15 minutes.

Dough at second proving stage, brushed with garlic oil paste and sprinkled with chopped rosemary and salt.

And these were the results:

Enjoy with lashings of butter 😉

Pork Meatballs

A lot of people never really consider pork as an option when they are cutting down on calories.  One thing I discovered, is that lean pork mince has less fat than lean some versions of lean beef.  I would normally use beef for chilli con carne, bolognese or meatballs.  This time, however, I thought I would give pork meatballs a go.  And as an added twist, I will use chorizo flavours to make this hearty dish! The broth I made with this is lighter than what I would normally do (there was no tomato sauce / passata in the cupboard, ha! tut tut!)  These are what I used:

Meatballs:
500g minced pork
4 tsps smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
6 cloves of garlic (grated)
pinch of salt and pepper

Sauce:
3 plump tomatoes (chopped)
1 large onion (sliced / chopped)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 chicken oxo cube  (dissolved in a pint of water)
4 dried bay leaves
pitted black olives
chopped parsley
2 dried chilli (optional ;))

Mix together the ingredients for the meatballs and shape into bite-sized balls.  This portion made about 30. Place under the grill, turn around a few times to get even colouration. (You can fry these little babies but it just defeats the purpose of low-cal.)

Meanwhile, fry the onion over medium heat until just translucent then add the tomatoes, and further cook for about 3 minutes. Pour in the stock and everything else, and simmer.  When the porkies are ready, dunk them into the sauce and simmer until, say, 10-15 minutes or about a quarter or half of the sauce has evaporated.  The sauce will thicken slightly during the process.  Adjust seasoning, as appropriate, and serve to the hungry!

 

 Of course, I HAVE to have rice. 😉 Enjoy!

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Inspired by a Jamie Oliver 30-minute meal episode, I tried my hand on this recipe for puttanesca.  The name literally translates to ‘whore-style spaghetti’, apt for the guest I’m having tonight. (haha joke Ric!!!)  I’ve had this dish before ages ago, and it actually packs a strong punch from the anchovies and capers.  Easy and simple to make, you would need these:

400g spaghetti, cook as directed
4 cloves garlic, crushed / grated
5 fillets anchovies
2 cans tuna in oil
pitted black olives, halved or sliced
capers
cayenne pepper
700mL passata (sieved tomatoes)
stock
parsley

As the pasta is cooking, fry the garlic in a little bit of oil for about a minute in medium heat.  Add the anchovies and mix until the fish disintegrates.  Throw in the olives and maybe 2 tbsp of capers. (I added some sliced mushrooms last time I made it.) After a minute or 2, put the tuna in, pressing on the chunks to break them. Cook for about 3 minutes and sprinkle in the parsley and some cayenne pepper if you fancy. If you have oregano, add half a teaspoon of it. 

Thereafter, stir in the passata and stock. For the latter, I just dissolved an Oxo chicken cube in about 100mL of water.  You can buy some ready-made stock but this dish shouts convenience, hence the cube. 😉  Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Now, spoon about a quarter of the sauce into the pasta to just about lightly coat each strand with a red tinge.  Divide on plates and pour more sauce on top.  Serve. Best enjoyed with a glass of red and good company.