Back at the Star for 2014

After a couple of years running an iconic Yorkshire Dales pub - www.thefalconinn.com – with Peter, I’m currently back in the Dordogne and cooking at the Star Inn in Périgueux on Saturday nights.  So far, we’ve had a Christmas Curry Feast (Indian) and and a Thai banquet, both of which have gone down very well.  I’m doing Thai again tomorrow, either Indian or Malay/Indonesian on the 18th and I’ll be doing another Burns Night on the 25th January, so if you want to come along to any of these, please contact Bev at the Star (05 53 08 56 83).

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While I’m writing this…

 

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Remembrance of a great meal past!

It’s a lazy Sunday, I could do lots of things like de-cobweb the house or clean the car, but as always my mind turns to food!

Last year I was unexpectedly invited to a French neighbour’s house for supper.  We were going to eat what ever he had prepared for himself for that evening.  What was so amazing was that all five courses were cooked on the top of his wood-burning stove, which was in his kitchen and was his only source of heat.  It was a truly humbling and amazing experience and I  felt really honoured to share his meal.

Anyway, today I thought I would re-create on my own wood-burning stove the very same meal!  It’s taken me six hours to do the simplest of meals but it’s been great fun and hasn’t cost me anything in gas or electricity!!!!

What we had was:

Duck soup (made with the carcass and a few leftover vegetables)
That took me two hours!!

Braised endive (otherwise known as chicory, in butter and stock)
That took me an hour!

Duck breasts (slowly pan fried, skin down, for 20 minutes, fat drained off and then turned over for five minutes)

Potatoes stewed in the aforementioned duck fat with a few cèpes and chopped garlic thrown in and served with a sprinkling of parsley (sprinkled of course from a great height and with a finishing flourish that would have impressed any Michelin-starred chef!!)
That took me another hour and a half!!!

Dessert was a sweet omelette, flambéed with eau de vie.
Wow!!

Remembering the original meal  was a real pleasure and re-creating it was great fun, running backwards and forwards all day, stirring and moving pans around.  Eating it was good too, but being there was better.

But what a great thing to do on a day when you really don’t want to do any housework!!
Try it!
Jx

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Stylish gadget for the kitchen

My friend and neighbour Perry Lancaster is a really talented woodcarver and sculptor.  Much of his work is of birds and animals – you can see his site at: http://www.perrylancaster.com

But now, Perry has come up with a wonderful new gadget for his kitchen which I thought I’d share with you.  It’s a very stylish knife rack.  Like most wall racks, it’s magnetic, but being made of polished hardwood it’s much more stylish and doesn’t damage your knives.  This is what it looks like:

Knife rack by Perry Lancaster

The price is still to be confirmed, but Perry’s mentioned it will have to be £40+.  Nevertheless, that’s good value for a craftsman-made, well-designed piece of furniture which will help preserve your favourite knives – they are, after all, the most important bit of kit in any kitchen and can cost hundreds of pounds.  Highly recommended!

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A bit of attention

A few weeks ago, I mentioned I was due to be featured in the French Week newspaper and the article duly appeared in the 17th December edition.  Unfortunately, thanks to a strike somewhere in the supply chain, we weren’t able to get a copy down here in the Dordogne.  Thankfully, Gemma Driver has now sent me a PDF copy and I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out.  Thanks too to French Week editor Miranda Neame for giving me such prominent coverage:

French Week 21 Page 12

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Nouveau menu livraison en français

Je vous propose mon nouveau menu français pour la nouvelle année.  Si vous voudriez commander un livraison, c’est très simple : cliquez au lien ci-dessous, regardez le menu, choisissez ce que vous voulez et me donner votre commande au 05.53.05.28.47.  Le livreur acceptera votre paiement en espèces ou par chèque.  Nous sommes ouvert de 16h30 à 20h30 jeudi à samedi.

Curry Queen – Des Currys livré chez vous ! v2 jan 2011

Bon app !

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Fragrant Carrot and Orange Soup

I was looking at the slightly tired contents of the fruit and veg bowl this morning wondering what we could have for lunch and came up with what turned out to be a really fragrant, tasty and  warming soup.  Do try it – the cardamom and cumin give it a wonderful spicy aroma without taking the roof of your mouth off.  The recipe below is plenty for six people.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large carrots – diced
  • 3 parsnips or potatoes – diced
  • 4 medium onions – chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 10 cardamom pods – smashed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (preferably roasted)
  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 2 litres chicken or vegetable stock (cubes are fine)
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • a pinch of pepper to taste

Method: Sweat the carrots, parsnips (or potatoes), onions and garlic in the butter for 20 minutes.  Smash the cardamom pods and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar – add to the vegetables.  Sweat the lot for another 10 minutes, then add the grated rind and juice of the orange, then add the stock and simmer for half an hour.  Then blitz with a hand-blender – leaving some vegetable chunks or continue to a smooth consistency if you prefer.  Add salt and pepper to taste. There – that’s it!  Lovely.

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Peking Crispy Duck – my way!

Phew – it’s all over.  Christmas and New Year!  Not that we didn’t have fun at my brother’s in Kent.  He’s so like me in many ways (most of them bad!), but when it comes to food, he’s totally uninterested.  But I got him fired up last week.  His two favourites are Beef Wellington (see previous posts) and Peking Crispy Duck with all the trimmings – pancakes, Hoisin sauce, cucumber and spring onion strips, you know the deal.  But he’s always been put off cooking it himself because it can be a long and involved process.  Well, I’ve read, studied and experimented over the years to perfect my own short-cut version.  It’s so, so easy and just as good! Here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 1 duck
  • 1 jar of five-spice
  • Accompaniments: Chinese pancakes, spring onions, cucumber, Hoisin sauce

Stage 1: Boil a kettle and pour boiling water over the duck.  This tightens the skin, allowing it to become crispier.  Let it dry, then rub the whole jar of five-spice over and inside the duck.  Leave to marinate for at least two hours (up to 12 if you like).

Stage 2: Steam the duck for 3 to 3½ hours.  Leave it to go completely cold.

Stage 3: Roast the duck in the oven pre-heated to 180-200 degrees C for 1 to 1½ hours, by which time the skin should have crisped up nicely.  Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes, then take two forks and twist to shred the meat, then serve accompanied by the pancakes, Hoisin and the julienned cucumber and spring onion strips.

It’s such a lovely meal to share – everyone enjoys filling the pancakes their own way.  And with this method, the preparation doesn’t take all the fun out of it for the cook!

Peking Crispy Duck and all the makings! Picture from godine.co.uk

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