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Duck with Rhubarb & Fennel Sauce

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In the area around Amiens in the Somme they take rhubarb very seriously and this recipe is based (pretty loosely) on a dish from there. The sauce has a sweet and sour quality that's sharp enough to cut through the rich flavour of duck but it will also work very well with pork, goose or guinea fowl.   If you're using sweet, forced rhubarb such as the superb product from the Rhubarb Triangle in Yorkshire, then it won't need much (if any) sweetening. If in doubt, use the minimum amount of grenadine and add any necessary sweetening at the end.  Despite my sincere attempts to be lazy, I'm now reluctantly forced to admit that the very best grenadine is homemade. Unless you're obsessed with cocktails, though, you probably don't have any, so use whatever commercial brand you fancy. If you don't have any grenadine at all, then just sweeten with honey, agave nectar or even plain sugar, but combine them with a little pomegranate molasses, if possible. The sauce can be

Basil Chicken with Chorizo Sauce

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I've been lobbing recipes into this blog for over 14 years now and, since I must be running out of things to say and original things to cook, I thought that 2024 should be the opportunity to gather up the few recipes that I've been meaning to get round to (or haven't got quite right yet) before I finally shut up once and for all. So, first off, here's a recipe that I've had hanging round for many years but never posted. That might be because it's a bit odd or it might be just because I've never managed to get a good photo of it. Oh well, here goes anyway.  The sauce was (indirectly) inspired by a dish from Les Rosiers restaurant in Biarritz, although their food is a lot more sophisticated than anything you'll find here. Sadly, I've never been near the place, but, many years ago, I saw it featured in an episode of the now defunct TV show 'Les Escapades de Petitrenaud'. Over the years since I first made this dish, I've come to the conclusi

Normandy Cider Sauce

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I've featured recipes from Normandy a number of times in this blog over the years, but I make no excuses for including another. Some of my previous recipes have probably been on the lighter side of Normandy cooking. This one isn't. This sauce doesn't use any stock or onions, it's just classic, Normandy ingredients, including rather a lot of crème fraîche.  It's really important to use a sweet or medium-sweet cider for this recipe. Dry ciders may be nice to drink but they're bit too austere and somehow less flavourful in this sauce. In the same way, choose an apple that has a good flavour but is sweet rather than sharp.   On this occasion, I've served this sauce with simply fried pork medallions, but it will also work with duck, guinea fowl or some well-flavoured chicken. If it suits what you're cooking, then you might fancy adding a little Dijon mustard before you liquidise the sauce.  This should be plenty for 2 people, even in Normandy.  500ml sweet or

Leek, Fennel and Coconut Soup with Pistachio Pesto

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The recipe for this autumnal soup is based on something that I ate in a restaurant around 20 years ago, but it reminded me of a time long ago and of the music of Leonard Cohen. Early in the 1970s, there lived in South London a man who saw it as his mission in life to cook food for the waifs, strays, bad poets, questionable musicians and general hangers-on of the area. I'll call him Henry because, after all this time, I have to slightly misquote Dylan and admit that the only thing I can remember for sure about Henry is that his name wasn't Henry. The meals he made were often soups and always vegetarian. I'm fairly sure that they were made from the dodgy-looking veg they couldn't sell to normal people in Balham market. The meals were invariably accompanied by the sound of one of the first two Leonard Cohen albums. I assume he had some other records, but I don't remember him ever playing them. Although I've eaten a vast number of vegetarian dishes since then, inclu

Pulled Lamb Neck Fillet

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This recipe produces a rich sauce with some very tender, intensely-flavoured, shredded lamb. It takes a while to cook, but doesn't demand much effort.  The crucial aspect of the sauce is the sweet and sour balance that comes mostly from the combination of Marsala and vinegar. My ideal combination of vinegars in this dish is balsamic (unless you're rich, a cheap version will do in this case), sherry vinegar and a soft style of white wine vinegar, such as one made from Riesling wine. But I'm being annoyingly fussy, so just use what you have that's interesting but not excessively acidic. As for the Marsala, I use a dry style but they can vary quite a bit in just how dry they turn out to be. So, in short, be prepared to taste and adjust the flavours to your liking if they don't seem perfectly balanced. Although this doesn't produce a large amount of sauce, it's intense enough to serve 2 or even 3 people. Of course, you don't have to serve it with pasta, that

Chilled Mango Soup

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I'm not usually a big fan of chilled soup but this is an intriguing little appetiser that's a little bit different. The inspiration for this soup came from an Indian restaurant back in the 1980s, but I've changed it a fair bit since the days when Frankie went to Hollywood with a Filofax under his arm. Since then we've had an ocean of smoothies coming and going in popularity, so you could think of this as a slightly odd, savoury smoothie served in a soup bowl, if you prefer. Mangoes can vary a lot in size and sweetness, so taste and adjust the flavour of the soup as you see fit. Although this is a very simple little recipe, it can be made even simpler if you replace the coconut milk and yoghurt with a supermarket coconut yoghurt and the fresh mango with a tin of mango pulp. I don't think this even simpler version tastes quite as good but, if you're pushed for time, it can still be pretty satisfying. You may well find that canned mango is a bit too sweet, so add a

Courgette, Olive and Basil Sauce & Air Fryer Semi-Dried Courgettes

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It's that happy time of year again when courgettes are growing in the garden and appearing in the shops faster than a politician thinking up excuses. Here are two simple recipes to make use of the bounty that are just a little bit different. ( Slow-cooked courgettes are also well worth trying, if you haven't already). Courgette, Olive and Basil Sauce If you take a look at the ingredients, I'm sure it won't come as a surprise when I say that this is a Southern French sauce, or, at least, my interpretation of one. It's a way of producing a creamy sauce with no cream (or anything like it) and plenty of flavour. Admittedly, the colour of the sauce isn't quite as exciting as the taste, but it will seriously liven up simply-cooked chicken, roasted veg (squash, for instance) or, as I fancied eating this time, flash-fried prawns. If you want to vary the amount of basil or olives, or add a little chilli, then I'm confident that the sauce will still come up smiling.