Pan Fried Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Leeks, and Spring Onion and Prosecco Sauce


Pan Fried Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Leeks and Spring Onion and Prosecco Sauce (2)

I’ve been giving myself a bit of a holiday from the blog lately. No particular reason – just lots of things going on!

I’ve still been cooking, but mainly using recipes I’ve already published to make things a bit speedier in the evenings, so I haven’t had anything new to share with you.

Tonight is different though. We’ve been watching Masterchef, which I love although whenever the poor amateurs have to go in a professional kitchen I get a bit panicky. Hubby and I used to play a game when we had time, based on a Masterchef challenge, where you can make any meal using just the ingredients already available in the kitchen. That was great fun.

This weekend, hubby was away most of the time and so I said I would make him something special for tea tonight. When I asked what he wanted, he said ‘your calling card’. This is the first challenge on Masterchef, and it’s supposed to be your signature dish. I don’t really have a signature dish, and I’d never made this one before, but I really enjoyed the process of putting together a more complex, time consuming dish than the ones I normally make.

I soaked the duck breasts in brine (made from salt, water and bay leaves) overnight before starting. I woud recommend you do this if you make the dish – it really helps the meat keep in the moisture.

This will take an hour (not counting the soaking time above) and will serve 2, with leftovers.

Pan Fried Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Leeks and Spring Onion and Prosecco Sauce (1)

Pan Fried Duck Breast with White Bean Puree, Leeks, and Spring Onion and Prosecco Sauce

2 duck breasts

For the leeks:

4 rashers smoked bacon

2 leeks

10ml double cream

For the puree:

3 cloves garlic

10g butter

2 x 400g tins butter beans

10ml double cream

For the sauce:

20g butter

20g plain flour

6 spring onions

2 large glasses prosecco

1. For the duck breasts, first make your brine. You’ll need approx 20g salt, 200ml water and 4 bay leaves. Mix together in a bowl, then add your duck breasts. Make sure they’re completely covered in the liquid, then cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.

2. For the puree, finely slice the garlic and add to a sauce pan with the butter. Cook gently for a minute, then add the butter beans and water from one tin, and just the butter beans from the other tin. Simmer gently until the beans are soft, then whizz with a food processor. Add the cream and a little water if it’s too thick, then season.

3. For the leeks, chop the bacon into small chunks and cook over a high heat until golden. Lower the heat and add the finely sliced leeks along with 50ml water. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, then add the cream and seasoning.

4. For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour and spring onions. Take off the heat and stir in the prosecco a little at a time. Put back on the heat and bring up to the boil, stirring all the time. Turn off the heat, then season (you may want to add a little sugar if it’s too tart).

5. For the duck, remove from the brine and rinse under the tap. Dry the fat, then place fat side down in a cold pan. Turn on the heat and cook, fat side down, for 15 minutes. You may need to drain away some of the fat during the cooking. Flip the duck and cook on the meat side for 2 minutes, then remove from the pan and rest for no less than 5 minutes.

6. Done! Serve the sliced duck breast with the leeks and puree, and the sauce poured over the top. Enjoy with a glass of prosecco!

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Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne


Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (2)

Leeks are one of my favourite vegetables. I love their fresh, slightly fragrant flavour. At this time of the year, in the UK as we approach Spring, they will start to go out of season soon. So, along with my Anglesey Eggs last night, I wanted to produde a few recipes which would celebrate this wonderful, underrated vegetable which somehow manages to cheer up the winter months.

Shortly, as Spring arrives, we’ll start getting lots of new exciting vegetables. But in the meantime, why not make the most of what we have.

This is a moreish, creamy pasta dish which I’m sure you’ll love. It’s completely vegetarian, ready in 20 minutes and warming on a cold, biting day (it’s supposed to warm up by Saturday apparently, but for now the Winter seems to be clinging on…).

This will serve 5-6.

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (3)

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne

500g fresh penne (or dried equivalent)

10g butter

1 onion

3 medium leeks

1 fennel bulb

200g button mushrooms

200ml half fat creme fraiche

1 tsp dried oregano

1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water until al dente. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, slice the onion, leeks and fennel. Add to a large saute pan with the butter and cook for 10 minutes until softened. Halve the mushrooms and add these – cook for a further 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the creme fraiche and 200ml water. Add the oregano, bring to a simmer then season with salt and pepper.

4. Mix the sauce with the pasta and leave to sit for 2 minutes. Enjoy!

Fennel, Leek and Mushroom Penne (1)

Find this recipe on the Pasta, Please! link up hosted by Family-Friends-Food and Tinned Tomatoes!

Anglesey Eggs


Anglesey Eggs (2)

With it being St David’s Day yesterday, I thought it only right to share a Welsh recipe today. This particular recipe is one my Nain (Nain is Welsh for grandmother for those who don’t know) used to make often.

My Nain, who lived on Anglesey, was a fantastic cook; we used to love visiting for the delicate scones, fruity bara brith and melt in the mouth Welsh cakes.

This recipe was a speciality and we used to eat it with crispy skinned baked potatoes. I didn’t have time for baked potatoes today, so we had it with crusty bread rolls instead to mop up the cheesy sauce.

Anyway, my Nain gave this recipe to my mum, who also used to make it often throughout our childhood. When I was desparate for a comforting, nostalgic meal one day I asked her for the recipe – and now I’m sharing it with you. It is tasty, cheap and easy, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has.

I just googled ‘Anglesey Eggs’ to see if it is a well-known dish, and it seems others do know of it. The recipes I found had potato in them though – that’s not how our family make it!

This will serve 3-4 and takes around 40 minutes to make.

Anglesey Eggs (1)

Anglesey Eggs

3 medium leeks

6 eggs

30g butter

20g plain flour

1 pint milk

80g cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1. Preheat the grill to high.

2. Slice the leeks and add them to a frying pan with 10g of the butter. Saute over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes until soft.

3. Meanwhile, hard boil your eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes. Once they’re done, run them under the cold tap for a couple of minutes, then gently peel them.

4. For the sauce, melt the remaining butter in a saucepan then stir in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Gradually whisk in the milk, then put it back on the heat and cook, whisking all the time, until thick. Stir in most of the grated cheese, and some salt and pepper.

5. Transfer the leeks to an oven proof dish. Lay the eggs on top (keep them whole), then pour over the cheese sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and the smoked paprika, then put under the grill for 5 minutes or so until golden and boiling. Iechyd Da!

Anglesey Eggs (3)

Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart


Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart (2)

This is the unashamed winter version of my spring tart – the same base with some lovely, warm, winter flavours to top it with.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that it’s my birthday soon (on Monday), and in my opinion the celebrations should start today. Only one day left at work before a lovely long weekend – what better time to celebrate with a delicious cheesy, pastry based tart with the beautiful flavours of bacon, leek, walnuts and gorgonzola (and a glass of wine).

The tart is extremely easy to make. Although slightly more difficult to make than my spring tart, due to the frying of the bacon and leeks, it’s still desperately straightforward and if you’re someone who is a bit scared of using pastry, this is an excellent place to start.

The tart was given the accolade “scrumptious” by my husband, so must be good.

This will take you no more than 45 minutes to make, and will serve 4 with a side salad.

Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart (1)

Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart

375g ready rolled puff pastry

200g bacon lardons

1 large leek

200g soft cheese

1 egg

1 handful walnut halves

20g gorgonzola

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Fry the bacon lardons over a medium heat until golden. Finely slice the leeks and add them to the fryng pan; fry for another 3-4 minutes.

3. Unroll the pastry, lay on a baking tray and score all the way around the edge, 1 inch from the sides (don’t cut all the way through). Beat the egg in a bowl and brush a little around the outside edges.

4. Spread the soft cheese evenly over the inside scored rectangle of the pastry. Grind some black pepper over the top, then evenly layer on the bacon and leek mix. Sprinkle over the walnuts, and dot the gorgonzola over.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the sides are golden and puffed up.

Leek and Potato Soup


Everyone is cooking soup at the moment. It’s exactly what we crave when the temperature plummets. I wanted to make a veggie soup, but also wanted one which is wholesome and filling so, naturally, I went for leek and potato (brocolli and stilton would have been a close second).

I’m not going to try to sell this soup as a healthy option – it contains too much butter and cream for that sort of thing. But that’s what makes it so delicious! I think that we must use up so many calories trying to keep warm in this horrid weather that we deserve a little cream sometimes.

Leek and potato is a classic and will guarantee bowls licked clean. It’s a lovely colour and could easily be prettified for a dinner party.

This will take 30 minutes and will serve at least 4 (there will likely be leftovers which freeze beautifully!)

Leek and Potato Soup (1)

Leek and Potato Soup

50g unsalted butter

1 onion

450g potatoes

450g leeks

1 litre vegetable stock

140ml double cream

140ml milk

1. Peel your potatoes and chop them into 1 inch chunks. Trim the ends off the leeks and slice them. Chop your onion into 1 inch chunks.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat. When it starts to bubble, and the veg. Turn down the heat and put a lid on. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring fairly often so that the veg doesn’t stick or colour.

3. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Put the lid back on and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

4. Whizz your soup up with a blender until smooth then put back on the heat. Add the cream and milk and bring to a simmer, then season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper.

5. Serve large bowls or mugs with thick wedges of warm bread. Delicious!

Leek and Potato Soup (2)

Leek and Chorizo Fusili


We’re having a New Year’s Eve party tomorrow and so this is an ’empty the fridge to make way for the booze’ recipe.

I’ve spent lots of the day in the kitchen preparing the food we’re having tomorrow night, so something quick and uncomplicated was a must. This recipe is so, so straightforward and you can throw in any meat or vegetable you have in your fridge.

I hope you all have a lovely New Year’s Eve!

Leek and Chorizo Fusili

250g fresh fusili

10g butter

25g chorizo

1 leek

200g half fat creme fraiche

150g frozen peas

1 handful fresh parsley

Cheese, to serve (parmesan or any other hard cheese would work)

1. Boil a pan of water and cook the pasta according to packet instructions.

2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the chorizo and put in a large saute pan over a medium high heat. When it starts to crisp, add the butter.

3. Slice the leek and add this to the pan. When it starts to soften, stir in the creme fraiche and frozen peas. Turn down the heat and allow to cook gently until the peas are cooked.

4. Stir in the chopped parsley and cooked pasta. It’s as easy as that!