Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, entertaining, family meals, Food, Recipes, slow cooking, Wine

Every goal deserves a (crispy) reward, right?

I love figures. I know you might think it strange , but I see a spreadsheet as a thing of beauty. Neat , organized columns of figures, with built in checks to make sure there are no errors.
So why then does the thought of doing my accounts fill me with fear and dread? Every October it’s the same routine – panic and chaos to get the previous years receipts and invoices in order to give to my accountant.

You’d imagine with all the enforced spare time this year that I would have done it months ago, but no, it took a reminder letter to galvanize me into action. Even the Chief Taster knows better than to ask how the codeword A is progressing !
But in the spirit of Organized October, and building on Grainne’s foundation folder – yes even friends try to help me over this fear – I delivered the files (well the bulk of) to my accountant’s office on Thursday.

Cause for celebration right? Cue Crispy Roast Duck for dinner…

Crispy duck is big favourite in this house but last few times I cooked it I only did the legs and served the meat with pancakes and plum sauce. Last week I spotted full ducks in the freezer section in Lidl so I thought I’d experiment with cooking it in my slow cooker .

So once the duck was defrosted (overnight in the fridge) and the giblets removed, I stuffed the cavity with lemon, garlic, dried limes and star anise

Duck Cavity stuffed with lemon and garlic

I didn’t want the duck to be sitting in it’s own fat as it cooked so I put some vegetables in the base of the slow cooker to act as a trivet

vegetable trivet in slow cooker

To add more flavour, I rubbed a mix of cumin, coriander and seasalt into the skin.

spice rub on duck skin

Then I put the lid on the pot and left the cooker on high for 4 hours and then turned it down low for another 3 hours.

The Chief Taster arrived in to the most tantalizing, delicious cooking smells and suggested we walk down to find a suitable wine. I delivered my files to the accountant on the way and then a Beaujolais Villages was chosen (Yes I know, I should really have insisted on bubbles to mark my achievement!!) 😉

duck cooking in slow cooker

Post walk I transferred the duck to a very hot oven (220 C) for about 30 minutes to crisp up the skin. Plus remember the vegetable trivet – the vegetables had cooked beautifully in the duck fat – so I put them in the oven too!

Duck coming out of oven

In the meantime I made a quick plum sauce, by simmering the following together over a low heat, for 30 minutes :

  • 1 punnet of plums, quartered and stones removed.
  • 1 star anise
  • Good glug of Chinese cooking wine
plum sauce simmering

Dinner was almost ready – all it needed was a big bowl of delicious vegetable egg fried rice flavoured with some oyster sauce and finished with sesame oil.

dinner is served - rice, sauce and duck

Result? It’s made it to the favourite recipe folder and I’m in the running for girlfriend of the year!!!

Just in case you think we’re total gluttons there was lots of meat left on the duck and it’s gone into the freezer to be used at a later date.

Just a thought, in these strange times when we don’t know what will happen over the next few months – this dish would be perfect for a Christmas dinner for 2-3 people 🤶

STAY SAFE AND HAPPY COOKING!

PS I don’t like to brag but I also put all my summer clothes away in the attic this week – neatly sorted of course! Now onto my next organizing project…..

PS 2 Grainne, if you’re reading this, can you please come back and sort my accounts for 2020?

Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Kitchen Organization

Organized October

Not that you need me to mention it but 2020 has been one strange year.

Back in March when Lockdown began I was full of great intentions – everything was going to be organized in my house, I was going to learn how to crochet, paint furniture, read all the books in the pile by my bed…

I managed to plant a wild flower garden (of which I’m very proud), paint a garden bench and reorganize my shed. And then my plans went a bit pear-shaped. My Sister and her family moved into my Mum’s house for 3 months and my Mum moved in with me. It was a great summer – lots of family meals and outings. I loved spending time with my niece and nephews. Morning walks and coffee with my sister were another bonus.

They’ve gone back to their renovated house and I’m finding things rather quiet without them ( though the cat is enjoying reclaiming her territory ). So rather than feeling sorry for myself I decided it’s time to make some new lists and make October ‘Organization Month’ . I’m hoping that writing the items down will ensure that I complete all of them…🤞

On the list so far :

As you may know I’ve been doing live cook-alongs over on Facebook – now I need to start blogging the recipes.

As physical classes aren’t an option at the moment I’m embracing the online world and working on a Zoom class schedule

I’m planning an Afternoon Tea class to raise funds for ‘Cups for Cancer’ so I’m hoping you’ll all join me for this worthy cause

Reorganizing my pantry – I’ve bought a label maker and I’m not afraid to use it🤣

As there’s not much call for Corporate Catering at the moment I need to work on ideas for restarting Hey Pesto!

On a personal note dare I mention I need to exercise more – thankfully Pilates has restarted 🧘‍♀️

There will no doubt be lots more items added so watch this space…..

I’ve started by getting my spices in order – now I have no excuse not to use them all ( all 49 of them!)

Happy Cooking!