Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Actual Recipe: Duck Terrine with Pineapple Innuendo

By: Mr Robot
Duck terrine wrapped in bacon decorated with holly as a christmas starter
Not just any Duck Terrine: this is Robot Duck Terrine

We're not really in the business of posting recipes but as Christmas is looming I thought I'd offer up one of our festive staples, which I made up my very own self: my duck terrine with a pineapple relish type thing which Mrs R calls Slutney (salsa / chutney) and which her brother - admittedly a tad under the influence - christened Sexual Marmalade: a name I love though figured is probably sub-optimal as a title for search engine purposes.

Anyway, this is meaty, rich and fragrant and makes a jolly good starter. You will need:

For the terrine
Serves 6-8 as a starter, or 2 with no shame
  • 2 duck breast
  • 3 top quality sausages
  • 1 slice white bread, crumbed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • About 8 rashers streaky bacon
  • 2 tbps port
  • 2 tbps brandy
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • Pinch salt (edit: actually a pinch OF salt. Don't steal salt, kids)

Finely chop the duck breast – I like to do one in tiny pieces and other about 3-5mm chunks: partly for the varied texture but also because all that chopping gets to be a pain in the arse, frankly.

A note on the sausages: you want the best you can get, fairly traditional but not overly flavoured or herbed. You don't want Cumberland for this. Lincolnshire maybe, at a push. I know which ones I want from my local butcher (Walter Rose & Son Old English, if you care) and at worst you can intend to make this terrine purely as an excuse to try all the sausages. I know I would.

Terrine filling: finely chopped duck with sausage meat and orange zest
Duck, sausage, orange, brandy, port, optional dribble

Take the skin off the sausages and break the meat up. Put in a large bowl with the duck meat, breadcrumbs, port, brandy, orange zest & egg. 

Blitz the spices in a blender or coffee grinder to a fine power and add to the meat mix. Squidge it all really well until all the liquid is fully incorporated.

Pepper, coriander, clove and juniper in a spice blender.
Gratuitous spice shot

Rub the terrine dish with butter. Use the back of a knife to stretch the bacon, and use it to line the terrine with plenty hanging over the edges.

Pile the mix in, and wrap the bacon ends over the top. Doesn't have to be that pretty because this will be on the bottom when you serve.

Full terrine dish with bacon wrapped across the filling
Ducks in blankets

Cover with lid or foil, and put in a roasting tin or oven-proof dish. Pour hot water into the tin to come about halfway up the terrine dish. Put your bain-marie (for it is she) in preheated low oven, about gas 3, for an hour and a half.

Once it's cooked, press the terrine overnight: make a flat lid of thin wood / double thickness cardboard covered with foil. Weight it down with heavy books, tins etc. MAKE SURE you’ve still got it inside a roasting tin or something – lots of juice will get squished out.

Terrine being pressed under two tins and a large cookbook
Other unruly-haired chefs are available. Probably.

Remove from the terrine dish and gently scrape off any excess jelly with the back of a knife.

Serve with crusty bread, leaf salad, and chutney or Sexual Marmalade.

For the Sexual Marmalade
(by which I think my dear brother-in-law meant "sexy" but as I say he was somewhat tired and emotional)
Diced pineapple, cinnamon stick, coriander seed, chilli
Fruity... Hot... Juicy... Stick(y)... Seed.... What???

  • 1 big / 2 little tin(s) in of pineapple rings or chunks in juice
  • White wine vinegar
  • Caster sugar
  • Salt & pepper
  • 6-10 Coriander seeds
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Small chilli (optional)

This is all about getting a balance through tasting and tweaking so calling it a recipe is a bit of a lie but anyway.

Chop the pineapple into about 1/2cm dice and set aside.

Mix the pineapple juice with a tablespoon or so of vinegar and have a taste. You’re looking for a sweet/sour tang. Too sweet? Add a touch more vinegar. Gone too far? Balance it with a bit of caster sugar. Keep going in small dabs ‘til you’re happy. Don't forget to season with salt & pepper too.

Once you're happy with the basic flavour, put into a small pan with the pineapple and spices. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a lively simmer. Cook through until the liquid has reduced to nearly (but not quite) a glaze. You’re looking for a sort of loose chutney consistency. Keep tasting as it reduces though, since the flavour profile may change a bit. If the chilli is coming through too much, counter it with a bit more sugar.

Pineapple simmering in a pan with juice, cinnamon and chilli

Set aside to cool and remove the chilli and cinnamon stick – you can pick out the coriander seed too if you like, but I prefer to leave it in for little taste explosions.

These are ideal to make a day or two ahead since they'll only get better for maturing. Serve up a good slab or two of terrine and a dollop of you-know-what, crack open the fino and don a paper hat. It's Christmas after all....

Duck terrine, pineapple chutney, served on a wooden board

All images (c) PP Gettins

Friday, 7 November 2014

Tricky treat

Tasty, tasty Martians
By: Mrs Robot

When I first moved onto the publication I worked for, it was near Halloween, and I made a cake. Last year our holiday to Burma was quite late and I was ill when we got back, so there was no cake. This year, I decided, I'd do something special. Over the summer it had occurred to me to make a sea creature cake, but as the day drew close I kept the overall idea of tentacles but changed everything else. I was going to make Mars, complete with Martians poking out of craters (I know, I know, Mars has canals not craters!) and a three-legged walker.

The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, eh?

My fallback cake is the Sunday Best Chocolate Fudge Cake from Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book. It always goes down an absolute storm. However, I didn't want to do that yet again. As a variation I made two cake mixtures, a chocolate one and an orange one, and marbled them together. They planned to sandwich them with chocolate fudge icing and the cover the whole thing in orange-flavoured buttercream, dyed a deeper colour to make the surface of the red planet.

The cake worked perfectly, and the fudge filling is always reliable. Before covering the cake roughly with the orange icing, I made two rings of orange fondant to support the craters. After that, I dotted it with extra red food colouring (applied with the dryish tips of a pastry brush) and sprinkled over metallic 'rocks'. I got those in a tub in Tesco.

How could you resist that little face?
Halloween is the only time I make decorated cakes, so although I'm pretty good with my hands, I'm not great at making edible decorations. I hadn't been sure whether to make the rest of the decorations with fondant or marzipan, but the fondant went really sloppy when I made the craters, so I went for marzipan for the rest of the decorations. The tentacles were easy: roll a sausage from green marzipan, make it thinner at one end, then make graduated balls of red marzipan and press them into shape on the tentacle with a cake decorator's ball tool.

The walker was a disaster. I'd planned to make three legs, supported internally with cocktail sticks, then put a saucer on top. All would be made of grey fondant sprayed with edible iridescence. It just didn't work. The pieces had too much texture to look like real metal but not enough detail to be interesting, and they didn't hold together well. On top of that, next to the tentacles it just looked inty and puny. In the end I made extra tentacles. Something was missing though... there was a gaping hole at the centre of the tentacles... Eyeballs! And, you know, once I'd made a couple of marzipan eyeballs and added those, it all looked fine.

That's foiled your plans for global domination!
The workmates seemed to enjoy the cake, though there was a little to bring home. I would say that was a shame, but it kept Mr Robot happy. And I really loved sharing it with everyone and seeing their reactions. I love Halloween!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Fruitful Mellowness

By: Mr Robot

There's a fair amount of misery involved in the English Autumn: it's cold, it's soggy, it's grey, it's dark... whatever all-too-brief summer we actually had disappears practically overnight and before you know it you're looking at six months of chilly rain before the slightly warmer rain comes round again.

But there are upsides: warm fires, dark beer, cosy pubs on a chilly day, bonfire night, that bite in the air that makes you glad to have a fur-lined nose, misty mornings and leaves turning and, of course, the food.

This is the season to make soups and stews, puddings and pies, and many things rich and dark and gloopy. It's my favourite time for cooking, plus it's game season.

So the other weekend I decided to indulge myself with a long Sunday in the kitchen, a brace of pheasant the butcher had talked me into, and Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food to keep me company.

Pheasant, hiding in a hedge of bacon

Actually I started off by knocking up a very fudged Onion Soup that would get me banned from la belle France if I dared call it French - but you know whereof I speak. Yes, it involved an Oxo cube and, yes, the wine was cheap Spanish, but hey, at least it had wine and the cheese was a rather nice Gruyere even if it was on top of toasted Generic White Sliced. We enjoyed it anyway. It was that kind of weather.

My deepest apologies to France

But that was merely a precursor to the pheasant, which I prepared in the Kerridge style with many well-browned carrots along with garlic, orange, stock and I can't remember what else. Everyone's favourite setting of gas bugger-all for, ooh ages, enabled me to knock up the prescribed game chips and bread sauce (Generic White Sliced sauce, to be precise), and turn my mind to pud.

Never mind the presentation, here's the dog's, er, pistols

Now, I've done the pheasant before so know it to be worth treasuring, but I'd never tried these steamed ginger puddings. It was a fair bet though, because Kerridge's book has never let me down and his little date & toffee puds would entice me under a moving bus.

In any case it's enough, I submit, just to note the key ingredients of ginger, syrup, vanilla, puddingness and custard. There's a bit of jazzing around with lemon and ginger wine but really, if that doesn't get you I don't know what will.

Honestly, what more do you want?

Happily the recipe makes six puddings, which works perfectly for the two of us.

Creaking already from the immensely rich & savoury pheasant, and a startlingly good bread sauce (I know - I've avoided it for years on the assumption that, well it's bread... made into a sauce. Idiot), we actually ate only one each.

Serves two, eventually

Remarkable isn't it? We experimented with freezing the others and it's worked pretty well - just reheated by very gently steaming. If anything, freezing brings out the ginger more. But I digress.

We were sated and then some, and insanely happy. This is food that makes you really appreciate the grotty, wet, miserable weather just the other side of the window. To celebrate we finished with a glass of mulled cider, and then a whole load more. Doesn't get much better, to be honest.

All images (c) PP Gettins

We don't give away other folk's recipes. Buy the book instead - you'll never regret it. You can probably get it cheap on Amazon, or better yet pay full whack for a copy signed by the great man himself.