Duck Recipe

Duck Recipe

Crispy duck breast with easy orange sauce and roast potatoes

Serves 2

  • 1 x large (350/400gr) duck breast with skin on
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a little duck fat (or butter) for frying

Sauce ingredients:

  • 1 rounded dessert spoon of duck fat (or ca. 50gr butter)
  • 1 ½ rounded dessert spoons plain flour
  • 1 pod of good chicken stock (eg Maggie jus de vollaile)
  • ca. 3cl good orange juice with pulp (shop bought is fine)
  • ½ small glass dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of orange marmalade
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • small pinch of French “cinq épices” spice blend (or a little of what you have in the cupboard – ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon – but not too much of each as to be overpowering)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ca. 5cl single cream

This dish takes only moments to cook and overcooking the duck will ruin it, so start with the potatoes – peel and quarter four medium sized potatoes, put into a saucepan with cold water to cover and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes. Whilst they are cooking heat the oven to 200C. Drain the potatoes and return briefly to the heat shaking the pan gently to ensure they are dry and “rough up” the edges. Put to one side while you melt about 2 dessert spoons of duck fat in the oven in a metal roasting dish large enough to take all the potatoes in one layer. Once nice and hot, gently tip in the potatoes then turn them one at a time so they are covered in duck fat. Sprinkle lightly with salt and put into the oven (middle shelf) for about 40 – 45 minutes. Check after about 30 minutes – they should be starting to brown (but not burn). If they are not browning it may be necessary to raise the oven temperature slightly for the last 10 minutes.

Make the sauce when the potatoes have about 10 minutes to go:

Melt the duck fat in a non-stick saucepan. Add the flour and combine with the fat using a whisk, add half the orange juice and the white wine, cook up until it thickens and add more orange juice as necessary until the desired consistency – it should coat the back of a spoon. Add all the other ingredients – stock pod, marmalade, sugar, spice, salt & pepper and, finally the cream. Stir well to mix, bring back to the boil then put to one side to keep warm whilst you cook the duck.

The duck breast:

Wash the breast and pat dry on kitchen paper. Season the skin side well with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat the duck fat in a heavy frying pan until quite hot. Place the duck breast, skin side down and leave without turning for 3 minutes. Turn over and reduce the heat to medium, again leave for 3 minutes – it should be hot throughout but still pink. If you are not keen on pink meat you can leave it to cook for another minute – but no more as the more it cooks the tougher it will get. Allow the meat to rest off the heat for a further two minutes. Cut into slices across using a sharp knife and drizzle a little sauce over to serve. Serve with the potatoes and the rest of the sauce separately.

Fresh green beans make a lovely clean-tasting accompaniment to this dish.

Pastizzi the lazy way

Pastizzi the lazy way

Enjoyed everywhere in Malta as a snack anytime of the day.  Pastizzi can be made with a variety of fillings sweet and savoury.   The two most popular are this one with cheese or my favourite, curried pea.

On a recent out-of-season visit to Malta I was wandering around early one Sunday morning looking for somewhere to have coffee and breakfast.  Nowhere was open.  Getting desperate I spotted a rather seedy looking café just opening. They only served coffee and freshly baked pastizzi.   It turned out to be the best pastizzi I’ve ever eaten.  Not surprisingly we discovered it was very popular with the local fisherman who duly arrived fresh from unloading their catch for the perfect Maltese breakfast.

The recipe below will make 20 pastizzi.

300g fresh ricotta cheese
2/3 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup finely grated parmesan
2 eggs lightly beaten
4 sheets frozen puff pastry, partly thawed


Step 1
Place ricotta in a bowl. Using a fork, mash until almost smooth. Add mozzarella and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add half the egg. Stir to combine.

Step 2
Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan-forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Step 3
Using a 10cm round cutter, cut 5 rounds from each pastry sheet. Brush edge of rounds with egg. Spoon 1 level tablespoon mixture onto centre of each round. Spread to a 5cm log. Fold up 2 sides of pastry to enclose log. Pinch to seal. Twist ends to form points. Place on prepared trays. Brush with remaining egg.

Step 4
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and puffed. Stand for 4 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of

Norwegian roast pork – with an Australian twist

Norwegian roast pork – with an Australian twist

Pork rib (see below)
Black pepper
Colemans English mustard powdered

Take a good sized piece of thick pork rib – the part between the belly and the chops – around 2 – 2 ½ inches thick.  It should be all in one piece, flat, with the bones in and the skin on.  Allow about ½ kg per person, but it is best to do this for 4-6, so around 2 – 3 kg.

Have the butcher cut across the bones once or twice depending on length (once cooked you will cut the joint into 2 – 3 in. squares so having the bones cut makes this easier.  Also ask the butcher to score the skin in diamonds to encourage the crackling.

The day before cooking the pork take plenty of salt and finely ground black pepper and rub well into both sides of the pork, working well into the skin, between the cuts, and into the underside of the meat.  On the underside also rub in about half a small tin of Colemans English Mustard powder, again rubbing well in where the bones have been cut and into the meat.  Put the meat on a large plate or tray and cover with cling-film then refrigerate overnight.  Remove from the fridge a good half hour before cooking.  Heat the oven to 180ºC.  Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper onto the skin.  Place the pork, skin side down, on a rack over an oven tray containing a couple of litres of boiling water.  Roast for about 1 hour.  Remove the oven tray and empty the remaining water into a jug to make gravy later, then return the tray to the oven to catch any drips.  Turn the joint over so the skin is now uppermost.  Raise the temperature to 200ºC and roast for a further 45 minutes or until the crackling has formed – keep testing it by tapping a knife on it, if it sounds “hollow” the crackling is done.  Very occasionally crackling does not form easily – if you get desperate, cut off the skin, still attached to the fat, and place under the grill for a few moments, but watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Alternatively, for a more Australian twist, remove the joint from the oven after the first hour over the water (which helps the meat to puff up and lose some of the fat), then finish it off on the barbecue turning from time to time to crisp up the crackling.

Once cooked through, allow to rest for five minutes then cut into squares and serve.

This dish is traditionally served with boiled potatoes and red cabbage.

Ingredients for the red cabbage:
1 small or ½ large red cabbage
1 large cooking apple or 2 eating apples
20gr butter
salt & pepper
cider vinegar
ground nutmeg

Discard outside leaves, quarter, core and finely slice the cabbage (use a mandolin if you have one or a very sharp knife).  Peel, core and finely dice one large cooking apple or two good flavoured eating apples (Pink Lady or Fuji are good).  Put it all into a good sized non-stick saucepan with 20gr. butter, about 400ml water, a little salt and black pepper, one tablespoon of cider vinegar, a little ground nutmeg, and two tablespoons of sugar (or powdered sweetener for a lower calorie version).  Cover with a lid, bring to the boil then lower the heat to a simmer and allow the cabbage to cook slowly for at least an hour, stirring occasionally to ensure it does not catch and adding a little more water if necessary.  At the end of cooking you need to have enough liquid to thicken to give a coating sauce.  Stir out one tablespoon of cornflour in a little water, add to the cabbage mix and stir whilst reheating and allow to bubble for a minute or two to cook out the cornflour.  Taste for seasoning – it should be sweetish but with an “edge” of vinegar.  For a fruitier version you can also add the juice of an orange to the cooking liquid.  The cabbage can be made in advance, even the day before and re-heated.

With the traditional version a sauce is usually made – melt a good sized piece of butter (ca. 15gr.) in a saucepan, stir in 1 ½ tablespoons flour (if too dry add a little more butter), add a good stock cube then slowly add the reserved cooking liquid from the oven tray until the desired consistency is reached – it should easily coat the back of a spoon.  Add a little black pepper to taste and a little ground nutmeg, and a couple of table spoons of cooking (single) cream, mix and bring back to the boil before serving.

If serving the barbecue version in warm weather, you could substitute cooked new/salad potatoes and make a coleslaw with red cabbage:

Ingredients for red-cabbage coleslaw:
1 small or ½ large red cabbage, outside leaves discarded, quartered, cored and finely sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Small tub crème fraiche
Equal amount of good mayonaise
Dash of sweet hot-dog mustard or sweet chilli sauce – to taste
Sweet pickled cucumber (optional)

Put the prepared vegetables in a large bowl and mix well.  Add half and half crème fraiche and good mayonnaise – sufficient to coat the vegetables well – a teaspoon of sugar (or powdered sweetener), salt and pepper to taste and a dash of Scandinavian-style sweet hot-dog mustard (if available) or sweet chilli sauce.  Mix through thoroughly – if you can get hold of them, a Scandinavian-style sweet pickled cucumber finely chopped (or a couple of slices from a jar, chopped) together with a spoonful of the liquid from the jar adds a good flavour to the coleslaw.

Budin – a traditional dessert from Costa Rica

Budin – a traditional dessert from Costa Rica

Every country seems to have their own version of a bread pudding. This one is a traditional version from Costa Rica and often appears on the menu at Christmas.



1 loaf of a 2-day old French baguette, sliced
2 ½ cups of sugar
3 cups of milk
1 cup water
1 cube butter
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract



  1. Butter bread slices from both sides and place them in a buttered oven-safe glass dish.
  2. Heat 2 cups sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is golden brown.  Add water and bring it to a boil.  Pour mix over bread slices.
  3. Whisk egg whites in a bowl.  Add egg yolks, one by one.  Add milk, ½ cup sugar, and vanilla extract.  Pour mixture over bread slices.
  4. Bake at 350F (177C) for 40 minutes.  Serve with eggnog.
Chile en Nogada

Chile en Nogada

Eaten each September to celebrate Mexican Independence Day.  The three colours of the dish reflect the Mexican flag. Green for the chili, white for the nut sauce and red for the pomegranate.  Fortunately, our favourite restaurant in the neighbouring village to Ajijic (Heart of Cultural Mexico tour) includes it as a speciality on the menu all year round.  It was also the dish chosen by our cookery teacher, Linda Harley, to demonstrate during our last visit.  It’s absolutely delicious – why not try it for yourself at home or join us on our next trip to Ajijic and learn from the expert. (more…)



(Serves 4 as a snack or starter)

  • 3 large ripe avocadoes, flesh scooped from skins into a large bowl with
  • 1 small finely diced peeled onion or large peeled shallot
  • 1 ripe finely diced seeded tomato
  • 1 finely diced chilli (jalapeno is fine) or a teaspoon of Tabasco sauce (or similar)
  • Handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • Juice of one small freshly squeezed lime
  • Salt to taste


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