Thursday, 04 October 2012
Notes on the baked tomatoes turn of the year
The second volume of Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries is a delight for readers and cooks alike
By Carolyn HartA massive winter treat is in store for fans of Nigel Slater – the second volume of his bestselling Kitchen Diaries has just been published. Those who love Slater’s understated cooking style on his TV programmes and revelled in the slow turn of the year, lusciously evoked in the first Kitchen Diaries, will have a happy few weeks mulling over the latest offering. And since we’ve finally made it to October, let’s start with Slater’s recipe for duck breasts with damson gin and duck-fat potatoes.
Duck fat is Slater’s favourite fat, expensive, but worth it, especially if you’re frying potatoes in it: ‘you get a good colour… richness too, and more flavour… They won’t burn easily either.’ On the other hand, duck fat is rich, so you need something to sharpen its edge – hence the autumnal ‘glass of fruity sloe gin’.
October also includes his very seductive recipe for tomatoes baked with spices and coconut that comes with the note, ‘shouldn’t work but it does’; slowcooked oxtail with five-spice and tamarind; a gloopylooking orso with courgettes and grana padano; and a glut-busting recipe for apples with maple syrup: squeeze three lemons into a mixing bowl, drop eight small peeled apples into the juice, pour in seven tablespoons of maple syrup, add five cloves, two teaspoons of ground cinnamon and a vanilla pod. Pour into a baking dish and bake for 50 minutes.
Simple, useful and sounds delicious. What more could you want from a recipe…
The Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater, with photography by Jonathan Lovekin (Fourth Estate, £30).
If you cannot find small cans of creamed coconut, then break off 100g of coconut cream, crumble it and make up to 160ml with boiling water, stirring to a thick cream.
- 1 tbsp groundnut oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- A 3cm piece fresh ginger
- 1 medium-hot red chilli
- 2 red or orange peppers
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 large plum or vine tomatoes
- 160ml creamed coconut
Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and cook until they pop. Add the onions and leave to soften and colour while you peel and slice the garlic, peel and finely shred the ginger and chop the chilli.
Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and continue cooking till the onions are pale golden brown. Core and thinly slice the peppers and stir them in. Continue cooking over a moderate heat, with the occasional stir, till the peppers start to soften, then stir in the ground turmeric and the halved cherry tomatoes.
Set the oven at 200C/gas 6. Remove a slice from one side of each large tomato (or the top if you are using large vine tomatoes), then scoop out the seeds and core to give a deep hollow. Chop the filling you have removed, discarding any tough cores, and add to the pan. When the mixture has cooked down to a soft, brightly coloured mush, pour in the creamed coconut. Bring to the boil, season with salt, then remove from the heat.
Fill the hollowed-out tomatoes with the mixture, spooning any extra around them. Bake for 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and fragrant.
Duck breasts with dams on gin and duck-fat potatoes (pictured top)
For the duck
- 4 duck breasts, skin on
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 4 tbsp sloe or damson gin
- 8 juniper berries
For the potatoes
- 3 medium potatoes
- 3 tbsp duck fat
- A few thyme leaves
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Make three or four deep slashes on the skin side of each breast, cutting down into the flesh but not through it. Put them snugly into a china or steel dish.
Put the brown sugar into a mixing bowl with the sherry vinegar, sloe or damson gin and a grinding of salt and black pepper. Mash the juniper berries to coarse, fragrant crumbs and add them to the sugar and vinegar mixture. Pour it over the duck breasts, massaging the liquid into the skin and flesh.
Cover with cling film and leave in a cold place such as the fridge to marinate for at least an hour. No less; four hours is even better. Overnight will not harm. Set the oven at 200C/gas 6.
Peel the potatoes and slice them as thinly as possible. Melt the duck fat in a heavy, shallow pan, turn off the heat and add the potato slices in one layer, neatly overlapping and seasoning them with salt, black pepper, thyme leaves and a little chopped garlic as you go.
Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, till golden brown. When the potatoes are ready, get a griddle pan hot. Pat the duck breasts dry with kitchen paper, then place them skin-side down on the hot griddle.
Keeping the heat moderately high, leave them to colour on the skin side, brushing them regularly with the marinade left in the dish, then turn them over and cook for a further four or five minutes, till they are golden on the outside and pink in the middle.
A good way to test them for doneness is to pierce the centre with a skewer. For a rose-pink centre, you want the beads of juice that seep out to be red, not golden. Let the breasts rest for four or five minutes before serving. Cut each duck breast diagonally into about 4 thick slices and serve with the roast potatoes.
Daily tip from the lady archive
“PEOPLE cannot help being influenced by their surroundings and their environment; therefore how all important it is that both of these should be healthy and cheery, for health and happiness both go hand-in-hand.”The Lady. The Blessing of Old Health, 18th November 1920
PRIVATE HOUSE in Andover/Winchester area requires personable, experienced, professional cook with own transport (live-out). Must be calm, adaptable, energetic, happy to use seasonal produce from garden and able to provide healthy, imaginative dishes. In addition to producing meals for owners, required to provide lunch for estate staff during week. Usual hours 0800-1600, Monday-Friday, but flexibility required for w/e and evening work. Salary negotiable. Contact: Apply Box 15495Apply now
Q: The Queen has received a £5m boost in the funds she receives from the taxpayer to carry out her official duties. Do you approve?
Yes - the Queen does a great job and is well worth it - 59.5%
No - the UK economy is struggling and this is unfair - 40.5%