Hot dish in the kitchen
The key to ex-model Lorraine Pascale’s cooking is enjoyment – and some great, stress-free recipes
Back for her third series on BBC Two, Lorraine Pascale has a relaxed approach to cooking that has earned her many fans. And her books echo the feeling that kitchen life could be an enjoyable breeze, producing some unexpectedly spectacular-looking results.
Indeed, Pascale is pretty spectacular looking herself, which must account for some of her popularity. You mean, ‘we, too, can be slaving away in the kitchen and look like that?’ must be a common reaction to seeing the elegant Pascale wearing an uncreased and unspattered white shirt, hair neatly coiffed, holding up a delicious supper.
But setting any feelings of envy to one side, what’s in her latest book? Hot tips on making great food after a busy day doing other things. Pascale tested these recipes on her daughter and friends, and speed, ease and fun are at the top of her list of priorities.
Main dishes contain a side dish within the recipe, so you don’t find yourself sitting down to eat and suddenly remembering you’ve forgotten the veg. Neither do you have to do stuff in advance – a blessing if the ‘advance’ period in your day takes place on the train home.
Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh And Easy Food is published by HarperCollins, priced £20.
Five-spice roasted duck breast
- Vegetable oil
- 4 duck breasts
- 1 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder
For the sauce
- 100ml Shiraz red wine (or chicken stock or water)
- 4 tbsp cherry jam (plum will work fine too)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2cm piece of fresh ginger
For the noodles
- 1 bunch of spring onions
- 1 garlic clove
- Sesame oil
- 150g fine asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 300g straight-to-wok noodles
- Fresh coriander leaves, to serve (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper Put a drizzle of oil in a medium frying pan and get it hot. Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to make 3-4 slashes in the skin of the duck (not down to the flesh), which helps the skin to crisp up. Season duck well with salt and pepper and rub fivespice powder all over. Place skin-side down in the hot pan and cook on a medium heat for about 5 mins.
Trim and halve the spring onions for the noodles, then slice them lengthways into thin strips. Peel and finely chop the garlic; set both aside.
For the sauce, put the Shiraz red wine (stock or water), jam and soy sauce into a small pan over a really low heat, then peel and grate in the ginger. Stir well and leave to bubble gently on a medium heat for 8 mins or so. When the duck skin is crisp, flip the breasts over, turn the heat down quite low and leave to cook for a further 8 mins.
For the noodles, add a glug of sesame oil to a medium sauté pan or wok and get it nice and hot. Add the spring onions, garlic and the asparagus. Cook for 2-3 mins, tossing occasionally, until wilted. Add the sesame seeds, soy sauce and noodles and cook for as long as the noodles say on the packet, tossing from time to time.
Check the duck breasts. When cooked they should be piping hot in the middle. Place the cooked duck breasts on to a plate and cover loosely with tin foil to rest for a few minutes. This will make the flesh much more juicy. By now, the sauce should be thickened and syrupy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once the noodles are cooked, season to taste and divide them between four plates. Top each with a duck breast. Drizzle with the sauce, rip over some coriander leaves, if you fancy, and serve.
Moroccan pesto fish
For the bean mix
- Drizzle of vegetable oil
- 1 large red onion
- 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 400g tin of haricot beans, chickpeas or flageolet beans
- 25g raisins
For the pesto
- Large handful of fresh coriander
- Large handful fresh flat leaf parsley
- 2 garlic cloves
- 50ml olive oil
- 2 tsp ground cumin
For the fish
- Drizzle of vegetable oil
- 25g plain flour
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp paprika
- 4 x 200g chunky, sustainably caught fish fillets like cod or halibut, with skin on
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cous cous
- 200g cous cous
- Small handful of fresh mint
- Handful (about 25g) of toasted pine nuts (available from many supermarkets ready toasted)
- Large squidge of honey (optional)
For the bean mix, put a medium sauté pan with a good drizzle of oil on a medium heat. Peel and finely slice the onion and add to the pan with the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 mins, stirring from time to time.
Boil some water for the cous cous and start the pesto: rip the leaves from the coriander and parsley and peel the garlic cloves. Place both in a blender with the oil and cumin, blitz to a paste, set aside. Tip cous cous into a medium bowl and pour boiled water over to just cover. Cover with cling film and let sit for 8 mins while you cook the fish.
Drizzle some oil into a large frying pan over a high heat. Put the flour on a plate and toss the cumin, coriander, paprika with some salt and pepper. Coat fish all over with it, shaking off the excess. Place fish, skin-side up, into the hot oil and cook for 3 mins.
Drain and rinse the haricot and flageolet beans and stir into the onions with the raisins and a good amount of salt and pepper. Leave to cook for a few minutes. After the fish has cooked for 3 mins, flip over and cook for 5 mins more.
When cous cous is tender, fluff it up with a fork. Rip the mint leaves off the stalks and add to the cous cous with the pine nuts and honey, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Divide cous cous between four serving plates. Place a piece of fish on top, followed by a spoonful of the bean mix and some Moroccan pesto.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"It is not always she who appears most kindly in her interest who is the safe sharer of sacred (maybe sorrowful) secrets! Charming manners do not always connote sincerity of heart!”The Lady. In Confidence. 4th April, 1918