Peking Blinder

Fuss Free Peking duck with pancakes

You know sometimes there's not much to say but to share something that's a super tasty classic and a fuss-free version at that! 

Each week I tutor one to one with a 15 year old and we swap between sweet and savoury each time.  This week we tackled something that I have never made before but I love to eat. Peking duck in pancakes. You know the little ones with cucumber and spring onions all tucked up in a tiny thin pancake.....

If you can't get hold of some duck legs you could ask your butcher to joint a duck or have a go yourself; The legs are only going to get roasted so neatness isn't important! I guess if you wanted to you could use canned duck confit.  

Rub each duck leg with a teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice, place them on a baking tray and roast in the oven at 190 degrees C for 45 minutes, then turn and give them another 45 minutes. If they start to brown too much just turn the oven down to 170 degrees. 

To prepare the pancakes make a basic unleavened bread dough by mixing in a bowl... 

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • A pinch of salt

Use a spatula or palate knife to bring the mixture together. Once it's resembling a rough dough, tip it out onto the work surface, pull it together into a ball and knead it for 10 minutes. Then wrap it and leave in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes whilst you make the hoisin sauce.

In a small saucepan put all the sauce ingredients below and heat gently on a low heat until for 3-5 minutes. It doesn't need to boil just come to a gentle simmer and warm through. I wanted my sauce a bit thicker so I put a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with a teaspoon of water in a ramekin. Stirred it together and added it to the sauce. Add it bit by bit to get the consistency marmalade! 

  • 120g packet of Amoy black bean sauce
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Leave the sauce to one side to cool. Meanwhile, trim the roots off 2 bunches of spring onions and then cut them in half to 3-5cm widthways and then cut them into long strips. Peel the skin off a cucumber, slice in half lengthways, scoop out the soft middle. Then cut into sticks the same size as the spring onions.

Take the pancake dough out of the fridge. It needs to be made into about 24 pieces.....the easiest way to do this is by chopping it in half, and then continuing to keep chopping the dough in half as evenly as you can! They should be about the size of a gobstopper.

Flour the work surface well and flatten out the piece of dough, then roll it out as thin as you can before placing in a dry frying pan which is on a medium heat. Cook on each side for 1 minute, then remove to a clean tea towel and cover it over. Repeat for all the dough. It may be quicker to use more than 1 frying pan! You don't really want any colour just to cook them briefly.

Decant the sauce into a little bowl, shred the duck off the bone using 2 forks and get ready to serve your tasty morsels!!

  • If you wanted to try and make a more authentic sauce you could use 150g black bean paste, 50g of water and 120g of caster sugar instead of the Amoy sauce along with the other ingredients

These are the two recipes I referenced to make this recipe if you want some more inspiration!

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/19/how-to-make-chinese-duck-pancakes

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/03/how-to-make-chinese-crispy-duck-recipe

 

 

 

She roared like a wild boar!

Wild boar with Olives and Herbs:

Words flowed from my mouth as if it wasn't me talking. I even surprised myself!

Let me set the scene...

Day 15 of the school holidays.  Basic tasks to leave the house are taking forever and a usual 20 min round trip to the mall takes 3 times longer due to traffic before we even arrive at the park.

The sun had decided to come out properly for the first time all holidays and there were wall to wall cars flanking the park, not a space in sight. Except for one. I locked in.

With traffic stacked behind me, I did the due diligence of indicating whilst parallel with the space, wacked on my hazards and then drove ahead of the space before starting the reverse park.

You know what happened next. 

The car behind pulls up too close leaving me no space. I had clocked this was a learner driver but I'd hoped this would be a learning opportunity (unless they were on their test!) But I was not letting this space go.

It was going to be tight but I started my reverse, at which the car behind beeped in panic. I was within a foot of the learner cars front end. I felt confident and undeterred. The pressure was on! I glided into the space, without parking sensors I hasten to add;  I made it into the space first go. (PHEW!)

And here is where it happened. 

It was almost as if I was outside of my body observing what was happening. My initial thought was of annoyance at the lack of reading the situation from behind and in my head, the raging me said some bitter, angry "FFS, give me some more space next time." Bit harsh though, considering it was a learner driver!

But the reality of the situation was that my heart was rather pleased with myself at nailing the manoeuvre and I heard my sassy self-say...

"Now that's how you reverse park."

Being a warm day, both of us had our windows open and I had that grounding moment of OMG I just said that out loud AND she heard me. I was met with...

"Well done. PASS." Touche. 

As this experience came back to mind last night (I had forgotten about it and hadn't even told my husband) I thought about posting it and wondered what the greater learning of it all was.

In my efforts of evolving and raising my awareness being in the position of the observer is something I am making strides towards. It's easy day to day to get caught up in the drama and to be the feeling (I feel upset) rather than to observe or notice the feeling (I notice I'm feeling upset). 

I find when I am in the place of observing my behaviour and noticing how I feel this creates space for other things.  To be objective, more heart centred and listen to what lies within. A life where we notice how we feel and observe our actions and responses can only help us understand what lies within even more and enable us to give ourselves what we need. 

I am fast learning that it's nobody else's job other than my own to speak and find what I need and not expect those around me to be mind readers! There is also something somewhat empowering about finding and following what is true to your core and not relying on external things to fulfil a feeling inside. And breathe.

Back in February, I followed my heart to drive 2 hours to attend an Italian masterclass that I was kindly invited to by Bookings for You (Tuscan holiday specialists). I had the most fantastic day watching the Giovannini family cook their Tuscan family recipes, and I am sharing another one with you here. Wild boar! If you can't get hold of any boar you could use venison or indeed lamb. But your local butcher will stock it at the moment! 

If you would like to win an Italian hamper (right) like the one I received at the masterclass, including handmade goods from the family bakery then click through to The Fuss Free Foodie home page and follow the rafflecopter link. The competition closes on April the 15th 2018. Open to UK residents only.

Roasted Wild Boar with Olives and Herbs
  • 1.5kg Wild boar haunch, bone in
  • 20 sage leaves
  • 5g rosemary spines, no stalk
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup of pork fat, chopped into small cubes (you could use a little lard but your butcher will have it or just cover with slices of prosciutto)
  • 1/2 bottle of white wine
  • 2-3 handfuls of black olives
  1. Preheat the oven to 170degreesC Fan/190 conventional
  2. Roughly chop the garlic on a chopping board. Then do the same with the herbs. Bring them together to make a finer chopped mix of all 3
  3. Take a long pointed knife and make 20-30, 2-inch incisions all over the meat so that you can stuff the little pockets with herbs and fat
  4. Poke in a piece of fat and then stuff in some herbs
  5. When all the pockets are stuffed drizzle the top with olive oil, salt and pepper and then rub over the rest of the herbs and fat
  6. Place in a roasting tin, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, uncovered
  7. After this time, take the boar out of the oven. Throw in the olives and pour in the wine. Put back in the oven for another 45 minutes. After this time flip the boar over and give it another 45 mins  
  8. Take out of the oven, check it is hot through to the middle (thermometer or just with a knife) and allow the meat to rest for at least 15 mins
  9. I served this with a celeriac and potato dauphinoise and some Italian cabbage (cavalo nero) but you could equally serve with some roast potatoes and veg of your choice!

My favourite recipe for celeriac and potato dauphinoise is here by Jamie Oliver

If you fancy making the Giovannini family Tiramisu the day before for pudding, follow this link here

This meat is also super tasty cold with a simple salsa verde too! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beef and mushroom stroganoff

Beef and mushroom stroganoff

I'd say my grip on life, at times, has been pretty tight. You know that thought process of, the harder you hold on, the more control you have to make things happen the way you want? It's funny, that it's not until I've loosened my grip that it has actually allowed many more wonderful things to evolve by being open at the hands of others.

So this week was a test! When the 'C' word gets mentioned in a negative context (and of course I am talking about 'carbs'!) my instinctive response to this was: grip hard! I could feel my Italian lineage recoil at the prospect of a limited pasta intake, and my Tuesday night bailout of pizza and salad go up in smoke in the pizza oven. (Ha just kidding, I don't really have a pizza oven....but....)

But what if I loosened my grip on this slightly, what comes to the fore then? Slowly but surely, as the grip loosens, I sense my bookshelves reshuffle and make room for a new cookbook. Of course! I've noticed on Twitter recently a certain Tom Kerridge has been getting a lot of love for his Dopamine Diet..which is basically low carb tasty food...now a chef who has lost 11 stone and likes to eat tasty food...I am willing to spend £7 on that!

SO this is where this week's inspiration has come from. I was making a tutorial on how to cook steak for a project that I am working on (#HealthyhappyYOU)...and it was sat there till dinner and then it came to me: Beef Stroganoff. Now I don't find the book particularly fuss free, so I created my interpretation of the recipe to make it fuss free and delicious....which is what we are all about here! And you know, in the end, grip loosened, we served it with brown basmati rice, and it seems the carb ban may already be lifted: For now. Cookbooks 1-No carbs 0

Let me know what you think of my fuss free Stroganoff in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group or take a look behind the scenes, watch tutorials and see food reviews on the Fuss Free Foodie page. See my fuss free life in pictures on Instagram or what I'm tweeting on Twitter. Don't forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share on FB or post to your timeline, tweet or pin with the buttons below! Lisa x

Beef Stroganoff

Serves 2

300g mushrooms, whole if small or into quarters, if larger
170g fillet, sirloin steak or fillet tails (cheapest option)
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, sliced half moons
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 stock cube
500ml beef stock (leave 100ml for later)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp smoked paprika (I used hot, feel free to use sweet or a combo of 2)
3-4 tbsp crème fraîche or sour cream (full fat) (I used 4 as it was HOT!!)
30g gherkins, diced
2 tbsp/1/4 lemon juice
2 tbsp, parsley
Olive oil, salt and pepper

  1. First, in a heavy sauce pan, cook the steak. Get the pan hot on a medium to high. Rub the steak with oil and season with a little salt and pepper.
  2. When the pan is hot, put the steak in and cook for about 2 minutes on one side (if the steak is about 2cm thick to be cooked rare) and then flip over and add the butter. Baste the steak and cook for a further 2 minutes. Take out of the pan and rest on a plate.
  3. In the remaining butter fry the mushrooms on a high heat to extract the water, and get some good colour on them. Season and remove from the pan when they have shrunk and not spongy.
  4. On a medium-low heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and fry the onions slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add in the garlic and fry for 2 more minutes. Crumble in the stock cube, add the paprika and stir for 2 minutes. Then add the tomato puree and cook out for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add 400ml beef stock, mustard, stir and bring the pan up the boil, then reduce to a fairly fast simmer. Reduce the sauce until it is rich and thick and reduced to about a 1/3 in size. Stir in the crème fraîche or sour cream and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the beef and mushrooms into the pan along with any meat juices. Warm through for a minute or 2, then add the lemon and gherkins. Serve. (If you feel the sauce is a bit too thick add a drizzle of the extra beef stock to loosen.)
  7. In the end, I served with so brown basmati rice....healthy carbs aren't all that bad.

Forget the Fuss....

Make a mushroom stroganoff, add at least 5-600g of other types of mushrooms. I would advise if you are doing mushrooms stroganoff to fry off your mushrooms to gain colour, flavour and extract the water from them so your sauce is a success

So what did I do differently to TK? He uses double the amount of meat as he is trying to bulk the meal out with the protein. So if you wanted to do carb free double up the meat. I prefer to serve with a portion of brown basmati rice for balance

De La-sagne

Lasagne

I guess I am not in your typical demographic to be going to a hip-hop gig! On Saturday Morning at the park, when I mentioned to a dad I was at De La Soul the previous evening, I could read the subtext running behind his eyes...! Funny thing about the friends you meet when you become a mum...they have no clue of your past!

I played De La Souls, 3 FT high and rising album on repeat in my teens; It's hard not to love the beat, riffs, mixes, rapping and scratching. It's really 'out there' and full of silly humour and until this day still 'get' the hip-hop vibe. As my friend at the gig pointed out, quite a lot of the time hip-hop can be based upon struggle and oppression; Maybe my connection with this genre of music is more than just an appreciation but is set in my DNA.

My Italian grandparents
Vittoria and Luigi, my grandparents came over from Italy to the UK back in the 50's. Times were tough back then after the war, and work was scarce. My grandmother's father worked, her mum stayed at home and the few stories of my great grandfather's background were, let us say, from more of the 'underworld' side of Italian culture and maybe that's the reason I enjoyed reading Mario Puzo books!!

They sought a better future for themselves and their future family with a strong desire to work hard and succeed. But to leave your motherland over 60 years ago and settle in a country where you didn't speak the language or know the culture couldn't have been easy. So maybe this struggle to succeed is locked into my cells and why hip-hop resonates with me. So writing this week's blog fitted well with my weekends escapades...Da La-sagne!!

It's not the most fuss free of recipes though right? After all these years I have finally found a way to make it feel fuss free. It's a bit of a 2 pronged attack, but you do get a meal at the end of attack 1! First of all its about making a great tomato sauce with 5-6 different veg, (as always use what you have and swap stuff in and out) passata and a combo of pork and beef mince to effectively make a spag bol. Phase 2 is just building the lasagne....easy!

But instead of making the traditional bechamel/white sauce, which I know would put some people off, I use crème fraîche, which really makes it easier. Having the lasagne all built and ready to go in the oven on these, still, chilly evenings for me is a joy. We still have half left for tonight.....a glass of red wine with it this time I think.

Let me know what you think about my fuss free lasagne and hip-hop music in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group or take a look behind the scenes and read food reviews on the Fuss Free Foodie page. See my fuss free life in pictures on Instagram or what I'm tweeting on Twitter. Don't forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share! Lisa x

Fuss Free Lasagne
Serves up to 6
Approx. 24Cm sq Pyrex dish

For the spag bol:
500g pork mince
500g beef mince
1 onion, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
1-2 celery stick, diced
125g mushrooms, diced
1 courgette, diced
Half butternut squash, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1L passata (x2 500g boxes from Aldi)
1 glass of red wine
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbsps olive oil
3 branches of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried herbs

For the lasagne:
250g dried lasagne sheets (at least half a box needed)
600ml crème fraîche, decanted into a bowl and stirred, so it has a thinner consistency if too thick add a dribble of milk
150g Parmesan, grated finely

  1. In a large casserole dish, add a tbsp of oil and fry the pork on a medium heat until all the meat has changed colour and any juice has started to evaporate.
  2. Take out of the pan and put to one side, then do the same with the beef mince. Keep all the meat to one side whilst you make the tomato sauce.
  3. Put 2 more tbsps of oil in the pan and add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and fry on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until it has softened and reduced in size. Add the garlic and fry for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and fry on a higher heat to extract the water. Once this has all evaporated, add the courgette and squash and continue to soften for another 10 minutes.
  5. When everything is softened and reduced down add the wine. Reduce the liquid by half and then add the passata. Season with salt and pepper, add some herbs and simmer for 15-10 mins. Blend smooth.
  6. Add the meat to the sauce and simmer for at least another 15 mins or longer on a lower heat. You are aiming for a fairly sloppy sauce. Once it cools the meat will soak up more of the juice and be firmer. You can use some of this for a spaghetti bolognese and then when cooled store the rest in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to make your lasagne.
  7. (See tutorial!) When you are ready to build your lasagne, have all your ingredients to hand. Your first layer is the meat sauce. Spread about 3-4 serving spoon fulls on the bottom, and cover the base completely. Drizzle 2 spoonfuls of crème fraîche on top too. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets all over the top of the sauce.
  8. Spoon another layer of around 3-4 spoonfuls of meat sauce on top of the lasagne sheets. It should be about 1cm thick roughly. Drizzle on 2-3 spoonfuls of crème fraîche and a good handful of Parmesan. Repeat this process until you get a layer of lasagne at the top. Put the last of the crème fraîche on this final layer and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  9. As you are building the lasagne be conscious that you are probably going to have 4-6 layers and try and manage the amounts according to the size of your dish. But sometime one layer may be thinner or thicker than another, and this doesn't show in the final dish!
  10. Set aside until ready to cook in the oven for 45 minutes at 180℃/350℉/Gas Mark 4. If the top is browning too quickly just throw a piece of tin foil over the top and take it off a few minutes from the end to crisp the top up.
  11. I like to serve with a salad...but if it was up to my husband he'd serve it with chips or garlic bread!