I can go up to 4 months without buying a single item or clothing. I perfected the art of not spending when I was earning £6.50 an hour making coffee and living in London. But I have confessed many, many times my over-consumption of all things cooking related. This extends to magazines. I am currently subscribed to; Saveur, Bon Appetit, and Delicious (I would also be subscribed to Elle a Table but they keep taking my card details and not sending me the magazine!). On top of that, when my husband has a business trip to London I threaten to lock him out unless he brings me; Jaime, Olive and BBC Good Food.
In spite of the obscene magazine count, I hardly if ever make anything from them. Probably because I cook instinctively, letting what I find in the shops that day guide me. But the February issue of Delicious is on fire! I knew I had to make the Crispy Duck because it was Fuchsia Dunlop’s recipe and if anyone knows, it’s she. I picked up duck legs from Galeria and pancakes from Vinh Loi. I had most of the ingredients at home; Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon sticks and ginger (amazing how those 4 things made the duck taste so deliciously “Chinese”). But not Shaoxing wine, for which I substituted white wine and Mirin. The recipe is simple but requires planning. The legs hang out over night in the spices. They are then steamed for 3 hours (she said 2 but the meat was still clinging firmly to the bones so I gave them another hour). Then you quickly fry the legs for color and Voila! The best crispy duck with pancakes you will find in Berlin.
I allocated two large legs for my husband and I (yes, I spoil him with fabulous food) and found that we scoffed it all up in minutes and wanted more, a lot more. So next time I will double that. Delicious has the recipe all typed up on their website so I will direct you straight there rather than retype.
And I made the Banana Tart Tatin. Normally it irks me when a classic is taken and remodeled into some new-fangled modern version which is not as good as the original but I was looking for something fast, warm and impressive to serve a girlfriend for lunch. You throw some butter into a pan, add sugar let it brown (don’t worry if it looks like it split, it will turn into a sticky caramel while it bakes in the oven) add the banana halves, drape the pastry on top and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The two of us ate a tart that’s is supposed to serve 6-8 people. Fantastic, you must try it.
Last plug for Delicious magazine (no, I am not secretely working for them) a lot of their recipes can be found online and they have good print out formats. There are still a lot of recipes I want to try out from the issue including some of Atul Kochhar’s Malaysian curries and Debbie Major’s Seville orange marmelade (she cooks the orange peel for 2 hours and only adds the sugar at the end) if I can find Seville oranges, which are so far eluding me!
Banana Tart Tatin (adapted from Delicious Magazine, February 2011)
Serves 2-4 (recipe says 6-8 but No Way!)
Plain flour for dusting
500g puff pastry
75g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
4 ripe bananas, halved lengthways
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so it’s ½ a cm thick. Cut out a circle that is 2 cm larger then the diameter of (23cm-26cm) frying pan you will be using.
2. In your non-stick ovenproof frying pan, melt the butter over a low heat, sprinkle in the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
3. Increase the heat until you have a caramel. This happens very fast! So watch your pan and swirl the contents around (carefully) when you see the caramel forming in only one spot (usually the middle). Place the halved bananas cut side down and sprinkle with cinnamon.
4. Quickly drape the puff pastry over the top of the bananas, tucking the edges down inside the frying pan.
5. Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until golden and puffed.
6. Serve with vanilla ice cream or just on it’s own with some fresh coffee (which is what we did and we were in heaven).
This month’s issue was different. I knew I had to make the Crispy Duck (for recipe click here) and the Banana Tarte Tatin.