April recipes: Baking power

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We’ve cooked up a sneaky slice of The National Trust Book of Baking by Sybil Kapoor, which is out on 15th April, with these heart-warming spring recipes.

Easy leek tart

Ingredients:

• 225g/8oz puff pastry (see below if making fresh)
• 680g/11⁄2 lb untrimmed leeks
• 1⁄2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 225g/8oz taleggio cheese

For the puff pastry

• 225g/8oz plain flour pinch of salt
• 225g/8oz cold butter about 120ml/4fl oz cold water

PREP: 15 minutes & 30 minutes rest time

COOKING: 25 minutes

SERVES: 6

Method:

1 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a large rectangle about 3mm/1⁄8 in thick. Using a 20 x 30cm/8 x 12in Swiss roll tin as a giant pastry cutter, cut out a rectangle of that size. If you are using homemade puff pastry there will be quite
a lot of leftover pastry, so carefully fold up the trimmings and freeze. Take a sharp knife and lightly run it about 1cm/1⁄2 in inside the pastry edge, so that you score a line to create a rim for the tart. Prick the internal rectangle with a fork. Place on a non-stick baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to fan 200°C/gas 7.

2 Trim the leeks of their roots and darker green leaves. Remove the tough outer leaves then slice lengthways through the green- coloured section of leaves. Wash thoroughly in a sink of cold water. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the leeks, return to the boil and cook briskly for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and cool under the cold tap. Squeeze out the excess water and pat dry on kitchen paper.

3 Slice the leeks and spread them over the pastry, taking care not to cover the rim. Scatter with the chopped tarragon and lightly season. Remove the rind from the cheese and slice or break into pieces. Dot over the filling.

4 Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the cheese is bubbling and flecked gold.

Puff Pastry:

The pastry itself doesn’t take long to make, but it needs to be rested regularly in between rollings. The chilling times are the minimum period of time you should leave the dough, but you can leave it several hours if you like.

1 Mix together the flour and salt in a food processor. Cut 30g/1oz of the cold butter into small dice, add to the flour and whiz until it forms fine crumbs. Tip into a bowl and mix in enough cold water to form a rough dough. Lightly knead into a ball, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Return the remaining butter to the fridge.

2 Fifteen minutes before you are ready to roll, take the remaining 200g/7oz butter out of the fridge and let it soften slightly. Place the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper or baking parchment and use a rolling pin to flatten it into a 2.5cm/1in thick rectangle.

3 On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle that is three times the length of the butter and about 2.5cm/1in wider than the butter. Place the butter in the centre of the dough and then fold over the top and bottom flaps of dough, so that the butter is completely covered. Using the rolling pin, lightly press down on each edge so that the butter is sealed in. Give the dough a half-turn clockwise.

4 Using short sharp strokes, roll out the dough so that it returns to its original length (three times that of the butter) but retains the same thickness. Then fold in the top and bottom ends, press the edges with the rolling pin and give a further half-turn clockwise. If the butter is breaking through the pastry or the pastry is becoming warm, stop, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. If not, you can repeat the rolling process one more time before resting the dough. Make a note of which way the dough is facing before chilling, as you will need to continue with the clockwise half-turns.

5 After 30 minutes’ chilling, replace the pastry on the floured surface in the position that you left off and continue with a further two rolls and half-turns. Chill for another 30 minutes and then make two more rolls and half-turns. Wrap and chill until needed or cut in half and freeze.

Strawberry cream cake

Ingredients:

Whisked sponge

• 85g/3oz caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
• 85g/3oz plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
• pinch of salt
• 3 medium eggs

Strawberry filling

• 310g/11oz strawberries 1 tablespoon kirsch
• 2 tablespoons caster sugar 225ml/8fl oz double cream

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 8

This cake is the picture of summer if you place a freshly opened rose on its sugary top. Perfect for June birthdays. As it is a whisked sponge, and contains no fat, it is best eaten on the day it’s baked. The sponge freezes well and makes a wonderful trifle.

Method:

1 Preheat the oven to fan 170°C/gas 4. Lightly oil two 18cm/7in cake tins. Line the base of each with baking parchment and lightly oil. Dust the sides of each tin with caster sugar and then with flour.
2 Sift the flour and salt together and set aside. Place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. If you have an electric whisk, beat until the mixture is pale and thick and leaves a trail when you lift the whisk. If you’re whisking by hand, place the bowl over a pan of just-boiled water (off the heat); whisk until it is pale and thick, then remove from the pan and continue to whisk until cool.
3 Tip the flour over the surface of the whisked egg mixture and, using a flat metal spoon, gently fold the flour into the mixture. Divide between the two tins and bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Test by lightly pressing the cake with your fingertip: it will spring back if cooked.
4 Leave the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Turn out the cakes and peel off the baking paper. Dust the top of one cake (baked-side up) with caster sugar. Leave until cold.
5 Meanwhile, hull, halve and slice the strawberries. Toss with the kirsch and 2 tablespoons caster sugar.
6 Once the cakes are cold, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold in the strawberry mixture. Spread over the bottom sponge, leaving a clear edge for the cream to squeeze into when you
add the top. Gently squash on the sugared top and add a further dusting of caster sugar.

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Star Q&A: David Walliams

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Author & dad David Walliams, 49, talks about life & the arts ahead of the adaptation of his novel Billionaire Boy as a Covid-safe Car Park Party

Q. We’re excited about this show – are you on a mission to save Easter for families? “It’s the most brilliant thing, seeing a book you’ve written come to life. You feel like a magician because what was in your head is somehow now all real. I think people are craving entertainment, especially live, because although the TV has still been on, you haven’t been able to be part of an audience, so this is a great and safe way to enjoy a show.”

Q. Are you passionate about the arts during these difficult times? “Well, it is important. I have friends who are actors, directors, designers and so on who have been all out of work. They are all raring to go. I feel like the audience wants it too. It’s hard to put a value on the arts… they enhance your life, but you can’t put a figure on it. When you read something or see something though, it moves you. It changes the way you think, how you feel about the world and about life. We have always had a very very vibrant arts culture here and it’s something we really need to protect.”

Q. Billionaire Boy tells the story of Joe & his friendship with Bob. Do you think connection is especially important for children now? “It’s very important they can keep in touch with their friends at the moment. Luckily, technology exists, though not everyone has access to it, but at least with phones and computers you can see people and speak to them. Just checking in with people making sure they are okay is crucial at the moment, because a lot of people are struggling.”

Q. How would Joe’s toilet paper baron dad have reacted to last year’s stockpiling? “He would’ve been one of the few that benefited… him and Jeff Bezos! That whole thing was extraordinary wasn’t it? I almost forgot about it. Jack would’ve liked it. His BumFresh toilet paper was actually a good invention, dry on one side and wet on the other.”

Q. In 2016, you played Mrs Trafe the dinner lady in the TV version…. can audiences look forward to seeing you on stage? “I haven’t been asked to perform, but I want to come and see it and if I do, I’ll come on the stage and say hello.”

Q. Have you been busy over the last year? “Fortunately writing is something you can do in your own at home. Last year I brought out four books, two or three of which were written during lockdown and I’m writing my new one. So in that department I feel very lucky indeed.”

Q. If we gave you £1billion to spend today, what would you buy? “There’s one thing that Joe Spud has in the book which is a water slide going down from his bedroom to a swimming pool. He just gets out of bed and goes straight down a water slide. That is something I don’t have and it really pains me. So I’d get that water slide because water slides are so much fun. I love them!”

Billionaire Boy tours the UK, including Windsor Racecourse on 11th April & Newbury on 12th April. Book at carparkparty.com

Delicious chocolates for Mother’s Day

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Make mum’s day with these delicious chocolates

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday so why not show her how much she means by making these sweet treats packed with healthy ingredients and love

DARK CHOCOLATE CHILLI & ORANGE FLOWERS

Sugar free and vegan

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Chilling time: 3 hours
Servings: 15 chocolates

You will need: Silicone moulds***

Ingredients:

OPTION 1 – COCONUT OIL
Coconut Oil gives a creamier texture and tends to melt more easily in warmer weather if left at room temp. Cheapest option and easy to prepare.

• 100 g coconut oil
• 25 g raw cacao powder
• 1.5 TBSP xylitol – powdered xylitol sugar alternative ground to a powder in a coffee grinder (available as Total Sweet)
• 2 tsp orange zest
• 1 pinch chilli powder

OPTION 2 – 100% DARK CHOCOLATE
100% dark chocolate is becoming more widely available in supermarkets and shops. This recipe is mid-price, of the three options, is easy to prepare and gives a nice, hard consistency for finished chocolates.

• 100 g 100% dark chocolate
• 1.5 TBSP xylitol – powdered xylitol ground to a powder in a coffee grinder
• 2 tsp orange zest
• 1 pinch chilli powder

OPTION 3 – CACAO BUTTER
Cacao Butter is more expensive and harder to source (health shop or buy online) but can be kept in the freezer and melted down as needed. Best bought in button-sized pieces for ease of using the quantity needed. Gives a harder consistency than coconut oil for the chocolates once prepared.

• 100 g cacao butter
• 25 g dark cocoa powder
• 1.5 TBSP xylitol – powdered xylitol ground to a powder in a coffee grinder
• 2 tsp orange zest
• 1 pinch chilli powder

Method:

1. For all options, begin by melting the Coconut Oil / Dark Chocolate / Cacao Butter in a bain-marie (place a bowl over the top of a pan which has two inches of water in it. Heat the water over a medium heat until the ingredients have melted, stirring continuously. Do not allow the bowl to touch the water.

2. Once the coconut oil / dark chocolate / cacao butter has melted, remove the bowl from the pan and turn off the heat. Place the bowl on a heat proof surface and stir in the raw cacao or dark cocoa powder (NB: you do not need to add chocolate to the 100% dark chocolate option).

3. Next, add the powdered xylitol and a pinch of chilli powder and stir until combined.

4. Place the chocolate silicon mould on to a moveable flat surface (a baking tray or chopping board works well).

5. Sprinkle a small amount of orange zest into each mould.

6. Now spoon the chocolate mixture on top until each mould is full.

7. Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours before removing each chocolate from its mould and storing in a suitable airtight container.

8. It is best to eat these within 4 days of making them (not that they will last that long) as the chocolate can start to crystallise after then.

SUPERFOOD TRUFFLES

These little chocolate nuggets are supercharged with chlorella to energise the body. A perfect healthy treat for this Mother’s Day.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 4 hours
Makes: 16 truffles

Ingredients:

• 115g cashew nut butter or tahini
• 60g maple syrup
• 2tbsp cacao powder
• 60g melted dark chocolate
• 60g dried cranberries or cherries
• Pinch of sea salt
• 1tsp vanilla extract
• 1tsp Sun Chlorella powder
• 30g shelled hemp seeds

Method:

1. Place the cashew nut butter, maple syrup, cacao powder and melted chocolate in a food processor and combine. Add the remaining ingredients and process to form a dough. Chill in the fridge for several hours until firm enough to roll into balls.

2. When the mixture is firm use a spoon to scoop out walnut size balls. Roll into balls and place on a sheet of baking parchment. Roll the truffles in a little shredded coconut or dust with cacao powder.

Every Mum is sure to love these treats for Mother’s Day – and there’s nothing quite like a homemade gift (especially an edible one!)

See more of our recipes here

Time for wildlife

Liz Nicholls

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Help ensure the survival of beautiful African wild animals by supporting two amazing charities

The last 12 months have been challenging in so many different ways. But to mark World Wildlife Day we’d like to highlight ways you can help the urgent plight of animals in need of your support.

The AfriCat Foundation & Namibian Lion Trust team are working hard to protect the natural habitat has been built up over the last three decades.

But with travel restrictions hampering vital fundraising from safari bookings at Okonjima Lodge, both charities really have gone back into survival mode.The nature reserve is a self-sustaining eco system, unique in Namibia, which has provided so much valuable behavioural and scientific insight. This knowledge, about big cats, grazers, pangolins, hyaenas, rhinos and more, has contributed to considerable understanding of these threatened species.

It might be March but, as the world is only just opening up, why not take up the special offer to buy a beautiful 2021 calendar? These feature 13 amazing images from great photographers including Chris Packham, Rohan Van Wyk, Joe Hubmann, Robin Maeter, Naun Amable, Paul Martens & Wayne Hanssen, of lions, hyenas, pangolins, leopards, cheetahs and zebra.

Check out the AfriCat shop here. Every pound you spend on these gorgeous goodies will help ambitious wildlife projects, in particular building a school in one of the conservancies which borders the western boundary of Etosha National Park. Or take advantage of the Donate Now, Stay Later offer from Okonjima; email 

Please visit africat.co.uk for further info & sign up to the newsletter. Thank you!

 

For a very different charity – read about England World Cup legend Sir Geoff Hurst’s gin and whisky to support dementia charities here.

Liven your home with green walls

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Gardarica offers ‘living walls’ tailor made to the needs of your home, garden or business from design to construction

The last year had us all spending much more time indoors, whether due to lockdown or self-isolating. It is more important than ever to create a living space that is refreshing both aesthetically and to create a better atmosphere to live and work.

Living Walls has been the new thing for interior design and landscape design, and an amazing solution for a quick and easy renovation, breathing life to your home.

Benefits of green walls

Improved mental & physical health

The presence of living walls reduce bacteria, mould and dust, ensuring that your environment is healthier. People in spaces with green walls experience less headaches and tiredness than people in traditional homes. A greener environment will make your home more relaxing and allow for better productivity.

Better air quality & flow

Living walls purify the air converting harmful particles into oxygen. Studies have shown that better air quality leads to a more positive mood. This is a fantastic way to make your property a more positive environment.

Temperature Control

Living walls naturally regulate the temperature in your space, creating a pleasant atmosphere.

They simply look great!

Apart from all the practical benefits, a simple fact remains, a green wall looks fantastic and it will lift your mood!

Did you know?

There are several plants that boost your immune system and limit viruses in the atmosphere

There are plants, like Aloe Vera and many more, that produce oxygen even in night time

You can choose to have a green wall designed and constructed for you, or if you are on a low budget you could even start one yourself

Gardarica uses patented products from recycled oceanic plastics to create a unique design that matches your needs and budget.

Contact Gardarica to find out more at or call 020 398 319 60.

 

For our tips on how to show your home some love, click here

Star Q&A: Raymond Blanc

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Liz Nicholls asks star chef Raymond Blanc about feeding the soul in isolation, finding your calling & his surprising favourite foodstuff…

Q. Many of us parents have been home schooling, or stressing about home schooling over the last few months… Being self-taught, do you have any encouraging words about how youngsters can find their calling, school or no school? “The key is to find your passion and follow it. I am self-taught in the sense that I didn’t ‘study’ my craft but I did ‘learn’ my craft from the best. This includes my maman who taught me so much as a child about taking the best local, seasonal ingredients and turning them into wonderful, hearty, family dishes. I learnt from great chefs who I worked under – I paid attention, I practised, I pushed forward and made my own way into a world that inspired me so much.”

Q. Your childhood sounds idyllic. What’s one thing parents can do to nurture their children’s love of food? “There is nothing that will inspire children more or make them want to try new tastes and textures than to have been part of the creative process of preparing and cooking the dishes. To this day certain dishes like a simple and delicious apple tart evoke such strong and joyous childhood memories of being in the French country kitchen, cooking with my mother.”

Q. Is there anything you don’t eat or drink? “I do all I can to avoid processed food. I once bought a processed loaf and could not believe that after two weeks there was no mould on it! In France, every little village has a boulangerie and the French buy fresh bread sometimes three times a day. Today there are a wealth of wonderful artisan food producers in the UK and they must be supported.”

Q. What’s the one food or drink that you just couldn’t do without? “Not a food I can’t do without but one I have only recently discovered – brown sauce! Yes, who would imagine a Frenchman loving the humble brown sauce. I had been Living in England for almost 40 years when one day a friend offered me a bacon butty with brown sauce. I can tell you now, it was a revelation. I cannot believe I waited so long!

Q. What’s the most useful kitchen gadget or kit no kitchen should be without? “I think most chefs would agree when I say a great set of kitchen knives. Having the correct sharp knife for each and every task in the kitchen will make everything so much easier and so much more enjoyable. Good knives are easy to handle, they are well balanced and, looked after properly, can last you a lifetime.. Another piece of kit I love is my Kenwood Chef kitchen mixer. I’ve used these machines for over 30 years, in my kitchens and cookery school, and the precision and durability is fantastic.”

Q. We’re supporting our hospitality heroes – how important it is this industry? And do you have any words of solidarity for your fellow hospitality heroes? “The UK hospitality industry employs over 3 million people, many of them just starting out on the career ladder – young, eager and full of high hopes and expectation. For them, and for the whole of the hospitality sector I say try and stay strong. It has been such a hard year but we are all in this together and we know that once this if over our restaurants, pubs, hotels will be the first places people will want to visit to reclaim some normality and joy. We live to deliver those special moments of magic and will be back to doing what we do best very soon.”

Q. What one piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out as a chef? “One route is via apprenticeships. There are very many excellent apprenticeships that will give you a superb introduction to commercial kitchens. We run them at both Le Manoir and at Brasserie Blanc and can take someone with basic skills, give them the best training they could hope for and set them up for a successful career with no limits. Some of the best known chefs in the UK started this way, including Michael Caines and Ollie Dabbous who were both apprentices at my Le Manor!”

Q. How have you coped throughout the last year & what have been your go-to sanity savers? “I was at home, and isolated from most of my family – as well as my team of chefs at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Brasserie Blanc. My way of keeping sane was to cook and cook! I chose simple dishes that evoked happy memories and provided the connection to those who I missed so much. I used ingredients that were easily-available and needed only basic kitchen equipment and out of this came the inspiration for my new television series and book Simply Raymond.”

Q. Who would be your five dream dinner party guests, living or dead, real or fictional? “Other than friends or family, of course, what could be better, I think it would be amazing to have one big table with all the great chefs I have been lucky enough to train over the years. What great things they could teach me now.”

Q. Like me, you eat regularly at Brasserie Blanc… What are your favourite dishes on the menu? “Yes, I live very close to our Brasserie Blanc in Oxford so I am in there at least once a week. I help to create the seasonally changing menu with our Executive Chef Clive Fretwell who learned his craft under me at Le Manoir – we have worked together for over 30 years now – amazing! I know all of the dishes very well, every season I have a new favourite but some dishes are classics and stay on the menu throughout, including our very special cheese soufflé. I enjoy this as a starter but also on its own for a light lunch – it is so incredibly light in texture that you can almost imagine it is calorie-free!”

Q. What other exciting plans do you have on the horizon? “I currently have the new television series Simply Raymond Blanc running on ITV on Saturdays mornings. This will be repeated over the summer on weekday evenings so if you have missed any of them don’t worry! My new recipe book is also coming out any day now – Simply Raymond. Like the television series the book is a collection of my favourite, simple home-cooked recipes – nothing fussy or over-complicated. These dishes are the ones that mean the most to me; the ones that connect me to my dearest family and friends.”

March recipes: Spice of life

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Mandira Sarkar of Mandira’s Kitchen serves up a wonderful suggestion for Mother’s Day: spiced biscuits & masala chai to deliver to your mum’s doorstep if you live close enough to her…

Nankathai cookies & masala chai (hearty spiced tea)

Ingredients:

• 100g ghee (clarified butter)
• ½ cup powdered sugar
• 1 cup plain flour
• ½ cup semolina
• ½tsp powdered cardamom
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• Nuts for garnishing

For the masala chai:
• 1/4 cup milk
• One green cardamom
• ½ tsp grated ginger
• Two crushed peppercorns
• Two cloves
• 1 tsp loose leaf tea

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, 14th March. But, even if you can’t be with your mum, we thought this was a good excuse for tea & biccies.

Mandira, who can’t be with her mum as she is in Calcutta, tells us: “My earliest memories of tea time remain interspersed with the sounds of the Jeep arriving at the porch signalling Dad coming home at the end of his ‘kaamjari’, excited barking of the dogs and my sister and I running across the long verandah to greet him.

“Signalling the close of a working day, the world seemed at peace with itself… the setting sun casting its beautiful glow over the emerald green tea bushes and the blazing bougainvilleas looking as though someone had set off a light within…

“A very heavily laden three-tiered trolley would shortly make its way from the kitchen wheeled in to the verandah where we would all sit for tea… everything was arranged in some sort of predetermined order – the plump tea pot covered with a hand embroidered tea cosy filled with fresh brew straight from the factory and glasses of steaming milk from the cows (all children usually had their personal cows!) sat on the top tier with accompanying plates, starched napkins and cutlery… The second tier had savouries whilst the bottom tier cakes and biscuits. I still find it amazing how we had high tea every single day of the year with at least four things but no two days did the menu look or taste remotely similar. There were seasonal specialities like samosas made with a delicate homegrown potato and cauliflower filling – a sign that winter was nigh… Hot roasted ‘bhutta’ or corn on the cob picked straight from the ‘maalibari’, served with butter and slivers of lime in midsummer.

“These were melt-in-the-mouth nankathais that would put a Parisian bakery to shame and sandwiches with the most exciting of fillings from ‘chutney’ to ‘sausage’… Every different Memsaheb and cook had their own specialities. Given that there was no equipment like electric beaters, piping bags or even a temperature controlled oven, it is astounding the standard and quality of what came out of those huge wood-fired Agas and cool tile-lined kitchen counters…

“Those days are long gone… Most cooks like Monglu, our cook have passed on and the Memsahebs now live very different, albeit social, lives in bustling metros… However I cannot help thinking those tea times live on in their own way in the homes of the numerous ‘chai ka baby and babas’ scattered all over the globe … Through recipes… Embroidered linen, little silver bells… In my house it is my mum’s tattered Duliajaan cookbook handed down to me, those amazing chutney sandwiches, white fluffy nankathais or even the light of the early evening sun on a summer evening falling on my freshly mowed lawn…

Here is Mandira’s recipe for Nankathai cookies & masala chai (hearty spiced tea)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat the ghee and sugar until light and fluffy. To this add the flour, semolina, baking powder and baking soda, after they’ve been sieved. Mix to form a soft dough. Make small balls (the size of marbles) and put on a greased baking tray – they will spread so make sure there is adequate space in between.

Put a cashew nut or almond as garnish and bake the cookies for 15 minutes making sure they cook but do not brown.

Gently remove from the tray whilst hot and put on a baking rack .
These melt-in-the-mouth crumbly cookies are best served with masala chai.

To make this, boil one cup water with 1/4 cup milk and add the green cardamom, grated ginger, crushed peppercorns and cloves until the flavours are infused – which should take about eight minutes. Add one tsp of loose tea leaves and then strain and serve.

Order a special Indian inspired afternoon tea from mandiraskitchen.com/product/mothers-day-afternoon-tea & use the code AboutMum for free chilli chocolates

Slow-cooked duck with duck gravy

Ingredients:

• 2 large Aylesbury ducks, about 2kg each
• 3 tsp ground mace

For the duck gravy:

• 500g duck bones and wings, chopped A little vegetable oil for cooking
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
• 4 celery sticks, cut into 3cm pieces 1 onion, peeled and diced into 3cm pieces
• 1 garlic bulb, cut across in half, through the equator
• 150g runny honey
• 4 cloves
• 2 litres chicken stock
• 50ml soy sauce
• About 500g unsalted butter
• Lemon juice, to taste (optional)
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 90 minutes

SERVES: 4

Some dishes end up defining you, chef and restaurant. This is one of them. I cooked it at the Great British Menu banquet for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. That raised our profile into the stratosphere: everybody suddenly wanted to book a table at The Hand & Flowers and order duck and chips!

Method:

Remove the legs and wings from the ducks and take out the wishbone (reserve for the faggots, gravy etc., see right and overleaf). Remove the excess fat and skin, placing it all in a frying pan. Now carefully cut away the backbone; you should be left with the crown.

Place the pan of fat and skin over a low heat to render the fat out. Set aside for later use.

Score the skin on the duck crowns and rub in the mace. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the duck crowns and sear on all sides for 5–10 minutes to render the fat and give the skin a good golden colour. Remove the duck crowns from the pan and allow to cool.

Put each duck crown into a large vacuum-pack bag and vacuum-seal on full pressure. Immerse in a water-bath at 62°C and cook for
1½ hours.

Lift out the vacuum-pack bags and remove the ducks. Carefully cut the breasts from the crowns. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Duck gravy:

Preheat the oven to 205°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6–7. Put the chopped duck bones and wings into a roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown and caramelised.

Heat a little oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the chopped carrots and colour until darkly caramelised. Add the celery, onion and garlic and similarly colour until well browned.
Remove the duck bones and wings from the roasting tray and add them to the saucepan. Drain off the excess fat from the roasting tray, then add the honey and cloves to the tray. Place over a medium heat and take the honey to a dark golden caramel.

Add a splash of the chicken stock and the soy sauce to deglaze the tray, stirring to scrape up the sediment. Add the liquor to the duck bones and vegetables. Pour in the rest of the chicken stock and reduce down by half, to 1 litre.

Pass the liquor through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pan and skim off any excess fat from the surface. Add 250g butter to every 500ml duck liquor and reduce down until it has emulsified into the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice if required. Set aside for serving.

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Keep memories alive with Fusions Craft

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Discover millions of creative and crafty ways to share your life stories for future generations

In the time of the most advanced technology on record, the most money humankind has ever had, and more ways to get entertained you could possibly wish for, the strange truth is that the levels of stress, depression, and anxiety are also the highest they’ve ever been.

According to studies, children doing GCSEs today experience the same levels of stress as veterans in the times of the Vietnam war. How did it happen exactly that as we’re moving faster and faster toward the next thing exclusively designed to make us happy, we often feel like the most important thing is missing?

How does today’s lifestyle affect our mental health and what psychological benefits can art provide? Is it true that art cleanses your soul? And if it does, could it make you feel so much better you’ll actually feel the difference?

According to the world-renowned scientist Mikhailo Csikszentmihalyi, the feeling of flow created by intensely crafting (for example, writing, scrapbooking, working with clay) can cardinally change your life, infusing it with never before seen clarity, passion, purpose, and quantifiable changes in happiness. Don’t take our word for it though!

Although it can feel like modern technologies have taken over our lives to the point where our phones are controlling how we feel, how much time we spend with our family, and who watches our every move, you’ll find that there is one simple solution that includes a surprisingly old technology.

Have you ever felt that visceral emotion brought back by music or perfume or place when you remember your loved ones? Memories could very well be the most important thing in our lives, and it would be a great shame for them to fade with time.

As a family business, we know there’s nothing more important than family. With Fusions Craft, you can discover a panacea to stress, frustration, and a way of stopping the frenetic rat race and slowing downtime to a halt so you can spend it in a truly Buddhist fashion, inspecting scrapbooks you created.

In the days to come, the next generations will cherish these and learn about you with tender wonder. It’s one thing to hear about your grandma’s life story, but it’s entirely different to see the photos and feel the smell of the ink.

Fusions Craft specializes in the almost lost art of keeping your memories alive. Starting off as a small hobby, the craft unfolded and grew like a flower leaning toward the sun; soon it became a family business that specializes in scrapbooking supplies: if you need
• Paper & Card,
• Scrapbooking paper,
• Stencils,
• Embossing powder and Moulds
• and tons of other supplies you can possibly think of, you’re in the right place.

Why Fusions Craft?

Fusions craft is about so much more than photo albums. We provide you with every tool you can think of so you can produce nothing less than works of art to tell the most amazing stories, like so:

With stencils, moulds, flowers, embellishments, stamps, sprays, and much, much more, you can discover the magic of artistry that can be taken with you anywhere.

Learn of a million different ways of decorating the pages of your love stories, family sagas, photos of children and travels, adventures, tales of forest fires and heroic doctors, life wisdom learned from the darkest nights, indescribable beauty and courage and faith – with items that best reflect the emotions that will now, thanks to your contribution, will never be lost to the world.

2020 may have been called the most difficult year in history, but it also saw humans at undoubtedly their best: we saved animals in burning forests, spent more time with our family and loved ones, cried together, got saved by governments we criticized so much, stoically battled the virus and died like heroes, gave each other masks, and helped strangers.

Fusions Craft is your chance to let those who will come after know how we stood together even though we were forced to be apart. Create postcards, panels, decorate boxes, build mesmerizing scrapbooks with photos of your loved ones, adventures, your stories, unique moments caught on camera, and all those things you’d be heart-broken to forget. Now you never will.

It’s up to you what you want to remember. You could choose to remember this year as the toughest on record. Or you can keep documentary proof that along with everything that happened in 2020, it actually didn’t make us less human but instead much more. How will you remember this year?

Fusions Craft isn’t just a shop. It’s a place where you will write history.

Our Website: fusionscraft.com

Read our tips on creating a locldown time capsule

Pancake recipes: From Bonne Maman

Liz Nicholls

All Areas

Today is Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday. We’ve teamed up with Bonne Maman UK to offer you some great recipe ideas.

Vegan Apricot Crêpes with Toasted Nuts & Seeds

Ingredients:

For the crêpes

• 150g plain flour
• pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp caster sugar, optional
• 250ml oat milk
• 1 tbsp melted sunflower spread or coconut oil, plus extra for the pan
• splash of vegan beer, about 2tbsp

For the filling

• 60-100g mixed nuts and seeds such as hazelnuts, almonds, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin
• pinch ground cinnamon or mixed spice
• 400g tub Greek-style, vanilla, non-dairy yoghurt
• 335g jar Bonne Maman Intense Apricot

METHOD:

1. Spread the nuts and seeds for the filling on a foil-covered baking sheet and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Toast in a hot oven or under the grill until golden brown. This will only take a minute so keep an eye on them. Set aside.

2. To make the crêpes, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt and the sugar, if using. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking gently as you go, then whisk in the melted spread or oil. Set the batter aside for about half an hour if time allows, then finally whisk in the beer.

3. Heat an 18-20cm crêpe pan and wipe over the base lightly with butter or oil. Stir the batter – it should be the thickness of single cream – and pour a small ladle of batter into the pan. Working quickly, tilt the pan so that the batter runs all over the surface then hold the pan over the bowl of batter and let the excess tip out. Trim the lip of cooked batter away from the edge and return the pan to the heat. The base should be covered in batter but not quite thin enough to see through.

4. Let the crêpe cook for a minute or so until the underside is golden and comes easily away from the pan. Lift one edge up with a palette knife and carefully flip it over. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes. The flip side will only cook in spotted brown patches, not as evenly as the first side. Tip the crêpe carefully on to a plate. Wipe the pan with a little more oil and continue until you have used up all the batter. Keep the crêpes warm, covered with foil in a low oven.

5. When ready to serve, spread the warm crêpes generously with the vanilla yoghurt, add large spoonsful of Intense Apricot and finally sprinkle with the toasted nuts and seeds. Enjoy!

Lemon Curd & Raspberry Crêpes

Ingredients:

Crêpes

• 6 Large French Crêpes

For the filling

• 12 tbsp Bonne Maman Lemon Curd
• 300g fresh raspberries
• Icing sugar to dust
• 6 tbsp crème fraiche or vanilla ice-cream
• zest of 1 lemon
• 25g toasted shredded almonds
• a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme

METHOD:

1. If the crêpes are not freshly made, wrap in foil and warm in a low oven for 10 minutes.

2. Spread each warm crêpe generously with about 2 tbsp lemon curd.

3. Add a small handful of raspberries into the centre and a spoonful of crème fraiche. Fold the crepe in half.

4. Dust lightly with icing sugar and top with lemon shreds, almonds and lemon thyme. Add a few more berries and enjoy straight away

TIP:

If fresh raspberries are out of season use thawed frozen berries.

Add a splash of Crème de Framboise or Crème de Cassis to the berries before using.

For extra flavour and crunch, stir a tablespoon of toasted almonds into the crepe batter before cooking.

Find more Bonne Maman recipes here bonnemaman.co.uk and see our other recipes here

Billy Ocean & the Young Voices

Liz Nicholls

All Areas

Billy wishes you a Lovely Day with charity single to help children’s mental health

Pop icon & beacon of positivity Billy Ocean, who lives in Berkshire, has teamed up with the Young Voices Choir to release a new and uplifting recording of the Bill Withers’ classic, Lovely Day.

Also featured on the track are award-winning broadcaster and musician YolanDa Brown (saxophone) and The Voice UK 2018 winner (and former Young Voices singer) Ruti Olajugbagbe. Released on January 26th by Magic Star (the home of children’s and family entertainment at Sony Music UK), all UK profits will go to children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

“We have all been affected in different ways over this difficult last year,” says Billy MBE, “and many children have really struggled. I’m so happy to be able to join with Young Voices to help make a difference and to raise funds for children’s mental health with this wonderful and hopeful song.”

Profits from the single Lovely Day will go to the Place2Be charity which launched the first ever Children’s Mental Health Week in 2015. Place2Be’s school-based teams estimate that 85% of the young people they support have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and have seen an increase in referrals around self-harm and suicidal thoughts in secondary schools. 1 in 6 children and young people have a probable mental health condition (Source: NHS Digital)

Ben Lewis, CEO of Young Voices, says: “With school life currently disrupted, this highlights the need, more than ever, to support children’s mental health.”

Young Voices is an all-inclusive educational programme designed to use music to develop 21st-century skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity, mindfulness, and innovation. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year Young Voices have staged the largest children’s choir concerts in the world. In 2020 alone, Young Voices headlined 24 arenas across the UK, including a record breaking concert at Manchester Arena, overtaking Take That’s previous record of 46 shows.

This summer Young Voices will attempt to break their own Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Simultaneous Sing-Along’, currently standing at 293,978 – a record set when the ‘Big Sing 2005’ was broadcast live from the Royal Albert Hall. Streamed live from The O2 arena, Bily Ocean, Yolanda Brown and Ruti and Young Voices will join children, their teachers and families throughout the UK to sing ‘Lovely Day’. Involvement can be registered at: youngvoices.co.uk/biggest-sing/

Show your support and buy the single and share with us if Place2Be have helped you or someone you know