Tag Archives: canada

The healthiest thing you can stick in your mouth?

Monkswood green

Here I am in Canada, the nicest, calmest, healthiest, most considerate, eco-friendly, animal-friendly, smoke-free, peaceful place on the planet. And here I am on Saltspring, island, the nicest, calmest, healthiest, most considerate, eco-friendly, animal-friendly, smoke-free, peaceful place in Canada. I’m trying very hard to fit in, idly chatting to hemp-clad new age market traders about the breed of sheep they lovingly milked to produce their extra-creamy feta along with the organic feed and alba-oil massages they are treated to thrice daily (sadly the market traders have to make do with a handful of Mung beans and a polite slap in the face from their ultra-nourished partner).

Anyway, I’m here with Sally, Mark, Eliot, Felix, Fin and Ollie, who are looking after me in this perfect place and I’m determined to live up to at least one of these British Columbian ideals. Given that I’m a nasty, uptight, inconsiderate, ungreen, aggressive, animal-hating (so I’m told) habitual smoker, I decide to focus on the healthy – and here it is, straight from the anti-cancer battlefield. Surprisingly enough, it’s delicious. And there’s no doubt that you get a sense of piety when you drink it. I’d give it a go if I were you…

Green uberhealthy smoothie

Take a bunch of fresh kale, a few apples, a thumb of ginger, the juice from two lemons, lots of coconut water, a handful of mint, a scoop of Maca powder (yeah right) and a tablespoon of hemp hearts (yaha) and blend them together with a few cubes of ice (if you don’t have the Maca powder or hemp hearts, don’t worry too much, it still tastes great).

And this is where you should be drinking it:

Monkswood (Photos courtesy of Sally Kaldor. Yep, she demanded a photo credit)

Canadian duck

Finally – something different for breakfast! The Canadians are here so I have to do a real English breakfast with bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, black pudding, baked beans and toast – brilliant!

Then off to Cambridge and Immie’s skating party. It’s unnatural for english people to ice-skate. We simply have no grace and it’s all too obvious when we strap blades to our feet and try to look like we know what we’re doing. And that lack of grace is compounded by the fact that we can’t maintain ice rinks either – it feels more like skating along a rocky mountain pass than a placid lake. Why can’t we do these things properly?

Anyway – we get back and it’s time to cook the thing I have been waiting to do ever since I started this blog –

Confit of duck leg, pan fried duck breast with mustard mash and garlic fine beans

The thing to know about this meal is that you should prepare the confit at least a day before you eat it (although you don’t have to).

For four people you need a whole duck and an extra pair of legs. Take the duck and remove the legs and the breasts. Remove any fatty skin from the bird cut into small chunks and put in a saucepan. Trim the excess fat off legs and breasts (not too closely) and put the fat into the pan, then put the pan on a low heat. When the fat has fully melted you can take the pan off the heat and set aside. In the meantime, take the legs and cover them in salt (and pounded juniper berries if you have any) and leave for a few hours (or overnight if you’re patient – although to be honest – you can probably skip this step if you are in a rush)

When that’s done – take the legs and scrape off the excess salt and juniper berries and put them in an oven proof dish (that is just big enough for all four legs) and pour over the duck fat – they should be virtually covered in the fat. Cover with foil and put in a low oven (about 150c) for two hours then just turn off the heat and leave them. You can turn them over half way through cooking if you like. The trick is to make sure they cook in the fat and that they don’t cook too quickly. Once they are cool, that’s it – they can stay in the fat for a very long time (old French preserving technique).

Right – now you’re ready to cook the meal –

I think I’ve done mashed potato before so just look down this blog – the key here is to make sure there is a enough cream, mustard, salt and pepper in there.

Take the legs – scrape off the excess fat, place on a baking tray, brush with a little honey and place in the oven at 180c. They will take about 20 mins – but check them to make sure they don’t overcook. Take the duck breasts, season well and place into a frying pan at a moderate heat (about 3/4 strength) fat side down. Now the timing completely depends on the thickness of the breasts but I would go for about 5 mins on the fat side, turn over for 4 mins, and then do a last couple of mins on the fat side again. The breast needs to give when you prod it – otherwise it’s overcooked – and that is a disaster. When done, take them out of the pan and onto some foil to rest. While the duck is frying, steam the fine beans for about 5 mins until almost cooked. Then take the beans out of the pan, finely chop a large clove of garlic and put it in the pan with a good shot of olive oil for one minute, then put the beans back into the pan with lots of salt and pepper – they will be the best beans you have ever tasted – trust me.

Finally, put equal amounts of honey and balsamic vinegar into the pan and let it reduce a little to make a glaze. Now you just need to serve –

Cut the duck breasts into 1 cm slices and place on the plate, covering with the glaze. then add the leg, mash and beans. Works every time.

Lovely with Rioja.