Confit duck with honey, orange and figs (Middle-class leftovers)

So I had some confit duck legs leftover, as you do. I’d love to say that I confit them myself but that would be a lie. I bought a few tins in France and we had 2 of the legs a couple of weeks ago, with celeriac and garlic greens, so the spare 2 were liberated from the freezer ready for an encore.

The nice thing about getting them in a tin, aside from the time saved, is that easily you get a jam jar of duck fat to use as you please for weeks!  

Back-in-the-day, they would have been baked in a hot oven until crispy before being shredded to be served with jarred plum sauce and Chinese pancakes, but for this encore I wanted to try something a bit different.


  • 2 x confit duck legs, excess fat wiped off
  • 1 x large orange, zest and juice separated
  • 2 tblsp honey
  • 6 x small fresh figs, halved


Preheat oven @ 200°c (400°F / Gas Mark 6)

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat, without adding fat, and fry the duck legs skin side down. After 5 mins turn over and brown on the other side. Drain and discard any extra fat; pref into a jar for later, but most definitely not down the kitchen sink.

Place the duck legs in a baking dish, drizzle over the honey and sprinkle on the orange zest. Season with S+P and roast for 15 mins. [I did sneak a look and baste the duck with the honey mix halfway through – probably not necessary]. After 15 mins pour over the orange juice, add the figs to the dish and roast for a further 10 minutes. Serve. Simples 🙂

Could do this with raw duck legs, or even chicken legs, but give them longer to roast with the honey and orange as you need to actually cook them, as opposed to just heating through. Big fan of this “roast then add liquid for the final minutes” method as you get a really tasty result. I do the same with my garlic and rosemary chicken, creating a sharp lemon edge to the chicken pan gravy. Yum!

The mad world of dieting

Just been checking out the website for a certain company I’d seen advertised on TV who offer calories controlled meals, delivered to your door, and wanted to see what their offering was and how the plan was put together. [clue: you get to eat tiny packets of crisps while watching TV 😉 ]

£61.25 a week (£8.75/day) to have your 3 meals / day delivered, all carefully restricted to 1,200kcal per day, didn’t sound too bad. Ok, I can do better (I spend less than that on 2 people for a week eating mostly Paleo) but for people desperate to lose weight and too busy to do it for themselves, well it saves a trip to Tesco or the local sarnie bar at lunchtime.

Jesus Christ, it’s shit!

  • Breakfast = small portion flavoured granola, flavoured porridge or an oat cookie.
  • Lunch = a small soup, pasta salad or a milkshake (?)
  • Snacks = oat cookies
  • Dinners =  a little better; curries and familiar pasta dishes.

So, basically, you starve all day just eating tiny portions of sugar laden food to keep you conscious and right before bedtime you eat a plate of curry and rice. No veg tho – you have to add your own “to meet government guidelines”. Erm, I thought the point of this was to take away the eater’s input – after all, they can’t be trusted to select their own food 😉  A whole year with only the extra fresh fruit and veg being what you remember to add yourself (chips count as veg, right?) you might be thinner at the end of the year but you’d look like the undead!

By my rough calcs (and not counting delivery) that’s about £5 worth of food a day, based on high-end, organic granola, Covent Garden soups, Waitrose ready low-cal dinner, and posh ‘healthy’ biscuits for snacks. May I see your licence, to print money, Sir?

If I ate that for a week my skin would turn to crap and I’d be in a perma-fugg. Ok, I’m not looking to lose a stone so this obviously isn’t designed for me, but 1,200kcal of processed food for months on end? How can you learn to make good choices when someone else is making those decisions for you?

There’s the obvious point, I suppose. Educating people to feed themselves ‘right’ does not generate revenue for these companies. Some of the responsibility has to lie with the people who pay for it, expecting a quick fix without effort on their part, but can you blame them when the message they’re given is that low-calorie is good and it’s all very complicated so let us do the “hard work” for you?

Rant over 🙂

Spiced chicken livers with cauliflower rice

Keeping up with this week’s plan, last night’s dinner was chicken livers.

Sadly no piccies during prep as my camera conked out so only managed a phone pic of the finished dish – probably for the best.


Have to say that this was one of the tastiest chicken liver dishes I’ve had, with punchy spices and paprika (but no chilli), but it’s no Nandos Piri Piri 🙂 

Ox cheek bourguignon

We like a challenge. Ox cheek (or beef cheek) was hard to get hold of in the UK for a while following the post-BSE/ CJD legislation, but the lovely folk at Waitrose have it all trimmed and ready to go!

I took a traditional Boeuf Bourguignon recipe and swapped in whole pieces of ox cheek, in place of the usual braising steak, and braised in a low oven for 3 hours. I’m not going to lie – it’s a an ugly, brute of a piece of meat. Using tongs helped a lot 🙂

Mise en place

2 large pieces, which were just under 1kg altogether, only just fitted in my 4.2 litre Le Creuset pot. After the first hour I took the casserole out of the oven and turned the meat over in the braising liquid. They had shrunk a little by then, which made the job easier. After 2½ hours both pieces were very tender and the sauce thickened a bit, but I turned the meat over again and popped it back in for a final half hour while I dealt with the veggies.

The mashed root veg was already prepped in the freezer, so reheated with butter in a sauté pan. Had a huge bag of kale to get through, so steamed a few handfuls of that too.

Served chunks of fork-tender ox cheek with the chunky braising veggies, buttered mash and bright green kale. Perfect Sunday lunch 🙂

Ox Bourguignon, swede and kale

Super excited!!!!

I’ve finally been able to launch an idea I’ve been semi-working on for a while. Mindfull eating, outdoor living, group exercise and adventure!

Everything came together at the same time and I just jumped on it – sooo not like me but I love it!

Thinking this isn’t the time of might to make big decisions but…….. where has doing the right and being sensible thing got me so far, eh?

More in the morning – tee hee hee !

Snack time!

Sometimes only something crunchy, with dip, will do and it is something that’s missing when you drop the crisps and crackers on a Paleo diet. These oven baked, spicy plantain definitely hit the spot with a few beers and a marathon Breaking Bad session (cleared most of Season 3 already!).

No deep frying or mess, just a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and 20-25 mins of your oven’s time. Sprinkle with spices of your choice – I like a mix with cumin and chilli:


For those interested in such things, plantain are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Like bananas, they are a good source of potassium, and vitamins A & C. I did use a tablespoon of melted coconut oil, so that needs to be taken into account too, but we’re still way off the supermarket version’s salt and calorie count. Plus, this bowl full came from just one plantain @ about 90p – you do the math 🙂

Weekly prep

It was a rainy Friday afternoon. The sky grey and foreboding. I fancied a jacket potato for my lunch because I was cold, and had just taken beating at the gym, but seemed a bit of a waste to have the oven on for an hour just to make lunch so I got organised. For the week ahead I need roast veggies for dinners (and some mashed) and I had picked up some extras from the supermarket because they looked so nice.

  • 4 x Sweet potatoes, whole @ 50-60mins
  • 2 x Aubergine, cut in half lengthways and scored @ 25-30mins
  • 3 x Courgette, in half inch dics @ 15-20mins
  • ½ Swede, diced @ 30mins
  • ½ Celeriac, diced @ 30mins

Now, the devil makes work for idle paws so the other halves of celeriac and swede were steamed, separately, and mashed before freezing flat in baggies. It’s a messy job I’d rather get out of the way, and they can be thawed quickly and reheated with butter when required.

All the roast veg is in the fridge to be sautéed with breakfast, served cold with lunch or added as a dinner side.

Time well spent, me thinks  – now just to clear the washing up and I’m sorted 🙂

This week’s menu – 25 April 2014

Making a conscious effort this week to eat bigger portions, by adding more veg, and upping the fat content too. I’m also trying more offal, as mentioned yesterday:

  • Lamb liver and bacon, caramelised onions and balsamic vinegar w/ kale and roasted swede
  • Carnitas on lettuce tacos w/ sweet potato wedges
  • Spiced Chicken Livers w/ citrus cauliflower rice and green beans
  • Ox cheek bourguignon w/ kale and mashed root veg
  • Confit duck w/ honey, orange and figs, and roast celeriac
  • Kippers on spinach w/ poached eggs
  • Sausages w/ roast beetroot and apple & celeriac mash


Yesterday was shopping day, but I still had quite a lot of leftovers in the fridge so dinner was a bit of a pot luck. Or should I say, a pot of gold 🙂


  • Pork sausages, browned.
  • An onion, carrot and celery mirepoix perked up with a handful of smoked pancetta lardons, 2 cloves of sliced garlic and some shredded fresh sage leaves.
  • A mug of fresh chicken stock with a tablespoon of tomato paste (for colour and to thicken the finished stew).
  • The end of a bag of frozen cauliflower and broccoli florets.
  • Half a mug of coconut milk, smidge of Dijon mustard and a nugget of mature cheddar, grated.
  • A drizzle of EVO (I need the extra fat)

Drumroll please…………….


[the wine was also leftover, so had to use that up too 🙂 ]