There's a new tutor coming to the Belfast Cookery School from South Africa via Dublin's Fair City. Rozanne Stevens a sassy, sensational and sensory chef will run a series of classes at the school over the coming months. My assistant Jules & I got to meet her at the Belfast launch of her new cookbook 'Delish' and find out how she puts the 'ish' factor into food.
'Cooking has to be as stress free as possible, no panic, no crazy lists of ingredients, no stress. Socialising and enjoying what you cook with your friends is the key to good food.' says Rozanne.
Rozanne's cookery book takes inspiration from worldwide food cultures, but what makes it different is that it is a nod and a wink to these cuisines rather than another book filled with definitive recipes for.
'Everyone has had enough stews in their life, cooking should be fun and fancy free.' says Rozanne
Rozanne is cooking with Shea Trainor one of Belfast Cookery Schools travelbug chefs, who spent several years wandering south east Asia in search of awesome food. I love how Shea naturally lives the Belfast Cookery School ethos, that cookery should be chillaxed, fun and not filled with swearing! It's not often as a journalist, I visit cookery schools where all the chefs live and breathe the same message.
Duck is an ingredient many home cooks sadly shy away from, as either being too fatty, or too difficult to cook. However, when cooked and prepared properly duck is delicious. It has a lightness that you might not have thought possible from such a rich meat.
Rozanne and Shea gave these tips for cooking perfect duck breasts every time.
- Score a diamond shaped pattern into the fat of each breast, this means the fat will be thin and crispy when it is cooked rather than a huge lump of wobbly white goo
- Put spices on the fleshy side of the duck - marinade for up to 24 hours if you have time - this means they will not burn when cooked
- Start the duck breasts in a cold pan on medium heat - fatty side first, this is to melt the fat out of the duck, then up the heat and cook it on the other side
- Pan frying duck is the opposite of cooking a steak which requires hot hot hot sizzle
- Let the duck hang out in the pan, be patient & allow duck to cook slowly - 12 mins approximately for medium rare
- Ducks cooked in restaurants is often fried in extra sunflower oil and over a high heat, which makes it really greasy and horrible
- Meat curls up as it is cooked, therefore push duck down with fingers or tongs as it cooks in the pan this makes sure that all the fat gets cooked
- Duck is much nicer a bit pink - if it is too pink when you slice it put it back in the pan over a high heat for a couple of minutes only
- Duck needs to rest for nine to seven minutes after cooking to allow the fibres to relax
- Left over duck fat can be used to cook chips or roast potatoes
Rozanne's Duck salad uses a short list of simple ingredients to maximum effect and it would be the perfect dish for a romantic dinner. The juicy ducks succulence is matched juxtaposed with the zesty lime juice and coriander, while the mango adds sweetness. You can make this dish using tins of mango.
Rozanne Stevens Recipe for Jewelled Chinese 5 Spice Duck Salad (from Rozanne's book Delish)
One of my favourite recipes for entertaining, this salad looks fabulous for Christmas with ruby red pomegranate jewels and juicy mango. The ish ingredient is Chinese 5 Spice which is an aromatic blend of spices that marries perfectly with luxurious duck breasts. Toasted sesame oil, another ish factor, and plenty of fresh lime, finishes off this very special sensational salad.
- 2 Barbary duck breasts
- 2-4 tbsp Chinese 5 spice (I marinaded the meat overnight in the spices for a more intense flavour)
- 150g baby salad leaves (no rocket)
- 2 mangos, peeled and sliced
- 6 spring onions, finely chopped
- Seeds of 1 pomegranate
- Juice of 2 limes
- Few drops toasted sesame oil
- 4tbsp chopped coriander
- 100g pea shoots (or fine alfalfa or radish shoots)
- Trim any excess fat from around the edge of the duck breasts. Score the fat in a diamond pattern. Rub the flesh well with the Chinese 5 spice, don't sprinkle on the fatty side as it will burn. Lay fat side down in a medium hot pan and render out the fat until a thin crispy layer is left. Turn up the heat and seal the breast from the other side.
- Mix the baby leaves, half the coriander, spring onions and pea shoots together. Arrange on a large platter or individual plates.
- When the duck breast is cooked to medium rare, remove from the pan and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Thinly slice and return to the pan. Squeeze the lime juice over and stir over a medium heat until the duck is cooked to your liking. Duck breast should be served medium rare but you can cook it very gently for longer if you have squeamish guests.
- Arrange the duck on the bed of salad, scatter over the mango and pomegranate seeds. Pour over the juice and toss gently.
- Garnish with the rest of the coriander, spring onion and pea shoots. Sprinkle over a few drops of sesame oil.
If you'd like to take one of Rozanne or Shea's classes get in touch with the Belfast Cookery School - I cannot recommend them highly enough.
That's it for now ...
Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable