Food & Drink

Duck Breasts with a Barley Risotto.

Northern Living - Duck Breasts with a Barley Risotto.The porcini need to be dried, and here’s why: You grind them, and use the powder to dust the duck breasts with after they’ve been grilled. Just put some of the porcinis into a blender and blitz them for 30 seconds or so. You will get powder, along with larger bits. Separate the two and reserve — the bits go into the risotto, the powder on the breasts.


4 duck breasts
Kosher salt
Olive oil
4 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup barley
1/4 cup pancetta or thick-cut bacon, cut into batons
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh sage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup white wine
3 cups chicken, veggie or duck stock
1/2 cup fig or other fruit syrup (or maple syrup)
Parmesan slivers to garnish


(1) Toss the breasts with some olive oil and kosher salt. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes.
(2) Meanwhile, take about 3/4 of the dried porcini mushrooms and blitz them in a blender. You want between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of mushroom powder. The rest will be larger bits. Separate the powder from the bits and reserve.
(3) Dunk the rest of the dried porcini in warm water to reconstitute.
(4) In a heavy pot, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the, pancetta or bacon and cook until almost as crispy as you would eat it.
(5) When the bacon is at that point, add the garlic. Stir and cook 1 minute.
(6) Add the sage, stir and cook everything until you just see the garlic begin to brown.
(7) Add the white wine and turn up the heat to high.
(8) Add the barley and stir until the wine is almost absorbed.
(9) Add about 1/2 cup of chicken or duck stock and stir it in. When making a risotto-type dish, you want to add liquid slowly, stirring often, in an uncovered pot. This releases more starches from the grain and creates a sauce that seems like it has cream in it, but doesn’t. So keep stirring and adding liquid until the barley is nearly done.
(10) When you can chew the barley but it isn’t quite ready, fire up the grill on high.
(11) Once the grill is hot, lay the breasts skin side up on the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes.
(12) Once the barley is done, turn off the heat and cover.
(13) After 4 minutes, check the doves. You should have a nice browned, crisp skin on the breasts. If so, turn them over. Don't of cook, a little pinkness in the meat is perfect.
(14) To serve, lay down some of the barley risotto and top with the duck. Dust the doves with the porcini powder. If they look dry, drizzle just a teeny bit of olive oil over them.
(15) Finally, drizzle the fig or other fruit syrup over the birds and garnish with Parmesan slivers.

Squid salad with lime, coriander, mint and mizuna

Northern Living - Squid salad with lime, coriander, mint and mizuna - RecipeIngredients

for the squid
500 grams baby squid (cut into rings)
3 tablespoons groundnut oil (for frying)

For the dressing

1 bunch fresh coriander (or mint or mixture of both)
1 clove garlic (peeled)
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
½ teaspoon caster sugar
1 green chilli (deseeded (optional))
1 lime
 6 tablespoons groundnut oil (peanut oil!) 

For the salad

200 grams mizuna leaves or rocket
1 small red onion

Don't worry if the word mizuna means nothing to you. It's a tenderly peppery Japanese salad leaf, which some greengrocers, and even supermarkets, stock these days, but you can easily use rocket instead. This makes a wonderful starter to a full-blown summer dinner party, but I love it, with nothing before or after, except perhaps a bit of fruit, when I've got a couple of friends coming over for lunch.

(1) Tear the coriander and mint leaves from the stalks, not worrying if a few stalky bits are attached and throw into the food processor along with the garlic, fish sauce and sugar, plus the chilli if you are using it; this is completely up to you and simply depends on whether you want any heat or not. Peel the lime by first cutting off a slice at the ends so that you can make the lime sit on a wooden board and then just cut strips downwards so that peel, and pith, come off cleanly. Add the peeled lime, halved and with the pips removed, to the bowl and process everything until it is a smooth pulp, then drizzle the oil in, down the funnel, with the motor running, to emulsify the sauce. Scrape into a bowl to use later.

(2) Arrange the salad leaves - mizuna or rocket, whichever you're using - in a bowl or on a large plate. Peel the onion, cut it in half and then slice into very thin half moons and sprinkle them over the greenery.

(3) Slice the baby squid, leaving the tentacles whole, and fry in a large pan with a little groundnut oil; you will have to do this in a couple of batches. Remove the cooked squid to a bowl, sprinkle with salt, then, once you've got all cooked and cooled a little, toss in the lime and herb dressing and arrange over the waiting leaves and onions.

Staffordshire Beef Lobby

Northern Living - Staffordshire Beef Lobby – Nutritious food on a budget.This is a soup/stew that is traditional in the Staffordshire pottery towns. When things were very tight the dish was often prepared with little or no meat.

Serves 4


450g/1lb stewing or braising steak - fat removed and cut into small chunks
A handful pearl barley
1 onion diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed (optional)
4 potatoes diced
1 swede diced (the big orange fleshed ones not the little white ones)
4 celery sticks, chopped
4 diced carrots
Beef stock


(1) Put the meat, onion and pearl barley in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently on a very low heat for 40 mins. Stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking.

(2) Meanwhile peel and chop the vegetables to dice of a similar size

(3) Add the vegetables to the pan and top up with stock to cover the vegetables. Cook at a low simmer for approximately 60 mins or until everything is softly cooked and the meat is tender. Continue to stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of pan.

(4) Season to taste.

Serve in big bowls with chunky bread.

Baked Omelette Roll – Great food quickly on a budget

Northern Living - Baked Omelette Roll. Great nutritious family food on a budgetIngredients – To serve 6 people....

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
110g Thin sliced ham


(1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

(2) In a blender, combine eggs, milk, flour, salt and pepper; cover and process until smooth. Rip up the ham and mix it in with the other ingredients. Pour into prepared baking pan.

(3) Bake in preheated oven until set, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese.

(4) Carefully loosen edges of omelet from pan. Starting from the short edge of the pan, carefully roll up omelet. Place omelet seam side down on a serving plate and cut into 6 equal sized pieces.

Toad-In-The-Hole, Onion & Apple Gravy

Toad-in-the-hole, onion & apple gravyJamie Olivers tear & share Sunday lunch classic on a budget.

"I’ve separated out the elements of this classic so you end up with a family-style, tear and share dish that makes everyone go ‘Oooh!’"

In Yorkshire, I learned how real Yorkshire folk approach making a great Yorkie. They aren't into making their batter the night before, instead they focus on getting plenty of air into the batter and achieving a hot consistent temperature in the oven. I truly love this great classic and have only ever had one issue with it: quite often, you end up with half a sausage (the toad) poking out of the Yorkshire (the hole). The bit sticking out is crispy and golden – good times – but the other half of the sausage, inside the batter, is soft, anaemic and boiled – bad times. So in the spirit of family-style sharing and creating a dish that makes everyone go 'Oooh!' I'm separating out the elements so you end up with amazing crispy sausages, a tray of giant Yorkshire to tear up and a wonderful onion and apple gravy. Heaven. Whisk the eggs, flour, milk and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then pour into a jug. Preheat the oven to full whack (about 240°C/475°F/gas 9). Cut your onions into 1cm thick slices, and do the same with the apples – removing the core. Put a large pan on a medium heat. Add the butter, a lug of olive oil, the onions and the apples. Pick in the leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Remove the sauce from the heat once soft, season, and add the honey and a splash of water, if needed. Put the sausages into a sturdy roasting tray (roughly 30 x 40cm), toss with a little olive oil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Transfer the cooked sausages to a pretty ovenproof dish and toss with half the apple and onion sauce. Cover with tin foil. Remove any excess fat from the roasting tray, replace with a good lug of olive oil and place on a medium heat. Add the remaining rosemary leaves and after 30 seconds, pour in the batter, then put straight into the middle of the oven with the sausages on the shelf underneath. Cook for around 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pudding is fluffy, golden and puffing up at the sides. Whatever you do, do not open the oven door. Put the pan of apples and onions back on a high heat and stir in the flour. Be brave; let it get really golden before adding the cider, stock and a couple of really good splashes of Worcestershire sauce. Let it boil and bubble away until thickened to your liking. Get your guests to the table, with their knives and forks in their hands. Put the bubbling gravy on a board in the middle of the table. 



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