Saturday 25 April 2015

15 – Your M&S Cookbook – Cooking the Books


Starter:   Spiced Beef and Orange Koftas with Sunshine Salsa

Main:      Sticky Spiced Duck with Apple

Dessert:  Gingerbread Squares with Lemon Drizzle

m&s cookbook

Starter: Spiced Beef and Orange Koftas with Sunshine Salsa

Easiness: 8/10, especially if you already have pesto

Taste: 9/10

Make again: 9/10

Cheats & Changes: leek and coriander seed instead of onion and coriander leaf

You could easily make a quick flatbread to serve these with if you’re not pushed for time, or else and toasted pitta would do the job. In fact, the pitta recipe is great and works every time, creating a lovely pocket inside to pop the kofta into.


The salsa is grated orange zest added to segmented orange, mixed with chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh coriander, olive oil and salt and pepper. For the kofta, add orange zest, finely chopped onions, minced beef, harissa, fresh chopped coriander, pine nuts, salt & pepper (all to taste) and egg and mix well. Shape around wooden skewers that have been soaked in water first to prevent burning. Pop under a hot grill, turning regularly, for around 12 minutes until cooked through. Serve with the salsa and warmed pittas. DSC_0554

When making, I found that the mixture was already quite sticky before adding the egg, but added it nonetheless to follow the recipe. This meant, however, that the mixture didn’t really stick to the sticks as it should have so just beware. If it’s already a sticky mixture, there’s really no need to add the egg.  As usual, I found myself beginning without the required ingredients, so substituted onion for finely chopped leek, and coriander leaf for crushed coriander seed, but the flavours were still good. These were truly delicious and something I’m looking forward to doing again in the summer months.

Main: Sticky Spiced Duck with Apple

Easiness: 7/10

Taste: 8/10 Flavours were good. The marinade was delicious

Make again: 4/10 (going up to a 7/10 with the right ingredients!)

Cheats & Changes: I used duck legs rather than breasts to save a bit of money!


4 duck breasts

4 tbsp dark muscovado sugar

4 tbsp cider vinegar

4 star anise

2 dessert apples

chunk of butter

egg noodles


Slash the duck skin in a diamond pattern and place in a bag or bowl with the sugar, star anise and vinegar. Leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Give it a good squish to ensure all the duck is coated

Heat a heavy based frying pan til hot and place the breasts skin down until the skin sizzles and begins to crispen. Turn down heat to medium and fry in each side for about 5 minutes. Remove and leave to stand for ten minutes.

Core and thickly slice the apple. Remove the fat from the pan but leave the sticky goodness. Add a chunk of butter and fry the apple slices, adding any leftover marinade, and bubble for a minute until sticky.

Cook the noodles, and serve everything, drizzling any leftover juice from the apple pan over the top.

First off, this would work much better with duck breast: if you’re going to use leg, I suggest a low, slow cook so the meat falls off the bone. I tried to combine the two and failed miserably. I also used rice noodles instead of egg which were disgusting. All in all, not a very successful meal but edible, just about. If you actually used the ingredients suggested, it would have been much, much tastier. The apples were yummy!


Dessert: Gingerbread Squares with Lemon Drizzle

Easiness: /10

Taste: /10

Make again: /10

Cheats & Changes: none



175g s.r. flour

1tbsp ground ginger

2 eggs

100g light muscovado sugar

4tbsp black treacle

4 tbsp milk

4tbsp sunflower oil


Grease and line a 19cm square cake tin and preheat oven to 180 degrees c.

Beat together eggs, sugar, treacle, milk and oil.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour and ginger.

Make a well in the powders and beat in the liquids until thoroughly combined and lumpless.

Pour into the tin and bake for 25/30 mins. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack.

Mix some icing sugar, water and lemon juice to a thick paste that you can drizzle over the cake.


This was quite a runny mixture, but rose nicely and turned out well. Mine was a little bitter, probably due to the fact that the treacle I used had been half used and in the cupboard for a few years (!) but was good, especially with the lemon drizzle on top. I used real zest and a little juice rather than the extract as per the recipe and gave it a proper coating, not just a few lines. Once cut into small squares, it doesn't last too long so this is a cake for either sharing, or wrapping tightly and cutting one square at a time!

The recipe that lasts, and the one I’ll be making this summer, is definitely the koftas as you can play around with the flavourings according to what you’ve got in the cupboard at the time.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Lea & Perrins Lasagne

I was contacted by Lea & Perrins recently to see if I’d like to test out one of their recipes. Of course, I said yes as it sounded like a fantastic opportunity to have a go at something I think I’ve got down to a T … lasagne. I have a very simple but tasty version of this that I’ve developed over the years and it always works well, so I was interested to give a different version a try out, especially since it involved several ‘dashes’ of the Worcestershire Sauce itself.

Lea & Perrins Hamper

The hamper of ingredients arrived and I was excited to get cracking, although once I’d turned out everything, never have I seen so many ingredients in rode to make one lasagne. My version sticks to the mains – beef, tomatoes, puree and a basic cheese sauce with added wholegrain mustard. The Lea & Perrins version is based more on a classic Italian Ragu with small chunks of carrot and celery running through it, added pancetta and a combination of Parmesan and Mozzarella. You can find the recipe, and many others using Lea & Perrins here.

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Although I don’t usually stick to quantities, I followed this recipe exactly, despite the fact it left out the part where I actually had to add the diced carrot and celery to the pan…the cook in me thought this step might be needed though, so I threw them in anyway after dicing at Step 2.

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Essentially you fry off pancetta, minced beef, onion, celery and carrot. Add tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock and leave to simmer. Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Now, this is something I might do again, as the addition of a clove studded onion really lifted the flavours of the sauce.

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Once the ragu has been slowly simmering for at least an hour, layer up your lasagne beginning with the meat. Top each layer with lasagne sheets, white sauce, torn mozzarella, parmesan and basil leaves.

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The recipe suggests leaving the top layer of lasagne free of white sauce and just using cheese, but I had a little leftover, so spread a thin layer on top and well as cheese instead.

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It seemed to work as well. Bake in the oven until browned and bubbling.

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Although taking longer to prep. than my usual lasagne, it was tasty and we particularly enjoyed the pancetta cubes and, as I said, flavour of the white sauce. What the Lea & Perrins did was sweeten up the usual bitterness of the tomatoes and whereas I normally add a small teaspoon of sugar, the Worcestershire sauce really did the trick and added another layer of flavour besides.

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Would I be bothered with all the ingredients and quantities next time? Probably not, but I’d certainly use ideas from this, including the Lea & Perrins rather than the sugar and the cloved onion, in my own version.

Disclaimer: Although I was sent products to try for the purpose of this post, all views and opinions are entirely my own, truthful and honest.

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