Tuesday 8 May 2012

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May...and Roasted Duck with Foraged Greens

"Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May..."
Romeo and Juliette, William Shakespeare (18th sonnet)

first attempt at a spelt sourdough loaf...

Carboot sale finds...we're not sure what this is...but think it will make an amazing planter... 
storage for both the sour dough and the bread when baked...
lots of linens...
little silver metal frames...

April rushed hurriedly by and we seemed to have two months weather rolled into one.  March winds and April showers as well as thunder, lightening, sleet, sunshine and the most amazing skies.  The blossoms opened, the bees pollinated and then the petals blew away covering everywhere with confetti. We visited and had visitors, viewed exhibitions that involved watching surreal films wearing plastic shoe-covers whilst sitting on huge white sofas that looked like broken polo mints; drank ginger beer and coffee in a watermill, discovered a windmill and kept ourselves busy working hard and enjoying fantastic company. 

May has been an altogether calmer month. Less dramatic weather, some simplification and de-cluttering,  fewer hours at work and longer days.

Then this weekends' visitors had to cancel and we didn't make any alternative plans but instead relaxed and baked sourdough bread (with mixed results), read and marked exam papers (not me)...had lots of long phone calls, bought bargains at a local car boot sale. Discovered creamy Cornish Camembert, stocked-up the pantry, roasted duck and steamed foraged greens, went for coffee and green tea  in The Turl Street  Kitchen (our new favourite place to eat and drink, great locally sourced reasonably priced food and a lovely relaxed atmosphere that makes you feel like you're sitting in a friends kitchen and used to be Steven Fry's QI club). Then watched lovely gentle French film The Hedgehog (on good recommendation) and two episodes of addictive dark Scandinavian drama The Bridge...Oh and the last episode of Homeland.  

...a perfect bank holiday weekend.

Roast Duck with roasted vegetables and foraged greens

  • Potatoes suitable for roasting.  I usually ask how many each person wants then do a few more!
  • One parsnip per person
  • Green vegetables plus olive oil or butter for sautéing.
  • A Gressingham duck appropriate size. A 2.5 kg should be fine for 3-4 people.
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • An un-waxed orange


  1. Preheat oven to 220c/425f/gas mark 7
  2. Prick the duck all over with a skewer and sprinkle with salt and pepper, seasoning inside too and then place on top of a trivet in a roasting tin.  Cut the orange in half and place inside the cavity.  Put into the middle of the oven.
  3. Meanwhile peel the root vegetables. Half the potatoes and cut the parsnips into equal size pieces. Par boil the potatoes in a little salt water and then drain. 
  4. When the duck has been in the oven for half an hour remove and place the par boiled potatoes and the parsnips into the hot duck fat that has now drained into the roasting tin. If you have a very large duck and the cooking time is longer add the potatoes later. 
  5. Return to the oven, reduce the heat to 160c/320f/gas mark 3 for the remainder of the cooking time.  This is calculated by allowing 20 minutes for every 500g plus 20 minutes extra. So mine took approximately two hours.  The result was moist breast meat and and golden brown skin.  
  6. Twenty minutes before the meat is ready cook the carrots.
  7. Ten minutes before serving wash the greens and cook in a little butter or olive oil seasoning well. 
I did a bit more foraging for greens.  I was a tad more adventurous and  after checking the The Thrifty Forager again, found some  goosegrass.  Also known as sticky willie, cleavers or scratch tongue.  You can't really miss these as they are the sticky velcro-like weeds that  kids toss onto someones back when they aren't looking...I still can't resist doing that!   And I added a few spinach leaves too.

These are the best roasted vegetable ever and apparently duck fat is low in saturated fat...although I wouldn't recommend having it every week...but great for a treat...mmm...Oh and you can   make a delicious gravy using the giblets and the juice from the cooked oranges...

...hope your Bank Holiday weekend was as good...

linking  here and here today...


  1. May looks like a good month for you indeed. The meal looks so yummy. Would you just cook for me

  2. Wish I could Heather...maybe one day...

  3. I am in the process right now of feeding a sour dough started. I did this years ago and was never really satisfied with the results so my fingers are crossed that this time will be a success.
    My husband and sons love duck...which means I always keep a close eye on my pets:)

    1. Hope it works Tracey.

      We had mixed results. My husband who has recently become obsessed with bread making used white flour and the results were a really heavy bread that he isn't keen on. I used spelt and expected a much heavier bread so wasn't as disappointed. The flavour of mine reminded me of black bread that we've had in Germany and Denmark. I think we have been a little impatient and should have left the starter a few days longer before using it.

      I'm not giving up yet though...It'll be interesting to compare notes...

    2. ps. had to laugh about your pet duck...I feel bad indulging now....

  4. Lovely photos - esp. sky and that (I am guessing ...) late afternoon sun. Gorgeous!

    1. Thanks Jodie...yes it was that lovely time of day...

  5. wow, that duck looks exceptionally good... photo's too... hasn't it just been a crazy few weeks... sun is out today and I write this on the upper-terrace in the warmth of a blanket and a little sun!

    1. It's ages since we've had duck and I was tempted when I saw 'Phil in the Kitchens' tasty looking recipe. It was really good and the best bit is that although we missed friends coming there's still some left for supper tonight!

      Sounds perfect where you are Dom...wish I could join you for a cup of tea!

  6. oh those clouds are glorious! love all your finds ;-)