Warm Duck Salad with Pears & Quince Dressing

What's there not to love about Autumn!? Children getting ready for their first day at school; labeling uniforms and sharpening their colouring pencils. Adults getting ready for college or evening classes or just preparing for a fresh start at work after a quiet August.

Autumn is the moment in the middle of the night when you find yourself getting up to close that window that's been open all summer and grabbing that extra blanket to put over your crisp sheets. The changes of colour on the trees, some fiery crimson whilst others such vibrant yellows, reminding you of the sun that is no longer scorching. Autumn is the promise of fireworks for some, a turkey for others.., pumpkins, squirrels, dressing up for Halloween, and the most gorgeous light in October for all to enjoy.

Yes, Autumn brings with her wonderful things!!! For me, all of the above, and including  the wanting of floral dresses, short jackets, all sorts of boots and feminine macs; and most of all a whole load of delicious foods to be had!

Today, to celebrate the first day of Autumn, I have made this delicious dish by Diana Henry: Warm duck salad with pears and quince dressing.

Serves 4


The Dressing:

2 tsp cider vinegar
4 tsp quince paste (membrillo)
8 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

1 chicon chicory
1 chicon red chicory or Treviso
3 just-ripe pears
1/2 lemon juice
3 Gressingham duck breasts
10g (1/4oz) unsalted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbps medium sherry (I must admit I put about 4 ;)!)
75g soft mixed leaves
20g blanched hazelnuts, halved (I realized I prefer them quartered) and toasted

 What to do:
  •  Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
  • Mix the cider vinegar and membrillo in a cup or bowl, breaking down the membrillo with a spoon. 
  • Season with salt & pepper and then whisk in the extra-virgin oil.
  • Separate the  chicory & treviso leaves
  •  Halve & core the pears and then cut them into wedges. Squeeze lemon juice on them to stop them from discolouring and place them aside for later
  • Score the skin of the duck breasts and season with salt & pepper
  • Heat a frying-pan – Diana says ideally ovenproof – then add the duck, skin-side down. Cook over a medium heat until golden brown. No need for oil, the duck has enough fat!– this should take three minutes.(it took mine 4-5 minutes) Turn over and cook for a further minute. 
  • Transfer the duck to the oven (if you don't have an oven proof frying pan, like me, (though I desperately want one!!) then you can use a roasting-tin) and cook for 10 minutes – they should be rare in the middle. 
  • Remove , cover with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Heat the butter and oil in another frying-pan and cook the pears over a medium-high heat so the flesh gets a good colour, then reduce the heat and cook until tender. Add the sherry and cook until it has coated the pears well and bubbled away to almost nothing. The pears should turn quite dark. *They turned a really lovely warm colour! :)
  • Slice the  duck breasts. 
  • Toss the leaves and nuts with most of the dressing. Arrange on four plates and divide the pears and duck between them. 
  • Drizzle on the rest of the dressing and serve immediately!!!


Churnless, Eggless, Cheat, Salted Caramel Ice cream!!!

Apart from the odd icy winter day when I strangely crave ice cream (and I know I am not alone on this!), summer is the season for sure and though I've eaten a lot of  ice cream this summer, I haven't made any! Therefore without any further ado - before summer closes on us in 14 days, and because it's been a super muggy last couple of days in London, I have decided to make some icecream!!!!

Today I have made a super easy churnless, eggless, cheat Salted Caramel. It's so easy it won't take you more than 15 minutes to make!!! (not counting the freezing hours that is!)


2 cups of (very cold) double cream
1.5 cups of cold Waitrose Seriously buttery Caramel dipping sauce (Alternatives can be Dulce de leche, which is creamy caramel sauce - or if you are in London perhaps try M&S's salted caramel sauce (though I can not vouch for it but saw it today so worth a mention!)
3 tablespoons condensed milk
1 small teaspoon sea salt (but definitely don't add any salt if you buy the salted caramel sauce!)
*You will also need a 9x5 " loaf pan and an electric mixer (either a hand mixer or a stand mixer).

What to do:

1. Mix your caramel sauce, condensed milk and salt in a large bowl and put to the side
2. Beat the cream in another bowl with your mixer. Start low for a few seconds and then on high speed until you see the stiff peaks form - this will take around 3 minutes
3. Stir about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the caramel bowl and then put the remaining whipped cream into the mixture as well. BUT do not stir. Instead slowly fold all the cream with the caramel mixture.

*Here is a really useful link to show you How to fold by Elle Kirschenbaum

4.Once you are finished folding, pour the mixture into the loaf pan.
5.Cover with cling film and freeze for at least 6 hours

And there you have it!! Delicious ice cream without an ice cream machine!

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