Kitchen disasters are bad enough when they happen in your own kitchen but they turn into a catastrophe when they happen in someone else’s. We were invited to dinner in a friend’s house recently. Beef Wellington was on the menu, tricky to make and also to cook.
There was a fat treasure waiting in the Aga for my opinion. I had taught an Aga course that day, so apparently I was doubly qualified to give my tuppence worth. The pastry was still pale and flaccid. I inserted the tip of a knife into the meat. It was firm, and alarmingly there was no blush in the juices. I should have followed my instinct and pulled it out there and then, but it went for five more fatal minutes, then out to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
I knew as soon as the first slice came off. What pink there was had evaporated. It was delicious all the same, but still I felt responsible. Only the candlelight spared my blushes.
I have one piece of advice from all of this, on the launch of Food Month in The Irish Times. Every kitchen needs a meat thermometer. Make it your Food Month resolution. I've bought one for our friend's house to make amends for Wellygate.
So hopefully no kitchen disasters here. This is an elegant duck tart that’s not difficult to make. It involves bought pastry and the cooked duck legs that I love so much. Apples, redcurrant and sesame make up the rest of it, along with a hint of spice for interest.
I really wanted to make this salad with beef short ribs, but while it would have been stupendous, it would also have been a bit of a palaver. Instead I’m making it with rib-eye steak. There’s not a salad leaf in sight, but all the ingredients resonate autumnal cooking. It’s hearty, but not heavy, with a gorgeous, sturdy dressing. The recipe will make more than you need, but it will keep for two weeks or more in the fridge.
I love roasting fruit, and this week’s figs and plums are delicious with blue cheese and the oaty crumble. The recipe makes extra syrup, to use with some Cava, or Prosecco. It perks things up and adds a bit of glamour.
Recipe: Duck and spiced apple galette
Recipe: A special autumn salad