20th July 2012
Hot Salad Days
Dressed Potatoes

A month without drink now, and still no sign of my penis.
I know it's down there somewhere.

I suppose it would help if I also cut down on the sacks of Doritos at work, but it's sooooooo hard. And working is sooooooo boring.

As a nod to my attempts to trim down to bikini weight I've been eating more salads, but it's been hot recently. Damned hot.
And some of my salads have been pretty hot too. So not really salads at all then.

I gave a Jamie Bastard Oliver microwaved (microwaved!) recipe for dressed potatoes hot potato salad a go, and it was rather nice!
And I tried out a rubbish Nigella Lawson idea for braising little gem lettuces which are salads too, right?

Then Flora brought over some duck to turn into Duck Chow Mein - a winning move on her part:
 - Cost of reduced-price duck breasts (Flora): £2
 - Cost of all the vegetables and noodles (Karl): £20

I don't think there's any way I can get away with pretending that was a salad though.

Jamie Oliver's Dressed Potatoes
side veg
Potatoes cooked in the microwave with lemon and dressed with chilli, coriander and feta cheese.
This is a pretty nice hot salad, microwaving the potatoes with the lemon imbues them with a tangy, but mellowed lemon fragrance that nicely complements the Feta cheese. Though it does turn the potatoes a little bit leathery, especially if you overdo them, something which the dressing is quite effective at covering up. Add a drizzle of olive oil too for lubrication. I should think you could mix in some green olives and some red onions also if you fancied.

Incidentally, don't think that you can recreate this dish in the oven by baking the potatoes with a lemon - it will exude all of its pithy bitterness and render the dish inedible.
As I learned to my cost :(

Serves 4

Wash the potato and sweet potatoes and halve lengthways I think I'd probably cut them up smaller - quarters at least. Put them into a large microwave-safe bowl with ½ a lemon. Cover with clingfilm and put into the microwave on full power for 15 minutes.
Finely chop the red chilli and most of the coriander on a board, mixing as you go. Add the feta and keep chopping and mixing.
Check the potatoes are cooked through, then use tongs to squeeze over the cooked lemon. Add the coriander mixture from the chopping board and mix everything together. Season, then take to the table.
Pretty tasty.
Rather surprisingly though, they don't reheat at all well.

Duck Chow Mein
main fowl
The Chinese takeaway near Rachel do a very nice Roast Duck Chow Mein. In fact she used it to lure me over there last time they needed their computer fixing. I didn't complain!

It's nice to be independent though, so here's my version.

Serves 4-6

Grate the ginger.
Slice the garlic finely.
Slice the spring onions at an angle.
Slice the asparagus spears at an angle, but longer, and leave the tips whole.
Pod the peas.
Deseed and slice the red pepper.
Split the celery sticks lengthways into 1" strips, then slice up at an angle.
Split the Pak Choy lengthways, into ½" strips.
Mix up the sauce ingredients in a cup or small bowl.

Score the duck skin and fat using a sharp knife without cutting down to the flesh. Rub both sides with five spice powder and a little salt, paying particular attention to the skin.
Lay skin-side down in a cold heavy skillet and place over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the skin is crispy and the flesh has coloured about half-way through. Flip and fry on the other side for about 5 minutes. The duck should be still rare.
Remove and allow to cool before slicing the breasts. Set aside, adding any juices to the sauce.

Fry the star anise in sunflower oil in the wok to flavour the oil, discard the spices and pour off excess oil into the skillet. Use the mixture of duck fat and flavoured sunflower oil to lubricate the wok as necessary.
Stir-fry the vegetables in batches in the wok, setting them aside in a warmed dish. Remember that the idea is a quick hot frying process of small quantities that doesn't overcook the ingredients:
  • Fry the celery, add the pepper, set aside.
  • Fry the ginger, add the spring onion, set aside.
  • Fry the asparagus and the peas, set aside.
  • Fry the garlic briefly, add the pak choy, set aside.
Finally mix some sesame oil into the noodles and fry them in more sunflower oil/duck fat, continually lifting and stirring with a fork or chopsticks until warmed through. Blend the sauce again and pour it into the noodles. Stir until the sauce thickens.
Now either mix the reserved ingredients back into the wok, or decant the noodles into a large serving dish and pile the other ingredients on top. Serve immediately.
Every bit as tasty as the Chinese takeaway.
I think it might be nice to give the duck slices a last frying in the wok to crisp them up before throwing them on top of the noodles. Though I didn't bother.
I'm sure it would be even nicer to roast the duck first rather than frying it. But who has the time? Or the duck.

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