It’s never too chocolatey for love

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THIS week is all about Valentine’s Day and two simple dishes that won’t take you all day to prepare, but are very tasty and perfect for a romantic dinner. The first recipe is a delicious pan-fried duck breast. This is to control the heat when cooking the duck. Too hot and the skin will overcook and burn. Too low and the skin will take too long to crisp and the meat will be overcooked. Here’s how to perfect it with every bake. First, make sure the duck breast is at room temperature. Second, furrow the skin to allow excess fat to drain away and the skin to firm up without curling. Third, start on a cold skillet, over medium/low heat and skim off excess fat. My second recipe is a chocolate dessert to share. It is important to use good quality dark chocolate to achieve strong flavors. If you’re not a fan of oranges, use raspberries or chocolate sauce instead. Have a great Valentine’s Day! Happy cooking, Kevin

ORANGE AND ALMOND CHOCOLATE CAKE

Ingredients for 4 persons) :
■ 125g dark chocolate
■ 125 g butter cut into cubes
■ 4 eggs, separated
■ 125g caster sugar
■ 125g ground almond
■ 2 tablespoons candied orange peel
■ Zest of ½ orange
■ 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios, optional
■ Slices of candied oranges to garnish

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
2. Grease and line a 20cm or 8in round cake pan with parchment paper.
3. Place chocolate and butter in a glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water over low heat, stirring until smooth. Once melted, remove the bowl from the pan.
4. In a second bowl, mix the egg yolk with half the caster sugar until you obtain a light and pale texture.
5. Stir in ground almond, orange zest, orange zest and pistachios, then hot chocolate. Meanwhile, in a third bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff, gradually adding the rest of the powdered sugar until a light meringue forms.
6. Now very gently fold the egg white meringue into the chocolate mixture.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, smooth the top and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top looks dry and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
8. Remove from oven and let cool completely in pan.
9. Decorate with a few slices of candied oranges. Serve with lightly whipped cream

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Pan-fried duck breast with wild wood balsamic sauce

Pan-fried duck breast with wild wood balsamic sauce

PAN-FRIED DUCK BREAST WITH BALSAMIC SAUCE FROM THE WILD WOODS

Ingredients for 4 persons) :
■ 2 tablespoons of sea salt
■ 4 duck breasts, skin notched
■ 4 shallots, chopped
■ 2 garlic cloves, minced
■ 1 sprig of rosemary
■ 50 ml Wildwood elderberry
and star anise balsamic vinegar
■ 50 ml apple juice or vegetable stock
■ 40 g butter, diced
To serve:
■ 200g balsamic glazed carrots
■ 200g creamy mashed potatoes
■ Salt and pepper to season

Method:
1. Prepare the duck by trimming each duck breast and cutting the fat. Rub some sea salt on the scratched skin.
2. Place the duck breasts in a small sauté pan, skin side down, with no added fat. Cook 8 to 12 minutes over medium/low heat.
3. Drain excess fat into a small container while cooking to allow the skin to crisp up.
4. Once the duck breasts are cooked to your liking, transfer them to a plate and cover them with foil to keep them warm until ready to use.
5. For the sauce, remove the excess fat from the pan then add the shallots and garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add apple juice and balsamic vinegar.
6. Simmer for about 2 minutes to allow the sauce to concentrate in flavor. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Check seasoning at this stage of cooking.
7. Return the duck breasts to the pan and coat them with the sauce. Now remove the breasts and place them on a board. Cut before serving if desired.
8. Serve the duck with some glazed carrots and creamy mashed potatoes.
9. Drizzle with sauce and serve hot.

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Crazy in Love Collection Box


Crazy in Love Collection Box

Crazy in Love Collection Box

TOP COUNCIL: A TREAT FOR YOUR BELOVED (OR YOURSELF) FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

The Bean and Goose luxury chocolate brand is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift – I mean, who doesn’t love a sweet treat?
The sisters and founders, Karen and Natalie Keane, based in County Wexford, use only the finest single-origin beans from around the world and the results are simply divine.
Their Crazy in Love Collection Box (€22) is the perfect way for chocolate addicts to treat themselves or their loved one tomorrow. Check out beanandgoose.ie.

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