Category Archives: oranges

syrup cake with strawberries & blueberries


In the weekend we had Mum & my brother’s mother-in-law to lunch. Well, midday dinner, I guess. The main course was a butterflied leg of lamb, crusted with herbs and cooked on the barbecue. (Our first barbecue of the season!) Along with that we had roast potatoes & pumpkins (we’re still eating the wee ones we grew last summer), steamed green beans, fresh peas from the garden, and a minty hollandaise sauce. Once that had settled (& yes, we had leftovers for tea the next day) I served up this cake – I think the recipe was originally in the Viva section of the Wednesday morning Herald, but I’ve massaged it slightly.

Cream together 250g butter and 1 c sugar, before beating in 3 eggs. This time round I also added the zest of an orange. Then fold in 1/2 c fine polenta, 2 c ground almonds, & 1/2 c self-raising flour. Spoon the mix into a greased and lined square cake tin (or, in my case, a silicone ‘tin’) and smooth the top before putting it in the oven at 160 C. After 20 minutes cover the top with a piece of aluminium foil, then continue to bake for around 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven & cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before carefully inverting it onto a serving dish & removing the baking paper.

While the cake is cooking, prepare the fruit/syrup topping. The original recipe used summer stone-fruit such as nectarines and plums and added vanilla to the syrup, but I had a punnet of strawberries from the orchard shop near the kennels where the dog goes for ‘kindy’ (lol). So I sliced a couple of cups of strawberries into a saucepan & added 1/2 c sugar, the juice of the orange, and 2 sprigs of mint, before bringing it gently to the simmer. Trust me – mint works rather well with strawberries! I simmered it for only 10 minutes as I didn’t want the fruit to disintegrate, then cooled the mix for about 10 minutes before spooning it carefully over the top of the cake. The last step was to decorate with some more slices of strawberry & about 1/2 c of frozen blueberries – the residual heat from cake & sauce defrosted them before we got to the pudding stage.

Serve with vanilla icecream or whipped cream, or both, and wait for the compliments.


what to do with a duck?


“You really must do something with that duck,” said the husband. We don’t keep ducks ourselves, but one of his workmates had presented him with a plucked & dressed duck, a month or so back, & it had been sitting in the freezer ever since. A Muscovy duck – in other words, a Very Big Quacker indeed. So I took it out to defrost overnight, & considered what to do with it.

Because I wasn’t too sure how old the bird had been when it met its maker, I was already leaning towards slow cooking, rather than the roast the husband fancied. And when I inspected the body I found very little fat on it, so that settled things – dinner was definitely going to be slow-cooked duck.

Now, I have a large oval slow-cooker, but this duck was too big to fit in whole (which was one of the options I’d considered). So I jointed it: 2 legs, 2 big meaty wings, 2 biiiiig breasts – each cut into two pieces, & a few bits & pieces. But before I began wrestling with the bird, I sliced 2 onions thinly & set them to cook gently in a little butter in a heavy-based pan. Once they’d begun to go translucent I spread them over the base of the cooker bowl and covered them with a layer of sliced oranges (skin on), added a bit more butter to the pan, & browned the portions of duck, a few pieces at a time.

I arranged the meat on top of the onion/orange layers, and in among the pieces of duck I tucked a dozen whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks (broken in half), & 3 bay leaves off the tree in our courtyard. The rest of the orange slices – I used 3 oranges in all – went around and atop the meat. Because meat that’s touching the sides of the cooker bowl can be a bit overdone if you don’t watch it, I made sure to tuck some of the slices twixt duck & bowl. And then I poured 500ml of chicken stock over everything, put the lid on the cooker, & set it to low before leaving it to simmer gently for 6-7 hours.

It smelled divine!

In the last hour of cooking, I roasted some spuds and pumpkins (yes, plural – we grew a small variety of pumpkin this year) & made a salad with thinly-sliced red onion, another orange (ditto) & lettuce. The final step before serving was to remove the meat from the cooker & strain the juices to remove all the bits & pieces, before thickening them with a little cornflour to make a sauce.

The husband has been asked if there might be another duck in the offing 🙂