Duck and Endive Salad with Pickled Walnut Dressing Recipe

Serves 2

2 duck breasts (weighing around 230g each), skin scored lightly in a criss-cross pattern
250g stale sourdough bread, torn roughly into crouton-sized chunks
The cloves from a half a bulb of garlic, separated but unpeeled
Olive oil
2 pickled walnuts
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 shallot, cut into fine rings
2 red chicory, leaves separated
4 large handfuls watercress


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Place the sourdough chunks into a roasting tray and add the garlic, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for around 25 minutes, turning once, or until golden and crisp.

Place the shallot rings into a bowl of iced water.

Make the dressing by smooshing 3 cloves of the now-roasted garlic with a pinch of salt, the pickled walnuts, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar. Shake in a jar to emulsify (or use your preferred method).

Season the skin of the duck breasts and place them in a cold cast iron skillet or other heavy based pan. Turn the heat on low-medium and let them slowly heat up for 5 minutes or so. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for another 5 minutes then turn over and cook for a few minutes more. Cooking time will depend on the exact size and heat but this should give you crisp golden skin and pink flesh. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Mix the salad leaves with some of the dressing and the croutons and arrange on two plates. Arrange the duck slices and some of the shallot rings on top, then drizzle with a little more dressing and sprinkle with crunchy salt. You may feel like adding a further dribble of olive oil – I did.

Sticky Pecan Buns Recipe

This is the third of four recipes I created in partnership with Vitamix and Great British Chefs

Yeah I know, you’re shocked. Look, I’ve never been much of a baker. Baking is so different from other types of cooking; the first is very exacting and results in lots of sweet things while the others result in dinner. I have no objections to baking on health grounds, you understand (I think that’s very clear from the content of this site) but I just don’t have a sweet tooth in the same way I am greedy for, say, a wodge of freshly churned butter, glistening with sea salt crystals, spread over crusty white bread. A friend once said to me, ‘Helen, you don’t have a sweet tooth, you have a fat tooth.’ Cheers, pal.

Savoury baking, I do. See my billboard-famous chicken pie or my cavolo nero and white cheese börek (I could eat that forever) but sweet stuff? Well, I’ve mastered the basics but FFS do not ask me to knock up a batch of canelés or macarons anytime soon because you are barking up the wrong croquembouche.

Sticky Pecan Buns Recipe

Anyway, I was required to make something with nuts for my third recipe in partnership with Vitamix, the wonder blender that busts its blades through just about anything (previous recipes were chipotle and coffee rubbed short ribs and sorrel fettuccine with brown shrimp sauce) and I’m proud of these, actually.

I’m proud of them because firstly, they worked and secondly, I managed to conquer something I’ve never been too good at, which is making caramel. For years my mum kept a saucepan that I’d destroyed while trying to make the salted stuff, shiny remains welded to the bottom, an unwelcome varnish. Well, ha! In your face, sugar. I am your master now.

These are as good as they look, by the way. Make sure you’re not left alone with more than two.

Sticky Pecan Buns Recipe

For the dough

450g strong white flour
50g golden caster sugar
125g unsalted butter
7g dried yeast
120ml milk (lukewarm)
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
100g light muscovado sugar
150g pecan nuts
60g unsalted butter, melted

For the topping

80g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
100g light muscovado sugar
45g butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
60ml double cream
1 pinch of salt

You will also need

Vitamix Pro750 fitted with 2.0l low profile container
2 x 12 hole muffin tins

To make the dough, add the flour, salt, sugar and butter to a Vitamix container and select Variable 5. Pulse the ingredients to a rubble consistency, using the tamper to mix equally. Add the yeast and eggs and turn the Vitamix to Variable 1.

Press start, remove the plug and slowly pour in the warm milk. Pour in a slash at a time until the dough begins to come together – you may not need all the milk.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface, using a spatula to scrape it all out. The dough is quite a soft and sticky so flour your hands well. Knead the dough for 10–15 minutes until soft and springy. Remove to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

To make the topping, heat the sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. The sugar will clump and eventually melt into pools of brown liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn it.

Once completely melted, add the butter (it will bubble furiously, so take care). Stir the butter in until completely melted. Very slowly drizzle in the cream (this will also splutter!). Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute (it will rise up), remove from the heat and add salt. Set aside to cool.

To make the filling, add the nuts, sugar and cinnamon to the Vitamix container, select Variable 5 and pulse until you have a fine crumb consistency.

Knock back the dough and divide it into pieces, rolling them out into 3 rectangles approx. 20x30cm in size. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle over the nut mixture. Roll each up from one of the long ends and cut each into 8 pieces.

Divide the pecans for the topping between the holes of two 12 hole muffin tins. Divide the caramel between them, then add the buns. Cover lightly with cling film and set aside for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Bake the buns for 30 minutes until golden brown. Turn out while still warm onto a wire rack and allow to cool before eating.


You can make pkhali with any vegetables really, and the Georgians also commonly use beets, which make a lovely colour contrast against the spinach if you’re planning your own supra.

This mixture improves the longer you leave it in the fridge and I’d say it will keep for up to a week.

Georgian Spinach Pkhali

(adapted from Saveur)

600g spinach (the proper, big ballsy stuff; I’m done with baby spinach)
180g shelled walnuts
1 generous handful coriander leaves
1 generous handful tarragon leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek (I crushed the seeds in a pestle and mortar)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 spring onions
1 heaped teaspoon chilli flakes (I used Turkish)
1 pomegranate, for garnish

Chop the stalks off the spinach and then wash the leaves really well. Chuck it into a large pan while it is still wet, put a lid on and set it over a low heat. Let it slowly wilt down, stirring every now and then, until it is all wilted. Allow it to cool completely (the easiest way to do this is to spread it out on a plate). When cool, squeeze out as much water from the spinach as possible. You will be amazed at the amount of water that has come out and by how much the spinach is now reduced in size.


Pound the walnuts in a pestle and mortar until they are more or less all crushed to a powder (a few chunks here and there are fine). Mix the walnuts with the spinach and all the other ingredients, plus plenty of salt (more than you think necessary) and pepper.

Mix really well, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, shape into balls about the size of a golf ball and make a small indent in the top of each one with your fingertip. Place a pomegranate seed in each. Serve with bread or toast for spreading. Ideally khachapuri.

Figs, feta and hazelnuts

I recently fell for the idea of combining figs, hazelnuts and pomegranate molasses. I’ve ramped up the sweet/sharp thing already going on with the pom syrup and figs by adding a little feta and some pomegranate seeds, for fleshy pops of juice. This took a few minutes to assemble and although it’s not filling enough on its own as a main meal, it is one of the most perfectly delicious ways to begin; a total triumph in the contrasts department.

Figs, Feta and Hazelnuts with Pomegranate Molasses

3 ripe figs
1/2 a pomegranate
A little feta
Small handful blanched hazelnuts
A few leaves of lambs lettuce
1 scant teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon light olive oil

Mix the pom molasses and oil together in a small bowl. Arrange the lambs lettuce on a plate. Halve the figs and add them also. Break the hazelnuts slightly in a pestle and mortar and scatter over the figs, along with the feta. Hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and bash the skin with a wooden spoon until all the seeds fall out (remove any white bits that fall in). Sprinkle a few seeds over the salad and eat the rest. Spoon over the dressing. Serve.