A Hume

A Hume
Step Gingerly Into Spring

Step Gingerly Into Spring

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Foodwise, March is a funny old month. In response to the longer, brighter days we sicken of the heavyweight meals of winter and instead begin to yearn for something perkier.


What we need is a little tangy magic to pep things up and ginger is just the thing. Inside that unpromising gnarly knuckle lies the secret to a tastier life.


Try these recipes if you don’t believe me.



Duck with Ginger and Citrus


duck with citrus and ginger

Image source: Pinterest



I often cook this dish on a Sunday when I can’t quite muster the enthusiasm for a roast. It fulfils the same requirement for comfort but has really deep, citrusy flavours that are more energising than a straightforward roast. The combination of the sticky duck and the golden nuggets of ginger are just divine.


It’s a Nigel Slater recipe. He really excels at lively comfort food, free from stodge. He suggests serving it with rice. I like to use barley as I think the nutty flavours work well with the dish, and perhaps some wilted chard.


Serves 4


2 duck legs (2)

2 duck breasts

6 small knobs preserved ginger in syrup

6 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar

3 tbsp warm water

1 tsp sea salt

1 orange

1 lemon

caster sugar a little, optional

steamed brown rice enough for 2


Make four or five slashes, about the width of a finger apart, through the skin of the duck on both breasts and legs. Put them in a plastic bag with 4 tbsp of the ginger syrup, 3 of warm water and 1 tsp of sea salt flakes. Seal the bag, then set aside in the fridge for a couple of hours.


Put a heavy-based pan over a moderate to high heat, place the duck skin-side down (no oil or extra fat is required) and brown lightly, turn and cook the other side. Tip off any excess fat from the pan (you need to leave a little in the pan). Thinly slice the orange and lemon then add them to the pan together with the marinade from the duck. Adjust the heat so the liquid simmers gently, season with pepper and cover with a lid.


Leave the duck to simmer for 20 minutes, keeping the heat low and checking to make sure the fruit is not sticking to the pan. Pour in the remaining ginger syrup, then knobs of preserved ginger. Check the pan juices – they should be nicely sweet, sharp and slightly spicy from the ginger. Adjust them to taste with salt, and, if you wish, a little sugar or orange juice.



Carrot and Ginger Cake



For years I’ve been making the same carrot cake from a recipe I learned while working in a café in Queenstown, New Zealand. I then opened my own café, where I baked it fresh every day. Then, when I sold my café and had my family, I baked it for them.


I have letters from all over the world proclaiming the marvelousness of my carrot cake. All this time I’ve lived confidently in the belief that mine was the best carrot cake……at least I did until one day last week, when my son said ‘Can you make Carrot and Ginger cake for my birthday, please?’


He then went on to confess that whilst he liked my carrot cake – a lot – the one baked by a friend’s mum was perhaps just a little bit tastier. And if I could make her carrot cake, but with ginger, then it would without doubt be the best carrot cake. Cue winning smile.


What could I do but swallow my pride and get to work. This is the result. And do you know what? He’s right – this is the best carrot – and ginger – cake.



4 eggs, lightly beaten

250g caster sugar

185ml sunflower oil

300g plain flour

3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

4 large carrots, peeled and grated

6 small knobs preserved ginger in syrup, diced (more if you fancy it)

Cream Cheese Icing:
180g butter, softened

250g icing sugar

180g cream cheese

3 drops vanilla extract


Icing sugar for dusting.


Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Grease and flour a 24 cm spring form tin. Whisk the eggs and sugar until creamy, then whisk in the oil. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon. Add the carrots and ginger and mix together. Add this to the eggs/sugar mix and combine. Pour into tin and bake for an hour.

For the icing whip the butter and icing sugar together until stiff. Beat in the cream cheese and vanilla.


Once the cake has cooled. Half and fill the middle with the icing. Use a sieve to dust the top of the cake with icing sugar.



Rhubarb and Ginger Tarte Tatin


A combination so fabulous and famous they named a cartoon after it – this time appearing together in tarte tatin.


I can’t decide what I like best about tarté tatin – the name or the taste? Or even the fact it’s so darn easy. Its French-ness suggests it might be tricky to pull off. The presence of pastry also infers a level of skill is required. But not – if like me – you’re content to cheat….and buy some puff pastry.


I am so in thrall to the caramel chewy charms of tarté tatin that I will take any short cut I can. Especially if it means the difference between making it or adding it to the list of things I will make one day when I have the time……which is never.


110g caster sugar

15g fresh root ginger, sliced thinly into discs

or, 3 knobs of preserved ginger in syrup, sliced into discs

300g rhubarb, sliced into 2cm chunks

25g cold butter, chopped

200g all butter puff pastry

Milk and egg wash, to glaze


Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/fan oven 180°C.


Place the sugar in a shallow oven proof pan with the ginger and warm over a medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally as the sugar melts and begins to caramelise.


When it starts to go a rich golden colour, remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to cool. Lift out the ginger. If you’re using the preserved ginger, leave it in. Arrange the rhubarb in the pan and dot it with the butter.


Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll the pastry out to make a circle wide enough to cover the filling in the pan. Lift the pastry over the rhubarb and tuck it in around the rhubarb.


Brush the pastry with the egg wash and bake the tarté tatin for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed-up and golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.


Run a palette knife around the edges of the tart to loosen it. Place a large serving plate over the tarté tatin, then flip the pan over – the tarte tatin should plop out onto the plate. Serve warm with ice cream or crème fraiché.



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