Back in 2008 I made one of my best decisions. Ever.
Rather than make another empty new years resolution, I was inspired to dedicate the year to ‘love and happiness.’
I wasn’t sure where it would lead me. Or whether it would really make a difference to my life.
But I figured it was worth putting it out there. What did I have to lose?
With this theme in mind, I accepted the invitation to go out for dinner with an old boyfriend. I know dinner with old boyfriends tends not to be conducive to love or happiness.
But as luck would have it, on this occasion it did…
We ran into my friend Rico who happened to be out with a certain Irishman. After a quick introduction Rico and the Irishman left. I remember thinking that Rico’s friend was cute.
Then about a week later, I was at home and randomly decided to check my spam folder. Something I never do unless an email has gone missing.
To my surprise I found an intriguing Valentines Day message. No prizes for guessing it was from that same Irishman asking me to get to know him better over some food and wine.
Our first date was at a little Italian restaurant in Surry Hills called Il Baretto. And it was well and truly a success. With that accent I could have sat there listening to him all night. Actually that’s what I did.
Anyway to cut a long story short, on Sunday 16th March that certain smooth talking Irishman and I were married(!) Given that we’d met in a restaurant and had most of our best times together in restaurants, it was only fitting that we get married in a restaurant.
It turned out to be an excellent choice.
If you’d like to have a sneak peek at some wedding shots, check out the Instagram hashtag #stonesoupwedding.
Seductive Duck Ragu
I still remember ordering the duck ragu with papardelle on our first date. Ever since then I’ve always associated duck with romance. Is it just me or does duck spell seduction for you as well?
Duck is one of those things that can feel a little scary to cook but is actually super delicious. And its higher fat content makes it much less easy to dry out. So it’s actually easier to cook than chicken.
If you’re serving the ragu with pasta it will feed 4 but if you decide to go with the kale ‘linguine’ it will only serve 3.
Marylands are duck legs with the thigh and drumstick attached. If you can’t find them, you could use whole duck instead… and expect it to take extra time.
Enough for 3-4
4 duck marylands
2 onions, sliced
1 can tomatoes
few tablespoons water
parmesan to serve
1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).
2. Place duck, onion, tomatoes, water and thyme in an oven proof pot. Cover and cook for 90 minutes.
3. Remove the meat from the bones and tear into bite sized chunks. Stir the meat into the sauce. Taste, season and serve with parmesan shaved or grated.
vegetarian - make a chickpea ragu by replacing duck with 2 drained cans of chickpeas. Reduce cooking time to 30-45 minutes.
Vegan - as above and serve with a little nutritional yeast instead of the parmesan.
different meat - chicken drumsticks or marylands or thighs on the bone are good. You could also use lamb shanks or osso buco but these will need cooking for longer – around 4 hours.
onion-free - just skip it.
I’m a huge fan of serving a hearty stew on a bed of greens instead of the usual carb suspects of pasta or mash.
Enough for 3
1 bunch cavolo nero or kale
2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1. Rinse kale and don’t worry about drying it. Finely slice into linguine sized ribbons.
2. Heat oil in a medium sized pot. Add kale and cook covered for about 10 minutes or until kale is softened.
different veg - will work with most greens especially spinach, chard, collard greens or silverbeet.
more substantial - serve with some cheese or a poached egg on top.