Karen Martini’s Twice-Cooked Duck with Prunes and Barley

We’ll be making Karen Martini’s roasted duck recipe from her new cookbook Everyday at dinner parties this summer. This might not be a quick dinner idea but if you’ve ever wanted to tackle duck this is the recipe to try. This show-stopping dish would be beautiful served family style.

Duck meat is rich and intense, and the perfect foil is the contrasting flavour of fruit. In this dish, slow-roasted prunes do the job beautifully. Cooking the duck twice gives you crisp skin while the flesh stays moist – Karen Martini.

Everyday by Karen Martini, published by Pan Macmillan, RRP $39.95

Serves: 4


2 x size 22 ducks (about 2.2 kg each)
3 tablespoons salt flakes
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons allspice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup pearl barley
1 fresh bay leaf
40 g salted butter

Star anice-spiced prunes

400 g large prunes
500 ml verjuice or apple juice
300 ml water
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced (220°C conventional).

2. Grind the salt, pepper and allspice in a mortar and pestle. Add the olive oil and mix well.

3. Trim the neck and any excess fat from the cavity, then rub the salt mixture all over the ducks, inside and out. Prick all over with a small knife and place on a wire rack in a roasting tin. Roast on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 230°C fan-forced (250°C conventional).

5. To make the spiced prunes, place the prunes in a baking dish that holds them snugly. Pour over the verjuice or apple juice and water, season generously and scatter over the bay leaves, thyme, cinnamon stick and star anise. Add the vinegar and cover the dish with baking paper then foil. Bake at the bottom of the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes until the prunes are swollen. Remove from the oven.

6. Pour the juices into a small saucepan and cook over medium–high heat until reduced by one-third and the sauce is slightly thicker.

7. Score the skin in two lines down the back of each duck. Turn over and fillet one side of the duck from the breast to the thigh and drumstick to the back of the duck so that you have a complete side. Twist and remove the thigh bone and transfer to a sheet of baking paper. Repeat with the other side of this duck and with the remaining duck.

8.Place the duck halves, skin side up, on a baking tray and roast for 15–20 minutes until crispy and hot. You may like to turn on your grill to crisp the duck even more.

9. Serve the prunes alongside the crispy duck, with the juices spooned over.

After cooking once, the ducks will keep for a couple of days in the fridge. The second roasting can be done just before you serve.

When you purchase the ducks, ask the butcher to pop the thigh bones out of the hip sockets and to remove the wishbones. This will make it easier to bone the ducks after cooking them.

The day before roasting, take the ducks out of their wrapping and sit them, uncovered, on a tray in the fridge to drain their juices and dry out the skin. Although this is optional, it will help you achieve a crispier skin. Before cooking, allow the ducks to come to room temperature.

What are your favourite duck recipes?


Mushroom and Halloumi Bruschetta Recipe

Whether as a snack, light meal or dinner party canapé, these mushroom and halloumi bruschetta are packed with rustic Italian flavours and really easy to make. For an easy dinner for one, we like to top these tasty toasts with a fried egg, or when friends come over they make an elegant bite-size snack to serve with bubbly.

Serves: 4 


1 tablespoon Talinga Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil
300g small button mushrooms, quartered
125g halloumi cheese, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon balsamic (we like Lomondo Aged Caramelised Balsamic)
8 slices crusty Italian bread
2 cloves garlic, halved
Talinga Grove Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil


1. Heat Talinga Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a small frypan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes until they begin to soften.

2. Add halloumi cheese and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until just tender. Stir in fresh thyme and balsamic vinegar.

3. Toast bread on both sides.

4. Rub one side of each with a cut garlic clove.

5. Top bread slices with mushroom mixture. Drizzle lightly with Talinga Grove Garlic Infused extra virgin olive oil. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Talinga Grove. Talinga Grove olive oil is available from Olive Trader.

What’s your favourite dinner for one recipe?

Maggie Beer’s Bacon, Walnut and Pear Salad Recipe

One of our favourite celebrity chefs Maggie Beer shares a delicious salad recipe combining ripe pears with crunchy walnuts and golden, crispy bacon. It makes the perfect dinner party entrée or light lunch.

2 Tbsp (40mls) extra virgin olive oil
2 ripe pears
½ cup walnuts
6 rashers belly bacon
4 strips lemon zest
3 Tbsp (60mls) vino cotto
1 cup rocket leaves
1 Tsp (5mls) lemon juice
Sea salt and cracked black pepper

1. Peel, core and slice the pears into 1/8’s. Cut the bacon into 3 cm pieces.

2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan, add the pears and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the bacon and lemon zest.

3. Add the whole walnuts and toss through.

4. Continue to cook until the pears are golden and the bacon crispy.

5. Deglaze the pan with the Vino Cotto, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

6. Remove from the pan and place on a serving platter, scatter the rocket over the top of the pears and bacon, add the lemon juice to the pan juices and drizzle over the salad.

What’s your favourite salad recipe?

Easy Dessert Recipes: Affogato

Throwing a dinner party for friends? Or looking for a simple dessert recipe that really impresses? Quick and easy to make, affogato is a traditional yet delicious Italian dessert and a clever way to combine the after-dinner coffee with a sweet ice-cream treat.

To ensure you’re serving the best tasting coffee every time, consider using the new DéLonghi PrimaDonna XS fully automatic coffee machine.

Affogato is so easy to make, it doesn’t even need a recipe. Just follow these five steps to make the perfect affogato dessert:

1. Fill a glass, mug or small bowl with 2-3 scoops of your favourite flavour ice-cream or gelato

2. Select the double espresso function on your coffee machine – try the PrimaDonna XS for best results – and pop a glass underneath each spout to capture two shots with one button to save you time

3. Pour a shot of hot espresso coffee over the ice cream

4. For an extra hit of flavour add an extra shot of chocolate, coffee-flavoured liqueur like Kahlua or even a couple of chocolate-coated coffee beans

5. For those with a really sweet tooth try adding whipped cream to your affogato or serve with biscotti for that finishing touch

What’s your favourite coffee dessert recipe?