It is hard to believe we are on to book number 12. Where has the time gone? It genuinely amazes me when I think of where things all started. I want to thank everyone who has ever put their faith in one of my books. I hope you continue to do so.
I have always tried to listen to what people want and the one thing I love about what I do is the opportunity it gives me to meet people from all over the country.
Through the restaurant and cookery school in Blacklion I like to think that the people I meet help me to keep my finger on the pulse when it comes to what the nation is eating! And what I am hearing loud and clear at the moment is that you want to be eating healthy so that has been the inspiration behind this book!
Since having the twins and seeing the unbelievable reaction to my ‘Complete Baby & Toddler Cookbook’ it has become even more clear how important it is to us all to make sure that our children grow up with a love of good, healthy and nutritious food.
However, we also have be careful not to look at healthy eating as a ‘one size fits all solution’. The one thing I know from meeting people is that it is important to be able to adapt to peoples needs as a chef.
So my philosophy for this book has been simple. To make healthy recipes that also taste delicious. Cooking and indeed eating healthy is a journey and enjoying cooking will lead to great tasting food, which is the most important thing if we want to ensure that we eat healthily long term.
In terms of thanking people I always have so many when it comes to a cookbook as it takes a lot of work from a lot of people to make sure it all comes together.
Obviously the first thank you is to Amelda and my team here for all your help. To Orla Broderick, my long term collaborator. To Joanne Murphy for the wonderful photographs and to Gill and Macmillan for being just the best publishers. There are others too and I have thanked them in the book and they know how much I value their help and support.
I have included a recipe for a low carb lunch from the new book below and I really hope you like it. Here is to great tasting healthy food!
Fragrant Duck Salad
I’m a big fan of the authentic Chinese aromatic duck that is readily available in all major supermarkets. It makes this salad quick and easy to prepare. The duck can be cooked a couple of hours ahead of time so that all you have to do is toss all the ingredients together just before you are ready to serve.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Remove the packaging from the duck and place the duck on a rack over a roasting tin. Roast for 1 1/2 hours or according to the instructions on the packet, until the skin is crisp and the duck is completely heated through. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes, but up to a couple of hours is fine.
Carve the meat from the duck and shred or cut into bite-sized pieces, discarding the bones and skin. Place in a large bowl with the lettuce, spring onions, mango, chilli, cashew nuts and coriander.
To make the dressing, place the oil in a screw-topped jar with the vinegar, hoisin sauce, ginger and sesame oil. Season to taste. When ready to serve, shake the dressing gently to combine and use to lightly dress the duck salad. Divide among plates and serve straight away.
INGREDIENTS SERVES 4–6
1 whole aromatic duck (Silver Hill or similar)
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, core discarded and leaves shredded
4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 firm, ripe mango, peeled, stone removed and sliced
1 mild red chilli, halved, seeded and cut into rings
50g (2oz) roasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
good handful of fresh coriander leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp finely minced root ginger
few drops of toasted sesame oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper