I love to have either of these two recipes for a Sunday lunch or any time we have a big family group. You can just change the quantities depending on who you are going to have at the table.

This duck recipe brings back so many memories for me. My mother, Vera, had roast duck on the menu every Sunday and since the very first day the restaurant opened, 35 years ago, our duck has been supplied by Sorcha and Ken Moffitt. Thornhill is only about a mile down the road and they breed ducks that are a cross between a Pekin and Aylesbury, making them incredibly succulent. To this day we always have duck on the menu, whether as a starter or a main.

This sauce is one I like a lot and it goes well with pork or chicken also. Roasting vegetables is a fantastic way of feeding a crowd with little effort. They are so tasty caramelized with a little bit of honey.

This lime semifreddo, or ‘half cold’, cheesecake is a light refreshing dessert. It can be made up to three months in advance and frozen, then just left to thaw for half an hour before you need it. I have often mentioned Killowen yoghurt, but they also do one of the nicest cream cheeses I have tasted. You could also try using frozen forest berries.

Happy Cooking,


Thornhill Duck with Sage and Onion Roasties

Serves 4–6

1 oven-ready whole Irish duck, at room temperature

1 orange, cut into quarters

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

For the roasties:

1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 tbsp semolina

2 tsp onion granules

1½ tsp dried sage

For the sauce:

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp orange blossom honey

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tbsp soy and ginger sauce

1 tbsp light muscovado sugar

6 whole cloves

500ml fresh beef stock

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).

2 Keep the duck in the foil tray it comes in and remove all other packaging. Stuff the cavity with the orange and thyme, then smear it all over with the oil and season with pepper. Pour 100ml of water into the tray and roast for 1½ hours.

3 Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water until they are beginning to soften around the edges, then let them steam dry for a minute or so. Mix the semolina, onion granules and sage and season generously.

4 Tip the potatoes into a roasting tin. Remove the duck from the oven and carefully drain about three tablespoons of the fat and juices from the tin, then pop the duck back in to finish cooking.

5 Brush the potatoes all over with the duck fat juices, then sprinkle over the semolina mixture, turning to coat. Roast for one hour, turning once, until crisp and golden brown.

6 To make the sauce, heat a sauté pan over a medium heat. Pour in the vinegar and bubble down, then whisk in the honey, ketchup, soy and ginger sauce, sugar, cloves and stock. Simmer until reduced by half, then season to taste and strain into a clean pan, ready to reheat.

7 The duck needs to cook for 2¼ hours in total or until it’s golden brown and tender and the drumsticks feel nice and loose.

8 Transfer the duck to a warm platter to rest while you finish cooking the potatoes. Help this along by increasing the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6).

9 Strain the sauce into a jug and pile the sage and onion roasties around the duck. Serve straight to the table family-style.

Roasted carrots and cheesecake dessert. \ Philip Doyle

Roasted carrots with garlic and parsley

Serves 6-8

500g (1lb 2oz) carrots, scrubbed

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

pinch of caster sugar

pinch of sea salt

1 garlic bulb, broken into individual unpeeled cloves

a little balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5).

2 Cut the carrots into 1cm (½in) slices on the diagonal and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle lightly with sugar and salt. Toss well to coat and roast for 15 minutes.

3 Remove the carrots from the oven and scatter over the unpeeled garlic, tossing until evenly combined. Roast for another 30 minutes, until the carrots and garlic are tender and lightly golden.

4 Drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar and scatter over the chopped parsley, again tossing until evenly coated.

5 To serve, tip into a warmed dish and serve alongside the duck.

Cheesecake dessert. \ Philip Doyle

Lime semifreddo cheesecake with redcurrant compote

Serves 10-12

For the base:

200g (7oz) gingernut biscuits

100g (4oz) butter, melted

For the filling:

1 x 400g (14oz) tin of condensed milk

275g (10oz) soft cream cheese

200ml (7fl oz) cream

1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out

Finely grated rind and juice of 2 limes

For the redcurrant compote:

300g (11oz) redcurrants

150g (5oz) caster sugar

4 tsp arrowroot powder or cornflour

1 Line a 1.5kg (3¼lb) loaf tin with a large piece of foil. Press down well into the sides of the tin and leave plenty overhanging the edges.

2 To make the base, place the biscuits in a food processor or liquidiser and blend to fine crumbs. With the motor still running, pour the melted butter through the feeder tube and mix until well combined. Tip into the base and press down firmly to create an even layer. Chill while you make the filling.

3 To make the filling, use an electric whisk on a medium setting to beat the condensed milk, cream cheese, cream and vanilla seeds together until smooth and thickened. This will take about two minutes. Add the lime rind and juice and beat slowly until the mixture forms soft peaks.

4 Spoon the filling over the biscuit base and cover lightly with the overhanging foil, sealing firmly to keep out as much air as possible. Wrap in a second layer of foil, then put in a large freezer bag and freeze overnight or up to three months.

5 To make the redcurrant compote, remove the redcurrants from their stems with a fork and put into a pan with the sugar and 150ml (¼ pint) of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the redcurrants are softened but still holding their shape.

6 Mix the arrowroot or cornflour with two tablespoons of water, until smooth, then stir into the redcurrants. Cook for another two minutes, stirring regularly. Leave to cool, then cover and chill. This can also be frozen at this stage.

7 To serve, turn the frozen cheesecake onto a platter or board and leave to thaw for 30 minutes, then peel off the foil. Warm the compote and serve with the sliced semifreddo.

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