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Season's Eatings

Chef Michael Caines' five seasonal recipes for festive feasting

Tis the season for parties – dinner parties, office parties, family parties – and naturally, each one needs to top the last with better decorations, better drinks and, of course, better food. And while catering has its advantages, there's a certain satisfaction in being able to say, "thank you" when guests compliment the spread.

This year, why not wow your partygoers with a five-course meal straight from the inventive mind of Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines. A veteran of the gourmet British dining scene, most widely known for his role in the success of respected restaurant Gidleigh Park. Caines now switches between chef's whites and business suits as Operational Partner and Director of ABode Hotels and Michael Caines Restaurants Ltd., which includes over a dozen bars, taverns and eateries. Far though his empire may reach, Caines' first love is cooking, as evidenced in his modern, British-inspired cuisine.

Here, Chef Caines offers five recipes that combine into a festive meal to spoil your dinner guests this party season.


Course #1. Leek and Potato Soup



300gr peeled potatoes, cut to a medium dice
400gr leeks, chopped and washed
200gr sliced onions
100gr butter
1.5 litre water
10gr chicken bouillon  
Bouquet garni (parsley stalks and thyme wrapped in celery and leek, then bound with string)
Salt and pepper




1. Place the onions and leeks in a saucepan, along with the butter, and cook until soft and without colouring them.

2. Add the water, chicken bouillon, bouquet garni and potatoes and bring to a boil.

3. Season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. After this time, remove the bouquet garni, then blend with a hand blender until smooth.

4. Finally pass the soup through a sieve and correct the seasoning if required.


Course #2. Chilli Ginger Crab Cakes
Makes 6 crab cakes.




210g white crab meat
100ml olive oil
50g lemongrass, smashed and finely chopped
30g garlic, finely chopped
30g ginger, finely chopped
50g onion, finely chopped
50g red pepper, finely chopped
10g red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
420g mash potato (quite dry, not too milky)
40g fresh coriander, finely chopped
200g baby spinach
2 shallots, finely chopped
75ml white wine
Pinch of thyme
150g unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
30ml lemon juice
Flour, egg and breadcrumbs
Rocket, to garnish




1. Add olive oil in to a pan over a medium heat and add the onion, lemon grass, ginger and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until soft, take off the heat and allow to cool.

2. Once cold, place in a bowl. Squeeze the crab to get rid of any water and add to the bowl together with the mash potato, chilli and coriander. Season with salt and pepper, mix well, mould into 6 cakes and place in fridge to set.

3. To make the sauce, put the shallots in a pan with the wine and thyme and put on the stove to reduce by half. Dice the butter in small cubes and whisk in to the pan slowly, one at a time. Do not boil as the sauce will split. Finish with a pinch of salt and pepper and the lemon juice and then pass it through a sieve.

4. Take the crab cakes out of the fridge and bread them using flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Shallow fry until golden-brown on both sides, then place in a hot oven for  6 minutes.

5. Wash the baby spinach and fry off in a knob of butter and finish with salt and pepper.

6. Place the spinach in the centre of the plate, place crab cake on top and spoon the sauce around the plate.

7. Garnish with rocket.


Course 3#. Mince Pies



250g butter
175g icing sugar
3 eggs
1 pinch of salt
Zest of 1 orange
500g flour, sieved
Parchment paper
Baking beans
150g walnuts
200ml stock syrup



For Caramelised Walnuts, to add to the mincemeat.


1. Place the walnuts into the stock syrup and cook until 110°C.

2. Remove using a slotted spoon and place into a fryer at 190°C until golden brown.

3. Remove and place onto parchment paper and lightly salt. Leave to cool.

4. Once cooled, add to the mince meat mixture.


For the pastry.


1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the icing sugar until white, using a hand mixer or a whisk.

2. Add the sieved flour, orange zest and salt, and bring the mixture to a sandy crumble.

3. Add the eggs little by little, then bring the mixture together on the first speed of a hand mixer. Once the mixture is firm, remove from the machine.

4. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours before using.

5. Roll out the pastry and cut into shapes, tops and bottoms for the individual pies.

6. Line a pastry tin with the pastry disks and brush the edges with clarified butter.

7. Add a small amount of mixture to the centre of each pie.

8. Seal by adding a pastry top and again brush with a little butter for colour.

9. Cook at 190°C for approximately 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

10. Once cool dust with icing sugar if preferred.


Course #4. Roasted Duckling


"You can either use the excellent and tasty Gressingham duckling or, if you prefer, wild duck or mallard when in season (September until February).

The key to this dish is the sauce that has a sweet and tart character, made with honey and sherry vinegar. This helps to cut through the richness of the dish. The Chinese Five Spice blend, combined with the honey, adds a touch of Asian flavouring that lifts the dish into another dimension.

Celeriac is one of my favourite root vegetables with its soft texture and a unique flavour that is intensified by the roasting. Make sure you blanch the garlic three times as indicated, so that you end up with a milder flavour of garlic. Winter garlic tends to be stronger than in the summer. 

The secret to making the duck skin crispy is to score the skin before cooking it skin-side down, allowing the fat to render out during cooking."




4 x 180gr duck breast

Duck sauce (ingredients & method below)
- 1 kg duck carcasses, chopped small
- 300ml veal glacé
- 700ml chicken stock
- 1 large onion, cut into thick rings
- ½ head of garlic
- 50ml sherry vinegar
- 15gr fresh thyme
- 50ml cream
- 5gr white peppercorns
- 2gr salt
- 5gr Chinese Five Spice blend
- 100gr honey (clear)
Savoy cabbage (ingredients & method below)
- 350gr raw savoy cabbage, sliced
- 40gr smoked back bacon, diced
- 20gr garlic purée
- 4gr finely chopped shallots
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
20 celeriac dices, cut into 15mm dice, blanched in the fryer at 150°C until soft
20 garlic cloves, blanched three times and roasted
Clear honey with a pinch of Chinese Five Spice mixed in




1. Roast the duck carcasses lightly in the oven. Just before they finish roasting, sprinkle the bones with the Chinese Five Spice blend. Remove the tray from the oven and place on top of the stove, add the onions and garlic and very lightly colour the onions, then add the thyme. Cool the bones and deglaze the pan with the chicken stock.

2. Separately in a saucepan, make a gastric with the honey and vinegar. Heat the honey, bring to a rolling boil and cook for 3 minutes, but be careful not to burn the honey or the sauce will become bitter. Add the vinegar and reduce. Now add the carcasses and chicken stock to the gastric, along with the veal glacé, peppercorns, thyme and cream.

3. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum, reduce to a simmer and cook out for 30 minutes. Strain through a colander and then pass through a fine sieve. Reduce to a sauce consistency; adjust the seasoning and the acidity.

4. Cook the cabbage in boiling salted water, then refresh in iced water. Drain well and pat dry. Sweat the finely chopped shallots in the butter, then add the smoked bacon. Add the cooked cabbage and dry out before adding the garlic puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Refrigerate the ducks well before scoring the skins (we pop ours in the freezer for a few minutes). Taking a sharp knife, score the fatty skin of the duck breast in a criss-cross pattern, but be careful not to cut the meat.

6. Season with salt and pepper and, using a thick, flat-bottomed pan, heat a little non-scented cooking oil and place the breasts skin side down. Cook at a fairly high temperature so that the skin renders out the fat, but be careful not to burn.

7. Once the skin is golden brown and crisp, turn the breast over and seal the other side for 1 minute before returning it once more to its skin side. Crisp the skin a little more before turning the breast onto its other side one more and finish cooking to your desired degree of doneness.

8. Once cooked, remove from the pan and brush the honey and five spice blend over the crisp skin and leave to rest.

9. Place the garlic into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil, refresh in running cold water and repeat twice more. Now place the garlic into a thick-bottomed pan with a little butter and season with salt and pepper. Cook slowly until lightly golden. Once the garlic is golden brown and soft, add the blanched celeriac into the pan to reheat.

10. Reheat the duck in the oven for a few minutes, and then slice thinly. Place the cabbage down the middle of the plate and dress the duck on top. Place five celeriac dice and pan-roasted garlic around the outside of the duck and then sauce.


Course #5. Spiced Caramel Parfait



Caramel and Cardamom Parfait
- 200g caster sugar
- 40g glucose       
- 50g water

- 15g butter, melted     
- 30g water

- 100g double cream       
- 2g green cardamom seed

- 150g caster sugar
- 60g water       
- 240g egg yolks

- 300g double cream

Milk Chocolate Mousse
- 360g milk chocolate
- 200g milk
- 400g double cream
- 5g gelatin leaves

- 500g caster sugar
- 500g fondant
- 500g glucose   
- 150g water



For the Parfait

1. Make a dark caramel with the 200g of caster sugar, glucose and water.

2. Deglaze the dark caramel with the melted butter and warm water.

3. While the dark caramel deglazes, infuse the green cardamom in the 100g of double cream.

4. Make a pâte à bombe with the egg yolks, water and 150g caster sugar by cooking the sugar and water at 121°C and pouring it over the whisking egg yolks.

5. Whisk until cold.

6. Lightly whip the 300g of double cream.

7. Pass the cardamom-infused cream into a sieve then fold into the pâte à bombe.

8. Lightly add the whipped cream.

For the mousse

1. Melt the chocolate on a bain-marie.

2. Bring the milk to a boil, then add the soaked gelatin. Add this mixture little by little to the melted chocolate, creating an elastic centre. This texture should be kept throughout the mixing. Smooth using a hand blender. 

3. When the mixture is between 35°C and 45°C, add the cream

For the Nougatine

1. Bring all the ingredients to a caramel, then pour onto a tray. When cold, break into pieces and blitz the nougatine until it is a fine powder.

2. Sprinkle the powder onto a baking tray, then flash in a hot oven for a couple of minutes. Cut the rectangle shapes when the nougatine is still warm. Leave to cool down.


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