One of Lon­don’s cel­e­brated Hem­s­ley sis­ters comes to the aid of the time-poor home cook.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - by Lau­raine Ja­cobs

One of Lon­don’s cel­e­brated Hem­s­ley sis­ters comes to the aid of the time-poor home cook.

Anew book by Melissa Hem­s­ley, one of the two food-writer sis­ters who go by the name Hem­s­ley + Hem­s­ley, is a col­lec­tion of ex­u­ber­ant and lively recipes. Melissa and her older sis­ter, Jas­mine, who own a cafe in Sel­fridges, co-wrote the best­selling ti­tles The Art of Eat­ing Well and Good + Sim­ple, but have started writ­ing their own books.

The recipes in Eat Happy (Ebury Press, $55) prom­ise to de­liver nu­tri­tious, sim­ple food in no more than 30 min­utes, which will be wel­comed by time-poor home cooks. Draw­ing on in­flu­ences from Europe and Asia, the author has cre­ated dishes packed with grains, spices and herbs. They are easy to cook and de­liver loads of flavour in ev­ery mouth­ful.

In in­tro­duc­tions to each recipe, Hem­s­ley gives ex­cel­lent ad­vice and tips and adds cross-ref­er­ences to recipes for other dishes that could be served as sides. The chap­ter on bowl food, which in­cludes soups and ideas for meals with left­overs, has some re­ally ap­peal­ing ideas: gin­ger miso sun­shine soup, co­conut mush­room and chicken soup, and a “waste not, want not” bowl.

There are loads of new break­fast and brunch ideas, lovely fish recipes (gin­ger fish burg­ers; harissa fish with herby cau­li­flower cous­cous) and some fine ideas for the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar tray bakes, both with and without meat.

The stand­out dishes in the small sweets sec­tion are banof­fee pie in a glass and a cel­e­bra­tion cake that can be whipped up in less than 30 min­utes.

Hem­s­ley writes of the hoisin duck recipe be­low: “While it would be im­pos­si­ble to recre­ate true Chi­ne­ses­tyle duck at home, this ver­sion comes with a big thumbs-up from the Hem­s­ley fam­ily. It uses duck breasts, speedy to cook and widely avail­able.

“The best thing about the recipe is the hoisin sauce, bright­ened with orange juice or any cit­rus and creami­ness from the tahini. It’s sim­ple to make and tastes like the real deal. It’s such a ver­sa­tile sauce too. Just a lit­tle will en­hance the flavour of left­over veg­eta­bles, and it’s also bril­liant with fish burg­ers.”


4 x 150g duck breasts, skin on

1 tsp Chi­nese five-spice pow­der a good pinch of sea salt


6 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

3 tbsp tahini or smooth nut/seed but­ter 1½ tbsp maple syrup

3 tbsp orange juice

2 gar­lic cloves, finely chopped

1½ tsp toasted sesame oil

1½ tsp Chi­nese five-spice pow­der 12 small chick­pea or other Asian-style

wraps chilli flakes, to taste

1 cu­cum­ber, sliced into match­sticks 6 spring onions, sliced into match­sticks

Pre­heat the oven to fan 200°C.

With a sharp knife, score the fat of each duck breast in a criss-cross pat­tern, then sprin­kle over half the five-spice pow­der and salt and rub it in.

Make the hoisin sauce by whisk­ing all the in­gre­di­ents to­gether in a bowl, then taste for sea­son­ing and set aside.

Heat a wide, oven­proof fry­ing pan to a high heat (no oil needed) and place the duck breasts, skin side down, in the pan. Sprin­kle over the rest of the spice and salt. Cook for 3 min­utes or un­til most of the fat has ren­dered, and the duck skin is golden.

Turn the duck breasts over and cook for a fur­ther 30 sec­onds to seal the other side. Place the pan in the oven for the duck to fin­ish cook­ing – 8 min­utes for rare or 10 min­utes for medium rare – then re­move the duck and leave to rest on a chop­ping board for 10 min­utes. Pour any ex­cess duck fat from the pan into a bowl and keep for roast­ing pota­toes.

Cut the duck breasts into thin slices, sprin­kle with chilli flakes and place on a serv­ing plate, with the hoisin sauce in a bowl. Put the warmed wraps on another plate and place the sliced cu­cum­ber and spring onions in a separate bowl. Let ev­ery­one as­sem­ble their own pan­cakes, pour­ing or spoon­ing the hoisin sauce over the duck be­fore adding the other in­gre­di­ents.

Serves 4

Wine match: pinot noir

THIS FILIPINO VER­SION of steak and onions, known as “bis­tek”, is de­li­cious. The Hem­s­leys’ mother grew up in Manila and cooked it with a cit­rus fruit called kala­mansi, a cross between a man­darin and a kumquat. Lemon makes a good sub­sti­tute. It takes less than 10 min­utes to cook.


2 tbsp co­conut oil or ghee

2 large onions, sliced into rings

500g sir­loin steak, cut into 5mm slices 1 tbsp chick­pea flour

3 gar­lic cloves, finely chopped juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce sea salt and black pep­per

Melt half the oil in a large, wide fry­ing pan, add the onion rings and fry over a low-medium heat for about 3 min­utes un­til soft­ened slightly but still with a bit of bite, then set aside on a plate.

Dust the steak slices with flour and sea­son with a lit­tle salt and pep­per.

Melt the re­main­ing oil in the same pan, add the steak pieces, in batches if nec­es­sary, and fry over a high heat for about 1 minute on each side, then trans­fer to the plate with the onion rings.

Fry the gar­lic in the pan for about 30 sec­onds. Add the lemon juice, tamari and a good pinch of pep­per and sim­mer for 2 min­utes.

Re­turn the steak and onions to the pan to gen­tly heat through for 30 sec­onds and then serve with rice, kale, broc­coli or spinach. Serves 4

Wine match: syrah

Filipino-style steak and onions.

Hoisin duck pan­cakes.

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