Tuesday, August 22, 2017

580/1038 - Cath's sugar-cured duck legs

This week has seen me slowed with an ongoing injury and I have found myself requiring increased assistance from my little family. My teenagers are particularly lovely and wonderful helpers but they are not big fans of open ended assignments. If they are to be engaged willingly, I have learned that they prefer to know exactly what is expected of them and roughly how long tasks will take. 

It was to this end that I created a points system for all tasks which fell outside of the boys' regular household duties. The longer a task was expected to take, the higher the number of points the task was assigned. Yesterday I put together fourteen points worth of tasks and was blown away by how willingly the boys divided up the jobs and got stuck into getting everything done. Teenagers are easy if you can just unlock the teenage code! 

My eldest wound up with the majority of the cooking tasks and so was responsible for helping me get these lovely legs into the oven and also for creating the stock which will flavour our risotto tonight. It was fabulous to watch him moving about the kitchen, discovering the joys of turning a few elements into a tasty meal. 

After sitting in the fridge for a few days covered in sugar and salt and nestled with a couple of bay leaves, these home-butchered legs came out of the oven lovely and crispy and full of flavour. While butchering the duck and cooking the pieces three different ways took more effort than a single quick roast, it did mean that a 2kg duck became three meals instead of one. 

Three nights of beautiful duck meals from a single bird? Now that makes me happy x

Yesterday's assortment of tasks

Sunday, August 20, 2017

579/1038 - Grilled duck breast

I successfully butchered my first duck! Forgive me as I revel for a moment in what I consider to be a very special achievement. For what is life if not for celebrating the little things?

I have spoken before of my preference for buying animals in their entirety wherever possible. It is for this reason that the only duck recipes I have completed are those which require an entire bird. With yet another duck in the fridge and all roast duck recipes exhausted, I decided it was time to figure out how to take this baby apart.

After a bit of YouTube research and some nifty work with my lovely Aritsugu knife, I was rewarded with two beautiful fat breast fillets, a couple of lovely legs and some other bits and pieces destined for the stock pot.

The breasts were fried and then the beautiful fat was collected and used to saute the potatoes, mushrooms, garlic and parsley. I will confess to slicing the breasts after this picture was taken and giving them another quick fry in the pan as they were simply too pink for my liking. I quite like  my duck slightly medium rare and the second quick fry reduced the pink just enough for me to be comfortable serving it to my little family.

We split two breasts between the four of us and the family were HUGE fans of the duck being cooked this way. The pieces were simultaneously crispy, juicy and ridiculously tasty.

Recipe plans (and plans in general!) in this house are frequently adjusted. This week was supposed to be all about tripe and yabbies and instead we are in the midst of a duck fest. Breast last night, risotto tonight and tomorrow will see us devouring sugar-cured legs.

Colour me happy x

Monday, August 14, 2017

578/1038 - Classic apple pie

It's hard to believe it took 6 years and almost six hundred recipes for me to make a plain old apple pie - except that this apple pie is anything but plain.

It was the lard pastry which kept me from throwing this otherwise simple dessert together. I don't have anything against lard; it's just not something I generally keep in the fridge! I decided to give duck fat a whirl as a stronger tasting substitute and of course had already put the pie together by the time I did some research and discovered that the reason pig fat is the basis for lard is that it is largely tasteless. Unlike duck fat which tastes like, well, duck. Whoops.

Unperturbed, I baked my pie anyway, safe in the knowledge that apples go well with savoury dishes such as pizza and pork.

Persistence paid off! The pie was absolutely beautiful and looked stunning on the plates, filled with layers and layers of thinly sliced apples.

...and there it was! The apple chapter is now done and dusted. Nineteen down, one hundred and six to go. In order to speed this challenge along (because I am fairly sure none of us want to see this drag on for another ten years) I have decided to plan my next couple of recipes as soon as one is posted. All going well, we will see some yabby and tripe gracing the blog very soon.

Wish me luck! x

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

577/1038 - Jackie's mum's sponge cake

Friday night's dinner party also saw this lovely little dessert come out to play. 

I messed around with this recipe (with interesting results) because I just couldn't bring myself to buy custard powder! This was not because I am a purist (well that too) but also because my pantry is full to bursting and I just couldn't justify adding an item to the shelves that I just knew I wouldn't use. 

It turns out that messing about with baking ingredients doesn't always destroy the result. Granted, my sponge was so flat it couldn't be split even with the steadiest of hands, but somehow it was still beautifully light and fluffy. 

I broke the cake into pieces and served it drizzled with the passionfruit "icing" and beside a good dollop of whipped cream.

...and I didn't hear any complaints x

Saturday, August 5, 2017

576/1038 - Avocado and tomato salsa with macadamia oil

Last night we hosted a dinner party which was our first in quite some time. The premise of the evening was to share my pasta making skills with one of our friends who had a pasta maker gathering dust in her kitchen after purchasing it some seven years ago.

In keeping with the Italian theme, the first course was a simple bruschetta topped with this gorgeous little salsa. The only thing that had prevented me from making this in the past was a lack of macadamia oil in my pantry; an issue which has now been remedied. The salsa is still being consumed this morning on toast, on biscuits and amusingly, by the spoonful.

I didn't get organised and make the bread the day before the dinner party. Fresh bread is lovely but bruschetta loves day old bread. If I am completely honest, my baking delay was actually because the menu was not created until eight hours prior to the guests landing. Very unlike me but thankfully everything worked out beautifully.

The incredible pasta was rolled and cut by my very talented guests and I just adored having everybody buzzing about the kitchen and getting their hands dirty.

Definitely a dinner party model I will be replicating in future x

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Truly Madly Eatly


As my regular readers would be aware, a couple of years ago I quit my job and launched a little catering business. Catering other people's events is fun but I have decided to change things up a bit and host my own event! Guests will be treated to complimentary barefoot bowling and a degustation lunch which will feature items from our finger food menu. 

If you would like to come along (it would be lovely to meet you!) bookings can be made online at Truly Madly Eatly

I hope to see you there!

Kate x

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

575/1038 - Crumbed trotters with mustard mayonnaise

This is officially my favourite trotter recipe! Of course this is not a sentence you are likely to hear from many people given the squeamish nature of the majority of modern diners. 

I truly don't understand why people are averse to trying new things on their dinner plates. Using up as many parts of an animal just makes sense to me. If an animal needs to die for our dinner table, I believe it is our responsibility to use absolutely every morsel possible from that creature. People are getting better at understanding how we can reduce waste in other areas but I think have a long way to go with regard to the ethical use of animals as food. 

Pontificating aside, we absolutely adored this meal. While I forgot to get it in the picture, the mustard mayo was definitely a fabulous dipping sauce for these crunchy little feet and also for spreading on fresh bread at the end of the meal. I will admit to cheating with the mustard mayo and simply stirring some dijon through store bought mayonnaise. It was still wonderful. 

We actually shared two trotters between four of us which we felt was plenty of meat. The jellied meat was packed with flavour and dinner saw us all gnawing happily on the bones, groaning with delight as we inhaled the very crunchy crumb. 

As always, I will be continuing my war on waste by using the incredible stock in a tasty risotto for dinner tonight. 

How many times have I said this? Definitely another recipe I will be putting on repeat. I could have picked so many recipe books to cook my way through but I am so, so glad I picked this one x

Sunday, July 16, 2017

574/1038 - Chocolate and caramel bread puddings

This recipe has been tantalising me for weeks now and having a friend over for dinner last night inspired me to finally put it on the menu. 

Crème caramel is a dish I have made many times and to date have never had an issue with the oozy caramel which covers the dessert as it is turned out of its mould. Sadly, my touch with oozy caramel came to an end last night, with a dig into this lovely little pudding revealing a layer of hard toffee which had hardened and did not want to budge. 

Thankfully the pudding was still lovely and of course my industrious and sugar hungry teenager still managed to eat his caramel, using the microwave and brute force to prise it out of the ramekin. 

I can hardly complain. 574 recipes and only a very small handful which have not turned out as expected. 

Not a bad strike rate x

Thursday, July 6, 2017

573/1038 - Jerusalem artichoke tart

Another lot of gorgeous Jerusalem artichokes and another wonderful recipe. 

My cleaning method has definitely improved (enter the plastic scrubbing brush!) but the preparation of this many Jerusalem artichokes still takes up a good amount of time. If you are like me though, and adore the taste of this nutty and sweet vegetable, the effort is definitely a labour of love. 

The recipe instructed peeling and boiling the Jerusalem artichokes and then slicing them once soft. I thought I would be clever and as I cleaned and peeled, I also sliced each piece before putting them in the saucepan to boil. It was genius! Once soft, I simply turned the pot full of pieces out into a colander to drain, ready to be incorporated into the rest of the filling mixture.

It was dark when I got to the herb part of the recipe and I sent my eldest into the backyard with scissors and instructions to bring me some chives, a bay leaf and a good handful of parsley. Amusingly, he came in and handed me about four stems of parsley and had no idea why this didn't constitute a handful!

It goes without saying that the pastry was fabulous and seriously, how can you go wrong when you fill it with cream, herbs and one of your favourite vegetables?

Another happy evening of eating x