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