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Archive for the ‘duck’ Category

It always amazes me how quickly us humans adapt to new conditions in our lives (willingly or not) and form new habits to accommodate new problems. It also amazes me just how much of what we do on a day to day basis is, in fact, habit. I woke up a few days ago and realised that I had gotten into the habit, due to our fluffy new circumstances, of waiting until after 8pm to decide what to have for dinner. Not a convenient time to begin experimenting with exciting new ideas, and definitely not a good time to decide to take a duck breast out of the freezer. Looking back, the last while’s dinners have consisted of out-the-can and sauce-in-a-jar kind of dinners, with a fresh salad thrown on the side to ease the guilt of not having enough veg on the plate. Well, I’m trying to put that habit behind me again and take the time to think about what I’m putting onto my plate and down the hatch. We are what we eat, and I don’t feel like being Beans-on-toast any more. Not only did I actually remember to take the duck breast out the freezer the other day, I even had a vague idea of what I wanted to do with it. Something sweet yet sour, something with a big Asian edge, although undefined as to provenance of said “Asian” and something with sweet potatoes. Something a little, well, square for a change.

*apologies for the shoddy photo quality.  Sometimes one is so busy trying to make one’s chopsticks stand still, one forgets to check one’s ISO.

Duck Breast in a sweet/sour sauce
with Broccoli, Water Chestnuts and black sesame
and fried sweet potato

for the marinade/sauce:
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp fresh, grated ginger
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp Chinese five spice
¼ cup grated apple (use crisp, green apples like granny smith)
juice from ½ small lime

about 500g duck breast, fat removed, thickly sliced
1 Tbsp oil for frying

for the broccoli:
1 tsp veg oil
3 spring onions, thickly sliced
½ head of broccoli, chopped
1 can (8oz/230ml) water chestnuts, drained
3 tsp black sesame seeds

for the sweet potato:
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp sesame oil
peanut oil (or veg oil) for frying

-first, mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and add the duck breast. Let marinade for as long as you can (I only left mine for 40 mins and it was great)

– par-boil the sweet potato for about 5 minutes until almost cooked, but still very firm

– heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan on medium. Add the duck and it’s marinade and cook gently until done. You should end up with a juicy sauce. Set aside, cover with foil to keep warm.

– meanwhile, heat the sesame and veg oil for frying the sweet potato and fry, turning occasionally until tender and slightly browned.

– stir fry the spring onions, broccoli and water chestnuts in the duck breast pan. Add the sesame seeds after 5 minutes and cook for another minute or so.

– remove sweet potato and drain before serving.

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Duck Breast with Green Olives and Rosmary

We’re having our first snow here in Toronto. Big, fat flakes have been falling all day and the temperatures are just right to allow for picture perfect moments: cold enough that the snow doesn’t instantly turn into boot-eating slush but warm enough to allow a certain amount of frolicking in the streets. A cookie baking kind of day, which is exactly where I tend to go once I’ve finished this post. I’m thinking something spicy-autumny, not quite Christmasy. Too early for that kind of talk. We’ve still some Autumn dishes to get through in my house! Even though one must admit to oneself, even if one thinks one can forestall the moment by buying butternuts and plums at the market, that the Winter is not only on it’s way but parking it’s car in the drive and walking up the path to the front door. And once one has admitted the close proximity of Winter, one can quite gladly take the Canada Goose Coat out of it’s box, fluff it up and actually enjoy the snow outside. The fabulous Mr P and I are so equally and utterly in Smit with our Canada Goose coats, that when we see other “Ducks” on the street we share a little glance of smugness and glee.

And speaking of duck…

Duck still seems like a fairly exotic dish to me. Growing up, poultry consisted of Chicken, Chicken and, um, Chicken. That said, duck isn’t any more difficult to deal with than Ye Olde Chicken and since it’s a readily available thing at the butcher these days I tend to keep a portion or two lying around for sudden inspiration. Like this. Mr P got his hands dirty in on this one, though it was almost a case of Two many cooks spoiled the duck. Do we chop the raw duck first and then fry it, or fry it then chop it. How thick should the slices be? Should we remove the fat before cooking it? After cooking it? At all? In the end, after a small glass of wine and some introspection the following happened.

*note: it’s really worth getting a fresh, egg pasta for this. I’m not patient enough to make my own (yet) but I made sure to get the best I could find. Why waste the duck on industrial spaghetti, is my thinking…

Also, I got the olives from “the olive guy” at the market, but you can really use any olives you prefer.

Duck Breast with Green Olives and Rosmary

Duck Breast with Rosemary and Green Olives

2 duck breasts, with fat on
Dried Rosemary, about 1 + ½ tsp
Fleur de sel
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Roasted Green Olives, about
⅓ cup
Good, fresh pasta, enough for 2
2 Tbsp good basil pesto
– Rinse the duck breast and pat dry with paper towel

– with fat side lying up, cut through the fat in gashes about 1 inch apart

-season breast with salt and Rosemary, making sure some rosemary is in the cuts

-fry duck breasts in a non stick, heavy bottomed pan for about 2 – 3 minutes on each side until meat is browned and fat is brown and starting to get crispy. Remove from heat and cool until handle-able. Slice the breast into ½ inch thick slices. They should still be quite raw in the middle.

– put the pasta on to cook

– In the duck fat left in the pan, fry the onion and garlic until caramelised. Add duck breast and olives and cook until meat is cooked, about 5 mins.

– Drain pasta and add to the duck, along with the pesto, mixing well before serving. Add some olive oil if you think it needs it (I found the duck fat more than enough lubrication)

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I’m sensing a trend here with individual tarts. There’s something I truly love about individual little servings. I tend to fall in love with an idea, a theme or a genre and then horsewhip it until it’s out of my system for a while.

Our Tuesday picnic dinner was rained out by a thunderstorm, which at least lifted the hot humid conditions to something more suited to a morning game of tennis, but it meant that I had to think of something quickly for dinner in place of the cheese and baguette I’d planned. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe, adapted from one on Frenchfood, ever since I bought some fat, juicy looking Organic Duck breasts from the Healthy Butcher on Queen. It’s also nearing the end of Cherry season here, and I needed to make use of those gorgeous, almost black berries while they are still available. Plus, I still had a bunch of garden rhubarb in the fridge from the Farmer’s market last week.

I’m afraid I didn’t get a picture of the duck, though it was delicious. We just ate it up too quickly! We’re trying to make the most of the long daylight hours and wanted to get out to the park to throw ball before it was too late. Hmmm. It’s lovely being able to spend so much time outside.

Cherry and Rhubarb Chutney

makes enough for 4 – 6 people

1/4 sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
pinch Cayenne pepper, or one small red chili minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups rhubarb, chopped to 1cm pieces
2 cups black cherries, pitted (tart yellow cherries work well too)
1 medium brown onion, halved and sliced

– combine all ingredients except rhubarb, cherries and onion in a heavy based saucepan and heat gently, stirring to melt sugar.

– add fresh ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook about 15 mins until rhubarb is soft and mixture is thick. Allow to cool a few mins before eating.

– serve with grilled duck breast. Yum

Fig Tart


French Fig Tarts

makes 6

Pate Brisee (I used the whole wheat one from the Asparagus tart, but added a pinch of sugar and a pinch of cardamon before adding the chilled water)

6 – 8 black Mission figs, cut into 8 wedges each
1/3 cup ground almond
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
60 ml unsalted butter

– Set oven to 425˚F

– line tart tins with pastry, refrigerate 10 mins, bake blind for ± 10 mins, let cool

– beat almond, egg, sugar and butter until smooth. Refrigerate 10 mins until firm

– divide Almond butter between shells

– arrange figs on top of butter

– bake 25 – 30 mins

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