Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Martin's German Duck

After high school I spent a glorious gap year nannying in Germany. I gained a new family, a new language and lot of weight. Those Germans really know how to eat. The patriarch of my German family happened to be a dedicated foodie and an excellent cook. He taught me a bunch of recipes and techniques as well as introducing me to some fabulous food but my absolute favourite was his Christmas duck. We ate it most of the year around, though not through the stiflingly hot summer, when having the oven on for four hours would have been miserable.
I scored some duck a little while back and froze in manageable parcels. I did not label these parcels, so each defrosting has meant discovering exactly what bits of duck I have to work with. This recipe should be for duck breasts but in this defrosting I discovered I had the body.

I tweaked this recipe only a tiny bit to work with my pantry. The Germans ate this duck with a particular kind of pasta which was shaped to pick up every drop of sauce. I have spirals. C’est la vie.

Martin’s German Duck

Duck body
250ml Pinot Noir (I used pinot gris, so added 2 Tbsp pinot noir jelly)
500ml vegetable stock
Onion- quartered
Crushed garlic cloves- I used 6 small ones
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp nut oil

Put all the ingredients, except stock , in a large oven pan. Put the breasts with skin side up in the oven dish. Pour the stock over the top until the breasts are half covered.
Bake 4 hours at 80 degrees on fan, basting the duck with the liquid every 20 minutes.
Pour the liquid through a sieve into a pot and thicken it with flour paste (100g flour to 200ml of water approx).
Whisk the sauce and add cream, and salt and pepper if desired.
(To make a healthier sauce, make the dish a day in advance then put liquid into the fridge. When cool you can skim off the fat).

Grill the duck with skin side up in 200 degree oven until crispy.

Enjoy with pasta and a Lake Chalice Pinot Noir. When finished, I realised just how beige this dish is, so added some spinach and capsicum. Healthy. 

Piep piep piep, wir habe uns alle lieb, guten Appetit!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Operation Cronut

Just look at this bad boy. 
Today started like every other Friday. My carefully designed timetable meant that I had a grand total of zero classes today, so I had a lovely morning sleeping in and reading. My flatmate came home around lunchtime, suggesting we go through with previous plans to introduce her to Moore Wilson's. And boy am I glad we went.

I recently discovered the cronut had made its way to sunny Wellington and had sneakily planted the idea that we had to try one. The choice of baked goodies was mouthwatering and hard. If I didn't have a mission, I could've spent a very long time pondering the merits of each tart, ├ęclair, and custard square. But I had a mission. Called Operation Cronut. 

Bordeaux Bakery's cronut is a doughnut shaped croissant... 

... filled with custard and covered in cinnamonny sugar.

Oh my. I am pleased to announce that Operation Cronut was successful, as I managed to force the whole thing down. It tasted like happiness.

Once I figure out the world of pastry, I will return to conquer the cronut. Watch this space...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Triumphant Return of my Camera Cord

I have AWOL for a wee while, mostly because I lost my camera cord. Adjusting to moving and studying again was a minor factor, along with small touch of laziness.

But never fear, I found the cord and am back on track! Here is some photographic summer to cling to.

A cake-tin of happiness
Something simple became...
And then ricotta, spinach and pine-nut ravioli! 

Hand-me-down silverware!
"That's all folks!"

Monday, May 6, 2013

Potato soup

Apparently yesterday was Wellington's last hurrah for summer. It was a glorious Sunday: buttery sunshine and nary a breeze. I skipped about in jandals and a summer dress and suspect I even pinkened a tiny bit from reading in the sun.

Today could not have been more different.  I swathed myself in my rain jacket but my unhappy legs peeked out and a single minute into my walk to uni they were saturated. The wind has been busy all day whipping away any warmth and  now my window is rattling ominously. 

It was a real comfort food day. Carbs are a wintery day's nemesis. These pictures might show a rather beige meal but it was anything but boring!

This year my flat is doing all the cooking separately. It is a bit of a change and I've taken to cooking big portions and saving the spares to avoid cooking every night. This soup ended up being big enough for three portions, while the bread was big enough for two.

Potato Soup

Melt a knob of butter in a large pot. Fry 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic and half a diced onion until juuust starting to brown. Splash a little dry white wine in and cook until its all evaporated. Add four finely chopped potatoes, one cup of chicken stock and a glass of the same wine. Have a sip yourself, since its bloody cold outside. Add a little water if the potatoes are looking bare.

Sidenote: A wee while ago I bought a roast chicken for dinner. Once I'd finally eaten the chicken, I made stock out of the carcass (the vegan flatmate was out that morning, phew). Next time I'll take some bony photos and share.
Lashings of pepper!
Add some pepper and boil them spuds! When the potatoes are fully cooked, give them a thorough smashing. Add a splash of milk and season as you like. I added a lot of paprika. If you want a smoother soup, blend. Serve topped with cheese and chorizo and dipped with hot bread.

I thought it looked like the bread soldiers were in a spa 
Now onto the bread:
Drown the bread in butter
Combine 1/4 warm water with 1/2tsp yeast and 3/4 tsp sugar. Stick it somewhere warm until frothy. I usually turn the oven when I feel like making bread and muck around for a little, before turning off the oven and incubating the yeast in there. 

Add 2 Tbsp milk, 1 Tbsp oil, a cup of wholemeal flour and salt. Put the mix back into its warm space for half an hour ish. Knead and shape. Sprinkle with paprika, rosemary, sea salt and a knob of butter and whack it in the oven.

Slather with butter and serve hot.

Disclaimer: My oven is fierce. Dragon fierce. I've found that changing someone else's recipe by decreasing the temperature a bit and halving the cooking time is about right. I cooked this bread for 15 minutes at 150°C. In conclusion, cook this bread according to the mood of your own oven until it sounds hollow when you tap its bottom.

The scar running down the face of this bread is a tear drop of butter

Thursday, January 31, 2013


A casual browse through the wonderland that is reddit's r/foodporn reveals the delicious trend that is shooter sandwiches. Essentially, you hollow out a big ole hunka bread, fill it with as much as possible, squish it and grill it. Dan and I spent a romantic afternoon throwing this together, gleefully nibbling at all the ingredients and filling up on enormous dairy ice-creams just before dinner. Despite this ruining of the appetites, the smell of melty pesto and baking bread and steak grilling got us back into eating mode.

Step 1: Hollow your bread. Save the innards for cleaning up the bacon fat coming up soon!

Om nom nom
Step 2: Cheese. It was a genius idea on the boyfriend's part to use cheese as a shield to keep the bread from turning unsightly colours.

Step 3: Bacon! Cook it almost as much as you like it because the grilling at the end won't cook it much more.

Step 4: Pesto. Whiz the leaves of a basil plant with a handful of pine nuts (or whatever cheaper nuts are about), parmesan, pepper and oil until it's a pleasing consistency. 

Step 5: Mushrooms which have been fried in bacon fat and garlic.

Step 6: Red onion. For your 5+ a day.

Step 7: Steak. Cooked rare and cut into bite sized hunks.

Step 8: More cheese!

Step 9: Wrap in tinfoil on a bed of fresh rosemary.

Step the tenth: Squish it good. This is also an excellent way to stop your weights from gathering dust.

Step 11: Grill.

Oh yes. The bacon seemed to melt away and the parental guinea pigs who also enjoyed this for dinner couldn't tell there was any bacon until they were told. This is a very versatile sandwich; Dan is already planning his seafood shooter. For further inspiration

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pepper Pesto

I have the habit of being unable to resist the written word should it appear before me. Once I start a book, no matter how god-awful, I simply must finish it; I feel guilty if I don't read a news article to the bitter end; and if a cookbook is present, I'll have 'just a quick flick through.' 

I was supposed to be watching a heart-breaking movie with my boyfriend's family but his mum had Annabel Langbein's cookbook, The Free Range Cook just lying there! Big pretty pictures combined with food was a killer combo and I have no idea how the movie ended. 

Rushing home to save my dad from starvation, I decided to give Annabel's Roasted Pepper Pesto a go. 

It wasn't until I got home that I realised I'd admired the pictures and skimmed the method but had largely ignored the ingredients list and therefore had no idea how much of anything I was meant to be using. Time to improvise!

Luckily we had some Bambi in the freezer

Last year, Mum and I preserved some lemons after reading about them in Cuisine. I used the zest and oil from this batch, which featured star anise, bay leaves and peppercorns. Grating the lemon was pretty textural but tasted fab.

Cut a hunk of venison into bite-size pieces and place in a small container. Add zest of one lemon and some balsamic vinegar. Stir and cover.

Roast a red capsicum, half a red onion and as much garlic as you can get away with. The capsicum is ready when the skin blackens. Pop it in a bowl and cover with a tea towel or something so it sweats. Once cool enough to touch, the skin peels right off. Gently roast a few handfuls of almonds in a little oil with a teaspoon each of paprika and cumin. Throw almonds and spice, garlic, peeled capsicum, some lemon zest in a food processor and whiz it. Add oil until you have the texture you like and add more spice if you want it hotter.

Fry venison over high heat and serve with rice, pesto and red onion.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dirty name no longer pending

There's nothing like coming home at the end of the day to a refreshing cocktail. Mother introduced me to Pimms a few years ago and it quickly became our drink of choice over marathon games of Kings or Scrabble. On my long drive home, I thinking about different ways of mixing Pimms; we usually drink it with ginger ale and lemonade. A family friend (whose fabulous tarts have previously been pictured on this blog) gave Mum a pot of this herbal tea for Christmas: 

Eastern Sunshine is a fab smelling blend which includes pineapple pieces, lemongrass and pink peppercorns. It also comes in this gorgeous little container.

To make a cocktail for mother and myself, I steeped half a cup of tea for a few minutes, then put in the fridge to cool it down. Twirl a few shakes of bitters with some ice around each glass, then add a shot of Pimms. Add the cooled tea and equal parts Mac's sour apple fizz and ginger ale, then top each glass off with half a lemon and a sprig of mint. 

I brainstormed dirty names for this concoction for a while (Mum was very keen on incorporating 50 Shades of whatever into the title...). However, after seeing the glory that is Les Mis and admiring Sacha Baron Cohen, I decided my new drink can be called the Master of the 'Ouse. Coz Pimms really does rule our roost ( and it's the same colour as Baron Cohen's hair in the the movie).