October 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
I am aware that ‘Julia Child’ as a concept has been done over and over again. No one can talk about her in a way that is personal to them anymore. Julie Powell claimed Julia as her inspriation before anyone else did and now Julia has been taken. But I have Julia’s cook books and when I cook from them I follow her recipes’ every sentence. I do understand how Julie could have so intensely believed she knew Julia. The recipes Julia wrote make you feel as though you are in a conversation with her; “By the time you have completed half of this, the carcass frame, dangling legs, wings, and skin will appear to be an unrecognizable mass of confusion and you will wonder how in the world any sense can be made of it all.” She has made it incredibly straight forward for those who don’t know ‘food’ and I would have loved to have spoken with her.
So. I boned a duck in the weekend. I never thoguht that would happen.
I was surprised how easy it was to be honest. And how un-frightful it was aswel.
I followed Julia’s guidance word-by-word, which is unlike me if I am being honest, which I am.
I took my very blunt knife and ran it down the spine.
Imagine pealing a fruit. Essentially you peal the skin and the flesh together ,off the spine and carcass. It is important to make sure the flesh remains on the skin and only comes off the bone.
Then remove the carcass just like this..
With your very sharp knife you seperate the duck breasts from the flesh and dice up the meat. Then place the meat back on the open skin and pour red wine over it. Yum. Place the stuffing on top of the drunk meat and pull the flesh up over the stuffing and truss your duck. I didn’t have a flesh sewing needle so I just used a skewer.
Then you brown the meat in very hot oil in a very hot pan. I am used to sizzling spraying oil which I think is unfortunate.
My favourite part of the whole process, including the eating of it, was wrapping it in pastry. Wrapping anything in pastry is utterly brilliant. It was like a present with a wee hat on top.
And then is goes into the oven and you watch it puff up and turn to gold. Nothing could be more satisfying than working in your kitchen with pastry. I sliced it, placed it on a platter for my family, poured all the juices over the pastry and we ate it, the entire bird, veal meat, pork fat and pastry garment. And it was good!
Pate de Canard en Croute
(preheat oven to 180°)
One whole duck
Pinch pf allspice
2 Tbsp cognac (or any brandy)
2 Tbsp port (or red wine)
Bone the duck as described above (you may need to read up more on boning if you are unfamiliar with it). Slice the breasts and all meat off the flesh. Dice it all up and place it on the boned duck facing up with the skin side facing down towards the bench. Pour over lots of salt and pepper, allspice, cognac and port.
Stuffing Preparation (adapted from Julia’s recipe slightly):
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup port (or red wine)
1 ½ cup veal diced
½ cup pork fat (as your butcher just for the fat) diced
big pinch of allspice
2 Tbsp thyme
2 crushed cloves of garlic
Throw all in a processor and process until really well combined. Take it out and mould it into a small rugby ball. Place it on top of the duck in the center of the flesh. Bring the duck skin up over the stuffing to enclose it and either truss the skin together or skewer it, like I did.
In a heavy based skillet heat about 2 Tbsp oil till it’s incredibly hot. Add the duck and brown all sides, about 2 minutes on each side.
2 sheets of store brought flaky/puff pastry
1 egg whisked
Lay out 2/3 of your pastry. Place the duck on the center and bring the pastry up over the duck. It will not reach right the way around. Egg-wash the top of the open pastry. Shape the other 1/3 of the pastry into a flat oval. Place it on top and press the pastry edges together so the duck is fully enclosed in the pastry. It will look like a flat hat on top of a pastry shaped rugby ball. At this stage you can ‘pretty it up’ by making pastry flowers and egg-washing them on to the pastry, or whatever else tickles your fancy. Egg-wash the entire surface of the pastry, poke holes in it with your knife and bake for 2 hours. And then slice, platter, pour over all juices and eat!
October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment
My friend Victoria and I have this thing that we do that none of our other friends do. We hyperventilate over food. We also rather love being wined and dined at restaurants that cost more than a day’s paycheck. And so we do just that.
Our first ‘date’ night, as we currently call them, was at Auckland’s most necessary restaurant, The French Café. I may be a bit biased as I do believe that anything with the word French in it is also worthy of hyperventilation. But on this evening we seemed to create quite a bit of entertainment for our waiter, always a hope of mine. When our entrée came out (our second meal of six!) Victoria raised her hands to her face whilst taking deep breaths of air. I had to explain in a low voice that we’re constantly just a little bit excited about food.
I had the best Riesling I had ever encountered on this particular night, Manu, the second best duck I had ever eaten (the first best was consumed during my first dinner at The French Café) and never had I experienced such well-timed-meal-arrivals.
If you happen to have saved up a reasonable sum of money that you are willing to spend on a memorable food experience, then please do go to The French Cafe.
October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment
Honestly. The truth is, this is all about FOOD.
But for some reason Dulcie has weaved herself in to it as well.
Many of my friends are aware of my reasonably well-proportioned fascination with her, my late Grandmother, Dulcie. I actually do not have any saturated memories with her which can validate the thoughts I have surrounding who she was. However, since I was fifteen I have accumulated a combination of factual experiences people have actually shared with her, a long side, I’m sure, quite a few ficticious beliefs about who she was.
Fact; she was not the ‘ordinary’ grandmother who had all her grandchildren over to feast off her mountains of home baked goods. Quite the opposite; I have been told she could only handle a few hours in the presence of her grandchildren. Fact; she was very connected with creating ‘experiences’ and ‘events.’ Being a women of her time, she was quite the scene-setter with all her glamourous garments. This is how most of my friends have been made aware of her. She lives on through the clothes I have resurrected today. Often when I am wearing an item of hers out with friends they casually point, raise their eye brows inquisitively and state, ‘bloody Duclie?’
Fiction; I have decided that we would spend a considerable amount of time together if she were still around and I would have learnt a lot earlier on how to embrace femininity. This would have been quite helpful. Fiction; we would have been very close friends.
And so, Dulcie in reality remains a mystery to me and perhaps this is where my intrigue has stemmed from. But she has received the title to this space because she is someone that lived in 1950, a year I have an irrational fascination with, she is someone who effortlessly joins my mother, my sister and myself together and she is someone who all knew her as an expression of beauty. Something I will always try to exhibit.
This is solely a space to explore all the experiences that food can create, which is rather ironic considering Dulcie unfortunately had a cook.