Duck with blueberry-orange sauce and sweet potato dumplings

So I had a lovely duck breast…some blueberries and a sweet potato and here is what came together:

Duck

Make a few slashes in the duck skin without piercing the meat. Mix a couple tablespoons extra virgin rapeseed oil (or olive oil) with 5 spice and rub all over the the duck breast.

Cook skin side down over a low heat for about 8-10 minutes, until skin is nicely browned.  Finish off in 180C oven, skin side up for 6-8 minutes.  Let sit a few minutes before slicing.

Blueberry-Orange sauce

One onion, sliced

One clove garlic, chopped

One orange, juiced and about 1 tablespoon zest

One cup chicken stock

Bay leaf

Star anise

Pinch herbs de provence

Balsamic vinegar

Couple pinches sugar

Handful blueberries

Tablespoon of butter

Saute the onions in a couple tablespoons of extra virgin rapeseed oil (or olive oil) over a low heat until the onions just barely start to brown, add the chopped garlic and cook for  1-2 minutes.  Add balsamic vinegar, cook another minute, add star anise, bay leaf, herbs de provence orange zest and juice, and chicken stock.  Cook on  a low heat for 10 minutes.  Add blueberries and a pinch of sugar, cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until blueberries start to break up.  Check seasoning…turn off heat, stir in butter and serve with duck and dumplings.

Sweet potato dumplings

1 medium sweet potato, baked, flesh removed and mashed

1/2 cup flour (I use 000 pasta flour), sifted

1 large egg, beaten

Pinch chili flakes

With your hands gently mix together the mashed sweet potato flesh, flour, pinch chili flakes and egg.  Let sit 5-10 minutes, then drop by small spoonfuls onto a dish dusted with flour.  Roll the dumplings so they are lightly dusted with flour then boil for 3-4 minutes.  Toss dumplings in rapeseed (or olive) oil and top with another pinch of chili flakes and some sea salt (I like flaked salt…like Maldon).

That is about it…next time I make this I may try red wine in place of chicken stock.

Truffles and tomatoes

Last summer I fell in love.  I spent a few days in Cortona and fell in love with truffles.  Truffle oil…truffles on pizza, truffles on pasta…truffle-infused honey with pecorino…I left with a jar of truffles and a shiny new truffle slicer.  For a month of Sundays I had truffle omelets.  The jar of truffles is now long gone…but I do have truffle salt and white truffle oil to keep me satisfied in between frivolous moments of spending my hard earned cash on a small ugly fungus.  Sometimes I just need to have a quick smell.  Yes, somehow the scent of truffles has a touch of old gym bag and rotting earth, but somehow this mixes together to form my idea of the scent of paradise.

While in Cortona I also renewed my love of tomatoes.  I was reminded that a good in-season tomato smells fabulous before you even slice it, a far cry from the supermarket variety with gritty texture and watery flavour.  The first place I hit on a Saturday morning these days is my farmer’s market at the bottom of Parliament Hill and this time of year the first purchase is at the tomato stall. I have made an unsuccessful attempt to grow my own, while the plants grow, the reality is my terrace is just too shaded….so nice tall plants…but no fruit.  Oh well, they still ‘smell’ of tomato.

Hello world!

Hello world indeed…..so, err, well I am not even sure who I am writing for, well that isn’t entirely true, I am obviously writing for myself and we’ll see where it goes.  I thought this might be a good way to capture my very random thoughts about cooking, eating , drinking, traveling and sharing all these things.  So to kick off I thought it might be good to frame my idea of a perfect evening; a few friends, abundant food, some drink, warm temperatures and a starry sky.  So….let’s get started!