Friday, 9 February 2007

A Busman's Holiday

Wednesday was a day off from college and what better way to spend a break from the kitchens than cooking at home? Here are my ingredients for a two-course meal. Before you read on, see if you can work out what I cooked (I've omitted the largest single ingredient to make the task harder).

A trip to Waitrose provided ingredients for an afternoon's cooking

I'd already decided to try my hand at Vic Cherikoff's flagship Australian dessert Wattleseed Pavlova, as prompted by a posting on Benjamin Christie's blog. Two other food blog posts had also caught my attention recently. The first was Ros's Spanish-Inspired Guinea Fowl from Living To Eat, in which she 'bards' a guinea fowl using sliced chorizo inserted between the skin and flesh. The second was Haalo's Spiced Twice-Roasted Duck from Cook (Almost) Anything, in which she cooks a dish from a recipe by Kiwi author Julie Le Clerc.

Last month my local game supplier Steve Hatt had sold me an entire mallard when I paid a visit for some duck breasts to cook with marmalade and it had remained in my freezer until now.

You can't really go wrong at under £5 a bottleSo all the components were there. I had time to cook something adventurous. I was feeling in a global fusion mood. I had a duck, some wattleseed and three interesting recipes. The outcome was chorizo roasted breast and Chinese five-spiced leg of duck (actually six-spiced), followed by Australian wattleseed Pavlova with a blueberry compote.

It was accompanied by a Portuguese wine bought by dad after he'd read Andrew's post on Altano (they'd sold out of the Reserva 2000 in Waitrose Holloway Road, so he had to settle for a much younger bottle).

With influences already from Asia, Australasia and Europe, the vegetable for my main course simply had to be American or African. Sweet potato was a strong American contender, but I'd cooked with this several times recently. My eventual choice of African yam was just perfect. According to Wikipedia, most Americans think their native sweet potato is a yam anyway, so three different continents could be satisfied by my choice of yam Dauphinoise (only in the course of browsing the web yesterday did I find this dish on a menu - accompanying beef tenderloin at L'Auberge de Sedona in, of all places, Arizona!).

Finally, having included French, British, Spanish and Portuguese ingredients, I felt a bit sorry for the Italians and added some seasonal broccoli to my plate. Btw, this meal was my first ever introduction to Sichuan (Szechuan) pepper. I already knew something about this tiny Chinese mountain fruit pod - unrelated to black pepper - but I was not prepared for the fantastic aroma. I've seen the spice described as having lemony tones but to my nose the citrus notes were closer to mandarin orange.

The redness in the duck breast slices is chorizo

Vic Cherikoff's amazing Wattleseed PavlovaAlthough I'd prepped part of it earlier in the day, the dessert in the end proved a bit more difficult. The finished article looked good, although not quite as perfect as in Benjamin Christie's blog photo (left) - a perfectly-shaped roulade crying out to be eaten. I'll make it again soon and publish photos.

Unfortunately, none of the pictures I took before it was scoffed came out, so I'm unable to show you what it looked like. On a positive note, I can assure you that it was delicious, and the stewed blueberries provided the perfect tartness to balance the dish's sweetness.

In my first ever encounter with wattleseed I made my own extract by fine filtering the grounds. The warm, sweet, comforting coffee aroma of that Aboriginal spice is something once experienced never forgotten.

I'll write up yesterday's cooking and file the photo recipes in my recipes section as soon as I can find time.

I've also been thinking about cooking something soon from Sarina's excellent series of posts on Trinidad And Tobago Carnival 2007 on her blog I'm eagerly awaiting my copy of The Naparima Girls High School Cookbook and the arrival of this would signal a good opportunity to cook Trini. After all, here in Britain we're experiencing the benefits of global warming... Spring has arrived earlier than ever this year... in fact it's just like being in Trinidad!

The view from my bedroom window yesterday morning


Acme Instant Food said...

1. Gorgeous photos!

2. That sounds like an amazing meal--very aromatic and toothsome!

3. I'm not normally a fan of merengue/eggy type dessert. However, an Australian friend recently threw an Australian dinner party and made Pavlova. Lovely! I nibbled up everybody's leftovers!

Andrew said...

did you think of the wine? Did it go well with the food?

Wish I had brought a few more bottles now... actually I have a duck in the freezer that needs using up.

Melting Wok said...

Hi there, if you gonna use szechuan peppercorns, get ready to get your tongue numbed hehe, not very pleasant experience for the novice. But if you saute a few of these rascals, and use the oil for marination, that would be great. Beautiful pictures, by the way, cheers !:)

The TriniGourmet said...

hehehe, that picture could have come from right outside my window :D hehe not ;) gonna catch up on my postings today :D your friend should be here all now no? :) yay!

Trig said...

No trouble there Melting Wok, my tolerance for heat would be best described as extraordinary. I've been known to shrug my shoulders at what would send most people rushing to the fridge for a gallon of milk.

Trig said...

No it was my dad who chose the wine Andrew, I'm not much of a connoisseur myself but my dad has decent knowledge of wines. Yea it went really well with the meal

Ros said...

What an interesting combination of flavours. I can imagine the duck and chorizo being really good together.

I want to find sichuan peppers now. They sound great!

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