A little belated, but wholehearted Merry Christmas everyone!
It’s the time of the year when hopping from table-to-table is expected and raising glasses with loved ones not seen often enough.
Then between continuous running to see everyone, sometimes it’s possible to squeeze in an hour or two for a good book.
You see I’m a bookworm (like it was a secret). Give me one that has the ability to intoxicate and draw into the surreal, invigorating lives and I’m a goner. I’ll dig the nails deep into the covers and read till the pages run out. That or at wee hours my husband will start calling me mad and I’ll unwillingly close it right until I can pick it up again, first thing in the morning.
My recent addictive reading venture has lead to a treat for mind and plenty of words to bigger upon later, one quote particularly piercing thoughts over and over again:
“Given that we can live only a small part of what there is in us – what happens with the rest?”
I guess these are appropriate words to ponder upon when years change and new goals are set; just to be reminded we can, actually, do anything.
And while we are on the subject of changing years, for tomorrow evening’s feast, I’ve prepared a special festive spread for Clouds magazine (and yes, that’s my photo on the cover there!!!).
It’s a trip through the culinary heaven of France tasting classics while bidding adieu to the old and greeting openly the new. Starting with Kir Royal and Provençal snacks, moving onto salmon with pomegranates, duck in orange sauce, cheese platter and ending the night with a heavenly bite of profiteroles.
Did I mention they all are much easier to prepare then they seem?
I share the canard l’orange or my twist on classic duck in orange sauce recipe here and the rest can be found in Clouds winter issue.
Once again Merry Christmas and Happy coming New Year!
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup wine vinegar
- 750 ml chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Zest of 1 orange
- 250 ml fresh orange juice
- 60 grams butter
- Segments from 4 oranges
- 4 duck breast
- ½ kg parsnips
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ kg spinach
- 5 garlic cloves
- bunch of fresh thyme
- freshly ground pepper
- Start by making caramel, that will be used to flavour the sauce.
- In a small sauce pan on medium high heat, heat the sugar till it starts turning light brown. Do not stir, instead shake the pan to dissolve the sugar.
- Add vinegar and stir till all the caramel is dissolved. Be careful as adding vinegar will cause caramel to spit. Set aside.
- Stir in soy sauce into chicken stock and boil it down till 250 ml of liquid remain.
- Wash the oranges and pat dry.
- Peel the zest of one orange (only the top layer without the white part), slice it thinly and put it aside.
- Cut the top and bottom parts of the oranges and carefully slice the rest of the skin with a knife, holding the orange firmly on the cutting board. This will reveal the segments and make it easier to release them.
- Take the orange in the palm of your hand and make careful incisions on both sides of the segments releasing them into a bowl. Once done, give a good squeeze to get all the juice out. Repeat the process with the rest of the oranges.
- Drain the juice and if needed juice another orange to arrive at 250 ml.
- In a separate pan add orange juice and boil it down till reduced by half.
- Add the reduced orange juice to the reduced stock, zest and simmer till half remain.
- This will take about 5-10 minutes.
- Stir in 1 teaspoon of caramel and taste add more caramel if needed.
- Place the orange segments in a colander and pour over boiling water, followed by cold water to stop the cooking.
- Just before serving stir in butter into a hot sauce, add orange segments and pour over duck.
- For the roasted parsnips, preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F
- Peel the parsnips, then halve them lengthwise, then halve or quarter each piece lengthwise again, depending on the size.
- Place the parsnips into a roasting tin, pour over the oil, season with salt and pepper, and mix well so the oil and spices cover everything.
- Scatter few tranches of thyme and garlic cloves and roast the parsnips for 30-40 minutes.
- For the duck, lightly score the skin of the duck breasts, season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Place a pan over a medium heat and lay the duck breast skin-side down.
- Cook until the fat starts to come from the duck, then add 2 garlic cloves and a tranche of thyme.
- Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the duck breasts) until the skin is brown and crispy.
- Flip the duck breast and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes (for medium rare) or about 5 minutes for well done.
- Transfer the duck breasts onto a serving plate pour over the sauce and allow 2-3 minutes of resting time.
- In the same pan where the duck was cooking wipe the duck fat leaving about 1 tablespoon and quickly sauté the spinach, till it is fully wilted.
- Serve duck in orange sauce with roasted parsnips and sautéed spinach.
- Note: the recipe makes for more caramel than needed, but it is easier to make this amount rather than just two teaspoons. You can store the caramel in the fridge for a few weeks and use it to flavour other sweet and sour sauces.