23 February 2009

blood orange marmalade

So a year ago when I tried this — and had great results — I didn't take any notes or leave any details in the blog post. So I had to start from scratch. And marmalade recipes vary greatly in method and proportions. Some have you slice the fruit and pick out the pips; June Taylor cuts the rind into triangles (which I tried and didn't like as much) and it appears that she candies the rind first; some have you juice the fruit and then chop the rind. Most have you hold the pips (and often membranes) for pectin (except the ones that use commercial pectin, which seems ridiculous). Worse, sugar ranges from about one-to-one to thrice(!) the quantity of fruit. Some measure the fruit in quantity, or weight, or juiced-and-peeled volume. It's overwhelming.

So I had a half dozen blood oranges that were really too bitter to eat. And then some lovely Meyer lemons to balance that out. I peeled the rind off of three Meyer lemons and juiced them: the rest I held back for the pectin bag. I cut the rind into strips about an eighth of an inch wide. I juiced the blood oranges very well, leaving very little membrane left inside. I cut those in the same manner. All the pips and membranes went into cheesecloth and was tied up (that's where most of the pectin is). I used about an equal weight of fruit and sugar.

I cooked the fruit and pectin bag for about twenty minutes to soften the fruit and then added the sugar. After fifteen minutes I took out the pectin sack and let it cool enough to squeeze out all that pectin. I cooked the marmalade until it jelled just enough on a saucer placed in the freezer, which was about 222ºF (and most recipes suggest 8º-10ºF above boiling). This was even more red than last time, and has great flavor. I might even use a tiny bit less sugar next time, but only as I like marmalade on the bitter side.

21 February 2009


Duck rillettes. Quite possibly one of the most delicious things on earth. Rillettes is potted meat, from the Old French rille, or "strip of lard" (Robert Historique). Traditionally made with pork, duck or other fatty meats will work.

Here we go. (Recipe inspired heavily by Jennifer Mclagan's recipe in Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient [2008])

Take a duck and take it apart. Reserve extra fat for rendering (above right), use breasts for another use (see last week) and make a damn fine stock with that carcass. Keep the bones in the legs and wings. Marinate all of that overnight with coriander, pepper, orange peel, pork belly (or blanched salt pork), bay leaves and a splash of vermouth (or white wine, the vermouth is in tribute to Julia Child, who seemed to have loved it for cooking.)

Drain and sear the meat, fat side down, until nice and dark. Cast iron is ideal. Add marinate. Cover and bake at 250º for a while — I went for 3½ hours. (Added a splash of port after an hour.) And then two more hours at 200º. And then I let it cool for an hour in the oven, uncovered.

Above left is what's left: beautiful dark meat, falling off the bones (make a second stock with those bones, it's worth it). Shred every bit of meat that you can get off the bones, and then shred every bit of fat. Work it all together and add the liquid (which you've reduced to a thick sauce) from the roasting, as well as some of the fat. A splash of calvados or brandy here is nice.

Pack it all into ramekins, and then cover with a layer of clean duck fat. Let that sit in the fridge for a few days. It'll keep like that for, they say, months. Once the fat seal is broken, eat it in a few days. (Eat at room temperature.)

And here it is, on a sourdough baguette. It is very very good. Riduculously good.


Julia Child's quatre-quarts ("four quarters," literally — "The English like the formula so much that they use a pound of everything — hence, of course, the pound cake" she tells us).

I hadn't made a pound cake before, I love the process. Six ounces butter is whipped until a mayonnaise-like consistency. Three eggs and a cup of sugar are beaten until fluffy and doubled in volume. One and a quarter cups flour are sifted in, and then the butter is folded in. And baked at three-fifty.

I glazed this with quince syrup leftover from candying quince for panforte. I then served it with Tartine's lemon cream: lemon curd with butter beat into it, essentially. Very very good.

16 February 2009

kaga-style duck

The duck adventure continues (one duck will go a long way for one person, which either makes me look greedy or lonely)! This is another recipe from Hiroko Shimbo: "Duck prepared in the Kaga style." The duck breast was seared and then sliced thin and dipped in flour (I used wheat and brown rice flours, recipe called for wheat and buckwheat...) and allowed to rest. They are then re-dredged. Meanwhile a broth of dashi, sake, a bit of sugar, mirin and shoyu is prepared. Leeks are then quickly parboiled in that mixture, removed and followed by the floured duck strips. The result was very tender and unlike anything I've tried: The flour forms a nice skin but obviously hasn't been fried. Miraculously, it doesn't make a mess in the broth, which is then ladled over the duck and leeks:

(Duck rillettes, to be consumed next weekend, were actually the reason for me having extra duck breasts for my own amusement and consumption: that adventure started two days ago and will be done in a few more. I like that every part of the duck went somewhere: stock, rendered fat, cracklings, rillettes, teriyaki, poached duck breast...)

14 February 2009


Since I had the whole duck, and needed fat to top of the rillettes when I make them, I rendered some fat (and made stock with the carcass). Aside from how beautiful clear duck fat is, let us note how duck cracklings are really fucking delicious.


So, I have a whole duck. And I started taking it apart this morning: legs, wings, neck and a good deal of the extra fat were marinated for rillettes (you'll see that result in a week). I rendered a lot of the fat from the breasts and neck, and here I am with two breasts. Hiroko Shimbo's recipe for duck teriyaki was most tempting. Most of the fat is removed from the brests. They are then tossed into a very hot pan and seared (and Shimbo suggests blanching, but I removed too much fat so I figured they didn't need it). Simmered in saki (I used saki and white wine, lacking enough of the former), sugar and mirin, — and then shoyu — they are set aside. Orange juice is added to the sauce and it is reducd (see above) and seasoned with tamari and rice vinegar. The duck then rests in the sauce (10 minutes, but 5 suited me) and is plated and garnished with the sauce and scallions (or naganegi, which I have never seen). The duck was wonderfully tender, the sauce sweet but with enough savory to balance it, and brown rice was perfect with both.

The salad is a quick pickling of carrots: ume and brown rice vinegars tossed with carrots. Forty minutes later and it's great (be careful with ume vinegar, it is excepionally salty).

08 February 2009


I've had a raspberry melomel and a braggot with cranberries going for a few months now, and today I racked them for the second time. Also, a cider racked for its first.

The melomel — just mead with fruit — is raspberry blossom honey, water, some champagne yeast (plus all the wild ones in the honey and on the fruit, since nothing was heated) and a few quarts of raspberries. The raspberries were added a pint at a time throughout the raspberry season at my farm share. Once those seemed spent, I racked the melomel and let that sit for a few months. And here we are. It tastes like — to be honest — a raspberry cough syrup, without sugar. It has a lot of punch, even with less fruit that many formulæ call for. This one will do well with aging. As in maybe a few years. (See bottom left: looks like Kool-Aid.)

The braggot — malted mead — is also raspberry blossom honey (got a bucket from Warm Colors) plus amber malt, some bog myrtle and a little fresh sage. I used some generic wine yeast with it, which has left some sweetness. After that had finished its primary fermentation I racked it into another carboy with some cranberries (frozen and thawed to soften them). That top photo is the spent cranberries flosting on the last bit to be sucked out into a clean carboy. They add some tannins to the braggot. This seemed to be the more far-fetched of the meads but already has a nice flavor. I'm hoping it'll be superb by the fall.

The cider is a basic cider. I added some champagne yeast this time, whereas my last two were all by spontaeous fermentation. I've also relly made cyser in the past, a mead-cider, so this tasted much cleaner. I'm not sure which I'll prefer. My cyser that's coming up on a year of aging is quite nice. I'll bottle and prime this in a month or two. And then we'll see.