18 December 2010

Olive tapenade, duck and red wine & chocolate tart

Last night's dinner was my first publicly recorded cooking experience and I was surprised how nervous I was. Not only to ensure my wonderful family had a tasty meal to help celebrate my mum's birthday, but also because I wanted it to look fabulous for you.

The one important lesson I have learnt over the years when preparing a menu, is to keep it simple. I used to cook so much food that, one, my guests would be waiting for hours for the meal, and two, they would leave the house almost twice the size.

So, with a few lessons learnt under my belt, here was the menu:

Olive tapenade and King Island brie
Roast duck with pomegranate glaze 
accompanied with a rocket, pickled onion & pear salad and roast potatoes
Red wine & chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream

Olive tapenade

I got this recipe from a cooking show with Emeril Lagasse, an American chef. As he didn't give measurements for the recipe, I made it up. It's easy. Feel free to take out any of the ingredients you don't like.

Olive tapenade with King Island brie
And this is my photo
450g pitted kalamata olives
2/3 cloves garlic
1 tbs capers
3/4 anchovies (I put four because I love them)
1/2 cup parsley
3 sprigs thyme
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tsp dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon

Put everything in a food processor and give it a whiz. It's as simple as that. 
Please note, it is salty tapenade, so feel free to leave the capers out. 

Roast duck with pomegranate glaze

Recipe from Meat by Adrian Richardson. This is a great book with information about how to better understand the differences between cuts of meat and the varying ways to cook it.

Roast duck with pomegranate glaze
Photo: by GT my bro-in-law
2 x 1.8 kg ducks
salt and pepper
1 onion, quartered
1 orange, quartered
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bunch thyme
5 tbs pomegranate molasses (this can be found in most delis. I used the Cortas brand)
4 tbs olive oil (does anyone actually ever measure oil? I never do)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius

Remove duck necks if still attached and remove any excess loose fat. I would use a pair of chicken scissors for this to make your life easier. Get your hands inside the cavity of the duck, don't be scared, and remove any inside bits (giblets). You will find 'bits' stuck to the ribs, not sure if ducks have ribs but you'll know what to feel for, get in there and pull the suckers out. Season each cavity with salt and pepper. Divide the onion, orange, garlic and thyme evenly between the birds. Drizzle 1 tbs of pomegranate molasses (I probably drizzled more like 2) in each bird then use a piece of butcher's string or skewers to close up the whole. This will seal the cavity and flavour the bird from the inside.

Place the ducks on a rack inside a large roasting tin - this is really important because ducks are so fatty you don't want them cooking in a pool of there own fat...well not for this recipe anyway. Rub them all over with olive oil and put plenty of seasoning on them both. I also used a basting brush and put molasses on the outside of the birds, too, before cooking. Place tray in the middle of the oven for 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on your oven. 

Every 15 minutes pull the tray out and baste the ducks all over with the fatty, molassesey goodness at the bottom. Don't be afraid when you start pulling the tray out and the birds are looking black. This is what you want the molasses to do to them...and it is delicious.

Rocket Salad
200g rocket leaves
1 pear
pickled onion (recipe to follow)

Pickled onion
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbs salt
3 red onions
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 finally chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 finally chopped coriander (or herb of choice. I have an over supply of oregano in my garden at the moment so I used that instead)
Juice of half a lemon
Fresh ground black pepper

Combine vinegar and salt until dissolved, add the onions and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to soak for about 2 hours.

Mix the olive oil with the fresh herbs, lemon juice and pepper in a bowl. Once onions are ready, take out of the vinegar mix and stir into the oil mixture. I then mix this in with the rocket and pears.

Red wine & chocolate tart

I got this from the November edition of the delicious magazine.

Red wine & chocolate tart
Photo: by GT my bro-in-law
300g pkt Careme dark chocolate shortcrust pastry (most delis sell this in their frozen section)
2 eggs
100g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs cocoa, plus extra to dust
1 cup fruity red wine like a merlot
200 ml thickened cream

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius

Roll out the pastry so it's large enough to line a 22 cm loose-bottomed tart pan. Chill for 15 minutes.

Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 8 minutes, then remove paper and weights and bake for a further 5 minutes until dry. Allow to cool slightly.

Place eggs and sugar in a bowl and sift in the cornflour, cinnamon and cocoa. With a hand whisk, gently whisk together until combined, but not frothy. Add the wine and 200 ml cream, stir will until combined. Pour into the tart case, then bake for 20-25 minutes until just set. Cool. 

I served this with good old vanilla ice cream.


  1. Fiona, oh my! What a wonderful menu. The duck looks and sounds sensational, as does everything else. GT took some fab shots too! xx

  2. Positively salivating at every image. An amazing production. If I were to food critique through images I would wax lyrical, so scrumptious it all appears. I've no doubt everyone was in 7th heaven. Food does that with good company - perfection!!