How do people get time for this blogging caper? It has been frantic here with school holidays and the house inundated with a steady stream of visitors so barely a spare second has presented itself for replying to emails let alone beautifying the blog. I believe I need a maid.
Needless to say there has been lots of cooking going on. I do adore to have people to stay, and get inordinate pleasure from getting the house ready, organising the food and doing the flowers. The latter is, I confess, not my strongest suit, but I'm getting better. The thing is, in the country, you need to grow the flowers before you arrange them, which is a challenge in itself. Thank god then, in depths of winter, for daphne and camelias:
Back to the food. Lately I have been cooking lots of casseroles and slow cooked lamb, soups and quiches and puddings with the beautiful fresh rhubarb from the garden. We have had chops in the paddock, dinners for 12, shooting lunches, big breakfasts and family dinners. Lots of old favourites but a new hit was my Duck Pie:
First I scattered an onion, two sticks of celery, clove of garlic (all chopped) into a roasting tray with a rack and plonked the duck on top. Actually I used two lovely ducks that a friend had grown on his farm. (You could probably use wild duck if there is a duck shooter in the family, but bear in mind they are more gamey and not as fatty and will need some extra butter/oil). Add a teaspoon of chopped juniper berries and some chopped rosemary and season with salt & pepper. Pour in 350ml white wine and roast 40 minutes, basting half way through.
Remove from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Drain most of the fat from the roasting tray, trying to keep the nice brown juices.
Pull off the meat and chop up. I took off most of the skin but left it on the breast. Put back in the roasting tray. Discard carcass or use for stock.
Add 50ml vinocotto, 125ml verjuice and 1/2 cup chicken stock and cook over a moderate heat 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups of either silver beet or spinach and cook until wilted. At this point it was all looking a bit runny for a pie so I added a tablespoon of cornflour to some stock and stirred it in while bubbling, then added 1/4 cup cream. Season well and stir in some chopped parsley. You could also add some lightly fried portobello mushrooms if you wish, or if the amount of duck looks a bit lean.
Then put it in a pie dish and cover with puff pastry. For pies I usually use Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry (don't forget to let it rest in the fridge before you roll it out), and bake at 200 for about 35 minutes until golden brown. This should serve about 4-6.
Now I need to address that large pile linen in the ironing basket....