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Birthday Feast: Cheats Duck Cassoulet

12 Sep

Last week was the 1st Birthday of the Legal Tart! How time has flown!

I first started this blog a year ago to give me an outlet from my legal work. Don’t get me wrong I do for the most part enjoy what I do, but there are times where I need to do something completely different, and while I still play with the idea of moving to Positano and selling tomatoes for a living, cooking and blogging seems a little less extreme 🙂

They say mindfulness is the key to happiness. Some people achieve this through yoga and meditation, others through going for a run, but my mindfulness comes through cooking and as a side bonus I get to eat the fruits of my labour and feed others.

I can’t pretend that blogging has been a completely joyful experience. There are times, largely when I am having technical issues like today, that blogging can feel like another thing on my to-do list. But when I see comments from all you lovely readers I am always glad I took the time to put down some thoughts and share a recipe.

Almost a one pot wonder!

This meal is a celebration meal. I keep promising myself that I am going to make a proper cassoulet, but time so far as worked against me. When I saw this short-cutted version I couldn’t believe my luck and marked it immediately for later cooking. You will be rewarded for your efforts with meltingly tender pieces of duck that simply fall from the bone and a rich sauce.

Cheats Cassoulet

Adapted slightly from Gourmet Traveller

Serves 6-8

  • 2 tbsp of duck fat
  • 1 duck (ask your butcher to carve it up for you or in the alternative buy breast and leg pieces)
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 300 gms of speck chopped into 2 cm pieces
  • 400 gm can of chopped tomatoes
  • 400 gems of dried cannellini beans soaked overnight
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp of all spice
  • 2 litres of water
  • Fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

1. Soak beans in water overnight in a large bowl, the water height should be about 5 cm above the beans

2. Heat duck fat in a very large casserole pot and out on high heat

3. Season duck with salt and pepper on the skin side and then place skin side down into the hot duck oil.

4. Once the duck fat as rendered slightly and the skin looks golden flip the duck piece over and cook on the other side You may need to do this in batches.

5. Place cooked duck on a plate and set aside

6. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion garlic and speck and fry off until the onion has softened.

7. Return the duck to the casserole pot with the tomatoes, drained beans, sage leaves, bay leaves, allspice and 2 litres of water.

8. Place in the oven and allow to cook for 3- 3 ½ hours or until the beans are tender.

9. Once the beans are tender remove the duck pieces into a large shallow baking dish and then top with the bean and sauce mixture.

10. Scatter a coating of breadcrumbs on the top and drizzle with olive oil before returning to the oven. Turn the heat up to 200 degrees, allow the breadcrumbs to brown

11. Serve straight from the casserole dish with a green salad and some baguette.

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The Constant Gardener and African Chicken and Peanut Curry

19 Feb

Have you seen the film the Constant Gardener. It stars Rachel Weiss and Ralph Fiennes and is part mystery thriller, part love story. I love this movie. I have seen it more times than I can count and I have also read the book.

There are a few reasons I love this movie, firstly it helps keep at bay my desire to see the world. I love to travel but unfortunately can’t do it as often as I would like. Watching movies set in different places around the globe helps satiate my desire to travel for a little while at least. The story is set largely in Africa and the cinematography is beautiful. It showcases the beauty of the continent in all of its rugged an often poverty stricken complexity. Secondly, I absolutely love the character of Tessa. She is a woman I really admire. Passionate and fearless she searches for and takes on the challenges of new experiences and does so without losing her warmth. Her ability to act with integrity in the face of moral difficulties I find inspiring. She doesn’t appear to fear failure nearly as much as she fears not living fully and with empathy. While I like to think I share some of Tessa’s characteristics, I know that often I am constrained by making sure I appear polite and not too demanding. I try to tone down those passionate responses for fear of judgement or being accused of being judgemental. Every time I see the movie I vow to live more like Tessa, passionately and with vigour and unrestrained love.

While I struggle with trying to live my life less concerned about the perceptions of others I also have to keep at bay my desire to travel, at least until my studies are complete. So I use cooking to allow me to access parts of the world I can’t get to right away. As I have said before I can not claim any real authenticity with some of my more exotic recipes, but what I can assure you is that even if the recipe is only inspired by the exotic location you dream of, it can act as a brief sensory trip into another culture and world. Beware this curry does have a little chilli kick!

What country/continent would you like to visit? Do you cook as a substitute for travel?

 

African Chicken and Peanut Curry

Serves 4-6

Adapted from a recipe found at West African Chicken Curry

  • 4-6 chicken thighs diced
  • Canned cherry tomatoes
  • Âľ can of coconut milk
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 apple peeled and cored and diced
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and diced
  • 70 gms of raisins
  • 1/12 tbsp of crunch peanut butter
  • 2 tsp of curry powder
  • 2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp of honey

 

1. Brown onion and chicken together. Remove from pan.

2. Add the sweet potato and apple and cook for a further 2 minutes

3. Add the curry powder and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant

4. Add the cherry tomatoes with juice and half the can of coconut milk. This may be all you need but you can add some more later if taste or consistency requires it

5. Add the chicken back to the curry and allow to simmer gently. For about 20 mins

6. Add the peanut butter and raisins, stir until peanut butter is incorporated

7. If you think it needs more coconut milk you should add it now.

8. Add the honey and allow to simmers for a further 10 mins.

9. Serve with rice or cous cous

Ode to Wine by Miss Wallflower

6 Oct

While sitting at the Union Bank last week in Orange, Miss Wallflower and I were drinking our wine and contemplating the wall of wine opposite. Miss Wallflower wrote the following ode to our favourite beverage. There is nothing like inspiration! 🙂

There is nothing like a wall of wine, it pleases me.

The pop of a cork it teases me.

The swirl of a glass it seizes me.

The caress of the grape, the carnal unveiling, the aroma of you entices me.

The inspiration...The Union Bank

The Power of Chocolate

13 Sep

This Thursday we are having morning tea at work and I volunteered to make some goodies.  I needed something easy that could be made ahead of time, cocktails on Wednesday night and the importance of sleep, mean wild horses couldn’t get me out of bed early on Thursday to bake, so chocolate slice it is!

An office wide morning tea happens very infrequently at my
workplace. I wish they were more often, but my thighs are grateful they are
not. That makes this Thursdays morning tea very special, particularly because
the morning tea is being held for R U OK Day. A day set aside to draw
attention to suicide and its prevention. I encourage you to check out the link.
This issue is close to my heart because of the rather dire statistics when it
comes to lawyers, mental illness and suicide. While lawyers are the butt of
many jokes, yes some of them very funny…….

it is sad to see many of our bright, talented, young people entering  the
legal workforce and finding themselves overwhelmed and under supported. Perfectionist personalities and the unique pressures inherent in legal work are a volatile combination.

But it is not only lawyers who need to be asked R U OK and hopefully
this day reminds us that in the age of technology there still is no replacement
for asking someone in person R U OK?…. and waiting to hear the answer. So I
encourage you this Thursday to really find the time to ask someone how they are
travelling and maybe offer them some chocolate hedgehog slice. Chocolate
improves everything!

Who will you ask? What is your favourite Lawyer Joke?

Hedeghog Slice  recipe adapted from Sam’s Hedgehog by Sam Doursos (Epicure Chocolate:recipes from 20 years of indulgent ideas)

  • 500gms of Milk Arrowroot Biscuits
  • 1 cup of chopped pistachios
  • 300gms unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cups of castor Sugar
  • 3 eggs

Icing

  • 250 gms dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp of Rice bran oil
  1. Crush arrowroot biscuits
  2. Melt butter, then add sugar and cocoa and stir until dissolved on low heat
  3. Cool mixture a little and then add eggs and whisk until thick and shiny
  4. Fold in nuts and biscuits
  5. Pour mixture in to tin and smooth over before putting in the fridge to cool completely

    Chocolate Rubble

  6. To make the icing melt chocolate and oil on low heat and pour over completely cooled slice. Tap the tray to ensure all the bubbles are gone
  7. Refrigerate until completely set.

    Ta Da. Easy as...slice

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