It’s been quite a while after the last post about after the Korean event, it’s been full-on but mostly because of me cooking Korean food and socialising offline. I had many people requesting for a Korean dinner and ended up cooking Korean food nonstop for two weeks. I’ve never cooked so much Korean food in such a short period, which was a good exercise to review my Korean palate but also meant that I didn’t have interesting recipes to write about. So after serving the last Korean dinner to Mr.O’s parents, sister and her friend, and cousin, I decided to put a full stop to Korean food for a while and get back to exercising my culinary brain. I’ve had enough of making dumplings and rolling kimbap. Having said that, I’m not sure when the full stop will be removed as I see growing enthusiasm for Korean food after the event so I’m thinking of creating some Korean-inspired recipes occasionally. The downside of Korean food is that it’s very difficult to match it with wines as it’s full of umami and chili, so beer was served on one occasion and Rose d’Anjou on another, with Rioja wines thrown in here and there. Let’s not get to “Why not white wines?”
For the last two weeks, I’ve also been dabbling in Instagram, which I haven’t fully grasped the skills but at least got to understand the use of it, the biggest advantage being its faster, more charming, and more efficient way of reaching out to the audience. However, I’ll continue to thrive in a slow world, trapping the mumble-jumble ideas into a word pot, stirring, seasoning and savoring them. That’s exactly what I did with the organic farm duck I got from Mr.O’s parents as a thank gift for having given them a great gastronomic experience. It might be also that I raved about Kars Kazı and March is the month to taste the famous duck delicacy from Kars.
Getting hold of duck, unless frozen, is already hard enough so I felt a deep gratitude towards his parents and the lady in the village for supporting my foodie obsession by providing me with all sorts of organic produce. However, I felt a slight pang of guilt for having made her sacrifice the duck she doesn’t eat herself. So I made sure the duck would get a fair treatment so I chose a slow process to fully indulge in the blessing, and eating duck means picking a good bottle of wine, too. On our last ‘Peking Duck Feast’ with friends, we drank a very expensive Turkish wine, Saroz Bōlgesi Alçitepe Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2009.
This time I was going to make peking duck again but then, I changed my mind and settled on a slow confit method in my new crock pot. I salted the duck overnight first, and the next day I rub it with a peking duck spice mix and put it in the crock pot, with dried orange zest sprinkled in. It was destined for long hours at 250’F(120’C), 11 hours. As it was cooking in its own fat and juice, I turned it over at two-hour internals, making sure all sides got a nice basting. As the cooking continued, the rich, warm and sweet aromas permeated the whole house. When it was finally done, I carefully fished out the duck, which was so tender that the bones were just falling off, and poured out the fat into a glass jar. The duck was to rest back in the crock pot overnight to be served the next day. No rush…take it slow…it will absorb more flavours.
Duck tends to conjure up Potato Dauphinoise and as I actually missed it, I was immediately settle for the recipe, but with sweet potato slices instead. Of course, if I had made it with the typical recipe, I wouldn’t be writing this. When making this, I was missing crucial ingredients, cream……
Yes, I knew that you were going to say “I see cream?” But it doesn’t contain cream, strictly speaking. Then, can you guess what it might be? All the guests could come up with was potato puree but Mr.O exclaimed “Cauliflower!”, beaming and saying “This is a palate.”, drawing a circle around this mouth.
You’ll also wonder why the duck is browned as if roasted. The reason is because, to finish it off, I brushed the skin with plum sauce and broiled it to get nice crispy skin, but it got a little burnt, to be honest. I think I’ll leave out the final broiling when I make this again as the juicy meat dried out a bit in the process.
After taking photos and licking meat off the neck and ribs, I took the dishes over to the friend’s place and we opened Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir 2010 in excitement and anticipation. It’d been a long time since I last had New Zealand Pinot Noir so seeing its presence was already special enough. And it turned out to be a perfect wine for the food, with its lingering firmness on the palate on top of a lovely bouquet of red fruit and toasty spices. I’ve been trying not to drink imported wines because of taxes and carbon footprint and what not, but sometimes there is no substitute so on such an occasion I can make an exception, I thought. It’s good to get spoiled from time to time especially in good company. Choosing wines is a diplomatic decision here and I will elaborate on that matter one day to help people pick Turkish value wines.
It was the last night of the Romanian guest, who is doing her master’s in World Heritage Studies in Berlin and came as part of ARCH+ urban architecture project. She brought delicious artisan cheeses and, as we were all interested in history, our conversation continued into the small hours. She told us about film ‘Aferim!‘, which I’ll definitely seek out.
For the cheese platter, we drank Kavaklıdere 2011 Egeo Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, which was also good, full-bodied and spicy. I’d had its Syrah before and Egeo is always good except the price isn’t that friendly. Among the cheeses, there was one coated with dried parsley, called Krauter Bergkasse, which was pretty strong but Germans love and I also loved. After eating Korean food for two weeks, it was nice to refresh my palate with my favourite dishes in the best company you can wish for.
Sweet Potato Sage Creamed Cauliflower Gratin
3 medium sweet potatoes
half cauliflower, steamed and pureed
1 Tbsp clotted cream(kaymak)
1 cup of grate Parmesan or Gruyere cheese
1 spring onion, finely chopped
fresh sage or dried sage(1tsp)
1. Slice the sweet potatoes thinly with a mandolin slicer.
2. Mix the cauliflower puree with kaymak.
3. Layer the sweet potato slices in an ovenproof dish, overlapping slightly, and spread the creamed cauliflower, and then sprinkle with spring onion, sage and cheese.
4. Repeat the process to make three layers and put cheese more generally on the top layer.
5. Bake at 190’C for 30 mins, and increase the heat and brown the top for 5 mins.