Sunday, August 1, 2010


I recently house sat my Mum's friend's gorgeous house around the corner and was treated to a challenge like no other.

Everyone knows what a die hard MasterChef fan I am (apologies to all those purists out there I've let down!) and I was lost for words when I moved in to the new pad to be greeted with a note from the lovely Sue . . . outlining my Mystery Box challenge!

She had left me a tray of goodies in the fridge that I was to use to prepare a feast for my unsuspecting guests for dinner on Saturday night. It was a 'red' theme and she even left a red apron for me to get into the spirit!

Included in the mystery box was:
  • 1 whole duckling
  • tomatoes
  • beetroot
  • rhubarb
  • pears
  • free range eggs
  • ricotta
  • artichokes
I didn't know where to start so turned to dear Michelle for some inspiration (and anyone else for that matter - I was desperate for some inspiration and kept second guessing my own ideas).

Of course, Michelle delivered with the ideas and gave me some direction for my flavours. We settled on artichoke, olive, tomato and parmesan tarts for entree (they were a flop, this is what happens when I don't follow a recipe!).

Then, it was the big question of what to do with a whole duckling!? Do I go Asian inspired, or keep it traditional and head down a French path with orange influences?
I chose a Bill Granger recipe that looked easy peasy (it was as if I'd written the question to him myself!) and got stuck into work. Hmm, this is where it got interesting. Noone told me that ducks have necks. Gross, I had a major freak out moment which completely took me by surprise - I got all squirmy and wussy and kind of light headed. I've seen worse things, being the daughter of a meat wholesaler, but this was gross.
I managed to dispose of the neck and stuff the duck with ginger, cinnamon, red onion and orange - gorgeous flavours.
I think it turned out okay!
I've long wanted to roast my potatoes in duck fat and this was the perfect opportunity. They were ah-mazing. And you don't need heaps of fat for it to have impact - just a few teaspoons in the saucepan before you shake them to rough them up a bit and ensure a crispy outer and fluffy middle.
The roast beetroots came up a treat too - messy business with all that red/purple colour just wanting to leak everywhere, but they were worth the effort. Delish.
The glaze on the duck was divine and a gorgeous sauce topped it off and helped pull it all together.
I think my guests were impressed!

Dessert was yummy and oh so simple. Stewed rhubarb and pear with macadamia crumble. It was divine. Just wish I'd attempted a more decorative presentation!

The kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it, but the bare carcass hopefully was indicative of the fact my guests enjoyed their food.

Such a good idea and something I will do again for my friends - it made me think outside the square and try things I wouldn't normally.
Also went to show that I really need to experiment more without recipes - I really struggle to come up with an original thought of my own when under pressure. Gosh, imagine how stressful it is on TV!


Teresa Hatfield said...

Ok. I am now starving after looking at this post. Great job! I'm impressed.
Terresa (Splendid Sass)

Letitia Linke said...

Yum Kate, looks like you are a talented cook! x

Life in the Country Lane said...

Hi Kate, Im with you - I miss Masterchef so much!! What a great dinner you put on. Sounded like heaps of fun. Not sure Im brave enough - I love a good recipe!!! Thanks for sharing.

Kate said...

Nope, no talented cook here - just someone who loves their food and dreams of giving up their day job to immerse themselves in all things delish!

Kimberlee said...

niiiice work little one! so impressed! Yes I wondered how the whole 'neck' thing went. I must admit that goobs me out big time as well!
You seriously are a master in the kitchen xx