I read a blog post a while ago written by a precious woman reflecting on the issues of comparing ourselves to other bloggers, blog readers, etc… You can see her post here. I’m definitely guilty of this while I compare my posts to those of bloggers with more “followers”, those who are making a living at blogging (um, yes please!), and those who generally have more experience and better quality equipment than I do.
I can’t afford a fancy DSLR camera, nor do I have the time (or funds) to take a photoshop workshop. I don’t have 50 hours a week to contribute to my blog and I’ve only been doing it for 11 months. I also don’t know how to write HTML (very well), haven’t taken any blog e-courses, and am totally learning as I go. Yet I still insist on comparing my blog to others.
While striving to be better, I have begun researching food photography. Composition, lighting, angles, background, formatting, focus, movement, etc… and playing a whole lot in iphoto. There’s a lot to know and the learning curve is steep – but the best way to figure it out is through doing. And so I am. With my tiny little Sony Ericsson Experion phone camera. I’m also working on not comparing myself to others and accepting and loving the limitations (and advantages – i.e. my shining personality) that I have in this current moment. So if some photos look out of whack – please tell me! And if something looks especially good, let me know that too (if you don’t mind).
Speaking of looking good – let’s get onto something tasting good! Cherries are in season (specifically B.C. Grown cherries – oh YES!). As a result, last night I made John and I a very easy (and gourmet!) pan seared duck breast with a cherry wine reduction for dinner. It. Was. Heaven. I’m a big duck fan and while it can be rather difficult to come across duck in Victoria, I managed to find some at Ottavio’s in Oak Bay – yup! It’s the same place you can find quality Manchego cheese, Jamon (see here and there for what you can do with those), an enormous array of olive oils, vinegars, fresh baked goods, various truffle products, and even Wild Boar sausage… It’s a specialty store that’s really, rather special.
Seared Duck with Cherry Wine Reduction
- 1 Large Duck Breast, skin attached (or 2 smaller ones).
- 225g of Fresh Cherries, pitted and de-stemmed.
- 1 Clove of Garlic, chopped.
- 1 Shallot, diced.
- 1 C Dry Red Wine.
- Splash of Red Wine Vinegar.
- 1 Tbsp Local Organic Honey.
- 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature.
- Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Black Pepper.
- 1 Sprig Fresh Tarragon.
- Heat a cast-iron pan over medium heat.
- While it heats up, dab the duck with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Now, gently score the fat/skin with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat itself - this will allow the fat to leach out and the skin to become nice and crispy! Season the meat well with salt and pepper.
- Gently place the duck, skin side down, in the hot pan, and cook for 6 - 7 minutes, or until the skin is dark and crispy.
- *The excess fat will begin to cook off and you may need to !very carefully! spoon out some of that fat. Ducks have an enormous amount of fat under their skin to help keep them warm in the water and you don't wanna run the risk of too much fat in the pan and having it spark a grease fire. But save that fat! You can keep it in a jar in the fridge for about forever - and when you're ready, use it as an "oil" for your next batch of roasted potatoes!
- Flip and continue to cook for a further 2 - 5 minutes, depending on the size of your breasts (hehe), and how "done" you want the meat to be. I recommend medium rare which means an internal temperature of 125 degrees F.
- Remove from the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for about 15 minutes to allow the juices to absorb back into the meat. This time will also continue to cook the duck to about 130 degrees F - a perfect medium rare.
- Gently slice the duck at an angle and serve with your choice of sides, I recommend this or a gourmet potato and leek gratin (recipe coming tomorrow).
- NOW: As your duck sits, you want to make the sauce.
- To do this, remove your pan from the heat and carefully drain all but 2 tbsp of the duck fat out of the pan. Add the onion and garlic and stir well to combine. The pan should be hot enough that it will give these little guys a good start on the cooking process.
- Now, add the wine, vinegar, cherries, honey, tarragon, and a good helping of salt and pepper. Return to the heat.
- Bring to a simmer and let the mixture reduce to about one half - it will become a little syrupy and delicious! In the final minute of cooking, add the butter and stir well to combine.
- Strain the mixture into a bowl and pick the cherries out of the strainer to join what is now a sauce!
- Spoon said sauce and cherries over the duck and desired sides.