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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Crispy Duck Salad with Goat’s Cheese, Apples, Pecans and Sour Cherries

It’s been so hot, I can hardly think.

But then given that summer visits us, oh once in about 6 years, it seems terribly churlish to complain.

So I'm not going to.

Instead I'm going to tell you what I think are the very best-est things about this gorgeous summer...and it’s a long and lovely list…
… cloudless azure skies, golden beams of sunshine, the lazy breeze against your cheek - cool and clean, flowers, flowers, flowers - everywhere in rainbow bloom, birds chirping, children laughing, the rolling hills of England, lush and green and absolutely breathtaking...




Cherries. Those fat, plump, lively, burgundy coloured jewels of summer – they are my absolute favourite of the red fruits!

And now? At this time of year, when the English crop is ripe and rich, it’s just about as perfectly perfect a time to go on an all-out cherry binge!!

Which is exactly what I’m doing.
And suggesting you do too!

Because with their sublime aroma and intense sweetness and glossy good looks, I can hardly think of anything more bingeworthy!

And of course you can eat them fresh – there’s nothing ever like the fresh stuff, picked, washed and straight in the mouth, bursting with flavour and natural goodness – but if you’re whimsical like me and want some excitement in your life, try putting them in something different.

Like really different.
Like way out there.

Just to make life more exciting.
Which is always a good thing.
Or a great thing.
Depending on your perspective.
I’d personally go for great, but I’m optimistic like that.
And also very bored, if you haven’t figured that out already.

Anyhoooo, my cherries are going in a salad. Not a fruit salad (booooring) but a salad-salad.
See, its V. Imp. to make salads interesting. Especially in the summer when one craves the cool, fresh, lightness of a salad and you end up eating so much of the stuff, there's serious danger in getting mind-numbingly repetitive. And honestly I can’t think of anything more dull.

So yes – every self respecting woman (or man) (I don't discriminate) ought to be picky about their salads. Take me, for example:  I only eat salads where there are lots of different things going on: some kind of green stuff, something salty, something tart, something nutty, something crunchy. And always a little hint of sweetness.

So I’m doing cherries with game meat. In a salad.
Because its summer time and one must eat salad. Because the cherries this season are among the best I’ve ever tasted. And because game meat and cherries are simply meant to be.
I’m using dried cherries today – ruby red and tart, a perfect foil for the rich, aromatic, crispy, salty sins of the flesh…

Voila! this is my Crispy Duck Salad with Goat’s Cheese, Apples, Pecans and Sour Cherries.

Mmm. Mmm. So good that I want to marry this salad. It’s pretty much everything I would ever want in my life.

It’s funny actually that a lot of people I come across in foodie-land seem intimidated by the thought of cooking duck. I don’t quite know why? Perhaps there’s still some element of the exotic about it…but believe me - there's a world of intense flavor to be discovered when you choose duck instead of taking the tried-and-true path with chicken. Richer, darker, tastier – the complexity in texture and flavour you get with duck just doesn’t compare.

And if it’s flavour we’re all after, it doesn’t get much better than this – this is a beautiful, delightful, succulent and perfectly yummy dish, guys, one that you will really love.

It’s different.
It’s super duper simple to make.
It’s visually beautiful.
And well, of course it’s got to be yummy, else it wouldn’t be on yummyami, would it?

Btw – someone once asked me if yummyami meant that I was implying that I (ami) was yummy or that my recipes are yummy.

I refused to answer that.
Semantics. Sigh.

Oh by the way, if you’re vegetarian, you can leave out the duck.
But if you’re not, you can not.
I don’t mean you can not, as in you can’t.
You can.
You can do whatever you want – it’s a free world.
But more as in you don’t need to.
If you don’t want to, that is.

Anyway, here’s what you need:

-          ½ duck breast, sliced into thin strips
-          1 tbsp sesame oil
-          2 tbsp soy sauce
-          160g salad greens
-          2 green apples, cored and sliced
-          40g salted pecans
-          150g dried sour cherries
-          70g Goats cheese
-          1 tbsp dijon mustard
-          1 tbsp maple syrup
-          ¼ tsp paprika
-          1 tsp apple cider vinegar
-          2 tbsp olive oil
-          Salt and pepper, to taste

Here’s how you do it:

For the crispy duck, marinate the duck breast in sesame oil and soy sauce for 3-4 minutes. Then heat a frying pan until hot and fry the duck strips until crisp and golden-brown
For the dressing – mix Dijon, maple syrup, paprika vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake well.
Separately, mix greens, apples pecans, and goats cheese into a large salad bowl. Top generously with the sour cherries. Add dressing to taste, mix well and tuck in.

So good I can’t speak.
Which is why I write…
(if you’ve ever wondered)

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