John’s birthday party was Friday, and it was to be an all-finger food potluck. I didn’t have a ton of time to plan or shop, so I made do with things around the house, centering on two forms of duck from the freezer. I defrosted a moulard breast and two pieces of foie gras–both local–and went outside to pick currants. The pink and white currant bushes I planted last fall have taken off, loving their new environs and fruiting prolifically. I got just shy of two pounds of fruit from them both, doing a not very thorough job so there will be more to enjoy in the coming days.
Figuring these would make a good sauce for duck, I simmered them with a little honey until they were all exploded and undulating, then I strained the liquid (more of a thick purée) into a bowl. The pink and white currants have a very different flavor than the black; this sauce almost resembled apple sauce in flavor and color. I added a drop of blackcurrant brandy to fortify it.
Meanwhile, I cooked a beet in some water, stick-blending it into a smooth sauce with some cider vinegar when soft. I made tart crust, and picked a few things for garnish. Stamping circles out of the crust with a small glass, I pushed the rounds into a small muffin tin and baked them until lightly browned. Sometimes I like to put a quarter in the bottom of each one to keep it flat, but this time I just let them puff up into appealingly irregular little pastry cups. Into each on I put a squeeze of beet purée, a morsel of seared foie, a dollop of currant sauce, and then a mâche flower and a nasturtium petal. I dropped a chunk or two of big Celtic sea salt on each one to finish it.
The duck breast got scored and seared to rare, and I brought it over to their house to serve with escarole pesto and a combination of the leftover beet and currant sauces. Sliced, on crackers with pesto and the lurid fuchsia purée, it made for a nice companion to the little foie tartlets. But I didn’t bring the camera, so you’ll have to imagine it.