Canapés

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.

3 comments to Canapés

  • butterface

    Intrigued by the currant sauce…I've only ever used pink and whites as garnish- as they are so freakin beautiful. The tartlets are also lovely. Very Georgia O'Keefe.

  • Heather

    I need to party with your friends. You know what comes to my potlucks? Fucking potato salad. "I made it with oil and vinegar instead of creamy!" You know what, bitch? I like mayo, and no you've just ruined a basic thing that was already for simpletons.

    (Sorry I haven't been around much. Miss you!)

  • peter

    Brinney: It was surprising how applesaucey the result was.

    Blanche: It's hard to be you, isn't it?

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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